Various Forms and Methods of the Sacrifice

While we have been reviewing the traditional understanding of the Vedic sacrifice and comparing it to Sri Krishna’s exhortation to make every act into an act of sacrifice, it must be reiterated that there are many potential stages and intermediate forms that can and should be recognised. Different temperaments and various stages of evolutionary development will lead to a multitude of different forms of practice, and just as there are numerous religions in the world, there are also numerous acts that when done with the proper spirit of consecration and offering to the Divine, in one form or another, can be seen as positive steps along the path.

Sri Aurobindo goes into considerable detail on this point: “There is the psychological sacrifice of self-control and self-discipline which leads to the higher self-possession and self-knowledge. ‘Some offer their senses into the fires of control, others offer the objects of sense into the fires of sense, and others offer all the actions of the sense and all the actions of the vital force into the fire of the Yoga of self-control kindled by knowledge.’ ”

“The offering of the striver after perfection may be material and physical…, like that consecrated in worship by the devotee to his deity, or it may be the austerity of his self-discipline and energy of his soul directed to some high aim, tapoyagna, or it may be some form of Yoga like the Pranayama of the Rajayogins and Hathayogins, or any other yogayagna. All these tend to the purification of the being; all sacrifice is a way towards the attainment of the highest.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 12, The Significance of Sacrifice, pp. 113-114