Acts of charity or dana are good deeds. It is only when something is left over or saved that it can be given away as charity or gift, and it is an act of sacrifice.
A whole means the whole of what exists at a particular time, and it is divisible into parts. The same is true of all kinds of actions. Actions are different from one another; and in order to understand them, we should divide them into parts. There are some who believe that action gives satisfaction to the soul and not the mind; but we should examine this opinion carefully before accepting it. The origin of desire is knowledge, and animate and not inanimate objects derive satisfaction from it. This idea of satisfaction is described in the sacred books in various ways. The mind and the senses too have their share in satisfaction; and we can understand this from certain terms used in the text. But satisfaction is obtained only when a thing is transformed into something else.
Nature of Dana: Acts of dana or charity are good deeds in all respects; and there is good reason to think so. In this case the meaning is obtained by dividing the word (used for goodness) into parts; and we also find that the explanation of the meaning of the expression "properly done" takes us to the idea of goodness. The word in the text is Svishta-krt, which means "properly done"; and it is also a name of Agni. As the latter refers to the intellect, the idea is that an action intelligently done alone can be properly done; and it leads to the idea of goodness too.
The word used in the text is ajya which, as has already been observed, signifies goodness. This Sutra tells us that we can get this meaning by dividing the word into parts; and we are told later on that we should divide it into two parts. The word ajya would accordingly have to be reduced to aja, for it means "relating to aja"; and aja may be divided into a, ja; and we have to understand its idea by giving suitable meaning to these letters.
The letter "a" has a number of meanings; but the most suitable here would be "not" and "like"; and, similarly, the most suitable meanings of "ja" would be "poison" and "enjoyment". Aja would, accordingly, mean "not poison" or "like enjoyment"; and, with reference to desire, imply that desire is not evil, and may be deemed to be even enjoyable. Hence it signifies goodness as an essential element of desire. Ajya also means "clarified butter" poured over the sacrificial fire: and, as the Mimansa has told us that fire or Agni means intelligence, "the pouring of ajya (clarified butter) over Agni" would mean adding goodness to intelligence in an act of sacrifice.
Conditions of Dana: It is only when something is left over or saved that it can be given away as gift or charity; and the idea of universal gift or dana cannot last (or is self-contradictory). A gift can be divided into parts like speech, and it is an intelligent act like a Homa sacrifice. But it is not like a cake or sweetmeat; for were it so, it would be incompatible with the idea of sacrifice, which requires imagination, ascertainment, selection and arrangement of things.
Whole and its parts: When we use the word "whole", it means in every case the whole of what is produced; and it is greater than the different things of which it is made. When we divide the whole into its parts, the last in the series can have but one purpose to serve; and the same is the case with a sacrifice or an offering properly and intelligently made. The same is true of actions associated with Indra too, and also of all actions referred to in the sacred books. (Indra, as the Upanishads tell us, refers to Prajnatman or the self-conscious soul).
Different kinds of actions: Actions differ although the material substances associated with them may be the same; and so all actions should be performed. In order to understand an action, we should divide it into parts till nothing is left; then, beginning with the last, go back to the first.
As the idea of the division of a word into its parts corresponds to that of an action, we have, in a number of cases, to put together the meanings of the parts of a word in the manner explained in this Sutra: that is, begin with the last letter, and go back, step by step, to the first.
Action and satisfaction: According to some teachers, there should, in every action associated with Indra and Vayu (Indra refers to the soul, and Vayu, commonly believed to be Air, to its vital breath; and the two are closely allied), be a measure of satisfaction; but not so in the case of actions associated with Soma, that is the mind, - although in certain circumstances it may be so, if we see a different meaning in what they say. But he is careful to add that, although these teachers hold certain views, it is possible to read some other meaning too in what they say; and, in that case, we may find that the mind has its share of satisfaction in action too. But these teachings are new, and we should see that they do not conflict with the rules.
The origin of desire in knowledge: When we hear the name of sweetmeats or cakes, a desire arises within us, and the cause of the desire is the name itself. We may hear only one man sing the praise of the cake; or only the singers of its praise may desire to have it, - having been drawn to it from what they have heard. All thee desires are associated with knowledge, and so should be grouped together.
The origin of desire is knowledge, which arises when the senses (ears) come into contact with an object (or when we hear the praise of a cake). The Bhagavad Gita also tells us that when a man thinks of the objects of the senses, he forms attachment for them, and that gives rise to desire; and again we are told that the senses are drawn towards their objects, which gives rise to the function of the mind and its attributes, desire.
Satisfaction: There can be no satisfaction in the case of inanimate objects; and so the sacred books do not tell us that the Soma-stones get any satisfaction when the Soma-juice is pressed out. This satisfaction arises when one secures an attractive object; and so it may be said to arise from association with all objects.
Soma refers to the mind; and Soma-stones would refer to the objects of nature, by means of which desire is generated or "pressed out". Desire is, accordingly, expressed in terms of Soma-juice.
How described: The idea of satisfaction is expressed in terms of a cake, because we get it when we have it. The meaning of all other words, like the mention of a cake, is also in accordance with the same rule. Similarly, we should understand that the exclamation Vashat refers to satisfaction in the performance of action; and the same idea is expressed by Homa and Soma sacrifices. The Mimansa tells us that the fact that we are directed to perform an action implies that there is satisfaction in it. The expression for "satisfaction" in the text literally means "eating and drinking". Homa refers to a good and intelligent act; and both goodness and intelligence are of the essence of the idea of sacrifice. Further, Soma refers to the mind; and so Soma-sacrifice refers to the proper function of the mind.
The difference between cakes and other expressions is that the idea of satisfaction is obvious in the one case, not so in the rest. But even in the case of other expressions we should understand that there is a reference to satisfaction through action, because there is good reason for doing so; and even when there is no special mention of cakes, we should understand, from a general statement of the text, that there is a reference to the doer of the deed. In the case of a cake, we can understand the idea of satisfaction from a different point of view.
The idea of satisfaction in a cake is obvious, for we get it when we eat it. It is not quite so obvious in the other instances, and we have to make an effort to understand it. There can be no action without satisfaction of some kind; nor can there be any without a doer of the deed; and this is what the Mimansa tells us.
Satisfaction of the sense and the mind: If we interpret the text in accordance with Karma, we shall find that it is the Adhvaryu priests (the ten senses of knowledge and action) who get satisfaction through action first; or it may be the Hotr priest (the mind), as we may find from the form of the Mantras. We get this from the meaning of the text, and for good reason too.
It is said that there are four Ritvij priests who take part in a sacrifice instituted by a Yajamana or a sacrificer, who pays for it. They are Brahmana, Udgatr, Hotr, and Adhvaryu. Of these the Mimansa defines Brahmana to mean the intellect, and tells us that the Adhvaryu are ten in number, and so would refer to the ten senses of knowledge and action. Of the remaining two, the Mimansa tells us that we can get their meaning by dividing the words in to parts; and then we shall see that they refer to ahankara (or the I-as-an-actor) and the mind respectively. Thus the four Ritvij priests refer to the four faculties of man, his intellect, the I-as-an-actor, mind, and the senses; and this will enable us to understand the Yajamana or the sacrificer, for whose sake these priests engage in action, is really the soul.
It is said that each of these Ritvij priests is assisted by three more; and if we understand the meaning of their names, we shall find that they refer to the same faculties of man. For instance, the Brahmana or intellect is assisted by three others, who refer to ahankara (the I-as-an-actor), mind, and the senses respectively; Udgatr is assisted by those who refer to the intellect, mind and the senses; and so on. The idea obviously is that, in any intelligent action, all the four faculties of man have their part to play: only the principal role, at a particular time, may belong to any one of them. As Adhvaryu refers to the senses, the Hotr refers to the mind. The idea of satisfaction is described in the Sutras in terms of eating food.
Idea of satisfaction; how expressed: This satisfaction is permitted in accordance with the teachings of the sacred books. The text contains words like "invite", "invited in that place"; and if we understand the character of its language, we shall see that it is in this manner that a request is made; and it is in accordance with this meaning that these words are repeated in the text. (The term "invited", "invite" means an invitation to eat or to share in the performance of an action and derive satisfaction from it).
Thus there is only one meaning of the text for those who have mastered it, for they understand the intimate relation of things. But even if we commit a mistake in grasping the idea of satisfaction, it does not mean that it is not there. Nor is it denied to the worshipper, merely because there appears to be some cause.
The worshipper, as it has been pointed out, refers to the soul, for whose sake all the faculties of man take part in action. Were there no soul, there would be no action. But the soul is not "actionless" as some would believe; for it has its place in action, and "pays" for it, even as the Yajamana bears the cost of the sacrifice. As the Bhagavad Gita tells us, the soul is an enjoyer or experiencer of action; and so it has a principal share in satisfaction.
Satisfaction implies transformation: We can attain to perfection by means of devotion to our task, and the errors or defects of the whole family can be removed thereby. The effect of enjoyment in a cake is produced in a special manner, namely, that its whole form is changed; and that is what the sacred books say. A cake gives pleasure when it is eaten; but, when it is eaten, its entire form changes. This may be said to be a law of joy or satisfaction. In order to give pleasure, satisfaction or joy, a thing must transform itself, and cease to be what it is.
It is in the same manner that an act of sacrifice is transformed to yield satisfaction; and this is illustrated by a Homa sacrifice (a good and intelligent deed). To do this is an act of sacrifice; and so sacrifice implies a transformation of a person or thing that engages in, or is offered as, a sacrifice. The Mimansa tells us that this is illustrated by a Homa sacrifice, in which an offering is made by casting clarified butter into fire. But the latter is totally changed when cast into the fire; and this would illustrate the point. The same idea is expressed by means of cakes, but in a more obvious manner, for this satisfaction arises as soon as we eat them. We can verify this for ourselves; and it is a matter of common observation to see people moving towards cakes; and the Brahmanas too, - for the same language is used in connection with them.