(The Salt March (pictured here) was a form of yajña.)
Yajña is the Sanskrit term for sacrifice or offering. Of course, this is not limited to Hinduism. Muslims offer yajña yearly during the month-long fast of Karem, or Ramadan. Catholics offer yajña during the season of Lent. In short, every faith includes yajña. However, a yajña is not limited to formal worship. We can make every moment a form of an offering when we keep our eyes focused on a goal like nonviolence–the food we eat, the work we do, the words we use, the way we greet our neighbors, even our thoughts–all of these can be done in a spirit of Love and sacrifice.
A careful study of Gandhi’s life demonstrates this principle: never acting for his own welfare alone, he steadily undertook almost every inconvenience, such as seemingly small ones like cutting his own hair, to long fasts or jail-time. He gives us valuable insight into our own experiments in daily acts of nonviolence, or in making our lives an offering: we must do it cheerfully, because the real renunciation, or yajña, is of our mental attachment to our likes and dislikes. The minute we complain that we are not up to it, or feel it to be a burden, yajña loses its power.
The next time that you feel that you have to give something up, make it an offering, do it cheerfully.
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 firstname.lastname@example.org