The first 6 chapters are actually inter-connections between Karma and Jnana, in which the starting point is Jnana: it is by Jnana that Sat is ultimately realised immortality. In the very 2nd chapter Karma is introduced, and although the 2nd chapter ends with some kind of emphasis on Knowledge, which causes a problem in the mind of Arjuna, and said that if you think that Knowledge is superior to Action then why do you throw me into this ghore karma. Then the 3rd chapter gives you an explanation of the relationship between Knowledge and Action, and then He says that although the path of Knowledge is a path that can lead you to the top, Action also lead you to the top but I prefer the path of Action.
Why does He prefer that path of Action? Because the standpoint is the standpoint of the war, in which all of them are engaged, and the question that Arjuna has raised is: what I should do in regard to the war? So, the question is related to his action: what am I to do? So, if your standpoint is of an action then Action is preferable because you are here. So, that is the fundamental point that is made in the 3rd chapter, and then the whole Karma Yoga is expounded. In the 2nd chapter also there is an exposition of Karma Yoga, but it is only preliminary.
We had said already that 2nd chapter Karma Yoga only tells you that without desire for fruits of action, you act: you have a right only to action and not to the fruits of action. Second that you have to attain to equality: samatvaṁ yoga ucyate (II, 48). And even when you do not have desire for fruits of action, do not neglect action: yogaḥ karmasu kauśalam (II, 50). These 3 statements are the important statements of Karma Yoga that we expounded in the 2nd chapter.
The 3rd chapter we have now an exposition of Karma that even with regard to action, towards which we have been told you have a right, even that action, you really don’t have the right. And the whole 3rd chapter it is explained as to what is Karma. And it is explained that the whole Karma is nothing but a Sacrifice: the whole world is only a sacrifice. The Sat has made a Sacrifice as a result of which Chit is broken up as it were, from its immobility and made mobile. So, the whole world is actually the Sacrifice of the Supreme. And then there is a cycle: because the Sat has sacrificed Himself, and Action has emerged out of It, all of us which are in the midst of action, they always turn towards the Sat. It is a cycle, we are all thrown up by that Reality and then we return to it, and He throw up and we again return to it: this is the cycle and this cycle is represented by action. So, action starts from whom? From the Divine. So, you do not have even the right to action. Therefore, considering this principle, when you think, “I am the doer”, you offer it back to the Divine because this is the real Reality. So, Karma Yoga is nothing but offering to the Divine, sacrifice yourself to God, to the Divine. This is the central teaching of the 3rd chapter.
And then in the end of the 3rd chapter we have the secret manifestation of the end of this movement of yajñā. When you read the highest developed yajñā, again and again, repeat again and again, then you will realise that you are not the doer: Supreme is the doer, and you are only the instrument of the Divine. In other words you become born into the Divine and you have the capacity of doing the Divine’s actions. Or you can say that the Divine acts Himself through you. So, divyam janma, divyam karma, that is the starting point of the 4th chapter. So, it is as it were a culmination of the Karma Yoga is to be found in the 4th chapter.
And therefore Sri Krishna says that, “Actually speaking the divyam janma, the divine birth, in which you now no more feel that you are an actor, that is called ‘the divine birth’, you enter into the divine consciousness, in which you do not feel that you are the doer, anything in fact, you are only an agent, when this consciousness arises you are born:
divyam janma. And then having reached that state of consciousness, whatever happens is: divyam karma, in that state of consciousness, not in our present state of consciousness. When we reach that state of consciousness then whatever happens is divyam karma. In order to explain this, Sri Krishna gives His own example and says: “Look, My consciousness is divine, and My consciousness manifest itself in action, and if you examine Me, you will find what is divine consciousness and what is divine action”. So, He gives His own example.
It is in that context that we have the whole philosophy of Avatar, in which Sri Krishna says: “If you really want to know what is divine consciousness, what is divine action, you will attain best when you know the secret of Avatar”, on which we have delve at length, in which now the important point that is left at the end of all this teaching is that you cannot attain to divine birth and divine action, unless you consciously know the divine birth and divine action: there is no such thing as being unconscious and yet you are in divine birth and divine action.
It is only when you are fully aware, when the Chit-Shakti, Shakti becomes aware of Chit, and Chit is united with Sat, only in that condition you have the real divine consciousness and divine action. Therefore now, the remainder of the 4th chapter is in praise of Knowledge: you cannot have the divine birth and divine action without you possesses the Knowledge. And this is where we are now.