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

niraasheer yatachittaatmaa  tyaktasarvaparigrahah
    shaareeram kevalam karma kurvannaapnoti  kilbisham // 4.21 //

Free  from desire, with the body and the mind controlled, and surrendering all possessions  he incurs no sin through mere bodily activity.

A  knower of Brahman is always absorbed in his communion with the Absolute and no  outside activity is possible for him. However, actions for the bare maintenance  of the body are done by him without any real identification with the body. The  question whether such a person commits any sin accruing from failure to perform  one’s prescribed duties is answered now.

When  an individual
1. completely  renounces desire
2. brings his body  and mind under perfect control and
3. relinquishes all  possessions, his ego ends.

When  the ego has ended his actions do not leave any impressions on his mind and intellect  and hence they are not capable of bringing about any consequences.

Such  a saint's activities do not bind him since he is not the performer of actions  but the actions merely flow through him. He is not a doer of actions but only  an instrument for the Lord's will to express itself. The human soul becomes the  pure channel of Divine power.

yadricchaalaabhasantushto dwandwaateeto  vimatsarah
    samah siddhaavasiddhau cha kritwaapi na  nibadhyate // 4.22 //

Content  with what comes to him without any  effort on his part, free from the pairs of  opposites and envy, even minded in success and failure, though acting he is not  bound.

An  individual who has gone beyond ego cannot perform any desire-prompted and  result-motivated activity. So he will be happy with whatever gain spontaneously  accrues to him out of his actions. This is called ‘without any effort’.

The  state of egolessness indicates perfect victory over mind and intellect and so  the pairs of opposites - heat and cold, success and failure, good and bad, joy and  sorrow, gain and loss etc., cannot affect him because they are only the  interpretation of the world of objects by the mind. Such an individual who has  conquered his egocentric misconceptions about himself, though acting is not  bound by the consequences of the actions performed (Karma-Phalam) because he  realizes that the gunas act upon the gunas and is ever steady in the true  knowledge of the Self. From the standpoint of the world such a man may appear  to be working or engaged in action, but from his own point of view he is not  the agent of any action. The egoistic motive of action has been consumed, in  his case, in the fire of knowledge.

The  Cosmos is a manifestation of the Supreme and what binds is not the act but the  selfish attitude to action, born of ignorance which makes us imagine that we  are many separate individuals with our likes and dislikes.

In  the following verses Sri Krishna proceeds to point out how the actor, the act  and the action are all different manifestations of the one Supreme and action  offered as a sacrifice to the Supreme does not bind.


gatasangasya muktasya  jnaanaavasthitachetasah
    yajnaayaacharatah karma samagram  pravileeyate  // 4.23 //

For  the one who is devoid of attachment, who is liberated, whose mind is  established in knowledge, who acts for the sake of sacrifice alone, the whole  action dissolves away.

The  qualities of a man of wisdom are enumerated in this verse which explains the  path to perfection. They are:

Devoid of attachment - Divinity attained by man is not something that is newly  acquired by him but it is only a rediscovery of perfection already existing in  him which is veiled from him because of his attachment to the finite world of  objects. The wise man is he for whom attachment with the world of objects has  ceased.

Liberated - Bondages created around the personality of a man are  his own creation due to his attachments with things. His ego feels fulfilled  only through the material world of objects and it develops a sense of clinging  to these objects. Thus his  body gets  itself attached to the world of sense-objects, his mind gets itself enslaved in  the world of emotions and his intellect gets entangled in its own ideas and he  feels bound and fettered. It is only when one goes beyond these attachments and  hand-cuffs he becomes liberated.

Mind established in knowledge - Perfect detachment and complete liberation can be  accomplished only when the seeker's mind gets focused on the discriminative  knowledge of knowing the difference between the permanent and impermanent.  Mind's attachment to the worldly objects is because of its delusion.  If, however, the mind were to concentrate on  the discriminative knowledge with the support of the intellect all the false  attachments will drop off.

Acting for the sake of sacrifice (Yagna) - `Yagna' does not mean only the rituals performed in  an attitude of Dedication to God for achieving freedom from the cycle of mortal  existence ; it means all actions   performed without ego and without the motivation of egocentric desires  in a spirit of service.

When  a man of perfect wisdom with the qualities as stated above performs actions in  a spirit of sacrifice (Yagna), such actions dissolve away of themselves i.e.  they do not leave any impressions upon his mind and cannot produce any reaction  of newly formed vasanas.

Yagna  ritual, the holiest act known to man, is used in the following verses as a  symbol standing for the outlook of an illumined man on all his work. It is  interpreted in a larger spiritual way.

brahmaarpanam brahmahavirbrahmaagnau  brahmanaa hutam
    brahmaiva tena gantavyam  brahmakarmasamaadhinaa  // 4.24 //

Brahman  is the act of offering ; Brahman is the clarified butter etc. constituting the  offerings ; by Brahman it is offered into the fire of Brahman ; Brahman is that  which is to be reached by him who always sees Brahman in all his works.

This  is a famous verse which is generally recited before taking daily food. This  verse is a capsule of the entire Vedanta.

Brahman  is the Infinite Reality which is changeless substratum behind the changing  phenomenal world in contrast with that aspect of Brahman which functions in and  through a body termed as the Atman.

When  the waves of the ocean dash against each other nothing new happens because all  waves are nothing but the ocean and by their act of dashing against each other  the ocean rises over the ocean itself and become one with the ocean.  Similarly when a Yagna is performed by a sage  for whom there is no plurality of the world, Brahman the Truth is the performer  offering Brahman, the material to the sacred fire, which is nothing but  Brahman, invoking Brahman only.

In  the previous verse it was stated that performing actions for the sake of  sacrifice, Yagna, alone melts away all his actions. It is explained here that  after attaining the true knowledge the seeker's whole life becomes one act of  Yagna, in which the process of offering, the objects offered , the fire, the  doer of the sacrifice, the work itself and the goal are all Brahman.

After  attaining the Knowledge of Brahman, a man sees Brahman in everything. He sees  Brahman in every part of the action: the instrument, the doer, the result and  the action itself. These have no existence apart from Brahman just as the  mirage has no existence apart from the desert. What appears to be water to the ignorant  is nothing but the desert. Likewise, what appears to the unenlightened as the  instrument of action, the doer, and so on, is realized by one who is endowed  with the knowledge of Brahman as Brahman Itself. To him everything is Brahman.

Thus  the action performed by the knower of Brahman to set an example to the world is  in reality no action, since all the accessories of action are consumed, as it  were, in the fire of Brahman. The knowledge of Brahman removes all duality.  Therefore action performed by a knower of Brahman melts away with its result  and cannot bind its performer.

The  significance of reciting this verse before taking food is that eating food is  an unavoidable necessity for existence.   When one is hungry he enjoys any type of food that comes to him. Even at  this moment of enjoyment he should not forget the truth that it is Brahman  eating Brahman, and that during meals he is offering to Brahman the food that  is Brahman invoking nothing but the grace of Brahman.

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