Ch. 4, Verses1–10
divyaṁ janma, and divyaṁ karma
Has Mankind Progressed?
The 4th chapter has one very famous verse, so famous all over the world that if you read only that particular verse, and not take into account what was before, and what goes after, there is a possibility of not understanding fully that particular verse. In other words, it overshadows others, and to be able to understand properly the drift of the teaching of the Gita, we should be free from that spell, and we should take into account all that goes before, and all that goes after.
This particular chapter is fundamentally a chapter on divine birth and divine work: divyaṁ janma, and divyaṁ karma; these two things are important. At the end of the 3rd chapter, by the practice of yajña, as the central means of Karmayoga, we gradually arrived at a condition where we can do, not only work ‘for’ the Divine, but we arrived at the work done ‘by’ the Divine Himself: this is our condition.
It is to elucidate this divine work, and to bring its full implications that we have 4th, 5th , and 6th chapters basically; but 4th is so fundamental that we must concentrate on this 4th chapter as much as possible, even if it takes quite some time.
Let us read first of all that particular Shloka, which is so famous, and which overshadows all the others and that is the Shloka (IV, 7). It says:
yadā yadā hi dharmasya glānir bhavati bhārata |
abhyutthānam adharmasya tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham ||7|| (IV)
paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṁ vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām |
dharma–saṁsthāpanārthāya sambhavāmi yuge yuge ||8|| (IV)
This is a verse which is extremely famous. And the meaning of this verse has to be understood properly both in terms of what it says in itself, and what is said before it, and what is said after. So, first of all let us only translate in simple terms what these verses means.
He says: “O Bharata! Whenever there is decline of Dharma and rise of Adharma, I manifest Myself as an embodied being. To protect the virtuous, to destroy the wicked, and to establish Dharma I come into being in every age.”
In simple terms, this word declares that there is in History of the world, Divine Himself taking the human body. The birth of the Divine means assumption of the human body by the Divine Himself. This is the first statement: the Divine Himself assumes the human body, human mind, and human life.
Secondly it says the conditions when this happens. In normal terms it means that whenever Dharma declines, and whenever Adharma becomes powerful, this is the condition in which the Divine assumes the human body. And then it says what purpose, this is the condition in which the Divine takes the human body and then it says what the purpose is. The purpose is ‘to protect the virtuous, to destroy the wicked and to establish Dharma’: this is the purpose, the conditions, purpose and the process of the assumption of the human body by the Divine.