I am the oblations offered to the departed ancestors; I am the healing herb; I am the transcendental incantation; I am clarified cow ghee; I am the fire and I am the act of offering. IX.16. Trans. Bhagavad-Gita Trust
Chapter nine bestows the wisdom that all things, living and non-living, take their reality from their immersion in the divine nature. They receive their support, their continuation in existence, by partaking of the One overarching source. But perhaps more mysteriously and miraculously, the yogi can actually access this reality, can know and commune with the Absolute. Unfortunately, many aspirants never realize how close they might be to seeing and tasting this ultimate Reality.
In verse 16, Shri Krishna mentions some of the traditional practices that people have used from Vedic times to come into contact with God. By making offerings before the image during puja or into the sacred fire during homa practice, the worshipper turns the sacred vessels and offerings into a means of transport, a vehicle, for reaching God. This sounds quite insane to the person who has never made offerings before. Usually, those unacquainted with the Sanatana Dharma will dismiss such practices (especially the ancestral ones) as outdated and superstitious. Some yogis take up a little bit of japa (name recitation) or maybe engage in some Sanskrit study. This is a really great way to begin and will produce benefits, but making offerings propels spiritual practice forward faster.
The image used in worship becomes the deity, the offering becomes the deity, the pujari becomes the deity. This happens by using such simple materials as flowers and ghee, incense and chandana. It seems impossible, but homa and puja really do work, and they are not as complicated as some people might think. One can offer puja or homa in as little as thirty minutes, and never have so many simple instructions been available as they are now. Simply start with a chosen divinity and find a ritual on the web. Transliterations of Sanskrit are available for free on the web in many languages, and ritual materials are readily available in physical shops and on the web. So gather some instructions, some materials, and get started today!
This chapter should inspire us all to realize that divinity is never far from us, and in fact, is the context in which we live. We are all like fish unaware of the ocean water around us. All we need is a little reminder of our situation within an enveloping reality. We don’t need to escape into a separate heavenly or eternal realm, since the Absolute fills all people, all animals, and all things. The simple practices of the dharmic traditions provide us with a little glimpse, a little clue, into That Which Is. Even if you only maintain this kind of insight for a second or two, it will be a great source of healing and joy, to know that the indestructible infinite resides within every atom of the universe.