The Bhagavad Geeta chapter 4 now moves from path of action (karma yoga) prescribed in bhagawad geeta chapter 3 to the meditative path.
Summary of Bhagawad Geeta Chapter 4
- This chapter Verses 1 – 8 begins with Lord Krishna telling Arjuna that the knowledge of the Yoga has been passed on to him through multiple births and every time there’s a decay of righteouness, Lord Krishna manifests himself in some form for the protection of good.
- In verse 10, a three-fold path has been referred to by lord Krishna – 1. Path of action, 2. Oath of love, 3. path of knowledge.
- Lord Krishna adds in verse 11, “I, as life, lend my power to all without any partiality; in whatever form they invoke me, in that form iIserve them”
- For purposes of self-development, when we consider ‘action,’ it is not to be valued merely by observing its manifested qualities but we must also take into consideration the un-manifested but subtly-working motives behind the very same action. An action, in itself, cannot be considered either as good or bad. It is the motive behind it which determines the quality of the action.
- Built upon the ancient Vedic doctrine, Krishna here expounds an elaborate theory of self-development. He says that life is but a name for continuous activities. These activities can fall within two distinct classifications as Karma and Vi-karma. Lord Krishna’s advice to Arjuna is to avoid the forbidden actions (Vi-karma) and to pursue the constructive and creative activities of self-development (Karma).
- Verse 18 of bhagawad Geeta chapter 4 further has been elaborated as “Right action, undertaken with a sense of devotion and dedication, creates in the bosom of the student a sense of complete detachment, as though he himself is a disinterested observer of all that is happening within and without him. When thus an individual detaches himself and observes his own activities as part and parcel of the world of activities around, he gains in himself an indescribable poise which is essential for the practice of meditation.“
- Verse 19 further adds, “Whose undertakings are all devoid of desires and purposes,and whose actions have been burnt by the Fire-of-Knowledge,him the “wise” call a Sage.“
- Content with what comes to him without effort, free from the pairs-of-opposites and envy, even-minded in success and failure, though acting he is not bound. Such an individual, who has gone beyond his own ego (verse 19).
- Five methods of Self-development have been prescribed by Lord Krishna “sacrifice-of-wealth,” “austerity,” “Yoga,” “study (of scriptures)” and “knowledge (killing ignorance through knowledge)” – can be practised with profit only by those who are men of “rigid determination” and who can find in themselves an inexhaustible enthusiasm to apply themselves consistently to reach this great goal.
- Breath control (pranayama) has been prescribed in the 29th verse. In this verse we have a description of the technique of ‘breath-control’ regularly practised by some seekers, in order to keep themselves under perfect self-control, when they move amidst the sense-objects. Lord Krishna also mentions “There are some who, through systematic regulation of their diet, come to gain a complete mastery over themselves and their appetites and passions
Bhagawad Geeta Chapter 4 – All Verses in English
The Blessed Lord said: 1. I taught this Imperishable YOGA to Vivasvan; Vivasvan taught it to Manu; Manu taught it to
- This knowledge, handed down thus in regular succession, the royal sages knew. This YOGA, by long lapse of time, has been
lost here, O Parantapa (burner of the foes).
- That same ancient “YOGA” has been to-day taught to you by Me, for you are My devotee and My friend. This is a Supreme secret.
Arjuna said: 4. Later was Your birth, and prior was the birth of Vivaswan (Sun) ; how am I to understand that You taught this YOGA in the beginning?
The Blessed Lord said: 5. Many births of Mine have passed as well as yours, O Arjuna; I know them all but you know them
not, O Parantapa (scorcher of foes).
- Though I am unborn and am of imperishable nature, and though I am the Lord of all beings, yet, ruling over My own Nature, I take birth by My own MAYA
- Whenever there is a decay of righteousness, O Bharata, and a rise of unrighteousness, then I manifest Myself.
- For the protection of the good, for the destruction of the wicked and for the establishment of rightenousness, I am born in every age.
- He who thus knows, in true light, My divine birth and action, having abandoned the body, he is not born again; he comes to Me, O Arjuna.
- Freed from attachment, fear and anger, absorbed in Me, taking refuge in Me, purified by the Fire-of-Knowledge, many have attained My Being.
Once this mental discipline is gained, absorbed in the idea of Self-perfection, the seeker comes to take total refuge in this great victory. Thereafter, the mission of Self-perfection becomes a passion with him to thrill his life. When an individual has thus gained this stage of Self-development, he becomes fit for the study and practice of the great scriptures — the Upanishads. (a) The study of the scriptures at the feet of a Master, followed by (b) independent analysis of Vedantic Truths by oneself in an attempt to understand their real import, and lastly, (c) the seeker’s slow and steady attempt at
balancing himself in single-pointed meditation — all these three together constitute the technique of Self-development.
The second-half, “ABSORBED IN ME AND TAKING REFUGE IN ME” indicates the “Path-of-Love,” wherein the devotee, binding himself with love to the ‘Lord of his heart’lives his life, taking refuge in nothing other than the Lord. The “Path-of-Knowledge” is indicated by the discriminative analysis and the constant and continued attempts at identification with the Self (Jnana Tapas). The import is, that seekers walking all the seemingly different “Paths” reach but the same Goal, the Supreme, “Me.”
- It whatever way men approach Me, even so do I reward them; My path do men tread in all ways, O son of Pritha.
- They who long for satisfaction from actions in this world, make sacrifices to the gods; because satisfaction is quickly obtained from actions in the world-of-objects.
- The fourfold-caste has been created by Me according to the differentiation of GUNA and KARMA; though I am the author thereof know Me as non-doer and immutable.
14. Actions do not taint Me, nor have I any desire for the fruits-of-actions. He who knows Me thus is not bound by his action
- Having known this, the ancient seekers-after-freedom also performed action; therefore, you too perform action, as did the
ancients in the olden times.
- What is action? What is inaction? As to this even the “wise” are deluded. Therefore, I shall teach you “action” (the nature of action and inaction) , knowing which, you shall be liberated from the evil (of SAMSARA — the wheel of birth and death).
- For verily (the true nature) of “right action” should be known; also (that) of “forbidden (or unlawful) action” and of “inaction” ; imponderable is the nature (path) of action.
- He who recognises inaction in action and action in inaction is wise among men; he is a YOGI and a true performer of all actions.
- Whose undertakings are all devoid of desires and purposes, and whose actions have been burnt by the Fire-of-Knowledge, him the “wise” call a Sage.
- Having abandoned attachment to the fruits-of-action, ever-content, depending on nothing, he does not do anything, though
engaged in actions.
- Without hope, with the mind and Self controlled, having abandoned all possessions, doing mere bodily action, he incurs no sin.
- Content with what comes to him without effort, free from the pairs-of-opposites and envy, even-minded in success and failure, though acting he is not bound.
- Of one who is devoid of attachment, who is liberated, whose mind is established in knowledge, who acts for the sake of sacrifice, all his actions are dissolved.
- BRAHMAN is the oblation; BRAHMAN is the clarified butter, etc. , constituting the offerings; by BRAHMAN is the oblation poured into the fire of BRAHMAN; BRAHMAN verily shall be reached by him who always sees BRAHMAN in all actions.
- Some YOGIS perform sacrifice to DEVAS alone (DEVA-YAJNA) ; while others offer “sacrifice” as a sacrifice by the Self, in the Fire of BRAHMAN (BRAHMA-YAJNA) .
- Some again offer hearing and other senses as sacrifice in the fires-of-restraint; others offer sound and other objects of sense as sacrifice in the fires-of-the-senses.
- Others again sacrifice all the functions of the senses and the functions of the breath (vital energy) in the fire of the YOGA of self-restraint, kindled by knowledge.
- Others again offer wealth, austerity and YOGA as sacrifice, while the ascetics of self-restraint and rigid vows offer study of scriptures and knowledge as sacrifice.
- Others offer as sacrifice the out-going breath in the incoming, and the in-coming in the out-going, restraining the courses of the out-going and in-coming breaths, solely absorbed in the restraint of breath.
- Others, with well-regulated diet, offer vital-airs in the Vital Air. All these are knowers of sacrifice, whose sins are destroyed
- The eaters of the nectar — remnant of the sacrifice — go to the Eternal BRAHMAN. Even this world is not for the non-performer of sacrifice; how then the other (world) , O best of the Kurus?
- Thus innumerable sacrifices lie spread out before BRAHMAN — (literally at the mouth or face of BRAHMAN ) — Know them all as born of action, and thus knowing, you shall be liberated.
- Superior is “knowledge-sacrifice” to “Sacrifice-with-objects, ” O Parantapa. All actions in their entirety, O Partha, culminate in Knowledge.
- Know that by long prostration, by question, and service, the “wise” who have realised the Truth will instruct you in (that) ‘Knowledge
- Knowing that, you shall not, O Pandava, again get deluded like this; and by that, you shall see all beings in your Self, and also in Me.
- Even if you are the most sinful of all sinners, yet you shall verily cross all sins by the raft of ‘Knowledge. ‘
- As the blazing fire reduces fuel to ashes, O Arjuna, so does the Fire-of-Knowledge reduce all actions to ashes.
- Certainly, there is no purifier in this world like ‘Knowledge. ‘ He who is himself perfected in YOGA finds it in the Self in time.
- The man who is full of faith, who is devoted to It, and who has subdued the senses, obtains (this) ‘Knowledge’ ; and having obtained ‘Knowledge, ‘ ere long he goes to the Supreme Peace.
- The ignorant, the faithless, the doubting-self goes to destruction; there is neither this world, nor the other, nor happiness for the doubter.
- He who has renounced actions by YOGA, whose doubts are rent asunder by ‘Knowledge, ‘ who is self-possessed, actions do not bind him, O Dhananjaya.
- Therefore with the sword-of-Knowledge, cut asunder the doubt-of-the-Self, born of ‘ignorance, ‘ residing in your heart, and take refuge in “YOGA. ” Arise, O Bharata.
The Bhagavad Geeta Chapter 4 concludes with a spirited call to Arjuna: “ARISE, O BHARATA.” In the context of the Geeta, though the word may be rightly said to mean only a call to Arjuna, it is a call to every seeker – to get up and act well in the spirit of Yajna, and thereby to gain more and more inner purity, so that through true meditation everyone of us can come to experience and gain the Supreme Peace which is the final fulfilment of evolution.
18 Chapters of Bhagawad Geeta
The Bhagawad Geeta is comprised of 18 chapters and each chapter is mentioned in the form of a Yoga. Following is a list of all chapter of the Bhagawad Geeta.
- Chapter 1: Yoga of Arjuna’s Grief
- Chapter 2: The Yoga of Knowledge
- Chapter 3: Karma Yoga (The Path of Action)
- Chapter 4: The Yoga of Renunciation of Action in Knowledge
- Chapter 5: The Yoga of True Renunciation
- Chapter 6: The Yoga of Meditation
- Chapter 7: The Yoga of Knowledge and Wisdom
- Chapter 8: The Yoga of Imperishable Brahman
- Chapter 9: The Yoga of Royal Secret
- Chapter 10: The Yoga of Divine Glories
- Chapter 11: The Yoga of Cosmic Form
- Chapter 12: The Yoga of Devotion
- Chapter 13: The Yoga of Field and its Knower
- Chapter 14: The Yoga of Guna
- Chapter 15: The Yoga of the Supreme Spirit
- Chapter 16: The Yoga of Divine and Devilish Estates
- Chapter 17: The Yoga of Threefold Faith
- Chapter 18: The Yoga of Liberation through renunciation