Essence of SrI bhagavath gIthA – Chapter 4 (gyAna yOga)

SrI:  SrImathE SatakOpAya nama:  SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama:  SrImath varavaramunayE nama:

Essence of SrI bhagavath gIthA

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In the Eighth SlOkam of gIthArtha sangraham, ALavandhAr explains the summary of fourth chapter saying “In the fourth chapter, karma yOgam (which includes gyAna yOgam) which is explained as gyAna yOgam itself, the nature and sub-divisions of karma yOgam, the greatness of true knowledge and (in the beginning, to establish the authenticity of his words) incidental discourse on those qualities of his (which do not change even during his incarnations) are explained”.

Important SlOkams/Verses

SlOkam/Verse 1

SrI bhagavAn uvAcha
imam vivasvathE yOgam prokthavAn aham avyayam |
vivasvAn manavE prAha manur ikshvAkavE’bravIth ||

krishNa said, I taught this imperishable karma yOga to sUrya. sUrya taught this to manu. manu taught this to ikshvAku.

Note: krishNa establishes his ancient nature and the authenticity of his teachings in the first three SlOkams. He also explains that the knowledge which was transmitted through the paramparA was lost in time. In the 4th SlOkam, arjuna asks how krishNa could have taught this knowledge long ago, when he is present now only. For that, krishNa responds in the next four SlOkams explaining the confidential knowledge about his incarnations.

SlOkam/Verse 5

SrI bhagavAn uvAcha
bahUni mE vyathIthAni janmAni thava chArjuna |
thAnyaham vEdha sarvANi na thvam vEththa paranthapa ||

krishNa replied, Oh arjuna! Countless births have passed for me too like you. Oh tormentor of enemies! I know all of those births (of both mine and yours) and you don’t know them.

Note: bhagavAn explains his supreme nature and arjuna’s inferior nature.

SlOkam/Verse 6

ajO’pi san avyayAthmA bhUthAnAm ISvarO’pi san |
prakruthim svAm adhishtAya sambhavAmyAthmamAyayA ||

Being birthless and imperishable, being the lord of all beings, I descend in many births by my will accepting distinguished forms (made of spiritual matter).

Note: While bhagavAn incarnates in this world, it is out of his desire, and he descends with his spiritual form.

SlOkam/Verse 7

yadhA yadhA hi dharmasya glAnir bhavathi bhAratha |
abhyuththAnam adharmasya thadhAthmAnam srujAmyaham ||

Oh descendant of bharatha clan! Whenever dharma declines and adharma is on the rise, at those times I create myself [manifest myself in various incarnations].

Note: bhagavAn incarnates at his will, whenever he feels it is necessary.

SlOkam/Verse 8

parithrANAya sAdhUnAm vinASAya cha dushkruthAm |
dharmasamsthApanArthAya sambhavAmi yugE yugE ||

I am born in many ways in every yuga to protect the virtuous, to torture and destroy the wicked and to establish dharma firmly (virtues).

Note: Though three reasons are identified for his incarnation, protecting the virtuous by manifesting his divine form to them, is considered as the main goal, since the other two aspects can be accomplished by him without incarnating, with just his divine vow.

SlOkam/Verse 9

janma karma cha mE dhivyam Evam yO vEththi thathvatha: |
thyakthvA dhEham punar janma naithi mAm Ethi sO’rjuna ||

Oh arjuna! Whosoever meditates upon my spiritual/divine incarnations and activities as it is (truly) as explained previously, after giving up the current body, he does not take birth again (accepting another material body), but he attains me.

Note: True knowledge about bhagavAn’s incarnations and activities is in itself a means to attain bhagavAn.

SlOkam/Verse 11

yE yathA mAm prapadhyanthE thAms thathaiva bhajAmyaham |
mama varthmAnuvarthanthE manushyA: pArtha sarvaSa: ||

I reach those who surrender unto me, In whichever way they desire me,  in the same way that  they desired (making me available). Oh son of pruthA (kunthI)! All the people live by enjoying my qualities in all ways.

Note: archA vigrahams which are consecrated according to the desires of devotees are implied here. In the next SlOkam, bhagavAn explains how those who have attained true knowledge of his incarnations will attain liberation.

In the next six SlOkams, he gives an introduction for karma yOgam which consists of gyAna also.

SlOkam/Verse 13

chAthurvarNyam mayA srushtam guNakarmavibhAgaSa: |
thasya karthAram api mAm vidhdhyakarthAram avyayam ||

All worlds which are presided by the four varNas were created by me who is the sarvESvara,  based on the classification of guNa (qualities) such as sathva, rajas and thamas and based on the classification of karma (activities) such as Sama (control of mind) and dhama (control of senses). Though I am the creator for this amazing creation etc., know me as not the creator for variegated nature (highs and lows) of creation etc and due to that, to be faultless.

Note: The context of this SlOka is not to explain the varNa division but is to establish that bhagavAn is unaffected by the variegated creation. As the varNa is specific to body only and not for the soul, our preceptors never attempted to change varNa. Instead they developed real devotion towards bhagavAn and focussed on eternal service to him.

In the next few SlOkams, bhagavAn explains how karma yOga is also a form of gyAna.

SlOkam/Verse 22

yadhruchchAlAbhasanthushtO dhvandhvAthIthO vimathsara: |
sama: sidhdhAvasidhdhau cha kruthvApi na nibadhyathE ||

If one is being satisfied with whatever comes his way (to sustain his body), tolerating the pairs (of joy-sorrow, heat-cold etc), being free from envy (towards others), being  equanimous in success and failures, though engaged in karma (actions, even without gyAna yOga), such person will not be bound (in this bondage of samsAram).

In the next SlOkam, it is explained that for the one who performs karma such as yagya without any attachment for the result, his puNya/pApa gets destroyed completely.

In the remaining SlOkams, the types of karma yOgams and the greatness of gyAna which is part of karma yOgaare explained.

SlOkam/Verse 34

thadhvidhdhi praNipAthEna paripraSnEna sEvayA |
upadhEkshyanthi thE gyAnam gyAninas thathvadharSina: ||

Know (from gyAnis (wise)) that transcendental knowledge by offering obeisances properly, by asking questions with proper attitude and by performing service; those gyAnis who have realised the knowledge about self (being pleased by your worship etc) will instruct the knowledge about self to you.

Note: Importance of humbly learning from an authentic guru is emphasised here.

SlOkam/Verse 38

na hi gyAnEna sadhruSam pavithram iha vidhyathE |
thath svayam yOgasamsidhdha: kAlEnAthmani vindhathi ||

In this world, there is nothing purifying as knowledge about self. One who has acquired such knowledge of perfection in (previously mentioned) karma yOga, realises the self over time.

SlOkam/Verse 42

thasmAth agyAnasambhUtham hruthstham gyAnAsinAthmana: |
chithvainaṁ samSayam yOgam AthishtOththishta bhAratha ||

Oh descendant of bharatha clan! Since one cannot attain mOksham by previously explained karma yOga [engaging merely in karma without knowledge], cutting the doubts in heart on this AthmA related matters with the sword of knowledge, arise and engage in karma yOga.

Note: Thus, the greatness of gyAna which is an important constituent of karma yOga, was explained here.

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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