Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 4, Verse 28

द्रव्ययज्ञास्तपोयज्ञा योगयज्ञास्तथापरे |
स्वाध्यायज्ञानयज्ञाश्च यतय: संशितव्रता: || 28||

dravya-yajñās tapo-yajñā yoga-yajñās tathāpare
swādhyāya-jñāna-yajñāśh cha yatayaḥ sanśhita-vratāḥ

dravya-yajñāḥoffering one’s own wealth as sacrife; tapaḥ-yajñāḥoffering severe austerities as sacrifice; yoga-yajñāḥperformance of eight-fold path of yogic practices as sacrifice; tathāthus; apareothers; swādhyāyacultivating knowledge by studying the scriptures; jñāna-yajñāḥthose offer cultivation of transcendental knowledge as sacrifice; chaalso; yatayaḥthese ascetics; sanśhita-vratāḥobserving strict vows


BG 4.28: Some offer their wealth as sacrifice, while others offer severe austerities as sacrifice. Some practice the eight-fold path of yogic practices, and yet others study the scriptures and cultivate knowledge as sacrifice, while observing strict vows.


Human beings differ from each other in their natures, motivations, activities, professions, aspirations, and sanskārs (tendencies carrying forward from past lives). Shree Krishna brings Arjun to the understanding that sacrifices can take on hundreds of forms, but when they are dedicated to God, they become means of purification of the mind and senses and elevation of the soul. In this verse, he mentions three such yajñas that can be performed.

Dravya yajña. There are those who are inclined toward earning wealth and donating it in charity toward a divine cause. Although they may engage in large and complicated business endeavors, yet their inner motivation remains to serve God with the wealth they earn. In this manner, they offer their propensity for earning money as sacrifice to God in devotion. John Wesley, the British preacher and founder of the Methodist Church would instruct his followers: “Make all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can.”

Yog yajña. In Indian philosophy the Yog Darśhan is one of the six philosophical treatises written by six learned sages. Jaimini wrote “Mīmānsā Darśhan,” Ved Vyas wrote “Vedānt Darśhan,” Gautam wrote “Nyāya Darśhan,” Kanad wrote “Vaiśheṣhik Darśhan,” Kapil wrote “Sānkhya Darśhan,” and Patañjali wrote “Yog Darśhan.” The Patañjali Yog Darśhan describes an eight-fold path, called aṣhṭāṅg yog, for spiritual advancement, starting with physical techniques and ending in conquest of the mind. Some people find this path attractive and practice it as sacrifice. However, Patañjali Yog Darśhan clearly states:

samādhisiddhirīśhvara praṇidhānāt (2.45)[v24]

“To attain perfection in Yog, you must surrender to God.” So when persons inclined toward aṣhṭang yog learn to love God, they offer their yogic practice as yajña in the fire of devotion. An example of this is the yogic system “Jagadguru Kripaluji Yog,” where the physical postures of aṣhṭaṅg yog are practiced as yajña to God, along with the chanting of his divine names. Such a combination of yogic postures along with devotion results in the physical, mental, and spiritual purification of the practitioner.

Jñāna yajña. Some persons are inclined toward the cultivation of knowledge. This propensity finds its perfect employment in the study of scriptures for enhancing one’s understanding and love for God. sā vidyā tanmatiryayā (Bhāgavatam 4.29.49)[v25] “True knowledge is that which increases our devotion to God.” Thus, studiously inclined sādhaks engage in the sacrifice of knowledge, which when imbued with the spirit of devotion, leads to loving union with God.