Bhagavad Gita English 4

ज्ञानकर्मसन्यास योगः

Jnyana Karma Sanyasa Yoga

Righteous renunciation of Action;  the yoga of right action

The main topics of this chapter are:






Gita Stuti and avatara



Knowledge of avatara and its result.



wisdom of seeing inaction in action and action in inaction




Glory and means of knowledge



Benefit of knowledge



Qualifications and disqualifications









VERSE 4: 1 


Antiquity and geneology of Gita


इमं विवस्वते योगं प्रोक्तवानहमव्ययम् |
विवस्वान्मनवे प्राह मनुरिक्ष्वाकवे ब्रवीत||1||

इमम्   विवस्वते योगम्   प्रोक्तवान् अहम् अव्ययम्  विवस्वान् मनवे प्राह मनुः  इक्ष्वाकवे   अब्रवीत  ||1||

imam   vivasvatē yōgam   prōktavān aham avyayam  vivasvān manavē prāha manuḥ  ikṣvākavē   abravīta  ||1||


इमम्   -this, विवस्वते  -to Vivaswan, योगम् -yoga, प्रोक्तवान् -taught, अहम्  -I, अव्ययम्-imperishable, विवस्वान्  -Vivaswan, मनवे  -To Manu , प्राह -taught, मनुः- -Manu, इक्ष्वाकवे -to Ishwaku , अब्रवीत  -taught

I taught this impreishable Yoga of right action to Vivaswan, Vivaswan communicated it to Manu, Manu imparted it to Ikshwaku
Gita stuti glorification  of karma yoga and jnyana yoga in first 3 shlokas. A little diversifiction from main subject of Gita and avatara

Gita is condensed form of Vedas themselves. Does not claim any originality.

अहम्  इमम् अव्ययम् योगम् विवस्वते  प्रोक्तवान् –I taught this imperishable yoga of right action (in  the form of Veda) first to Vivaswan the sun god. After outlining the basic way of Yoga in 3rd capter, Krishna tells us about the antiquity of Yoga. This verse tells us about the geneology of Gita. In the beginning of creation and then the advent of man, God gave a divine communion to the sage Vivasvan

The Lord uses the words इमम् योगम्. This is  singular number. That means Gita is a single Karma yoga leading to jnyana yoga. The word avyam or imperishable is used to indicate that this knowledge leads to liberation. The Lord taught this yoga directly to the sun God Vivaswan.

अव्ययम्-imperishable, never becomes abselete, ever valid. It is relevant even now. Sanatana dharma

विवस्वान्  मनवे  प्राह – The sun god in turn taught this yoga to his son Manu, the  law giver. Vivasvan means energiser or nursihment giver.

मनुः इक्ष्वाकवे अब्रवीत  -Manu tought this knowledge to Ikshwaku, the ancestor of solar dynasty that ruled over Ayodhya for a long period of time. In this way this knowledge spread to all others from father to son, from preceptor to the student.


VERSE 4: 2


This yoga of action is passed on to successive generation but somehow is lost in time.
एवं परम्पराप्राप्तमिमं राजर्षयो विदु- |
स कालेनेह महता योगो नष्टः  परन्तप || 4:2|

एवम्  परम्पराप्राप्तम् इमम्  राजर्षयः विदुः सः कालेन इह महता योगः  नष्टः परन्तप     || 4:2|

ēvam  paramparāprāptam imam    rājarṣayaḥ viduḥ  saḥ kālēna iha mahatā yōgaḥ  naṣṭaḥ parantapa     || 4:2|


ऎवम्-  thus परम्पराप्राप्तम् –handed down in regular succession इमम् –this  राजर्षयः – the royal sages विदुः – knew सः – this कालेन-by lapse of time इह –here महता – by long योगः –yoga नष्टः –destroyed परन्तप –O Scorcher of enemies(Arjuna)


इमम् ऎवम् परम्पराप्राप्तम् – This practice of karmayoga leading to Jnyanayoga advocated in the previous chapter has been transmitted to successive generations. It is like lighting one lamp with another lamp.

राजर्षयः विदुः –the royal sages knew this yoga. रजर्षि can have two meanings, one a king who is also a Rrushi or a great  Rrushi who can be called a king of rushis.

सः महता योगः इह कालेन नष्टः –That great yoga was lost in due course of time. In the previous verse the Lord emphasised that this yoga is immortal but at the same time he says this yoga was lost in time. How this is possible? An immortal thing cannot be lost.  When the Lord said that this yoga is immortal he meant that knowledge of liberation imparted by this yoga is immortal but not the practice.


VERSE 4: 3


I taught to you this ancient yoga because you are dear to me and also my friend


स एवायं मया तेद्य योग  प्रोक्त पुरातन  |
भक्तोऽसि मे सखा चेति रहस्यं ह्येतदुत्तमम् ||3||

सः एव अयम् मया ते अद्य योगः प्रोक्तः पुरातन भक्तः असि मे सखा च इति रहस्यम् हि एतत् उत्तमम् ||४:३||

saḥ ēva ayam mayā tē adya yōgaḥ  prōktaḥ purātana  bhaktaḥ asi mē sakhā ca iti rahasyam hi ētat uttamam ||4:3||


सः-that एव -even अयम् – this मया –by me ते –to you आद्यः -today योगः -yoga प्रोक्तः- has been taught पुरातनः -ancient भक्तः -devotee असि –you are मे mine सखा -friend च –as well इति-thus रहस्यम् -secret हि-for एतत् –this  उत्तमम् –best, supreme


This ancient Yoga has been taught to you to day by me, for you are my devotee as well as a friend. This yoga is a Supreme secret.


सःएव पुरातनः योगः मया आद्यः प्रोक्तः –I am today teaching to you the same ancient karma  yoga leading to jnyana yoga. The lord wants to tell Arjuna that what he is imparting now is not a new technique; but it was successfully practiced in antiquity.

मे भक्तः असि सखा –You are my devotee as well as friend. It is the ability to be at the same time absolutely reverent towards God and yet absolutely familiar and “at home” with God. He rejoices both as a devotee and friend of God. These two are important qualifications for learning karmayoga leading to Jnyana yoga.

By devotion we become humble. By friendship fear is

removed. By the combination Arjuna becomes suitable person to receive knowledge. Arjuna as well as Krishna were of the same age. They studied together in the Sandeepany ashram. In the 11 chapter, when Krishna disclosed his universal phase, Arjuna beseeched him to forgive him if he had made any misdemeanor while, playing, eating, studying or sleeping. I behaved with you as a chub. Please excuse me if I have done anything wrong.

सखेति मत्वा प्रसभं यदुक्तं हे कृष्ण हे यादव हे सखेति। 

अजानता महिमानं तवेदं मया प्रमादात्प्रणयेन वापि॥११४१॥ 


Before the commencement of Mahabharata war, king Dhrutarashtra sent Sanjaya to the Pandava camp. Sanjaya

reports to the king,  “ I saw Krsihna and Arjuna were

chit chatting freely. Arjuna had placed his legs on the lap of Krishna.”

एतत् रहस्यम् उत्तमम् –This is a great secret. The infinity of God and our own personal finititude does not daunt the seekers in being both. They know this because of their conviction of Unity of atma and Paramatma. Krishna says it is a secret, supreme secret indeed.


VERSE 4: 4


Krishna how can I believe ? You are my contemporary

 But  Vivaswan was born in ancient time

अर्जुन उवाच  –
अपरं भवतो जन्म परम् जन्म विवस्वतः |
कथमेतद्विजानीयां त्वमादौ प्रोक्तवानिति ||४||

अर्जुन उवाच  –

अपरम् भवतः जन्म परम् जन्म विवस्वतः कथम् एतत् विजानीयाम् त्वम् आदौ प्रोक्तवान् इति ||४:४||

arjuna uvāca  –

aparam bhavataḥ janma param janma vivasvataḥ katham ētat vijānīyām tvam ādau prōktavān iti ||4:4||


अपरम् -later भवतः -your, जन्म -birth परम्  -prior जन्म -birth विवस्वतः- -of Vivaswan कथम् -how एतत्  -this विजानीयाम् -am I to understand त्वम् -you आदौ  -in the beginning प्रोक्तवान् -taught इति – thus

Arjuna said –
Vivaswan lived in antiquity, you, however was born

recently. How am I to take this statement that it was you who first taught this sacred yoga to mankind?


भवतः अपरम् जन्म –You were born recently

विवस्वतः जन्म भवतः परम्  -The sun God was born in antiquity

कथम् एतत्  विजानीयाम् त्वम् आदौ  प्रोक्तवान् इति –How I am to understand that you taught this knowledge to the sun god?

Arjuna questions how Krishna, a contemporary of Arjuna, could have taught this science of KarmaYoga to King

Vivasvan, who was born earlier in ancient times, long before Lord  Krishna. The doctrine of Bhagavad-Gita is not just five thousand years old; it is primeval. Lord Krishna restated it in the Gita for the benefit of humanity. All great masters come to rekindle the fire of forgotten truth. Different people have said everything we hear or read at different times.


VERSE 4: 5


Arjuna, you and I have taken many births. I know them all but you are not aware of it.

श्री भगवानुवाच
बहूनि मे व्यतीतानि जन्मानि तव चार्जुन |
तान्यहं वेद सर्वाणि न त्वं वेत्थ परन्तप ||5||

bahūni mē vyatītāni janmāni tava cārjuna |

tānyahaṁ vēda sarvāṇi na tvaṁ vēttha parantapa ||4:5||


श्री भगवानुवाच
बहूनि मे व्यतीतानि जन्मानि तव च अर्जुन  तानि अहम् वेद सर्वाणि न  त्वम् वेत्थ परन्तप ||४:५||

śrī bhagavānuvāca

bahūni mē vyatītāni janmāni tava ca arjuna  tāni aham vēda sarvāṇi na  tvam vēttha parantapa ||4:5||


बहूनि –many मे –my व्यतीतानि –have passed जन्मानि –births तव –yourच –and अर्जुन -Arjuna -O Arjuna  तानि –them अहं –I  वेद –know  सर्वाणि –all  न –not त्वम् –you वेत्थ –know परन्तप –O Paramtapa.

The Blessed Lord said –
Many births of mine as well as yours have passed, O Arjuna; I know them all but you know them not, O Paramtapa (scorcher of foes)

बहूनि मे जन्मानि व्यतीतानि –Many births have been experienced by me. That means the lord has taken many births to bless the mankind

बहूनि तव जन्मानि च व्यतीतानि  अर्जुन –Arjuna, you have also passed through many births

तानि अहम् वेद सर्वाणि न त्वम् वेत्थ परन्तप  -O scorcher of Foes! I am acquinted with  them all; but you not aware of them.

Although the soul and spirit are the same, Jiva or soul is

victimized by avidya or maya whereas the spirit or the Lord is the Master of his Maya.

Swami Chinmayananda says: It is like a chauffeur and owner of a vehicle. The owner of the vehicle is the Lord of it. He

uses his vehicle for his own purpose and when the destination is reached he walks out of the vehicle and enjoys his own independent activities. Whereas the driver has to take care of the vehicle and mend it.

Swami Mukundanada says:

The Lord Krishna explains that merely because he is standing before Arjun in the human form, he should not be equated with human beings. The president of a country sometimes decides to visit the prison, but if we see the president standing in the jail, we do not erroneously conclude that he is also a convict. We know that he is in the jail merely for an inspection. Similarly, God sometimes descends in the material world, but he is never divested of his divine attributes and powers.

This verse has been spoken by Shri Krishna to refute foolish people who doubt that he is not God.” Non-believers argue that Shree Krishna too was born like the rest of us, and he ate, drank, slept, like we all do, and so he could not have been God. Here, Shree Krishna emphasizes the difference between the soul and God by stating that although he descends in the world innumerable times, he still remains omniscient, unlike the soul whose knowledge is finite.

The individual soul and the Supreme Soul, God, have many similarities—both are sat-chit-ānand (eternal, sentient, and blissful). However, there are also many differences. God is all-pervading, while the soul only pervades the body it inhabits; God is all-powerful, while the soul does not even have the power to liberate itself from Maya without God’s grace; God is the creator of the laws of nature, while the soul is subject to these laws; God is the upholder of the entire creation, while the soul is upheld by him; God is all-knowing, while the soul does not have complete knowledge even in one subject.





VERSE 4: 6


The lord takes an avatar by  overruling his own maya

अजोऽपि सन्नव्ययात्मा भूतानामीश्वरोपि सन् |
प्रकृतिं स्वामधिष्ठाय संभवाम्यात्ममायया ||6||

ajō:’pi sannavyayātmā bhūtānāmīśvarōpi san |

prakr̥tiṁ svāmadhiṣṭhāya saṁbhavāmyātmamāyayā ||6||


अजः अपि सन् अव्ययात्मा भूतानाम् ईश्वरः अपि सन्  प्रकृतिम्  स्वाम् अधिष्ठाय संभवामि आत्म मायया ||४:६||


ajaḥ api san avyayātmā bhūtānām īśvaraḥ api san  prakr̥tim  svām adhiṣṭhāya saṁbhavāmi ātma māyayā ||4:6||


अजः – unborn अपि –  also सन् -being अव्ययात्मा –of imperishable nature  भूतानाम् –of beings इश्वरः – the Lord अपि –also सन् –being प्रकृतिम् -nature स्वाम् -my own अधिष्ठाय -ruling संभवामि -come into being आत्मा-मायया-by my own maya


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 overruling my own maya.


अजः अपि सन् Although I am unborn. The lord has no birth and death. He is beyond time and space.

अव्ययात्मा अपि सन् –Although I am imperishable self

भूतानाम् इश्वरः अपि सन्  -And although I am the Lord of all


प्रकृतिम् स्वाम् अधिष्ठाय – controlling (governing) my own

Prakrati or nature. I am the master of matter and Jiva is slave of matter or sharira.

संभवामि आत्मामायया –I manifest through my maya.

Though the Lord is unborn and changeless, is ever the Lord of matter, yet keeping his own maya perfectly under control, He comes into the world through his own divine status and unchallenged prerogative. He does not come into being as

others do, compelled by the past karma, to live here in the world under the thralldom of nature. He is not bound by his mental temperaments but he is ever free from the mischief of his own maya. On the other hand, the jiva is ignorant of his true nature and is ever compelled by his past karma. He is bound by his mental temparaments and is under the clutches of avidya (ignorance).

The Lord says, “Arjuna, although I have no birth and death, I am standing before you as the son of Devaki and Vasudeva in human form. Although I am the Lord of all beings I have

taken  this avatar as a mortal being. This has been possible for me because of my yogamaya”.

There is quantum difference between the birth and death of ordinary mortals and the avatar of Lord. Other beings take birth from the primordeal nature or prakrati, by its modifictions and changes. Lord says “I take birth by my yogamaya; my devine potency or transcendental power by keeping the prakrati under control, by bypassing the prakrati”.


In other words, we are a product or part of prakrati where as the Lord is independent of Prakrati. We are guided by our Gunas or temperament whereas the Lord is free from

thraldom of gunas. Our birth is decided by our karma whereas the Lord takes birth by his free will in whatever form he wishes such as a tortoise, a pig or a human. He is the master of his own mind, we are the slaves or our karma. He is not ruled by prakrati but prakrati has to fallow him. We are

mayadas whereas he is mayapati.

प्रकृतिम् –My primordeal nature. The lord calls this by another name of महत् ब्रह्म in chapter 14. The Lord discusses this subject in detail in Verses 7 and 8 of Chapter 9, which reads as below:

सर्वभूतानि कौन्तेय प्रकृतिं यान्ति मामिकाम् ।

कल्पक्षये पुनस्तानि कल्पादौ विसृजाम्यहम् ॥९:७॥


At the end of a cycle (kalpa), O Son of Kunti (Arjuna), all beings return to my nature (the primal cause). At the beginging of the next cycle, again I cast them forth.


प्रकृतिं स्वामवष्टभ्य विसृजामि पुनः पुनः ।

भूतग्राममिमं कृत्स्नमवशं प्रकृतेर्वशात् ॥९:८॥


I revive prakrati, my own emanation, and I produce this host of creatures, all subject to laws of nature.


Arjuna is a Jivatman bound by Karma. So he has no memory of his previous births. But Krishna is an Incarnation of Iswara. He is therefore ever pure, ever free and omniscient.

Prakrati or maya shakti has her part to play both with the Jivatman and with the Incarnations of Ishwara, but her

functions with these two entities is diametrically opposite. She enslaves the Jivatma and is enslaved by Ishwara.

आत्मा माया or योग माया –This means keeping the nature or prakrati under his control. Thereby he shows the difference between his birth and the birth of the ordinary beings in this world. Other beings are a product or part of Prakrati and and therefore under her subordination, take birth in good or bad wombs depending upon their karma. But the birth of the Lord is not subject to karma because no karma accrues to the Lord. He manifests himself from time to time by his

yogamaya and enacts various devine sports.

VERSE 4: 7


The Lord takes an avatar in the world, whenever there is  decline

 of dharma and ascendence of vice. It is the Purpose of his manifestation


यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत |
अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदात्मानं स्रुजाम्यहं ||


yadā yadā hi dharmasya glānirbhavati bhārata |

abhyutthānamadharmasya tadātmānaṁ srujāmyahaṁ ||

यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिः भवति भारत अभ्युत्थानम् अधर्मस्य तदा आत्मानम् स्रुजामि अहम्   ||४:७||

yadā yadā hi dharmasya glāniḥ bhavati bhārata abhyutthānam adharmasya tadā ātmānam srujāmi aham   ||4:7||


यदा यदा -whenever हि -surely धर्मस्य -of righteousness, values, harmony धारयति इति धर्मः sustains the cosmos. Ecology environmental proection ग्लानिः -decline भवति -there is  भारत -o descendent of Bharata, Arjuna यदा यदा -whenever अभ्युत्थानम् -rise अधर्मस्य -of evil तदा -then आत्मानम् –myself  स्रुजामि –resurge अहम् -I धारयति इति धर्मः


In verses 7 and 8, Lord  reveals about the purpose of his manifestation s(avatar) on the earth.


O Bharata (Arjuna)! Whenever virtue and righteousness (Dharma) decline and vice (adharma) is in ascendance , I incarnate myself (as an avatar), appearing from age to age in visible form; I come to destroy evil and re -establish virtue.


यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिः भवति भारत –Whenever there is decline in the righteousness. There is no fixed period of time and space. It is for the Lord to decide when there is a decline in righteousness and moral turpitude in the society.

What is  धर्म ग्लानी or decline of righteousness? Swami Raghaveshananda says: ग्लानी means debility, lassitude. The decline of reghteousness promotes increase of adharma. Dharma is one, following which benefits me as well as the society at large. It incluseds study of scriptures, service to

Society, parents, teachers;  control of mind, and senses,

following of truth, ahimsa and progress towards realizstion of God.

धृति क्षमा दमॊ आस्तेयम् शौचम् इन्द्रिय निग्रहः  धीर्विद्या सत्यम् आक्रोधॊ दशकम् धर्म लक्षणम्

Patience, Forgiveness,  non-stealing, purity, control of senses, righteous action, knowledge, truth and giving up anger – these are the ten indication of dharma=–Manu Smruti


यदा यदा अधर्मस्य अभ्युत्थानम् भवति –whenever there is vice and crime is in ascendence. It is for God’s decision when he has to manfest to stop adharma.

Avatar of God is unique to Hinduism. Christians as well as mohamedans also believe in God. Christ is the son of god. Mohammed is the messenger of god. 

तदा आत्मानम्  स्रुजामि अहम् –then I manifest myself. I create myself. The lord is not guided by his karma. He is free from karma because he works without attachment and desire. God takes avatar in the form of man or a beast not for his own advertisement but for establishing  right and order in the society. God is not born by karmic bondage but by his own free will.


VERSE 4: 8

Purpose of his manifestation continued.

परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम्  |
धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय संभवामि युगे युगे ||

paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṁ vināśāya ca duṣkr̥tām  |

dharmasaṁsthāpanārthāya saṁbhavāmi yugē yugē ||


परित्राणाय साधूनाम्  विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम्  धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय संभवामि युगे युगे || ४:८||

paritrāṇāya sādhūnām  vināśāya ca duṣkr̥tām  dharmasaṁsthāpanārthāya saṁbhavāmi yugē yugē || 4:8||


परित्राणाय -for the protection साधूनाम् -of the good  विनाशाय -for the destruction च -and दुष्कृताम्  -of the wicked  धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय -for the firm establishment of righteousness संभवामि -( I) take birth युगे युगे – in every age


For the protection of the good, for the destruction of the wicked and for the establishment of dharma (righteousness), I manifest from age to age.


Dushta shikshanam shishta rakshanam.

The Lord gives three reasons why he creates himself upon earth.

साधूनाम् परित्राणाय – For the protection of the good. साधु means one who is good. One who practices good deeds for deliverance from samsara. परित्राणाय his job is to protect dharma. We say पतित पावन सीतारम् but not पतित घातक सीतारम्. Lord always gives everyone a chance to reform himself, and when that does not work he uses the next option

दुष्कृतम् विनाशाय –for the annihilation of the evil doers. It is like a foul abscess which has to be removed since otherwise it may damage a body part.

धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय – for establishing the world order. This is the reason why the good lord takes birth in the world. He has to uphold virtue and abate the vice.

What is dharma? Although there are many contextual meanings, we are concerned with upholding morality and virtue, truth and non-voilence as dharma. Manusmruti described dharma as:

ध्रुति क्षमा दमॊ अस्तॆयम् शौचम् इंन्द्रिय निग्रहः

धीर्विद्या सत्यम् अक्रोधो दशकम् धर्म लक्षणम्

संभवामि युगे युगे  -It is not necessary that Lord manifests himself when all the above conditions subsit. He may appear in a visibe form, any time to carry out one or more of the above objectives.

What is the difference between a human body and avatar? We have to consider birth and action जन्म कर्म च मे दिव्यम्. Swami Paramarthananda says there are three differences.

कारण भेद cause : jnyanam is the cause of avatar and ajnyanam is cause of jiva janma.

सरूप भेद  Nature: Lord continues to be liberated even after avatar since he is नित्य मुक्त स्वरूपः Jiva takes sharira as a result of bondage. Lord’s sharira is directly born out of maya but jiva sharira is intermediatory process of five fundamental elements.

उद्देश भेद Purpose  हॆतु: of arrival Jiva is to exhaust his prarbdha  of punya and papa. Purpose of  Ishwara’s descent is to uplift this world.


VERSE 4: 9


One who realizes my devine nature of birth and actions comes unto me, after death

जन्म कर्म च मे दिव्यमेवं यो वेत्ति तत्त्वतः।

त्यक्त्वा देहं पुनर्जन्म नैति मामेति सोऽर्जुन॥४:९॥

janma karma ca mē divyamēvaṁ yō vētti tattvataḥ|

tyaktvā dēhaṁ punarjanma naiti māmēti sō:’rjuna||4:9||



जन्म कर्म च मे दिव्यम् एवम् यः वेत्ति तत्त्वतः त्यक्त्वा देहम् पुनः जन्म न एति माम् एति सः अर्जुन ॥४:९॥

janma karma ca mē divyam ēvam yaḥ vētti tattvataḥ tyaktvā dēham punaḥ janma na ēti mām ēti saḥ arjuna ||4:9||


जन्म-birth कर्म-action, avatar च-and  मे-my दिव्यम्-divine एवम्-like this यः-whoever वेत्ति-knows तत्त्वतः-in essence, true nature of avatar त्यक्त्वा-having abandoned देहम्-the body पुनः-again जन्म-birth न-not एति-gets माम्-me सः-he एति -comes comes to me अर्जुन-O Arjuna


Arjuna! He who knows my devine birth and action in its true essence, will never again, reborn after death. He comes to me.

Krishna comes to main topic of discussion, namely moksha marga- how to attain liberation.God realization can give



जन्म कर्म मे दिव्यम् एवम् यः वेत्ति तत्त्वतः –One who intuitively understands my devine birth and activities. God is beyond birth and death. He is birthless and deathless. He is infinite. But he takes birth by his own will in celestial, human or sub-human forms for the establishement of Dharma and to grace the people. Unlike us when he takes birth, his body matter is not bound by laws of prakrati like Gunas and karmas. His devine activities are not egocentric or to publicise his great presence. He works as a  role model to others. He does not crave for the authorship for his actions  and results or their fruit.

एवम् वेत्ति तत्त्वतः intuitively knows, learns its true light, its essence. एवम्  means like this. Like what?  Understanding that God is infinite and has no birth and death. He has

descended upon the earth for the establishment of dharma and in all his actions the Lord is totally free from evils like

attachment, egoism, and desire.  His actions are carried only for the good of the people, to spread morality and righteousness, pure love and devotion etc. He is essentially a non-doer


Swami Vivekananda interacted with swami Ramakrishna for well over six years. But he had no firm conclusion that

Ramakrisha was an avatar of God. Feeling his mental wavering Ramakrishna said, “Are you still in a dilemma? The one who was Rama and the one who was Krishna has now become Ramakrishna”

What if you do not know his devine birth as avatar?

This is explained In verse 9:11

अवजानन्ति मां मूढा मानुषीं तनुमाश्रितम् ।

परं भावमजानन्तो मम भूतमहेश्वरम् ॥९:११॥


The ignorant, oblivious of my transcendental nature as Lord, as creator of all beings, discount also my presence within the human form.


The same truth has been explained in verse 6 of this chapter and verses 24 and 25 of chapter 7. The verses 11 and 12 of chapter 9, denounce those who not knowing this truth treat the lord as an ordinary human being while verse 3 of chapter 10 praises those who know this truth in reality.


यो मामजमनादिं च वेत्ति लोकमहेश्वरम् ।असंमूढः स मर्त्येषु सर्वपापैः प्रमुच्यते ॥१०:३॥ 

One who knows me as unborn and beginingless and as the

supreme Lord of the universe, is considered as undeluded (wise) and becomes free from all sins.


 All these verses are writtern below for the benefit of the readers.


अजोऽपि सन्नव्ययात्मा भूतानामीश्वरोपि सन् |

प्रकृतिं स्वामधिष्ठाय संभवाम्यात्ममायया  ॥४:६॥


Though I am unborn and 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


अव्यक्तं व्यक्तिमापन्नं मन्यन्ते मामबुद्धयः ।

परं भावमजानन्तो ममाव्ययमनुत्तमम् ॥७:२४॥


 The foolish think me, the unmanfest, as having come to manifestation, not knowing my higher, immutable and peerless nature.


नाहं प्रकाशः सर्वस्य योगमायासमावृतः ।

मूढोऽयं नाभिजानाति लोको मामजमव्ययम् ॥७:२५॥


Seemingly eclipsed by my own Yogamaya (the delusion born of the triple qualities of nature) I am unseen by men. The ignorant do not know and understand my unborn, eternal and transcendental form and personality.


त्यक्त्वा देहम् पुनः जन्म  एति Reposing full faith in the above truth without entertaining any doubt, a devotee who leaves this body at the time of death is not reborn.

सः अर्जुन –He comes to me. He unites with me. He becomes my own nature. One who reaches the abode of the Lord is never born. The lord empshasises this point in verse 16 of chapter 8, which is also reproduced below.

आब्रह्मभुवनाल्लोकाः पुनरावर्तिनोऽर्जुन । मामुपेत्य तु कौन्तेय पुनर्जन्म न विद्यते ॥८: १६॥All worlds up to and including the world of the creator (Brahma) are subject to repeated birth and death. But after attaining me, O Arjuna! One does not take birth again. Here a question may be asked, “Does one realize God only after death?. As a matter of fact the yogi directly perceives, subjectively experiences God, the moment he fully realizes the truth. The point that is stressed here is that after death, he does not return to this mortal world. He goes to the Lords supreme abode.

पुनः जन्म  एति He is not born again. Swami chinmayananda makes out a good point. In the early Vedic literature the state of union with God was described as ‘deathlessness’ or अमर. In the later literature, this state of attaining the supreme abode is described as the state of birthlessness or ‘ अज’. Whle both are the same in the sesnse that a birthless person has no death, still the later is a better terminology.


VERSE 4: 10

Many have attained Self-realization by surrendering to God..

वीतरागभयक्रोधा मन्मया मामुपाश्रिताः  |
बहवो ज्ञानतपसा पूता मद्भावमागताः ||४.१० ||

vītarāgabhayakrōdhā manmayā māmupāśritāḥ  |

bahavō jñānatapasā pūtā madbhāvamāgatāḥ ||4.10 ||



वीतरागभयक्रोधाः मन्मयाः माम् उपाश्रिताः बहवः ज्ञानतपसा पूताः मद्भावम् आगताः ||४.१० ||


vītarāgabhayakrōdhāḥ manmayāḥ mām upāśritāḥ bahavaḥ jñānatapasā pūtāḥ madbhāvam āgatāḥ ||4.10 ||



वीतरागभयक्रोधाः -freed from attachment, fear and anger, मन्मया -absorbed in me, obsession in me as the primary goal  माम् -me उपाश्रिताः–taking refuge in me, surrendering unto me बहवः-many ज्ञान तपसा  -by the fire of knowledge पूताः-purified मद्भावम् -my very being आगताः -have attained


Freed from attachment, fear and anger, purified by the fire of knowledge, absorbed in me, taking refuge in me, many have attained oneness with me.


वीतरागभयक्रोधाः –Disengaged from attachment, fear and anger.  राग is attachment or or pleasure to or  displeasure or hatred to an object of enjoyment. World is neither a

source of Joy nor sorrow. Unhealthy “I” is the source of

sorrow; healthy “I” is source of ananda. Ignorance of healthy “I” is the source of sorrow and knowledge of healthy “I” is the source of ananda. An Intelligent man understands that the problem is not outside but it is in me, in the form of  raga and dwesha. Management of  raga and dwesha involeves conversion of all desires into non-binding desire.

शब्दादि विषय are the sense objects. A person who has no

control over his mind, immediately succumbs to such objects. भय is fear. If such a person is unable to posses or enjoy the object of his desire he gets into fear of losing it for ever.     क्रोध  is anger. A person who has failed to obtain his object of desire,  may get furious on others who are responsible for his not getting it.

But he, who has come to know the divine character of the birth and activities of God and develops exclusive love for God will not feel the loss or attachment for anything in the world except God. This is the first stage of growth in spirituality to handle the emotions. It is  attained through karma yoga.  He is called शुद्ध अंतःकरण  or pure mind.


Ramakrishna: Some drunkards came to the bank of a river in the night. There was a boat. They planned to have a joy ride in the river. They sat in the boat and started rowing for a long time. They were intoxicated and blabbering incoherently until they fell asleep. In the early morning they noticed that the boat had not moved an inch because it was tied up to a pole. Similarly राग, भय, and क्रोधः are the poles to which we are bound. Unless we untie them how, can we go toward God?

मन्मया – absorbed in me means self-effort

माम् उपाश्रिताः –taking refuse in me means god’s grace (Ishwara anugraha).  A devotee of God, an account of his

exclusive love for God sees god everywhere, his mind is filled up with the memory of God. His mind is totally merged in God.

ज्ञान तपसा  -by the fire of knowledge of the devine character of the birth and activities of the lord. This is achieved by

Vedanta sharavana, manana and nidhidhyasana. By this

austerity the mind becomes pure and sattvik. It is capable of seeing the reflection fo God.

बहवः मद्भावम् आगताः –many have reached my own nature by complete purification of mind. Not one or two but many have  merged into me

The import of this verse is that a devotee who has realized God, has fully surrendered to God, and depend only on God for everything  including food, shelter and security ultimately merges with God.

Some commentators have opined that this verse is a synthesis of all the three paths of karma yoga, bhakti yoga and dhayna yoga.

Karma yoga: The path of action is indicated in the first line वीतरागभयक्रोधाः –“freed from attachment, fear and anger”. For unless one trains himself in the field of activity , detachment from desires, fear and anger cannot be gained.

Bhakti yoga:  The second –half मन्मया  माम् उपाश्रिताः

“absorbed in me and taking refuse in me” indicates the path of devotion, wherein the devotee binding himself with the love of God lives his life dependng  on the lord for all his needs.

Jnyana yoga: The path of knowledge is indicated by the Word ज्ञान तपसा   the fire of wisdom. Some commentators who

refute that this verse indicates all the three paths, maintain that the words ज्ञान तपसा  does not mean knowledge, (आत्म ज्ञान)   of the self but the knowledge of the devine character of birth and activity of the Lord in human form, mentioned in verse 4:9 (जन्म कर्म च मे दिव्यम् एवम् यः वेत्ति तत्त्वतः). The subject matter of this verse is simply devotion.


VERSE 4: 11


In whatever way men seek me, I reward them in a similar way

ये यथा मां प्रपद्यन्ते तांस्तथैव भजाम्यहम्।

मम वर्त्मानुवर्तन्ते मनुष्याः पार्थ सर्वशः॥४:११॥

yē yathā māṁ prapadyantē tāṁstathaiva bhajāmyaham|

mama vartmānuvartantē manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ||4:11||


ये यथा माम् प्रपद्यन्ते ताम् तथ एव  भजामि अहम्  मम वर्त्म अनुवर्तन्ते मनुष्याः पार्थ सर्वशः    ॥४:११॥

yē yathā mām prapadyantē tām tatha ēva  bhajāmi aham  mama vartma anuvartantē manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ    ||4:11||


ये-who यथा-in whatever way माम्-me  प्रपद्यन्ते-seek तान्-them तथा-so एव-even भजामि-I reward अहम्-me मम-my  वर्त्म -path अनुवर्तन्ते-fallow मनुष्याः-men पार्थ-Arjuna सर्वशः-in every way


O Partha (Arjuna), in whatever way men seek me, I reward them; for all men fallow my path in every way.


ये यथा माम् प्रपद्यन्ते ताम् तथा एव भजामि अहम् – In whatever way men worship me I reward them in similar way. Goyandka comments:  Suppose we worship the lord in the form of Shiva, Vishnu or Rama, Mary or Maramma, the Lord reciprocates to me in the same form and rewards me. Similarly if we worship him in the form of fish, tortoise or man-lion he gives us also in equal measures. The Lord thinks of the devotee who think of him, he pines for the devotee who pine for him. In Bhagavata, we hear stories of people who treated Krishna as a child, a friend, cowherd, Rukmini adorned him as

husband, and the Gopikas as their lover. The Lord redeems them all by allowing them to participate in his divine sport.

If we seek God for our material comfort he provides our needs. Similarly he takes care of his devotees who pray for good health, victory in election, longevity etc.

This verse was quoted by swami Vivekananda in the first

Parliament of Word’s Religion in Chicago in 1893. He

explained that different religions of the world are like

different gateways or paths to reach our goal of God who is one. So there is no necessity for conversion. Whatever way we wish to go, we reach Him.

Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you (Luke 11.09).

मम वर्त्मानुवर्तन्ते मनुष्याः पार्थ सर्वशः –In the second half of this verse the Lord says that all men follow his path or action in every way. Therefore he shows that if he  returns the love and goodwill of his devotees the people will learn from him.


VERSE 4: 12


Worship to Devatas  gives quick results

काङ्क्षन्तः कर्मणां सिद्धिं यजन्त इह देवताः।

क्षिप्रं हि मानुषे लोके सिद्धिर्भवति कर्मजा॥४:१२॥

kāṅkṣantaḥ karmaṇāṁ siddhiṁ yajanta iha dēvatāḥ|

kṣipraṁ hi mānuṣē lōkē siddhirbhavati karmajā||4:12||


काङ्क्षन्तः कर्मणाम्  सिद्धिंम् यजन्ते  इह देवताः   क्षिप्रम् हि मानुषे लोके सिद्धिः भवति कर्मजा ॥४:१२॥

kāṅkṣantaḥ karmaṇām  siddhiṁm yajantē  iha dēvatāḥ   kṣipram hi mānuṣē lōkē siddhiḥ bhavati karmajā ||4:12||


काङ्क्षन्तः-longing or seeking or desiring  कर्मणाम्- of activites सिद्धिम्- success यजन्ते -worship इह-in this world  देवताः-gods क्षिप्रम्-quickly हि-indeed मानुषे लोके-in the human world सिद्धिः-success भवति-is attained कर्मजा-born of action


Those who long for success in their work here on earth

worship the devas (celestial controllers); for success comes to them quickly in this world of men.


I have presented two methods of approach to me, karma marga and jnyana marga. The path of karma gives finite result. If you want infinite result it cannot be the end product of a process. Any process that gives a result is finite. Infinity cannot be result of any effort. It is a matter of discovery.

Infiniude or purnatava can never be result of any effort or any process. It can be known only by knowledge. Jnayna marga leads to nitya phalam and karma marga gives anitya phalam. People canvass for right party and vote for wrong party. (anitya phalam)

कर्मणाम् सिद्धिम् काङ्क्षन्तः इह देवताः यजन्ते – those desirous of success in their endeavours work assiduously, fully to their capacity and worship a celestial god connected with the work for blessing. For example a doctor worships Dhanwantari, a trader worships the goddess of wealth, a student prays Goddess Saraswati, a farmer propitiates Good earth and every one worships Lord Ganesh before starting a new task.

मानुषे लोके कर्मजा सिद्धिः क्षिप्रम् भवति – In this world of men, success is quickly attained for all endeavours. Jnyana phalam comes late.

The success obtainied by knowledge comes only from pure and still mind अन्तःकरण शुद्धि. But the result is delayed.

Whreas the success obtained by the result-oriented activities are quick and are there for us to see and enjoy. So there are more men who work for विषय प्राप्ति, instead of विचार प्राप्ति.


VERSE 4: 13


The four castes are created by me according to Guna and Karma

चातुर्वर्ण्यं मया सृष्टं गुणकर्मविभागशः।

तस्य कर्तारमपि मां विद्ध्यकर्तारमव्ययम् ॥४:१३॥

cāturvarṇyaṁ mayā sr̥ṣṭaṁ guṇakarmavibhāgaśaḥ|

tasya kartāramapi māṁ viddhyakartāramavyayam ||4:13||


चातुर्वर्ण्यम् मया स्रष्टम्  गुणकर्मविभागशः तस्य कर्तारम् अपि माम्  विद्धि अकर्तारम अव्ययम्  ॥४:१३॥

cāturvarṇyam mayā sraṣṭam  guṇakarmavibhāgaśaḥ tasya kartāram api mām  viddhi akartārama avyayam  ||4:13||


चातुर्वर्ण्यम्- the four-fold castes मया-by me सृष्टम्-has been created गुणकर्मविभागशः-according to differentiation of Guna and Karma तस्य-thereof कर्तारम्-author अपि-also माम्-me विद्धि-know अकर्तारम्-non-doer अव्ययम्-immutable  अपि -also माम्-me विद्धि-know


The four-castes (colours) has been created by Me, according to the differentiation of guna and karma; though I am the author thereof, know that I am ever actionless and unchanging.

चातुर्वर्ण्यम् मया सृष्टम् गुणकर्मविभागशः –The four orders of the society, the Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra are created by me depending upon their Guna and Karma. गुण or mental quality is three in number. sattva सत्व or elevating or good quality; Rajas रजस् or activating or active quality and tamas तमस्  degrading or evil quality . Karma कर्म  is the  physical action performed by an individual in his previous births and present birth. As a result of one’s गुण and कर्म  arise four natural castes. They are:

  1. Spiritual intelligence or Brahmana
  2. Ruling and protecting, Kshatriya
  3. Agriculture, raring of cows and business, Vaishya
  4. And labour, Shudra.

By this definition, it becomes clear that caste is not based on the accident of birth of an individual, but it is based on the Guna and Karma. By cultivating sattvik intentions and thoughts alone one can aspire to become a Brahmana. A person in whom Rajasic thoughts mixed with satwa are predominant make him Kshatriya. A person who has admixture of Rajas and Tamas is a Vaishya, and finally a person who has admixture of Tamas and Rajas is a Shudra. Based on their Guna appropriate Karma or action have been prescribed.

जन्मना जायतॆ शूद्रः संस्कारात् द्विजः उच्यतॆ,

 वेदाध्यायनात् विप्रॊ भवति,  ब्रह्म जानानीति ब्राह्मणः


Every person is a shudra by birth and he has to go up the ladder by spiritual Sadhana. By refinement he becomed twice born or dwija. By the study of vedas he becomes vipra and by experiencing Brahman he becomes brahmna.

Swami Chinmayananda says,’Certain vested interests, particularly among the Brahmnis took undue advantage of this early social order for their ulterior benefit, resulting into oppression of the lesser previlaged class of society destroying the unity and amity of the society.” Although four varnas are mentioned here, a fifth varna of outcasts somehow came into being.

Quoted below is a statement by Swami Nityananda Giri.

“For us in the twenty-first century, living in the West, caste has meaning for us since knowing the character of our guna and karma is part of the self-knowledge. In reality, each one of us is kingdom, a “nation” to ourselves, and all four castes can be found within our psychological makeup. There are times when we must be shudras, others when we must be vaishyas, and so on. When there is “caste mixture”–that is, when in one aspect of our life we live according to a manner inappropriate to it, great harm can result. For example, in religion we must not be vaishyas, turning it into a business, nor must we be kshatriyas, trying to coerce others into accept our spiritual ideas. Instead we must be brahmins–simple and self-contained, oriented only toward our spiritual development, making our religion truly a matter of consciousness, free from materiality. On the other hand, in practical–including economic–matters we must not be materially indifferent brahmins or aggressive kshatriyas, but worthy vaishyas. When considering principles of personal conduct or dealing with negativity, we must be valiant kshatriyas, giving no thought to economic gain or loss, or conciliatory brahmins. I think you get the idea.”

Thre are two shlokas in Gita which appear to be contradictory to what the Lord says in present Shloka 4:13 where he states he is the author of four castes. However he states elsewhere:


ऊर्ध्वं गच्छन्ति सत्त्वस्थाः मध्ये तिष्ठन्ति राजसाः।

जघन्यगुणवृत्तिस्थाः अधो गच्छन्ति तामसाः ॥१४:१८॥


Those who are established in the mode of sattva go upward; the rajasik stay in the middle (reborn in the mortal world), and the tamasik go downwards (to lower planets of hell or take birth in the womb of petty creatures.


In the present verse the Lord says that an individual having preponderance of Sattva is born as a Brahmin, he in whom rajas predominates is born as Kshatriya, and he in whom

tamas predomianes is born as Shudra. Though these statements appear to be mutually contrdictory, its true meaning is those in whom Rajas is higher level at the time of death, are reborn in the mortal world. Then they become Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya or shudra accrding to the level of other three Gunas innate in their character.


The second anamoly is in verse 9:10 which is quoted below:

मयाध्यक्षेण प्रकृतिः सूयते सचराचरम् ।

हेतुनानेन कौन्तेय जगद्विपरिवर्तते ॥९:१०॥


O Arjuna, under my supervision, prakrati brings forth the whole creation, consisting of both sentient and insentient

beings; it is due to this cause that the world revolves in cycles of creation and dissolution. (the wheel of samsara)


There is no contradiction between 4:13 and  09:10.

In 09:10 the Lord says that Prakrati brings forth entire universe not by itself but under his supervision. Prakrati being inert, it cannot bring forth creation. Therefore in Gita whenever the Lord says that Prakrati brings forth sentient and insentient world, it should be understood that it happerns right under his presence. Similarly where it speaks God as the creator, it means that he creates universe not directly but through his Prakrati.

What are the karma or actions  of the four castes?

The Lord gives an eloberate explation of the proclivity of the four castes in the 18th chapter.

शमो दमस्तपः शौचं क्षान्तिरार्जवमेव च ।ज्ञानं विज्ञानमास्तिक्यं ब्रह्मकर्म स्वभावजम् ॥१८:४२॥Subjugation of the mind, control of senses, external and internal purity, forgiving the fault of others, straight-forwardness, knowledge of the Vedas and its personal application, and faith in God, all these constitute the natural duty of a Brahmana  शौर्यं तेजो धृतिर्दाक्ष्यं युद्धे चाप्यपलायनम् । दानमीश्वरभावश्च क्षात्रं कर्म स्वभावजम् ॥१८:४३॥Valour, fearlessness, firmness, cleverness, refusing to flee from battle, bestowing gifts, and Lordlines are the natural duties of a Kshatriya कृषिगौरक्ष्यवाणिज्यं वैश्यकर्म स्वभावजम् ।परिचर्यात्मकं कर्म शूद्रस्यापि स्वभावजम् ॥१८:४४॥Agriculture, raring of cows; honest exchange of merchandize, constitute the normal duties of a Vaishya. Service of other classes constitutes the normal duty of a Shudra.

तस्य कर्तारम् अपि माम् विद्धि –Know that I am the doer or author of the creation of the four castes in men. 

अकर्तारम् अव्ययम्– I am essentially a non-doer of this creation. This statement brings out the divinity of God. Although he is the creator, sustainer and dissolver of the world, the Lord claims that he is indeed a non-doer because he is not tainted by the impulses of attraction and repulsion or the pang for its reward. Although In the wordly sense, the Lord is the agent of all such activity, he is essentially a non-doer because he ever remains aloof from ownership or its reward. असङ्गोह्ययम् पुरुषः.

Acharya Shankara says “No birth, no death, no caste have I”.


VERSE 4: 14

Actions do not cause binding vasanas in me because

I have no desire  for the ownership its results.


न मां कर्माणि लिम्पन्ति न मे कर्मफले स्पृहा।

इति मां योऽभिजानाति कर्मभिर्न स बध्यते॥४:१४॥


na māṁ karmāṇi limpanti na mē karmaphalē spr̥hā|

iti māṁ yō:’bhijānāti karmabhirna sa badhyatē||4:14||


न- not माम्-me  कर्माणि-actions लिम्पन्ति-taint  न-not मे-my कर्मफले- in the fruit of actions स्पृहा-desire इति-thus माम्-me यः-who अभिजानाति-knows  कर्मभि-by actions न-not सः-he  बध्यते-is bound


Actions do not cause any attachment in me, nor have I longing for their fruits. He who is identified with me, who knows my nature, is also not bound by actions.


न माम् कर्माणि लिम्पन्ति न मे कर्मफले स्पृहा –Actions do not cause any binding of vasanas in me because I have no desire for their result. Krishna, having referred to caste as the basis of intelligent human action, now begins to speak of divine action–that of both the individual and the cosmic Self:

“Although I am the creator of this, my actions do not cause me any bondage.” Here the Lord gives out the secret of doing karma. It is called अनासक्ति योग . He is good example of working without attachment. His body, mind or senses are not attached. It is like sunlight. Good or bad things happen in sunlight. But the sun ever remains unattached or anasakti.

Shri Ramakrishna gives a good example. A person who is attached to result  and has sense of ownership is like a wet

coconut. The copra or meat is attached to the shell. One who has no ownership (karta)  is like a dry coconut. If you shake it you get a rattling sound. It indicates that the meat of coconut is separated from the shell. It is called anasakti

It is true that any karma gives a result or phala. One who enjoys the result acquires new vasana which in turn results in a new birth to exhasust the vasana. In this way men are swirled into a vortex of birth and death. Krishna says, the solution to this problem is not abandoning any karma, but to continue with the karma detaching oneself with the sense or doership and longing for its reward. This is what he is also doing. So the karmas do not contaminate him (लिम्पन्ति). The reflection of the sun in a tray of water depends on the quality of water – clear, muddy, still or agitated. Such a reflection makes no change in the sun. Similalrly it is the ego which sufferes the taints of evil tendencies or anxiety for the fruits of action. The self, in its pure consciousness is neutral and not affected. It ever remains clean.

इति माम् यः अभिजानाति कर्मभि न सः बध्यते – He who thus knows me in reality is not bound by actions. अभिजानाति knows me one who has identified with the self and renounced his identification with the limited ego and has re-discovered himself to be one other than the self. He knows the self as his real nature and not as an object of knowledge, separate from the ‘knower’ in us. One who knows this secret of mine as freedom in spite of responsibility not freedom from activity. What is this secret knowledge? Verse no 18 onwards.


VERSE 4: 15

Your ancients performed dutiful  actions without attachment and desire. They

obtained liberation. So you also perform dutiful actions and obtain freedom.


एवं ज्ञात्वा कृतं कर्म पूर्वैरपि मुमुक्षुभिः।

कुरु कर्मैव तस्मात्त्वं पूर्वैः पूर्वतरं कृतम्॥४:१५॥

ēvaṁ jñātvā kr̥taṁ karma pūrvairapi mumukṣubhiḥ|

kuru karmaiva tasmāttvaṁ pūrvaiḥ pūrvataraṁ kr̥tam||4:15||


एवम् –thus ज्ञात्वा-having known कृतम्-was performed कर्म-actions  पूर्वैः-by he ancients अपि-also मुमुक्षुभिः-seekers of liberation कुरु-perform कर्म-action एव-even तस्मात्-therefore  त्वम्-you पूर्वैः-by ancients पूर्वतरम्-in ancient days कृतम्-was performed


एवम् ज्ञात्वा कृतम् कर्म पूर्वैः अपि  मुमुक्षुभिः  कुरु कर्म एव तस्मात्  त्वम् पूर्वैः पूर्वतरम् कृतम्

ēvam jñātvā kr̥tam karma pūrvaiḥ api  mumukṣubhiḥ  kuru karma ēva tasmāt  tvam pūrvaiḥ pūrvataram kr̥tam


Having known this,  dutiful action was performed by the ancient seekers of liberation. Threfore you too perform dutiful actions even as did the ancients of bygone ages.


एवम् ज्ञात्वा कृतम् कर्म पूर्वैः अपि मुमुक्षुभिः a mumukshu is a seeker of liberation. Having known that even God performs action albeit free from feeling of possession and doership, attachment and desire for fruit, wise men in bygone era also continued to work for the benefit of society.

कुरु कर्म एव तस्मात् त्वम् पूर्वैः पूर्वतरम् कृतम् –Arjuna! The secret of knowledge is not so secret. All your forefathers gained self- knowledge. You also do similalarly as did the ancients. The purport is Arjuna, fight in the battlefield as a duty to God.

“The scriptures warn us that even advanced devotees fall from heights if they do not work. Outward renunciation

without right activity and meditation is dangerous. It concentrates mind on poisoned pleasure of senses that are supposedly relinquished. Without joy and ecstacy of meditation and service the idle mind becomes abode of evil thoughts. Non- activity leads to mental sloth, sense attachment, and loss of God-consciouness. A good businessman is better than a slothful monk”.  You cannot give up karma and so better try to accept karma. How can I remain in the action without being disturbed. Jnyanam is the only solution. you can remain unaffected both by action as well as result of action. Like the sticky latex exudates of jack fruit. Apply coconut oil. In the same way do all karma with the insulation of jnyana. Krishna gives his own example तस्य कर्तारम् अपि माम्  विद्धि . Still he has no interest in karma phala. Tathapi akartaram mam viddhi. Untainted by the action. I am avyayam undisturbed. I am shrushti karta, sthitikarta, laya karta and these are also my duties.

VERSE 4: 16

Even the wise are puzzled as to what is action and what is inaction.

I shall explain to you action. Knowing this you will be freed from evil.


किं कर्म किमकर्मेति कवयोऽप्यत्र मोहिताः।

तत्ते कर्म प्रवक्ष्यामि यज्ज्ञात्वा मोक्ष्यसेऽशुभात्॥४:१६॥

kiṁ karma kimakarmēti kavayō:’pyatra mōhitāḥ|

tattē karma pravakṣyāmi yajjñātvā mōkṣyasē:’śubhāt||4:16||


किम् कर्म किम् अकर्म इति कवयोः अपि अत्र मोहिताः तत् ते  कर्म प्रवक्ष्यामि यत् ज्ज्ञात्वा मोक्ष्यसे अशुभात्   ॥४:१६॥


kim karma kim akarma iti kavayaḥ api atra mōhitāḥ tat tē  karma pravakṣyāmi yat jjñātvā mōkṣyasē aśubhāt   ||4:16||


किम्-what कर्म-action किम्-what अकर्म-inaction इति-thus कवयः- men of intelligence अपि-also अत्र-in this मोहिताः-deluded; puzzled तत्-that ते-to you कर्म-the truth about action प्रवक्ष्यामि-expound यत्-which ज्ञात्वा-having known मोक्ष्यसे-you will be liberated अशुभात्-from evil (binding)


What is action and what is inaction? Even the men of intelligence are puzzled over this question. Therefore I shall explain to you the truth about action , having known which you will be freed from its evil effect (binding nature).

किम् कर्म किम् अकर्म इति कवयः अपि अत्र मोहिताः –I will explain to you what is action and what is inaction. Even the learned are puzzled over this mystery.

When we understand the nature of action (karma) and inaction (akarma) we will become free from all impurity in the form of the conditioning resulting from action/inaction which we commonly call karma. This implies that such knowing is purely a spiritual matter and must be approached accordingly. It also implies that all karma, positive and negative, are blockages to spiritual progress. We need to keep this in mind, as we tend to think of karma only in the sense of “bad karma.”

कवयः –The word kavayah  in this verse stand for men of intelligence, well versed in scriptures. Even they are at a loss to understand what is karma and what is akarma, what is the proper or right action and what is evil action.

As to what is action and what is inaction there are several opinions.

  1. The commonest perception is movement of body and its part is action and cessation of movment, keeping still is inaction.
  2. Action is that which has ought to be done and has sanction of scriptures. Inaction signifies refraining from all actions.
  3. Only actions performed with divine consciousness may be termed right action and action performed with ego consciousness may be termed as wrong action.
  4. Commission and omission of action with good motive is called good action and commission and omission done with malafide motive is called evil action.
  5. Accrding to the motive behind it, an action can become bad or inaction can become good. Threfore only an illuminated soul knows what is action and inaction.

“The difference between good action and ill action can be recognized if one keeps a constant vigil on all activities of the mind, speech and body.  When a yogi eats a meal (nothing wrong in it) he eats to keep the body alive to enable for his Sadhanas. If he likes the taste and overeats, that is when the danger starts. His soul forgets to use the body and senses as its instruments and servants.   “When the soul becomes identified with the body, its consciousness is turned senseward and away from communion with God”. -Yogananda

तत् ते कर्म प्रवक्ष्यामि यत् ज्ञात्वा मोक्ष्यसे अशुभात् –I shall expound to you this knowledge, knowing which you will be freed from the binding nature of the karma.


VERSE 4: 17

Know what is karma, akarma and vikarma

कर्मणो ह्यपि बोद्धव्यं बोद्धव्यं च विकर्मणः।

अकर्मणश्च बोद्धव्यं गहना कर्मणो गतिः॥४:१७॥


karmaṇō hyapi bōddhavyaṁ bōddhavyaṁ ca vikarmaṇaḥ|

akarmaṇaśca bōddhavyaṁ gahanā karmaṇō gatiḥ||4:17||


कर्मणः हि अपि  बोद्धव्यम्  बोद्धव्यम्  च विकर्मणः अकर्मणः च बोद्धव्यम्  गहना कर्मणः गतिः ॥४:१७॥

karmaṇaḥ hi api  bōddhavyam  bōddhavyam  ca vikarmaṇaḥ akarmaṇaḥ ca bōddhavyam  gahanā karmaṇaḥ gatiḥ ||4:17||


कर्मणः-the truth about action अपि-also बोद्धव्यम्-should be known बोद्धव्यम्-should be known च-and  विकर्मणः-truth about forbidden action अकर्मणः-truth about inaction च-also बोद्धव्यम्-should be known गहना-mystery कर्मणः-of action गतिः-the ways.


The true nature of action must be known. So also the true nature of forbidden action and inaction must also be known, for mysterious are the ways of action.


कर्मणः अपि बोद्धव्यम् –You must kow the truth about action, which I will teach you. कर्म Activity अकर्म inactivity विकर्म (viparīta karma) or prohibited action, destructive action or wrong action. An action can be performed by body, mind and intellect. Actions are either नित्य to be performed daily or नैमित्तिक to be performed specially on certain occasions.


Lord Krishna divides all human action into three categories; 1. right or proper action 2.  prohibited action and 3. inaction. He says true nature of all these types of actions should be understood.

Right Action: कर्मणः

“All activities that lead the mind of the doer away from sense enslavement to soul enjoyment are the proper actions. Under this category comes a wide range of activities that conribute to liberation from the bondage of senses. The senses of the touch, taste, sight, smell and sound (श्रोतम्, त्वक् चक्षुः रसना घ्राणम् )  can be converted into a source of soul awakening by right actions.

Some examples of right action

  1. One has to eat to keep the body healthy and fit. He can perorm duty for the benefit of himself and society. This is karma of right action

If he overeats falling pray to cravings it becomes prohibited action

  1. Similary harmonious music and sweet words can be converted into soul-awakening action leading to liberation.

But he, who becomes a slave to music or sweet words of flattery becomes a prey to bondage. If a piece of music has no holy vibration, it arises frivoulous, nervous or even base emotions it becomes vikarma.

  1. Similarly careless indulgence in enjoyment of other senses will lead to karmic bondage”.-Yogananda
  2. All the actions enjoined in scriptures are right actions.

Prohibited action विकर्म, निशिद्ध कर्म

बोद्धव्यम् च विकर्मणः – You must know the truth about prohibited action.

While some actions are specifically prohibited in the scriptures. सत्यं वद । धर्मं चर । स्वाध्यायान्मा प्रमदितव्यम् . Do not tell lies. Respect elders and teachers. Do not kill cows or eat their flesh. All actions against this injunction is called prohibited action.

Many others, discussed as daivi (holy) and devilish actions in Gita. Daivi sampatti are good actions and asuri sampatti are prohibited actions. “Any action harmful to the body, mind and senses are wrong actions and have to be avoided. Overindulgence in the senses of touch, taste, sight, smell and sound although initially gives enjoyment in the long run they cause enslavement of senses and deprive them happiness and health.

All actions done under the spur of anger, lust, and fear are prohibited actions. Malafide actions are prohibited actions. All actions which help others is right actions and those which harm other people and animals is wrong action. परॊपकाराय पुण्याय पापाय परपीडनम्

Inaction अकर्मणः

अकर्मणः च बोद्धव्यम् – You must kow the truth about inaction.

  1. Normally cessation of all activities are said to be inaction.
  2. Inaction also happens when the devotee has freed himself from karma producing actions by constantly doing Nishkama karma and gaining the knowledge of the supreme. Then there is no need for him to do any action and still whatever he does qualifies to become inaction.
  3. Actions done by निश्काम बुद्धि and अनासक्ति qualify to be called as akarma. Bhagavan says in chapter 3 verse 9 that यज्ञार्थात् क्रुतम् कर्म is said to be akarma.

गहना कर्मणः गतिः-Mysterious are the ways of action. गतिः means swarupa or nature.


verse  4: 18

One who recognizes inaction in action and action in inaction is a wise man

Karma yoga 18-24

कर्मण्यकर्म यः पश्येदकर्मणि च कर्म यः।

स बुद्धिमान्मनुष्येषु स युक्तः कृत्स्नकर्मकृत्॥४:१८॥

karmaṇyakarma yaḥ paśyēdakarmaṇi ca karma yaḥ|

sa buddhimānmanuṣyēṣu sa yuktaḥ kr̥tsnakarmakr̥t||4:18||


कर्मणि अकर्मः यः पश्येत् अकर्मणि च कर्म यः सः बुद्धिमान् मनुष्येषु सः युक्तः कृत्स्नकर्मकृत्

karmaṇi akarma yaḥ paśyēt akarmaṇi ca karma yaḥ saḥ buddhimān manuṣyēṣu saḥ yuktaḥ kr̥tsnakarmakr̥t


कर्मणि- in action अकर्मः -inaction यः-who  पश्येत्-would see अकर्मणि-in inaction च-and  कर्म-action यः-who सः-he बुद्धिमान्-wise मनुष्येषु-in men सः-he युक्तः-yogi कृत्स्नकर्मकृत्-one who has performed all actions discovered purnatvam at a higher level


He who recognizes inaction in action and action in inaction is wise among men; for he is a yogi and has attained the goal of all actions.


In the previous verse the lord spoke about karma, vikarma and  akarma; but here he mentions only karma and akarma, Why? ViKarma or sinful actions or prohibited action is also a karma. So in this verse only karma and akarma are dealt with.


कर्मणि अकर्मः यः पश्येत् –one who sees inaction in action.  As ordinarily understood the word karma or action denotes all activities of the body, mind, intellect and senses. All human activities are either outwardly to sensory world, or inwardly to soul consciousness. A materially minded man employs all his activities to increase his physical, mental ,domestic or social welfare. He works with a motive of desire to enjoy its result. So he is the karta and bhokta (doer and enjoyer). All his karma or actions  are self centred, cause more and more

attachment  leading to hatred or fear although he may reap a temporary pleasure. Such a karma causes more bondage and results in rebirth.

On the other hand if a man does an altruistic work which benefits a large number of people it becomes akarma. It is said that a prostitute by name Shantavva built a large tank called Sulekere in Chennagiri Taluk of Davanagere District in Karnataka. It a large tank of 27 Km. It is now named as Shanti Sagar tank. Since this lady of immoral profession, build a tank for the benefit of a large number of people, she had no self-centric motive. This act constitutes कर्मणि अकर्मः.

Thee is a school who charge heavy ees from students for their good education and facility. Suppose they provide some scholarship and freeship that constitutes akarma. Thre is always a possibility of turning a karma into akarma.

 If the man does any vikarma or prohibited and sinful action his vasanas take him to birth in a lower species. The

bootleggers, burglers, cheats come in this category.

This is the x-ray of karma. A yogi will see the possibility of performing all the actions for the pleasure of God. Then it becomes akarma.

पश्येत् अकर्मणि च कर्म यः – action in inaction. A yogi on the other hand, also does all activities in the world; with two material differences. He works for the pleasure of God, without attachment, free from desire of fruit , feeling of egoism and sense of possession. Such an action or karma does not lead to rebirth. This is called inaction in action.

सः बुद्धिमान् मनुष्येषु सः युक्तः कृत्स्नकर्मकृत् A person who sees action in inaction and inaction in action is  wise among the people. He is called a yogi because he has realized God. There is no duty left for him. He has the object of his life fulfilled. So he is spoken of as having performed all actions (कृत्स्नकर्मकृत्).


VERSE 4: 19

The karma of a man whose undertakings are free from desire

 and  attachment are burnt up by fire of wisdom.


यस्य सर्वे समारम्भाः कामसंकल्पवर्जिताः।

ज्ञानाग्निदग्धकर्माणं तमाहुः पण्डितं बुधाः॥४:१९॥


yasya sarvē samārambhāḥ kāmasaṁkalpavarjitāḥ|

jñānāgnidagdhakarmāṇaṁ tamāhuḥ paṇḍitaṁ budhāḥ||4:19||

यस्य सर्वे समारम्भाः कामसंकल्पवर्जिताः

ज्ञानाग्निदग्धकर्माणम् तम् आहुः पण्डितम्  बुधाः ॥४:१९॥

yasya sarvē samārambhāḥ kāmasaṁkalpavarjitāḥ jñānāgnidagdhakarmāṇam tam āhuḥ paṇḍitam  budhāḥ ||4:19||


यस्य- whose सर्वे -all  समारम्भाः-undertakings कामसंकल्पवर्जिताः-tasks devoid of desire and  expectaions ज्ञानाग्निदग्धकर्माणं- whose actions have been burnt by the fire of knowledge

तम्- him आहुः-call पण्डितम्-a sage बुधाः-wise.


The wise call him a sage, whose undertakings are free from desire and expectations and whose actions are burnt up by the fire of wisdom.


यस्य सर्वे समारम्भाः –he, whose all persuits or undertakings. Samarambha means all duties prescribed by scriptures like performing sacrifice, charity, austerity, study and teaching. It also covers all social and wordly activities. A jnyani is also active and ajnyani is also active. But ajnyani’s activity is

compelled by desire and expectations for favourable results.

कामसंकल्पवर्जिताः –are free from desire and expections of favourable results. All such activies are without selfish plan or longing for results. “The yogi enthusiastically plans his divinely inspired activities in order to achieve the best results for God, not for himself. He does the duties more attentively to please God than he ever would do to satisfy his personal desires.”-Yogananda

A man becomes free from bondage of karma when he gives up all sankalpa of obtaining benefit of the work for himself. That means karma is not responsible for our bondage. Our mindset is responsible.

Ramakrishna: While opening jackfruit, one smears coconut oil to the palm. By this the latex of the fruit does not stick to your palm. You can easily separate the bulbs. Similarly if we apply vairgya to the mind before starting a work, no bondage affects us. How to apply vairagya. Think of all work as god’s work and your  duty is to do it well.

ज्ञानाग्निदग्धकर्माणं –and whose actions are burnt up by the fire of wisdom. A surgeon sterilizes his instruments by boiling in water before surgery to kill all the germs attached to them. Similarly a jnyani burns desires and attachments in the fire of knowledge before he undertakes a karma.

Just as fire reduces the fuel into ashes, the fire of wisdom reduces all actions to ashes.  The same idea is repeated in Verse 37 of this chapter 4. Here is the shloka.

यथैधांसि समिद्धोऽग्निर्भस्मसात्कुरुतेऽर्जुन।

ज्ञानाग्निः सर्वकर्माणि भस्मसात्कुरुते तथा॥४:३७॥


O Arjuna! As the blazing sun reduces the fuel to ashes, so does the fire of wisdom burn down to ashes all of one’s karma.The fire of wisdom means the true knowledge of God.


So a jnyani does not generate agami karma (tatva bodha) just like a roasted seed cannot germinate. By fire of wisdom, a jnyani burns down all agami karma.

तम् आहुः पण्डितम् बुधाः-the wise call him a sage. Panda is self knowledge, पण्डितम्  means endlowed with self-knowledge.


VERSE 4: 20


Karma becomes akarma  by relinquishing attachment to fruit of action

त्यक्त्वा कर्मफलासङ्गं नित्यतृप्तो निराश्रयः।

कर्मण्यभिप्रवृत्तोऽपि नैव किंचित्करोति सः॥४:२०॥

tyaktvā karmaphalāsaṅgaṁ nityatr̥ptō nirāśrayaḥ|

karmaṇyabhipravr̥ttō:’pi naiva kiṁcitkarōti saḥ||4:20||


त्यक्त्वा कर्मफलासङ्गम् नित्यतृप्तः निराश्रयः कर्मणि ऎव अभिप्रवृत्तः अपि न एव  किंचित् करोति सः ॥४:२०॥


tyaktvā karmaphalāsaṅgam nityatr̥ptaḥ nirāśrayaḥ karmaṇi eva abhipravr̥ttaḥ api na ēva   kiṁcit karōti saḥ ||4:20||


त्यक्त्वा- having abandoned कर्मफलासङ्गम्-attachment to fruits of action नित्यतृप्तः-ever content निराश्रयः-who no longer depends on world कर्मणि-in action अभिप्रवृत्तः-duly engaged अपि-even न-not एव-verily किंचित्-anything करॊति- perform any binding action सः-he


One who has abandoned selfish attachment to the fruits of work and remains ever content and dependent on nothing but God, such a person though fully engaged in activity does not perform any binding action.   


त्यक्त्वा कर्मफलासङ्गम् –having relinquished attachments to the fruits of his action, emotional dependence.  A yogi continues to do all actions for the good of others. But he does not develop a personal attachment to the fruits of his action. He performs to his best for pleasing God and not a man.

नित्यतृप्तः निराश्रयः – ever content, not dependent on any wordly support. He depends only on God.

सः कर्मणि अभिप्रवृत्तः अपि न एव किंचित् करॊति Such a jnyani,  although engaged in all activities does not add to his vasanas. “A  yogi who apparently ‘works’for God, just to please Him, does not really act at all; for his actions have no connection with the interests of his own ego. The problem of ‘action’ and ‘inaction’becomes simple when one understands that, just as  the sun is not responsible for the good and bad actions done by men in sunlight, so a yogi is not karmically bound to the actions of that stranger, his body. It is impossible for a

devotee who has merged himself in the vastness of spirit to consider himself confined to any human personality. What activities a yogi engages in are in the nature of an impersonal –carrying out His orders”. -Yogananda

नित्यतृप्तः – feels fulfillment by activity.  अहम् पूर्णः अस्मि. I don’t depend psychologically on any external factor. Physical dependence on external world cannot be avoided.

“This state of freedom in inaction is in marked contrast to the action of a karma-accruing worldly man who may engage in philanthropic activities for the satisfaion of his ego, or for gaining praise from others or for escaping income tax!”

So, there are 3 prerequisites to escape binding karma of an action. These are: anasakata karma, nityatripta and nirashraya


VERSE 4: 21

A yogi whose mind and senses are under control

Incurs  no sin by performing bodily functions

निराशीर्यतचित्तात्मा त्यक्तसर्वपरिग्रहः।

शारीरं केवलं कर्म कुर्वन्नाप्नोति किल्बिषम्॥४:२१॥

nirāśīryatacittātmā tyaktasarvaparigrahaḥ|

śārīraṁ kēvalaṁ karma kurvannāpnōti kilbiṣam||4:21||


निराशीः र्यतचित्तात्मा त्यक्तसर्वपरिग्रहः शारीरम्  केवलम् कर्म कुर्वन् न आप्नोति किल्बिषम्  ॥४:२१॥

nirāśīḥ ryatacittātmā tyaktasarvaparigrahaḥ śārīram  kēvalam karma kurvan na āpnōti kilbiṣam  ||4:21||


निराशीः- without expecting worldly support यतचित्तात्मा -one who has controlled his mind and body त्यक्तसर्वपरिग्रहः-having abandoned all possessions, objects of enjoyment शारीरम्-bodily केवलम्- merely कर्म- action कुर्वन्-performing  न- not अप्नोति-obtains किल्बिषम्-sin


He incurs no sin performing mere bodily actions, whose mind and senses are under control; who has renounced all sense of possession; and is free from all delusive worldly hopes.


निराशीः र्यतचित्तात्मा त्यक्तसर्वपरिग्रहः

How a man gets a moratorium from bondage of papa and punya? Krishna says there are three prerequisites.

  1. निराशीः–This is the first requirement, free from desire. An individual who does not expect any worldy object and who has totally given up all forms of wish, desire and craving. He dose not lack anything in life he is complete

आशायाः यो दासः सः दासः सर्व लोकस्य

One who is a servant of desires and attachment  becomes a servant of sinners like, drunkards, cheats, and anti-socials. 

आशा यॆशाम् दासी तेषा दासयतॆ लोकः

One who has mastered desire, becomes the master of the world.

  1. यतचित्तात्मा– An individual whose mind and senses are free from attractions and repulsions and are not influenced by sense objects of शब्द sound स्पर्श touch रूप sight रस taste गन्ध smell. He may be houseolder or a recluse. One who has mastered his body- mind complex by sadhana is called यतचित्तात्मा. Atma means body. Chitta is mind.


  1. त्यक्तसर्वपरिग्रहः–An individual who claims nothing as his own and has no desisre to hoard objects of enjoyments. He may also be a house –holder or a recluse (Sanyasi).

All the above three prerequisites are necessary if our actions are to be neutrilized and exempted from sin. They are complementary to one another. So they are mentioned together.


शारीरम् केवलम् कर्म कुर्वन् –He incurs no sin by performing mere bodily actions. Karmic bondage is caused not by the actions of the body and mind. If the body is in subjugation of  ego with the delusions of desires and attachments, the body and mind become subject to the natural laws of cause- and effect. Every good or bad karma, action or inaction entails bondage. But when the true self or soul, the image of God in man, is in command, the body and mind work just the same, but the enslaving effects of those actions remain neutralized because there is no agent of delusion of desire and attachment.  Thus a yogi who is निराशीः यतचित्तात्मा, त्यक्तसर्वपरिग्रहः incurs no karmic bondage.

न अप्नोति किल्बिषम् –does not incur sin or evil. Since he does not have ego karma will not produce punya or papa.

First qualification is freedom from desire. He has no fear of incurring papa because the mind instead of running towards external objects turn inward.  Second qualification is control of mind and senses. The third qualification is non-acceptence. These three are complimentary.  This if a perfect example of indulgding in karma without incurring bondage.


कर्मण्यकर्म यः पश्येदकर्मणि च कर्म यः।


स बुद्धिमान् मनुष्येषु स युक्तः कृत्स्नकर्मकृत्।।4.18।।


VERSE 4: 22


A nishkama karmayogi is immune from karmic action

यदृच्छालाभसंतुष्टो द्वन्द्वातीतो विमत्सरः।

समः सिद्धावसिद्धौ च कृत्वापि न निबध्यते॥४:२२॥

yadr̥cchālābhasaṁtuṣṭō dvandvātītō vimatsaraḥ|

samaḥ siddhāvasiddhau ca kr̥tvāpi na nibadhyatē ||4:22||


यदृच्छालाभसंतुष्टः द्वन्द्वातीतः विमत्सरः समः सिद्धौ असिद्धौ च कृत्वा अपि न निबध्यते ॥४:२२॥

yadr̥cchālābhasaṁtuṣṭaḥ dvandvātītaḥ vimatsaraḥ samaḥ siddhau asiddhau ca kr̥tvā api na nibadhyatē ||4:22||


यदृच्छालाभसंतुष्टः- content with whatever comes to him unsought द्वन्द्वातीतः-free from the pairs of the opposites (like joy and sarrow) विमत्सरः-free from envy समः-even minded सिद्धौ-in success असिद्धौ- in failure च- and कृत्वा-acting अपि-even न-not निबध्यते-is bound.


That man of action who is contended with whatever is got unsought, has transcended all pairs of opposites; is free from jealousy, and who is balanced in success and failure, is not bound by karma.


यदृच्छा लाभ संतुष्टः-whatever comes naturally for fulfilling needs of his body,mind, and soul. If something comes to him due to the efforts of some one else it is called परेछा लाभ. My work and effort is only one of the contributing factors for my future. Others are God’s wish and my vasanas etc. संतुष्टः. A contented man is ever happy and fulfilled within himself. A yogi performs all the activities for the sake of God and gracefully accepts whatever comes by as a blessing of God ईष्वर प्रसादम्.  A lazy man shunning all work and responsibility cannot be a संतुष्टः or contended in himself. His mind is selfish, always restless, and succumbs to good or bad results. Only a jnyani can have a contented mind. Accumulation of wealth should not be our only goal. Side by side we must try to progress in the direction of liberation.

द्वन्द्वातीतः-free from the pairs of opposites. The pairs of opposites are heat and cold, happiness and greif, profit and loss. “To attain spiritual freedom, one must learn to free his mind from these externals. This advice does not mean that the yogi has to expsose himself to extreme cold and catch a pneumonia! It is important to realize that the opposites are a part of life not only for humans but all living beings.” -Yogananda Just as you cannot wait in a beach for the waves to subside so that you can enter the water; in the life also you cannot wait for the pairs of opposistes to subside to enable you to study Vedanta. Gita advices one to develope तितीक्षा or dispassionate endurance even while adopting reasonable measures to remove external discomfort. One should learn to face these opposites calmly without becoming a slave of the world. Whatever comes to me has to be accepted.


य: सर्वत्रानभिस्नेहस्तत्तत्प्राप्य शुभाशुभम् |

नाभिनन्दति न द्वेष्टि तस्य प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठिता ॥2 : 57॥


One who remains unattached under all conditions, and is neither delighted by good fortune nor dejected by tribulation, he is a sage with perfect knowledge.


विमत्सरः-not envious. Hatred and jealousy may be embedded in the mind of even aspiring devotees who have made some progress. मत्सर or envy is a morbid feeling which arises at the sight of others advance in learning, wisdom, wealth, honour fame etc. नीतिशास्त्र says envy is a hindrance to good conduct. Krsihna says envy is a hindrance to Jnyana or wisdom. Here is the shloka.

 इदं तु ते गुह्यतमं प्रवक्ष्याम्यनसूयवे ।

 ज्ञानं विज्ञानसहितं यज्ज्ञात्वा मोक्ष्यसेऽशुभात् ॥९:१॥

idaṁ tu tē guhyatamaṁ pravakṣyāmyanasūyavē | jñānaṁ vijñānasahitaṁ yajjñātvā mōkṣyasē:’śubhāt ||9:1||


To you the un-carping one, I shall now reveal the secret knowledge, the knowledge of Nirguna Brahma and the knowledge of manifest Divinity,  knowing which you shall escape the evil of worldly existence ||9:1||


 Also in 12th chapter while describing a bhakta, Krishna says that matsarya is a hindrance to knowledge. A karma yogi is free from this morbidity. He is called vimatsara.


समः सिद्धौ असिद्धौ च He remains even-minded, balanced or poised in success and failure. The word सिद्धि  has many other meanings in addition to success. It means thorough accomplishment, fruition of an activity, positive culmination, and acquiring  an uncommon skill or knowledge. Hanuman is said to have obtained सिद्धि  of eight skills. The opposite of siddhi is asiddhi. A worldy man becomes jubilant at the advent of pleasure and depressed during the reign of pain. A self-contented man is always inwardly calm, unruffled by the various upheavels that is a part of life.


अणिमा  महिमा  चैव  लघिमा  गरिमा  तथा |

प्राप्तिः प्राकाम्यमीशित्वं वशित्वं चाष्ट सिद्धयः ||


 कृत्वा अपि न निबध्यते– Though acting, he is not bound by karmic actions. A man has inharent right to work is the assurance given by Krishna in 02:47. The verse is here below:


कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन ।मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि ॥२:४७॥

karmayēvādhikārastē mā phalēṣu kadācana |mā karmaphalahēturbhūrmā tē saṅgō:’stvakarmaṇi ||2:47||


Your right is to work only, but never to its fruits, let not the fruit of action be your motive, nor let your attachment be to inaction.


It is hardly possible for man to renounce work altogether. (03:5)

न हि कश्चित् क्षणमपि जातु तिष्ठत्यकर्मक्रतॄ

कार्यते ह्यवशः कर्म सर्वः प्रकृतिजैः गुणैः ॥३ -०५॥

na hi kaścit kaamapi jātu tiṣṭhatyakarmakratr̥̄| kāryatē hyavaśaḥ karma sarvaḥ prakr̥tijaiḥ guṇaiḥ ||3 -05||


Surely, no one can stay for even a moment without working; all are indeed compelled to perform actions willy-nilly, prodded by the qualities (gunas) born of nature (prkruti).


The creator himself commanded man to work. (03:10)

सहयज्ञाः प्रजाः स्रष्ट्वा पुरोवाच प्रजापतिः।

अनेन प्रसविष्यध्वमेष वोस्त्विष्टकामधुक् ॥३ -१०॥

sahayajñāḥ prajāḥ sraṣṭvā purōvāca prajāpatiḥ| anēna prasaviṣyadhvamēṣa vōstviṣṭakāmadhuk ||3 -10||


Prajapati created mankind as well as yajna in the beginning of creation and said – “You shall prosper by this; this will be the milch cow of your longings”


 ‘Krishna is urging Arjuna to engage in battle, assuring him that if he commits to right action, he will incur no negative karma.  If this is true of warfare, how can we hesitate to engage

VERSE 4: 23


All the karmic bondages of a jnyani who performs

activity in a spirit of “yajnya” are dissolved

गतसङ्गस्य मुक्तस्य ज्ञानावस्थितचेतसः।

यज्ञायाचरतः कर्म समग्रं प्रविलीयते॥४:२३॥

gatasaṅgasya muktasya jñānāvasthitacētasaḥ|

yajñāyācarataḥ karma samagraṁ pravilīyatē||4:23||


गतसङ्गस्य मुक्तस्य ज्ञानावस्थितचेतसः यज्ञाय आचरतः कर्म समग्रम् प्रविलीयते

gatasaṅgasya muktasya jñānāvasthitacētasaḥ yajñāya ācarataḥ karma samagram pravilīyatē


गतसङ्गस्य- one whose attachment has disappeared मुक्तस्य- of the liberated ज्ञानावस्थितचेतसः-whose mind is established in knowledge of self यज्ञाय-for sacrifice आचरतः-acting कर्म-action समग्रम्-whole प्रविलीयते-is dissolved


The karma of one who is free from attachments, who is

liberated , whose mind is established in the knowledge of self, and who does action only as a yajnya, is wholly dissolved.


गतसङ्गस्य मुक्तस्य Karma of one who is free from attachments.The first priority for a seeker is to become free from attachments. Some tree branches cab be cut off  and planted again to grow a new dtree. It is because it is still green meaning it has attachment.  If the branches are dried it cannot be re-planted. Similalry a roasted seed does not germinate. They have lost attachment.

The action performed by a jnyani and ajnyani are same. A

jnyani performs action with a sense of ownership and desire for fruit. So, he becomes victim of birth and death, happiness and grief. He is subject to the laws of karma. But a jnyani performs without attachment (गतसङ्गः मुक्तः). He has no interest in the consequence of action, therefore he is free form


It is like sewing up a patch-up work without tying a knot in the end. Any amount of sewing becomes futile.


ज्ञानावस्थितचेतसः one whose mind is established in the knowledge of self.  His mind is centred in wisdom. This

phenomenon of perfect detachment, which produces a sense of complete liberation, can be accomplished only when the mind of the seeker gets centred in the knowledge of self. Such a person is a jnyana yogi and sees Brahman everywhere. 

यज्ञाय आचरतः कर्म

he who does action only as a sacrifice. A yogi is doing all actions like others but the difference is that he does it as a

service to god or for the benefit of society. He has no self

interest. He does not feel it is done by ‘me’. Similar

sentiment was expressed in verse 9 of third chapter. Here is the Shloka

यज्ञार्थात्कर्मणोऽन्यत्र लोकोऽयं कर्मबन्धनः।
तदर्थं कर्म कौन्तेय मुक्तसङ्गः समाचार ॥३ -९॥


yajñārthātkarmaṇō:’nyatra lōkō:’yaṁ karmabandhanaḥ|

tadarthaṁ karma kauntēya muktasaṅgaḥ samācāra ||3 -9||


A man is karmikally bound by actions save those performed for the sake of yajnya. So, Arjuna, perform your duty with a spirit of yajnya, free from attachment.


समग्रम् प्रविलीयते

All actionsare wholly dissolved.  All his actions are dissolved without adding punya or papa. That means they do not add to agami karma. Actions done in the past and in the present life melt away meaning do not cause any bondage. An ajnyani acts for happiness. A jnyani acts out of happiness.


VERSE 4: 24


All -pervading Brahman is explained by example of fire sacrifie

ब्रह्मार्पणं ब्रह्म हविर्ब्रह्माग्नौ ब्रह्मणा हुतम्।

ब्रह्मैव तेन गन्तव्यं ब्रह्मकर्मसमाधिना॥४:२४॥

brahmārpaṇaṁ brahma havirbrahmāgnau brahmaṇā hutam|

brahmaiva tēna gantavyaṁ brahmakarmasamādhinā||4:24||


ब्रह्म अर्पणम् ब्रह्म हविः र्ब्रह्माग्नौ ब्रह्मणा हुतम्

ब्रह्म एव तेन गन्तव्यम् ब्रह्मकर्मसमाधिना

brahma arpaṇam brahma haviḥ rbrahmāgnau brahmaṇā hutam brahma ēva tēna gantavyam brahmakarmasamādhinā


The next six verse  are concerned  with twelve types of rituals (types of yajnya) that are performed by different aspirants. A Hindu ritual is followed by offering of Prasad, to indicate again, symbolically -the receiving of God’s grace. Arati or light  too, is taken to everyone, that all may receive God’s light symbolically into themselves. Paramahamsa Yogananda says, The Christian Eucharist too, represents commemoration of last supper, where the ceremony is traditionally followed by receiving bread and wine, symbolic of the blessings brought to mankind by Jesus. So far Krishna talked about jnyana as differencing between atma and anatma- body and consciousness.

ब्रह्म – is Brahman, the absolute अर्पणम्–oblation (ghee, tools like vessels, ladle etc; used for consigning)  हविः –havis or ghee  र्ब्रह्माग्नौ –in the fire of Brahman  ब्रह्मणा-by Brahman  हुतम् –is offered ब्रह्म –Brahman  एव -only  तेन –by him  गन्तव्यम् –the goal to be attained  ब्रह्मकर्मसमाधिना –by the man who is absorbed in Brahman as action


Brahman is the tool of oblation; Brahman is the oblation (ghee);  Brahman is the fire into which oblation is poured; Brahman himself is the person who performs sacrifice ;  Brahman is the goal to be reached.  By realizing this, being ever absorbed in Brahman during all activities, verily such one goes to Brahman.


This is a famous mantra which is chanted by HIndus as a prayer at the dining table before they eat their meals,

although, today, many of those who chant this mantra do not understand or care to follow its meaning.

ब्रह्म अर्पणम् ब्रह्म हविः र्ब्रह्माग्नौ ब्रह्मणा हुतम्

The tool of oblation, and ghee pured into the ritual fire are nothing but Brahman. It is Brhama who pours the ghee into the fire. The fire is indeed Brhaman.

This is the ultimate truth of advaita Vedanta. One who has understood it completely can only have a intellectual knowledge. It is only after self-realization that the real menaing of this verse can be experienced. Since, yagnya rituals were common at the time of Krishna, he has illustrated the knowledge through this example.

Swami Samartha Ramdas, in his book Manache shlok (मनाचे श्लोक) has given a new dimension for this verse. He compares the food we consume as a yajnya for God. Here is the shloka

वदनि कवळ घेता नाम घ्या श्रीहरीचे ।
सहज हवन होते नाम घेता फुकाचे ।
जिवन करि जिवित्वा अन्न हे पूर्णब्रह्म ।
उदरभरण नोहे जाणिजे यज्ञकर्म ॥१॥


At the time of eating let us think of Him

Effortlessly it becomes an oblation to Him

Partaking is a spiritual act

Not filling up the tummy but a fire sacrifice.







Rice, sabji,




Digestive power


By Brahma

By the individua


Process of yajnya



The goal to be attained


The following table shows how eating becomes a sacrifice



ब्रह्म – is Brahman, the absolute अर्पणम्–oblation (ghee, tools like vessels, ladle etc; used for consigning)  हविः –havis or ghee  र्ब्रह्माग्नौ –in the fire of Brahman  ब्रह्मणा-by Brahman  हुतम् –is offered ब्रह्म –Brahman  एव -only  तेन –by him  गन्तव्यम् –the goal to be attained  ब्रह्मकर्मसमाधिना –by the man who is absorbed in Brahman as action


ब्रह्म एव तेन गन्तव्यम् ब्रह्मकर्मसमाधिना

Brahma is the goal of sacrifice.

ब्रह्मकर्मसमाधिना Samadhi is absorption. Brahma Samadhi not loosing sight of Brahman in and through all transaction (karma).  A wise person does not loose the sight of essentail principle in all transactions.

Swami Chimayananda says, “The Infinite Reality, which is the changeless substratum behind and beneath the changing panorama of the world, is indicated by the Vedic term Brahman.

 In every Yajna there are four essential factors .

  1. the deity to whom the oblations are offered
  2. the fire in which the offerings are poured.
  3. the material things that constitute the offerings and
  4. the individual who is performing the Yajnya.

Here the stanza explains the mental attitude and the experience of the yogi when he performs the Yajnya. To him Truth alone exists and not the delusory plurality. The truth or Brahman is the performer, the material offered  to the sacred fire is Brahman; the sacrificial fire is Brahman, performer is Brahman.

The same idea is expressed in 3rd chapter. Here are the verses.

annādbhavanti bhūtāni parjanyādannasaṁbhavaḥ

yajñādbhavati parjanyō yajñaḥ karmasamudbhavaḥ ||3 -14||


From food all beings come forth; from rain the food is produced; from yajnya  arises rain; and the yajnya in turn is born of karma

karma bramhōdbhavaṁ viddhi brahmākṣarasamudhbhavam

tasmātsarvagataṁ bramha nityaṁ yajñē pratiṣṭitam ||3 -15||


Know that action (karma) has its origin in the Vedas and the Vedas is derived from the imperishable (the everlasting spirit). Therefore the all-pervading infinite (Brahman) is always present in yajnya.


That is why the Vedas say sarvam brahmamayam jagat. A yogi does not see anything but Brahman. When we give some food to a beggar, our attitude must be that the beggar is Brahman, the food given by me is Brahman. It is given to me  by Brahman.

Swami Vivekananda mentions his bizarre experience when he realized for the first time that everything is Brahman. There is no plurality.

“I was wonderstruck when I experienced this feeling. For a few days my mind was absorbed. I found everything as brahman. I realized that there is nothing other than Brahman. I did not perceive any difference. When I sat down for lunch, I found everything as Brahman. The cook, the food, plate, and water tumbler. I couldn’t proceed with my lunch. I was unaware of my surroundings when at home, or going to college or in the night when I came back home. Sometimes I ate like a glutton and some other times I went without food. My mother was worried if I had somerare  disease. She thought that I may not survive for many more days.

Gradually when I weaned away from this experience, everything appeared as a dream. When I was going to college through Cornwallis square, I dashed against electric poles. I checked whether I am in a dream or waking state. I had the first experience of advaita darshan.


Swami Muktananda: Factually, the objects of the world are made from Maya, the material energy of God. Energy is both one with its energetic and also different from it. For example, light is the energy of fire. It can be considered as different from the fire, because it exists outside it. But it can also be reckoned as a part of the fire itself. Hence, when the rays of the sun enter the room through a window, people say, “The sun has come.” Here, they are bundling the sunrays with the sun. The energy is both distinct from the energetic and yet a part of it.


ज्ञान स्तुति ज्ञान  महिमा  The glory of  jnyana verses 25 to 34

VERSE 4: 25

Daiva yajnya and Brahma yajnya explained

दैवमेवापरे यज्ञं योगिनः पर्युपासते।

ब्रह्माग्नावपरे यज्ञं यज्ञेनैवोपजुह्वति॥४:२५॥

daivamēvāparē yajñaṁ yōginaḥ paryupāsatē|

brahmāgnāvaparē yajñaṁ yajñēnaivōpajuhvati||4:25||


दैवम् एव अपरे यज्ञम् योगिनः पर्युपासते

ब्रह्माग्नौ अपरे यज्ञम् यज्ञेन एव उपजुह्वति

daivam ēva aparē yajñam yōginaḥ paryupāsatē brahmāgnau aparē yajñam yajñēna ēva upajuhvati


दैवम्-Devas or gods   एव-only  अपरे- some यज्ञम्-sacrifice  योगिनः-yogis  पर्युपासते-perform  ब्रह्माग्नौ –in the fire of Brahman  अपरे-while others  यज्ञम्-sacrifice  यज्ञेन-by sacrifice  एव-only  उपजुह्वति- offer as sacrifice


Some yogis perform sacrifice to Devas alone (Deva yajnya). While others offer the self (jiva) as a sacrifice in the fire of Brahman (Brahma yajnya).

 In verse 25 the lord speaks about  two types of yajnya- daiva yajnya and Brahma yajnya.


  1. 5 yajnyas is verse no 25 to 27. Jnyana yajnya self knowledge itself is a form of yajna
  2. Deva yanja ritualistic
  3. Vishaya bhoga yajnha considering every experience as a worship. Entire world consisting of Shabda, Sparsha, rupa, rasa, and gandha is taken as flower. This is offered to the inside lord in the form of atma chaitanya
  4. Indriya samyama yajna or dama yajnya. Sense control is considered as yajna. Observing silence on a particular day. Foregoing particular food item on particular months, practicing silence or mauna is considered a spiritual sadhana or yajnya.These are different types of self control.
  5. Shama yajnya mental discipline. By controlling quantity and quality and direction of thoughts. Monitoring the mind throught out the day. Yajnya is a spiritual discipline.

दैवम् एव अपरे यज्ञम् योगिनः पर्युपासते– Other yogis perform sacrifice only to Devas. The words other yogis has been used to distinguish from the Sadhaka  who has been described in the previous verse as one who sees the substratum of Brahman everywhere.

The word “Deva” comes from a root, meaning ‘illumination. There are two meanings for the word Deva. One is the

celestial deities like Shiva, Vishnu, Indra, Varuna etc. Vedas prescribe several rituals and sacrifices to propitiate the

celestial gods.  Such sacrifices are called Deva yajnya.  The performance of it includes oblations in fire rituals or

disciplines like japa, tapa, dhyana, charity and service for  public good.

Second meaning of the  word “Deva” refers to  five sense organs – ears illumining sounds, the skin illumining touches, the eyes illumining forms and colours, the tongue illumining tastes , and the nose illumining smells. In other words the sense objects are considered to be continuously offering themselves the senses ogans (Devas).


ब्रह्माग्नौ अपरे यज्ञम् यज्ञेन एव उपजुह्वति Others अपरे,  offer the personal self (jiva) as a sacrifice to the cosmic fire of Brahman or spirit. This is called Brahma yajnya. This statement

becomes perfectly clear when subjectively analysed. The yogi identifies himself with Brahman. This is called identity of Jiva and Ishwara. The practice of seeing Brahman everywhere,  as well as the identity module both are practiced by yogis

fallowing the path of knowledge.


VERSE 4: 26


इन्द्रिय निग्रह, control of the senses शब्दादि विशय त्याग abjuring the

 sense objects these two types of yajnya discussed


श्रोत्रादीनीन्द्रियाण्यन्ये संयमाग्निषु जुह्वति।

शब्दादीन्विषयानन्य इन्द्रियाग्निषु जुह्वति॥४:२६॥

śrōtrādīnīndriyāṇyanyē saṁyamāgniṣu juhvati|

śabdādīnviṣayānanya indriyāgniṣu juhvati||4:26||


श्रोत्रादीनि इन्दियाणि अन्ये संयमाग्निषु जुह्वति शब्दादीन् विषयान् अन्ये इन्द्रियाग्निषु जुह्वति


śrōtrādīni indriyāṇi anyē saṁyamāgniṣu juhvati śabdādīn viṣayān anyē indriyāgniṣu juhvati


श्रोत्रादीनि इन्दियाणि –organs of hearing and other senses अन्ये-others  संयमाग्निषु-in the fires of restraint  जुह्वति-sacrifice  शब्दादीन्  विषयान् –sound and other sense objects अन्ये -others  इन्द्रियाग्निषु-in the fire of senses  जुह्वति-offer


Some offer the powers of hearing and other senses as oblation in the fires of self-control. Still others offer sound and other objects of knowledge into the fires of senses.


श्रोत्रादीनि इन्दियाणि अन्ये संयमाग्निषु जुह्वति –Other seekers

offer ear  and other senses (श्रोत्रं त्वक् चक्षु: रसना घ्राणम् इति पंच ज्ञानेन्द्रियाणि- ear, skin, eyes, tongue, and nose) into the fires of self-control or mind (समत्व).  Here the word संयमाग्निषु plural  of Agni in saptami vibhakti is used. The word agni is declined as अग्नेः अग्नयोः अग्निषु . Plural of agni is used because there are five indriyas and five oblations.

Here the restraint is at the level of back office. “While hearing  censure or praise, feeling of nice or rough  object, seeing pleasant or unpleasant

objects; tasting palatable or unpalatable food; and smelling pleasant or obnoxious odour the sadhaka keeps his mind

balanced. He does not allow the mind to be swayed by

attraction or repulsion, or joy and grief etc”. (Goyandka).  That is how the sense objects cease to have any impact on the mind of a sadhaka.

शब्दादीन् विषयान् अन्ये इन्द्रियाग्निषु जुह्वति – Others consign sound and other objects of senses into the fires of sense

organs. Here the restraint is at the level of front desk. The sense objects are śabda, sparśa, rūpa rasa and gandha– sound, touch, form, taste and smell. These sense objects are consigned into the fires of Sense organs namely  śrōtraṁ tvak cakṣu: rasanā ghrāṇam iti paṁca jñānēndriyāṇi  (ear, skin, eyes, tongue and nose).  The sense objects as such cannot cause any attachment or fascination to a man  because their fascination has become zero due to non-availability of

senses.  While a child likes to collect pebbles on the beach and an adult just ignores it. The pebbles cause attraction in the mind of  the child but not to an adult. A piece of meat does not cause any attraction to a cow but a crow is fascinated by it. In the discipline advocated in the second line the practioner offers all the sense objects as an oblation to the fires of sense organs.

The first line speaks of consigning sense organs into the pyre of self-control. This is called dama. The second line speaks of offering sense objects into the fire of sense organs.

Observing silence on a particular day, Foregoing a particular food item during four months of chaturmasa,  practicing

silence or  mauna is considered a spiritual sadhana or

yajnya.These are different types of self control.

इन्द्रिय निग्रह, control of the senses शब्दादि विशय त्याग abjuring the sense objects these two types of yajnya discussed


VERSE 4: 27

आत्मसंयम यज्ञ  control of mind or shama is discussed

सर्वाणीन्द्रियकर्माणि प्राणकर्माणि चापरे।

आत्मसंयमयोगाग्नौ जुह्वति ज्ञानदीपिते॥४:२७॥

sarvāṇīndriyakarmāṇi prāṇakarmāṇi cāparē|

ātmasaṁyamayōgāgnau juhvati jñānadīpitē||4:27||


सर्वाणि इन्द्रियकर्माणि प्राणकर्माणि च अपरे आत्मसंयमयोगाग्नौ जुह्वति ज्ञानदीपिते 

sarvāṇi indriyakarmāṇi prāṇakarmāṇi ca aparē ātmasaṁyamayōgāgnau juhvati jñānadīpitē 


अपरे –others सर्वाणि –all   इन्द्रियकर्माणि-functions of the senses  प्राणकर्माणि-functions of the breath  च-and  आत्मसंयमयोगाग्नौ –in the fire of yoga of self-restraint जुह्वति- sacrifice ज्ञानदीपिते-kindled by knowledge   


While others (followers of path of jnyana yoga) sacrifice all the functions of the senses and the functions of breath (vital energy) in the fire of yoga of self-restraint kindled by


सर्वाणि इन्द्रियकर्माणि – all  sense activities. There are ten senses, five of knowledge and five of action. In addition to these ten external organs, there are two internal sense organs of mind and intellect. They have different functions. The ear hears; skin feels the touch; the eyes see the form; the tongue tastes; and the nose perceives the odour. श्रोत्राम् त्वक् चक्शुः रसना घ्राणम् इति पञ्च ज्जानेन्द्रियाणी  these are the organs of knowledge.

Similarly there are five organs of action or execution (वाक् पाणि पादौ  पायु उपस्थानि इति पञ्च  ज्ञानेन्दिर्याणि). The mouth speaks; the hand gives and accepts; the leg helps in movement; genital organs enjoy sex; and the anus excretes night soil.

The mind plans action for these five organs of knowledge and the intellect decides.

प्राणकर्माणि च अपरे others in the activities of vital air. There are five vital airs and they have different functions. prāṇa has upward movement; apāna has downward movement, helps in ejection of unassimilated food; vyāna moves in all different directions and pervades the body as nervous current;  samāna helps in digestion of food and distribution of

nutrition to all parts of body; and udāna operates in the throat, helps the soul and subtle body pass out at the time of death. Then there are mind and intellect to plan and decide an activity. So the ten sense organs, five pranas and the mind and intellect, totalling to seventeen are  together called as subtle body (लिंग शरीर liṁga śarīra). The followers of jnyana yoga offer the subtle body into the blazing fire of self-restraint.

आत्मसंयमयोगाग्नौ –into the fire of yoga in the form of self-control. This is a compound word consisting of  आत्म संयम अग्नि  ātma saṁyama agni. Fire or agni has been compounded with it. Ātma means the limited ego. The wisdom is to

distinguish between the limited ego and the divine unlimited  omnipresent spirit. The practitioner identifies himself with the spirit and gradually loses his identity with body and ego. For this the wisdom of jiva-ishwara Aikya is required.

जुह्वति ज्ञानदीपिते sacrifice kindled by knowledge.

In this verse a summary of dhyana yoga or absorption of mind in the object of meditation is given. It includes the method where the  functions of vital air and senses are

suspended. Thereafter the mind is absorbed in the object of meditation. This is the state of Samadhi. So, it is also called Samadhi yoga. The object of meditation could be a God of one’s own conception and belief. It could be a God with form and attributes or formless and absolute aspect of God. All

activities  sarvāṇi indriyakarmāṇi are in a state of suspension or merged with self or God.  In other words the seeker offers his subtle body as an ablution in sacrifice.

ātma sayama yoga – The yoga of self restraint; the path of discrimination; the method of controlling the ego by better understanding (discrimination) of divine reality. This boils down to the question “Who I am” At first we ask “Who walks” when my body walks. “Who is that is eating”, “Who really is breathing” “Who thinks”, “Who is asking these questions”

And finally again “Who am I”

This is the approach of jnana yajnya (the path of discrimination) is the one that everyone should include in his sadhana (spiritual Practice). Watch yourself eating, walking, breathing, conversing, thinking. Stand mentally aside from your own body and mind. Become the silent observer of your own self. Gradually you will feel inwardly detached, and you will accept that you are another reality entirely; the divine soul.


VERSE 4: 28

5 more types of yajnyas

द्रव्ययज्ञास्तपोयज्ञा योगयज्ञास्तथापरे।

स्वाध्यायज्ञानयज्ञाश्च यतयः संशितव्रताः॥४:२८॥

dravyayajñāstapōyajñā yōgayajñāstathāparē|

svādhyāyajñānayajñāśca yatayaḥ saṁśitavratāḥ||4:28||


द्रव्ययज्ञाः तपॊयज्ञाः योगयज्ञाः तथा अपरे स्वाध्यायज्ञानयज्ञाः च यतयः संशितव्रताः

dravyayajñāḥ tapōyajñāḥ yōgayajñāḥ tathā aparē svādhyāyajñānayajñāḥ ca yatayaḥ saṁśitavratāḥ

द्रव्ययज्ञाः-some perform sacrifice with material possessions तपॊयज्ञाः-those who offer austerities as sacrifice  योगयज्ञाः-those who offer yoga as sacrifice तथा-again  अपरे-ohers  स्वाध्यायज्ञानयज्ञाः-those who sacrifice in the form of wisdom through study of sacred texts च-and यतयः-striving striving souls ; earnest seekers  संशितव्रताः-observing austere vows


Some perform sacrifice with material possessions, some

offer austerity as oblation, others concentrate on withdrawing their energy by yoga meditation and offer it as oblation. still others holding strictly a vow of self-restraint offer up all their thoughts to God and practice introspection and seek wisdom through the study of scriptures.

द्रव्ययज्ञाः तपॊयज्ञाः योगयज्ञाः

In his verse the Lord speaks about five more yajnyas.

द्रव्य यज्ञ dravya yajña  – offerings of possessions. Several materials of daily use  like rice, pulses, oil , gold coins and new cloth are consigned to fire during sacrifice. This is dravya

yajña . By extension of meaning it includes sacrifice of material possessions for public service enshrined in the scriptures. This should be done with an intention of service to people, and without any desire for its fruit or for advertisement.

Constructions of schools, hospitals, public tanks, wells, feeding of the poor, encouragement to study scriptures and

secular  subjects, free medicine etc. come under this


Swami Vivekananda says, “Think of this yajnya as an opportunity given by god to share what you have with those that do not have. Do not stand on a platform or road side and shout, “Hey take this charity”. Think that you are helping yourself.

तपो यज्ञ tapō yajña- While dravya yajña  is offering material possessions, tapō yajña is offering actions. This includes strict forms of self-discipline like meditating in extreme hot or cold, in neck deep water, forgoing food for many days, etc. Some ascetics mix all the menu in their food into one mass (this is called एकवाडी)  and they vow not to trash any food whether it is tasty or not. The idea behind the practice is to control the mind for God-realization. What is the difference between Tapas and tapo Yajnya? Actions done for attaining heaven or ashtasiddhi is tapas. But actions done for the self-realization is tapo yajnya.

योग यज्ञ ‌ yōga yajña – sacrifice through the practice of yoga. There are multiple meanings for the word yoga. चित्तप्रव्रत्ति निरोध  cittapravratti nirōdha or stopping the thought process of the mind is called yoga. Here the mind is temporarily suspended and is put in communion with God. Absolving oneself  of the karma of actions by being detached is also called yoga. Others concentrate on withdrawing their energy by yoga -meditation and offer it up as oblation.

अपरे स्वाध्यायज्ञान यज्ञ ‌ svādhyāya jñāna yajña – svādhyāya includes study and practice of scriptures and introspection of knowledge every day. jñāna yajña This is sacrifice or offering of knowledge in service of the lord. This word is very often used in Gita text. This sacrifice has two aspects – one is

negation of the false; and the other is assertion of the Real nature of the Self.  Jnyana yagna also means teaching of the knowledge of the self and removing the ignorance.

च यतयः संशितव्रताःca yatayaḥ saṁśitavratāḥ- the saints who observe the vow of exemplary conduct like non-violence, non-stealing, truthfulness, continence, non-possession etc. They are free from evils of attractions and repulsions.

VERSE 4: 29

The process of rechaka, puraka and kumbhaka is discussed

अपाने जुह्वति प्राणं प्राणेऽपानं तथापरे।

प्राणापानगती रुद्ध्वा प्राणायामपरायणाः॥४:२९॥

apānē juhvati prāṇaṁ prāṇē:’pānaṁ tathāparē|

prāṇāpānagatī ruddhvā prāṇāyāmaparāyaṇāḥ||4:29||


अपाने जुह्वति प्राणम् प्राणे अपानम् तथा अपरे प्राणापानगती रुद्ध्वा प्राणायामपरायणाः

apānē juhvati prāṇam prāṇē apānam tathā aparē prāṇāpānagatī ruddhvā prāṇāyāmaparāyaṇāḥ


अपाने – in the out-going breath जुह्वति –sacrifice प्राणम्-in-coming breath  प्राणे-in the incoming breath  अपानम्-out-going breath तथा-thus  अपरे-others  प्राणापानगती-courses of out-going and incoming breaths  रुद्ध्वा –restraining  

प्राणायामपरायणाः- solely absorbed in the restraint of breath Prana आयम-  Aayama mastery of prana. By regulating prana we are regulating vyama udana etc.


Yogananda translates this verse as:

Other devotees offer as sacrifice the incoming breath of prana into the outgoing breath of apana, and the outgoing breath of apana into the incoming breath of prana, thus

arresting the cause of inhalation and exhalation (rendering breath unnecessary) by intent practice of pranayama.


This is the 11th yajnya called pranayama sadhana. Anna maya is grossest, Prana maya is subtler. Manomaya is mental

Personality is much subtler. Pranamaya comes in between annamaya  and manomaya.  It is intermediary. When Prana is disciplined mental discipline is also done. It purifies the mind.

अपाने जुह्वति प्राणम् प्राणे अपानम् तथा प्राणायामपरायणाः

pānē juhvati prāṇam prāṇē apānam

tathā prāṇāyāmaparāyaṇāḥ –

Some yogis who are devoted to practice of pranayama as a tool of God-realization, offer the inhaling breath to exhaling breath (prana into apana). अपरे aparē still others offer the exhaling breath into inhaling breath (apana into prana).

Exhalation of breath is called rechaka (blowing out) and

inhalation is called puraka(fiing in). The verb juhvati (offer oblation) has been intentiontally used to invest the practice of pranayama with a character of sacrifice or Homa.


प्राणापानगती रुद्ध्वा aparē prāṇāpānagatī ruddhvā – Thus

having neutralized the movement of prana and apana life

currents. These two process of rechaka and puraka are

alternated with an interval when breathing is held up for some time (Kumbhaka). This process of puraka-kumbhaka-rechaka is the technique of breath control or pranayama.  


VERSE 4: 30

By the yanyas all rthe sins are consumed away.

अपरे नियताहाराः प्राणान्प्राणेषु जुह्वति।

सर्वेऽप्येते यज्ञविदो यज्ञक्षपितकल्मषाः॥४:३०॥

aparē niyatāhārāḥ prāṇānprāṇēṣu juhvati|

sarvē:’pyētē yajñavidō yajñakṣapitakalmaṣāḥ||4:30||


अपरे नियताहाराः प्राणान् प्राणेषु जुह्वति

सर्वे अपि एते यज्ञविदः यज्ञक्षपितकल्मषाः

aparē niyatāhārāḥ prāṇān prāṇēṣu juhvati sarvē api ētē yajñavidaḥ yajñakṣapitakalmaṣāḥ

अपरे-still others  नियताहाराः-of regulated food  प्राणान्-all their vital airs  प्राणेषु-into those very vital airs  जुह्वति-sacrifice  सर्वे-all  अपि-also  एते-these यज्ञविदः-knowers of sacrifice यज्ञक्षपितकल्मषाः-are ones whose sins are consumed away by sacrifice


Other devotees having regulated food, control the process  of breathing in and breathing out of pranas offer the different kinds of Pranas and their functions as oblations to the pranas themselves. Such adepts in pranayama are knoweres of true fire ceremony whose karmic sins are destroyed by the practice of yajnya.


अपरे नियताहाराः प्राणान् प्राणेषु जुह्वति Other devotees taking regulated food, offer pranas into the pranas as an oblation.

This is the 12th and final yajnya also called kevala kumbhaka.

नियताहाराः are having regulated diet and life style; neither eating too much nor fasting completely.  First quality control and then quantity conrol. They control the quality and quantity of the food they eat. They consider the stomach as though to be divided into four parts. Solid foods like rice and bread may fill up two parts; liquid like water, soup, buttermilk and juice etc. in one part and remaining one part is always left blank. Occasional fasting is practiced. The food is always sattvik which are favorable for the practice of pranayama.  Gita chapter 6:16 and 6: 17 says that success in yoga is achieved only by those who practice regulated diet. Here are the verses:


नात्यश्नतस्तु योगोऽस्ति न चैकान्तमनश्नतः ।न चाति स्वप्नशीलस्य जाग्रतो नैव चार्जुन ॥६:१६॥ 

O Arjuna, yoga is not possible for him who eats too much, or who deos not eat at all, or for one who sleeps too much or too little.


युक्ताहारविहारस्य युक्तचेष्टस्य कर्मसु |
युक्तस्वप्नावबोधस्य योगो भवति दु:खहा || 17||


yuktāhāravihārasya  yuktacēṣṭasya karmasu |

yuktasvapnāvabōdhasya yōgō bhavati duḥkhahā ||6:17||


The yoga of meditation destroys all sufferings for the one who is moderate in eating, recreation, working, sleeping, and waking.


prāṇān prāṇēṣu juhvati  offer pranas into pranas as oblation . The word used here is prāṇān which is plural number meaning pranas. There are five pranas or vital air. Although the

vital air is one, from the stand point of their function it is classified under five heads, viz. प्राण, अपान, समान, उदान and व्यान prāṇa apāna samāna udāna and vyāna. Of these the prana air is believed to be located in the heart, the apana in the rectum, the samana in the navel, udana in the throat, and vyana is spread all over the body (Goyandka). They are jointly known as Pancha pranas. The verse says the adepts in pranayama offer the pranas into the pranas, that means the pranas are in a state of hold in their respective seats. There is no offering of one prana into another. They are in a state of suspension or ‘absolute pause’. The technical word for this process is Kevala kumbha. The verb juhvati means pours or offers as sacrifice. Since this is exercise is done as a yajnya, it is mandatory for the practioner to divest himself of all fruits of action and do the sacrifice without the sense of possession and attachment.

सर्वे अपि एते यज्ञविदः यज्ञक्षपितकल्मषाः  – all such devotees are adepts in the yajnyas (fire ceremony) and are absolved of their karmic sins. They become Purified of their sins by these practices of selfless yagna. Their vasanas are consumed, karmas nullified and they attain union with God.


Eleven  types of yajnyas



Number of


Name of yajnya



daiva yajnya and Brahma yajnya.



saṁyamāgni yajnya and indriyāgni yajnya.






dravya yajña, tapō yajña,  yōga yajña, svādhyāya jñāna yajña






kevala kumbhaka.





VERSE 4: 31


Only those who perform yajnya attain the eternal Brahman

यज्ञशिष्टामृतभुजो यान्ति ब्रह्म सनातनम्।

नायं लोकोऽस्त्ययज्ञस्य कुतोऽन्यः कुरुसत्तम ॥४:३१॥

yajñaśiṣṭāmr̥tabhujō yānti brahma sanātanam|

nāyaṁ lōkō:’styayajñasya kutō:’nyaḥ kurusattama||4:31||


यज्ञशिष्टामृतभुजः यान्ति ब्रह्म सनातनम्

न अयम् लोकः अस्ति अयज्ञस्य कुतः अन्यः कुरुसत्तम

yajñaśiṣṭāmr̥tabhujaḥ yānti brahma sanātanam na ayam lōkaḥ asti ayajñasya kutaḥ anyaḥ kurusattama


यज्ञशिष्टामृतभुजः-eaters of the remant of yajnya which is here called as nectar  यान्ति-attain  ब्रह्म-Brahman  सनातनम्-eternal  न-not  अयम्- this लोकः-world अस्ति-is not there अयज्ञस्य-for a man who offers no sacrificier कुतः-how (can he obtain) अन्यः-otherworld  कुरुसत्तम-O best of Kurus


yajñaśiṣṭāmr̥tabhujaḥ yānti brahma sanātanam na ayam lōkaḥ asti ayajñasya kutaḥ anyaḥ kurusattama



O Arjuna, a partaker of the nectar like remnant of the

sacramental food offered in  these spiritual fire-sacrifices, attains eternal Brhaman. Without real spiritual sacrifice how one can be happy in this world? Then what to speak of the next world for him?



यज्ञशिष्टामृतभुजः यान्ति ब्रह्म सनातनम्

यज्ञशिष्टामृतभुजः – This is a compound word which can be split into yajña śiṣṭā amr̥ta bhujaḥ – one who partakes the nectar like remnant of yajnya.The word yajnya in the common

parlance refers to the fire sacrifice where various materials and food is offered to deities  for a material benefit. It is

considered that one shares this food from God’s own plate and attains the benefit of heaven. Krishna has given a

broader perspective to the word yajnya in the verses 24 to 30. Krishna has mentioned a number of practices of God

realization such as knowledge, self-control, penance, yoga, study of scriptures, pranayama etc., which has no relation to food whatever (Goyandka). Therefore the nectar like

remnant of food should be considered as sattvik character of life style and purity of mind which are the direct benefit of such devine practices. This is the yajnya Prasad.

यान्ति ब्रह्म सनातनम् yānti brahma sanātanam – one who

performs such a sacrifice attains eternal Brahman.

न अयम् लोकः अस्ति अयज्ञस्य कुतः अन्यः कुरुसत्तम

na ayam lōkaḥ asti ayajñasya kutaḥ anyaḥ kurusattama-for one who does not perform such sacrifice of God realization, there has no  happiness here in this world or in the next.


VERSE 4: 32

By performing the yajnyas one attains freedom from bondage of action

एवं बहुविधा यज्ञा वितता ब्रह्मणो मुखे।

कर्मजान्विद्धि तान्सर्वानेवं ज्ञात्वा विमोक्ष्यसे॥४:३२॥

ēvaṁ bahuvidhā yajñā vitatā brahmaṇō mukhē|

karmajānviddhi tānsarvānēvaṁ jñātvā vimōkṣyasē||4:32||


एवम् बहुविधाः यज्ञाः वितताः ब्रह्मणः मुखे कर्मजान् विद्धि तान् सर्वान् एवम् ज्ञात्वा विमोक्ष्यसे 

ēvam bahuvidhāḥ yajñāḥ vitatāḥ brahmaṇaḥ mukhē karmajān viddhi tān sarvān ēvam jñātvā vimōkṣyasē 


एवम्-thus बहुविधाः-manifold यज्ञाः-yajnyas वितताः –have been enumerated ब्रह्मणः – Vedas मुखे-mouth कर्मजान्-offspring of action विद्धि-know तान्-them सर्वान्-all एवम्-thus  ज्ञात्वा-having known विमोक्ष्यसे-you will be liberated   

Various types of yajnyas have been mentioned through the mouh of Vedas; know  them all to be born of action and thus knowing this (that means by performing of these actions) you shall be liberated from bondage of action.

In the verse 16, the Lord mentined that he would expound the truth about action to Arjuna. Accordingly he discussed about action from verse 18 to 31 and in this verse 32, he is going to conclude the discussion.


ēvam bahuvidhāḥ yajñāḥ  vitatāḥ brahmaṇaḥ mukhē –like this, in this way. Krishna is concluding his advice about  many types of yajnyas have been mentioned in the Vedas. Krishna here emphasizes that the list of yajnyas given by him in verse 25 to 30 is not exhaustive and there are many more sacrifices described in the Vedas.  

किं कर्म किमकर्मेति कवयोऽप्यत्र मोहिताः।

तत्ते कर्म प्रवक्ष्यामि यज्ज्ञात्वा मोक्ष्यसेऽशुभात्॥४:१६॥


He is going to conclude his explanation about karma and akarma.

karmajān viddhi tān sarvān- know that all yajnyas other than Jnyana yajnya are born of action. The object of karma yajnya is purification of mind and integrating the personality. Then one has to come to Jnyana yajnya. So the injunction is  follow any karma yajnya and purify he mind; follow jnyana yajnya and obtain liberation.  The common feature of these karma yajnyas is that they are offspring of karma or acton.  Action can be performed by the mind, senses or body. Physical and spiritual actions are performed by body, swadhyaya, japa etc are done by mouth and self-control is done by mind. Since any action accrues to our bondage, the yajnya action should be done without desire for fruit, attachment and feeling of possession.

ēvam jñātvā vimōkṣyasē – knowing this you will be liberated.  ‘Knowing this’ refers to  the technique of performing first karma yajnya to purify the mind and later performing jnyana yajnya to attain liberation. Studying various forms of liberating actions the yogi selects one suitable for him and persues it wholeheartedly to attain the goal of liberation. Action performed with  knowledge of this truth does not lead to bondage. The yogi  performs the inner rite or yajnya of spiritual awakening to attain liberation.


VERSE 4: 33

ज्ञान यज्ञ is superior to द्रव्य यज्ञ

श्रेयान्द्रव्यमयाद्यज्ञाज्ज्ञानयज्ञः परन्तप।

सर्वं कर्माखिलं पार्थ ज्ञाने परिसमाप्यते॥४:३३॥

śrēyāndravyamayādyajñājjñānayajñaḥ parantapa|

sarvaṁ karmākhilaṁ pārtha jñānē parisamāpyatē||4:33||


śrēyān dravyamayāt yajñāt jñānayajñaḥ parantapa sarvam karma akhilam pārtha jñānē parisamāpyatē 


श्रेयान् द्रव्यमयात् यज्ञात् ज्ञानयज्ञः परन्तप।

सर्वम् कर्म अखिलम्  पार्थ ज्ञाने परिसमाप्यते ॥ 


श्रेयान् –superior द्रव्यमयात् –consisting of or belonging to

material offering यज्ञात् –yajnyas ज्ञानयज्ञः-sacrifice through knowledge  परन्तप- O scorcher of foes सर्वम्-all  कर्म –actions अखिलम्-in its entirity  पार्थ-O son of Pritha  ज्ञाने–in knowledge परिसमाप्यते-is culminated   


Arjuna! sacrifice through knowledge is superior to material rituals. All actions in its entirity is consummated in wisdom – (Yogananda)


śrēyān dravyamayāt yajñāt –superior to rituals  involving materials. Dravyamayāt means consisting of or belonging to materials. Many holy materials such as ghee, sugar, curd, milk, barley, rice dry fruits, , cotton, silk cloth, gold coins etc., are  are consecrated into the blazing fire of the sacrifice. karma yajña is a synonym of dravya yajña. Among the twelve yajnyas mentioned by Krishna are included the offerings of the sense objects into the sense organs; and sense organs to the mind. A question arises, Is this a jnyana yagnya or a

karma yajnya? This is also a karma yajnya because the sense objects and senses including the mind are all matter.

jñānayajñaḥ parantapa –Superior to material sacrifice is the sacrifice through knowledge.  Then what is jnyana yajnya? Practices involving discrimination, reason and spiritual insight are included in sacrifice through knowledge. For the fulfillment of jnyana yajnya one has to perform karma yajnya without niśkāma buddhi i.e foregoing any reward for action.


sarvam karma akhilam pārtha jñānē parisamāpyatē –Arjuna! All actions or karma yajnya  ultimately end up as jnyana yajnya. The word karma has two qualifications,

sarvam and akhilam. Karma means all forms of twelve practices mentined in foregoing verses 25 to 30 and also the vedic rites referred to verse Number 32. All these actions or

karmas end up eventually as jnyana or right knowledge. The words jñāna and jñānayajña have different meanings. jñānayajña stands for practices of various yajnyas with discrimination, self-control, detachment for result and freedom from authorship. These are generally included under the word ‘jnyana’ and carried on for the attainment of true knowledge. The word jnyana in this verse stands for culmination or fruit of all these practices in the form of true knowledge of God (Goyandka). Jnyana yajnya alone is the means of Jnyana  and liberation.


VERSE 4: 34

Surrendeer to a Guru who has realized the truth.

He will impart the knowledge to you.

तद्विद्धि प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नेन सेवया।

उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ते ज्ञानं ज्ञानिनस्तत्त्वदर्शिनः॥४:३४॥

tadviddhi praṇipātēna paripraśnēna sēvayā|

upadēkṣyanti tē jñānaṁ jñāninastattvadarśinaḥ||4:34||


तत् विद्धि प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नेन सेवया उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ते ज्ञानम् ज्ञानिनः तत्त्वदर्शिनः

tat viddhi praṇipātēna paripraśnēna sēvayā upadēkṣyanti tē jñānam jñāninaḥ tattvadarśinaḥ


तत्-that (knowledge) विद्धि-know, understand प्रणिपातेन-by prostration, surrender represents humility परिप्रश्नेन-by sincere enquiry. It refers to jignyasa or  desire for knowing and learning सेवया-by service to teacher उपदेक्ष्यन्ति-will instruct ते-to you ज्ञानम्-spiritual knowledge ज्ञानिनः-the wise tattvadarśinaḥ -seers of truth  


Understand this. By surrendering yourself to the Guru, by service to him and sincere enquiry, the seers who have

realized the truth will impart that wisdom to you.


Lord Krsihna describes glory of knowledge from verse 26 to 31. In 34 he describes the means of obtaining that knowledge. From 35 onwards till the end of the chapter I.e. verse 42, he describes the reward or phalam of obtaining this knowledge. And with this, he completes the topic of means of obtaining knowledge. The self or Brahman  is not available for any instruments of knowledge because these are turned outward and so they can give only an objective information.


tat viddhi praipātēna paripraśnēna sēvayā – understand the true nature of that knowledge (ātmajñāna, knowledge of the self)  by surrendering yourself to the master (tattvajñāni), by service to him and by enquiry of your sincere doubts. Krishna has given three qualifications of a good student. They are surrender to the master, service to him and and humbly enquiring clarifications about his doubts. Service or sēvayā to Guru includes doing his personal and ashram chores with

devout and faithful mind. It also includes studying and

contemplating the knowledge imparted so that the Guru will be pleased. Questions asked wth an intention to show off ones wisdom, or to undermine the Guru do not qualify to be called paripraśnēna or sincere enquiry.

upadēkṣyanti tē jñānam – will impart the wisdom to you.

jñāninaḥ tatvadarsahinaḥ -those wise seers of truth will

impart the transcendental knowledge to you. तत्त्वदर्शी is not a  वाचावेदांन्ति a man of bookish knowledge. He has the first hand experience of god.

After defining the qualifications of a student, the lords sets out here to define the qualifications of a perfect master. jñāninaḥ the wise men, tatvadarsahinaḥ are seers of truth. Tattva is essential nature of of Brahman; seers who have

experienced  the nature of Brahman. Instructions in the knowledge of truth can be imparted only by seers who are well-versed in scriptures and have a subjective realization of God. The guru has  śāstra jñāna and anubhava jñāna (knowledge of scriptures and subjecive experience). Mere knowledge without experience may make a man an intellectual giant but not a perfect master.


VERSE 4: 35

The reward of knowledge

यज्ज्ञात्वा न पुनर्मोहमेवं यास्यसि पाण्डव।    

येन भूतान्यशेषेण द्रक्ष्यस्यात्मन्यथो मयि॥४:३५॥

yajjñātvā na punarmōhamēvaṁ yāsyasi pāṇḍava|       

yēna bhūtānyaśēṣēṇa drakṣyasyātmanyathō mayi||4:35||


यत् ज्ञात्वा न पुनः मोहम् एवम् यास्यसि पाण्डव येन भूतानि अशेषेण द्रक्ष्यसि आत्मनि अथो मयि

yat jñātvā na punaḥ mōham ēvam yāsyasi pāṇḍava yēna bhūtāni aśēṣēṇa drakṣyasi ātmani athō mayi



यत्- which ज्ञात्वा-having known न-not पुनः-again मोहम्-delusion एवम्-like this यास्यसि-will get back पाण्डव-O Pandava येन-through which भूतानि-beings अशेषेण-all without any exception द्रक्ष्यसि-you will see आत्मनि-in your own self अथो-also मयि-in me

Arjuna! When you have reached the enlightenment,

ignorance will never delude you. In the light of that knowledge you will see the entire creation within yourself first, and later in me (Goyandka).


Lord Krsihna describes about glory of knowledge from verse 26 to 34. He describes the means of obtaining the knowledge from 35 to the end of the chapter I.e verse 42.  He describes the reward (phalam) of obtaining this knowledge.

From verse 35 Krsihna is talking about jnyana phalam  or benefit of jnyana. He sets out two benefits in this verse.


यत् ज्ञात्वा न पुनः मोहम् एवम् यास्यसि पाण्डवby experiencing this knowledge you will not fall back into delusion again.

After enlightenment ignorance will never delude you.  What is the knowledge imparted by Guru? The truth about God.

After realization of God, questions about who am I? what is jagat? what is Ishwara? what is maya? Why bondage? etc., cease to trouble the sadhaka. His attachment to the body ends once or all. Mōham means ignorance or delusion.  His attachment to the body ends once or all. Mōham means ignorance or delusion. 


A confused man thinks that birth and death of body is the birth and death of the soul. He is confused by the dualities (dwandwas) of life like pain and pleasure, attraction and repulsion etc. na punaḥ mōham yāsyasi, Arjuna! you will not get back ino your deluded mode. Knowledge is purnatva or completeness. It is like a one way ticket. Once you get the knowledge you will never go into delusion. The word moksha has two syllables. Mo and kṣ (मो, क्ष).  ‘Mo’ means moksha and ‘khsah” means kshyaya (destruction). Moha kshya is

tantamount to moksha (liberation). After hearing the

desertations from Krisha, Arjuna admits that his moha has been destroyed. (नष्टोमोहः स्म्रुतिर्लब्ध्वा – naṣṭōmōhaḥ smrutirlabdhvā)


yēna bhūtāni aśēṣēṇa drakṣyasi ātmani athō mayi –by this knowledge you will see the entire creation within yourself. Then you will see them in me. In simple words, he sees the self pervading all beings and all things in the world. With the dawn of this knowledge, he loses his personal identification, and his ego is sublimated. This is the attainment of supreme state, the all-blissful Brahman. In the eyes of the yogi  there is no world, no creation or dissolution, just as ice is same as

water, the ornaments of gold are the same as gold.

Elsewhere the Lord describes this state as Brhamabhuta (Goyandka).

Krishna mentions in this verse two benefits of knowledge.

  1. Moha nasha
  2. jnyana praapti


VERSE 4: 36

The foulest of the sinners will cross the ocean of sin by the raft of knowledge

अपि चेदसि पापेभ्यः सर्वेभ्यः पापकृत्तमः।

सर्वं ज्ञानप्लवेनैव वृजिनं सन्तरिष्यसि॥४:३६॥

api cēdasi pāpēbhyaḥ sarvēbhyaḥ pāpakr̥ttamaḥ|

sarvaṁ jñānaplavēnaiva vr̥jinaṁ santariṣyasi||4:36||



अपि चेत् असि पापेभ्यः सर्वेभ्यः पापकृत्तमः सर्वम् ज्ञानप्लवेन एव  वृजिनम् सन्तरिष्यसि 

api cēt asi pāpēbhyaḥ sarvēbhyaḥ pāpakr̥ttamaḥ sarvam jñānaplavēna ēva vr̥jinam santariṣyasi 


अपि-suppose चेत्-if असि-you are सर्वेभ्यः- of all  पापेभ्यः-sinners पापकृत्तमः-the foulest sinner सर्वम्-all  ज्ञानप्लवेन-by the raft (boat) of knowledge एव- alone वृजिनम्-ocean of sin  सन्तरिष्यसि-you shall cross.


Even if you were the foulest of all sinners, yet you will verily cross the sea of sins by the raft of knowledge.


Krsihna lists here one more benefits of the supreme knowledge.

  1. Moha Nasha (destruction of delustion)

2.Papa karma nasha (Destruction of sins)

3.Aikya Darshana (Unity of soul and spirit)


api cēt asi pāpēbhyaḥ sarvēbhyaḥ pāpakr̥ttamaḥ – even if you were the foulest of all sinners. The lord does not mean that Arjuna is a sinner. On the other hand he has said elsewhere that Arjuna is the Lord’s devotee and friend (bhaktaḥ asi sakhā ca iti rahasyam hi ētat uttamam 4:3).

sarvam jñānaplavēna ēva vr̥jinam santariṣyasi –  you will

verily cross the ocean of sins by the raft called knowledge. The word ‘ēva’ means verily, surely.  It shows certianity.

Arjuna! you will without doubt cross the ocean of sins by the knowledge of self imparted to you by the learned.

“Krishna offers this supreme encouragement to all humanity; no matter how deep you are in bad habits, vice, self -degrading depravity, or evil, you are still the child of one

infinite lord who created masters and saints. You are nothing less than divine bliss forever. Never therefore tell yourself

“I am evil”, “I have failed”. There is no sinner who cannot, through his endeavour, come to claim his own heritage of absolute perfection. The Gita is a scripture of life written for man, and its universality is unmistakably seen in the

statement here. It assures man that “even if he be the worst

sinner amonsgst the bad, still you can cross over the sins and reach God”. (unknown author)


VERSE 4: 37

Jnyana like fire consumes all karmas into ashes

यथैधांसि समिद्धोऽग्निर्भस्मसात्कुरुतेऽर्जुन ।

ज्ञानाग्निः सर्वकर्माणि भस्मसात्कुरुते तथा ॥४:३७॥

yathaidhāṁsi samiddhō:’gnirbhasmasātkurutē:’rjuna|

jñānāgniḥ sarvakarmāṇi bhasmasātkurutē tathā||4:37||


यथा एधांसि समिद्धः अग्निः भस्मसात् कुरुते अर्जुन ज्ञानाग्निः सर्वकर्माणि भस्मसात् कुरुते तथा 

Yathā ēdhāṁsi samiddhaḥ agniḥ bhasmasāt kurutē arjuna jñānāgniḥ sarvakarmāṇi bhasmasāt kurutē tathā 


यथा –as एधांसि-fuel समिद्धः-blazing अग्निः-fire भस्मसात्-reduces to ashes कुरुते-makes अर्जुन-Arjuna  ज्ञानाग्निः-the fire of knowledge सर्वकर्माणि-all actions  भस्मसात्-to ashes कुरुते-makes  तथा-even so


As the blazing fire reduces the fuel to ashes, O Arjuna, so does the fire of knowledge consume all karmas to ashes.


In this verse Krishna lists the 4th phala or reward of enlightenment.

Sarva karma nasha: (Expiation of all fruits of action, sarva pāpa puṇya nāśaḥ (सर्व पाप पुण्य नाशः).  Knowledge is compared to a huge conflagration of fire. The karmas are

compared to fuel. Just as the fire burns down all the fuel to ashes, knowledge burns down all karma phalas, sins as well as merit  freeing the person of all bondages. In the previous verse Krishna spoke of expiation of sins.  In the present verse he refers to burning down of all fruits of action. What is the difference? Papa (Sin) and Punya (merit) are both binding in nature. They put you back in the roller-coaster of samsara or world; punarapi jananam punarapi maraṇam (पुनरपि जननम् पुनरपि मरणम्). Liberation is beyond papa and punya.


Yathā ēdhāṁsi samiddhaḥ agniḥ bhasmasāt kurutē Arjuna –just as the blazing fire reduces all types of fuel into ashes. The nature of knowledge is like a blaze. It reduces to ashes

evergreen forests and everything that come in its way. It does not leave anything unburnt.

jñānāgniḥ sarvakarmāṇi bhasmasāt kurutē tathā – similarly, the fire of knowledge consumes all karmas into ashes. What is jñānāgniḥ or fire of jnyana or knowledge?  This knowledge refers to the experience feeling of all beings within  oneself; and the Lord in all beings. It also includes seeing karma in akarma and akarma in karma. The lord says sarvakarmāṇi all karmas or actions. In sanskrit language the word karma is singular, karmaṇī (कर्मणी) is dual and karmāṇī (कर्माणी) is also plural. So he refers to all karmas as being burnt down by the fire of knowledge. There are three types of karmas; sacita ( संचित), āgāmi (आगामि) and  prārabdha (प्रारब्ध). The latencies of action done in this life as well as previous lives remain stored up in man’s mind and are known as sacita (संचित) karma. Those karmas which are ready to bear fruit in the present life is called prārabdha (प्रारब्ध) karma.

There is a debate whether jñānāgni consumes all the three karmas. In the opinion of some prarabdha karma  is not a subject of jñānāgni because it has to be attennuated only by suffering its consequences. Jnyana cannot burn it. By the statement of the Lord here it may be said that all the three karmas are destroyed by the experience of Brhaman. Acharya Shankara also subscribes to this view in Viveka Chudamani     (Verse 463).


VERSE 4: 38

There is nothing as purifying as Knowledge. A karmayogi

realizes this spontaneously in course of time.

न हि ज्ञानेन सदृशं पवित्रमिह विद्यते।

तत्स्वयं योगसंसिद्धः कालेनात्मनि विन्दति॥४:३८॥

na hi jñānēna sadr̥śaṁ pavitramiha vidyatē|

tatsvayaṁ yōgasaṁsiddhaḥ kālēnātmani vindati||4:38|

न हि ज्ञानेन सदृशम् पवित्रम् इह विद्यते तत् स्वयम् योगसंसिद्धः कालेन आत्मनि विन्दति  

na hi jñānēna sadr̥śam pavitram iha vidyatē tat svayam yōgasaṁsiddhaḥ kālēna ātmani vindati  


न-not हि-certainly ज्ञानेन-to wisdom सदृशम्-like  पवित्रम्-pure इह-here in this wold  विद्यते-exists  तत्-that fact  स्वयम्-himself personally  योगसंसिद्धः- perfected in practice of karmayoga कालेन-in course of time आत्मनि-himself  विन्दति-discovers


Certainly there is nothing in this world which is as

sanctifying as knowledge. in course of time a devotee who is successful in karmayoga will spontaneously realize this within himself.


Krsihna concludes his argument now.

na hi jñānēna sadr̥śam pavitram iha vidyatē – there is nothing purifying in this world as great as knowledge. There are many purifying sadhanas to absolve oneself of all sins. They are, sacrifice, , worship, vow, fasting, pranayama, japa (repeating God’s names), tapa (penance),  dhyana

(meditation), tirtha yatra (pilgrimage), bath in holy rivers etc. These are all means to train the body and mind to attain knowledge. ज्ञान प्राप्ति

There are many types of sins like lying, hypocracy, theft, adultry, deceipt, killing, bootlegging, anti-social activities, acts against nature, against nation and many more. There are morbid feelings like attraction and repulsion, joy and grief, egoism, sense of possession etc.

Ignorance or ajnyana is the root cause of evils. Jnyana or knowledge removes ignorance and therefore all evils. A jnyani becomes absolutely pure in his body, actions and mind. The result is that even those who touch him, make obeisance, think of him, speak to him or come in contact with him, get purified. Hence there is nothing on earth as purifying as knowledge.  Verily, in this world, there is nothing as sublime and pure as transcendental knowledge. (based on Goyandka’s commentery)

tat svayam yōgasaṁsiddhaḥ kālēna ātmani vindati –   

In due course of time every seeker who is successful in his practice will realize the truth of this statement, in his own self.  

Tat swayam yoga samsiddhah – This knowledge of self can be gained by one who has gained mastery in karma yoga. Twelve types of yogas are mentioned by Krishna. One who has mastered any of these and works without selfish attachment and as a service to god, in course of time realizes the self. He finds peace unto himself. He need not go to find peace anywhere. This knowledge cannot be taught by a teacher. He will experience it himself by continuous practice. The traditional story of a teacher spiritualising a student by his touch is a myth; it is impossible. Had it been so, in the presence of such a perfect Prophet like Krishna, Arjuna could have attained it in a wink.  

Kalenatmani vindati – Krishna tells the plain truth. Here. Krishna, in all love, plainly tells the truth to Arjuna that he has to purify himself (Swayam) and then he himself will realise the Truth “in good time” (Kalena). No definite time schedule is promised for Perfection to manifest. It is only said that one who  practises sincerely and devotedly different yajnyas that are described earlier, will attain growth “in good time”.


VERSE 4: 39

A man of faith attains knowledge of Brahman and supreme peace

श्रद्धावाँल्लभते ज्ञानं तत्परः संयतेन्द्रियः।

ज्ञानं लब्ध्वा परां शान्तिमचिरेणाधिगच्छति॥४:३९॥

śraddhāvām̐llabhatē jñānaṁ tatparaḥ saṁyatēndriyaḥ|

jñānaṁ labdhvā parāṁ śāntimacirēṇādhigacchati||4:39||


श्रद्धावान् लभते ज्ञानम् तत्परः संयतेन्द्रियः ज्ञानम् लब्ध्वा पराम् शान्तिम् अचिरेण अधिगच्छति  

śraddhāvān labhatē jñānam tat paraḥ saṁyatēndriyaḥ jñānam labdhvā parām śāntim acirēṇa adhigacchati  


श्रद्धावान्-a man full of faith  लभते-obtains ज्ञानम्-knowledge तत्परः -devouted to spiritual practice  संयतेन्द्रियः-one who has mastered the senses ज्ञानम्-knowledge of supreme लब्ध्वा –having obtained पराम् – supreme शान्तिम्-peace अचिरेण-without delay, immediately  अधिगच्छति –attains


A man full of faith, devoted to the supreme, who has mastered his senses, attains knowledge (of Brahman). And

having obtained the knowledge, he immediately attains

supreme peace of liberation.


In this verse the Lord lists the qualifications of a seeker who wants liberation. Faith, devotion, and self -control are the three imperative necessities to be acquired before we can hope to realize God.


Some more sadhanas are prescribed. Faith in the validity of scriptures or Shraddha. Such a person with conviction in

vedantic acharyas obtains knowldgde. तत्परः-  Sincere and committed to spiritual practice. Result of knowledge is param shantim. Supreme peace.


Śraddhāvān – श्रद्धा śraddhā is faith. Śraddhāvān is a man full of faith. He has faith in excellence and infalliability of Vedas and scriptures, in guru and his teachings; and in commandments of God. More than anything he has faith in his own ability. Without faith nothing can be achieved. A man who has  śraddhā alone is qualified to approach the wise seers. Even if he gains knowledge and performs charity, penance and other actions without faith, it becomes nothing but a  show- off or intellectual ornament. It will not lead him to realization. (Goyandka).

What is the power of Shraddha? Rama, the personified God had to build a bridge to Sri Lanka, but Hanuman who had great faith in Rama, jumped over the sea to reach Sri Lanka.

Once a man had to cross a lake. His guru said, “Well, I will write a mantra on a piece of cloath and tie it to your dhoti. Here is a warning! Do not open it lest you will be drowned” . The man could indeed walk over the water. It was so

awesome, he couldn’t resist the desire to know what is

written there. He untied the cloth to see what was written there. The Guru had written the name of Ram two times. Lo! Behold! He immediately drownd in the water. That shows the power of faith.

Krsihna speaks about a  karma without faith as below:

aśraddhayā hutaṁ dattaṁ tapastaptaṁ kr̥taṁ ca yat |

asadityucyatē pārtha na ca tatprētya nō iha ||17:28||


अश्रद्धया हुतं दत्तं तपस्तप्तं कृतं च यत् ।

असदित्युच्यते पार्थ न च तत्प्रेत्य नो इह ॥१७:२८॥


An obltation which is offered, a gift given, an austerity

practiced, and whatever good deed is performed without faith, it is termed as naught; therefore it is of no avail here or hereafter.


tat paraḥ- exclusively devoted to the spriritual practice. It shows his earnestness in persuing his endeavour; it shows his eagerness in learning and practicing the teachings of Guru. Such a man cannot be indolent.

saṁyatēndriyaḥ – one who has controlled the senses;

(dama). The test of intensive practice with full faith is

complete control over the senses.

labhatē jñānam –attains knowledge of Brahman.

jñānam labdhvā parām śāntim acirēṇa adhigacchati – having obtained the highest knowledge he immediately attains

supreme peace. Just as after sun- rise darkness disappears, so also  as soon as the knowledge of the supreme truth is

experienced, ignorance disappears and God is revealed. The same idea is expressed in 5th chaper. Here is the verse.


 jnanena tu tadajnanam yesham nashitam atmanah
tesham aditya -vat jnanam prakashayati tatparam (5:16)


In those who have banished the ignorance by knowledge of God, the wisdom shining like sun reveals the supreme.


With enlightenment and simultaneous extinction of

ignorance and all its progeny in the shape of impressions (vasana), morbid feelings like attraction and repulsion, joy and grief etc., and all karmas; good as well as evil are

terminated forthwith. Then fallows the knowledge of God and revelation of God. God is none other than sat-chit-ananda (existence, awareness and bliss). This has been referred to as the attainment of supreme bliss (parām śāntim).

In chaper 18, this condition is called नैश्कर्मसिद्धि ,ब्रह्मभूति.


VERSE 4: 40

Censure of ignorant and morbid douters

अज्ञश्चाश्रद्दधानश्च संशयात्मा विनश्यति।

नायं लोकोऽस्ति न परो न सुखं संशयात्मनः॥४:४०॥

ajñaścāśraddadhānaśca saṁśayātmā vinaśyati|

nāyaṁ lōkō:’sti na parō na sukhaṁ saṁśayātmanaḥ||4:40||


अज्ञः च अश्रद्दधानः च संशयात्मा विनश्यति न अयम् लोकः अस्ति न परः न सुखम् संशयात्मनः  

ajñaḥ ca aśraddadhānaḥ ca saṁśayātmā vinaśyati na ayam lōkaḥ asti na paraḥ na sukham saṁśayātmanaḥ  


अज्ञः-the ignorant च-and  अश्रद्दधानः-lacking in faith च-and  संशयात्मा-is possessed by doubt  विनश्यति-is lost to spiritual practice न-not अयम्-this  लोकः-this wold अस्ति-is available  न-nor  परः-the other world  न-not सुखम्-happiness संशयात्मनः-for such a doubting soul    


The ignorant, the man lacking in faith, and one who is full of doubts ultimately perishes. The man of doubting nature has neither this world (earthly happiness) nor the next (astral happiness), nor the supreme happiness of God –(Yogananda)

In the verse 4:39, Krishna advised Arjuna how one could get supreme peace. His recipe was shraddha, devotion and

control over senses. Now in this Shloka Krishna says what holds a seeker from achieving permanent peace.


ajñaḥ – ignorant. One who is unaware of the knowledge of self is called ignorant (आत्मज्ञान हीनः ātmajñāna hīnaḥ). He lacks capacity to differentiate between atma and anatma, what is duty and not duty. To be truly ignorant is to reject any offer of a way out of nescience. He offers no questions, and recognizes no opportunity for improvement. He is unable to feel devotion. Aspirations in self -development appears to him to be foolish. How can those not ultimately perish who, buffalo -like, insist on wallowing in the mud of passive



aśraddadhānaḥ – lacking faith or devoid of devotion. One who has no faith in God, in the teachings of Guru and scriptures is called a man without devotion. The worst case is that of a confirmed doubter. He has all the equipments he needs to raise to the heights, yet his compulsions to keep listing all the shortcomings, drawbacks are his nemesis. He suspects mischief by others and becomes most miserable. His inner voice says,”it can’t be right, it can’t work”. He doubts the capacity and intention of the true teacher. Whatever the Guru says should be automatically wrong; not because he has it checked out, but because he suspects his motives.

Were he indifferent, his condition might be better at least in the sense that he would then be able to direct his interest elsewhere and find perhaps some happiness. The tragedy for him is that he yearns for the real truth, but his sub -conscious habit impels him to reject it. Hence it is said that the doubter is the most miserable of the men.


Finally, the man of vacillating temperament can never

accomplish anything worthwhile. He will never commit himself to anything. He has no loyalties. He drifts through life as whims waft him, settling on no truth, and forever uncertain of anything. Such men find happiness neither here nor there.


saṁśayātmā – doubt –ridden. vinaśyati – perishes, lost to spiritual practices.

na ayam lōkaḥ asti –he has happiness neither in this world

na paraḥ na sukham saṁśayātmanaḥ – nor in the next world. He has no happiness.


Even in secular undertakings we need to have faith. When a person goes to a hotel and orders food, if he has no faith, he will doubt if the food served to him is mixed with poison. Similarly, when a man goes to a barber’s shop for a hair cut, the barber sharpens the blade on his leather strop before shaving your head. Can you imagin that the barber is going to cut off your head? Faith is essential.



VERSE 4: 41

A nishkama karma yogi devoid of doubt becomes free from binding actions

योगसंन्यस्तकर्माणं ज्ञानसंछिन्नसंशयम्।

आत्मवन्तं न कर्माणि निबध्नन्ति धनंजय ॥४:४१॥

yōgasaṁnyastakarmāṇaṁ jñānasaṁchinnasaṁśayam|

ātmavantaṁ na karmāṇi nibadhnanti dhanaṁjaya||4:41||


योगसंन्यस्तकर्माणम् ज्ञानसंछिन्नसंशयम् आत्मवन्तम् न कर्माणि निबध्नन्ति धनंजय 

yōgasaṁnyastakarmāṇam jñānasaṁchinnasaṁśayam ātmavantam na karmāṇi nibadhnanti dhanaṁjaya 


योगसंन्यस्तकर्माणम्-one who has relinquished actions in the spirit of kamayoga  ज्ञानसंछिन्नसंशयम्-and has obliterated

every doubt by transcendental knowledge  आत्मवन्तम्-is in conrol of mind  न- not कर्माणि-actions  निबध्नन्ति- bind धनंजय- O winner of wealth   


O winner of true wealh (Arjuna), a person who has dissolved all karmas though nikāma karma (निष्काम कर्म) and has obliteraed every doubt by transcendental knowledge, is poised in the eternal self. No further action can entangle him (translation by unknown author)


yōgasanyastakarmāṇam – literal meaning is one who has renounced all actions according to yoga. The lord is not speaking about jnyanayoga or right action. He refers to karmayoga according to which all actions are dedicated to God, totally renouncing the feeling of possession, attachment and desire for fruit (Goyandka).  This is called nishkama karma or samatva buddhi yoga.

jñānasachinnasaṁśayam –whose doubts have been torn apart by wisdom. What are the doubts one faces in spritual practice? Who am I; whence did I come, where do I go? Does God exist, if so how does he look, where does he live? Is this world real; is there another world and another birth? What is soul and spirit? Is the body, mind and senses are same as soul or different? Who is the doer and enjoyer, are the souls in different bodies are different or the same? Am I killing the

enemy in the war? Is it right for me to indulge in this war? By constant shravana, manana, and nidhidhyasana along with physical and mental disciplines one’s doubts are torn apart and the truth is revealed.

It is clear that ajña  and aśraddhāvanta  (अज्ञ, अश्रद्धावन्त ) do not get God happiness. However they may get worldly

happiness. But a doubting Thomas cannot be happy either here or there. Swami Ramatirth says you may keep a bullet in your heart but not a doubt.

ātmavantam –atma in this compound word refers to mind and senses and ātmavantam means one who has established full control over the mind and senses by sadhanas like shama and dama.

na karmāṇi nibadhnanti dhanajaya –actions  by him are no longer capable of binding him. A person who has the three qualifications; relinquishing the work by karma yoga, one whose doubts are fully resolved, and is full control of the mind,  becomes free of binding actions.


VERSE 4: 42

Decimate your doubts by the knowledge of Nishkama Karma yoga and fight

तस्मादज्ञानसम्भूतं हृत्स्थं ज्ञानासिनात्मनः।

छित्त्वैनं संशयं योगमातिष्ठोत्तिष्ठ भारत॥४:४२॥

tasmādajñānasambhūtaṁ hr̥tsthaṁ jñānāsinātmanaḥ|

chittvainaṁ saṁśayaṁ yōgamātiṣṭhōttiṣṭha bhārata||4:42||


तस्मात् अज्ञानसम्भूतम्  हृत्स्थम् ज्ञानासिना आत्मनः छित्त्वा एनम् संशयम् योगम् आतिष्ठ उत्तिष्ठ भारतः 

tasmāt ajñānasambhūtam  hr̥tstham jñānāsinā ātmanaḥ chittvā ēnam saṁśayam yōgam ātiṣṭha uttiṣṭha bhārataḥ 


तस्मात्-therefore  अज्ञानसम्भूतम्-born of ignorance हृत्स्थम्-existing in your heart or mind ज्ञानासिना-by the sword of knowledge आत्मनः-of yours  छित्त्वा –by slashing एनम्-this  संशयम्-doubt योगम्-karma yoga in the form of even mindedness आतिष्ठ-take refuge उत्तिष्ठ-arise, take up your bow and arrows भारतः-O descendent of Bharata (Arjuna)!   


Therefore O Arjuna slash all the doubts in your heart born out of ignorance,  by the weapon of knowledge. Armed with karmayoga stand up and fight.

Concluding his discussion, the Lord exhorts Arjuna to follow the path of action and fight


Do karma yoga and purify mind, do jnyana yoga and get

enlightenment. Any doubt is a product of ignorance. It can be removed only by light of knowledge.


tasmāt – therefore. Krishna refers to his statement made in the previous verse that actions do not bind one who acts in the spirit of Karmayoga.  Tasmat is used to conclude a


Ajñānasambhūtam, htstham –born of ignorance and deeply lodged in your heart. Here the Lord is speaking about saṁśayam or doubt. Doubt is the progeny of ignorance. The possible list of doubts faced by a a spiritual seeker is

mentioned in the previous verse. Ignorance of reality is the cause of these doubts. hr̥tstham meaning existing in the heart in your core or mind. Minds is the seat of doubts. Therefore one who has control over the mind does not waver and can easily overcome the doubts. What is the relevance of the doubt to Arjuna? Arjuna had come to the battle field fully prepared for the war. After seeing his kith and kins in the

enemy camp he was overpowered by emotion and thought that by killing them in the war he is doing a sin. He admits “my mind is wavering, I am not able to decide what is good for me. So Krishna tell me what shall I do”. He also said that none other than Krishna could clear his doubt. In the end, having heard Krishna he says, ‘Now I stand free from doubts”. Lord says here, ‘Arjuna slash all your doubts take

recourse to action as if it is a devine action  without expecting selfish results.”

jñānāsinā – by the sword of knowledge

ātmanaḥ –two meanings are possible. One is ‘your doubts in the mind’, and another is your adoubt about ‘self or jiva’.  In the previous verse the doubts arising in the mind has been discussed. Arjuna’s personal doubt was whether to wage the war or not. Chop off all doubts in the mind or your personal doubs by the sword of knowledge.

chittvā ēnam saṁśayam yōgam ātiṣṭha –by slashing your doubts residing in your heart by karmayoga knowledge आतिष्ठ-take refuge

uttiṣṭha bhārataḥ – stand up and fight. उत्तिष्ठ-arise,


ॐ तत्सदिति श्रीमद्भगवद्गीतासूपनिषत्सु
ब्रम्हविद्यायां  योगशास्त्रे श्रीकृष्णार्जुनसंवादे
ज्ञानकर्मसन्यसयोगो नाम चतुर्थोध्यायः ॥४॥


Thus, in the upanishads of the glorious Bhagawad Geeta, in the Science of God-realization, in the scripture of Yoga, in the dialogue between Shri Krishna and Arjuna, ends the fourth chapter entitled – “jnyana-karma-sanyasa-yoga” –the path of renunciation of action and right action.



Summary of 4th  chapter


4 th chapter can be classified into 3 portions.

  1. Iswara avatara  and jiva janma: verse 1 to 15
  2. Jnyana- karma sanyasa Central theme of 4th chapter




At the level of avatara or janma or at the level at nature  or svarupa, Jiva is caused by ego so attains punya papam. In the case of Ishwara janma is not due to ignorance because of sarvajnyatvam or omnicientcey and compassion.  So the word avatara is used in case of Ishwara jnyana is the karana. Second difference is regarding nature or svarupa: Since jiva comes down because of ignorance jiva is bound. He does not know his higher nature. Ishwara does not have this problem. Baddha svarupa and mukti svarupa. Body is made of 5 elements. Maya does not directly produce body. In case of Iswara ais a direct conversion of Maya. Bhautika shariram jivasya nd maya shariram avatarasya. Difference at the level of purpose, In case of jiva purpose of jiva is depletion of punya papa. T can be removed only by experience of sukha dukha. Iswara avatara is not for khysa of punya papa. Yada yada hi … abhyutyana He is srushti karta as well as sthiti karta. Yada yada hi dharmasya.. paritryanaya sadhunam

  1. Jnyana- karma sanyasa Central theme of 4th Verse 16-24 In this portion Krishna wants to point out that ther are twu types of liberation or karma sanyasa,
  2. A person quits the society and becomes a monk or sanyasa. He does not live in the house. B. Second is purely inner, not connected to external personality. Like non-stick pan or lotus. As body and mind karma association cannot be avoided. They are integrated. So youhave to recognixe atma tatva. Just as akasha is associated with everything but not polluted by anything. We ahve recognisxe that I am not body or mind. Like a dram actor. Infenal renunciation. I am playing the role of rama or kishna, But In life I am different from them. By shravan manana and nidhidhyasa jnyana yoga and Vedanta vichara I detach from action inernally is called iscalledjnyana karma sanyasaH.   Shankara says: karmanam  sanyasah is karma sanyasa, jnyanena karma snyasa is jnyana karmasanyasaH, renuctiation of action through knowledge. Inernal translformation. Like a person who sold his house to God and lives there as a trutee. Tyaktva karma sangam …naiva kinchit karoti yah> House holder jnyani and sanyasa jnyani. Brahmarpanam is a house holder or grihastha jnyani.  brhama havi .. Liberation is no dependent onAshrma but is dependent on wiseom. If wisdom is not there every ashrama is useless.
  3. Jnyana sadhana phalani. 26 the 42. To attain this knowledge many prepration are required. Jnyana sahakri supporting factors.

12 yajnya , vshaya bhoga yajnya convert all your interactionas offering to Lord. Dama yajnyaH, (disciplining of sense organs (shama yajnya mastery over mind. Agitation. Druavya yajnya charity tapo yajnya, over indulgence is weakness, yoga yajnya ashtang ygpoa svadhyaya yajnya parayana of scriptures, without knowledge becomes mechanical. Jnyana yajnya 2 tyoes one is priritual or self knowlddge, to acquire self knowledge  pranayama yagna practice of pranayama. Pranayama as a spirituyal discipline but not for physical growth. Ahara  niyama yagnya . controls our mind also. Krishnaq alkd sbout his 5 th and 176 hapter.

Then he talked about importance of Guru one should approach Guru. Parispratena parisprashnena.

More sadhanas:  shraddhavan labhate jnyanenam. TatparaH. Commitment. Half hearted effort will not produce any benefit. I should have conviction and courage without bothering what other people say. Abhayam sava samshuddhi th chapter. These are jnyana sadhanai. Or jnyana yajna. Knowldge alone can remove ignorance. All other sadhans can support. A candle sand of multiple colur and height are only supportive. Nahi jnyanaena sadrasham. Jnyana yoga is primary sadhana oall other supportive sadhana.   shryean drashya mayat yagnat samvam jnyane parisampayate. Other shdhan we can chose a few. Jnyana yoga no option every one has to come to that.

Jnyana phalam: 4 types of benefit;

  1. Moha nasha conflicts are gone.
  2. Papa nashaH past as well as present janma. Whatever I have acquired are sandhcita agami avoided and rarabhda are burnt.
  3. Sarva karma nashaH. It includes papa and punya karma.
  4. Jiva ishwara Aikya darshana. He recognizes essential oneness of Jiva and Ishwara. Aham Brahmasmi.

He concludes Arjuna you have to fallow karma yoga first purify the mind and take jnyana yoga to get liberation.





Bhagavad Gita explains the human problem of Samsara as rāga, śōka and moha (राग, शोक, मॊह). Rāga is desire or emotional dependence upon external factors. Śōka is grief or sorrow accrued an account of dependence on external objects. Moha or delusion is the character of the mind caused by extreme attachment and grief. An account of moha one loses his power of independent thinking and decision making. This is called delusion in Vedanta.

In the second chapter Krishna starts on working on the solution for the three problems. Karma yoga and jnyana yoga were briefly touched upon in 2nd chapter. 3rd chapter discussed exclusively karma yoga. And jnyana yoga was deliberated in 4th and 5th chapters.  Karma yoga and jnyana yoga are the prescription for the human problem of samsara.  Karma yoga is an active spiritual sadhana (discipline) or pravratti marga where as jnyana yoga is a passive action or Nivratti marga. Karma yoga involves converting all our activities into worship without selfish result. An account of this sadhana, the seeker’s mind gets purified and free from egoistic tendencies. Now is the time for Jnyana marga. Krishna teaches self-knowledge or ātma jñāna (आत्म ज्ञान) as a remedy.  It involves self-enquiry under a Guru.

The 4th chapter is known as jnyana-karma-sanyasa yoga. It has 42 verses and can be studies under 5 topics.

  1. Avtar (avatāra) Verse 1 to 15
  2. Nature of self knowledge and a wise person (jñāna and jñānī (ज्ञान ज्ञानी)Verse 16-24
  3. Disciplines that help in getting self-knowledge, jñāna sādhanāni (ज्ञान साधनानि) 25-34
  4. Benefit of self knowledge, jñāna phalam (ज्ञान फलम्) Verse 35-37
  5. Qualifications for knowledge, jñāna yōgyatā (ज्ञान योग्यता)Verse 38 -42



First Topic: Avatar (avatāra) Verse 1 to 15

Krishna compares the birth of a being (Jiva) and Avatar of God. Both of them are anadi or beginingless. There are fundamental differences in their birth.

  1. A being or jiva (soul) takes different bodies by the virtues of karma. Karma could be punya or papa (merit or sinful). Ishwara or God as an avatar does not have karmic binding because he does all actions without attachment and self-interest. So jiva is a samsari but Ishwara is ever liberated. Though the Lord is active, he is free from all activities and their results. So he is called akarta and abhokta (non-doer, non-enjoyer) Verse 9. The jiva being enamoured by desire, attachment, to the world moves away from his own real nature and becomes a victim of rāga, śōka and  Jiva takes up the body in order to exhaust his karmic actions of punya or papa. Ishwara has no karma to exhaust but he takes avatar in order to protect Dharma and establish right

order. Ishwara’s body is a direct conversion from maya. Jiva is baddha swarupa (bonded nature but Ishwara is mukti swarupa (free).

yadā yadā hi dharmasya glānirbhavati bhārata |

abhyutthānamadharmasya tadātmānaṁ sr̥jāmyaham

  1. Jiva’s body is of material nature. It is a product of Karma. It is made up of five material elements. The avatar of Ishwara is directly created by Maya.


Second Topic: Nature of self knowledge and wisdom

 (jñāna and jñānī (ज्ञान- ज्ञानी) Verse 16-24

This is the main topic of the fourth chapter of entire Gita. In verse 16 and 17, the Lord defines a wise man as one who sees actionless-ness (of the self) amidst the activities of the body. He also sees the potential action in the seemingly inactive body (verse18). By this statement the Lord wants to convey that one has to accept activities at the level of the body since no one can remain action-less. One should discover the inner self or “I” who remains action-less or akarta and abhokta.  All the activities and their results belong to the body not to “I”. Therefore true and complete renunciation is possible only through knowledge.  Knowing and remembering this higher nature is atma jnyana or realization. What is the benefit of this knowledge? The man becomes self-sufficient, contented, independent, equanimous, and free from desire, rāga, śōka and moha. He enjoys samatvam and so can face all vicissitudes of life without being affected.


Third topic: Disciplines that help in getting

self-knowledge Verse 25-34

jñāna sādhanāni (ज्ञान साधनानि)

Krishna prescribes twelve auxiliary disciplines for gaining self knowledge. These are:


  1. jñāna yajña (आत्मज्ञान यज्ञ) or self knowledge
  2. dēva yajña (देव यज्ञ) Ritualistic sacrifice where divine materials are offered to fire
  3. viśayabhōga yajña (विशयभोग यज्ञ)The worldly pleasures are offered to Lord.
  4. dama yajña (दम यज्ञ) Self-control
  5. śama yajña (शम यज्ञ) clipping the activities of mind by controlling quantity and quality and direction.
  6. manō yajña (मनो यज्ञ)
  7. dravya yajña (द्रव्य यज्ञ)
  8. tapō yajña (तपो यज्ञ)
  9. yōga yajña (योग यज्ञ)
  10. svādhyāya yajña (स्वाध्याय यज्ञ)
  11. prāṇāyāma yajña (प्राणायाम यज्ञ)
  12. āhāra niyamana yajña (आहार नियमन यज्ञ)


All these sādhanā साधना lead one to purity and concentration of mind. But they do not lead to self knowledge. For this only Atma jnyana or knowledge of infinite consciousness is required Brahma jnyana yajnya is superior to all (verse 33) because it is the direct means to liberation. To get this knowledge one should approach a Guru who is established in the truth, and tattva darśi (तत्त्व दर्शि) and who is also enlightened (verse 34).



The fourth topic:  Benefit of self knowledge,

 jñāna phalam (ज्ञान फलम्) Verse 35-37

These are the benefits of gaining the knowledge of infinity.

  1. One will not go back to rāga, śōka and moha (राग शोक मॊह) which are the root cause of conflict in samsara. He sees everything in Lord and the lord in everything; meaning that he recognizes his identity with the Lord (Verse 35).
  2. He crosses over the vast ocean of sin by the raft known as knowledge (Verse 36).
  3. Like a blazing fire, this knowledge reduces all karmic bondages to ashes (Verse 36). All other sadhanas can add merit to his account (Punya) but do not destroy ignorance like Jnyana karma does. Ignorance is the root cause of all sins.


The fifth topic: Qualifications for knowledge,

jñāna yōgyatā ( ज्ञान योग्यता) Verse 38 -42


In the concluding portion, he Lord talks about qualifications and disqualifications with regard to self knowledge.


One who has faith in the guru and the shastra, sense-control, and a sincere desire for knowledge will gain the knowledge (39).

On the other hand, one who is ignorant, faithless, and doubting is doomed. He cannot enjoy anything in here or in the hereafter (40).

Therefore, “Arjunal Eliminate all doubts regarding the validity of these spiritual pursuits, and resort to karmayoga”, advises Lord Krsna (42).