Higher Teachings of Sri Swamiji

Rajasooya Yajna and the Art of Giving

The Rajasooya yajna is an ancient vedic ritual traditionally performed by emperors, kings and sannyasins. After conquering new territories and achieving victory over his counterparts, a king would return to his kingdom and distribute the material wealth to his subjects through the medium of this yajna, to ensure that everyone in society had an equal share. In the present age, when there are no kings and emperors, the Rajasooya yajna can only be performed by sadhus and sannyasins, the givers of spiritual wealth.

The Rajasooya yajna is always associated with digvijaya, victory over the world. A sannyasin does not hold a rajadanda, the weapon of a ruler. A sannyasin holds a yogadanda, the flagstaff of yoga. I established yoga throughout the world, among people of all religions and faiths.

The medium of the Rajasooya yajna is Sat Chandi Yajna, which is performed to bring about inner transformation. Panchagni yajna was performed in total isolation, whereas Rajasooya yajna is done in the presence of and with the participation of many people. Each yajna has a different emphasis so as to invoke the qualities that we lack in life. Symbolically, these qualities are given in a form or shape, such as an object or item.

According to the tradition, a yajna has three important aspects. If one aspect is missing, the yajna is incomplete. The first aspect is the ritual, invoking the higher forces through mantra, yantra and mandala, kindling the fire and offering oblations into it. The second is satsang, hearing spiritual pronouncements and ideas, being in the presence of truth, kirtan and chanting. The third aspect is daan, giving. This was the tradition in Treta Yuga when Sri Rama ruled the earth. The same tradition was followed during Dwapara Yuga and it should also be followed during the present age, Kali Yuga.

Daan means unconditional offering of everything you have for the welfare of others without any personal or selfish expectations. Everyone at a yajna is eligible for daan, rich or poor. Offering is not just taking something out of your pocket and giving it to someone. It is giving pure substances and items fit to be utilized and consumed by the Divine. The items offered to the Divine are then distributed as prasad to everyone, so you always get back in abundance what you give. The feeling of offering all that you have, including your life, is really an offering in the truest sense.

Balance between accumulation and distribution is satkarma, appropriate and righteous action. To strike a balance in society we should teach children to follow the culture of give and take. I have involved the children in giving away prasad to the people gathered here, as a means of training. Training in receiving is not essential because a child learns it in the mother’s womb. If children are trained in giving or sharing, they will learn how to give when they are grown up. To give or share is an art. To give is to share. The Rajasooya yajna represents the vision of finding a balance between accumulation and distribution. It exemplifies total giving, which extends from the material to the spiritual.

Prasad means happiness and joy. It is the reverse of pain and sorrow. Prasad is an offering of goodwill and carries good wishes for health, happiness, prosperity and peace. We give so that everyone may become equal. Prosperity and contentment are the birthright of everyone. This is not charity. It is the revival of a system from the ancient vedic tradition in which giving and sharing are mandatory. The purpose of the Rajasooya yajna is the extension of support to uplift the poor and underprivileged.

The villagers are the load bearers of our society, like the beams and columns of a house. If the columns and beams are weak, the society will collapse, as is happening in countries elsewhere in the world. This section of society must be looked after properly otherwise there will be anarchy. No government can protect its citizens if two-thirds of the population is ignored.

Why is extremism taking place? Why is terrorism taking place? The main cause of extremism in most countries is because this section of society has been neglected and deprived of its basic needs for so long. Money is spent in cities, not in poor rural areas. These people have no education, no drinking water, no facilities for irrigation, and the government builds sports stadiums worth millions of rupees! If I do not look after the children from this section of society, my ashram will not be safe. Society cannot be given security if the larger section of the country is neglected.

This is a message to each and everyone. If you bake four loaves of bread, one loaf is for society. You have to share your happiness and wealth. Bhartrihari has said, “Giving, enjoyment and destruction are the three channels of wealth. To the one who neither gives nor enjoys, the third will inevitably happen.” You need to take care of the society in which you live and prosper. My philosophy is simple and straight. It has been repeated by our spiritual leaders from time immemorial. Everyone should ponder over the plight of that section of society which has been neglected for so long.

During the Rajasooya yajna, vastra, clothing, patra, kitchen and cooking utensils, and anna, grain, are offered to all. All three items are both practical and auspicious. Cloth is the companion of a human being. Cloth is the greatest gift in the world. A container keeps your possessions safe and intact. Food sustains, nourishes and cures.

The offerings from the yajna are conveyed to people in many forms, including housing and medical aid as well as the means of employment, such as rickshaws, hand carts, bicycles and sewing machines. Young brides are offered good luck kits; villagers are offered grain, household utensils, agricultural implements, tools of trade, blankets and clothing; children are offered educational articles. We also help the widows who are ignored by society, as well as the old men and women. Thousands of families from Rikhia and neighbouring panchayats receive this prasad.

To help people you have to make them self-sufficient and give them an opportunity to build up their skills. Offer items that will be useful to the whole family. Find out what people need and take practical steps to help them. We cannot help people just by giving them money. Real help means enabling people to generate their own strength and ability.

Yajna is a very powerful tool. It includes the body, the mind, faith, mantra, ritual, as well as your entire life. This combination makes yajna a very, very powerful tool of metamorphosis, transformation and change. This type of yajna requires total commitment and coordination. The body, the mind and the mantras all unite to produce a special effect which changes your thinking and your life. You will understand what life is when this total participation takes place.

The purpose of yajna is not entertainment; for that the world is before you. You require a change of perspective here. When you are at a solemn and sacred place like a yajna of this magnitude, you are very near to God and so your thought processes and behaviour must change. A change for the better in your thinking would lead you to greater heights and change the future of humankind.

Yajnas are conducted to appeal to Devi to grant us wealth, long life, success, good health and smooth sailing in these disturbed oceans of life. This is the purpose – yajna rectifies life. It is a correcting principle of life. This correction can only be done by a stronger force; not by a human force, but by a divine force. Life is full of failures, as you know, despondency, guilt and all kinds of other things. The pangs of birth, the pain of being old and then again the pain of rebirth again and again. Everything seems to be full of pain. Ultimately everything ends in depression and disappointment. But there is a power which can turn wrong into right. Many of life’s calamities can be transformed and remedied by divine grace, and that is the purpose of this yajna. Yajna is a very effective means of invoking the grace of the Divine Mother.

Divine grace is the ultimate answer to all our problems. The Divine Mother’s grace is formless, and rituals have to be performed to make it tangible and available to all. By chanting mantras and by adopting other means, the divine power can be propitiated to descend. We invoke Her blessings to protect us from natural calamities, to spread Her benign arms to avert impending misfortune. When we feel helpless and our energy and resources are of no avail, then we surrender to the Divine Mother.