Adhyaya 4 : Dnyãn Karma
Nobody can avoid Karma. Even
after ones steady intellect remains non-attached he has to work. Knowledge frees
your intellect from lust but not from your duty. Therefore the illuminated soul is obliged
to work, ceaselessly. It is also necessary for the guidance of the common people., This
was the purport of the 3rd Adhyãya. The fourth Adhyãya
further strengthens what has been said about the path of action so far. What mental
attitude the seeker of knowledge should adopt while performing various types of activities
is the main theme of the fourth Adhyãya.
Verses 1 to 8
Lord Krishna narrates the ancient lineage
of the KarmaYõga that he himself taught to various luminaries in succession
but ultimately got lost and forgotten through the ages. Arjuna finds it hard
to believe that Krishna was the first to teach this Yõga to Vivaswat
who was born long before him. In reply to Arjunas astonishment the
Lord proclaims his Over lordship that appears in various incarnations at different times.
He brings out the difference between His previous lives and those of Arjuna.
Lord Krishna, being the master of Prakriti, He is not
conditioned by Maya His mysterious power of creation and therefore has the
knowledge of all his previous births. Whereas the animate and inanimate beings under the
control of Maya have no such power and knowledge. Here comes the
Gitas most important doctrine that affirms the existence of one or more human
incarnations of Godhead. These incarnations provide to the worshippers the scope for
meditation to get the mercy of the Lord. Lord announces:
"When virtues decline and the evils
flourish, I give myself birth to protect the good and destroy the sinners. In every age I
appear for establishing righteousness.
Verses 9 to 12
Worship of the God Incarnate is the sure
way to realisation. Knowledge of the divine births of the Lord and his wondrous tasks
frees the man from rebirth and unites him with God. How does unmanifest, non-thinkable
and changeless Brahman appear in human forms can only be understood through
spiritual revelation and the Gods task once understood discloses the secret of
non-attached work. Lust, fear, and anger run away from him. Purified by knowledge the
man of wisdom takes shelter in the Lord and finally merges into Him.
The Lord declares
"In whatever form men worship Me I
accept them as they are and their wish I grant them." Proclaiming this lofty
principle the Lord announces the all-embracing approach of his divine will.
"Whatever path men travel is My path.
It ultimately leads to Me."
However such farsighted and industrious
human beings are very rare. Most of them worship gods and goddesses with desire of
worldly success that can be gained quickly in this world.
Verses: 13 to 23
The Lord now explains how the world order
is established by Him creating four types of duties that correspond to the different kinds
of Guna and Karma. However he cautions to keep in mind that
though he is their creator one should recognise Him as passive since natural qualities and
tendencies a person possesses decide what duty he deserves. Thus He has no hand in
establishing this social order. He has no desire for fruits as well hence the actions do
not contaminate Him. The ancient seers who knew this secret could safely engage in action.
Arjuna has just to follow this spirit and act.
If by renouncing actions alone one can
attain Liberation then why one should get involved in any action at all? The Lord now
tries to explain the true nature of action as well as
inaction................... That remains the most persistent and perplexing
question even to the learned. One should know what kind of work to do, what kind of work
to avoid and how to reach a state of calm detachment from the work because the real nature
of work is hard to understand. Only the wise person can see inaction in action and action
in inaction. Such a wise man is always busy in his works with his mind fixed in Brahman. What
is action and what is inaction is determined by its binding power. By this definition
one who acts without lust or scheming for the fruits of the act the seers call him wise.
His actions get burnt in the fire of knowledge and thus they become inaction. He remains
satisfied within his self. Outwardly though he acts it is as good as inaction. He remains
contended with whatever is given by God. He is not troubled by opposites like pain and
pleasure, gain and loss etc. He has no jealousy for anyone. He is not imprisoned by his
actions. With all bonds broken and mind established in Brahman he performs
the action in the spirit of Yadnya and gets his Karma
destroyed in the fire of knowledge.
Lord Krishna defines the Yadnya
spirit in which different modes of worship are adopted by human beings of different
ability but equate them with Brahma Yadnya in which Brahman
is the offering, the Brahman it- self is the ritual, sacrificial fire also
is Brahman and the offerings are made by the Brahman, the offerer. As
everything is the manifestation of Brahman all actions and things Naturally
become Brahman. What is important is Brahman Consciousness in
all matters. The Lord Krishna uses the Yadnya metaphor to describe
various practices called, sadhanas to reach the Absolute.
Some yogis address their
sacrifice to devas whereas some offer the sacrifice itself into the fire of Brahman meaning
thereby that they offer their self into the fire of Brahman.
Some offer their hearing and other sense
organs into the fire of self restraints whereas some others offer their sense objects into
the fire of their senses . Some offer the actions and functions of their senses as also of
their vital force in the fire of regular practice of self control where in knowledge burns
In addition there are others whose ways of
worship are described thus: Some offer their worldly possessions by performing material
sacrifice. Some offer their austerities or their Yoga practices whereas some
others who have controlled their mind and who have observed hardest vows offer their
studies and knowledge in their sacrifice. Some offer their physical and mental powers
acquired through breath control by RajYoga practice. Some offer their energy
into their vital breathing by observing strict fasting. All such types have the true
knowledge of sacrifice. Thus who understand the real meanings of sacrificial worship burn
their sins in them and eat the nectar like food left in the end and attain immortality and
finally reach Eternal Brahman.
Thus by the universalisation of the Yadnya
concept, the Lord brings into its fold the message that the sacrifice is not only
necessary for personal salvation but also for the universal well being. Universal cycle
constantly moves by the spirit of sacrifice only. In this world there is no place for
him who does not perform some kind of sacrifice. Then what position he has in other world
Verses 33 to 42
The Lord concludes by glorifying Dnyãn
Yadnya, the sacrifice of knowledge where ones intelligence is brought as the
offering that gets purified in the fire of unitive knowledge burning out ignorance and
where the residue emerges as pure wisdom. Compared to this, ritualistic
sacrifice with material offerings stands too inferior. Lord proclaims:- In the sacrifice
of knowledge all types of actions culminate into enlightenment.
"Remember oh! Dear Arjuna,
the enlightened souls will instruct you this knowledge of the identity of Atman
with the Absolute Brahman if you totally surrender to them, question them
and serve them as a disciple." In these words the Lord assures Arjuna
and showers praise on the unique character of this divine knowledge." This knowledge
will tear out all the delusions and will make you to realize that the entire creation is
present in your own Atman and in the Brahman as well." "With the
vessel of this knowledge you will be able to cross all your sins even if you happen to be
the foulest of the sinners." In this fire of knowledge all your Karmas
will be burnt to ashes.
There is nothing more sacred than divine
knowledge. Once an individual becomes perfect by practising spiritual discipline he
attains this divine knowledge internally within his own heart.
The Lord explains one more requisite for
attaining this supreme knowledge. Man of faith absorbed in devotion, equipoised by the
sense control obtains it and at once attains supreme peace.
Whereas the ignorant, the faithless and the
non believer meets his destruction. In this world as well as in the next world there is no
place for such doubting characters. Happiness is not for them.
The Lord finally tells Arjuna the specific effects of the
divine knowledge and practice of non attached action. By the knowledge his doubts are torn
to pieces and by the practice of Yõga he renounces all actions. Such a man
of self-realisation can not be bound by any actions. Arjuna, therefore is
advised to take the sword of knowledge and slice the doubts born out of his ignorance and
engulfing his mind. Establishing himself in the Yõga of non attached action
he should get up (and fight the war.)