The Recipient and Mode of the Sacrifice

Just as we see throughout history the use of painful self-immmolation as a concept associated with sacrifice, so we also see that there was a diverse range of beings to whom the sacrifice was directed and for various purposes or fruits that were being sought. At a certain point in time, the conducting of sacrifices for achieving various worldly results was the dominant idea, and the Gita itself takes exception to this view of the matter, as it seeks to redirect the focus toward the divine realisation.

The true recipient of the sacrifice is not one of the lower forms of the gods, nor is a standardised ritual procedure the actual mode of sacrifice required to achieve the greater result envisioned by the Gita; however, all these forms, being forms of the Infinite, create an interchange and a response.

Sri Aurobindo discusses these issues: “The sacrifice may be offered to others or it may be offered to divine Powers; it may be offered to the cosmic All or it may be offered to the transcendent Supreme.”

The form of the sacrifice may also vary: “The worship given may take any shape from the dedication of a leaf or flower, a cup of water, a handful of rice, a loaf of bread, to consecration of all that we possess and the submission of all that we are.”

The underlying truth of Oneness implies that all sacrifice eventually is to the Eternal: “Whoever the recipient, whatever the gift, it is the Supreme, the Eternal in things, who receives and accepts it, even if it be rejected or ignored by the immediate recipient. For the Supreme who transcends the universe, is yet here too, however veiled, in us and in the world and in its happenings; he is there as the omniscient Witness and Receiver of all our works and their secret Master. All our actions, all our efforts, even our sins and stumblings and sufferings and struggles are obscurely or consciously, known to us and seen or else unknown and in a disguise, governed in their last result by the One. All is turned towards him in his numberless forms and offered through them to the single Omnipresence. In whatever form and with whatever spirit we approach him, in that form and with that spirit he receives the sacrifice.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 4, The Sacrifice, The Triune Path and the Lord of the Sacrifice, pp. 101-102