Bhagavadgita !

Chapter 4

Jnyana Yoga !

 

||om tat sat||
श्री भगवानुवाच:
इमं विवस्वते योगं प्रोक्तवानहमव्ययम् ।
विवस्वान् मनवे प्राह मनुः इक्ष्वाकवे अब्रवीत् ॥
"I imparted the imperishable Yoga to Vivasvan, Vivasvan taught this to Manu and Manu transmitted this to Ikshwakus".

||Salutations to Sri Krishna||
Bhagavad-Gita
Jnyana Yoga
Chapter 4

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In the first three chapters the first shloka starts with a question. In the first chapter, it is Dhritarashtra's question. In the second and third chapters, it is Arjuna's question!

For the first time, the fourth chapter starts with "Sri Bhagavan uvaacha ", meaning there by it starts with Krishna's discourse right away! Krishna has given an elaborate discourse on Karma Yoga and Buddhi Yoga. Having said what all he wanted to say about the paths of liberation, Krishna starts the fourth chapter detailing the antecedents of the Karma Yoga which he already said was ancient.

Bhagavan said:
श्रीभगवानुवाच:
इमं विवस्वते योगं प्रोक्तवानहमव्ययम् ।
विवस्वान् मनवे प्राह मनुः इक्ष्वाकवे अब्रवीत् ॥

"I first taught this eternal Karma yoga to Sun, Sun taught this to Manu, and Manu taught this to Ikshwakus."

In the previous chapter Karma yoga, Krishna already stated that "Karma yoga" was in practice from old times. "जनकादयः..." Janakaadaya... meaning there by that King Janaka etc. have obtained liberation through the practice of Karma yoga. Krishna also highlighted that the Karma Yoga is dear to him. Krishna says " ये मे मतं इदम्... ", "this is my philosophy"!

Now elaborating on the ancient nature of this Karma yoga, Krishna starts the discourse with the details of when the Karma yoga was taught first. Bhagavan first taught this to Sun and from Sun it was taught to others. There on it came down to others through the ages.

But,
"स कालेन महता योगो नष्ठः परन्तप"

That महत् योगः -that 'great philosophy', which was coming down the ages and is known as Nishkama Karma was:
' कालेन '- in the course of time
' नष्टः' - 'lost'!!
That means that great practice was almost forgotten or fallen in disuse or misuse!

So, Krishna teaches that Karma Yoga to his disciple Arjuna and through him to the world at large.

Then Arjuna has a doubt.

How is it that Krishna who is living in the present and in front of him, say that he taught this practice ages ago to Sun. Sun was there for all practical purposes much before Krishna, who was born to Devaki and Vasudeva in the middle of the night etc.,

That would also be the thought of all those who are not aware of Krishna, the son of Vasudeva, as the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The doubt would persist that he is not a form of divinity (Eswara) and he may not be all knowing personality of Godhead. Arjuna's question was in a way to bring forth the reality of Krishna as the Bhagavan removing all ambiguity.

So, Krishna responds to Arjuna's query.

Krishna for the first time (in Mahabharata) tells that "Bhagavan" as his real nature. Krishna reveals, -

(1) That he has several births,
" तान् अहं वेत्थ सर्वाणि " -
'अहं वेत्थ' - 'I know' - I know all of them.

(2) Though he is
" अजोपि "- "without birth",
and hence need not be born.
But he is still born on his own inscrutable powers.

(3) So why is he born like that?
There is a reason.
Bhagavan says:
यदा यदा हि धर्मस्यग्लानिर्भवति भारत ।
अभ्युत्थानमधर्मश्च तदात्मानं सृजाम्यहम् ॥

" Whenever the righteousness is in difficulty, and evil is on the rise "
That means whenever evil forces are dominating the righteous forces, he is born of his own accord. We are not done with that explanation.

(4) After being born what he will do?
Bhagavan says
परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृतां।
धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय संभवामि युगे युगे ॥

He is born 'To protect the good people and destroy the evil doers'. Not only that
'धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय' - to establish the righteousness".
'संभवामि युगे युगे'- born again and again (in all ages.)

So, in response to Arjuna's query of " How is it that you belonging to the present taught Sun some ages ago?", Krishna reveals that he is that ageless soul without birth or death. But he does take birth or incarnations to establish Dharma from time to time on his own accord.

This is a revelation.

Till that moment Krishna was for all practical purposes the son of Devaki and Vasudeva with magical affection for the Pandavas while coming to their rescue in all difficulties. Though it is felt that he is the form of God, there was no thought that he is the "God". That gets revealed for the first time (in Mahabharata)

Having revealed his true nature, he says - ' Free from attachment, fear and anger, people with their minds focused on "Him" and purified by knowledge - such people:
'मद्भावं आगताः' - 'they attain my form'.
Means that penance with mind focused on knowledge one attains liberation(4.10).
What is that knowledge?
That is the knowledge of Self!
This path of knowing him and being absorbed in him is available for the few who followed this path.
What would happen to others?
There is Krishna's answer.
- "ये यथा मां प्रपद्यंते"-
- " Who ever prays to me in whichever way "
"The Bhagavan" accepts the same and rewards them in the way they sought.

Kalidasa in his immortal Raghuvamsa says of human nature
"लोको भिन्नरुचिः" - "People have different tastes".
One may be doing 'Nishkama Karma' and desires attaining a state of equanimity and peace. Somebody else thinking he is doing the Nishkama karma may be praying for attaining 'fruitful happiness' or the heaven!

Krishna says 'Bhagavan accepts and rewards each and every one according to their wishes'.

Even when we are thinking that we are doing Nishkama karma we must be clear about the desires. That there can be no desire while doing Nishkama Karma is the knowledge. Without that knowledge and doing the Karma with the thoughts of how and in what form we will be shown grace by the Lord for the 'Nishkama Karma' we are doing, will only mean that our mind is at work. Thus, it will not result in one attaining the desired tranquility which is the real source of peace. Although one may be doing Karma without any specific fruit, but if in the back of the mind the thought continues about what unexpected reward one may get - then it is no longer Nishkama karma.

So, the key is controlling the mind.
So, controlling the mind, he who thinks
'न मां कर्माणि लिंपन्ति' - 'The actions do not touch me'

नमे कर्म फले स्पृहा" -'I do not have desire on the fruits of action'.

'इति मां योभिजानाति कर्मभिः स न बध्यते ', And knows me (or knows the self) - such a one will be free from the bondage of Karma '.

Though this shloka is about the nature of Bhagavan - it also means that the one who has knowledge of Self who says to himself that "The actions do not touch me, I do not have desire on the fruits of action " and focusses on Bhagavan, such a one will be free from the bonds of actions.

So, Krishna tells Arjuna, 'Knowing this secret many devotees attained Moksha. Hence Oh Arjuna! like your predecessors you also perform Nishkama Karma attain liberation'. (4.15)

Here instead of simply giving a direction, Krishna adds ' like your predecessors', implying that there could be confusions over the word 'Karma' itself and that he should follow the predecessors.

Then he goes on to elaborate on the prevailing confusion on Karma.
'In respect of action or Karma, what is "Karma" what is "akarma" (not Karma) has been debated by many without clarity'.

The Karma too is of two types. The 'Karma' that needs to be done ( Niyata Karma) and the Karma that has been barred ( Nishiddha Karma) which is spoken as 'vikarma'. The one who knows the difference between "Karma" 'viKarma' and 'akarma' is the one who possess the knowledge.

Knowing the difference between the three, and yet seeing 'akarma' in 'Karma' and seeing 'Karma in 'akarma' is the one who is wise.

That wise man is deemed to have performed all actions.
That is the actions that needed to be done
That means he is primed for liberation.

So, what is that 'akarma' in 'Karma'?

Performing Nishkama karma one does not expect any fruits of such action by definition. So, performing that Karma or action without ownership of that action is key.

What is meant by not having the ownership of that action?

It is common failing of all of us that when we perform the action we see ourselves as the doer. Even to the extent of saying to our self that because 'I' did it, it 'got' done! Discarding the self in that action and also ascribing that action as the action done with God's grace is called as 'not having the ownership'.

Such action will result in no bondage.

That means though we did that 'karma', having ascribed that to the grace of God, it is as though we have not done that 'karma'.
That 'karma' performed is like 'akarma' only.
That is seeing 'akarma' in 'Karma'

Then what is 'Karma' in 'akarma'?

If a person without changing his nature which is governed by Rajo, Tamas and Sattvik gunas, by physically keeping control of the sense organs and then not doing any 'Karma' thinks he is doing no Karma or 'akarma' hence no bondage! But because of the nature dominated by Tamas and Rajo Gunas his mind may not be under control. Though he is not physically doing any actions, his mind is elsewhere and doing its utmost travelling at speeds beyond light! Such a one though seemingly performing no action or akarma is actually doing 'Karma' through his ceaseless mind!

The wise one thus sees through such 'karma' in 'akarma' too!

Thus, knowing the differences between 'Karma' 'akarma' and 'vKarma' and if one is able to see 'akarma' in 'Karma' and 'Karma' in 'akarma', then such a person who acts without desire, distills the action in the fire of Knowledge is known as 'Pundit'. Such a one is free from bondage of action. (4.19)

Krishna says 'While in that state of knowledge, whatever action he performs for pleasing the God, that action is free of Bondage'. (4.20). Such a one may be doing action for welfare of the community then also in spite of that action he is free from bondage of that action. On the other hand, such a one being already aware of Brahman is no longer concerned with action, but may be doing Karma for maintaining the body by accepting alms. Even then he still remains free of bondage of action (4.21)

Continuing the thread of that enlightened one who is already aware of Brahman, Krishna says - 'The one contented with what comes to him by chance, being free of the dualities of happiness and sorrow, without jealousy, and not be concerned whether the favored result is obtained or not and is able to maintain equanimity at all times - such a one is not bound by the results of actions!'(4.22).

Such a one is free from Karma. He attains liberation

One may wonder who is that man free from Karma and how does his Karma dissipate making him attain liberation. Krishna elaborates on such a devotee.

गत संगस्य- the one without attachment to anything
मुक्तस्य - the one who is free - freed from the distortions of desire and anger
ज्ञानस्थित चेतसः- the one whose mind is absorbed in the knowledge of Self

Such a devotee as above will have the Karma which was done to please the Lord, dissolved away, thus keeping him free of bondage of Karma.

That Karma is dissolved because the devotee is free of attachment. Free from distortions of desire and anger, and with his mind absorbed in the knowledge of Self, He truly has no interest in the karma or its results.

That karma may be karma done to please the Lord or it may be Karma done for community welfare. But the result is same.

Krishna adds another reason.
'श्रीभगवानुवाच:
ब्रह्मार्पणम् ब्रह्महविः ब्रह्मग्नौ ब्रह्मणा हुतम् ।
ब्रह्मैव तेन गन्तव्यं ब्रह्मकर्मसमाधिना ॥'
Meaning that:

"The sacrificial paraphernalia is Brahman, the sacrificial offerings are Brahman, the sacrificial fire is Brahman, the one doing the sacrifice is Brahman. Concentrating on the feeling that everything is a form of Brahman and doing that sacrifice the result to be obtained is also Brahman".

The one who is free from attachments, who is free from the distortions of desire and anger, whose mind is absorbed in the knowledge of Self is one who has realized Brahman.
The act of such a one to please the God is itself a Sacrifice, though without the paraphernalia of a Sacrifice including 'arpanas' 'homa' or the 'materials for Homa' or a formal 'Karta' of the Homa
He sees the instruments used in Sacrifice themselves as Brahman,
He sees the oblation poured into the fire as Brahman
He sees the fire as Brahman, and the one conducting the fire as Brahman,
The fruit obtained by such one is also Brahman.

The sacrifice of such a one, which is in essence an act to please the God, is called the sacrifice of Knowledge.
Here in this sacrifice of the knowledge seeker the doer, the act, the action of doing that all are seen as Brahman.

So, the Karma of such a one dissolves itself in the fire of Knowledge keeping the doer free of bondage.

So is the case with Sacrifice performed for community welfare by one who is free of bondage.

Thus, Krishna defined the act of pleasing God by a realized soul as Sacrifice, more specifically as a Sacrifice of knowledge.

Even at that time the act of 'Sacrifice' of 'Yagnya' is the most important act defined in the Vedas. All intricacies in performing the 'Sacrifice' are detailed in Brahmanas of Vedas. Such a sacrifice with all its intricacies is not within the means of normal people and only the elite were able to absorb and afford to perform such 'Sacrifices'. Here Krishna defined a sacrifice devoid of all "Vedic karma" or free of rituals, free 'arpanams', free of 'ahuti', free of all processes. He called that Sacrifice, a Sacrifice of Knowledge. It is essentially a Sacrifice embedded in Knowledge.

While this "Sacrifice embedded in knowledge" is free of Vedic rituals, it is still beyond all normal people. Even this is still available to only the most accomplished of the seekers of Brahman. So as though to simplify the 'Sacrifice' further Krishna defines several other forms of worship to please God each of which is also yet another form of Sacrifice.

Krishna already stated that "Sacrifice' as acts to please God, with no links to fruits of that action
There are many ways to please the God.
Krishna in this discourse details twelve of them.

1 Daiva Yagnya: A sacrifice focused on worshiping. It is simply worshipping God with intensity of purpose. That worship itself is treated as Yagnya.

2 Brahma Yagnya: A sacrifice focused on philosophic enquiry. Through enquiry and purification making the mind be absorbed in Brahman. This enquiry and pursuit of Brahman itself is the Yagnya.

3 Indriya Samyama Yagnya: A sacrifice focusing on the control of sensory organs. The control of sense organs is a first step to achieve liberation- Focusing on sense controls itself is a Yagnya or sacrifice.

4 Sabdadi Vishaya Nirodha Yagnya: A sacrifice focusing on not getting into worldly affairs. The sensory organs move about and get absorbed in various issues that are heard or seen. Enquiry and rejection of the faulty issues so that the sensory organs are not diverted is the Yagnya. When the diversion of sensory organs on unrelated issues is stopped, the mind acquires a tranquility and peace. Which leads to liberation.

5 Mano Nigraha Yagnya: A sacrifice focusing on control of mind. In the hierarchy of human faculties Sensory organs are at a higher level than body. But the mind is at a higher level than sensory organs. Both the Indriya Samyama Yagnya controlling the sense organs and the Sabdaadi Vishaya nirodha Yagnya controlling the sensory organs dwelling on sundry issues requires the mind to control them. To control mind is the activity of Intellect which is at a higher level. The practice of controlling mind itself is taken as activity and treated as a Yagnya.

6 Dravya Yagnya: A sacrifice focused on using one's wealth in charity is also a Yagnya.

7 Tapo Yagnya: A sacrifice focused on Penance as an activity to get the control of sensory organs etc.

8 Yoga Yagnya: A sacrifice focused on Yoga. This is the Ashtanga yoga as Yagnya.

9 Svadhyaa Yagnya: A sacrifice focused on self-study. Study of Vedas and Upanishads,

10 Gnyana Yagnya: A sacrifice focused on study, assimilation of Vedas and Upanishads as well as practicing the learnings.

11 Pranayama Yagnya: Practicing Pranayama as a Yagnya

12 Ahara Niyama Yagnya: Practicing tight dietary control as form of sacrifice.

In all these the one who is performing the sacrifice is noted as
"संशित व्रताः "/
- that is people who have firm conviction about the task they take up.

It can be seen that all the twelve Yagnyas mentioned about requires consistent effort of some form with dedication.
Doing that with commitment and severity of purpose is their Yagnya or sacrifice.

This is a novel way of defining the Yagnya.

The Yagnyas defined in Vedas through Samhita and Brahmanas bear no resemblance to this description of Yagnya. Thus, Krishna in this discourse has simplified the ritual of Yagnya requiring priests and following Vedic chants, which is way beyond a common man, to a process which is well within the means of a common man.

Having mentioned all the types of sacrifices, Krishna comes back to say which is most preferred one or which is the primary sacrifice.
श्रीभगवानुवाच
श्रेयान् द्रव्यमयाद्यज्ञा ज्ञानयज्ञः परन्तप ।
सर्वं कर्माखिलं पार्थ ज्ञाने परिसमाप्यते ॥

meaning there by that
" Oh Arjuna! The Gnyana Yagnya, which is the sacrifice based on study, assimilation and practice of Upanishads is better than Dravya Yagnya which is the sacrifice based on using one's wealth for charity. That is because in the Gnyana Yagnya which includes assimilation of knowledge of Upanishads, the assimilated knowledge is never destroyed and remains with the doer".

The Dravya Yagnya means being involved in charity and obtaining the delight of charity. With the delight, itself as the ultimate result of charity and not pursuing any other fruit through that charity, one is indeed performing Nishkama karma. That leads to freeing up of mind and thereafter comes liberation. The action in Dravya Yagnya is the charity. In the action of charity, charity dissolves once it is completed though delight remains with the doer.

In Gnyana Yagnya the action is acquisition of knowledge. The acquired knowledge remains with the one practicing the Gnyana Yagnya. That is the point Krishna is making

If Gnyana Yagnya is better, then there are some more thoughts.
How to acquire Jnyana/knowledge?
This is answered as follows.
- "प्रणिपातेन" - By seeking out a master and prostrating before him and then
- "परिप्रश्नेन" - By querying the Guru with respect
-"सेवया" - By performing services.

Performing services to whom would be a question. Krishna answers that also as follows.
-"ज्ञानिनः तत्वदर्शिनः"- people of Knowledge and having the experience of Brahman.

Who can acquire the knowledge?
- "श्रद्धवान्"- the ones who has the focus!
- "तत्परः:" - the one who live in that purpose
- "संयतेंद्रियः"-The one who conquered the sensory organs.

To insist Gnyana Yagnya is the best there are many other considerations.

Acquiring of knowledge results in the destruction of confusion

Acquiring the knowledge, the one who acquires sees himself in all the other beings, and all other beings in himself and the Bhagavan

Acquiring that knowledge, even if one was sinner before, he would be able to cross the ocean of ignorance and reach the other shore of witnessing Brahman.

Acquiring that knowledge burns the bondage of action to ashes and make him free.

As a last word on Gnyana Krishna says:

श्रीभगवानुवाच
न हि ज्ञानेन सदृशं पवित्रमिह विद्यते ।
तत् स्वयं योगसंसिद्धः कालेनात्मनि विंदति॥

meaning there by that:
"There is nothing else as pure as knowledge. Having acquired knowledge one enjoys the results in due course.

There are many things pure in the world. But there is nothing equal to knowledge. Knowledge is the purest element.

This knowledge is available only by own effort
Where does this knowledge arise? - in the Self
What does this knowledge do?
Removes the ignorance called " samsaya".

The relationship of knowledge and time is
कालेनात्मनि विंदति - One enjoys the results as time progresses.

In the end linking Knowledge with Nishkama karma Krishna says to Arjuna
श्रीभगवानुवाच
"तस्मादज्ञान संभूतं हृत्थ्सं ज्ञानासिनात्मनः ।
चित्वैनं संशयं योगमातिष्ठोत्तिष्ठ भारत ॥"
meaning there by that
"This doubt in your heart which is the result of ignorance. O Bharata! destroy that ignorance with the sword of knowledge, use that tool to achieve Jnyana yoga, namely the tool of Nishkaama karma. Arise (and get going)

Thus, Krishna proposes Gnyana as a sword to demolish ignorance.
That is the final word in Gnyana Yoga.

So, what does the Gnyana Yoga say to us!

Man, is involved in action from the time he gets up in the morning. If we ascribe every action as an offering to God, then one is free from the bondage of action. All the sacrifices mentioned are within the realm of the individuals. We can pick up any one and pursue that as a single point of focus.

The Gnyana Yagnya is the best of all as stated by Krishna.

We should make efforts for acquiring that Gnyana!

|| ōm tat sat ||
"तस्मादज्ञान संभूतं हृत्थ्सं ज्ञानासिनात्मनः ।
चित्वैनं संशयं योगमातिष्ठोत्तिष्ठ भारत ॥"
"Therefore "O Bharata! take recourse to Yoga and rise up cutting asunder with the sword of knowledge this doubt in your heart arising from ignorance"
||om tat sat ||

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