Bhagavad Gita: 4. Path Of Renunciation With Knowledge


KarmaYoga is an ancient law

The Supreme Lord said: I taught this KarmaYoga, the eternal science of right action, to King Vivasvān. Vivasvān taught it to Manu. Manu taught it to Ikshvāku. Thus handed down in succession the saintly Kings knew this (KarmaYoga). After a long time the science of KarmaYoga was lost from this earth. Today I have described the same ancient science to you because you are my sincere devotee and friend. KarmaYoga is a supreme secret indeed. (4.01-03) Arjuna said: You were born later, but Vivasvān was born in ancient time. How am I to understand that You taught this KarmaYoga in the beginning of the creation? (4.04)

The purpose of incarnation of God
The Supreme Lord said: Both you and I have taken many births. I remember them all, O Arjuna, but you do not remember. (4.05) Though I am eternal, immutable, and the Lord of all beings, yet I manifest myself by controlling My own material Nature, using My divine potential energy (YogaMāyā). (See also 10.14) (4.06)
Whenever there is a decline of Dharma (Righteousness) and a predominance of Adharma (Unrighteousness), O Arjuna, then I manifest Myself. I appear from time to time for protecting the good, for transforming the wicked, and for establishing world order (Dharma). (4.07-08) The one who truly understands My transcendental appearance and activities (of creation, maintenance, and dissolution), attains My supreme abode and is not born again after leaving this body, O Arjuna. (4.09) Many have become free from attachment, fear, anger, and attained salvation (Mukti) by taking refuge in Me, becoming fully absorbed in My thoughts, and becoming purified by the fire of Self-knowledge. (4.10)

Path of worship and prayer
With whatever motive people worship Me, I fulfill their desires accordingly. People worship Me with different motives. (4.11) Those who long for success in their work here on the earth worship the celestial controllers. Success in work comes quickly in this human world. (4.12)

The four divisions --- based on aptitude and vocation --- of human society were created by Me. Though I am the author of this system of the division of labor, one should know that I do nothing and I am eternal. (See also 18.41) (4.13) Work or Karma does not bind Me, because I have no desire for the fruits of work. The one who fully understands and practices this truth is also not bound by Karma. (4.14) The ancient seekers of liberation also performed their duties with this understanding. Therefore, you should do your duty as the ancients did. (4.15)

Attached, detached, and forbidden action
Even the wise ones are confused about what is action and what is inaction. Therefore, I shall clearly explain what is action, knowing that one shall be liberated from the evil of birth and death. (4.16) The true nature of action is very difficult to understand. Therefore, one should know the nature of attached (or selfish) action, the nature of detached (or selfless) action, and also the nature of forbidden action. (4.17)

A KarmaYogi is not subject to the Kārmic laws
The one who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, is a wise person. Such a person is a Yogi and has accomplished everything. (See also 3.05, 3.27, 5.08 and 13.29) (4.18) (To see inaction in action and vice versa is to understand that the Lord does all the work indirectly through His power by using us. He is the inactive actor. We are actively inactive because we cannot do anything without the flow of His power. Therefore, we are not the doer, just an instrument in His hands.) A person, whose desires have become selfless by being roasted in the fire of Self-knowledge, is called a sage by the wise. (4.19)

The one who has abandoned attachment to the fruits of work, and remains ever content and dependent on no one but God, such a person --- though engaged in activity --- does nothing at all and incurs no Kārmic reaction, good or bad. (4.20)

The one who is free from desires, whose mind and senses are under control, and who has renounced all proprietorship, does not incur sin --- the Kārmic reaction --- by doing bodily action. (4.21) Content with whatever gain comes naturally by His will, unaffected by pairs of opposites, free from envy, calm in success and failure, though engaged in work, such a KarmaYogi is not bound by Karma. (4.22) The one who is free from attachment, whose mind is fixed in Self-knowledge, who does work as a service (Sevā) to the Lord, all Kārmic bonds of such a philanthropic person (KarmaYogi) dissolve away.(4.23)

Brahma, the eternal Being, shall be realized by the one who considers everything as a manifestation or an act of Brahma. (Also see 9.16) (4.24)

Different types of spiritual practices Some Yogis perform the service of worship to celestial controllers (Devas, guardian angels), while others study scriptures for Self-knowledge. Some restrain their senses and give up their sensual pleasures. Others perform breathing and other yogic exercises. Some give charity and offer their wealth as a sacrifice. (4.25-28) Those who are engaged in yogic practices, reach the breathless state of trance (Samādhi) by offering inhalation into exhalation and exhalation into inhalation as a sacrifice by using yogic techniques. (4.29) Others restrict their diet and offer their inhalations as sacrifice into their inhalations. All these people are the knowers of sacrifice, and are purified by their sacrifice. (4.30)

Those who perform selfless service obtain the nectar of Selfknowledge as a result of their sacrifice and attain the Eternal Being. O Arjuna, even this world is not a happy place for the non-sacrificer, how can the other world be? (See also 4.38, and 5.06). (4.31)

Many types of spiritual disciplines are described in the Vedas. Know them all to be born from Karma or the action of body, mind, and senses. Knowing this, you shall attain salvation (Moksha, Nirvāna). (See also 3.14) (4.32)

Acquiring transcendental knowledge is a superior spiritual practice The acquisition and propagation of Self-knowledge are superior to any material gain or gift, O Arjuna. Because all actions in their entirety culminate in knowledge. (4.33) Acquire this transcendental knowledge from a Self-realized person by humble reverence, by sincere inquiry, and by service. The wise ones who have realized the Truth will teach you. (4.34) After knowing the Truth, O Arjuna, you shall not again become deluded like this. By this knowledge you shall behold the entire creation (first) within Me, the Supreme Being, then within your own higher Self (and then see Me alone in everything). (4.35) Even if one is the most sinful of all sinners, one shall yet cross over the ocean of sin by the raft of Self-knowledge alone. (4.36) As the blazing fire reduces wood to ashes; similarly, the fire of Self-knowledge reduces all bonds of Karma to ashes, O Arjuna. (4.37)

Transcendental Knowledge is revealed to a KarmaYogi
In truth, there is no purifier in this world like the true knowledge of the Supreme Being. One who becomes purified by KarmaYoga discovers this knowledge within, naturally, in course of time. (See also 4.31, and 5.06, 18.78) (4.38) The one who has faith and is sincere in yogic practices and has control over the senses, gains this transcendental knowledge. Having gained this knowledge, one at once attains supreme peace. (4.39) The irrational, the faithless, and the disbeliever (atheist) perish or take repeated birth and death. There is neither this world, nor the world beyond, nor happiness for the disbeliever. (4.40)

Both transcendental knowledge and KarmaYoga are needed for Nirvāna Work (Karma) does not bind a person who has renounced work by renouncing the fruits of work, and whose doubts about the Self are completely destroyed by Self-knowledge, O Arjuna. (4.41) Therefore, cut the ignorance- born doubt (about the Supreme Being) abiding in your mind by the sword of Self-knowledge, resort to KarmaYoga, and get up for the war, O Arjuna. (4.42)