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Bhagavad Gītā Lesson 4

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Lesson IV

(Sanskrit terms and names can be clicked for explanation)


The Holy One said:

“This imperishable [doctrine of] yoga I set forth to Vivasvat [the Sun]; Vivasvat told it to Manu; Manu communicated it to Ikshvāku. (1)

“Thus being transmitted from one to another, this [doctrine] royal sages [rājarshaya] knew. But this yoga, O harasser of foes, though great length of time, was lost to the world. (2)

“This same ancient yoga I have today set forth to thee, for thou art beloved by me and art my companion, and this is truly a most esoteric doctrine.” (3)

Arjuna said:

“Thy birth was posterior, the birth of Vivasvat [the Sun] was prior. How shall I understand this, that thou first set this forth ?” (4)

The Holy One said:

“Many are my former births, and of thee also, O Arjuna. I know all of them; thou knowest them not, O Harasser of foes ! (5)

“Although [I am] unborn. Of imperishable selfhood, although [I am] lord of all beings, yet while abiding in my own natural state, I take birth through the illusion of self (or: I take birth by my own power ātmamāyayā). (6)

“Whenever, O descendant of Bharata, a decline of duty comes into being – a springing up of unrighteousness – then, indeed, I emanate myself [send myself forth]. (7)

“For the preservation of the righteous, for the destruction of the evil-doers, for the sake of establishing Duty, I take birth from age to age. (8)

“He so rightly knows this my divine birth and action, when he has cast of the body does not go to rebirths. He goes to me, O Arjuna ! (9)

“Many, freed from passion, fear, anger, assimilated unto me, depending on me, purified by the practice of knowledge, have attained unto my nature. (10)

“Them, who thus approach me, in the same way I also frequent. Men follow my path everywhere, O son of Prithā. (11)

“Striving to obtain success for works in the world, they venerate the divinities. For in a man-bearing world (manushe loke) success born of action (karmajā) soon cometh to be. (12)

“The fourfold division off castes was emanated by me according to the distribution of qualities and actions. Know me then the maker thereof, yet the non-maker, and imperishable. (13)

“Actions pollute me not, nor is there in me any longing for the fruits of acts [results]. He who knows thus, is not ensnared by actions. (14)

“Having known thus, even the ancients who longed for freedom performed action. Perform thou action, therefore, even as was performed by the ancients in ancient times. (15)

“What is action (Karman) ? What inaction (Akarman) ? Even the sages have been thus bewildered. Therefore I will explain to thee what action [is] having, known which, thou shall be free from misfortune: (i.e.) (16)

“One must know about action; one must know about wrong action. The cause of Karman is profound ! (17)

“He who should see inaction in action, he [who should see] action in inaction, is wise among men; he is experienced, a doer of all actions (18)

“Him whose undertakings are all freed from desire and [personal] will, whose action is purified by the fire of knowledge, the wise call a learned man. (19)

“Having abandoned all attachment to the fruits of action [results], constant in equanimity, self-supported, although engaged in action he thus does naught. (20)

“Devoid of expectations, of governed mind and self, having abandoned all desire to possess, performing only [necessary] bodily action, he incurs no guilt [thus]. (21)

“Satisfied with what is obtained spontaneously, having gone beyond [the influence of] the ‘pairs of opposites,’ unenvious, unmoved in success and in failure, even though he act he is not fettered by it. (22)

“Of him who has left attachment behind, of him who is free [from karmic bonds], of him whose attention is fixed in knowledge of him who only performs sacrifice, the entire Karman melts away. (23)

Brahman is the act of offering, Brahman is the oblation, Brahman is offered in the fire by Brahman; unto Brahman goeth he who is intent on Brahman as the action. (24)

“Some devotees perform sacrifice itself in the fire of Brahman. (25)

“Others offer up the senses, such as hearing, etc., in the fires of self-control; others offer up the objects of the senses, such as sound, etc. in the fire of the senses. (26)

“Some again offer up all actions of the senses and the functions of the life-breaths in the fire of the practise of self restraint, kindled by knowledge. (27)

“Some again [perform] sacrifices of material goods, by penance by yoga too; and devotees actively [following] the rules, sacrifice by sacred study and [the acquisition of] knowledge. (28)

“So again some offer up the upward-going life breath (apāne) {OPM ZIE ANUGITA LINK MAKEN}, or the downward-going life-breath in the upward going life-breath; arresting the causes of both the upward- and downward-going life-breaths, they zealously engage in prānāyāma [suspension of the life-breath]. (29)

“Some eating little, offer up the upward-going life-breaths to the upward going life-breaths [or: translate as in previous note]. All the others, knowers of sacrifice, have their foulness destroyed by sacrifice. (30)

“The eaters of the immortal remains of the sacrifice go the eternal Brahman; this world is not for him who sacrifices not. Whence another [for him] O best of the Kurus ? (31)

“Thus sacrifices of various kinds are exhibited by sacred writings (brahmano mukhe). Know them to be all born of action. Knowing this, thou wilt attain freedom. (32)

“Better, O harasser of foes, is the sacrifice through knowledge than the sacrifice of material goods. Every action, O son of Prithā is folly brought to perfection through knowledge [alone]. (33)

“Know this by submission, by inquiry, by service; the Knowers who see truth will point knowledge out to thee: (34)

“Having known which, thou wilt not again thus fall into bewilderment, O son of Pāndu ! By it thou shalt see all beings without exception in thyself, and this is me. (35)

“Even if thou art the greatest malefactor of all evil-doers, by the boat of knowledge thou shalt pass over all crookedness. (36)

“As the kindled flame reduces fuel to the state of ashes, O Arjuna, so the fire of knowledge reduces all actions to the state of ashes. (37)

“There is no purifier like knowledge known in this world. This, the man perfect in yoga himself discovers, in time, within himself. (38)

“The man who hath trust, who is devoted to this end, whose senses are under control, obtaineth knowledge. Having obtained knowledge, before long time he enters upon the highest peace. (39)

“He who is ignorant and devoid of trust, of irresolute character, perishes. Neither this world nor the hereafter, nor happiness, are for the man of irresolute character. (40)

“The man of self-possessed character, whose actions are gathered up in yoga, whose irresolution is destroyed by knowledge, actions do not ensnare, O Dhanañjaya ! (41)

“Therefore, having destroyed by the sword of knowledge this irresolution born of ignorance and which dwelleth in thy heart, practice yoga. Arise ! O descendant of Bharata. (42)


Thus in the Holy

Bhagavad-Gītā. The fourth

Address, by name —


(Union by Knowledge).