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CHAPTER 4 - Jnana Yoga
« on: April 09, 2019, 11:56:42 PM »
Tradition of Jnana-Yoga
This Yoga of Devotion to knowledge taught in the last two Discourses, accompanied with renunciation and attained by means of Karma -Yoga, - this Yoga in which the Vedic teaching regarding the life of activity and retirement (Pravrtti and Nivritti) is comprehended, it is this Yoga which forms the subject of the Lord's teaching throughout the Gita. Thinking, therefore, that the Vedic Doctrine has been concluded, He extols it by relating its pedigree.

The Blessed Lord said:
1. I taught this imperishable Yoga to Vivasvat; Vivasvat taught it to Manu; Manu taught it to Ikshvaku.
This Yoga, treated of in the two preceding Discourses, I taught to the Sun (Vivasvat) at the commencement of Evolution in order to infuse strength into the kshatriyas, the rulers of the world. It is only when possessed of the strength of this Yoga, that they can protect the brahmanas, the spiritual class. And when the spiritual and ruling classes are well maintained, it is possible to maintain the world.
That Yoga is imperishable, because of its imperishable results. Indeed, Moksha, the fruit of this Yoga of complete devotion to right knowledge, never perishes. Vivasvat taught it to Manu;and Manu taught it to his son Ikshvaku the first ruler.


2. This, handed down thus in succession, the King - sages learnt. This Yoga, by long lapse of time, has been lost here, O harasser of foes.
This Yoga, thus handed down in regular succession among the kshatriyas, the king - sages - men who were at once kings and sages - learnt. The tradition of this Yosra has now for a long time been broken here, O Arjuna, who harassest thy foes, like the sun, by the heat of thy prowess.
Seeing that the Yoga has been lost by falling into the hands of the weak who could not control their senses, and seeing also that the people have not been able to attain the object of life.


3. That same ancient Yoga has been today taught to thee by Me, seeing that thou art My devotee and friend; for, this is the Supreme Secret.
This knowledge, this Yoga, is the Supreme Secret.

Divine Incarnations
In order not to leave in anybody's mind an impression that an inconsistent statement has been made by the Lord, and with a view to avoid that impression, Arjuna asks as though he were to raise an objection:

Arjuna said:
4. Later is Thy birth, and prior the birth of Vivasvat; how am I to understand that Thou taughtest this Yoga in the beginning?
Thy birth is later, in the house of Vasudeva; Vivasvat's (Aditya's) birth is prior, in the beginning of evolution; how, then, am I to reconcile the statements that Thou taughtest this Yoga in the beginning (to Vivasvat), and that Thou, the self - same person, hast now taught it to me? To remove - as was the aim of Arjuna's question - from the ignorant the impression that Vasudeva was not the Omnipotent and the Omniscient, the Blessed Lord says:


The Blessed Lord said:
5. Many births of Mine have passed, as well as of thine, O Arjuna; all these I know, thou knowest not, O harasser of foes.
Thou knowest not, because thy power of vision is obstructed by thy past action, good and bad (dharma and a-dharma). I, on the other hand, know them, because I am by nature eternal, pure, wise, unbound, and My power of vision is unobstructed. How, then, canst Thou, the eternal Lord, have a birth, in the absence of dharma and adharma? Listen:

6. Though I am unborn, of imperishable nature, and though I am the Lord of all beings, yet ruling over My own nature, I am born by My own Maya.
Though I am unborn, though by nature my power of vision (jnana-sakti) is undecaying, though I am by nature the Lord of all creatures from Brahma down to grass, yet ruling over My Nature - the Prakriti, the Maya of Vishnu, which is made up of the three energies of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, to which this whole universe is subject, and by which deluded the whole world knows not Vasudeva, its own Self, - I appear to be born and embodied, through my own Maya, but not in reality, unlike others.

The purpose of Divine Incarnation
When and for what purpose is He so born? - The answer follows:

7. Whenever there is a decay of religion, O Bharata, and an ascendency of irreligion, then I manifest Myself.
Religion: Dharma as embodied in the institution of castes (vanra) and religious orders (asrama) which are the means of attaining worldly prosperity and salvation. Whenever there is a decay of religion (Dharma), I manifest Myself through Maya. For what purpose?

8. For the protection of the good, for the destruction of evil-doers, for the firm establishment of religion, I am born in every age.
The good: those who are in the right path.

9. Whoso knows thus My divine birth and action in truth is not born again on leaving this body; he comes to Me, O Arjuna.
My birth is an illusion (Maya). It is Divine, peculiar to Isvara, not of ordinary nature (aprakrita). He comes to Me: He is liberated.

Jnana - Yoga is the sole means to moksha
This path of salvation is not recent, but it was in vogue even in ancient times:

10. Free from passion, fear and anger, absorbed in Me, taking refuge in Me, purified by the fire (tapas) of wisdom, many have reached My being.
Absorbed in Me: knowing Brahman, i.e., seeing their identity with Isvara. Taking refuge in Me, Paramesvara, the Supreme Lord, i.e., firmly devoted to wisdom only. Jnana-tapas: religious austerity (tapas) in the form of jnana or knowledge of the Highest Self, Paramatman. This compound indicates that Devotion to knowledge is quite independent of all other austerities (tapases). Having attained to highest purity by means of this fire of austerity (tapas), many have attained moksha.

Divine dispensation of worldly benefits and salvation
Then, Thou cherishest the feelings of affection and aversion, since Thou awardest moksha, Thy Being (identity with Thy Self), to a few only, not to all? - The answer follows:

11. Howsoever men approach Me, even so do I reward them; My path do men follow in all things, O son of Pritha.
I reward men by granting them the things they desire, just in accordance with the way in which they seek Me and the motive with which they seek Me; for, they do not seek for moksha.
One cannot indeed pursue pleasure and at the same time seek for moksha. Wherefore, I reward seekers of fruits by securing to them their selfish ends; I reward the unselfish, who do their prescribed duties and seek for moksha, by granting them knowledge; I reward men of knowledge who have renounced the world and seek for moksha, by granting them moksha; similarly, I reward men in distress by relieving them from distress. Thus, do I reward all, just in the way they seek Me. But never do I reward any from affection or aversion, or from delusion. In all things, men follow My path, the path of the Isvara. Who exists in all forms.


Question: If Thou, Isvara, art free from affection and other evil passions, then, since Thou art gracious to all creatures alike and able to grant every desire, why do they not all desire moksha and seek Thee, with the knowledge that Vasudeva is all?
Answer: Listen why it is so:


12. They who long after success in actions sacrifice here to the Gods; for, soon in this world of man accrues success from action.
They who long after success in action sacrifice to the Gods, such as Indra and Agni. The sruti says: "He who, on the other hand, worships a separate God, thinking, ‘He is separate from me and I am separate from Him’- he knows not. He is to the Devas as cattle (to men)." (Bhr. Up. 1 - 4 -10).
For, quickly is the fruit of action reaped in this world of men by those who, with selfish ends in view, sacrifice to external Gods, performing the works enjoined on them according to their caste (varna) and order (asrama). It is for this world of men that Vedic injunctions are meant. By the expression "soon in this world of man " the Lord implies that even in other worlds actions produce results, the only difference being that it is only to this world of men that injunctions based upon castes and religious orders apply.


Caste as a divinely ordered human institution
What is the foundation of the law that the respective duties of the several castes and religious orders obtain only in this world of men, but not in other worlds? Or the question may be put thus: It has been said that men, split up into the communities of several castes and orders (varnas and asramas), should follow Thy path in all things. Why should they necessarily follow Thy path only, but not that of any other? The answer follows:

13. The fourfold caste has been created by Me according to the distribution of energies and actions; though I am the author thereof, know Me as non-agent and immutable.
The four castes (vanas, lit., colors) have been created by Me, Isvara, according to the distribution of energies (gunas) and of actions.
The energies are Sattva (goodness). Rajas (foulness, activity), and Tamas (darkness).
The actions of a brahmana (priest), in whom Sattva predominates, are serenity, self - restraint, austerity, etc. (xviii. 42). The actions of a kshatriya (warrior), in whom Rajas predominates and Sattva is subordinate to Rajas, are prowess, daring, etc., (xviii. 43). The actions of a vaisya (merchant), in whom Rajas predominates and Tamas is subordinate to Rajas, are agriculture, etc. (xviii. 44). The action of a sudra (servant), in whom Tamas predominates and Rajas is subordinate to Tamas, is only servitude. Thus, have been created the four castes according to the distribution of energies and actions. This fourfold caste does not exist in other worlds. Hence the limitation "in this world of man." (iv. 12).


Objection: Oh! then Thou art the author of the act of creating the four castes, and as such Thou art bound by its effects; wherefore, Thou art not the eternal Lord nor the eternally unbound.
Answer: Though I am the author of this act when viewed from the standpoint of Maya, still, know thou that I am in reality no agent and therefore not subject to Samsara.


Action without attachment does not bind the soul
Since I am not in reality the author of those actions of which you think Me to ba the author,

14. Actions pollute Me not, nor have I a desire for the fruit of actions. He who knows Me thus is not bound by actions.
For want of egoism (ahankara), these actions do not pollute Me by necessitating incarnation; nor have I a desire for the fruit of these actions.
On the other hand, it is but right that actions should pollute those men of the world (samsara) who are attached to their actions, thinking themselves to be the authors thereof and longing for the fruits of such actions. As I have none of these, (viz., desire and attachment), actions cannot pollute Me.
Any other person, too, who knows Me to be his Self, who thinks "I am no agent, I have no longing for the fruits of actions," - his actions too will not necessitate incarnation. Knowing that ‘I am no agent, I have no longing for the fruits of actions,'


15. Thus knowing, men of old performed action in the hope of liberation; therefore, do thou also perform action as did the ancients in the olden time.
As the ancients performed action, do thou also perform action; do not sit quiet, nor renounce action. If thou art ignorant, do thou perform action to purify the self. If thou art wise and knowest the truth, do thou perform action for the protection of the masses. It was performed by the ancients such as Janaka in the olden time: it is not a recent institution. The real nature of action and inaction. If action should be performed here (in this world of man) I shall perform it on the authority of Thy word. Why shouldst thou add that it was performed by the ancients in the olden time? (In reply the Lord says:) Listen. For there is a great difficulty in (understanding) action. How?

16. What is action? What is inaction? - As to this, even the wise are deluded. I shall teach thee such action, by knowing which thou shalt be liberated from evil.
Even the wise are deluded as to what is action and what is inaction. Wherefore I will explain to you the nature of action and of inaction, knowing which thou shalt be released from the evil of samsara. Neither shouldst thou think thus: "It is familiar to all that action means movement of the body, and inaction means absence of it, to sit quiet. What is there to be learn about them?" Wherefore? The answer follows:

17. For, thou hast to know something even of action, something to know of unlawful action, and something to know of inaction; hard to understand is the nature of action.
For there is much to be learnt about the action, which is enjoined by the scripture, about the action, which is unlawful, and about inaction. In fact, it is hard to understand the true nature of action (enjoined), of inaction, and of unlawful action. What, then, is the true nature of action and inaction, about which much has to be learnt, and which you have promised to teach? Listen:

18. He who can see inaction in action, who can also see action in inaction, he is wise among men, he is devout, he is the performer of all action.
‘Action’ means what is done, an act in general. Inaction can be seen in action, and action in inaction, since both inaction (nivritti ) and action (pravritti) presuppose an agent.87 In fact, all our experience of such things as action and agent is possible only in a state of avidya, only when we have not yet attained to the Real (vastu). He who sees inaction in action and who sees action in inaction, - he is wise among men, he is devout (yukta, Yogi), and he has done all action. - Thus, is he extolled who sees action in inaction and vice versa.

Objection: What means this incongruity, "who can see inaction in action and action in inaction"? Surely action can never be inaction, nor can inaction be action. How can one ever realize such an incongruity?
Answer: This objection does not apply to our interpretation. To an ignorant man of the  world, what in reality is inaction appears as action, and what in reality is action appears as inaction. With a view to teach what their real nature is, the Lord says, " He who can see inaction in action," etc.
Hence no incongruity. It must be a bare truth that the Lord means to teach here, inasmuch as He has said that he who realizes this view of action and inaction is wise, and has introduced the subject by saying that there is much to be learnt about action and inaction, (iv. 17). It has also been said that ‘by knowing which thou shalt be liberated from evil’ (iv. 16); and certainly, freedom from evil cannot be achieved by means of false knowledge. Wherefore, we should understand that action and inaction are misunderstood by all living beings and that the Lord, wishing to remove this false view of them, teaches " He who can see inaction in action " etc.? Moreover, inaction cannot be said to be located in action or contained in it, as jujube (badara) fruits in a vessel, nor can action be said to be located in inaction; for, inaction is but the absence of action. Wherefore (the meaning of the Lord must be that) action and inaction are not rightly understood by people and that the one is mistaken for the other, as the mirage is mistaken for water, or as the mother - of - pearl is mistaken for silver.
Objection: Action is ever action to all; it never appears to be anything else?
Answer: Not so. When a ship is in motion, the motionless trees on the shore appear, to a man, on board the ship, to move in the opposite direction; distant and moving bodies which are far away from our eye appear to be motionless. Similarly, here, (in the case of the Self) inaction is mistaken for action, and action for inaction. Wherefore, to remove this false impression, the Lord says " He who can see inaction in action " etc.
Though such an objection has been more than once answered, people who have long been subject to great misconceptions are deluded often and often, forget the truth though often and often taught, and often and often raise objections based on false premises. Wherefore, seeing how difficult the Real is for us to know, the Lord often answers such objections. The truth that the Self is actionless, so clearly taught by sruti, smriti, and reason has been taught here also in ii. 20 - 24; and it also will be taught hereafter. It is, however, a deep-rooted habit of the mind to connect action with the actionless Self, though it is contrary to His real nature; wherefore, "even the wise are deluded as to what is action and what is inaction" (v. 16).
Action pertains to the physical body (deha) etc., but man falsely attributes action to the Self and imagines "I am the agent, mine is action, by me shall the fruit of action be reaped." Similarly, he falsely imputes to the Self the cessation of activity which really pertains to the body and the senses, as also the happiness which results from that cessation (of activity); he imagines ‘I shall be quiet, so that I may be happy, without worry and without action; and I do nothing now, I am quiet and happy.’ To remove this false impression, the Lord says "He who can see inaction in action," etc.
Now, action which belongs to the body and the senses, while yet retaining its own nature as action, is falsely imputed by all to the Self who is actionless and immutable; whence even a learned man thinks " I act."
Hence the passage means: He who sees inaction in action, i.e., he who has the right knowledge that action, which is commonly supposed by all to pertain to the Self, does not really belong to the Self, just as motion does not really pertain to the trees (on the shore of the river) which appear (to a man on board the ship) to move in the opposite direction; and he who sees action in inaction, i.e., he who knows that even inaction is action, - for, inaction is but a cessation of bodily and mental activities, and like action it is falsely attributed to the Self and causes the feeling of egoism as expressed in the words " quiet and doing nothing, I sit happy;" he who can realize the nature of action and inaction as now explained is wise among men; he is devout (Yogi), he is the performer of all actions. He is released from evil; he has achieved all.

This verse has been interpreted in a different way by some commentators. - How? - The obligatory duties (nityakarma), performed for the sake of Isvara, do not produce any effect and may therefore be figuratively termed inaction, i.e., they are equivalent to inaction; and neglect of those duties produces evil and may therefore, only figuratively, be termed action, i.e., it is equivalent to action. Accordingly, they have interpreted the verse thus: - He who regards the obligatory duties (nityakarma) as inaction, since they do not produce any effect - just as a cow may be said to be no cow when she does not serve the purpose of yielding milk, - and he who regards the neglect of obligatory duties as an action, since it produces evil such as hell (naraka), he is wise among men, etc. This interpretation cannot hold good as such knowledge cannot lead to liberation from evil, the Lord's statement that "by knowing which thou shalt be liberated from evil" (iv. 16) would prove false. Even though it be granted (for mere argument's sake) that liberation from evil accrues from the performance of obligatory duties (nityakarma), it can never be granted that it will accrue from the mere knowledge that they do not produce any effect. Certainly, it is nowhere revealed (in sruti) that liberation from evil accrues from the knowledge that obligatory duties do not produce effects or from a knowledge of those obligatory duties themselves. It cannot be urged that it has been taught here by the Lord. The same argument holds good also against their view as to seeing action in inaction. Indeed, this precept enjoins, (they hold), not that neglect of obligatory duties (nitya-karma) should be regarded as action, but only that obligatory duties should be performed. Moreover, no good can result from the knowledge that non - performance of obligatory duties leads to evil. Neither can non-performance (which is non-existent in itself) of obligatory duties be enjoined as an object on which to fix our thought!
Nor by a false knowledge which regards inaction as action can a man be released from evil, or said to be wise and devout and to have performed all actions: and such a knowledge deserves no praise. False knowledge is itself the evil; how can it release us from another evil? Darkness does not expel darkness.
Objection: The knowledge that inaction is action or that action is inaction is not an illusion, but a figurative idea based upon the fact of productiveness or unproductiveness of effects.
Answer: No. For, nowhere is it taught that even such a figurative idea regarding action and inaction is of any good.
Neither is any purpose served by thus ignoring the immediate subject of discourse and speaking of something else. It is, moreover, possible to express more directly the fact that obligatory duties do not produce effects and that their omission leads to hell. What, then, might be the purpose served by such an ambiguous circumlocution as "he who can see inaction in action, " etc.? Such an explanation is tantamount to saying that the Lord wanted to confound others by these utterances. It is not necessary to mystify the doctrine (of obligatory duties) by means of symbolic language, nor is it possible to maintain that it can be easily understood if expressed often and often and in more ways than one. For, the same doctrine is more clearly expressed in ii. 47, and needs no reiteration. It is only what is high and worthy of our effort that is worth knowing, but not the worthless. No knowledge is worth acquiring; nor is its object - which is unreal - worth knowing.
No evil can arise from non-performance; no existence can arise from Non-existence.
It has been said here, "Of the unreal no being there is," ( ii. 16), and in the sruti " How can the existent arise from the non-existent?" (Cha. Up. 6 - 2 - 2). To say that an existent object arises from the nonexistent is tantamount to saying that Non-existence itself becomes existence and vice versa, which cannot be maintained as it is against all evidence. The scripture (sastra) cannot enjoin an act which is productive of no good; for, such an act is painful in its performance, and no pain would ever be deliberately incurred. Since it is admitted that omission of such duties leads to hell, it would simply amount to this, that Revelation (sastra) is of no good, since performance as well as omission of duties therein enjoined alike result in pain. Moreover, he who admits that obligatory duties produce no effects and at the same time holds that they lead to salvation, lands himself in a self - contradiction. Wherefore, this verse admits only of a literal interpretation, and we have interpreted it accordingly.


Who is a sage?
The realization of inaction in action and vice versa is extolled as follows:

19. He whose engagements are all devoid of desires and purposes, and whose actions have been burnt by the fire of wisdom, him the wise call a sage.
The man who has realized the truth described above, works are all free from desires and from purposes (sankalpa) which cause those desires, who performs mere whose deeds without any immediate purpose, if he be engaged in worldly action, he does so with a view to set an example to the masses; if he has renounced worldly life, he performs deeds only for bodily maintenance, - whose actions good and bad, are consumed in the fire of wisdom which consists in the realization of inaction in action and vice versa: him the wise who know Brahman call a real sage (pandita).

The Sage's worldly action as an example to the masses
He who can see action in inaction and vice versa, (i.e., who has realized the true nature of action and inaction), is, by virtue of that very realization, free from action; he renounces (the world) and engages in no action, only doing what is required for the bare existence of his body, even though he had been engaged in action before realizing the truth.
On the other hand, there may be a person who, having started with action and having since obtained the right knowledge of the Self, really abandons action with all its accessories, as he finds action of no use; but who, finding that for some reason he cannot abandon action, may continue doing action as before, with a view to set an example to the world at large, devoid of attachment to action and its result, and therefore having no selfish end in view; such a man really does nothing. His action is equivalent to inaction, since all his actions are consumed in the fire of knowledge. To teach this, the Lord says:


20. Having abandoned attachment for the fruits of action, ever content, dependent on none, though engaged in actions, nothing at all does he do.
He who has abandoned all concern for action and all attachment for its results in virtue of the knowledge of the truth explained above, who is always content, longing for no objects of senses; who seeks nothing whereby to achieve any end of his (i.e., to secure enjoyments in this birth or the next);
who, for want of any selfish end in view, might give up action with its accessories; but who, finding it impracticable to get away from action, engages in action as before with a view to set an example to the world or to avoid the displeasure of the orthodox, - such a man, though 1 engaged in actions, really does nothing at all, since he is endued with knowledge of the actionless Self.


The Sage's action for bodily maintenance
He who, unlike the one just spoken of, has, even before engaging in action, realized his identity with Brahman (the Absolute) abiding within all as the innermost actionless Self (the Pratyagatman); who is free from desire for objects of pleasure, seen or unseen; and who, therefore, finding no use in action which is intended to secure such objects of pleasure, renounces all action with accessories, except what is necessary for the bare bodily maintenance; such a devotee, steady in his devotion to knowledge, is liberated. To teach this, the Lord says:

21. Free from desire, with the mind and the self-controlled, having relinquished all possessions, doing mere bodily action, he incurs no sin.
He from whom all desires have departed, by whom the mind and the body (the self, the external aggregate of causes and effects) have been controlled, by whom all property has been disowned, who does mere bodily action (action necessary for the bare existence of the body), without attachment even for that action, - he incurs no sin which will produce evil effects. Even dharma is a sin, - in the case of him who seeks liberation, inasmuch as it causes bondage.
He is liberated from both (dharma and a-dharma), i.e., he is liberated from samsara. Now, what does the phrase ‘mere bodily action’ (sarirakarma) mean?
Does it mean action which can be performed by means of the body only? Or does it mean action required for the bare existence of the body?
One may ask: What is the good of this enquiry? What if ’bodily action ‘means ‘action done by means of the body ‘or ‘action necessary for the bare existence of the body‘?
We reply as follows: Firstly: If ‘mere bodily action’ ‘means ‘action which can be performed by means of the body only ', the words would imply that even he who, by means of the body, does an unlawful action productive of some visible or invisible results, incurs no sin.
Then this teaching would contradict the teaching of the sastra. And to say that he who does by means of the body a lawful action productive of some visible or invisible results incurs no sin is to deny something which even the opponent would never advance. Moreover, the qualifications ‘doing bodily action’ and 'mere ‘would imply that sin accrues to him who in speech or thought performs actions enjoined or prohibited by the sastra, respectively called dharma and adharma. To say, then, that he who does a lawful act in speech or thought incurs sin would be to contradict the scripture; and to say that he who does an unlawful act in speech or thought incurs sin is a useless reiteration of what is known.
Secondly: If, on the other hand, "bodily action" be interpreted to mean ‘action required for the bare existence of the body,’ then the teaching amounts to this: He who in deed, speech and thought does no other action, lawful or unlawful, productive of results here or hereafter; who, in deed, speech or thought, performs in the eye of the world just those acts which are required for the bare existence of the body without even such attachment for those acts as is implied in the words " I do," he does not incur sin.
Since it cannot even be imagined that such a man can do any wrong which may be called sin, he is not subject to rebirth; he is liberated without any let or hindrance since all his actions have been consumed in the fire of knowledge. Thus, there is here only a reiteration of the results of the right knowledge, which have been described already (in iv.18). The phrase 'mere bodily action ‘thus understood gives no room to objection.
Since an ascetic who has disowned all property does not own even the articles of food and other things required for the maintenance of the body; it would follow that the body should be maintained by begging or such other means Now the Lord points out such means of obtaining food and other things required for the maintenance of the body as are sanctioned b}’the texts like the following: "What is not begged for, not previously arranged for, what has been brought to him without his effort.." (Baudhayana-dharmasutra, 2 - 8 - 12).


22. Satisfied with what comes to him by chance, rising above the pairs of opposites, free from envy, equanimous in success and failure, though acting he is not bound.
He who is satisfied with whatever he may obtain by chance, without his effort or request, who is not affected in mind by the attack of such pairs of opposites (dvandva) as heat and cold, who cherishes no feelings of envy and jealousy, who is calm whether he obtains or not such things as might come to him without effort, such a devotee, feeling no pleasure or pain whether he obtains or not food and other things required for the maintenance of the body, seeing action in inaction and vice versa, ever steady in his knowledge of the true nature of the Self, always disowning agency "I do nothing at all, energies act upon energies," - in all acts of the body, etc., while begging or doing anything else for the bare existence of the body, thus realizing the nonagency of the Self, he really does no act at all, not even the act of begging. But as he appears to act like the generality of mankind, agency is imputed to him by people, and so far he is the agent in the act of begging and the like.
From his own point of view, however, as based on the teaching of the scriptures which are the source of right knowledge, he is no agent at all.
Thus, though he performs the act of begging and the like required for the bare existence of the body, and though with reference to these acts agency is imputed to him by others, he is not bound, since action and its cause, which are the source of bondage, have been burnt in the fire of wisdom. This is only a reiteration of what has been already said (iv, 19, 21).


The Sage's worldly action does not bind him
It has been shown in iv. 20 that that man does no action who, having started in life with action, has since realized the actionless Self as one with Brahman and has seen the Nonexistence of agent, action and results, but who, though competent to renounce action, yet, on account of something preventing him from doing so, has continued in action as before. Of him who, as thus shown, does no action, the Lord Says:

23. Of the man whose attachment is gone, who is liberated, whose mind is established in knowledge, who acts for the sake of sacrifice, - his whole action melts away.
That man from whom all attachment is gone, from whom all cause of bondage, dharma and adharma, has fled away, whose mind is ever fixed in wisdom alone, who acts with a view to the performance of a sacrifice - his action with its result is dissolved away, is reduced to nothing.

Wisdom - sacrifice
For what reason, then, is all action which he does, entirely dissolved, without producing its natural result? Listen why.

24. Brahman is the offering, Brahman the oblation; by Brahman is the oblation poured into the fire of Brahman; Brahman verily shall be reached by him who always sees Brahman in action.
The man who has realized Brahman sees that the instrument by which the oblation is poured in the fire is nothing but Brahman; that it has no existence apart from that of the Self, just as silver has no existence apart from that of the mother of pearl (mistaken for silver).
What (in the illustration appears as silver is nothing but the mother-of-pearl. What people look upon as the instrument of offering is, to one who has realized Brahman, nothing but Brahman. Brahman is the oblation: i.e., what is regarded as oblation is to him nothing but Brahman.
So the fire wherein the oblation is offered is nothing but Brahman;and it is by Brahman that the offering is made, i.e., the agent is none other than Brahman. The act of offering is nothing but Brahman; and the result, the goal to be reached by him who always sees Brahman in action is nothing but Brahman.
Thus, the action performed by him who wishes to set an example to the world is in reality no action, as it has been destroyed by the realization of Brahman in action. This representation as a sacrifice (Yajna) of the right knowledge possessed by him who has given up all rites and has renounced all action is quite in its place, as serving to extol that right knowledge. For him who has realized the Supreme Reality, the instrument of offering and other accessories connected with the actual sacrifice are nothing but Brahman, who is one with his own Self. Else, it would be to no purpose to speak specifically of the instrument and other accessories of a sacrificial rite as Brahman, when everything is Brahman. Wherefore, to one who realizes that all is Brahman, there is no action.
Moreover, all idea of the accessories of action is absent; and indeed, no act of sacrifice is ever possible in the absence of such an idea.
Every sacrificial rite, such as Agnihotra, is associated with an idea (derived from the revealed texts) of the accessories of action such as a particular God or Gods to whom the oblation should be offered, and with egoism on the part of the agent and his attachment for the results. No sacrificial rite is ever found unassociated with the idea of the accessories of action and results, unaccompanied with egoism and a longing for the results.
But this (wisdom - sacrifice) is an action wherein all idea of the instrument and other various accessories of action, all idea of action itself and of its results, has been replaced by the one idea of Brahman. Whence it is no action at all. This is shewn in iv 18, 20; iii. 28; v., 8 Thus teaching, our Lord here and there tries also to remove all idea of duality, ice, of action, its result and its accessories. It is admitted in the case of the Kamya - Agnihotra - the sacrifice of Agnihotra performed for some selfish purpose - that it ceases to be a Kamya - Agnihotra in the absence of that purpose. So also, we are given to know that actions produce different results according as they are performed deliberately or otherwise. Accordingly, here too, in the case of the wise man, in whom the idea of Brahman has replaced all idea of duality such as, the instrument and other accessories of the act of offering, the act itself and its results - his action, though appearing as such externally, ceases to be action. Whence it is said " the whole action melts away " (iv. 23). In interpreting this passage, some say: - What we call Brahman is the instrument of action and so on. And in fact it is Brahman that manifests Himself in the five forms, such as action and its accessories, - and does the action. In this case, the idea of the instrument and other accessories of action does not cease to exist.
On the other hand, it is taught that the idea of Brahman should be fixed upon action and its accessories in the same way that the idea of Vishnu is fixed upon an idol or the idea of Brahman is fixed upon ‘name.’ (Vide Ch. Upanishad, 7 - 1 - 5). Indeed, even this view would be possible if this particular section of the discourse were not here concerned with the praise of the Wisdom - sacrifice (jnana - yajna). On the other hand, our Lord will here speak of the several acts of worship termed yajuas (sacrifices) and then praise wisdom, the right knowledge, in these terms: "Superior is the wisdom - sacrifice to the sacrifice with objects." (iv. 33). And it has been shown that the verse is intended to represent wisdom as a sacrifice (vide p.83 - 84).
But, with those who maintain that the idea of Brahman should be fixed upon the sacrificial rite and all its accessories, just as the idea of Vishnu is fixed upon an idol or the idea of Brahman on 'name’- the Brahma - vidya (knowledge of Brahman), which has been hitherto spoken of, cannot be the aim of the teaching here; for, this verse would be mainly concerned, according to their interpretation, with the instrument, etc., connected with a sacrificial rite.
Moreover, moksha cannot be obtained by that knowledge which consists in fixing the idea of Brahman on a symbol (such as a sacrificial rite).
It has been here said that Brahman is the goal to be reached. It is indeed opposed to truth to maintain that moksha can be obtained without knowledge. Such interpretation is also opposed to the context. Right knowledge is the subject of which this Discourse treats (vide. iv. 18), and the concluding portion of the Discourse treats of the same subject, as shown by the closing verses. The Discourse indeed concludes by extolling right knowledge (iv. 33. 39). Accordingly, it is not right to maintain that, all on a sudden, and without reference to the present topic, it is here taught that the idea of Brahman should be fixed on a sacrificial act just as the idea of Vishnu is fixed on an idol. Wherefore this verse should be interpreted as has been done by us.


Sacrifices effected by action
After representing the right knowledge as a sacrifice, the Lord proceeds to enumerate other kinds of sacrifice with a view to extol the right knowledge:

25. Other yogis resort to sacrifices to Gods; in the fire of Brahman others offer the Self by the Self.
Some yogis, devotees to action, perform only sacrificial rites in devotion to the Gods, while others who know Brahman, the Absolute, sacrifice the Self by the Self in the fire of Brahman. The oblation (ahuti) in this latter sacrifice is yajna, the Self, - for 'yajna, ‘is enumerated among the terms synonymous with ‘Atman’ - who is in reality one with Brahman, but who is conditioned by the upadhis (such as buddhi) with all their attributes superimposed upon Him.
This oblation of the Self is poured by the Self into Brahman, here termed fire, the place into which that oblation is poured, as described in the following texts: "Brahman is the Real, Consciousness, the Infinite." (Tait. Up. 2 - 1). "Brahman who is Consciousness and Bliss." (Bri.Up. 3 - 9 - 28)."
Brahman who is immediately cognised by all, and who is the Innermost Self of all " (Bri. Up. 3 - 2 - 1). Brahman is devoid of all characteristics of mundane existence (samsara) such as hunger and thirst, inconceivable in any particular form or aspect, as taught by the Scripture in the terms, "It is not thus, it is not thus." (Bri. Up. 4 - 4 - 22). To know the conditioned Self as identical with the unconditioned Brahman is to sacrifice the Self in Brahman.
This is the sacrifice which is performed by those who, having renounced all action are ever steady in their knowledge of the identity of the Self with Brahman. This Wisdom - Sacrifice (described in iv. 24) is here enumerated along with the Gods - Sacrifice (Daiva - yajna) and others, with a view to extol it (iv. 33).


26. Others offer hearing and other senses in the fires of restraint; others offer sound and other objects in the fires of the senses.
Some yogis offer hearing and other senses in the fires of restraint (samyama); - the plural ‘fires’ is used because the restraint differs with each sense; they are ever engrossed in restraining their senses; while others sacrifice the objects of senses in the fires of the several senses, i.e., they regard it as a sacrifice to direct their senses only to the unforbidden objects of senses.

27. And others sacrifice all the functions of the senses and the functions of the vitality in the wisdom-kindled fire of the Yoga of Self-restraint.
Wisdom-kindled: kindled by discriminative wisdom, as a lamp is kindled by oil. The functions of prana, the vital air in the individual's body, are expansion, contraction, etc. The functions of the senses and of the vital air are completely dissolved while the yogi concentrates the mind on the Self.

28. Others are sacrificers by their wealth, sacrificers by austerity, sacrificers by Yogas, sacrificers by reading and knowledge, ascetics of rigid vows.
Of others, some sacrifice by way of giving away their wealth to the deserving; some by austerity; some by Yoga, comprising such practices as Pranayama (restraint of vital airs) and Pratyahara (withdrawal of the mind from external objects); some by way of repeating Vedic texts such as the rig - Veda according to prescribed rules; some by way of studying the contents of the Scriptures (sastra).

29. Others offer prana (outgoing breath) in apana (incoming breath), and apana in prana, restraining the passages of prana and apana, absorbed in pranayama (restraint of breath).
Some practice the kind of pranayama called Puraka (filling in); some practice the kind of Pranayama called Rechaka (emptying); some are engaged in the practice of Pranayama called Kumbhaka by impeding the outward passage of the air through nostrils and the mouth, and by impeding the inward passage of the air in the opposite direction. Moreover,

30. Others, with regulated food, offer life - breaths in life-breaths. All these are knowers of sacrifice, whose sins are destroyed by sacrifice.
Regulated: limited. Whatever life - breath has been controlled, into it they sacrifice all other life - breaths; these latter become, as it were, merged in the former.

31. Eating of ambrosia, the remnant of the sacrifice, they go to Eternal Brahman. This world is not for the non-sacrificer; whence the other? - O best of Kurus.
Performing the sacrifices mentioned above, they eat, at intervals, of prescribed food in a prescribed manner. Food so eaten is called ambrosia, amrita (immortal). If they wish for moksha, they go to Brahman in course of time, not at once, as we should understand for consistency's sake. Even this world, which is common to all beings, is not for one who performs none of the sacrifices mentioned above. How can there be to him another world which can be secured only by superior means?

32. Thus manifold sacrifices are spread at the mouth of Brahman. Know them all as born of action. Thus knowing, thou shalt be liberated.
Thus various sacrifices, such as those mentioned above, are spread at the mouth of Brahman, i.e., are known from the Vedas through such passages as the following." We sacrifice prana in speech." Know that they are all born of the not-Self, - of action in deed, speech and thought, - for the Self is actionless. If you realize that " these are not my actions, I am actionless, I am unconcerned," you will be released, by this right knowledge, from evil, from the bond of samsara.

Wisdom - sacrifice is superior to other sacrifices

Right knowledge has been represented as a sacrifice in iv. 24. Then several sacrifices were taught. Knowledge is now extolled as compared with these latter kinds of sacrifices which are all means of attaining the several objects of human pursuit.

33. Superior is wisdom - sacrifice to the sacrifice with objects, O harasser of thy foes. All action, without exception, O son of Pritha, is comprehended in wisdom.
The sacrifice performed with material objects produces material effects, whereas wisdom - sacrifice does not. Wherefore wisdom - sacrifice is superior to the sacrifice performed with material objects. For, wisdom, which is the means to moksha, comprehends all action. So says the sruti: "Just as (in the game of four dice) the three dice are comprehended in the fourth termed krita, so whatever good people do, all that reaches him. Any other man who knows that which he knew (obtains the same result.) - (Cha. Up. 4 - 1 - 4)

How and where one should seek wisdom.
By what means is this grand wisdom to be obtained?

34. Know this: by long prostration, by enquiry, by service, those men of wisdom who have realized the truth will teach thee wisdom.
Know thou by what process it is obtained. Go to the teachers (Acharyas) and humbly prostrate thyself before them. Ask them what is the cause of bondage (bandha) and what the means of deliverance; what is wisdom (vidya) and what nescience (avidya). Do service to the Guru. Won over by these and other marks of respect, the teachers who, knowing the truth as well as realizing it themselves, will impart to thee their wisdom, that wisdom which has been described above. Some only, but not all, know as , well as realize the truth.
By this the Lord means to say that that knowledge alone which is imparted by those who have realized the truth and no other knowledge can prove effective. Then alone the following statement will hold good:


35. Knowing which, thou shalt not again thus fall into error, O Pandava; and by which, thou wilt see all beings in thy Self and also in Me.
Having obtained the wisdom imparted by them, you will not be again subject to confusion as you now are. 'By this wisdom you will also immediately perceive all beings, from Brahma (the Creator) down to grass, in your own Self. You will then realize that "these beings exist in Me."
You will also see them all in Me, Vasudeva, thus: " And these beings exist in the Supreme Lord;" i.e., you will realize that unity of the individual Soul (Kshetrajna) and the Isvara which is so clearly taught in all the Upanishads.


Wisdom, a consumer of all sins and actions
Moreover, see how excellent knowledge is:

36. Even shouldst thou be the most sinful of all the sinful, thou shalt verily cross all sin by the bark of wisdom.
With the boat of this knowledge, verily, you can cross the ocean of sin. For one who seeks liberation, even dharma proves to be a sin. How does wisdom destroy sin? - Here is an example:

37. As kindled fire reduces fuel to ashes, O Arjuna, so does wisdom - fire reduce all actions to ashes.
Just as a well-kindled fire reduces fuel to ashes, so does the fire of wisdom reduce all actions to ashes, i.e., it renders them impotent.
The fire of wisdom cannot indeed literally reduce actions to ashes as fire reduces fuel to ashes. Accordingly we should understand that right knowledge is the cause which renders all actions impotent. But the actions by which this body has been brought into existence will come to an end only when their effects will have been fully worked out; for, those actions have already commenced their effects. Thus wisdom can destroy only such actions as have not yet begun to produce their effects, whether they are actions done in this birth before the rise of knowledge and along with knowledge, or those done in the many previous births. Wherefore,

38. Verily, there exists here no purifier equal to wisdom. He who is perfected by Yoga finds it in time in himself by himself.
The seeker of moksha who has perfected and regenerated himself by Yoga - by Karma-Yoga and by Samadhi - Yoga - will after a long practice, himself find spiritual wisdom in himself.

The surest means to wisdom.
The surest means of acquiring wisdom is taught as follows:

39. He obtains wisdom who is fall of faith, who is devoted to it, and who has subdued the senses. Having obtained wisdom, he ere long attains to the Supreme Peace.
A man full of faith obtains wisdom. But he may be slow; whence it is enjoined that he should ever be intently devoted to the means of obtaining wisdom, such as constant attendance on the Teachers (Gurus). A man of faith and devotion may not have mastery over the senses; whence it is also enjoined that he should withdraw his senses away from their engrossment in objects. Such a man of faith, devotion and self-control is sure to obtain wisdom.
Mere external acts (iv.34), such as long prostration before the Guru, may fail to produce the required effect, since they may be tinged with hypocrisy. But hypocrisy is impossible when a man is full of faith and so on. Whence these are the certain means of acquiring wisdom. - What is the result of this acquisition of wisdom? The answer follows: Having obtained wisdom, he swiftly attains the Supreme Peace, called Moksha.
That the right knowledge quickly leads to moksha is an established truth clearly taught by all sastras as well as reason.


Wisdom the killer of doubt
Thou shalt not doubt this, for doubt is most sinful. - How? - Listen:

40. The ignorant, the faithless, and one of doubting self, is ruined. There is neither this world, nor the other, nor happiness, for one of doubting self.
The man who knows not the Self is ruined, as also the man who has no faith in the teachings and the words of his Guru, and the man whose mind is full of doubts. No doubt the ignorant and the faithless are ruined, but not to the same extent as a man of doubting mind. He is the most sinful of all. How?
Even this world which is common to all men is not won by a sceptic, nor the other world, nor happiness; for, even these things come within the sweep of his doubt. Wherefore thou shalt not doubt. Wherefore? For,


41. Him who has renounced actions by Yoga, whose doubts have been cloven asunder by wisdom, who is self-possessed, actions bind not, O Dhananjaya.
He who sees the Supreme Being renounces all actions - dharma and a-dharma - by virtue of Yoga or knowledge of the Supreme Being. He attains this stage when his doubt has been cloven asunder by the realization of the oneness of the Self with the Isvara. As he traces all actions to the interactions of the energies (gunas), actions do not bind him; they do not produce any effects (good or bad) in the case of him who, in virtue of his Yoga, has renounced all ‘actions and is ever watchful over his self. Since that man who, in virtue of the practice of karma yoga, has all his doubts cut asunder by knowledge which arises as a result of all impurity having been washed away, is not bound by actions because they have been consumed in the fire of wisdom, and since that man is ruined who entertains doubts as to the practice of karma and knowledge.

42. Therefore with the sword of wisdom cleave asunder this doubt of the Self lying in the heart and born of ignorance, and resort to Yoga. Arise, O Bharata.
Doubt is most sinful. It is born of ignorance and lies in the buddhi. Kill it by wisdom, by right knowledge of the Self. Knowledge is destructive of all evil, such as grief, folly, and the like. Having thus slain doubt, the cause of thy ruin, apply thyself to Karma-Yoga, the means of acquiring right knowledge. Now arise and fight, O descendant of Bharata.


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