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Bg. 3.14

annād bhavanti bhūtāni
parjanyād anna-sambhavaḥ
yajñād bhavati parjanyo
yajñaḥ karma-samudbhavaḥ

Rāmānuja's commentary on this verse points to a verse from Manusmṛti which is talking about oblations poured into fire:

'From sacrifice comes rain' this is known from the scriptures such as, 'The oblations offered in fire reach the sun, and from the sun comes rain' (Manu 3.76)

So also Śaṅkara's:

This accords with the Smrti, 'The oblations properly poured into fire reaches the sun. From the sun comes rain, from rain comes food, and from the sun comes rain, from rain comes food, and from that the creatures' (Ma.Sm.3.76).

Are there any commentaries that interpret "yajñād bhavati parjanyo" (from yajña arises rain) allegorically i.e., not involving literal fire and smoke?


Related (but not duplicate): What are the Yagnas Sri Krishna was referring to in Srimad Bhagavad Gita?

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    I'm not sure if Medhatithi wrote a commentary on the Gita, but he says that the Manusmriti verse is purely allegorical and not to be taken literally: wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/… | So, he may interpret the Gita verse similarly if he commented on it, since he has no reason to interpret the Gita verse differently. – Ikshvaku Feb 16 at 2:38
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In The Holy Geeta, Swami Chinmayanada interprets that verse/phrase in a metaphorical sense:

This stanza may appear strange to those who are not ready to bring the full shaft of their intelligence for the purpose of understanding it. It is evident to any modern educated man that living creatures are born out of matter. Matter is rendered consumable and digestible, nutritive and assimilable, only by the action of rains upon it. But the difficulty in understanding the stanza is when we come to the next assertion that 'the rains come as a result of Yajnas'.

But in Krishna's words here, we are not warranted in accepting that He is advising Arjuna to follow ritualism. In this stanza, as also elsewhere all along the Geeta, the familiar terms of the Vedic period have been charged with new meanings and significances. Rain is the essential condition for the conversion of the mineral raw material into enjoyable and nutritive food. Similarly, in all fields of activity there is an enjoyable profit which can be gathered only when, the fields come under conditions favourable for them to produce those profits. Self-dedicated activities (Yajna), when performed in any given field of endeavour, will be creating therein conditions necessary for the field to smile forth (rain) in a luxurious 'crop of profit' (Annam), enjoyable by the society.

He also gives an example:

For example, the wasteful waters of a river flowing idly can be dammed and made use of, if the water is intelligently employed in irrigating the fertile lands now lying fallow on its banks. Through sacrifice and work alone can the dam be built and when it is built, it provides 'conditions helpful' for bringing the lands on either side under the plough. Again, for making use of irrigated land, man has yet to strive by ploughing, sowing, weeding, wafting, gathering, before he can come to enjoy the profit of his activities — the food.

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This is a good question. Before I answer it, I want to discuss a meta point. You are wondering in regards to this verse from Bhagavad Gita that what are other interpretations of this text? Now, in this modern age, every person can publish their own commentary and make a following based on zillion number of schools. However, if you really want to understand and apply the verse in your life. Then, we have to follow what Krishna says in chapter 4 in regards to understanding Gita. He mentions that this system of knowledge is accessed and understood through authorized sampradaya (disciplic succession). So inorder to understand various interpretations on Bhagavad Gita, we should look to Vaishnava acharyas and their commentaries. This would be supremely beneficial for the reader.

In the present day, the most prominent preacher was HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. His Bhagavad Gita is loved by millions. He writes:

The Lord can be satisfied by sacrifices; therefore, one who cannot perform them will find himself in scarcity – that is the law of nature. Yajña, specifically the saṅkīrtana-yajña prescribed for this age, must therefore be performed to save us at least from scarcity of food supply.

So the Yajna implies sacrifice. In different ages (Satya, Dwapara etc.), the sacrifices are prescribed for the time, place and circumstance. In the current age of Kali, the yajna recommended is Sankirtana - Yajna or congregational chanting of the holy names of Lord Krishna. (Srimad Bhagavatam 11.5.32).

Another reference is Ch 114 of 5th canto of Padma Purana which recommends the Yajna of chanting the holy names in the Kali yuga.

Krishna's words are not only authoritative but scientific. So I offer any reader an experiment. For a week, please chant for half hour daily and see the wonderful results in your life. Best if you can do with family or friends. :)

  • yes, sankirtana is definitely the best yajna for kali-yuga.Thanks for your kind advice. – user17294 Feb 19 at 18:19
  • I don't agree with Prabhupada's entire commentary on the verse but still upvoting for this line "Yajña, specifically the saṅkīrtana-yajña prescribed for this age" which answers the question. Do you know of any other sources for this statement: "In the current age of Kali, the yajna recommended is Sankirtana"? – sv. Feb 19 at 18:27
  • I appreciate your upvote. Whether you and I agree with the commentary or not, he is an Acharya and he is sharing the message of parampara. If we accept, we gain a lot. Yes, there are lot of pramana/evidence for sankirtana yajna. One which I can remember now is Narada speaking to Vasudeva. SB 11.5.32 In the Age of Kali, intelligent persons perform congregational chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead who constantly sings the names of Kṛṣṇa. Although His complexion is not blackish, He is Kṛṣṇa Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons and confidential companions. – sidharth chhabra Feb 19 at 18:44
  • Thanks for the additional reference, you can directly add it to your answer. – sv. Feb 19 at 20:48
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The word 'yajna' was allegorically used by Sri Bhagavan Himself:

श्रेयान्द्रव्यमयाद्यज्ञाज्ज्ञानयज्ञः परन्तप।

सर्वं कर्माखिलं पार्थ ज्ञाने परिसमाप्यते।।4.33।।

4.33 O destroyer of enemies, Knowledge considered as a sacrifice [Yajna] is greater than sacrifices[Yajna] offering materials. O son of Prtha, all actions in their totality culminate in Knowledge.

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It is to be appreciated that Lord Krishna had averred thus in the following verses of Chapter 2 -

42
Unwise use all enticing / Flowery language to further / Rituals Vedic in their scores / Not the knowledge of Vedas.

43
Eyeing heaven with mind mundane / Go for ceremonies such in hope / Of having best of both the worlds.

44
Pursue if thou wants with zeal / Instincts then would spin thy mind.

But could he have taken an U-Turn, in the very next chapter thus -

  1. Man is not attached to his actions performed in ritualistic sacrifices but all other actions bind him.

  2. The Creator wanted mankind to prosper through sacrifices, which shall be the milch cow of man’s desires.

  3. Foster the gods through sacrifices

  4. Fostered by sacrifices, gods would bestow desired enjoyments, but they are thieves who do not return anything to them (gods).

  5. Those that partake the remnants of sacrificial food are sinless.

  6. Food that sustains mankind comes from rains, which are but the outcome of sacrificial ceremonies.

  7. Brahma is seated in sacrifice.

  8. Who follow the above regimen would attain moksha.

Not to my mind and so it makes a case that the above are but interpolations as argued in my free ebook "Bhagvad-Gita: Treatise of Self-help in verses sans 110 interpolations" published by Project Gutenberg Self-Publishing Press http://self.gutenberg.org/eBooks/WPLBN0002097652-Bhagvad-Gita-Treatise-of-Self-Help-by-Murthy-B-S-.aspx? and also available at Wattpad https://www.wattpad.com/story/175243281-bhagvad-gita-treatise-of-self-help

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    "Not to my mind and so it makes a case that the above are but interpolations as argued in my free ebook" - please quote the arguments from your book directly. – sv. Feb 19 at 18:04

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