12 Pillars of Dharma - Worship

arati performed to Paramahamsa Vishwananda

Written by: Swami Revatikaanta

Although the term yajna is used in several different ways throughout the Vedic scriptures, when it comes to its usage in the Padma Purana, in reference to the 12 pillars of dharma, it quite clearly means to worship.

In the Gita, Krishna says:

Focus your mind on Me, be devoted to Me, offer worship to Me, bow down to Me. Engaging your mind in this way, holding Me as the supreme goal, you will surely come to Me.

Bhagavad Gita, 9.34

Guruji adds in His commentary, ‘Focus your mind on Me. Be devoted to Me. Awake. Let your heart dwell on Me. Offer worship to Me. Serve Me in your worship, in your charity, in your daily chores. Do it as a form of worship. Bow down to Me. Be humble. Engaging your mind in this manner and regarding Me as the supreme goal, you will come to Me. If the mind and the heart are focused on the Lord, and everything one does is done with this attitude of surrender to the Lord, there is no doubt that one will reach Him.’

The beauty of this worship, at least for me, is that it does two things simultaneously. Worshipping the Lord as described in this verse, not only serves to build up our relationship with God, our Supreme Beloved, but it also promotes the development of humility within us, which ironically is the quality we most need in order to attract God to us! As devotees, naturally our wish is to be as close to God as we can be. But sometimes it feels like we want to be close to Him first, in order for us to then worship Him lovingly. And so, we create an impasse of sorts – we want God to be close to us so that we can then worship Him, and God wants us to worship Him so that we can become close! But we must understand that the step must come from our side. God knows His own worth, and He knows that when He gives Himself to us, there is no higher experience to be had. It means that He can’t and won’t do it just like that. He needs to feel that there is a sincere longing, a sincere commitment from our side towards Him. That we value Him truly. And worship is the way we show our commitment and estimation of value. To worship is to bow down before something we consider to be greater than us, to commit ourselves to a cause or a pursuit more important than our individual desires or gains.

And worship is the way we show our commitment and estimation of value. To worship is to bow down before something we consider to be greater than us, to commit ourselves to a cause or a pursuit more important than our individual desires or gains.

In that sense, I recommend the pillar of yajna to anyone, irrespective of religion, belief or lack thereof. Life becomes full of meaning and purpose when we are able to dedicate ourselves to something greater than ourselves. True happiness is born out of that spirit of worship, the spirit that we are in the service of something more important than my sense gratification or the fleeting happiness of my mind. But of course, if you can do it sincerely, then worship the source of your being – Sriman Narayana. We are all souls, and it is in those moments of worship to God, that our true nature shines forth. Our soul’s natural propensity to Love God is so rarely manifest, that when we are able to see it, to feel it, even for just a second, the biggest and most important transformations can happen in our lives. It strengthens our faith, it builds our trust, it attracts our Lord and it fills our life with hope – hope that through this wonderful pillar of worship, we may one day attain a Love so perfect and blissful that we need never attain anything else.