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Bhagavad Gita Chapter Four: The Yoga of Wisdom

The Bhagavad Gita, the Song of God
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The Holy Lord said:

This eternal yoga I taught to Vivaswat, Vivaswat taught it to Manu, and Manu taught it to Ikshwaku. (4:1)

Thus, handed down in succession, the royal seers knew it. After a long lapse of time, this yoga was lost here on earth. (4:2)

This ancient yoga is today declared by me to you because you are my devotee and friend. This secret is supreme indeed. (4:3)

Arjuna said:

Your birth was later, and Vivaswat’s birth was earlier. How then should I understand that you taught this in the beginning? (4:4)

The Holy Lord said:

Many of my births have passed away, and also yours. I know them all; you do not know them. (4:5)

Although birthless and imperishable, although the Lord of all beings, controlling my own prakriti, I come into manifested being by my own power of maya. (4:6)

Whenever dharma decreases and there is the arising of adharma, then do I manifest myself. (4:7)

For protection of the righteous and destruction of evildoers, for the establishing of dharma, I manifest myself from age to age. (4:8)

He who knows in truth my divine birth and action, leaving the body is not born again: he comes to me. (4:9)

Free from greed, fear and anger, absorbed in me, holding fast to me, purified by knowledge-based tapasya, many have attained my state of being. (4:10)

In whatever way men resort to me do I thus reward them. It is my path which men follow everywhere. (4:11)

Longing for success in action, in this world men sacrifice to the gods because success from such action is quickly attained in the human world. (4:12)

The fourfold caste was created by me, based on guna and on karma. Though I am the creator thereof, know me to be the eternal non-doer. (4:13)

Actions do not taint me, nor is desire for action’s fruit in me. He who thus comprehends me is not bound by actions. (4:14)

Knowing thus, the ancient seekers for liberation performed action. Do you, therefore, perform action as did the ancients in earlier times. (4:15)

What is action? What is inaction? Even the poet-sages were bewildered regarding this matter. This action shall I explain to you, which having known you shall be freed from evil. (4:16)

Truly the nature of action, of wrong action and of non-action is to be known. The path of action is difficult to understand. (4:17)

He who perceives inaction in action and action in inaction–such a man is wise among men, steadfast in yoga and doing all action. (4:18)

Whose undertakings are devoid of plan and desire for results, whose actions are consumed in the fire of knowledge–him the wise call wise. (4:19)

Having abandoned attachment for action’s fruit, always content, not dependent on anything even when acting, he truly does nothing at all. (4:20)

Acting with the body alone, without wish, with thought and lower self restrained, abandoning all acquisitiveness, though acting he incurs no fault. (4:21)

Content with what comes unbidden, beyond the pairs of opposites and free from envy, the same in success or failure, even though acting, he is not bound. (4:22)

The karma of one who is free from attachment, whose thought is established in knowledge, undertaking action for sacrifice, is wholly dissolved. (4:23)

Brahman is the offering, Brahman is the oblation poured out by Brahman into the fire of Brahman. Brahman is to be attained by him who always sees Brahman in action. (4:24)

Some yogis offer sacrifice to the gods alone, while others offer the Self as sacrifice unto the Self into the fire that is Brahman. (4:25)

Others offer senses such as hearing into the fires of restraint; others, sound; and others objects of the senses into the fire of the senses. (4:26)

Some offer all the actions of the senses and the functions of the life force (prana) into the fire of the yoga of self-restraint, which is enkindled by knowledge. (4:27)

Those whose sacrifices take the form of yoga offer material possessions and tapasya as sacrifices; while ascetics with stringent vows offer self-analysis and knowledge as sacrifice. (4:28)

Some offer inhalation into exhalation, and exhalation into inhalation, restraining the paths of inhalation and exhalation, intent upon control of the breath (pranayama). (4:29)

Others who have restricted their food offer the pranas into the pranas. All these are knowers of sacrifice whose wrongdoings have been annihilated through sacrifice. (4:30)

Eating the amrita of the sacrificial remains, they go to the Eternal Brahman. Even this world is not for the non-sacrificing–how then the other worlds? (4:31)

Sacrifices of many kinds are spread out before the face of Brahman. Know them all to be born from action. Knowing thus, you shall be liberated. (4:32)

Better than the sacrifice of material things is knowledge-sacrifice. All action without exception is fully contained in knowledge. (4:33)

Know that by prostrating yourself, by questioning and by serving them, the wise who have realized the truth will therefore instruct you in that knowledge. (4:34)

Know this, and you shall not again fall into delusion. By this you shall come to see all creation in your Self and then in me. (4:35)

Even if you should be the most sinful among all the sinful, yet you would cross over all sin by the raft of knowledge alone. (4:36)

As the kindled fire reduces wood to ashes, in the same way the fire of knowledge reduces all karmas to ashes. (4:37)

No purifier equal to knowledge is found here in the world. He who is himself perfected in yoga in time finds knowledge in the Self. (4:38)

He who possesses faith attains knowledge. Devoted to that pursuit, restraining the senses, having attained knowledge he quickly attains supreme peace. (4:39)

The man who is ignorant and without faith, of a doubting nature, is ruined. Neither this world, nor the next, nor happiness is for the man of doubt. (4:40)

Action does not bind him whose actions are renounced in yoga, whose doubt is severed by knowledge, and who is self-possessed. (4:41)

Therefore, having severed with the sword of your own knowledge this doubt that proceeds from ignorance abiding in your heart, arise! Take refuge in yoga. (4:42)

Om Tat Sat

Thus in the Upanishads of the glorious Bhagavad Gita, the science of the Eternal, the scripture of Yoga, the dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjuna, ends the fourth discourse entitled: The Yoga of Wisdom.

Read Chapter Five: The Yoga of Renunciation of Action

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Chapters for The Bhagavad Gita–The Song of God

Introduction: The Bhagavad Gita–The Book of Life

  1. Bhagavad Gita Chapter One: The Yoga of the Despondency of Arjuna
  2. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Two: Sankhya Yoga
  3. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Three: The Yoga of Action
  4. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Four: The Yoga of Wisdom
  5. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Five: The Yoga of Renunciation of Action
  6. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Six: The Yoga of Meditation
  7. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Seven: The Yoga of Wisdom and Realization
  8. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Eight: The Yoga of Imperishable Brahman
  9. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Nine: The Yoga of the Royal Science and Royal Secret
  10. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Ten: The Yoga of Divine Glories
  11. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Eleven: The Yoga of the Vision of the Cosmic Form
  12. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Twelve: The Yoga of Devotion
  13. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Thirteen: The Yoga of the Distinction Between the Field and the Knower of the Field
  14. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Fourteen: The Yoga of the Division of the Three Gunas
  15. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Fifteen: The Yoga of the Supreme Spirit
  16. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Sixteen: The Yoga of the Division between the Divine and the Demonic
  17. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Seventeen: The Yoga of the Division of Threefold Faith
  18. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Eighteen: The Yoga of Liberation by Renunciation

Also: The Bhagavad Gita Arranged for Singing

  1. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 1: The Yoga of the Despondency of Arjuna
  2. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 2: Sankhya Yoga
  3. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 3: The Yoga of Action
  4. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 4: The Yoga of Wisdom
  5. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 5: The Yoga of Renunciation of Action
  6. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 6: The Yoga of Meditation
  7. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 7: The Yoga of Wisdom and Realization
  8. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 8: The Yoga of Imperishable Brahman
  9. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 9: The Yoga of the Kingly Science and Kingly Secret
  10. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 10: The Yoga of Divine Glories
  11. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 11: The Yoga of the Vision of the Cosmic Form
  12. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 12: The Yoga of Devotion
  13. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 13: The Yoga of the Distinction Between the Field and the Knower of the Field
  14. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 14: The Yoga of the Division of the Three Gunas
  15. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 15: The Yoga of the Supreme Spirit
  16. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 16: The Yoga of the Division between the Divine and the Demoniacal
  17. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 17: The Yoga of the Division of Threefold Faith
  18. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 18: The Yoga of Liberation by Renunciation

Read about the meanings of unfamiliar terms in A Brief Sanskrit Glossary

Read the Bhagavad Gita for Awakening, a full commentary on the Bhagavad Gita by Abbot George Burke (Swami Nirmalananda Giri).

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