A king once decided to organize a yajna for eleven days. For that he needed large amounts of milk, rice, sugar, curds, honey, cloth etc. The people of the kingdom were not well-off. They were barely able to make ends meet. But the king announced that everyone would have to contribute to the offerings because he was organizing the yajna for the prosperity of all the people of the kingdom. Each household would have to contribute at least two kilograms of offerings every day.
Huge containers were set up in the palace courtyard for collecting milk, curds, rice, etc. On the first day, people started coming with packets of offerings. They would pour their share of rice, curds or whatever they had brought into the big cauldrons set up for collecting the same. By the evening all the cauldrons were barely half full. A lady came in holding a small pot of curds in her hand. She poured it into the big cauldron set up for collecting curds and immediately the pot filled up to its brim! Quietly, she walked away. The palace guards were amazed at what they had just seen.
The following day again, people came to offer their share. Some brought wheat; some milk. The people were poor and had to go hungry themselves, to contribute to the king’s yajna. But they had no choice, for the king had ordered that everyone must contribute something. By the evening, all the collecting pots were just about half full.
Then the same lady walked in and poured a small amount of milk into the huge milk pot. Immediately the whole pot filled to its brim. The king’s people reported this strange happening to the king.
On the third day again, the pots were set up. By the evening they were barely one third full, for the poor subjects were starving and had hardly anything more to give. The king came incognito to see the lady. Sure enough, she walked in quietly, just as the Sun was beginning to set. She opened up the knot at the end of the pallu of her saree and emptied it out into the rice pot. Barely a handful of rice; but it was enough for the pot to be filled to its brim!
The king stepped forward and said to the lady, “Oh blessed lady! How is it that your contribution fills up the pot every time you pour something into it? Who are you?” The lady asked, “Why do you ask me? Who are you?” The king revealed his identity. The lady said, “Oh king! You have not discharged your duty. It is unfair of you to insist on every one making contributions to your yajna. Step out for a moment into the city. Peep into the homes of the poor peasants. Their children and aged parents are starving. They are unable to feed them, but they are forced to contribute to your yajna. You offer rice to the sacred fire, whereas the fire of hunger in the stomachs of the poor is not satiated.” The king was taken aback at this passionate outburst from the lady. He said, “I did not realize that my people were starving. But, you did not tell me the magic behind your contribution.”
The lady replied, “Contrary to your directions, I fed the children in the house. I satisfied the elders; I kept a small amount for my husband and myself. Whatever I could spare, I brought for the yajna! My contribution does not have the stains of the blood and hunger of my family; it is pure. So, it is enough to fill up your pot!”
The lady turned around and walked away leaving the king dumbstruck. The next day, the king announced that only those people, who could contribute easily, should do so. They were free to give only that much as they could easily spare. They should contribute, if only they wanted to. The next day, a few people came in to contribute, but very soon, all the pots were full!
It does not matter how much you give; what matters is how you give it. Baba says that the offerings of food grains, ghee, milk, curds, cloth, gold or precious gems that we offer into the sacred fire are not a waste. They are akin to the seeds sown by a farmer into the soil. Fire is the best medium to convey our offerings to the Gods. For it is the purest of all the five elements. You can have impurities in the air, water, earth or space. But you can never have an impure fire. Fire burns away all impurities. It is pure and further reduces everything that is offered into it to ash. Ash is what remains in the end. Ash or vibhuti is the single most pure thing that remains after everything is burnt out.
But if we turn out our entire granary into the sacred fire and leave nothing to feed our families it is a gross error. The Gods multiply manifold whatever we offer to them in the Yajna and give it back to us. But if we offer everything into the fire, and starve the family, who will be there to enjoy the fruits of the Yajna!” Bhagwan Baba tells us that we must offer into the sacred fire a small portion of all material things that we use in our daily life. The offering is notional. What matters is the devotion with which you offer it!
“Few people care to enquire into the nature of the inner yajna (sacrifice). The inner meaning of yajna is to recognize one’s inherent Divinity and offer all of one’s bad qualities as a sacrificial offering at the sacred site of one’s mind. Yajnas have been prescribed for the purpose of enabling people to make a sacrifice of all their bad thoughts and actions. Fickleness, hatred, stealing and foolish stubbornness are not natural traits for man. The presence of these traits in man must be attributed to the legacy from previous births. The sacrifice which everyone has to make is the giving up of all bad qualities in him.” – Baba.