Yagya is not about lighting a fire and burning wood

Acharya Prashant
8 min readDec 4, 2020

The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

यज्ञार्थात्कर्मणोऽन्यत्र लोकोऽयं कर्मबन्धनः ।

तदर्थं कर्म कौन्तेय मुक्तसंगः समाचर ।। 3.9 ।।

yajñārthāt karmaṇo ’nyatra loko ’yaṁ karma-bandhanaḥ

tad-arthaṁ karma kaunteya mukta-saṅgaḥ samāchara

This man becomes bound by actions other than that action meant for God.

Without being attached, O son of Kunti, you perform actions for Him.

~ Shrimad Bhagwad Gita, Chapter 3, Verse 9

✥ ✥ ✥

Question (Q): What are the actions that one must perform for the God that Shri Krishna seems to be pointing at? What can act as a litmus test to determine that a particular action has been done for God?

Acharya Prashant (AP): Actually, the translation is not quite solid. The verse does not recommend action towards God. The verse talks of ‘Yagya’. There is a difference.

Acting in the spirit of yagya is action in dissolution; you are acting to give up something.

That’s what yagya is.

And, acting for the sake of God, appears more like acting towards some formal, affirmative, deterministic entity. So that’s not exactly what the shloka is saying here. The shloka is saying, “All your actions, karma have to be like Yagya.”

What is Yagya? I give up what I have, for the sake of something higher. That is Yagya. Krishna says, “That is the only real way of acting. Do not act for yourself, do not act for your personal gain or pleasure. Act for a higher cause; higher than yourself, beyond yourself.”

That’s what he is recommending.

So the questioner says, “What are the actions that one must perform for the God that Shri Krishna seems to be pointing at?” Shri Krishna is not really pointing at any God. Sri Krishna is only pointing at that which is ungodly within us.