annād bhavanti bhūtāni
yajñād bhavati parjanyo
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 3.14
All living bodies subsist on food grains, which are produced from rains. Rains are produced by performance of yajna [sacrifice], and yajna is born of prescribed duties.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
Srila Baladeva Vidyabhushana, a great commentator on the Bhagavad-gita, writes as follows:
ye indrady-angatayavasthitam yajnam sarvesvaram vishnum abhyarcya tac-chesam asnanti tena tad deha-yatram sampadayanti, te santah sarvesvarasya yajna-purushasya bhaktah sarva-kilbisair anadi-kala-vivrddhair atmanubhava-prati bandhakair nikhilaih papair vimucyante.
The Supreme Lord, who is known as the yajna-purusha, or the personal beneficiary of all sacrifices, is the master of all the demigods, who serve Him as the different limbs of the body serve the whole. Demigods like Indra, Candra and Varuna are appointed officers who manage material affairs, and the Vedas direct sacrifices to satisfy these demigods so that they may be pleased to supply air, light and water sufficiently to produce food grains. When Lord Krishna is worshiped, the demigods, who are different limbs of the Lord, are also automatically worshiped; therefore there is no separate need to worship the demigods. For this reason, the devotees of the Lord, who are in Krishna consciousness, offer food to Krishna and then eat—a process which nourishes the body spiritually. By such action not only are past sinful reactions in the body vanquished, but the body becomes immunized to all contamination of material nature. When there is an epidemic disease, an antiseptic vaccine protects a person from the attack of such an epidemic. Similarly, food offered to Lord Vishnu and then taken by us makes us sufficiently resistant to material affection, and one who is accustomed to this practice is called a devotee of the Lord. Therefore, a person in Krishna consciousness, who eats only food offered to Krishna, can counteract all reactions of past material infections, which are impediments to the progress of self-realization. On the other hand, one who does not do so continues to increase the volume of sinful action, and this prepares the next body to resemble hogs and dogs, to suffer the resultant reactions of all sins. The material world is full of contaminations, and one who is immunized by accepting prasadam of the Lord (food offered to Vishnu) is saved from the attack, whereas one who does not do so becomes subjected to contamination.
Food grains or vegetables are factually eatables. The human being eats different kinds of food grains, vegetables, fruits, etc., and the animals eat the refuse of the food grains and vegetables, grass, plants, etc. Human beings who are accustomed to eating meat and flesh must also depend on the production of vegetation in order to eat the animals. Therefore, ultimately, we have to depend on the production of the field and not on the production of big factories. The field production is due to sufficient rain from the sky, and such rains are controlled by demigods like Indra, sun, moon, etc., and they are all servants of the Lord. The Lord can be satisfied by sacrifices; therefore, one who cannot perform them will find himself in scarcity—that is the law of nature. Yajna, specifically the sankirtana-yajna prescribed for this age, must therefore be performed to save us at least from scarcity of food supply.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
One should perform the yajna because it causes the cyclic movement in the universe. From food living entities exist. Food is the cause of the bodies of the entities, and from food arises the health of the bodies of the living entities with transformation into semen and blood. The cause of food is rain. By the rain, food is produced. The cause of rain is the yajna. By people performing yajna the clouds produce sufficient rain. The cause of yajna is karma, action. The yajna is produced from the actions of the priest and the patron.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
3.14 From food arise all beings; from rain food is produced. These two facts are matters of common experience. ‘From sacrifice comes rain’ this is known from the scriptures such as, ‘The oblations offered in fire reach the sun, and from the sun comes rain’ (Manu, 6.76), and sacrifice is born out of activities in the form of collecting materials, etc., by the agent. And activity arises from ‘Brahman’, the body born of Prakrti.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
Because it is due to actions that the Earth keeps revolving, actions should be performed. This Lord Krishna is emphasising in this verse and the next two verses with the words bhavanti bhutani meaning beings are born. They are born from food turned into semen., that food was created from rains that resulted from yagna or worship and that worship was performed by actions and from the efforts of those was accomplished. This is the meaning. In the Manu Samhita III.76 it states that the ghee or clarified butter duly offered into the sacrificial fire ascends to the sun and from that the sun manifests clouds full of rain. From rain results the growth of food and from food humans come into existence from the semen of males fertilising the eggs females.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Actions are born from the Vedas because the Vedas prescribe yagna or worship and appeasement and the performance of yagna is done by actions. The Vedas arose out of the breath of the Supreme Brahman. This is noted by the word brahmaksara which means the supreme immutable Vedas which was the medium by which the knowledge of the ultimate reality was revealed. Otherwise how could the Supreme Brahman which is inconceivable, without a beginning and an end and complete within Himself ever been known. The word aksara in brahmaksara means the ultimate reality denoting the Supreme Lord. When a primary meaning has been identified it is not proper to accept a secondary meaning as is often the case due to forgotten traditions. Insentient objects cannot manifest by themselves they must be created. The magnitude of actions in creation, the unlimited resources of elements and the awesome manifestation of time indicate inconceivable powers. Since the material worlds are but reflections of the spiritual worlds all actions in material existence emanate outwards with the energy of the Supreme Lord as the source. This does not directly include the actions exhibited by sentient beings using free will only the underlying energy that empowers them.
The word aksarani refers to the eternality of the Supreme Lord. The eternal Vedas have Him for their source. Because He is eternal the Vedas are eternal as well. There would be a flaw in anyone thinking that the Vedas were created because they could not have been so without prior knowledge. They are eternally manifest and the Vedic scriptures reveal that they were exhaled by the breath of the Supreme Being. Exhaling is a natural phenomena without any effort required indicating that the Vedas manifested from the spiritual worlds without any conscious effort, this is the inference meant here.
In view of being eternal the statements of being created have to be understood from the point of view of manifesting within material existence or perception of such not that it was actually created for the first time. An example of this is the treatise Shatapatha Brahmana which is said to have been created by Yagnavalkya. How is it possible for any part of the eternal Vedic scriptures to be created by anyone? Yagnavalkya blessed by the Supreme achieved a high level of attainment and received it within his mind from the spiritual plane and transcribed it onto palm leaves for posterity.
A statement clarified after deliberation is superior to one spoken without contemplation. The Vedic scriptures are the source of origin, thus the statement in Brahma Sutras I.I.III that the Vedas are the evidence that Brahma is the creator. In the previous verse I.I.II the word janmadyasya is used meaning from whom were created is the evidence which can be quoted. These verses do not suggest that the Vedas were born from Brahman nor do they infer the Brahman was the cause of the Vedas. The creating of the material worlds by the Brahman from the five basic elements given to him of water, earth, air, fire and ether does not preclude the creation of the Vedas nor would it be correct to assume that the Vedas were created this way. The creation of a most wonderful world is in no way superior to the eternal emanations of the Vedas. This also does not lead to the conclusion that the Brahman is omniscient even though the manifestation of the Vedas is omniscient. Therefore the eternal Vedas coming from the spiritual worlds are themselves the proof and the word aksara confirms this. So Brahman is revealed through yagna and Brahman is revealed through Vedic scriptures and the Vedas eternally establish yagna throughout the material creation. From knowledge of the Vedas and performance of yagna living entities prosper and flourish. This is the eternal cycle.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Lord Krishna has thus pointed out the virtues of performing yagna or worship according to the Vedic injunctions and the demerits incurred by ignoring the Vedic prohibitions and failing to perform yagna. He points out the folly of non- performance of yagna in verses 14, 15 and 16 beginning annad bhananti meaning food strengthens living beings. All beings have evolved from and waxed strong from foods. Production of food is dependent on rain and rain is dependent on yagna which is dependent upon the activities performed by the Brahmins as prescribed in the Vedas. This is the chanting of Vedic mantras by Brahmins and their offering the oblations such as ghee or clarified butter and seed grain such as sesame into the sacred fire. In Manu Samhita III.76 it has been presented in another way: the oblations offered into the fire ascend to the sun, from the sun comes clouds and rain, from rainfall food is grown and from food beings come into existence.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
3.14 It is a matter of direct perception that annat, from food, which is eaten and is transformed into blood and semen; bhavanti, are born; bhutani, the creatures. Anna-sambhavah, the origin of food; is parjanyat, from rainfall. Parjanyah, rainfall; bhavati, originates; from yajnat, from sacrifice. This accords with the Smrti, ‘The oblations properly poured into fire reaches the sun. From the sun comes rain, from rain comes food, and from the sun comes rain, from rain comes food, and from that the creatures’ (Ma.Sm.3.76). (Here) sacrifice means its unique [Also termed as the unseen result (adrsta).-Tr.] result. And that sacrifice, i.e. the unique result, which arises (samudbhavah) from action (karma) undertaken by the priest and the sacrificer, is karma-samudbhavah; it has action for its origin.
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
3.14 See Comment under 3.15
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
annad bhavanti bhutani
yajnad bhavati parjanyo
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
annāt — from grains; bhavanti — grow; bhūtāni — the material bodies; parjanyāt — from rains; anna — of food grains; sambhavaḥ — production; yajñāt — from the performance of sacrifice; bhavati — becomes possible; parjanyaḥ — rain; yajñaḥ — performance of yajña; karma — prescribed duties; samudbhavaḥ — born of.