yajante nāma-yajñais te
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 16.17
Self-complacent and always impudent, deluded by wealth and false prestige, they sometimes proudly perform sacrifices in name only, without following any rules or regulations.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
Thinking themselves all in all, not caring for any authority or scripture, the demoniac sometimes perform so-called religious or sacrificial rites. And since they do not believe in authority, they are very impudent. This is due to illusion caused by accumulating some wealth and false prestige. Sometimes such demons take up the role of preacher, mislead the people, and become known as religious reformers or as incarnations of God. They make a show of performing sacrifices, or they worship the demigods, or manufacture their own God. Common men advertise them as God and worship them, and by the foolish they are considered advanced in the principles of religion, or in the principles of spiritual knowledge. They take the dress of the renounced order of life and engage in all nonsense in that dress. Actually there are so many restrictions for one who has renounced this world. The demons, however, do not care for such restrictions. They think that whatever path one can create is one’s own path; there is no such thing as a standard path one has to follow. The word avidhi-purvakam, meaning a disregard for the rules and regulations, is especially stressed here. These things are always due to ignorance and illusion.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
Atma sambhavita means those who have attained worshipable status, but are not respected by any well bred people. Therefore they are unsubmissive (stabdha). They perform worship by actions which are sacrifice in name only (nama yajnaih yajante).
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
16.17 They are held in ‘high esteem by themselves’; the meaning is they are full of the sense of self-esteem. They feel self-sufficient, viz., regarding themselves as perfect, they do nothing. How? They are ‘possessed of the intoxication of wealth and pride,’ viz., they are intoxicated by wealth and pride of wealth, learning and descent. They perform sacrifices in name only,’ viz., they perform sacrifices for the fame of it, the purpose being gaining fame as the performers of sacrifice. These are performed for ostentation acutated with the motive of becoming famous as the performers of sacrifices and not in accordance with the proper rulesof the Sastras, viz., without regard to any commandment. Sri Krsna says that they perform sacrifices in the following manner:
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
As Lord Krishna has explained previously the demoniac also deceptively imitate the righteous by performing ostentatious rituals so as to look pious in the eyes of society. The demoniac are never motivated by pure intentions in sattva guna the mode of goodness. They are praised only by those of duplicitous mentalities like themselves but they are never acknowledged by devotees of the Supreme Lord no matter how opulent or pompous their sacrifices may be conducted. The demoniac are belligerent, haughty, vain, impertinent, pompous and arrogant all due to their possessing great wealth and exercising the power and control that great wealth can manipulate. The perverted rituals the demoniac execute are always performed in opposition to all that is righteous totally disregarding the ordinances and injunctions prescribed Vedic procedures and devoid of any recognition to the Supreme Lord. The ostentatious rituals that the demoniac orchestrate for public consumption are only pretentious displays of piety and pompous exhibitions to show off how much wealth they can possess.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Sri Madhvacharya did not comment on this sloka.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Lord Krishna reveals that whatever ritualistic ceremonies the demoniac execute is nothing more than a pretentious display of self-conceit. They make a big show so the public will think that they are pious. Their active engagement looks on the outside as if it is correct but it is never attuned to devotion unto the Supreme Lord neither does it adhere to the ordinances of the Vedic scriptures. This is inferred and made clear by the descriptive adjectives such as sambhavitah or conceited and stabdhah or pompous. The demoniac possessing arrogance and impertinence due to intoxication of wealth make superficial rituals without faith and void of righteousness only for deceiving the public into regarding them as pious and not due to any spiritual pusuits.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
16.17 Atma-sambhavitah, self-conceited, considering themselves by themselves to be possessed of good qualities-not considered to be so by holy men; stabdhah, haughty, having minds that are not humble; dhana-mana-mada-anvitah, filled with (anvita) the pride (mana) and intoxication (mada) of wealth (dhana); te, they; yajnate, perform sacrifices; namayajnaih, which are so in name only; dambhena, with ostentation, with religious hypocricy; avidhi-purvakam, regardless of the injunctions-without subsidiary rites and proper methods of performance as enjoined.
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
16.17-20 Atmasambhavitah etc. upto gatim. They pretend to perform sacrifices : The meaning is that their sacrifice is fruitless. Indeed all is ruined because of their anger. Or, namayjna [may mean] ‘the sacrifices which are in name only’. Or, it [may denote] those sacrifices that are performed for one’s name sake i.e., for one’s reputation, because of which one gets the appellation as ‘He is performer of [such and such] sacrifices’ These sacrifices, performed out of hypocricy alone, do not , however fetch any fruit. Becasue these persons are rugged with anger etc., they hate people and by that they hate Me only [in fact]. For, I, the Vasudeva (the Universal Soul), dwell every-where. Entertaining hatred towards their own Soul, they perform action, that is hostile to themselves, and responsible for their own fall into the hells. These persons I hurl into nothing but the demoniac wombs.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
yajante nama-yajñais te
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
ātma-sambhāvitāḥ — self-complacent; stabdhāḥ — impudent; dhana-māna — of wealth and false prestige; mada — in the delusion; anvitāḥ — absorbed; yajante — they perform sacriﬁce; nāma — in name only; yajñaiḥ — with sacriﬁces; te — they; dambhena — out of pride; avidhi-pūrvakam — without following any rules and regulations.