Propkaar (February 2015)

In the Hinduism, among all the prescribed rituals, the Yagya/Hawan is accorded the highest place. While many do perform it on daily basis, on auspicious life-events like Greh-Pravesh to sanskars like Vivah and Anteyshthi, majority of the Hindus perform Yagya to pray and seek God’s blessings. By nature, Yagya is intrinsically sacrificial and benevolent (Propkaar – परोपकार) act – and leaving aside other benefits of Yagya, just that attribute only can make Yagya sublime. This month’s topic is Propkaar.

The Yagya reminds us to live and perform wholesome beneficent acts. The mere physical ritual of Yagya represents benevolence: when pure and healthy herbs are offered in the fire of Yagya, they benefit everyone – not just the doer.
यजध्वं हविषा तना गिरा।
(तना) तन / शरीर, (गिरा) वाणी / मन, (हविषा) धन से (यजध्वं) यज्ञ करो।
Perform Yagya with body, thoughts, and money.
A person lives a Yagya-mayi life when he/she performs acts for the benefit of others using money, body, and thoughts: with money, charity is offered to appropriate causes; with body, volunteering is done in orphanages, old-age home etc.; and, with thoughts, prayers are offered for those in dire situations.

The word Propkaar is composed of two words: Par (others) and Upkaar (favor/advantage/benefit). It means acts done for others’ benefits are considered acts of Propkaar. But, not every act done for others is considered Propkaar; an act for others’ advantage becomes an act of Propkaar only when there is no expectation of any personal gains in doer’s mind. When something is expected in return, the act is considered a business transaction: the doer does good acts and demands something in return. On the other hand, in Propkaar, the doer does not have any anticipation in return for the act – not even a simple appreciation is expected.

Why should one perform the act of Propkaar? For one, the act of Propkaar is the highest form of prayer. God loves the act of Propkaar as His wishes are executed in the act of Propkaar. In the Gita, Lord Krishna says that it is only the benevolent actions that are acceptable to Him. Any other action, no matter how noble one may consider it to be, it will result in the cycle of worldly pleasures and sorrows. The acts of Propkaar are the easiest and best tools available to human kind to achieve God’s blessings and favor. It is only the human who can deliberately elect to perform the acts of Propkaar; all other species are bound by the inborn nature and limitations of their bodies. Secondly, it is only the acts of Propkaar that give peace and bliss to the doer. We spend endless hours and boundless energy in pursuit of peace and happiness. However, because of the lack of benevolence in actions, our endeavors themselves rob us of the peace and happiness.

This month, kids will share their understanding of the word and real-life examples (personal ones are preferred) of Propkaar. They will also share any resolutions and inspirations that arise in their minds while working on this topic.

Om Peace Om!

Harsh Mendiratta