shrotraadeeneendriyaanyanye saiyamaagnishu juhvati |
shabdaadeenvishayaananya indriyaagnishu juhvati || 26 ||

Other yogis offer hearing and other senses into the sacrificial flame of self-restraint. Yet others offer sense objects into the sacrificial flame of the senses.

shrotraadeeni : hearing and other
indriyaani : senses
anye : others
saiyamaagnishu : flame in the form of self-restraint
juhvati : offer
shabdaadeen : speech and other
vishayaan : sense objects
anya : yet others
indriyaagnishu : flame in the form of senses
juhvati : offer

Two more practical yajnyas are highlighted in this shloka by Shri Krishna. In the first yajyna, we use our discrimination to limit the activities of our senses. Symbolically, self control is like the fire to which the senses are offered.

The world comprises both good and bad influences. Our senses are exposed to thousands of such influences each day. If we keep senses open all the time without proper discrimination, so many negative influences would enter that it would take a lifetime to clean them up. Therefore, in this yajnya, we exercise our discretion over what we see, eat and hear everyday. Such withdrawal of energy from the senses is called pratyaahaara. It is the fourth “limb” or aspect of yoga in the tradition of Patanjali, the first three being yama (restraint), niyama (positive restraint, covered in a later shloka) and aasana (steadying the body).

The Ramaayana illustrates this very well with the example of Raavana and Dasharatha. Raavana’s ten heads are representative of the ten senses (5 sense organs + 5 organs of action). He was under such influence of his senses, he used them so much for enjoyment that they became ten heads. Conversely, Dasharatha exerted such control over his senses that they led him to his destination like a chariot (ratha).

The second yagnya is a more sophisticated version of the first yagnya. Instead of offering the senses to the fire of self restraint, the objects themselves, or more accurately, the notion of an object is sacrificed. We had come across the example of a gold jeweller who is only interested in the weight of the jewellery, regardless of how beautiful the ornament is. Similarly, advanced yogis sacrifice the notion that they are living in the world of objects. They recognize that objects are nothing but configurations of the same three cosmic forces: sattva, rajas and tamas. Like the jeweller, they “melt” the object so that it no longer draws their self outward.

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