The word sacrifice in Sanskrit would be yagna. It’s a very important concept and is repeated multiple times throughout the Gita. Krishna also mentions that those who practice yagna, daana and tapa (sacrifice, charity and austerity) are dear to Him).
If we give something to someone, and get something in exchange, that is a transaction.
But if we give something to someone purely for the other person’s well-being, and expect nothing in return, that would be a sacrifice.
There are 5 types of maha yagnas prescribed in the scriptures. How do we practise these?
- Deva Yajna – for the Gods (sun, moon etc). We can pray with gratitude for the presence of all the deities around us.
- Pitri Yajna – for our forefathers and ancestors. We are here because of them. Tarpana is good to do where possible.
- Manushya Yajna – for our fellow humans. Being charitable, compassionate, loving and kind would be a great start.
- Bhoota Yajna – for the other living creatures. Feeding the animals, providing shelter for them.
- Brahma Yajna – for the soul inside us. Attending satsang, applying scriptural knowledge, attaining moksha.