Chapter 3The Eternal Duties of a Human BeingsVerse 16


Sanskrit Vocal





Commentaries of the Four Authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

as confirmed in the Garga Samhita Canto 10, Chapter 61, Verses 23, 24, 25, 26
Rudra Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Sridhara Swami's Commentary

Therefore as it is the Supreme Lord, Himself who originally emanated the eternal Vedas and set in motion the cycle of prescribed actions to allow living beings the opportunity to attain the highest benefit from yagna or worship. If human beings do not make the effort to perform and adhere to yagna then their whole human life is in vain. This is what Lord Krishna is conveying here. The Vedas are the actual words of the Supreme Lord, by understanding and following the Vedic scriptures one can begin to understand and follow the Supreme Lord. From the breath of the Supreme Lord comes the Vedas, from the Vedas the predilection of humans to perform actions, from yagna these actions are accomplished, from accomplishment comes rains, from rains food, from food human beings are born from semen and eggs and thus again the cycle begins again with the predelection of humans to perform actions. One who does not keep this covenant and follow this cycle of yagna which is revolving eternally in the material existence, set themselves apart from the spiritual reality and are living a sinful life daily from morning to night. For such persons rejoice solely in their senses and sense objects alone and not in actions performed in worshipping the one from whom they originated from, the Supreme Lord. Therefore the meaning is uselessly they live their lives in vain.

Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Madhvacarya's Commentary

For being the cause of vegetation growing clouds are known as parjanya or rain bringers . Actions are performed due to yagna or worship and all actions flow from and towards the Supreme as Lord Krishna is omniscient and omnipresent. Even though He is eternal He can be known by his aksara potency known as the Vedic scriptures. Yagna is performed by sound, sound vibration is an attribute of all creatures who in turn eat food that was produced by rains falling from clouds manifested by the power of the sun. This is the cycle of yagna that the Supreme Lord is eternally established in. This cycle was set in motion at the dawn of creation by the grandsire Brahma. Whoever does not maintain and perpetuate this cycle which is beneficial to all created beings becomes sinful and degraded and performs activities counter productive to the perseverance of all life and must suffer in the darkest regions of the hellish planets as described in Canto V of the Bhagavat Purana.

Now begins the summation.

For renunciants yagna or worship may be performed by the recitation and repetition of mantras. For those living as forest recluses the austerities endured are themselves the yagna. For householders the performance of all recommended activities as prescribes in the Vedic scriptures. For brahmacaris the study of the Vedas, celibacy, introspection and service to guru. Fearlessness, charity and the development of atma-tattva or knowledge of the eternal soul are applicable to all of the above. For forest dwellers charity is sharing of food being roots and fruits and wild vegetables to those in need. For the householder charity is donating wealth to worthy recipients in need. But all these actions should be extremely austere and frugal. In the Narada Purana the three activities known as yagna, charity and austerities are prescribed for everyone.

The words Brahman denoting the fundamental spiritual substratum pervading all existence and aksara meaning Vedas should be understood to be distinct from each other with the Vedas revealing knowledge of both. having a separate but connected function

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Ramanuja's Commentary

From food all creatures procreate and from rain food is produced. The whole world is witness to this. As for the evidence that yagna or worship causes rainfall sastra or the Vedic scriptures give proof. In Manu Samhita III.76 we find that oblations properly offered into the sacred fire ascend upwards to the sun, and from the sun rain clouds are produced. Actions such as earning funds are accomplished by the physical body when actions utilise such wealth following the prescribed injunction of the Vedas then the result is yagna. The word Brahma here denotes the universal body as an aggregate of all material particles. The word aksara means indestructible or imperishable in the verse brahma-aksara refers to the eternal jiva- atma, the individual soul. It is the jiva-atma who monitors the body and gives it consciousness and impels it nourish itself through food and water, fortifying it to engage in the prescribed actions of the Vedas. Hence the physical body which serves as the medium for actions is said to manifest from the all prevasive universal body of the Brahman. Thus the physical body itself is the essential item which every votary of yagna must possess and is the indispensable prerequisite for the performance of yagna.

So from actions comes yagna, from yagna rain, from rainfall food and from food embodied beings. This cycle was set into motion by the Supreme Lord Krishna at the beginning of creation. This cycle is never ending and was designed to exist perpetually providing all necessities for the embodied beings allowing them to prosper and flourish, Whoever is born on this Earth whether they are performers of actions or contemplators of the ultimate truth, the Supreme Brahman; if they fail to adhere to and follow and adhere to this cycle leads a sinful life for the simple reason that they fail to even support and preserve their own embodied existence by sanctifying it with the daily food remnants eaten that was first offered in yagna.

The word agha-ayuh means full of sin, this can be either that one's life is committed to making sins or that one is living a life perpetuated by sin or it can even mean both. In this way such a sinner becomes an indriyaramah or one who only seeks delights in the beguiling garden of the senses using their valuable human life only for the pursuit of pleasure, a slave under the control of sense delights. Therefore such a one never takes delight in the soul and is the antithesis of an atmaramah or one who delights in the garden of the atma or soul.

Food eaten that was not first sanctified by being consecrated in yagna or offering of worship beforehand ignites rajas or passions in one and incites tamas or darkness of intellect. A person in whom these dispositions are prominent becomes hostile to achieving an even rudimental spiritual illumination let alone atma-tattva or self-realisation of the soul. Such a hostile person only finds pleasure in pursuing pleasure to gratify their senses.

Blessed with the gift of a human body which is suitable for offering Divine worship in yagna and which therefore which must be nourished with sanctified food duly consecrated so ones actions fulfill there purpose. If one errs and fails to honour and respect this eternal cycle given in the Vedic injunctions, then all there hopes for spiritual realisation will not be fulfilled and all their efforts are destined to failure. There complete life was lived in vain.

So from this it can be understood that the necessity for the actions of yagna as prescribed in the Vedic scriptures are essential and indispensable for the different varnas or castes and asramas or stages of society. Only that person who has attained moksa or complete liberation from the cycle of birth and death in the material nature is under no obligation to in any way whatsoever to perform any activity due to the fact that the achievement of atma-tattva self-realisation of the soul has already been attained.

Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Kesava Kasmiri's Commentary

What is to be determined by this verse? What should be understood is that in the beginning of creation Lord Krishna Himself entered into each and every living entity as the imperishable atma or soul to monitor the evolution of all living beings and to accomplish the goals of the freewill exercised by every individual soul who previously had been merged within his internal potency. Thus by inspiring Brahma to project them into the material manifestation they were created into innumerable names and forms and expressions. The Brahmins were manifested from the head of the Supreme Brahman and thus they were able to perform actions these actions were performance of yagna or worship and then rains, food and living beings arose. All human beings have the right to perform spiritual activities according to qualification; but those who instead choose to shun this responsibility and disrespect all of creation which provides all necessities, by not performing yagna has verily disconnected themselves from the spiritual reality that the Supreme Lord Himself established for the benefit of all living beings. Thus day by day such a living entity is increasing their sins by being deluded into thinking they are independent and do not need to satisfy the chance guest, the ancestors, the demigods and the Supreme Brahman. Thus by daily feeding one’s body food which was not consecrated by being offered in yagna that unfortunate person human life is in vain. The purport is that even death is better than living for such a person as this.

Thus ends commentaries of chapter 3, verse 16 of the Srimad Bhagavad-Gita.

Verse 16

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