Verse 3.12: In charge of the various necessities of life, the demigods, being satisfied by the performance of yajña [sacrifice], will supply all necessities to you. But he who enjoys such gifts without offering them to the demigods in return is certainly a thief.
When we do something for someone else, in one sense, we are performing a sacrifice. We are giving up our time, energy, money and even mental energy to acknowledge someone.
That's exactly what Krsna is saying here. "If you don't "perform sacrifice" for the demigods (empowered beings who are in charge of providing us various necessities), you are not acknowledging their service and therefore may be considered a thief."
No beating around the bush here; we're getting some tough love. And truth be told, for some of us, it may be needed. A jolt, to snap us out of any sense of entitlement we may be experiencing and/or the complete ignorance we may be blissfully be in that at every moment we are the recipients of gifts. Whether it be the air we breath, the use of our limbs or just being able to digest our meals, we are indebted to so many persons.
Ultimately, the person to thank is the Supreme, but I'd like to point out a "teachable moment" here. Although Krsna is the one who is empowering the demigods by giving them the knowledge, ability and facility to provide us with all our necessities, note what He is doing here: Krsna is passing along the credit to the demigods. This not only demonstrates perfect leadership, but by His own example, Krsna is showing us that we should take no one for granted. Everyone should be appreciated and acknowledged for whatever they do.
But I digress...back to the tough love. Acknowledgement is required and it's demonstrated through sacrifice. So what type of sacrifice do we perform then?
The recommended sacrifice that is given in the bhakti texts is that of mantra meditation. A mantra is a spiritual sound vibration which can free the mind from anxiety. If we think about it, why do we experience anxiety? Often it's because we're indebted to someone or something! We need to finish a report for our boss, need to feed the kids, need to plan an event for the thirty people who are coming, etc etc., the list just continues. Mantra meditation removes all this anxiety and in it's place brings about focus and peace.
Still, this might have some of us scratching our heads thinking, "How is mantra meditation sacrifice?" Simply put, mantra meditation requires that we voluntarily use our time to engage in saying these spiritual sound vibrations, and just as importantly, we engage our senses in hearing the mantra. Since mantras are composed of the names of the Divine, by saying and hearing these spiritual sounds, we are essentially making time to re-connect (i.e. yoga) and revive our forgotten relationship with the Supreme. The bhakti texts describe that the names of the Divine are non-different from the Divine Himself.
When you think about it, there's actually a lot more in it for us! Just by sacrificing even a little bit of our time to hear and chant, we get peace and focus, serve to acknowledge all the gifts that we are receiving from the Divine AND re-connect with Him all at the same time!
Another amazing thing about mantra meditation is how practical it is. It can be practiced anywhere, anytime. There is no restriction and limitation as to how and when one can start. This leaves us with one question then - which mantra one do we choose? There are numerous mantras that are offered in the Vedas, but only one is called the greatest mantra (i.e. maha mantra).
That mantra is:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare
This sixteen word mantra is so powerful that by just saying it, one gets the benefits of chanting all the mantras that are found in the Vedas.
Simple but so powerful. The perfect sacrifice to express our acknowledgement and appreciation for all the gifts we receive is to engage in mantra meditation.
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