Monday, 19 July 2021

Bhagavad Gita Summary - Book 4- Jnana Yoga

The section divisions are based on the Baghavad Gita, with the Commentary of Sri Sankaracharya, transl. A. Mahadeva Sastri, 1901. Further comments from William Q. Judge, Essays on the Gita, and the Dnyaneshwari, transl. M.R. Yardi). 
Note that A.M. Sastri translate Jnana as 'wisdom', whereas most translators use 'knowledge'.
4- Jnana Yoga
1 – Doctrine of Avatara  (Verses 1-9)
Tradition of Jnana Yoga. (1-3)
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. 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. (4-6)
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.
The purpose of Divine Incarnation. (7-9)
7. Whenever there is a decay of religion, O Bharata, and an ascendency of irreligion, then I manifest Myself.
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.
He also declares that the right and full comprehension of the mystery of his births and work on earth confers upon us nirvana, so that rebirth occurs no more. This is because it is not possible for a man to understand the mystery unless he has completely liberated himself from the chains of passion and acquired entire concentration. He has learned to look beneath the shell of appearances that deceives the unthinking mind. (William Q. Judge, Essays on the Gita, 4, 8)
2- Action (10-18)
Jnana-Yoga is the sole means to moksha. (10)
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.
Divine dispensation of worldly benefits and salvation. (11-12)
11-Howsoever men approach Me, even so do I reward them ; My path do men follow in all things, O son of Pritha.
I grace people according to the manner by which they express their devotion to me. It is the natural tendency of man to do my upasana (worship). But through ignorance or due to delusion, most people think of me in many different forms though I am one and the only God. I am without name but they assign different names to the different forms which they consider as deities. I am all pervading but they qualify my forms as superior or inferior. With desire in their minds they worship these deities. They gain the fruits therefrom but actually that is the fruit of their actions, there being nothing other than actions which can give fruits. I am the witness to the worship of all these deities but each worshipper gets the fruits according to his attitude. (4:76) (Dnyaneshwari; 4:66-76, transl. M.R. Yardi) 
Caste as a divinely ordered human institution. (13)
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.
Action without attachment does not bind the soul. (14-15)
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.
The real nature of action and inaction. (16-18)
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.
He who can see inaction in action," &c. 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 (Yogin), he is the performer of all actions. He is released from evil ; he has achieved all. (Baghavad Gita, with the Commentary of Sri Sankaracharya, transl. A. Mahadeva Sastri, 1901, 130-132)
3- The sage (19-23)
Who is a sage ?(19)
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.
Now listen to the characteristics of a person who has reached perfection. Even as he performs actions he does not consider himself to be the doer and does not keep expectations about the fruits. Apart from a sense of duty, he has no other reason for actions. It must then be considered that actionlessness has been well ingrained in such a person. Such a person should be considered as having understood the meaning of non-action and an enlightened person. He who realises Self knowing that performance of his actions is unreal from the point of view of the Self is a real person of non-action. He enjoys the worldly pleasures without being attached or being affected by them. And even by remaining in one place he travels through the universe and actually himself becomes the universe. (Dnyaneshwari; 4:93-102)
The Sage's worldly action as an example to the masses. (20)
20. Having abandoned attachment for the fruits of action, ever content, dependent on none, though engaged in actions, nothing at all does he do.
The Sage's action for bodily maintenance. (21-22)
21. Free from desire, with the mind and the self controlled, having relinquished all possessions, doing mere bodily action, he incurs no sin.
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 is not bothered about his person, is desireless about the fruits of his actions and is always happy. He is always content but constantly seeks the experience of the Self.  Shedding expectations and ego, he experiences more and more the sweetness of the bliss of the Self. Therefore he is happy with whatever comes to his lot. He does not say that this is mine and that is somebody else's. The very actions he performs merge into him because he does not see anything other than Self in this world. How can actions affect such a person? (Dnyaneshwari; 4:106-112)
The Sage's worldly action does not bind him. (23)
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.
4- Sacrifice (24-32)
Wisdom sacrifice. (24)
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.
No sacrificial rite is ever found unassocialed with the idea of the accessories of action and results, unaccompained 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, i, c, of action, its result and its accessories.  (Sankara Commentary)
Sacrifices effected by action. (25-32)
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." (Bn. 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. (Sankara Commentary)
32. Thus manifold sacrifices are spread at the mouth of Brahman. Know them all as born of action. Thus knowing, thou shalt be liberated.
5- Sacrifice to Wisdom (33-42)
Wisdom  sacrifice is superior to other sacrifices. (33)
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.
After enumerating all, not only the performance but also the omitting of sacrifice, he shows Arjuna that spiritual knowledge includes all actions and burns to ashes the binding effects of all work, conferring upon us the power to take nirvana by reason of emancipation from the delusion that the lower self was the actor. The perfection of this spiritual knowledge is reached by strengthening faith and expelling doubt through devotion and restraint. (Judge, 4, 33)
How and where one should seek wisdom. (34-35)
34. Know this: by long prostration, by enquiry, by service, those men of wisdom who have realised 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 realising it themselves, will impart to thee their wisdom,—that wisdom which has been described above. Some only, but not all, know as, well as realise the truth.—By this the Lord means to say that that knowledge alone which is imparted by those who have realised the truth — and no other knowledge—can prove effective. (Sankara Commentary)
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.
Wisdom, a consumer of all sins and actions. (36-38)
36. Even shouldst thou be the most sinful of all the sinful, thou shalt verily cross all sin by the
bark of wisdom.
The surest means to wisdom. (39)
39. He obtains wisdom who is full of faith, who is devoted to it, and who has subdued the senses. Having obtained wisdom, he ere long attains to the Supreme Peace.
Knowledge seeks him who is fed up with sense-pleasures in preference to the pleasure of the Self-realisation, who does not bother about the sense organs, who does not allow desires enter his mind, does not feel responsible for the things which occur naturally and who has become happy by faith. Peace resides in the mind of such a person. Once the Knowledge becomes firm in his mind he attains self-realisation and peace reigns in his mind. He sees peace wherever he casts his glance and duality about "this is mine" and "that is another person's" vanishes from his mind. (Dnyaneshwari; 4:186-190). 
Wisdom the killer of doubt.40-42
So long as doubt remains there will be no peace, no certainty, nor any hope of finding it in this world or the lives upon it hereafter, and not even in the vast reaches of other universes on which we may live in future ages; the doubter now will be the doubter then, and so on while the wheel revolves for the millions of years yet before us.  (Judge, 4, 40)
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.

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