Reference: The Bhagavad Gita

[NOTE: The following translation of the Sanskrit verses into English is obtained from Srimad Bhagavad Gita, SADHAKA SANJIVANI by Swami Ramsukhdas, published by Govind Bhawan Karyalaya, Gita Press, Gorakhpur, INDIA. For original comments please consult the above book. Abbreviated comments in color are provided by Vinaire.]


Chapter 4 Summary

(1) The knowledge of Yoga is ancient. Today it has become lost to Man.

(2) Knowledge resides in nature, where it has existed always. It is imperishable.

(3) This knowledge explodes in consciousness whenever there is a rapid decline in the world.

(4) The universe teaches the viewpoint of non-attached awareness of everything.

(5) The principles underlying any society are naturally composed of action, exchange, security and knowledge.

(6) One is really an instrument through which nature is operating. When actions flow naturally per universal principles, it is as good as doing nothing while being fully engaged. 

(7) When everything becomes the pure experience and expression of innate impulse (Brahma), ultimate harmony is achieved.

(8) People work toward attaining this harmony through various sacrifices; this world is not for him who performs no sacrifice.

(9) A broadening viewpoint helps you overcome ignorance and correct errors.

(10) Yoga helps you become unattached; knowledge helps you overcome all doubts. That is the road to peace.




I taught this imperishable Yoga to Vivasvān (the sun-god); he told it to Manu and Manu proclaimed it to Iksvāku. (IV-1).


This, handed down thus in regular succession, the royal sages knew. But through long lapse of time this Yoga was lost to the world, O oppressor of the foe (Arjuna). (IV-2).


This same ancient Yoga has been today declared to thee by Me; for thou art my devotee and My friend; and this is the supreme secret. (IV-3).

This Yoga presents universal principles.


Later was Thy birth and earlier was the birth of Vivasvān (the sun-god). How am then I to understand that Thou didst declare it to him in the beginning? (IV-4)

This is an intelligent question because it is not obvious how one could have instructed somebody who existed way before one in the past.


Many births of Mine have passed as well as of thine, O Arjuna; I know them all but thou knows not, O scorcher of foes. (IV-5).


Though I am unborn, of imperishable nature, the Lord of all beings, yet, governing My Nature (Prakrti), I manifest Myself through my Yoga-Māyā (divine potency). (IV-6)

Krishna is speaking from the universal viewpoint that is imperishable, and has always existed. The universal principles of Yoga have been known to those ancients who had attained the universal viewpoint.


Whenever there is a decline of righteousness and rise of unrighteousness, O Arjuna, then I manifest Myself. (IV-7).


For the protection of the good, for the destruction of the wicked, and for the establishment of the righteousness, I am born from age to age. (IV-8).

When the average viewpoint of humanity really narrows down and the situation becomes unbearable, then someone with a universal viewpoint comes along to lead humanity out of its problems.


He who thus knows, in their true nature, my divine birth and action, having abandoned the body is not born again; he comes to me, O Arjuna. (IV-9).


Freed from attachment, fear and anger, absorbed in Me, taking refuge in Me, purified by the penance of knowledge, many have attained to My Being. (IV-10)

That universal viewpoint inspires others to broaden their viewpoints and attain their true nature of non-attachment. Thus they can acquire the real knowledge and also attain the universal viewpoint that frees them from all bondages.


O Partha! As devotees approach Me, so do I accept them; for all men follow My path in every way. (IV-11).


Those who desire the fruition of their actions worship the gods; because success is quickly attained by men through action. (IV-12)

The only way forward is the broadening of viewpoint, and the results depend on the manner people do it. Many desirous of results worship gods. But results are attained most rapidly in this world through action. 


The fourfold caste (order) was created by Me according to the modes of nature and action. Though I am the creator, know Me, the immortal Lord, to be a non-doer. (IV-13).


Since I have no craving for the fruit of actions, actions do not taint me. He who know Me thus (in reality) is not bound by actions. (IV-14)

The society is organized by the natural order of four main functions: acquisition of knowledge, protection from danger, equitable commerce, and adequate labor. These universal principles of action are simply there. Actions according to these principles simply flow in nature without binding anyone.


Having known this, the ancient seekers of liberation also performed action; therefore do thou also perform action as the ancients did in former times. (IV-15).


What is action? What is inaction? As to this even the wise are confused. Therefore, I will explain to thee what action is, by knowing which thou shalt be liberated from its evil effect (worldly bondage). (IV-16).


The truth about actions must be known and the truth about forbidden action also must be known; even so the truth about inaction must be known; for mysterious is the nature of action. (IV-17)

The results in this world are attained most rapidly through action. Having known this, the ancient seekers of liberation also performed action. In the same way you will be performing actions, but you must clearly understand the concept of action, inaction and forbidden action.

It is interesting to note that a misunderstanding of action led to the corruption of the division of social activities into a rigid caste system in Hinduism. This is the evil effect of misunderstanding of scriptures that have immense power.


He, who sees inaction in action and action in inaction, is wise among men, he is a Yogi and he has performed all his duties. (IV-18).


He whose undertakings are all free from self-centered projections of the mind and desire and whose actions are burnt in the fire of wisdom, him the seer call wise. (IV-19).


Having abandoned attachment to actions and their fruit ever content, without any kind of dependence he does nothing though fully engaged in action. (IV-20)

When one is not attached, the actions flow naturally according to universal principles. Such actions are effortless because they are free from self-centered projections of the mind and desire.  Thus, there is no dependence, and it is as good as doing nothing (inaction) while being fully engaged in the happenings (action). 


Having no desires, with his mind and body fully subdued, giving up all sort of possessions, even performing action necessary only for the maintenance of the body, a karmayogī incurs no sin. (IV-21).


Content with what comes to him without desire for fruit, free from the pairs of opposites and envy, even-minded in success and failure, ever though acting, he is not bound. (IV-22).


All the actions of a man who is devoid of attachment, who is liberated, whose mind is established in knowledge, who works for the sake of sacrifice, are dissolved. (IV-23)

When one totally is detached, one has become an instrument through whom the nature is operating. Of course, that “instrument” needs to be maintained according to its nature. As mind becomes established in the knowledge of nature, and self-interests are sacrificed for the sake of welfare of the world, there comes about harmony, contentment and equanimity that is not bound by actions. 


For him the ladle with which offering is made is Brahma, the fire is Brahma, the act of offering oblation is Brahma. By Brahma in the form of sacrificer is the oblation poured  into the fire of Brahma. Brahma shall be attained by him who is absorbed in Brahma as the act of such sacrifice. (IV-24)

Ultimate harmony is achieved when everything becomes the pure experience and expression of the innate impulse (Brahma).


Some Yogis perform sacrifice to God alone; while others offer the self as sacrifice by the self in the fire of the supreme. (IV-25).


Some offer hearing and other senses as sacrifice into the fires of restraint; others offer sound and other objects of sense in the fires of sense. (IV-26).


Some others again offer (sacrifice) all the functions of the senses and those of breath (vital energy) into the fire of the Yoga of self restraint, kindled by knowledge. (IV-27).


Others again offer as sacrifice their wealth or their austerities or their Yoga while others of self restraint and rigid vows offer study of the scriptures and knowledge as sacrifice. (IV-28).


Others offer as sacrifice the outgoing breath in the incoming, and the incoming in the outgoing, restraining the course of the outgoing and the incoming breaths, solely absorbed in the restraint of the breath. (IV-29).


Others who regulate their diet offer life-breaths in life-breaths. All these are knowers of sacrifice and by sacrifice have their sins destroyed. (IV-30)

To attain the union with Brahma (the innate impulse) different methods of sacrifice are followed as referenced above.


Those who eat the sacred food that remains after a sacrifice, attain to the eternal Absolute; this world is not for him who performs no sacrifice; how then can he have any other world, O best of the Kurus (Arjuna)? (IV-31).


Thus many forms of sacrifice are spread out in the face of Brahma (the Vedas). Know them all as born of action and thus knowing, thou shalt be liberated. (IV-32)

You cannot have a world unless you sacrifice and live with what remains. There are many forms of sacrifice but they are all born out of selfless action.


Knowledge as a sacrifice is superior to any material sacrifice, O harasser of the foes (Arjuna). All actions in their entirety, O Arjuna, culminate in knowledge. (IV-33).


Learn that by prostration (humble reverence), by question and by service; the wise who have realized the truth will instruct thee in (that) knowledge. (IV-34)

Sacrifice in the form of knowledge is superior to any material sacrifice because all actions culminate in knowledge (experience). For this sacrifice one must question with a sincere attitude full of reverence and service.   


When thou hast known it, thou shalt not, O Arjuna, again get deluded like this; and by that thou shalt see all beings without exception in the self and then in Me. (IV-35).


Even if thou art the most sinful of all sinners, thou shalt undoubtedly cross all sins by the boat of knowledge (wisdom) alone. (IV-36)

Once you know you no longer get deluded in that area, and you start to acquire a broadening viewpoint until you reach the universal viewpoint. You thus overcome the effects of even the worst of your sins.


As the blazing fire reduces fuel to ashes, O Arjuna, even so does the fire of knowledge all actions to ashes. (IV-37)


Verily, there is no purifier in this world like knowledge. He who becomes perfected in Yoga finds it in the self in course of time. (IV-38)


He who has faith, who is devoid to it (i.e., knowledge) and who has subdued his senses, gains knowledge (wisdom) and having gained knowledge he attains at once the supreme peace. (IV-39)

A broadening viewpoint helps you overcome ignorance and correct errors. Knowledge is the ultimate purifier. The purification brings about peace.


The man who is devoid of discriminative insight, who has no faith, who is of a doubting nature, perishes. For the doubting soul there is neither this world nor the world beyond, nor any happiness. (IV-40)


He who has renounced all actions by Yoga, whose doubts have been destroyed by knowledge and who is self-possessed—actions do not bind him, O winner of wealth (Arjuna). (IV-41)


Therefore, having cut as under with the sword of knowledge (wisdom) this doubt in thy heart that is born of ignorance, resort to Yoga and stand up (for the fight), O Bhārata (Arjuna), (IV-42)

As long as there is doubt there is something to be clarified. Yoga helps you renounce all actions, Knowledge helps you overcome all doubts.


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  • vinaire  On July 24, 2020 at 10:06 AM


    According to Buddha, the discriminative mind arises when there is sense data. It subsides when there is no sense data. The discriminative mind has a whole spectrum from analytical to reactive. At the analytical end of the spectrum the mind is broadly associative and logical. At the reactive end of the spectrum the mind is narrowly associative and therefore illogical from a broad perspective.

    In Scientology, the effort is to eliminate the reactive end of the spectrum and retain the analytical end. But, according to the dual nature of the universe, some reactivity is always going to be there.

    In Buddhism, the effort is to realize the impermanent nature of the discriminative mind and attain the perspective of the universal viewpoint from which things are perceived as they truly are.

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