Ch. 3, Verses 1–17
We come to the 3rd chapter. Actually, 3rd and 4th chapters need to be read together. Although the 3rd chapter is entitled, “Karma Yoga”, and the 4th chapter is entitled, “Jnana Yoga”, even the 4th chapter is largely devoted to Karma Yoga. It is only because in the 4th chapter, the relationship between Karma and Jnana is brought out in a very emphatic manner, and the relationship between Knowledge and Action is brought out to show that Knowledge is always superior to Action, and that there is nothing greater than Knowledge. It is because of this emphasis that the 4th chapter is entitled, “Jnana Yoga”. But basically, both the chapters are enunciation of one important element in Karma Yoga, and that is “that all Karma should be done as a sacrifice: yajña”.
3rd and 4th chapters are devoted to the enunciation of sacrifice. What is the meaning of sacrifice? And how the action can be a sacrifice? This rests upon a great secret of existence. And the words, which are used, are so compact, that often that secret is not so very visible.
That is why, I would first of all like to affirm three things, repeat what is said in the 2nd chapter about Karmayoga. The first statement that we had said about Karmayoga is: “Do every action without the desire for the fruits of action”. Secondly, “Whatever action you do, you do with the sense of equality”. Thirdly, “Do every action with complete proficiency”. These were the three things that were emphasised in the 2nd chapter.
Towards the end, we had the climax of a certain kind, where the consciousness was to be made stable upon the Divine, brāhmi sthiti, so that the intelligence is completely settled on the Divine. And then, we are told how that settlement in the Divine arises, when all the desires are given up, when all the indriyā(s), the senses, are fully controlled, and when even the rasa, that is in the indriyā(s) is conquered by mat–paraḥ, when you are completely dependent upon the Divine, by intense Bhakti, and yet to be engaged in action.
All the three are to be present, and yet the consciousness is settled in the Brahman. The description that is given of this is the climax, the sthita–prajña. When sthita–prajña is described, there is certainly an emphasis upon the buddhi being completely engaged, concentrated upon the Divine: that is the Jnanayoga. The fact that you are to be equal in all, whether honour, dishonour, success, failure, all this can come only when you are active. If you are not active, there is no question of success or failure. So, in action you have to be equal: that is the path of Karmayoga. And, as far as the rasa is concerned in anything in the world, you conquer it when you are completely devoted to the Divine. When these three are united together fully, then you are supposed to be sthita–prajña.
The relationship between the three is also in a certain sense laid down. Knowledge is always superior to Action; Knowledge is superior to Will; Will is the starting point of Action. The Will is always dependent upon Knowledge; Knowledge is not dependent upon the Will: Knowledge is the spring of Will. Therefore, between the Knowledge and Action, the relationship is always such that Knowledge is superior to Action.
Bhakti is always the culmination, is the crown. When Knowledge and Action are combined together, then, there is tremendous delight, and Love is an expression of Delight. Once this relationship is understood, then, we shall not ask the question, whether Bhagavad Gita is meant for Karmayoga, or meant for Jnanayoga, or for Bhaktiyoga.
All the three are insisted upon, and it is said that particularly for the action of the Divine in the world, the three must be united. If you want subordinate results, or some exclusive results, then you can emphasis one instead of the other. But if you want to carry out the will of the Divine on the earth, then, all the three must be united, and in the unity, this is the relationship: the Will must be based upon Knowledge. Even if you start with Will, it must end in Knowledge, culminate in Knowledge, and then, derive itself from Knowledge: even though when you start an action out of Will, you should constantly drive the Will in such a way that it culminates in Knowledge. Having culminated in the Knowledge, you derive the Will from the Knowledge: this is the right relationship between the two. And when the two are united fully, then there is the crowning: it is the Bhakti.