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

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Concepts  and Issues

After  stating the details of Karma Yoga to be practiced in daily life, Sri Krishna  says that He taught this immortal Yoga to the Sun which was handed down to the  Solar Dynasty.  The Royal sages practiced  and preached this Yoga to the humanity but later due to lack of such great  exponents this Yoga fell into disuse in public life. Arjuna raises a doubt as  to how could Sri Krishna who is living now teach this Yoga to the Sun who was  born in the beginning of creation and to others who were born long ago. The  Lord replies that He and Arjuna have undergone many lives but He knows them all  whereas Arjuna does not know about it.   Again Arjuna asks The Lord as to why he has taken birth at all when He  is not bound by bondages caused by the Vasanas and when He is proficient in the  knowledge of the Self.

It  is here that Sri Krishna reveals that He is God Himself, the Infinite, the  Eternal and the Imperishable. He tells him that out of His free will He  incarnates Himself whenever righteousness (Dharma) declines and  un-righteousness (adharma) gets an upper hand, to restore the balance - to  protect the Good and to destroy the wicked. Any one who understands the secret  of His incarnation will attain liberation.

He  responds to His devotees with impartiality as per their attitudes and prayers  if they approach Him through knowledge and devotion. In the process of  evolution, the desires of humanity differ according to the grades of their  temperaments.  Sri Krishna reveals how He  has divided the society onto four varnas or groups or castes based upon the  nature and vocation of the people depending on their temperaments.

One  who possesses self-restraint, purity, straightforwardness, serenity, knowledge  of scriptures as also teaches others is called a Brahmana in whom Sattva  predominates. One who possesses prowess, splendor, firmness in action,  dexterity, generosity, ruling capacity, predominated by Rajas, is called a  Kshatriya. One who does agriculture and trade, has predominating Rajas but with  a subordinated Tamas is called a Vaishya. He in whom Tamas predominates and  Rajas is in subordination, does service to the other three categories is called  a Sudra.

Sri  Krishna says anyone according to his temperament can perform duty without expectation  of result and reach Him i.e. God-realization. Caste is not determined by the  accident of birth.

Sri  Krishna says that this is not a novel theory and the secret was understood by  the ancient seekers who pursued the path of selfless service utterly  indifferent to rewards. He advises Arjuna to do the same and not try to  renounce his duty through attachment or fear.

Sri  Krishna says that it is very difficult to decide one's own duty.  To perform one's duty one should know what to  do, what not do and how to do. The question of action has three aspects
1. Performance of  right action (Karma),
2. Abstention from  all actions (Akarma)
3. Performance of  forbidden actions (Vikarma).

Akarma  or abstention from any action is not the subject here because there cannot be  any life without any action. Performance of forbidden action (Vikarma) is  destructive and produces sorrow and restlessness in the one who performs them.

That  man is the wisest who while performing actions is not really doing them at all.  Here one must know action in inaction and inaction in action.

Action  means activities performed by body, mind, intellect and the senses. Inaction  means renouncing all activities of the body. If action is performed according  to rule and one's own order in the society without expecting result, without  attachment, without the feeling of possession and egoism, then it is considered  as inaction in action.

If  one sits quiet without performing any bodily action but thinks about all  actions in his mind he is still considered as doing actions i.e. there is  action in inaction. He who knows this secret will not renounce duties  pertaining to his order in society and stage in life.

One  who does inner contemplation on the Supreme Self and acts for the good of the  society without any selfish motive or expectation of reward is the knower of  inaction in action, a sage. Through this all his sins will get burnt up and one  will become free from bondage.  He never  expects anything from the world and is happy always.  He takes things as they come.  He is the performer of all sacrifices  prescribed in the scriptures.  He is the  knower of Knowledge or Brahman. One who feels the presence of Brahman in every  action will feel that Brahman is the actor, action and also the result of  action.  This is called knowledge  sacrifice.

Live as the Gita Teaches You to Live
  The  doctrine of action and inaction is the keynote of this section. The important  advice to the humanity is how to understand inaction in action and how to tune  our lives towards that goal. It is emphasized that action offered as a  sacrifice to the Supreme (action performed with the Yagna spirit) does not  bind. Yagna spirit means all actions performed without ego and without the  motivation of egocentric desires in a spirit of service.

Points to Ponder
1. Who are those blessed souls who attain liberation from the cycle of births and deaths?
2. Explain fully the fourfold caste system?
3. How can we be free from reactions when we perform actions?
4. What is the nature of true action; how does a Karma Yogi perform action?

Next time we will proceed from the Verse  4.25

Harih Om

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