Wednesday, May 12, 2010

eat to live, not live to eat - ब्रह्मार्पणं ब्रह्म हविः

the instrument, the object, the doer and the act - of offering are all brahma; (one who considers thus) state of brahma alone is the destination worthy of such who is steadfast in such selfless deeds.

brahmArpaNaM brahma haviH brahmAgnau brahmaNA hutam ।
brahmaiva tena gantavyaM brahmakarmasamAdhinA ।।

ब्रह्मार्पणं ब्रह्म हविः ब्रह्माग्नौ ब्रह्मणा हुतम् ।
ब्रह्मैव तेन गन्तव्यं ब्रह्मकर्मसमाधिना ॥

brahmārpaṇaṃ brahma haviḥ brahmāgnau brahmaṇā hutam ।
brahmaiva tena gantavyaṃ brahmakarmasamādhinā ॥

this is another mantra/shloka that is very well known, very simple sanskrit and far reaching meaning. appearing in the bhagawad-gItA 4.24, this is a shloka commonly recited before eating food.

there are multiple parallel meanings here, and we can benefit from this at all levels.

when a yaGYa (yaj~na), a fire ritual is performed, there is the performer, the fire, the offering (ghee) and the ladle used to offer (the ghee). all of them are simultaneously the same supreme principle, the brahman, the parama-brahma.

now think of the act of eating. there is the eater, the digestive fire, the food and the hand used to put the food in the 'fire'. it is similar to the act of yaGYa (yaj~na).

why is it important or even relevant here? eating is a specific example of consumption. where we don't create, but consume. we take away from the system. we may do this with a sense of pride - 'see, i am eating at a 7-star hotel, 12-course meal, i am so great and powerful and successful.' or we could be eating a simple loaf of bread with no milk, just water to push it down!