Dr. Dolgobinda Shastri


The word “Jajna” in our ancient Vedic Culture, has been so far translated into English language as ‘sacrifice”. The common dictionaries state the meaning of ‘Jajna’ as sacrifice, an oblation, a fire oblation, sacrificial offerings etc.

These are all superficial. The real connotation of the word Jaj (root verb) + na as per Vedic concept, is renouncing some pure offering to any object of reverence and worship excepting ones, own self. This is a selfless “tyaga” or giving up, relinquishing, gift, donating, self sacrificing, any thing for others’ benefit, others’ happiness, removing  others’ misery, suffering without any motive of receiving any return in the form of material benefit.

Now let us go into the concept of “Jajna” expressed in the Vedic texts. In the Mahabharat we see that – ‘Jajna is at the root of the whole creation and also the whole creation is activated by jajna and rests on Jajna only (Santi Parva).

In Satapath Brahman (1/7/1/5) and 3/2/1/4 of Taitiriya Brahman, it is stated as “Jajna vai sresthatamam karma” i.e. Jajna is the highest and best of all actions.

The offering of clarified butter is only symbolic of purity of mind, motive and articles used in the performance of Jajna.

So also the word ‘Aja’ is also symbolic. The superficial meaning of ‘aja’ is goat. But in the Jajna corn-seed which has been too old and lost its sprouting – ingredient or human sex-hunger like goat must be abandoned i.e. any ambition of worldly enjoyment must be scarified for others’ interest.

According to the vedic concept, man is the atomic part of the supreme creator and the supreme creator himself does every thing for the welfare of the beings of his creation. Krishna himself says in Gita.

The all pervading Brahman or imperishable lord is ever present within the sacrifice (Jajna- 3.15). O Arjuna! I have no duty, I lack nothing, there is nothing to be attained by me, and yet I myself, am active. 3.22" This is Jajna, and this kind of Jajna is the best of all actions.

Any action without self-satisfaction, without self-interest and with a pious spirit of dedication of self-interest, self pleasure and self enjoyment is real Jajna or sacrifice.

In course of time and towards the later period, perversion of sacrificial rituals crept in and goats, horses, buffaloes etc. we slaughtered at the sacrificial alter. This was never sanctioned by the ancient sages, but later, greedy Sanskrit Pandits composed Sanskrit verses and animal slaughter was prescribed as a part of jajna or function of Jajna. For this reason, Lord Buddha appeared as the Avatar of the Supreme Lord to set right the actual spirit of Jajna.

No religion, no spiritual institution can sanction injury to others as a part of spiritual practice. This is simply perversion, degradation and sinful act. Even now-a-days, we find such inhuman practices in the name of Dharma. It should be totally prohibited. Our future generation should boldly come forward to do to the utmost to stop these sort of superstitions psu-do religious practices.

A Sutra or dictum of Sankhya philosophy goes as thus, -

“Prakruti Pararthe” which means – Every natural object is for the benefit of others without its own.

The trees grow. They never ask any body to nourish or protect them and suffer all sorts of natural calamities. They always sacrifice their fruits, flowers, leaves, branches etc. What more, they never complain when men and animals destroy or cause harm to them, on the other hand, they supply fruits and shelter to others who come to destroy them.

This is real Jajna or Sacrifice. The rivers flow and supply water to others. They never complain when others pollute water by throwing dirty things and dead bodies into them. Men and animals destroy river-embankments and suffer from over flow, flood etc. This is no fault of the rivers.

The air  is present every where for the benefit of others. We men pollute air and suffer. Still then, air never ceases to blow and serve all through, because, there will be no life at all if air stops for a second.

This is Jajna or sacrifice. The whole creation and Supreme Creator, both is the embodiment of Jajna i.e. Sacrifice: -   “Tasmat Sarvagatam Brahma Nityam Jajne Pratististham”. Therefore the all pervading, imperishable lord is ever present with in the Act of Sacrifice offered to Him.