The Mahabharata Home
(Bhagavad Gita Chapter IV)
"The Holy One said,--'This imperishable (system of) devotion I declared to Vivaswat: Vivaswat declared it to Manu; and Manu communicated it to Ikshaku. Descending thus from generation, the Royal sages came to know it. But, O chastiser of foes, by (lapse of a) long time that devotion became lost to the world. Even the same (system of) devotion hath today been declared by me to thee, for thou art my devotee and friend, (and) this is a great mystery.'
"Arjuna said,--'Thy birth is posterior; Vivaswat's birth is prior. How shall I understand then that thou hadst first declared (it)?'
"The Holy One said,--'Many births of mine have passed away, O Arjuna, as also of thine. These all I know, but thou dost not, O chastiser of foes. Though (I am) unborn and of essence that knoweth no deterioration, though (I am) the lord of all creatures, still, relying on my own (material) nature I take birth by my own (powers) of illusion. Whenever, O Bharata, loss of piety and the rise of impiety occurreth, on those occasions do I create myself. For the protection of the righteous and for the destruction of the evil doers, for the sake of establishing Piety, I am born age after age. He who truly knoweth my divine birth and work to be such, casting off (his body) is not born again; (on the other hand) he cometh to me, O Arjuna. Many who have been freed from attachment, fear, wrath, who were full of me, and who relied on me, have, cleansed by knowledge and asceticism, attained to my essence. In whatsoever manner men come to me, in the selfsame manner do I accept them. It is my way, O Partha, that men follow on all sides. 2 Those in this world who are desirous of the success of action worship the gods, for in this world of men success resulting from action is soon attained. The quadruple division of castes was created by me according to the distinction of qualities and duties. Though I am the
author thereof, (yet) know me to be not their author and undecaying. 1 Actions do not touch me. I have no longing for the fruits of actions. He that knoweth me thus is not impeded by actions. Knowing this, even men of old who were desirous of emancipation performed work. Therefore, do thou also perform work as was done by ancients of the remote past. What is action and what is inaction,--even the learned are perplexed at this. Therefore, I will tell thee about action (so that) knowing it thou mayst be freed from evil. One should have knowledge of action, and one should have knowledge of forbidden actions: one should also know of inaction. The course of action is incomprehensible. He, who sees inaction in action and action in inaction, is wise among men; he is possessed of devotion; and he is a doer of all actions. The learned call him wise whose efforts are all free from desire (of fruit) and (consequent) will, and whose actions have all been consumed by the fire of knowledge. 2 Whoever, resigning all attachment to the fruit of action, is ever contented and is dependent on none, doth nought, indeed, although engaged in action. He who, without desire, with mind and the senses under control, and casting off all concerns, performeth action only for the preservation of the body, incurreth no sin. 3 He who is contented with what is earned without exertion, who hath risen superior to the pairs of opposites, who is without jealousy, who is equable in success and failure, is not fettered (by action) even though he works. All his actions perish who acts for the sake of sacrifice, 4 who is without affections, who is free (from attachments), and whose mind is fixed upon knowledge. Brahma is the vessel (with which the libation is poured); Brahma is the libation (that is offered); Brahma is the fire on which by Brahma is poured (the libation); Brahma is the goal to which he proceedeth by fixing his mind on Brahma itself which is the action. 5 Some devotees perform sacrifice to the gods. Others, by means of sacrifice, offer up sacrifices to the fire of Brahma. 6 Others offer up (as sacrificial libation) the senses of which hearing is the first to the fire of restraint. Others (again) offer up (as libations) the objects of sense of which sound is the first to the fire of the
senses. 1 Others (again) offer up all the functions of the senses and the functions of the vital winds to the fire of devotion by self-restraint kindled by knowledge. 2 Others again perform the sacrifice of wealth, the sacrifice of ascetic austerities, the sacrifice of meditation, the sacrifice of (Vedic) study, the sacrifice of knowledge, and others are ascetics of rigid vows. 3 Some offer up the upward vital wind (Prana) to the downward vital wind (apana); and others, the downward vital wind to the upward vital wind; some, arresting the course of (both) the upward and the downward vital winds, are devoted to the restraint of the vital winds. Others of restricted rations, offer the vital winds to the vital winds. 4 Even all these who are conversant with sacrifice, whose sins have been consumed by sacrifice, and who eat the remnants of sacrifice which are amrita, attain to the eternal Brahma. (Even) this world is not for him who doth not perform sacrifice. Whence then the other, O best of Kuru's race? Thus diverse are the sacrifices occurring in the Vedas. Know that all of them result from action, and knowing this thou wilt be emancipated. The sacrifice of knowledge, O chastiser of foes, is superior to every sacrifice involving (the attainment of) fruits of action, for all action, O Partha, is wholly comprehended in knowledge. 5 Learn that (Knowledge) by prostration, enquiry, and service. They who are possessed of knowledge and can see the truth, will teach thee that knowledge, knowing which, O son of Pandu, thou wilt not again come by such delusion, and by which thou wilt see the endless creatures (of the universe) in thyself (first) and then in me. Even if thou be the greatest sinner among all that are sinful, thou shalt yet cross over all transgressions by the raft of knowledge. As a blazing fire, O Arjuna, reduceth fuel to ashes, so doth the fire of knowledge reduce all actions to ashes. For there is nothing here that is so cleansing as knowledge. One who hath attained to success by devotion finds it without effort within his own self in time. He obtaineth knowledge, who hath faith and is intent on it and who hath his senses under control; obtaining knowledge one findeth the highest tranquillity in no length of time. One who hath no knowledge and no faith, and whose minds is full of doubt, is lost. Neither this world, nor the next, nor happiness, is for him whose mind is full of doubt. Actions do not fetter him, O Dhananjaya, who hath cast off action by devotion, whose doubts have been dispelled by knowledge, and who is self-restrained. Therefore, destroying, by the sword of knowledge,
this doubt of thine that is born of ignorance and that dwelleth in thy mind, betake to devotion, (and) arise, O son of Bharata.'
62:2 There can be little doubt that what Krishna says here is that no form of worship is unacceptable to him. Whatever the manner of the worship, it is I who is worshipped. After K. T. Telang's exhaustive and effective reply to Dr. Lorinser's strange hypothesis of the Gita having been composed under Christian influences, it is scarcely necessary to add that such toleration would ill accord with the theory of the Christian authorship of the poem.
63:1 i.e., both inactive and undecaying. Work implies exertion, and, therefore, loss of energy. In me there is no action, no loss of energy and therefore, no decay.
63:2 'Kama-sankalpa vivarjjitas.' i.e., freed from kama (desire of fruit) and sankalpa--the consequent will or determination to do. Thus both Sreedhara and Sankara.
63:3 Chitta the mind and atma in this connection is the senses. Thus both Sreedhara and Sankara.
63:4 Sacrifice means here the Supreme Soul. What is done for the sake of sacrifice is done for procuring emancipation.
63:5 What is meant by this is that in the case of such a person complete identification with Brahma takes place, and when such an identification has taken place, action is destroyed.
63:6 I.e., offering up sacrifice itself as a sacrifice to the Brahma fire, they cast off all action.
64:1 Offering up the senses to the fire of restraint means restraining the senses for the practice of Yoga. Offering up the objects of the senses means non-attachment to those objects.
64:2 Suspending the functions of life for contemplation or Yoga.
64:3 In these cases the sacrifices consist in the giving away of wealth, in the ascetic austerities themselves, in meditation, in study, etc. Sreedhara explains the first compound of the second line differently. According to him, it means not study and knowledge, but the knowledge from study.
64:4 All these are different kinds of Yoga, or the different stages of Yoga practice.
64:5 i.e., knowledge being attained, the fruits of action are attained by, at least, their end being compassed.
Next: Section XXIX (Bhagavad Gita Chapter V)