Bhagavad Gita- Chap 4 (Part-1) Jnaana Karma Sanyaasa Yogah- Yoga Of Renunciation Of Action In Knowledge

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Preamble

In  the previous Chapter Sri Krishna advocated the path of Karma Yoga as a method  to realize the Self.  For fear that Arjuna  may misunderstand this advice as the only way for the self-development Lord Krishna reveals in this chapter how spiritual knowledge is received by successive disciples  and the reason and nature of His descent into the material worlds. He also  explains the paths of action and knowledge as well as the wisdom regarding the  supreme knowledge which results at the culmination of the two paths. Thus this  chapter dealing with the paths of action and knowledge is entitled: ‘The Yoga of Renunciation  of Action in Knowledge’. In a way this  Chapter can be considered as an Appendix to the Third Chapter.

In  this Chapter we can observe Sri Krishna talking to Arjuna not as his friend or  charioteer but as an omnipotent and omniscient God probably to instill in his  mind the necessary reverence and respect for Him and His teachings.

The  Text

TRADITION OF JNAANA YOGA

sri bhagavaan uvaacha
    imam vivaswate yogam proktavan aham  avyayam
    vivaswaan manave praaha manur  ikshwaakave'braveet // 4.1 //

Sri  Bhagavan said
    I  taught this eternal Yoga to Vivasvan; he taught it to Manu and Manu proclaimed  it to Ikshvaku.

This  eternal yoga means the yoga taught in the Second and Third Chapters. The fruit  of this yoga is liberation, which transcends time, space and causality. Hence  it is eternal. Vivasvan is the Sun-God. Manu is the ancient law-giver. Ikshvaku  is the ancestor of Kshatriyas whose lineage goes back to the Sun-God.

Jnaana  Yoga, discussed in the 2nd and 3rd Chapters, is based on  renunciation and is attained through the performance of duty. Thus it  comprehends both the life of activity (pravritti) and the life of  retirement (nivritti) as taught in the Vedas. The path of knowledge has  been described throught the Gita as leading directly to liberation. Therefore,  it is extolled here by pointing out its antiquity.

evam paramparaa praaptam imam  raajarshayo viduh
    sa kaaleneha mahataa yogo nashtah  parantapa // 4.2 //

This  knowledge, handed down thus in regular succession, the royal sages knew.  This yoga by long lapse of time has been lost  to the world, O Parantapa (Arjuna).

The  royal sages - men like Rama and Janaka who were kings and at the same time  sages also because of their austerities and wisdom knew this Yoga. If the  leaders of a country possess the knowledge of Yoga i.e. moral values of life,  they will percolate down the line into the entire society.

The teachings of this yoga were lost by falling into  the hands of selfish and unrighteous people. It is the intention of the Lord to  revive it through the Gita.

sa evaayam mayaa te'dya yogah proktah  puraatanah
    bhakto'si me sakhaa cheti rahasyam  hyetad uttamam // 4.3 //

That  same ancient yoga has been taught to you by Me today, for you are My devotee  and My friend and it is a supreme secret

The  yoga mentioned here is considered secret because it is not commonly known to  everybody and that it should be revealed only to those who are worthy to  receive it.

ARJUNA’S DOUBT

arjuna uvaacha
    aparam bhavato janma param janma  vivaswatah
    katham etadvijaaneeyaam twam aadau  proktavaan iti // 4.4 //

Arjuna  said
    Later  was your birth and earlier was the birth of Vivasvan; how, then, am I to  understand that you taught this Yoga in the beginning?

The  birth of Sri Krishna was later than that of The Sun. Arjuna wants to know how he  should believe that the former taught this yoga to the latter.

THEORY OF AVATARS

sri bhagavaan uvaacha
    bahooni me vyateetaani janmaani tava  chaarjuna
    taanyaham veda sarvaani na twam vettha  parantapa // 4.5 //

Sri  Bhagavan said
    Many  births of mine have passed as well as of yours, O Arjuna; I know them all but  you know them not, O Parantapa.

Arjuna  with a limited knowledge thinks that Sri Krishna is an ordinary man and not the  omnipotent and omniscient Lord. This doubt is cleared here. Sri Krishna knows  the past and future because He is the Lord Himself. He is unobstructed in His  power of vision.

SECRET OF LORD’S BIRTH

ajo'pi sannavyayaatmaa bhootaanaam  eeshwaro'pi san
    prakritim swaam adhishthaaya  sambhavaamyaatmamaayayaa // 4.6 //

Though  I am unborn, and eternal by nature, and though I am the Lord of all beings, yet  subjugating my own nature, I come into being by my own Maya.

The  Lord is eternal by nature because Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute, which  forms His nature, is eternal and changeless. ‘My own nature’ means His inherent  power of Maya. Maya inheres in Brahman, but Brahman remains unaffected by it in  the same way as the poison of a cobra which is in the cobra but cannot injure  it. This power of Maya which is made up of the three Gunas, deludes the  embodied being from recognizing the Lord who is his true Self. ‘I come into  being by my own Maya’ means that it is through Maya the Lord appears to be  born. His embodiment is not real as are the embodiments of other beings.

The  embodiments of human beings (birth in the human form) are not voluntary. Driven  by nature or prakriti, through ignorance, they are born again and again. The  Lord controls nature and assumes embodiment through His own free will. The  ordinary birth of creatures is determined by the force of nature while The Lord  takes birth through His own power. He uses His nature in such a way which is  free from subjection to karma. Yogamaya refers to the free will of God, His  incomprehensible power.

To put it differently, the embodiment of the Lord is  only an appearance. A created being is under the control of Maya but the Lord  is the controller of Maya. The birth and death of the Lord depends upon His own  will. But the birth and death of an embodied being are due to the law of Karma.  This is the difference between an embodied being and the incarnate Lord.

THE LORD’S INCARNATION

yadaa yadaa hi dharmasya glaanir bhavati  bhaarata
    abhyutthaanam adharmasya tadaa'tmaanam  srijaamyaham // 4.7 //

Whenever  there is a decline of dharma (righteousness), O Bharata , and rise of adharma (unrighteousness),  then I manifest myself.