THE BHAGAVAD GITA: Chapter 4

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.]

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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.

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CHAPTER 4

श्रीभगवानुवाच
इमंविवस्वतेयोगंप्रोक्तवानहमव्ययम्।विवस्वान्मनवेप्राहमनुरिक्ष्वाकवेऽब्रवीत्।।4.1।।

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

एवंपरम्पराप्राप्तमिमंराजर्षयोविदुः।सकालेनेहमहतायोगोनष्टःपरन्तप।।4.2।।

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).

एवायंमयातेऽद्ययोगःप्रोक्तःपुरातनः।भक्तोऽसिमेसखाचेतिरहस्यंह्येतदुत्तमम्।।4.3।।

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.

अर्जुनउवाच
अपरंभवतोजन्मपरंजन्मविवस्वतः।कथमेतद्विजानीयांत्वमादौप्रोक्तवानिति।।4.4।।

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.

श्रीभगवानुवाच
बहूनिमेव्यतीतानिजन्मानितवचार्जुन।तान्यहंवेदसर्वाणिनत्वंवेत्थपरन्तप।।4.5।।

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).

अजोऽपिसन्नव्ययात्माभूतानामीश्वरोऽपिसन्।प्रकृतिंस्वामधिष्ठायसंभवाम्यात्ममायया।।4.6।।

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.

यदायदाहिधर्मस्यग्लानिर्भवतिभारत।अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्यतदाऽऽत्मानंसृजाम्यहम्।।4.7।।

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

परित्राणायसाधूनांविनाशायचदुष्कृताम्।धर्मसंस्थापनार्थायसंभवामियुगेयुगे।।4.8।।

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.

जन्मकर्मचमेदिव्यमेवंयोवेत्तितत्त्वतः।त्यक्त्वादेहंपुनर्जन्मनैतिमामेतिसोऽर्जुन।।4.9।।

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).

वीतरागभयक्रोधामन्मयामामुपाश्रिताः।बहवोज्ञानतपसापूतामद्भावमागताः।।4.10।।

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.

येयथामांप्रपद्यन्तेतांस्तथैवभजाम्यहम्।ममवर्त्मानुवर्तन्तेमनुष्याःपार्थसर्वशः।।4.11।।

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

काङ्क्षन्तःकर्मणांसिद्धिंयजन्तइहदेवताः।क्षिप्रंहिमानुषेलोकेसिद्धिर्भवतिकर्मजा।।4.12।।

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. 

चातुर्वर्ण्यंमयासृष्टंगुणकर्मविभागशः।तस्यकर्तारमपिमांविद्ध्यकर्तारमव्ययम्।।4.13।।

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).

नमांकर्माणिलिम्पन्तिनमेकर्मफलेस्पृहा।इतिमांयोऽभिजानातिकर्मभिर्नसबध्यते।।4.14।।

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.

एवंज्ञात्वाकृतंकर्मपूर्वैरपिमुमुक्षुभिः।कुरुकर्मैवतस्मात्त्वंपूर्वैःपूर्वतरंकृतम्।।4.15।।

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).

किंकर्मकिमकर्मेतिकवयोऽप्यत्रमोहिताः।तत्तेकर्मप्रवक्ष्यामियज्ज्ञात्वामोक्ष्यसेऽशुभात्।।4.16।।

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).

कर्मणोह्यपिबोद्धव्यंबोद्धव्यंचविकर्मणः।अकर्मणश्चबोद्धव्यंगहनाकर्मणोगतिः।।4.17।।

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.

कर्मण्यकर्मयःपश्येदकर्मणिचकर्मयः।सबुद्धिमान्मनुष्येषुसयुक्तःकृत्स्नकर्मकृत्।।4.18।।

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).

यस्यसर्वेसमारम्भाःकामसङ्कल्पवर्जिताः।ज्ञानाग्निदग्धकर्माणंतमाहुःपण्डितंबुधाः।।4.19।।

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).

त्यक्त्वाकर्मफलासङ्गंनित्यतृप्तोनिराश्रयः।कर्मण्यभिप्रवृत्तोऽपिनैवकिञ्चित्करोतिसः।।4.20।।

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). 

निराशीर्यतचित्तात्मात्यक्तसर्वपरिग्रहः।शारीरंकेवलंकर्मकुर्वन्नाप्नोतिकिल्बिषम्।।4.21।।

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).

यदृच्छालाभसन्तुष्टोद्वन्द्वातीतोविमत्सरः।समःसिद्धावसिद्धौचकृत्वापिननिबध्यते।।4.22।।

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).

गतसङ्गस्यमुक्तस्यज्ञानावस्थितचेतसः।यज्ञायाचरतःकर्मसमग्रंप्रविलीयते।।4.23।।

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. 

ब्रह्मार्पणंब्रह्महविर्ब्रह्माग्नौब्रह्मणाहुतम्।ब्रह्मैवतेनगन्तव्यंब्रह्मकर्मसमाधिना।।4.24।।

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).

दैवमेवापरेयज्ञंयोगिनःपर्युपासते।ब्रह्माग्नावपरेयज्ञंयज्ञेनैवोपजुह्वति।।4.25।।

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).

श्रोत्रादीनीन्द्रियाण्यन्येसंयमाग्निषुजुह्वति।शब्दादीन्विषयानन्यइन्द्रियाग्निषुजुह्वति।।4.26।।

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).

सर्वाणीन्द्रियकर्माणिप्राणकर्माणिचापरे।आत्मसंयमयोगाग्नौजुह्वतिज्ञानदीपिते।।4.27।।

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).

द्रव्ययज्ञास्तपोयज्ञायोगयज्ञास्तथापरे।स्वाध्यायज्ञानयज्ञाश्चयतयःसंशितव्रताः।।4.28।।

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).

अपानेजुह्वतिप्राणप्राणेऽपानंतथाऽपरे।प्राणापानगतीरुद्ध्वाप्राणायामपरायणाः।।4.29।।

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).

अपरेनियताहाराःप्राणान्प्राणेषुजुह्वति।सर्वेऽप्येतेयज्ञविदोयज्ञक्षपितकल्मषाः।।4.30।।

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.

यज्ञशिष्टामृतभुजोयान्तिब्रह्मसनातनम्।नायंलोकोऽस्त्ययज्ञस्यकुतो़ऽन्यःकुरुसत्तम।।4.31।।

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).

एवंबहुविधायज्ञावितताब्रह्मणोमुखे।कर्मजान्विद्धितान्सर्वानेवंज्ञात्वाविमोक्ष्यसे।।4.32।।

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.

श्रेयान्द्रव्यमयाद्यज्ञाज्ज्ञानयज्ञःपरन्तप।सर्वंकर्माखिलंपार्थज्ञानेपरिसमाप्यते।।4.33।।

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).

तद्विद्धिप्रणिपातेनपरिप्रश्नेनसेवया।उपदेक्ष्यन्तितेज्ञानंज्ञानिनस्तत्त्वदर्शिनः।।4.34।।

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.   

यज्ज्ञात्वानपुनर्मोहमेवंयास्यसिपाण्डव।येनभूतान्यशेषेणद्रक्ष्यस्यात्मन्यथोमयि।।4.35।।

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).

अपिचेदसिपापेभ्यःसर्वेभ्यःपापकृत्तमः।सर्वंज्ञानप्लवेनैववृजिनंसन्तरिष्यसि।।4.36।।

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.

यथैधांसिसमिद्धोऽग्निर्भस्मसात्कुरुतेऽर्जुन।ज्ञानाग्निःसर्वकर्माणिभस्मसात्कुरुतेतथा।।4.37।।

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

नहिज्ञानेनसदृशंपवित्रमिहविद्यते।तत्स्वयंयोगसंसिद्धःकालेनात्मनिविन्दति।।4.38।।

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)

श्रद्धावाँल्लभतेज्ञानंतत्परःसंयतेन्द्रियः।ज्ञानंलब्ध्वापरांशान्तिमचिरेणाधिगच्छति।।4.39।।

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.

अज्ञश्चाश्रद्दधानश्चसंशयात्माविनश्यति।नायंलोकोऽस्तिनपरोनसुखंसंशयात्मनः।।4.40।।

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)

योगसंन्यस्तकर्माणंज्ञानसंछिन्नसंशयम्।आत्मवन्तंनकर्माणिनिबध्नन्तिधनञ्जय।।4.41।।

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)

तस्मादज्ञानसंभूतंहृत्स्थंज्ञानासिनाऽऽत्मनः।छित्त्वैनंसंशयंयोगमातिष्ठोत्तिष्ठभारत।।4.42।।

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

    THE DISCRIMINATIVE MIND

    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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