Creation having been brought forth by sacrifice, by sacrifice you will evolve and prosper. Sacrifice is the milch cow of your desires.
My own orientation, Surrender Meditation, is strongly reflected in my commentary on these verses (10 -15), but it is certainly not the only valid perspective. So if your orientation is other otherwise, please draw your own conclusions accordingly with my blessings.
Prajapati, originally Hiranyagarbha (‘golden womb’), having created the world and heaven, and who is the sustainer and protector of all born beings, tells us in these next few verses, how sacrifice is not only what creates, sustains and protects, but how it functions for our good.
The Golden Womb
Creation having been brought forth by sacrifice, Prajapati anciently said, “By sacrifice you will evolve and prosper. Sacrifice is the milch cow of your desire.
Well, that’s a relief! But what is all this about Creation being brought about by sacrifice? And who is Prajapati? And a milch cow…?
“Creation having been brought forth by sacrifice”
First we have to consider the characteristics of sacrifice as it was described in verse nine: Sacrifice is an action for which we have no attachment either to getting the credit for doing it, or to getting the results of it.
If we apply this idea to Creation, it looks like nothing and no one made Creation happen. It may have happened because of something or someone, but not by anything. In other words, Creation was/is a spontaneous event brought about because of something but not by it. Let us call this something, “God”.
‘Lord of born beings’
God as Creator (earlier Hiranyagarbha, later Brahmā)
Prajapati, having created the world and heaven, is the sustainer and protector of all born beings. Originally, this role was attributed to the feminine, Hiranyagarbha, and later devolved to the masculine as the yugas (ages) made their way downward from the Golden Age (satya yuga) through ages of increasing strife. The naturally occurring phenomena of Creation is rooted in sacrifice as it is described in these few verses (10-14).
Hiranyagarbha — hiranya (‘golden’), garbha (‘womb’, ‘to conceive’). Also called the Golden Egg, or Cosmic Egg.
Sacrifice is therefore understood to be a spontaneous action. Spontaneous action is void of attachment to action and to the effects of action. In verse nine, we learned that this is the essence of Karma Yoga (Action Yoga).
“By sacrifice you will evolve and prosper.”
“By sacrifice you will evolve or prosper.”
Why the “or”?
Two paths are suggested: one will get you prosperity and posterity (pravritti marga), and the other will bring about your evolution (nirvritti marga).
We may be tempted to think of evolution as ‘spiritual growth’, but this often does not include the physical, and Yoga always includes the physical, though not as evidenced by popular trend. Also, evolution is different from growth in that growth is something getting bigger or better or both, whereas evolution is transformation into an improved version of an original. So while evolution may include bigger and better, more importantly, it suggests transformation. Evolution is going on all the time, so to suggest it here means something more. It implies the completion of a stage of human existence: a higher life form.
“Sacrifice is the milch cow of your desire”
Sacrifice as ‘the milch cow of desire’ is Kamadhenu, the ‘wish fulfilling cow’. She is the miraculous cow of plenty who fulfills all desires.
If you are looking for further understanding of ‘sacrifice’, consider the cow. She continues to give her milk for as long as needed. She does not make this happen, it happens because of her—it comes naturally, it is not self-motivated, and there is no consideration of having done anything to make it happen. The cow is an excellent symbol for what is meant by the word ‘sacrifice’.
Karma Yoga (Action Yoga)
A cow produces milk for as long as it is taken. When the calf stops nursing, her milk dries up, and so it is with Kamadhenu. Hence is sacrifice is not only a privilege, but a duty, for sacrifice as described here is the very thing that causes Kamadhenu’s milk to continue to flow and fulfill all our wants and needs.
Checking Your Understanding
I realize that each of you will understand these ideas concerning sacrifice in your own way. This is as it should be. It is the beauty of Sanskrit scriptural teachings that it supplies answers for any of the many paths to Truth. To determine for yourself if your understanding is correct, there are two guidelines:
(1) See that your understanding is consistent with ahimsa (harmlessness—physically, and in thought and speech) because this is consistent with your natural state as a divine individual.
(2) See that it works in context with the foregoing and forthcoming verses, and the text as a whole.
More next week on ‘sacrifice’ and ‘the milch cow of your desire’.
Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),