Bhagavad-Gita-Rasika-ranjanaBhagavad-gita - Chapter Three

Jñāna Yoga
(The Yoga of Knowledge)

With the Rasika Rañjana Commentary by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
imaṁ vivasvate yogaṁ proktavān aham avyayam
vivasvān manave prāha manur ikṣvākave’bravīt

Bhagavān said: I previously spoke this imperishable knowledge of jñāna-yoga, which is attained through selfless action (niṣkāma-karma), to Sūrya. Sūrya spoke it to Manu, and Manu spoke it to Ikṣvāku.

evaṁ paramparā prāptam imaṁ rājarṣayo viduḥ
sa kāleneha mahatā yogo naṣṭaḥ parantapa

In this way, this yoga has been received through paramparā by all the rājaṛṣis (pious kings). O Parantapa, due to the passing of so much time, that yoga is almost completely lost.

sa evāyaṁ mayā te’dya yogaḥ proktaḥ purātanaḥ
bhakto’si me sakhā ceti rahasyaṁ hy etad uttamam

Today I am explaining this eternal yoga to you because you are My devotee and friend. Thus, although this supreme yoga is most confidential, I am still instructing you. My instructions are found in all the Veda-śāstra – therefore follow them and fight!

arjuna uvāca
aparaṁ bhavato janma paraṁ janma vivasvataḥ
katham etad vijānīyāṁ tvam ādau proktavān iti

Visvasvān was born in the distant past, and You have taken birth only recently. How is it possible to believe that You instructed this yoga to Vivasvān, namely Sūrya?

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
bahūni me vyatītāni janmāni tava cārjuna
tānyahaṁ veda sarvāṇi na tvaṁ vettha parantapa

Śrī Kṛṣṇa said: O Parantapa Arjuna! You and I have passed through many births. Because I am the Supreme Controller, I can remember all of them completely. You are an anucaitanya-jīva (a living being endowed with finite consciousness) and you cannot remember all those births. Whenever I descend in this world, you perfected devotees also take birth along with Me in order to nourish My līlā. Yet, due to My being the sarvajña-puruṣa (omniscient Supreme Person), I alone am aware of everything.

ajo’pi sann avyayātmā bhūtānām īśvaro’pi san
prakṛtiṁ svām adhiṣṭhāya sambhavāmy ātma-māyayā

Although both you and I come to this world again and again, there is a distinct difference between My coming here and your coming here. I am the controller of all jīvas. I am aja – in other words, without birth – and My form and nature is changeless. I descend into this world through the agency of My own cit-śakti. However, all the jīvas take birth in this world under the influence of My māyā-śakti and have no memory of their previous births. Due to the activities of the jīva, they accept a liṅga-śarīra (subtle body) and, taking shelter of this body, they accept another birth. My appearance in the forms of a Deva or a lower species etc. is only due to My own independent free will. Like the jīva, I have a form of pure consciousness, yet I am not covered by a gross and subtle body. I manifest in this world, made up of the five gross elements, in the same eternal form that is present in Vaikuṇṭha. If you ask how it is that cit-tattva can manifest in the gross world, then listen. My potency is beyond mundane logic and all comprehension. Therefore, whatever it is possible of doing cannot be determined by you through reason. It is simply your duty to know through straightforward jñāna, that Bhagavān is omnipotent and not subject to any worldly injunctions. If He so desires, He can effortlessly manifest the pure form of the entire vaikuṇṭha-tattva in the material world, in other words, He can convert all matter into cit-svarūpa (into the nature of spirit). At this point, is there any doubt that My sacchidānandavigraha (form consisting of cognizance, knowledge and bliss), which is pure and complete, which is beyond all the laws of this world, can appear in this mundane sphere? That māyā, by which the jīvas are driven, is also My nature, but when I speak about My own nature, it should be understood as cit-śakti (spiritual potency). My potency is one – however, in relation to Me it is the citśakti, and in relation to the jīva bound by karma, it is the māyāśakti according to its various kinds of influence.

yadā yadā hi dharmasya glānir bhavati bhārata
abhyutthānam adharmasya tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham

Again, the only rule for My appearance is that I have independent desire. I descend when I wish. When there is a discrepancy in dharma and a rise of adharma, then out of My own desire, I appear. All of My injunctions for worldly governance are unconquerable. But eventually due to the faults of time, when all those rules are broken due various unknown reasons, then adharma gradually becomes strong. No one is capable of removing these faults except Me. Therefore, I appear in this world along with My cit-śakti to halt the degradation of dharma. It is not that you will only see Me appear in Bhārata-bhūmi. I appear in the realms of the Devas and lower entities as necessary, thus do not think that I never appear in the realms of the mlecchas and untouchables. For all such low-born persons, whatever dharma they accept as their svadharma, when it becomes degraded, I send a śaktyāveśa-avatāra amongst them to protect their dharma. However, in Bhārata-bhūmi, in the form of varṇāśrama-dharma, svadharma is properly practiced, so I take more care to establish the dharma of My subjects there. Therefore, many beautiful avatāras such as yugāvatāras, aṁśāvatāras etc. can be observed in Bhārata-bhūmi. Where there is no varṇāśrama-dharma, there is no proper execution of niṣkāma-karma-yoga or the perfection of jñāna-yoga or the ultimate achievement of bhakti-yoga. But if it is observed among the untouchables that there is a significant advancement in bhakti, then it should be understood to be connected to the spontaneous mercy of a devotee.

paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṁ vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām
dharma saṁsthāpanārthāya sambhavāmi yuge yuge

I empower all My devotees such as the rājārṣis, brahmarṣis etc. to establish varṇāśramadharma, but My own avatāra is necessary for the protection of the great bhakta-sādhus from the non-devotees . Therefore, as the yugāvatāra, I protect the sādhus, isolate the unrighteous, dispose of nāśya-dharma (dharmas meant for annihilation), and establish the eternal svadharma of the jīvas by preaching bhakti through śravaṇa and kīrtana. By stating that I descend in every yuga means that I also descend in the age of Kali. It is accepted that the avatāra in the age of Kali will establish the most rare prema only through kīrtana etc. He has no other purpose. Despite being the best of all avatāras, He is hidden to the common people. The greatest of My devotees will naturally be attracted to that avatāra. You will also be able to observe this by descending and assisting Him. This avatāra, who is the deliverer of those persons in the age of Kali, will not destroy the demons, but only annihilate their evil propensity. This is the supreme secret regarding this hidden avatāra.

janma karma ca me divyamevaṁ yo vetti tattvataḥ
tyaktvā dehaṁ punarjanma naiti māmeti so’rjuna

As I have declared previously, I accept a divine birth and perform activities through the inconceivable cit-śakti. One who realises this truth through gradual analysis does not take birth again after leaving this body. Rather, they come under the influence of the hlādinīśakti which is a form of the citśakti, and attain My eternal service. Those who lack knowledge of the transcendental truth concerning My birth and activities, and conclude that My form is temporary and is a product of the gross physical world, attain the world of repeated birth and death due to ignorance. Generally, materialistic persons come to such conclusions and they remain bound to karma. Without the grace of a sādhu, pure bhakti does not arise in them.

vīta rāga bhaya krodhā man mayā mām upāśritāḥ
bahavo jñāna tapasā pūtā mad bhāvam āgatāḥ

Foolish persons are guided by three propensities, namely rāga (attachment), bhaya (fear) and krodha (anger), in relation to the spiritual nature of My birth, activities and transcendental form. Those whose intellect is firmly fixed in matter, and who show so much attachment towards jaḍa-tattva (mundane reality), never accept that there is any eternal substance known as cit-tattva (spiritual reality). They claim that their own inherent nature (svabhāva) is the supreme reality, and amongst them, some say that material nature is the eternal cause that gives rise to cittattva. All these jaḍavādis (those who believe that gross matter is supreme), svabhāvavādis (those that believe their own nature is supreme) or caitanya-hīna-vidhi-vādīs (those that do not believe in consciousness) are driven by material attachment and deprived of any spiritual attachment for the form of the Supreme Truth. Some philosophers accept cit as an eternal substance, but abandoning straightforward knowledge they always take shelter of logic. Therefore, they reject the qualities and activities they see manifest in matter, carefully considering them all to be temporal. Hence, regarding it as opposite to matter they imagine an undefinable Brahman. This is nothing but a manifestation of My māyā. It is not My eternal nature. In case their meditation and thoughts on Me take refuge in some kind of mundane nature, such fear makes them refrain from meditating upon and worshipping My form. Through that fear they are deprived of the form of the Supreme Truth. Some persons who cannot concentrate on anything beyond matter, meditate upon śūnya (voidism) and nirvāṇa (absence of consciousness) as the Supreme Truth within their minds, which are filled with anger. The philosophies of the Buddhists, Jains etc. come about in this way. Having become devoid of this kind of mundane attachment, fear and anger, many have achieved pure prema for Me seeing Me everywhere and taking full refuge in Me. They accept the aforementioned knowledge and become purified of the burning poison of the false-logic that was previously spoken about.

ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham
mama vartmānuvartante manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ

I reward a person by reciprocating according to the way that he surrenders unto Me. I am the supreme goal of all philosophies, and I am that nature which is to be attained. Those who are pure devotees may attain supreme bliss by eternally serving My form of sat, cid and ānanda in the Supreme Abode. To those who are impersonalists (nirviśeṣavādīs) that eliminate their ātmā, I award them nirvāṇamukti in the form of undifferentiated Brahman. By not accepting the eternality of My sacchidānanda form, they are deprived of their cidānanda form. Amongst them, according to their particular faults, I award some of them a temporary birth. For those who are śūnyavādīs (nihilists), I am the form of nothingness and I nullify their existence. For those who believe in matter (jaḍa), material activities (jaḍa-karma), or follow the philosophy of mundane regulations (jaḍa-vidhi), I cover their consciousness so that it almost becomes like dead matter. For those who are karmīs, I am the Supreme who awards the results of their cherished karma. To those who are yogīs, I am that Supreme who bestows mystic powers (vibhūti) or confers impersonal liberation (kaivalya) upon them. In this way, through all these forms, I become the achievement for philosophers and followers of all doctrines. Amongst all of these, you should know that achieving service unto Me is the topmost. All persons follow My various paths.”

kāṅkṣantaḥ karmaṇāṁ siddhiṁ yajanta iha devatāḥ
kṣipraṁ hi mānuṣe loke siddhir bhavati karma-jā

After answering Arjuna’s question, Bhagavān clearly explains His nature (svarūpa) and the truth relating to Him, and begins to systematically explain the concept of the theory of karma (karma-tattva) which He had previously given instruction on.

“O Arjuna! I have previously explained that if karma-tattva is understood properly, then bondage to karma (karmabandha) is driven far away. I mentioned before how vikarma and akarma should be rejected. Only karma which is ordained by śāstra should be accepted. Such karma is of three types – nitya (eternal activities), naimittika (occasional activities) and kāmya (activities performed for desired results). Kāmya-karma is better than akarma and vikarma. In this, humans become very desirous of perfecting their activities in order to enjoy the results and worship many Devatās. In this way, humans achieve the results of their karma very quickly. Humans perform activities for their advancement in this perishable world of birth and death and the results of such actions are quickly given by the insignificant Devatās when they are satisfied. I will eventually tell you who all those Devatās are.

cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ
tasya kartāram api māṁ viddhy akartāram avyayam

“I have created the four classes of varṇa through the divisions of guṇa (qualities) and karma (activities). I alone am the doer in this world, thus there is no one but I who has created varṇadharma and the varṇas. Yet despite being the creator of varṇadharma, I should be known as the imperishable non-doer. I have created this varṇadharma by My māyā-śakti according to the destiny of the jīvas. Factually, I am the Controller of the citśakti and there is no discrimination on My side by creating the path of karma. It is due to the jīva’s destiny, in other words, it is because of the misuse of their independent nature.

na māṁ karmāṇi limpanti na me karma-phale spṛhā
iti māṁ yo’bhijānāti karmabhir na sa badhyate

“The karma-tattva that I have created due to the destiny of the jīvas cannot contaminate Me. I have no desire for the results of karma, because I am Bhagavān who is full in six opulences, and such results of karma are extremely insignificant and totally irrelevant to Me. One who deliberates upon the path of karma, My independent nature and is aware of avyayatattva (the truth of My imperishability) is never bound by karma. He attains Me through pure devotion.

evaṁ jñātvā kṛtaṁ karma pūrvair api mumukṣubhiḥ
kuru karmaiva tasmāt tvaṁ pūrvaiḥ pūrvataraṁ kṛtam

“Previously, those who desired liberation were aware of this truth, engaged in niṣkāma-karma and abandoned sakāmakarma (activities to fufill material desires). Therefore, you should also adopt the process of niṣkāmakarmayoga as performed by Janaka and other mahājanas.

kiṁ karma kim akarmeti kavayo’pyatra mohitāḥ
tat te karma pravakṣyāmi yaj jñātvā mokṣyase’śubhāt

Even poets are bewildered in determining what is karma and what is akarma. I am instructing you on this subject. Become aware of this, achieve liberation and leave behind all inauspiciousness.

karmaṇo hyapi boddhavyaṁ boddhavyaṁ ca vikarmaṇaḥ
akarmaṇaśc a boddhavyaṁ gahanā karmaṇo gatiḥ

It is your duty to understand and separately deliberate upon the path of karma, the path of vikarma and the path of akarma. The confidential truth about karma is most difficult to comprehend. Karma is that activity which is performed dutifully. Vikarma is that activity which is prohibited and leads to misfortune. Akarma is to not engage in any activity. Karma is indeed auspicious. It is necessary to understand the truth how sannyāsīs attain the highest benefit by renouncing work.

karmaṇy akarma yaḥ paśyed akarmaṇi ca karma yaḥ
sa buddhimān manuṣyeṣu sa yuktaḥ kṛtsna karma-kṛt

He who sees inaction in action and action in action is the wisest, most connected, and the most complete performer of all activities amongst mankind. The meaning is this – all the activities performed by a niṣkāma-karma-yogī are akarma, like a sannyāsī who gives up activities. Also, his rejection of activities is is his performance of niṣkāmakarma. That is to say, even though he performs all kinds of work, he is not a karmī. Akarma and karma take on the same form for him.

yasya sarve samārambhāḥ kāma-saṅkalpa-varjitāḥ
jñānāgni-dagdha-karmāṇaṁ tamāhuḥ paṇḍitaṁ budhāḥ

One who is devoid of desire and performs all activities diligently, his actions are burned by the fire of knowledge and he is said to be a paṇḍita. Whatever he has done, whether it is prescribed and prohibited, is burnt by the fire of wisdom obtained in the world of niṣkāma-karma-yoga.

tyaktvā karma-phalāsaṅgaṁ nitya-tṛpto nirāśrayaḥ
karmaṇy-abhipravṛtto’pi naiva kiñcit karoti saḥ

One who is devoid of the desire for gain or protect that which is gained, who is satisfied in the self, who rejects attachment to enjoying the results of his activities, while engaging in all types of work actually does nothing. In other words, he is not bound by the results of those actions.

nirāśīr yata-cittātmā tyakta-sarva-parigrahaḥ
śārīraṁ kevalaṁ karma kurvan nāpnoti kilbiṣam

He keeps his body and mind under the control of the intelligence, and gives up all other endeavours. In other words, he gives up all extraneous efforts to collect things, and only performs other activities for the maintenance of the body. Neither puṇya or pāpa effect him.

yadṛcchā-lābha-santuṣṭo dvandvātīto vimatsaraḥ
samaḥ siddhāv asiddhau ca kṛtvāpi na nibadhyate

He is satisfied with whatever is easily attained. He is not subject to dualities such as happiness, distress etc. He is distant from envy. His intelligence is balanced in success or failure in his work. Therefore he is not bound to any of his actions.

gata-saṅgasya muktasya jñānāvasthita-cetasaḥ
yajñāyācarataḥ karma samagraṁ pravilīyate

All actions performed for yajña by persons whose minds are established in knowledge, who are unattached and liberated, are fully dissolved. That which the karma-mīmāṁsakas refer to as apūrva* is not achieved by the actions of the niṣkāma-karma-yogīs. According to the philosophy of the karmamīmāṁsaka Jaimini, actions performed by a person yield results birth after birth due to apūrva. In relation to the niṣkāma-karma-yogī, it is not the case.

Translators Note: In Karma-mīmāṁsa philosophy, apūrva is the element produced by karma which gives the jīva the results of his activities.

brahmārpaṇaṁ brahma havir brahmāgnau brahmaṇā hutam
brahmaiva tena gantavyaṁ brahma-karma-samādhinā

Hear how knowledge arises from actions performed for the sake of yajña. I will explain later how many different types of yajña there are. Now listen as I speak about the principle truth regarding yajña. Spiritual subject matters are distinct from all things of this material world. Mundane activities are inevitable for those jīvas who are bound by matter. When there can be spiritual perception within that mundane work, and it is performed properly, then it can be called yajña. When the spiritual nature manifests within matter, it is known as Brahman. That Brahman is my effulgence or ray. Arpana (the offering), havi (the ingredients), agni (the fire), hotā (the priest) and phala (the result) are the five divisions of yajña. When these five are situated in Brahman, then a yajña is performed properly. When one’s actions are connected to Brahman and one’s consciousness is one-pointed and fixed in samādhi, then he performs all his activities as a yajña. His offering, ingredients, fire, the priest are all centred on Brahman. Thus his destination is Brahman.

daivam evāpare yajñaṁ yoginaḥ paryupāsate
brahmāgnāv apare yajñaṁ yajñenaivopajuhvati

One who takes a vow to perform yajña is a yogī. There are many different kinds of yajña and there are many different types of yogī. Thus, as many types of yajñas, there are that many types of yogī. If we look at it in various ways, there are many kinds of yajñas and yogīs. If one scientifically divides all yajñas, then there are two categories – karmayajña, which is a yajña involving many ingredients, and jñānayajña, or that yajña with spiritual perception. We will see this later. Now listen about the different kinds of yajña. The karmayogīs perform daivayajña-upāsana wherein they worship Indra and Varuṇa etc. who are personalities invested with My māyika potency. Such persons also eventually attain niṣkāma-karma-yoga. The jñāna-yogī follows the mahā-vākya*tat tvam asi’ through the praṇava-mantra (oṁkāra), considering that ‘tat’ refers to Brahman and ‘tvam’ refers to the jīva which the offer in sacrifice (homa). The superiority of this will be explained later.

*Translators Note: The mahā-vākyas are four statements from the Upaniṣads concerning Brahman and the jīva.

śrotrādīnīndriyāṇy anye saṁyamāgniṣu juhvati
śabdādīn viṣayān anya indriyāgniṣu juhvati

Those who are naiṣṭikas (celibates from birth) sacrifice all their senses such as hearing etc. into the fire of mental control. Brahmacārīs offer the sense objects such as sound into the sacrificial fire of all the senses.

sarvāṇīndriya-karmāṇi prāṇa-karmāṇi cāpare
ātma-saṁyama-yogāgnau juhvati jñāna-dīpite

Those who are kaivalyavādīs (philosophers who desire to merge into impersonal Brahman) such as the yogī Patañjalī sacrifice all sense-activities and all actions in connection with the ten life-airs in the form of ‘tvaṁ’ into the sacrificial fire of the pure jīvātmā. The parāgātmā is the ātmā who is inclined towards sense-enjoyment. That ātmā who renounces sense-objects is known as pratyagātmā. They conclude that there is nothing, not even the mind, exists beyond the pratyagātmā.

dravya-yajñās-tapo-yajñā yoga-yajñās tathāpare
svādhyāya-jñāna-yajñāś ca yatayaḥ saṁśita-vratāḥ

All these can be divided into four divisions as dravya-yajña, tapo-yajña, yoga-yajña and svādhyāyajñanayajña. Dravya-yajña is with ingredients. Tapo-yajña consists of the kṛcchracandrāyana, cāturmāsya etc. Yoga-yajña consists of aṣṭāṅga-yoga, and discussions on the Vedas and deliberations upon matter and spirit are known as jñānayajña. Those who diligently perform these four kinds of yajña are called ‘tīkṣṇa-vrata-yati’ (renunciates who engage in strict vows).

apāne juhvati prāṇaṁ prāṇe’pānaṁ tathāpare
prāṇāpāna-gatī rudhdhvā prāṇāyāma parāyaṇāḥ
apare niyatāhārāḥ prāṇān prāṇeṣu juhvati

These four types of yajña are observed in the Vedaśāstra and the smṛtiśāstra associated with them. Besides these, śāstra such as the tantra etc., which are an expanded forms of the Vedas and are applicable for certain times, prescribe hāṭha-yoga and various kinds of vratas and yajñas for restraint. Accordingly, those persons who practice prāṇāyāma perform kumbhaka (retention) of the prāṇavāyu in the apānavāyu, and the apānavāyu in the prāṇavāyu and gradually regulate both. Some persons sacrificially offer their prāṇa by restricting their food.

sarve’py ete yajña-vido yajña-kṣapita-kalmaṣāḥ
yajña-śiṣṭāmṛta-bhujo yānti brahma sanātanam

All these persons are yajña-tattva-vit (knowers of the truth concerning yajña). Through yajña, their pāpa diminishes, they partake of the remnants of yajña which is amṛta (immortality), and they eventually attain the aforementioned eternal Brahman.

nāyaṁ loko’sty ayajñasya kuto’nyaḥ kuru-sattama

Therefore, O Arjuna, best of the Kurus, it is not possible for those persons who do not perform yajña to gain anything in this world, then how is it possible for them to attain the higher worlds? Thus yajña is a duty. It should be understood that smārta-varṇāśrama-dharma, aṣṭāṅga-yoga, Vedic yāga etc. are all yajñas. Brahmayajña is especially important. There is no other action in this world except for yajña. Anything else is vikarma.

evaṁ bahu-vidhā yajñā vitatā brahmaṇo mukhe
karma-jān viddhi tān sarvān evaṁ jñātvā vimokṣyase

All these types of yajña are spoke of either in the Vedas of their supplements. They are all performed by one’s words, mind or actions. Thus they are born of action. If one can comprehend karma-tattva in this way, one can attain liberation rather than being bound by karma.

śreyān dravya-mayād yajñāj jñāna-yajñaḥ parantapa
sarvaṁ karmākhilaṁ pārtha jñāne parisamāpyate

Gradually, through all these yajñas, one attains knowledge, then peace and finally devotion for Me and auspiciousness arises for the jīva. However, one should know that there is a confidential consideration concerning all these yajñas. According to one’s niṣṭhā (faith and determination) yajña is sometimes only a dravyayajña (a sacrifice with ingredients), and sometimes it is a jñānayajña (a sacrifice with knowledge). The jñānayajña is far superior to the dravyayajña. O Pārtha! All actions culminate in knowledge. If a yajña is devoid of all spiritual considerations, it is merely a dravyayajña. When a yajña is performed with spiritual considerations, then even if there are ingredients involved, it is actually spiritual, or imbued with knowledge. That yajña which only consists of ingredients is said to represent karmakāṇḍa. That which consists of knowledge is said to represent jñānakāṇḍa. The hotā (initiator of the yajña) must be extremely vigilant when performing yajñas.

tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ

If you say that it is difficult for you to differentiate between these dravyamaya and jñānamayayajñas, then My advice is that you should take shelter of those tattva-darśī gurus (a spiritual master who has seen the truth) in order to attain knowledge concerning this difference. Satisfy and please such a tattva-darśī guru by bowing down to him and offering sincere service and ask him questions concerning this topic. He will instruct you in knowledge about this.

yaj jñātvā na punar moham evaṁ yāsyasi pāṇḍava
yena bhūtāny aśeṣaṇi drakṣyasy ātmany atho mayi

Today, due to the influence of illusion, you are eager to abandon your svadharma of warfare. When you receive instructions from your guru on tattvajñāna (the knowledge of reality), you will no longer take shelter such illusion. Through that knowledge you will know that all living beings, higher or lower, are actually a jīvātmā. Variations are only due to material designations. All of them are situated within Me, the Supreme Cause, as My active potency.

api ced asi pāpebhyaḥ sarvebhyaḥ pāpa-kṛt-tamaḥ
sarvaṁ jñāna-plavenaiva vṛjinaṁ santariṣyasi

Even if you perform a great deal of pāpa, you will be able to cross the ocean of misery on the boat of knowledge.

yathaidhāṁsi samiddho’gnir bhasma-sāt kurute’rjuna
jñānāgniḥ sarva-karmāṇi bhasma-sāt-kurute tathā

O Arjuna, just as a blazing fire burns wood into ashes, similarly, the fire of knowledge burns away all karma.

na hi jñānena sadṛśaṁ pavitram iha vidyate
tat svayaṁ yoga-saṁsiddhaḥ kālenātmani vindati

There is nothing as pure as knowledge, in other words, cinmayatattva (transcendental reality), in this world. In time, you yourself will eventually obtain that knowledge as a result of following niṣkāma-karma-yoga. By these words it is to be understood that the truth of supreme peace is knowledge. To say that nothing is as pure as knowledge is not to say that there is no greater truth than knowledge.

śraddhāvān labhate jñānaṁ tat-paraḥ saṁyatendriyaḥ
jñānaṁ labdhvā parāṁ śāntim acireṇādhigacchati

A person who has śraddhā. who controls his senses and is devoted, achieves knowledge. Those who lack śraddhā in niṣkāma-karma-yoga have no eligibility. One who engages in niṣkāma-karma-yoga with śraddhā very quickly attains supreme peace. I will explain later what is meant by ‘supreme’.

ajñaś cāśraddadhānaś ca saṁśayātmā vinaśyati
nāyaṁ loko’sti na paro na sukhaṁ saṁśayātmanaḥ

A person who is inexperienced and devoid of śraddhā always maintains doubts about karmatattva. Such persons never achieve auspiciousness. They have no happiness in this world or the next because miseries born from doubt destroy their peace.

yoga-sannyasta-karmāṇaṁ jñāna-sañchinna-saṁśayam
ātmavantaṁ na karmāṇi nibadhnanti dhanañjaya

Therefore O Dhanañjaya, one who renounces action by performing niṣkāma-karma-yoga, who removes doubts by knowledge, and is acquainted with the transcendental nature of the ātmā, is never bound by any action.

tasmād ajñāna-sambhūtaṁ hṛt-sthaṁ jñānāsinātmanaḥ
chittvainaṁ saṁśayaṁ yogam ātiṣṭhottiṣṭha bhārata

Thus O Bhārata, your doubts concerning niṣkāma-karma-yoga were born from ignorance. Slash that with the sword of knowledge and engage in fighting, taking refuge in niṣkāma-yoga.


In this chapter, it was stated that amongst all the different methods to attain liberation, jñāna is the best of all, and it was determined that karma (action) is the way to attain knowledge.

iti śrī-mahābhārate śata-sāhasryāṁ saṁhitāyāṁ
vaiyāsikyāṁ bhīṣma-parvāṇi
śrīmad-bhagavad-gītāsūpaniṣatsu brahma-vidyāyāṁ yoga-śāstre śrī kṛṣṇārjuna-saṁvāde
jñāna-yogo caturtho’dhyāyaḥ

Thus ends Chapter Four entitled Jñāna Yoga from the conversation between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna in the Upaniṣad known as Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā, the yoga-śāstra of divine knowledge, from the Bhīṣma-parva of Mahābhārata, the literature revealed by Vyāsa in one hundred thousand verses.

Thus ends the translation and commentary of the Fourth chapter

Bhagavad-Gita-Rasika-ranjanaBhagavad-gita - Chapter Three

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