Bhagavad Geeta Chapter 4 (Jnana Karma Sannyasa)

Bhagavad Geeta Chapter 4Jnana Karma Sannyasa Yoga (Yoga of knowledge of renunciation of action)

School of Yoga comments on Bhagavad-Geeta Chapter 4: Introduction:

  • What is jnana? Jnana means “knowledge of the Self”. Here, jnana-yoga means that knowledge which yokes a person’s awareness of the Self to Brahman. 
  • What is karma? Karma means action. In this chapter, Sri Krishna explains how action can be performed without accruing debt.
  • What is sansyaasa? Sannyaasa means renunciation.
Synopsis:
  • We have seen in Chapter 1, Arjuna experiences deep melancholy at having to fight his kinsmen.
  • Sri Krishna, after chiding him, tells him that his logic is incorrect and explains the philosophy of living in Chapter 2 (Saankhya-Yoga).
  • Following this, Sri Krishna explains karma-yoga or the attitude with which action must be performed, so that no debt is accrued in Chapter 3.
  • In this chapter, Sri Krishna starts by speaking about his own origin and role in creation. Then, he delves into the qualities of action (karma) and sacrifice (yagnya).
  • The central message, as depicted in the heading is, that action should be performed for merger (yoga) of the Self with the Brahman (jnana) and this is possible only with an attitude of renunciation (sannyasa) when performing action as a sacrifice (yagnya).
  • Therefore, the Chapter 4 covers knowledge of karma and its renunciation through sacrifice of one’s action (yagnya). 

School of Yoga explains Bhagavad Geeta Chapter 4 (verse 1 – 15)

Sri Krishna tells Arjuna that he taught Yoga to the Sun. Arjuna, sceptical, counters that this would not be possible because the Sun came before him, Sri Krishna. Sri Krishna explains many things about himself, and moves away from the image of a person he had projected himself to be and shows himself to be different.

What is Sri Krishna saying about himself in this chapter?

In this Chapter, Sri Krishna reveals himself and these need to be understood.

  • I taught yoga to the Sun who taught it to the world. I existed before everything (Ch4verse 1-4).
  • “I can control Prakriti and creation”. So, Sri Krishna is indicating that he has reached a state where he can control Prakriti. However, it is unclear what he means by calling himself Lord of all beings and his relationship to Brahman (Ch4verse 6).
  • When natural state (dharma) decays and there is increase in chaos (adharma), I embody myself. For protection of the virtuous and destruction of wicked and for re-establishment of natual balance I take birth in every era. This is borne out by the ten avataars of Vishnu in dasa-avataar (Ch4verse 7-8).
  • “In whatever way people approach me, I reward those people who follow my path only”. Sri Krishna asserts in verse 14 and verse 35 that submission to him is akin to submission to Brahman (Ch4verse 11).
  • “Four categories of people are created by me based on their orientation to action (gunakarmavibhagasah), also know that though I am also the initiator, I am not engaged and imperishable”. This is a confusing verse – are the categories (vaarnaa) created by him, people or both. This also separates him from the motility aspect of Brahman (Ch4verse 13).
  • “Actions do not taint me, nor do I desire the fruits of action, thus those that know me are not bound by actions”. Sri Krishna says that like him, that anyone merging with Brahman becomes Brahman (Ch4verse 14).
  • Not knowing this one will commit to delusion repeatedly, by this all beings see in their Self me also. Sri Krishna reinforces the messsage that when the practitioner merges with Brahman, there is no difference between him and the practitioner. Clearly, Sri Krishna is saying that he has merged with Brahman (Ch4verse 35).

Conclusion: Sri Krishna in the-Bhagavad-Geeta cannot be viewed as a person. He has to be looked upon as a yogi who has reached the highest levels of Yoga. Also, it is dangerous to view Sri Krishna as a role model for modern living, because throughout Mahabharata he is engaged in destroying a society that has been built on a particular tradition with a capability that is out of the envelope of normal existence.

Hence, it is advisable for one to extract lessons from the-Bhagavad-Geeta and find his or her own solutions to achieving perfection in yoga. 

School of Yoga explains Bhagavad Geeta Chapter 4 (verse 16 – 22)

When performing, one should be cognisant of prohibited action and be aware of action in inaction. He who perceives action in inaction and inaction in action is wise among men and in complete union in all action. 

Start all undertakings without desire or expectation and abandon fruits of effort. Also, be ever content and not dependent on anything when engaged in action, that is when one he does nothing. 

With an integrated consciousness and Self, abandoning all commission using only the body for performing action, that person gets no injustice. Content with whatever profit come spontaneously free from opposites, unselfish, always balanced in success and failure and not bound by actions.

School of Yoga explains jnana-karma-yoga – (verse 19-23)

  • Action (karma) occurs everywhere, even when one thinks that they are not acting.
  • So, there are three types of action; action, inaction and prohibited action. Approved action is that which is in conformance with dharma (natural state), inaction is that which occurs when we think we are not acting and prohibited action is that which causes chaos (adharma). 
  • Hence, to understand action and transcend it (jnana-karma-yoga), one must act with awareness of the self (prajnya) when engaged in action (karma).
  • These include;
    • performing action as a sacrifice
    • abandoning fruits of action and commissions
    • being content with whatever outcome occurs, balanced in success and failure
    • acting without expectations, not being attached to outcome
    • being free from opposites, unselfish
    • integrating consciousness (chitta) with Self (atma). 

School of Yoga explains dharma:

  • The key factors in the achieving jnana-karma-yoga are, acting according to dharma, avoiding duality in action, remaining in equanimity during and after action and having no attachments to the outcome.
  • The starting point is practice of dharma in action. So, what is dharma?
  • We are at peace in certain situations but become agitated in other situations. This state of peace is our natural state (dharma).
  • Whenever we get stimulus that is congruent to our natural state, we remain in our natural state (dharma) and respond peacefully. Conversely, when we get stimulus that is out of congruence with our natural state, our balance gets disturbed and we go into a state of agitation or chaos (adharma).  
  • Thus, dharma can also be referred to as our conditioning, the basis on which we decide that we like or dislike something, which in turn becomes the basis of our response (karma).
  • Hence, we can say that dharma (conditioning) is that aspect of our personality which drives decision-making and all action (karma).
  • Importantly, dharma drives the other factors such as, avoiding duality in action, remaining in equanimity during and after action and having no attachments to the outcome.
  • This is the importance of acting in accordance with dharma.
School of yoga explains dharma in detail!

Let us look at dharma in detail, how we develop our natural state and what makes each of us different!

  • We are like computers! First, we get our DNA from our parents. When we are born, we only know how to cry, eat, sleep and perform basic body functions.
  • Next, our parents load us with values and ability to live in society, which becomes our operating systems and forms the basis of our decision parameters. Also, our schools augment our values with knowledge, while society help us integrate into a network.
  • So, our Identity and approach to life becomes defined by a personalised and unique decision-making framework. We judge everything and everyone based on this conditioning.
  • This conditioning or value system is our natural state of balance, where we are at peace and is called dharma.
Dharma or natural state occurs at multiple levels:
  • Generic natural state or saamanya-dharma:

Generic natural state or saamanya-dharma can be defined as those characteristics which are common to any family of entities.

For example: Gold has specific characteristics which are different from lead or silver. However, all of them come under a common category of metals. All metals have a common natural state and this is called saamanya-dharma.

Similarly, metals as a category, exhibit characteristics which are different from animals, trees, fishes or humans. This specific defining character which defines each category, family or genus is called saamanya-dharma. 

  • Specific natural state or vishesha-dharma

Specific natural state or vishesha-dharma is the natural state of individual entities within a family of entities.

For example: Within metals, gold is different from copper, silver or iron.

In wood, teak is different from oak or rubber. The family of wood will conform to a generic or saamanya-dharma. However, the unique natural state (vishesha-dharma) of teak will be different from oak, elm or rosewood.

This logic can be expanded in multiple directions. For instance, the unique natural state (vishesha-dharma) of a table will be different from that of a chair or sofa, even though they may both be made from the same tree. Thus, all tables will exhibit a unique natural state, regardless of the material used to make them.

In fact, this concept is applicable to all entities. A heart has a unique natural state, regardless of the body. It and cannot do the job of the stomach, even though both may be in the same body. 

  • Individual natural state or sva-dharma

Each of us behaves differently. This is on account of conditioning brought about by DNA, family, upbringing, societal norms, diet and habits. Consequently, this allows individuals to select information, analyse and process it in a unique manner and behave in the way they do.

This specific characteristics of capability at an individual level is called svadharma (sva = self + dharma = conditioning).

  • Universal natural state or sanatana-dharma

Dharma covers all animate and inanimate entities, including planets, galaxies and nations. Everything can be classified under Generic, Unique or Personal natural state. This concept is universal in its applicability; hence it is called Universal Natural state or sanatana-dharma.

For example – the natural state of the earth is position, shape, atmosphere and ability to sustain life. In the case of a nation, its dharma can possibly be its constitution, flag, states, people etc.

Now, the important question – what is the relationship between dharma and jnana-karma?

All our actions (karma) are determined by conditioning (dharma)! Let’s look at some examples –

  • As humans, we exhibit certain characteristics that make us humans.
  • As individuals, we behave uniquely because we have a certain DNA and are brought up in a certain way, therefore exhibit specific responses to stimuli.
  • Similarly, everyone and everything, including the water we drink, food we eat or the car we drive exhibit specific capabilities, characteristics and responses.

Why is this important? this means that almost all that we do, think or say comes from being conditioned (dharma)… so, to achieve jnana-karma, we will first need to transcend our notions of right-wrong, good-bad, like-dislike and get comfortable with a state of treating everything without prior judgement.

It means dumping the myriad baggage that we have picked up over the years.

The question is, can we transcend dharma? When conditioning drives so much of our comfort levels, do we have any free will to change?

Sri Krishna say, it’s possible by sacrifice (yagnya).

School of Yoga explains Bhagavad Geeta Chapter 4 (verse 24 – 42)

Brahman sacrifices to Brahman, the offering is to the fire of the Brahman, the offering is made only by Brahman, the end result is achieved by effort of one who is absorbed in meditation of Brahman. Some sacrifice to their deities, yogis worship the fire of Brahman, others offer sacrifice as a sacrifice. Organ of hearing and other senses in the fire of self-restraint are sacrificed, sources of sound and others are sacrificed in the fire of the senses.

Yet others sacrifice all functions of the senses and movements of vital air (praaNa) and others sacrifice the restraint of the Self in the fire of yoga. People also sacrifice materials, self-restraint, Yoga as a sacrifice, yet others sacrifice knowledge gained by self-study, as do ascetics and people who practice great vows. 

In the outgoing breath people sacrifice incoming breath, yet others sacrifice incoming breath in the outgoing breath controlling the speed of incoming and outgoing breath, restraining it becomes the principal focus. Others regulate food intake or sacrifice vital air in the incoming breath also all these that know sacrifice get their impurities destroyed by sacrifice.

There are many forms of sacrifice spread across the spectrum of Brahman which are produced by action. Superior to sacrifice of materials is sacrifice of knowledge, all action culminates in knowledge (jnana).

This subtle knowledge can be achieved by prostration, by questioning and by service. Then wise people will teach you the knowledge of reaching the Truth. Not knowing this one will commit to delusion repeatedly, but by this, all beings see me in their Self also. 

Just as a blazing fire reduces fuel to ashes, the fire of knowledge reduces all actions to ashes. Verily, nothing is as pure as wisdom in this world and this has been discovered over time by Yogis who have achieved total perfection.

Those that are sincere and dedicated obtain wisdom when they are totally eagerly engaged subduing the senses have obtained wisdom, they obtain supreme peace quickly.

School of Yoga explains the sacrifice (yagnya) process:

What is sacrifice (yagnya)? Sacrifice is the willingness to give a part of oneself for a purpose without expectation of return.

From first principles: 

  • All sacrifice comes from Brahman.
  • First, Purusha (primordial Identity or Self) and Prakriti (primordial manifestation or energy) emerge from Brahman. 
  • Next, Purusha tries to project its own Identity or self-worth (asmita).  Also, this projection is in the form of an awareness called chitta (consciousness).
  • Furthermore, chitta (consciousness) is a medium, a carrier of experience. It is inert and has no motility or sentiment (bhaava).
  • Lastly, the motility and sentiment (bhaava) element are provided by Prakriti in the form of guna (attributes). So, Purusha (experiencer) is the static element and Prakriti is the dynamic element.
  • Purusha and Prakriti weave with each other, this weave is called tantra and the outcome is karma.
  • All actions (karma) result in imbalance between the entities (atma) and this results in debt (rinn). which needs to be reconciled.
  • Since the Self (atma) is holding the debt, the only way to escape rebirth (samsaara) is to remove the Self from the action and this is done by sacrifice (yagnya).
  • It is important to realise the sacrifice is also an action (karma), except that it is a regression action on the Self, as sacrifice results in the Self becoming less dependent on the environment for supporting its self-worth (asmita).
  • But, to what extent is sacrifice possible? What is the span and extent of our free-will? To what extent do we control the process of acting and sacrifice, considering the impact of dharma?

School of Yoga explains free-will (does it exist and to what extent?) –

  • If everything is dictated by prior debt that has come for reconciliation (prarabda-karma), then do we control the outcome of anything?
  • Also, Sri Krishna says that even if we do not act, prakriti will force action to preserve itself. So, do we have control to stop creation of karma and debt (rinn)?
  • So, this means that any action which is driven by conscious or unconscious impact of dharma are not free-will.
  • But this includes most of our daily activities such as…
    • Natural actions, which includes breathing, eating, sleeping etc.
    • Major relationships, such as with parents, siblings, offspring, friends, colleagues and situations that occur on account of prarabda-karma due to the need for reconciliation of debt (rinn).
    • Our own reactions to stimuli that are driven by DNA, familial and societal conditioning.
    • This can also be extended to include actions of societies, nations and the earth.

So, does this mean that our normal actions are not governed by free-will? That we do not act, but react. Does free-will exist? If it does, what is free-will?

  • First, let us hypothesise what free-will might be and define free-will as any action where a person responds to stimulus solely on the strength of his or her own personality and that there is no influence of any kind on the person during the act.
  • Importantly, if free-will does not exist, then how are we to implement everything that Sri Krishna recommends in the Bhagavad-Geeta?
  • Going by Sri Krishna’s assertion, let us assume that free-will exists somewhere, that we need to find it and understand its power in order to be able to initiate the sacrifice process.

Let us go back to first principles;

  • The creation of anything comes from nothing. There is no logic for anything to have existed before nothing, because if anything had existed before, then it must have also come from somewhere, which creates an existence loop that keeps chasing its own tail.
  • Hence, the only logical starting point of anything is nothing because even is we were to consider an argument of “God” having started the process, “God” is also something, we then need to figure out where “God” came from and how that “God” got the ability to generate materiality.
  • Nothing is a state of infinite, unchangeable, immutable peace. This is Brahman.
  • This state can exist in two forms – as null or as infinity, both states are the same, but attenuation is different.
  • Then, there is an atemporal vibration called spanda when Brahman becomes aware of its own existence (pragnya). This is not free-will because if free will existed, Brahman could have stopped spanda from manifesting.
  • How do we know that Brahman does not stop spanda from manifesting? Manifestation occurs on account of awareness of three experiences by Brahman – (1) excitement at the awareness of its own existence (2) anxiety as to what this awareness is and (3) anxiety also because it does not want to lose this new awareness. 
  • This insecurity forces Brahman to manifest in order to experience its awareness of itself and confirm its existence. Brahman has no control over spanda, hence manifestation occurs. 
  • From Brahman, emerges Purusha (Primordial Identity or experiencer) and Prakriti (manifestation in the form of guna or attributes). This leads to the formation of the Universe, which is the same as the Big-bang theory. This is not free-will, but an outcome of karma, a result of the weave of Purusha and Prakriti.
  • The impact of Purusha and Prakriti results in science as we know it. For example, a body will remain in a state of rest unless acted upon by an external force. The state of rest is tamas, the external force is rajas and the point when the ball achieves a balance between tamas and rajas is sattva or harmony. The state of inertia or tamas is a state of no-action, passion (rajas) is action propelled by desire and harmonic (sattva) is the state of approved action. None of these states are free-will.
  • Free-will also conforms to quantum mechanics. When a ball is in a state of rest, the interatomic/ intermolecular bonds are in a particular state, acted upon only by gravity, which slowly alters the state of the ball itself. This change in state is not within the control of the ball, but the inter and intra-atomic/ molecular bonds refuse to release their relationships and resist. This resistance to change in current state is free-will because the entities experience a primordial fear of loss of Identity.
  • However, it is important to note that Brahman, while providing motility is intrinsically inert. Brahman does not participate in the weave of Purusha and Prakriti, the creation of matter and energy, which is maaya (illusion). 
  • So, the fundamental foundation of nothingness (state of peace) which is Brahman and an awareness of that state (pragnya) does not change.
  • Consequently, we can establish that free-will state exists only in the pure state of Brahman. because everything else comes from fear of loss of Identity.  
  • Everything else is karma, which also means that all materiality (maaya) is a zone where there is no free-will.
  • So, why is there no free-will outside of Brahman?
    • We have seen that Purusha, Prakriti and karma come out of a fear of loss of existence or relevance.
    • From karma comes conditioning (dharma).
    • So, whenever we act, it is generally in conformance to conditioning (dharma).
    • Also, when we move out of conditioning (dharma), we experience anxiety of loss of sense of existence or anxiety to self-worth (asmita).
    • This generally forces us back into our zone of comfort (dharma).
  • Let us look at some examples?
    • UK was a superpower. In fact, there was a time when UK controlled almost everything worthy of control. Would they have let control go voluntarily? Of course not! Then what happened? How were they unable to exercise their will and continue to be a world-power!
    • If free-will existed, there would be no disease, decay and death. After all, who will die willingly?
    • Also, why do we fight death and try to stay alive? Why do we not succeed?
    • Try this experiment – sit comfortably and breathe normally. Just observe the breath and ensure that there is no change in flow, breakages or agitation. You will quickly find out that this quality of breath is impossible to maintain for more than a minute.
    • Experiment 2 – when walking, breath-in for 4-steps, hold for 2-steps, exhale for 4-steps and retain for 2-steps. You will notice that it is impossible to maintain a sustained breath control. Why is it so difficult to exercise free-will?
  • To what extent can we control actions and affect outcome?
    • The starting point is a realisation comes that free-will is a mirage and control over outcome and self are difficult. So, the scope of free-will is confined to reducing impact on self-worth when performing action (karma).
    • When response is in the form of sacrifice (yagnya) or action without expectation of return, then awareness of the Self (jnana) increases. This reduces fear of loss of identity and increases tranquillity (Brahman). 
  • How should one be able to activate free will? It won’t be easy because the scope is so limited…
    • Start by not reacting, let go the moment and be selective in the responses.
    • Then, start sacrificing things that don’t matter much and slowly,
    • Try to implement all the sacrifices that Sri Krishna recommends.
School of Yoga explains sacrifice (yagnya):
  • Sri Krishna says that all sacrifice (yagnya) comes from the Brahman. 
  • Since the source of sacrifice is the Brahman, any and everything can be sacrificed. So, there are infinite opportunity for sacrifice.
  • This also means that all action (karma) can be sacrificed.
  • The only question that remains, do we have the ability to sacrifice and to what extent do we control the process?
  • Obviously, each of us has some ability to give up material and other aspects, and this might be a good starting point. Start by sacrificing anything that generates least anxiety. Sacrifice that baggage.
  • Importantly, once the easy ones are sacrificed, be alert so that they don’t creep back on you.
  • The interesting thing about sacrificing low hanging fruit, relationship and power related entities is that it prepares one mentally for more sacrifices.
  • But, sacrificing also gets harder, as one begins pushing the limits of conditioning (dharma).
  • Sacrifice of things that are dearer to us impact our self-esteem (asmita) more, and fear of loss of self-esteem brings out severe reactions of anxiety and passion. This makes jettisoning of baggage harder.
  • Sacrifice is also required for acquisition of knowledge, because from knowledge comes discrimination (vivekam) and dispassion (vairagyam), which helps in subdueing one’s self-worth (asmita).
  • This is also possible at the feet Gurus who have the knowledge, experience and expertise to help one in acquire it. 
  • With sacrifice, all action becoming non-personal resulting in;
    • Destruction of the self (atma) and consequently debt (prarabda-karma or previous debt), because debt is attached to the Self and if the Self is destroyed, there is no place where debt may be accrued.
    • Consequently, there is disruption of cycle of rebirth.
    • Increased dispassion (vairagyam) makes the person become less afraid of consequences of action, less judgemental of outcome,
    • More the accepting of change and consequently, more the tranquil.

School of Yoga posits views that may be contrary to accepted positions: 

Do we have free will? This is the intrinsic question that this chapter raises. We would like to think that we have the ability to make a choice, but is that a reality? The answer to this vexing question is probably… “Yes, if we do not react to stimulus”.

School of Yoga explains the lesson learned in Chapter 4

The business of material life is all about understanding action (karma). Also, the practice of sustainable and responsible living is woven into the Indian ethos.

School of Yoga explains yagnya or sacrifice and Indian culture-

Yagnya and India – one of the yagnyas performed ritually in India is called Pancha-maha-yagnyas (five major sacrifices) which a person is supposed to follow every day. These comprise deiva-yagnya (sacrifice to one’s deity), rishi-yagnya (sacrifice to the seers), pitr-yagnya (sacrifice to one’s ancestors), bhoota-yagnya (sacrifice to all beings), manushya-yagnya (sacrifice to other humans). 

What is manushya-yagnya or sacrifice to other humans? It is participating in their welfare and this includes their journey through life, such as marriage, birth, celebrations, reversals, deaths etc. in a manner that gives them pleasure, peace and happiness but without expectation of return. This participation, since it is a sacrifice must be centred on the other person and include respecting their privacy.

The Transliteration of The-Bhagavad-Geeta – Chapter 4 follows:

The Sanskrit words are in red italics and meaning, before the words, are in black.

(1-3) Sri Krishna said I taught this imperishable yoga to the Sun who taught it to Manu, who taught it to Ikshavaaku (imam-vivasvate-yogam-proktavaan-aham-avyayam-vivasvaan-manave-praaha-manoohu-ikshavaakave-abhraveet). Thus, this was handed down through the generations of royal seers who knew it but over time and long period this Yoga has been lost (evam-paramparaa-praaptam-imam-raja-risheehi-viduhu-sa-kaalena-iha-mahata-yogaha-nashtaha). This Yoga also, that I teach you today, has been known since ancient times to devotees and since you are my friend, so I am revealing this supreme secret to you (sa-evaayam-mayaa-te-adhya-yogaha-proktaha-puraatanaha-bhakto-asi-me-sakhaa-cha-iti-rahasyam-hi-etat-uttamam).

(4) Arjuna asked – You were born after the Sun. How am I to comprehend that you taught this in the beginning of times? (aparam-bhavato-janma-param-vivasvataha-katham-etat-vijaniyam-tvam-aadou-proktavaan-iti).

(5-6) I have taken many births just like you but unlike you, remember them all ((bhahuni-me-vyateetaani-janmaani-tava-chaarjuna-taani-aham-veda-sarvaaNi-na-vetya). I am an imperishable soul, the Lord of all beings also, since I control the emergence of Prakriti, I can create the illusion of my own existence (ajah-api-san-avyaya-aatma-bhootaanam-eeshvahara-apisan-prakritim-svaam-adhishtaaya-sambhavaami-aatma-maayayaa). 

(7-8) When natural state decays and there is increase in chaos, I embody myself (yadaa-yadaa-hi-dharmasya-glaanir-bhavati-abhyutaanam-adharmasya-tadaa-aatmaanam-srjaami-aham). For protection of the virtuous and destruction of wicked and for re-establishment of natural balance, I take birth in every era (parithraaNaaya-saaDhoonaam-vinaashaya-cha-dushkritaam-dharma-samsthaapanaarthaaya-sambhavaami-yuge-yuge).

(9-10) He who understands my divine activities in its subtleties, when he abandons his body stops having further births and comes to me (janma-karma-cha-me-divyam-evam-yaha-vetthi-tattvataha-tyaktva-deham-punah-janma-na-iti-maam-iti-saha). Freed from attachment, fear, anger, absorbed in me and taking refuge in me, many who have sacrificed their knowledge of the Self have attained my state (veeta-raaga-bhaya-krodh-krodh-manmaya-maamupashrita-bahavo-jnyaana-tapasaa-pootaaha-mad-bhaavam-aagathaaha).

(11-12) In whatever way people approach me, I reward those people who follow my path only (ye-yatha-maam-prapadyante-taan-tatha-eva-bhajaami-aham-mama-vartma-anuvartante-manushya-sarvasaha). Sacrifice longing for success in action to the deivas quickly, because in this human world, success is achieved when there is action (kaankshantaha-karmanaam-siddhim-yajante-iha-deivata-kshipram-hi-manushe-loke-siddhihi-bhavati-karmaja).

(13-15) The are four categories of people are created by me based on their orientation to action (gunakarmavibhagasah), also know that though I am also the initiator, I am not engaged and imperishable (chaturvarnyam-mayasrishtam-guna-karma-vibhaagashaha), Actions do not taint me, nor do I desire the fruits of action, thus those that know me are not bound by actions (na-maam-karmaaNi-limpanti-na-me-karmaphala-spraha-iti-maam-yah-abhijaanati-karmabhih-na-sah-badhyate). Thus, having known how fervent ancient seekers of the Truth performed karma, perform karma as the ancients did (evam-jnaatva-krit-karma-poorvair-api-mumukshubhihi-kuru-karma-eva-tasmaat-tvam-poorvaih-poorvataram-krtam).

(16 – 18) What is action, what is inaction, which deludes even the poets? I shall teach you, knowing which you can achieve liberation from that which is inappropriate (kim-karma-kim-akarma-itit-kavayaha-api-atra-mohitaha-tat-te-karma-pravakshyaami-yat-jnyaatva-mokshyase-ashubhaat). Also, should be known of action, as should be known prohibited action and knowledge of inaction, because action is deep (karmaNaha-hi-api-boddhavyam-boddhavyam-cha-vikarmaNaha-akarmaNaha-cha-bodhavyam-gahana-karmaNo-gatih-4.17). He who perceives action in inaction and inaction in action is wise among men and in complete union in all action (karmNi-akarma-yah-pashyate-akarmaNi-cha-karma-yaha-saha-buddhimaan-manushyeshu-sah-yuktaha-kritsnakarmakrit).

(19-20) He who starts all undertakings without desire or expectation, whose action have been tempered in the fire of knowledge is called a wise scholar (yasya-sarve-samaarambhaaha-kama-sankalpa-varjitaha-jnana-agni-dagdha-karmanam-tamaahuh-panditam-buddhaha). He who has abandoned fruits of effort, is ever content and not dependent on anything when engaged in action, truly he does nothing (tyaktva-karma-phala-samgama-nitya-triptah-nir-ashreya-karmaNi-abhipravrittaha-api-na-eva-kimchit-karoti).

(21-23) Without expectation, with an integrated consciousness and Self, abandoning all commission using only the body for performing action, that person gets no injustice (nirashi-yat-chit-atma-tyaktva-sarva-parigrahaha-shareeram-kevalam-karma-kurvan-na-aapnoti-kilbhisham). The words parigrahaha and kilbhisham are key words and have no appropriate English equivalent. Content with whatever profit come spontaneously free from opposites, unselfish, always balanced in success and failure and not bound by actions (yaddraccha-laabha-samtushto-dvandvaattitaha-vimatsaraha-samaha-siddhou-asiddhou-cha-krtva-api-na-nibhadyate). One who is devoid of attachment, liberated with conscious knowledge like Vasishta, performing action for sacrifice ceases to exist (gatasamgasya-muktasya-jnaana-vasishtita-chitta-yagnyaaya-aacharataha-karma-samgram-pravileeyate). Here, pravileeyate means dissolved, but we have translated it as ceases to exist.

(24-26) Brahman sacrifices to the Brahman, the offering is to the fire of the Brahman, the offering is made only by the Brahman the end result is achieved by effort of one who is absorbed in meditation of the Brahman (brahma-arpanam-brahma-havih-brahma-agnau-brahm-eva-ten-gantavyam-brahma-karma-samaadhina). Some sacrifice only to the deities, yogis worship the fire of Brahman, others sacrifice, sacrifice as a sacrifice (deivam-eva-apare-yagnyam-yogis-paryupaasate-brahmagnau-apare-yagnyam-yagnena-eva-upajuhvati). Organ of hearing and other senses in the fire of self-restraint are sacrificed, sources of sound and others are sacrificed in the fire of the senses (srotradinin-indrayiNi-sama-yama-agnishu-juhvati-shabdaadeen-visayaan-anya-indraya-agnishu-juhvat).

(27-28) Yet others sacrifice all functions of the senses and movements of vital air and others, when restrained together within the Self in the fire of yoga that has been kindled by the light knowledge (sarvaNi-indriya-karmani-prana-karmani-cha-apare-atma-samyama-yoga-agnau-juhvati-jnana-deepite). People also sacrifice materials, self-restraint, Yoga as a sacrifice, yet others sacrifice knowledge gained by self-study as do ascetics and people who practice great vows (dravyam-yagnyas-tapo-yagnaha-yoga-yagnaha-tatha-apare-svadyaya-jnana-yagnya-cha-tathayaha-samsita-vratah).

(29-30) In the outgoing breath people sacrifice incoming breath, yet others sacrifice incoming breath in the outgoing breath (apane-juhvati-praanaam-praane-apaanaam-thatha-apare) controlling the speed of incoming and outgoing breath and restraining it becomes the principal focus (praaNa-apaana-gati-ruddhtva-praaNayaam-paraayanaha). Others regulate food intake or sacrifice vital air in the incoming breath (apare-niyat-aahaaraha-praaNan-praaNeshu-juhvati), also all these that know sacrifice get their impurities destroyed by sacrifice (sarva-api-ete-yagnya-vidaha-yagnya-ksapita-kalmasaha).

(31-33) Those that consume the nectar of sacrifice go to eternal Brahman (yagnya-sistaamrta-bhujaha-yaanti-brahma-sanaatanam), There is no place in the world for the non-sacrificer, how can he find a place in any other (na-ayam-lokah-asti-ayagnasya-kutah-anya). Thus, there are many forms of sacrifice spread across the spectrum of Brahman which are produced by action, know them all, thus having known them one can find liberation (evam-bahuvidhaha-yagnaa-vitataa-brahmanaha-mukhe-karmajaan-viddhi-taan-sarvaan-evam-jnaatva-vimokshasya). Superior to sacrifice of materials is sacrifice of knowledge, all action culminates in knowledge (shreyaan-dravyamaat-yagnyaat-jyaana-yagnya-sarvam-karma-akhilam-jnyaane-parisamaapyate). 

(34 – 36) This subtle knowledge can be achieved by prostration, by quesitoning and by service (tatt-viddhi-pranipratena-pariprasnena-sevaya), then wise people will teach you the knowledge of reaching the Truth (upadeshyanti-te-jnaanam-jnyaaninaha-tattva-darshanaha). Not knowing this one will commit to delusion repeatedly, by this all beings see in their Self me also (yat-jnaatva-na-punah-moham-evam-yaasyasi-yena-bhootani-aSheshena-drakshyasi-aatmani-atho-mayi). Even if you are more wretched than the all-other wretched people, you will be saved from wickedness by floating on this knowledge (api-chedasi-paapebhyaha-sarvebhyaha-paap-kritamaha-sarva-jnaanaplven-eva-vrjinam-samtrishyasi).

(37-38) Just as a blazing fire reduces fuel to ashes, the fire of knowledge reduces all actions to ashes (yatha-edhaamsi-samiddhaha-agnihi-bhasmasaat-kurute-jnanagnih-sarva-karmani-bhasmat-karute-tatha). Verily, nothing is as pure as wisdom in this world and this has been discovered over time by Yogis who have achieved total perfection (na-hi-jnyaanena-sadrsam-pavitram-vidyate-swayam-yoga-sam-siddaha-kalena-atmani-vindati).

(39-40) Those that are sincere and dedicated obtain wisdom when they are totally eagerly engaged subduing the senses (shraddhaavaan-labhate-jnyaanam-tatparaha-samyetendriyaha) have obtained wisdom they obtain supreme peace quickly (jnanam-labdhva-paraam-shanthi-achirena-adhigacchati). Ignorant people and those without sincerity and dedication doubting souls will destroy themselves (ajnana-ashraddhanah-samshayathma-vinashyati), In fact, doubting souls find happiness eluding them in this world and next (na-ayam-lokaha-asti-na-paraha-na-sukham-samshaya-aathmanaha).

(41-42) However, when a person practices Yoga where action is renounced, doubts are removed (yoga-sanyasth-karmaaNam-jnaana-samchinna-samsayam), the Self becomes steadied without the binding of karma (atma-vantam-na-karmaNi-nibadhnanti). Therefore, cut this doubt that is born out of ignorance and residing in the heart by the Self that has the sword of knowledge (tasmaat-ajnana-sambhootham-hrtstham-jnana-sina-atmanaha), discard your doubts, take refuge in Yoga and rise (chittva-evam-samsayam-yogam-athishta-uthishta). 

Editor at School Of Yoga
School Of Yoga is a single point resource for all aspects of Classical Yoga practise. We try to achieve this by placing Yoga's traditional methodology in front of the reader and eliciting his or her experience. We value everyone's Yoga experience and would like you to share and enrich other practitioners so that everyone benefits.
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x