Text of the Bhagavagd Gita (Mother's Institute of Research) - Session 16: Chapter 4—Verses 14–32 (13 March 1999)

Vibhuti Avatar – Divine Birth Divine Action Chapter IV – Verses 14 -21

As I told you last time, we shall continue with this subject of Avatarhood still, because there is what may be called, the ‘internal’ aspect of Avatarhood, the ‘mystical’ aspect of Avatarhood.

The Divinity taking hold of a human form, the descent of the Divine Himself, and assuming the Divine that is in the human, and assuming the humanity itself through the human form, is always a phenomenon of tremendous significance. Now, to understand this better, we may have to distinguish it from many other forms in which Avatarhood is conceived: for example there is the concept of vibhūti as distinguished from avatāra. The Vibhuti is always, is very often…Vibhuti is conceived as a special manifestation of a given quality of the Divine, and usually people call Vibhuti an Avatar.

But there is a great distinction between the two. In our recent examples of our Indian History, Sri Ramakrishna declared Himself to be the Avatar; Swami Vivekananda was a Vibhuti. From an external point of view, you might say that Vivekananda, he made a tremendous impact on the world, and manifested a tremendous power of personality, but he never called himself an Avatar. In the case of an Avatar, there is of course an extraordinary manifestation of a quality; you might say that every Avatar is in a sense a great Vibhuti but not vice-versa. Every Vibhuti is not an Avatar.

Vibhuti is actually a human phenomenon: it is not a divine phenomenon. The Divine does not come down, does not descend: it is the human being ascending upwards, and manifesting the powers of higher levels of consciousness. And as you rise higher, you approximate the Divine nature and some qualities of the Divine nature begin to manifest through you. In the case of the Avatar there is from above, the Divine coming down, and holding a human form.

Sri Krishna says Himself in the Gita…there is one full chapter in the Gita called Vibhuti Yoga, and Sri Krishna explains what are the Vibhutis, and He says, “Among poets I am Ushana, among Pandavas I am Arjuna, among Vrishnis I am Krishna”(X,37), whichever is a superlative manifestation in any gradation of human life, is a Vibhuti.

There is also a view that some of the weapons of the Divine, (this is the special view of the Vaishnavas), that the weapons of Vishnu they become manifest in human forms, and they are also called ‘Avatars’; but avatars not of the Divine but of the special weapons, and each one works out as a weapon, which is specific to that particular consciousness. Some may be simply a trident, or it may be a drum, or it may be a musical instrument: each one of them is a special manifestation, and one becomes superlative in that particular line of development. And normally people call them ‘Avatars’, but they are not real Avatars in the real sense of the term: they are Vibhutis.

Now, there is another kind of manifestation. In a sense you might say that every liberated soul is an avatar. In a state of liberation what happens is that you are able to come out of your normal human nature: you rise upwards, and meet the Divine. In answer to that, the Divine Himself descends, and this descent takes place in various forms: there is one form in which one becomes ‘one ’with the Divine. There is the concept in the Gita of brahmabhūta: one becomes the Brahman. And when you become one with the Brahman, you begin to delve in the Purushottama.

There is a distinction between Brahman consciousness, and Purushottama consciousness: Brahman consciousness is the consciousness of oneness without complexity; Purushottama in one but with all the complexities.

Now, since there is only one Brahman, (there are not two Brahmans, there is only one Brahman), when all human limitations are dissolved, when the egoistic consciousness is dissolved, then the experience you have is of oneness, not even ‘you being one’, because even that is short of oneness: the sense of ‘you-ness’, ‘I-ness’ is dissolved. Now, very often therefore, you feel that there is only Divine everywhere: one Reality everywhere, the presence of the Divine everywhere. And your living experience: you feel the Divine, you yourself are Divine. That is also a kind of experience of Avatarhood.

But it is simply the human ascension, which brings about this experience of oneness with the Divine; it is again not a direct descent of the Divine, Divine Himself taking charge of a human form, right from birth; such is not the phenomenon. But many Yogis can justify, as they call themselves Avatars in this special sense, when there is oneness with the Brahman, when there is dissolution of all identity of your individuality, all your egoism.

Then, there is another phenomenon, which also takes place, again in the sense of human ascent: when you rise from lower levels to the higher levels of consciousness, then you feel that there is not only oneness with the Divine, but something of Purushottama also manifest through you, enters into your human parts.

In the Divine Consciousness there are three important elements: the oneness of the Brahman, the dynamic power of the Divine, and the Supreme Divine Himself who encompasses all the powers, as Sri Krishna will say later on: who combines himself both akṣara and kṣara, the Immobile and the Mobile. He is neither immobile alone, nor mobile alone, but who combines both mobility and immobility. So, Purushottama as both Immobile and Mobile: the immobile oneness and the mobile omnipotence. These three elements go together whenever you speak of Divine Consciousness.

The Divine Power is also called in our mystic language: the Divine Mother. In the Vedic language it is called: aditi. So, Supreme Purushottama, then there is Aditi and then there is the Brahmic Consciousness of Oneness. Now, Aditi has a farther complexity: Aditi is the power of the Divine, and manifests the power of the Divine in the individuality. Aditi Herself is cosmic; the Purushottama is transcendental in every sense, transcends everything to such an extent that Sri Krishna says that, “In my transcendental aspect, they are in Me, but I am not in them”, the whole world is in Him, but He cannot be exhausted in all that is there, He is so transcendental that in the atharva veda it is called ucchiṣṭa: He is the remainder. When everything that you can conceive is exhausted, there is still something that remains, ‘the remainder’: that is Purushottama the transcendental, but again it is not only transcendental, He is all also at the same time.

So, there is the Purushottama, there is the Divine Mother who is cosmic, but the Divine has also the power of individuality. Now, this power of individuality is called ‘the Son’: either the individual or Jiva, or the Son. This is in the Christian theory of incarnation. There is the ‘Son of God’ incarnated on the earth. The Supreme Divine is both here in this world as well as above the world; it is said that the supreme Divine is in the heart of man: by the heart is meant the inner heart, the cave of the Yogin; it is not the external, physical heart, but the inner heart, in which the Divine is located along with our own true soul. But there is also the Divine above; in the mystic language it is called: ‘the heaven’. That is why in the Christian doctrine: ‘Father who is in Heaven’; the Father who is in Heaven is always with the Son. The Supreme Divine and the Jiva, they are always together. We have in India a corresponding idea of Nara-Narayana: the Nara is the Son; Narayana is the Supreme.

Now, if you make an ascent into the Divine, then there is a response from above. You meet the Divine, Divine descends, and He may descend basically in the aspect of the ‘Son of God’; not the totality of the Divine, but the Son of God, the Jiva aspect becomes more manifest, more at work. That is why in the Christian doctrine there is the idea of trinity. If you want to have the corresponding words of trinity in Indian language, in Indian terminology: you have the Purushottama, the Father; you have the Jiva and the Aditi, and then you have the Brahmic consciousness. Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost: Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit is the Brahmic consciousness.

There is a description of Jesus who feels the descent of the Holy Ghost and with that comes down so many powers of the Divine, and they manifest even in His disciples, the apostles. It is a true description of the descent of the Divine consciousness, and the descent of the Son of God, and therefore when He claims that He is the Son of God, it is the true claim of an experience of a realisation; and then His claim that the Father and the Son are one…

Divine Birth – Divine Works Chapter 4—Verses 14-32

Aditi, you may say, becomes more manifest in the mobile aspect, but merely to say that there is only the mobile aspect is also not true, because even the immobility is Her immobility. The immobility is also an aspect of the mobility: they are not divided. But in our experience, we make a distinction between immobile Brahman and mobile Maya or mobile Power, because Power normally in our conception is conceived more in terms of that which burst out, that which works out. So, it would not be wrong to say that Aditi is the mobile, but merely to say that, is also to do injustice to the real Reality: the Power which is immobile is also nonetheless Power. The Power can be immobile and can be mobile, but more manifest to us in mobility. Therefore, we speak of the Divine Mother as the Shakti, and Shakti normally in our consciousness refers to something that is moving, something that is acting: kṣara.

But merely to say it is that, is not a complete description of the Supreme Divine Mother: She is after all one with the Purushottama, and Purushottama is both immobile and mobile. Even to say: immobile is only immobile is also not true; it is the immobile, which is mobile. As Sri Aurobindo says: “It is not as if one fourth of the Divine is immobile, and three fourth is mobile”, that is not true either. The immobile is mobile, mobile is immobile. And yet you can make a distinction between them without dividing. Reality is not divided: that is why it is adbhuta, it is wonderful because such is the relationship and yet it is ‘one’.

So, we have the experience of the manifestation of the Divine, the descent of the Divine as the Son of God. So that is also one of the ways by which the Avatar is known.

Then, there is another manifestation of the Avatar, and that manifestation is when the Divine Himself becomes fully manifest in the ascending soul: something that you have in the example of Sri Chaitanya. Sri Chaitanya represents a tremendous phenomenon, where largely He was acting as a child, as a devotee, but from time to time, He acted and spoke not as a child, not as a servant, not as a devotee, not as a lover, but himself as the Divine. Now, if that also can become permanent…in the case of Chaitanya from time to time you found this manifestation. That is because the purpose of that Avatarhood was very special: to show to human beings how a devotee can become a perfect devotee of the Supreme Divine. It is as if God is showing to mankind: how you should be devoted to the Divine. It is a great example in Sri Chaitanya. As if, if God Himself becomes man, ideal man, ideal devotee, how he would be devoted to the Divine. So, the Divine Himself gives the example, and that is the truth of Sri Chaitanya.

Now, these are to be distinguished from ‘The Avatar’. It is not the human soul ascending into the divine consciousness, and the divine consciousness then descending in reply to the ascending movement, but right from birth the Divine Himself comes down, takes a human form, and enters into it. And even the human form becomes aware of the presence of the Divine. There is always, therefore, this double phenomenon in an Avatar. The Avatar knows that He is the descent of the Divine, He may not be talkative about it, as in the case of Sri Rama: He hardly talked about Himself being the Divine. He kept it more prominent; therefore, He even declared sometimes that, “I am only a human being”; but inwardly He acted with that kind of majesty, which belongs to the Supreme Divine Himself.

The difference between the individual experience of the Divine and the Divine experiencing Himself as the Divine is of capital importance in understanding these mystical distinctions. If you enter really into the very consciousness of the Avatar, the Avatar will Himself say, “I am the Supreme”: as in the Bhagavad-Gita we find Sri Krishna directly declaring that He is the Supreme. That is the Avatar Himself speaking out His “Avataric” consciousness. Even though there is also the human aspect: Sri Krishna is a human being, but that human aspect, that human form is assumed by the Supreme Divine. So, He is a child in His childhood, and the young man as a young man, and then, He becomes the warrior and the leader, but behind all this, even in His childhood, He expresses Himself as the Lord.

The Supreme Lord Himself is likely to be misunderstood if you look at Him only in His human aspect, and very often, we who are blind are not able to understand the Avatar. It is said that even in Sri Krishna’s own time, there are only three who knew Him as the Avatar: Arjuna, Draupadi and Vidura, (although in the later accounts of the Mahabharata and the Puranas and so on, we have many others who recognised Him as the Avatar), it is a said, (I am only telling you what is said, in many accounts, many more, for example Gopis knew that He is the Lord, Radha knew that He is the Lord, but these are later accounts), but if you keep only to the story of Mahabharata itself, it is said that in Mahabharata only three people seem to have recognise Sri Krishna as the Avatar.

For others, He was an extraordinary personality, and not necessarily something divine even, because He was seen mostly as a diplomat, or as a politician, or a warrior, or a leader, or a friend, or an advisor, counsellor, but to know Him as the Supreme Lord…in the case of Arjuna, it is only during the war itself, in the battlefield that Sri Krishna reveals Himself that He is the Lord, and that is why Arjuna himself confesses that, “I have all the time called you as a friend and as a…very ordinarily I have talked to you so far, and now I realise that you are the Supreme Lord”.

On the other hand there are many people who claimed to be Avatars, (but they are not really avatars), and they are only partial manifestations of Vibhutis. So, to understand the Avatars, you must have the inner sight, inner experience. But this is a field, which is so mystical that intellectually it is difficult to speak about it. It is only in our experience that you find out, as when the Mother met Sri Aurobindo for the first time, in that very first meeting, Mother declared: “He is the Avatar”. It is by direct experience of the Supreme Himself being present, one who has assumed the human form for a great action on the earth.

So, we shall now leave this mystic aspect, which was the internal aspect of the Avatarhood and come to three important things that happened with regard to every Avatar.

Whenever the Avatar comes on this earth, there is a remarkable manifestation of spiritual consciousness. At the same time, there is a remarkable transition from one level of social and political life, to a higher social and political life: this is a double phenomenon, which takes place, although in the outer life of the Avatar, one or the other may predominate.

If you take the life of Rama and Krishna, in the outer life that dealt with social life and political life: they both were chieftains, great kings assigned with the work of social and political life of their nations; so, certainly they powerfully affected and influenced the social and political life. But imagine the consequences in spiritual life as a result of the coming of Sri Rama and Sri Krishna. In fact, the spirituality of India is inundated by the work of Sri Rama and Sri Krishna; although basically they were in the field of social and political life. But the spiritual consequences of their life are so incalculable that we cannot understand the true spirituality of India without these two important figures.

On the other hand, both Christ and Buddha were the Avatars, and their works were in the field of spiritual development, directly. Sri Krishna did not give any spiritual advice except in the Bhagavad Gita in such a large way. Sri Rama hardly gave any kind of discourse on spiritual matters. But Christ and Buddha, in their whole life time they dwelt on the spiritual matters, and gave spiritual doctrines and Dharma was the fundamental thing in the Buddha and the Christian doctrine is fundamental in Christ’s life, and yet the social and political consequences are tremendous even in the case of Buddha and Christ.

It is because of Christ for example that you can say that the whole of Europe, and today even the whole of the world, is filled with the ideals of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. If you analyse these three great ideals of today in social and political life, at the root of that you will find ‘Christ’. The Christian teaching, and therefore the teaching of Christ Himself is at the root of the idea of Equality and Fraternity, and of Liberty.

Similarly, if you see the development of India, in the social and political life, it is Buddha’s teachings, which had a tremendous effect upon the abolition of the caste system in India: whatever anti casteism as a reason, this is only in social and political life; we can trace it to Buddha. So, although His teaching was basically teaching centred on Dharma and spiritual matters, but in the outer life it had a tremendous effect, to such an extent that although Buddhism disappeared greatly from India, the social and political consequences of Buddhism remained in India very powerfully. Every Avatar therefore, whenever He manifests has always these two aspects: the spiritual aspect, and the social and political aspect.

In His own time the Avatar may not have been recognised as an Avatar. Christ for example: only twelve disciples. Outwardly speaking He had hardly a great effect upon the humanity around Him. If people were largely following, it was because of many miracles like healing and so on, which He performed, but to know Him as an Avatar, the real Son of God, it was not widely spread. And even when Christ was being carried, and some of His disciples were asked, they shrunk from accepting that they were cognisant of Christ. As Christ had predicted of one of the disciples that, “Before the cock crows, thrice he will deny Me”, and this is exactly what happened.

So, in His own time the effect was very limited, and yet you may see now that if humanity is at least half humanised, it is because of Christ: such a tremendous effect on the life of the world. In the case of the Buddha, the following was tremendous, not as an Avatar, but His effect, the way in which he influenced the people, and thousands of people flocked at His discourses and gave up everything to follow the path of Buddha: it is a tremendous phenomenon, there is no parallel to the effect of Buddha in His own personal life, during His own living life, what effect He produced among the people.

So, merely seeing the following or not following is not the mark of the Avatar: whether many people follow Him or fewer people follow Him that is not the way by which you can judge whether he is an Avatar or not. There are many people who claimed to be avatars and there are thousands and lakhs of people following him, but he may not be Avatar at all. At the most he may have some powers of miracles or some powers by which you can heal and you can do some things and people feel that you are an avatar.

With regard to every Avatar there are three things, which remain as it were as a kind of a consequence: the figure of the Avatar, the people associated with the Avatar, and the doctrine. As in the case of Buddha, it is the figure of Buddha, it is Dharma, the doctrine, and Sangha. In Christianity it is the Christ, it is the Christian doctrine and the Christian World. In the case of Sri Krishna, there is the doctrine, there is the figure of Sri Krishna, there is not any Sangha as such, as far as Sri Krishna is concerned, but that is because He says that every path is my path, therefore the whole humanity may be regarded as Sangha for Sri Krishna.

Question: The doctrine of Sri Krishna would be the Bhagavad Gita.

…Bhagavad-Gita, or the doctrine of Bhagavatam also.

Basically, if you ask the question: what is the Divine Work? The answer is: the Divine Work is to manifest the divine powers, divine consciousness at a critical point where human beings are ascending upwards and are blocked. He breaks that blockade, and lifts that humanity upwards: this is the real work of the Avatar. The Avatar does not come to manifest miracles, although He may not deny miracles, He may not refrain from miracles, but He does not come on the earth to perform miracles: that is not His basic task. Most of the Avatars have not performed miracles on the earth. Christ has done, in a certain sense you might say that all Avatars have done some kind of miracles; because basically, miracle is the intrusion of a higher principle in a lower principle.

In the established order of the world, when you introduce a new kind of knowledge, which is not easily available in that field, then you call it a miracle. In that sense for example, all the scientific inventions which are today working in the world, from a certain point of view are all miracles: we switch on the light and the light comes up, it is a kind of miracle. But now, because we know the whole process, we do not call it a miracle, but to the outsider it may look like a miracle. Similarly, the power of healing: to many people it may seem a miracle; you just touch somebody and somebody becomes all right. But we do not know that actually there is a kind of energy in the world, and you can concentrate that energy in your body, you can become like a dynamo, and then you can transmit it. If you know this principle, it is no more a miracle, it is simply the intrusion of a principle not known to others, and action of that particular energy; and you can call it a miracle. But actually there is a whole process of a higher level working at a lower level. Therefore, in a sense you might say that all Avatars perform miracles because they bring something of the higher consciousness and act on the earth.

The way in which Sri Rama acted, His whole life is a miracle; not that He showed any particular miracle, great things which were not happening, but a kind of man who…that He manifested: the kind of completeness of a manhood is in itself a miracle. To show all kinds of virtues together and to combine them together in one consciousness is also a miracle: it was not widespread; it was not known to people that such a human life is possible, such a consciousness is possible.

In fact if you read the Valmiki’s Ramayana, there is a dialogue between Narada and Valmiki, and the question is: Valmiki was keen to write a story of one who manifested all the virtues together. And then, it is Narada who says that such a personality exists, and this is Sri Rama. And he writes his story with all the virtues put together. So, you might say that also is a miracle by itself: to combine all the qualities together, and to act, manifest those qualities together, to bear the burden of life, and not to flinch from it at every circumstance whenever there was a great crisis, He faced it with that majesty of an Avatar.

The 4th chapter that we were discussing is fundamentally concerned with the Divine birth and the Divine Works. What is the nature of the divine Work? The Avatar comes to give an example, so that other human beings also do the divine Works: it is not as if only Divine Himself does the work and nobody else can do it. The message of every avatar is that, “Look I have taken the human form, and I represent all the difficulties of the human consciousness, you have a possibility in you, a divine possibility, which manifests in these human problems and these human problems can be resolved by rising to the divine consciousness”: to rise in the divine Consciousness is called the divine birth.

In the case of the Avatar that divine birth takes place by the descent of the Consciousness coming down into the human form, but the similar phenomenon takes place from the human side when being human you ascend into the divine Consciousness and therefore, it is a divinising birth, a birth by which you rise up. And you might say that Karmayoga is a process by which you can enter into the divine birth. The gist of Karmayoga is only this: how to rise from human consciousness into the divine Consciousness, so that you can do the divine work.

Now, the rest of the 4th chapter, and I shall now read a few verses of the 4th chapter, from IV, 16.

Question: Mohamed is a Vibhuti or an Avatar?

He is Vibhuti, and he himself said he was not an Avatar, quite rightly. He himself said that, “I am not an Avatar”.

If you just turn to page 186, verse 14: 14&15 give the nature of the divine Work. We have read them earlier but it is better to repeat them, so that then we can go easily to the next part of this chapter:

na māṁ karmāṇi limpanti na me karma-phale spṛhā |
iti māṁ yo ’bhijānāti karmabhir na sa badhyate ||4.14||

evaṁ jñātvā kṛtaṁ karma pūrvair api mumukṣubhiḥ |
kuru karmaiva tasmāt tvaṁ pūrvaiḥ pūrvataraṁ kṛtam ||4.15||

“Actions do not bind Me, nor do I have yearning for the fruit of actions. He who knows Me thus is not bound by actions.”

“Knowing thus the seekers of liberation performed deeds in ancient times. In the same way, you also perform actions as done in the past by your forefathers.”

Basic point is that you do actions, and yet, you do not get bound by actions: this is the nature of the divine Consciousness. If you attain to this Consciousness then you become the divine worker.

Now, from verse 16, there is the analysis of the real meaning of Karma. This is as it were a reiteration, a kind of a summing up of the whole of the Karmayoga, in which what is demonstrated is that mere action by itself is not Karmayoga; although even by actions, mere actions, you can produce many results, because every action has a result.

The Karma is karma only when you know akarma behind it: the real action is action only when you know that there is non-action behind it. Action proceeding from non-action and action getting burned into non-action: that is the true knowledge of action. The Immobile giving rise to Mobility and Mobility getting silenced into the Immobility, when this state is reached, that is Karma yoga, and that is the real knowledge of Karma. As long as you see only action by itself, you are still bound by action.

So, He says, Sri Krishna says:

kiṁ karma kim akarmeti kavayo ’py atra mohitāḥ |
tat te karma pravakṣyāmi yaj jñātvā mokṣyase ’śubhāt ||4.16||

“What is karma and what is akarma? In this regard, kavayo ’py , even the sages, atra mohitāḥ, they are bewildered; tat te karma pravakṣyāmi, it is that action that I will explain to you; yaj jñātvā, knowing which; mokṣyase ’śubhāt, you will come out of evil.”

karmaṇo hy api boddhavyaṁ boddhavyaṁ ca vikarmaṇaḥ |
akarmaṇaś ca boddhavyaṁ gahanā karmaṇo gatiḥ ||4.17||

“You should know what is Karma; you should also know what is Vikarma; what is Akarma that also you should know, profound and secret is the movement of Karma.”

Now, comes the most famous sentence of the Bhagavad Gita:

karmaṇy akarma yaḥ paśyed akarmaṇi ca karma yaḥ
sa buddhimān manuṣyeṣu sa yuktaḥ kṛtsna-karma-kṛt ||4.18||

“One who sees action in inaction, and one who sees inaction in action, it is he among the intelligent ones, he is a Yogi. kṛtsnakarmakṛt, and yet who is capable of doing all activity.”

kṛtsna-karma-kṛt: karma is action, kṛtsna means entirety. For him it is not as if he can do this action, and not that action. Among the ritualists there is a prescription: you should do only these actions, and not those actions, but a yogi is one who can do all actions, because the Divine is present everywhere, the Divine is doing all actions in the world, He is omnipresent; and he is like the Divine Himself, he is a divine worker; so, nothing is untouchable for him. Only, he should know that inaction is action, and in inaction there is action; when he knows this secret, when immobility is known as mobility, and in mobility when you see immobility, when you see this, then you become the divine worker.

yasya sarve samārambhāḥ kāma-saṅkalpa-varjitāḥ |
jñānāgni-dagdha-karmāṇaṁ tam āhuḥ paṇḍitaṁ budhāḥ ||4.19||

Now, this perception that action as inaction, and inaction has action behind it, you cannot have it except through knowledge. Merely by doing action you will not understand this; there has to be the dimension of Knowledge. Therefore, if you really want to be one who is one with the divine worker, then you must have the perception, and the Knowledge: this is how the Karma yoga of the Gita is a synthesis of Karma and Jnana. Mere Karma, mere performance of actions, does not make you Karmayogi in the sense of the Bhagavad Gita.

Take for example: there is a view that Karma yoga consists of doing the duty: duty for duty’s sake and not to care for the consequences. This is a very simple formula, which is presented to us very often that Bhagavad Gita teaches you that you should do your duty. Now, doing mere duty is not Karma yoga in the sense of the Bhagavad Gita, because when you do duty, you are engaged in action. But to see inaction behind it, that is not in the performance of duty. Therefore, anybody who says that Bhagavad Gita teaches you ‘do your duty’, is a very misleading presentation of the Bhagavad Gita. As a first formulation, as a superficial statement, you can allow it, but fundamentally Bhagavad Gita’s Karma yoga is not mere ‘duty for duty’s sake’.

Until you arrive at a realisation that behind action, there is inaction, when you rise to that level of Brahmic consciousness, where there is complete immobility…and how do you know the immobility? Not by mere doing action, there has to be the dimension of Knowledge. It is by Knowledge consciousness that you become immobile.

There is a very special thing about Knowledge: if you ask the question: what is Knowledge? “Knowledge is fundamentally a perception of Silence, of Immobility by becoming immobile”. You cannot know Immobility unless you become yourself immobile. To attain to Immobility with immobility: that is Jnana, but that is not Karma yoga as yet.

To know Immobility by immobile consciousness, and to know that mobility rises from it, that is Karma yoga. That is why now Sri Krishna speaks of jñānāgni-dagdha-karmāṇaṁ.

This is the reason why the 4th chapter is entitled “Jnana Yoga”. It is actually…the half of the chapter is only about Karma; but now comes the Jnana, and reconciles the two things. Without Karma, Jnana yoga is incomplete, without Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga is incomplete: it is by the combination of the two that basically you attain to the highest level of Karma yoga and Jnana yoga.

So, now He says:

yasya sarve samārambhāḥ kāma-saṅkalpa-varjitāḥ |
jñānāgni-dagdha-karmāṇaṁ tam āhuḥ paṇḍitaṁ budhāḥ ||4.19||

Who are the real realisers, who are the real Karmayogins?

yasya sarve samārambhāḥ varjitāḥ, whose whole initiative is exhausted; kāma-saṅkalpa-varjitāḥ, they have no karmāṇaṁ at all; all saṅkalpa is gone, whose action is dagdha , is burnt away by jñānāgni, by the fire of Knowledge.

These two sentences, these two verses, 18&19, may be regarded as the key-sentences, key-verses, of the Bhagavad Gita.

Now, comes only the elucidation of this, which we can go through rapidly:

tyaktvā karma-phalāsaṅgaṁ nitya-tṛpto nirāśrayaḥ |
karmaṇy abhipravṛtto ’pi naiva kiñcit karoti saḥ ||4.20||

A divine worker, like the Divine Himself, he is karmaṇy abhipravṛtto, he is entirely engaged in action, naiva kiñcit karoti saḥ, and yet he does no action. Constantly engaged in action, and yet he does no action. Why? Because nitya-tṛpto, he is completely contented, there is no saṅkalpa, there is no desire that, “Now I will do this or I should do that”, all is finished, he is completely immobile; tyaktvā karma-phalāsaṅgaṁ, he has given up all the attachment to the fruits of action, and yet he does all actions; and even while doing actions he knows he does no actions.

nirāśīr yata-cittātmā tyakta-sarva-parigrahaḥ |
śārīraṁ kevalaṁ karma kurvan nāpnoti kilviṣam ||4.21||

Chapter 4—Verses 21-23

nirāśīr yatacittātmā tyaktasarvaparigrahaḥ |
śārīraṁ kevalaṁ karma kurvan nāpnoti kilviṣam ||4.21||

He is nirāśīr; he is no ‘all hopes’, all expectations are all drowned; yata-cittātmā, his consciousness is completely united with the Supreme; tyakta-sarva-parigrahaḥ, all possessions, all sense of possession, all idea of storing something for the future, all that is tyakta, all given up; śārīraṁ kevalaṁ karma kurvan, he does action only bodily, inwardly there is an ocean of tranquillity, so there is no action inwardly and yet there is a manifestation of action only physically, outwardly; nāpnoti kilviṣam, therefore there is no sin that attaches to him.

yadṛcchālābhasantuṣṭo dvandvātīto vimatsaraḥ |
samaḥ siddhāv asiddhau ca kṛtvāpi na nibadhyate ||4.22||

He is dvandvātīto, he has gone beyond all dualities, right or wrong, pleasure or pain, praise or insult; dvandvātīto, whether I should do this or should do that, there is no dvandvā in his consciousness; vimatsaraḥ, there is no envy, no jealousy in him; yadṛcchā-lābha-santuṣṭo, whatever is given to him, santuṣṭo, he is satisfied; samaḥ siddhāv asiddhau, he is equal in his mind whether there is success or failure; even then, kṛtvāpi na nibadhyate, he does actions and even when he does actions, he does not get bound.

gatasaṅgasya muktasya jñānāvasthitacetasaḥ |
yajñāyācarataḥ karma samagraṁ pravilīyate ||4.23||

All attachment is gone gata-saṅgasya; muktasya, he is liberated; jñānāvasthita-cetasaḥ, his consciousness is seated in Knowledge; yajñāyācarataḥ karma, all actions he does as a sacrifice; karma samagraṁ pravilīyate, therefore his action is all burnt away.

Now, a new argument begins from verse 24. The link between 23&24 is the word: yajñā. In the last sentence of verse 23, you have: yajñāyācarataḥ karma, sacrifice. Now, this sacrifice has been explained in the 3rd chapter. This is now further explained in the 4th chapter, and that explanation comes here. If you read only the 3rd chapter and the description of yajñā, an impression will be created that yajñā in the 3rd chapter is the ritualistic yajñā: it is the havan, it is the lighting of the fire and throwing into it the samidh, and then giving the oblations of ghṛta. The kind of ritualistic yajñā that is being proposed in the tradition; that impression is now completely wiped out when the explanation of yajñā is given here. What is the real yajñā? The whole meaning of yajñā, and the Karma, which is done as a yajñā, is now transformed in the subsequent verses. What is it that you say: this action is done for the sake of sacrifice? You will see here, there is no reference to the ritualistic sacrifice, and yet the symbols are of ritualism:

brahmārpaṇaṁ brahma havir brahmāgnau brahmaṇā hutam |
brahmaiva tena gantavyaṁ brahmakarmasamādhinā ||4.24||

The oblation is the yajñā, is the brahmaṇ; the fire itself is the brahma; brahma Himself is the sacrificer into the brahmaṇ. So, when you realise that whole world is nothing but brahmaṇ, and all actions are done as if an offering to the Supreme omnipresent Divine who is Himself brahma, who is immobile consciousness. The immobile consciousness that manifest itself in the world, and whatever action you do is by itself a sacrifice, is all given to Him: brahma sacrificing to brahmaṇ, by brahmaṇ, for brahmaṇ, into brahmaṇ, that is the meaning of yajñā. So, there is no ritualistic yajñā now: all action, even breathing, eating, everything is nothing but yajñā; all actions. For him the act of offering is brahmaṇ; the oblation is brahmaṇ; by brahmaṇ is it offered into the fire of brahmaṇ; brahmaṇ is that which is to be attained by him who realises brahmaṇ in his actions.

daivam evāpare yajñaṁ yoginaḥ paryupāsate |
brahmāgnāv apare yajñaṁ yajñenaivopajuhvati ||4.25||

“Some Yogis perform sacrifices to please the gods, while others offer the self to be sacrificed by the Self into the fire of Brahman, that is the Supreme.”

And that is the real sacrifice.

Now, there is a further elucidation of various kinds of sacrifices that can be performed with regard to everything that you do:

śrotrādīnīndriyāṇy anye saṁyamāgniśu juhvati |
śabdādīn viṣayān anya indriyāgniṣu juhvati ||4.26||

“Some offer hearing and the other senses into the fire of samyamā…” When you hear and all hearing is nothing but…whatever you hear is nothing but hearing of the Divine: then that is the real yajñā. Mere hearing is yajñā. All your activities of your senses become activities of yajñā. “…others may offer sound and the other objects of senses into the fire of senses.” Even taking objects of senses: you hear music or you produce music, whatever you do if you do it in the sense that, “all this is nothing but brahmaṇ”, it is this Knowledge that makes the difference. Merely hearing itself is only an act, but when you know it is all nothing but brahmaṇ,it is the Knowledge aspect of it that makes it a real yajñā.

sarvāṇīndriyakarmāṇi prāṇakarmāṇi cāpare |
ātmasaṁyamayogāgnau juhvati jñānadīpite ||4.27||

“Some others again offer all functions of their senses and of the actions of prāṇas into the fire of the Yoga of self-restraint kindled by Knowledge.” The important point is: “kindled by Knowledge”.

dravyayajñās tapoyajñā yogayajñās tathāpare |
svādhyāyajñānayajñāsca yatayaḥ saṁśitavratāḥ ||4.28||

“Some likewise offer as sacrifice their material possessions. Some perform the yajñā of austerity. Some offer the yajñā of svādhyāya, and the yajñā of Knowledge. Some are devoted to the yajñā of Raja Yoga. Some yatis keep severe vows practising the great virtues.”

All forms of actions, in other words, anything and everything that you do, if you do it in the sense that it is all Brahman, offering to Brahman, into the fire of Brahman, by means of Brahman: that is the real yajñā.

apāne juhvati prāṇaṁ prāṇe’pānaṁ tathāpare |
prāṇāpānagatī ruddhvā prāṇāyāmaparāyaṇāḥ ||4.29||

In the same way if you do Pranayama, whether it is Prana or Apana, breathing or non-breathing, Kumbhaka or Rechaka, or Puraka, whatever it is…“Still others offer Prana unto Apana, others offer Apana unto Prana, while others are engaged on the cessation of Prana and Apana by the Pranayama”.

apare niyatāhārāḥ prāṇān prāṇeṣu juhvati |
sarve’pyete yajñāvido yajñākṣapitakalmaṣāḥ ||4.30||

“Some restricting their food, offer their Pranas unto the Pranas. All these are knowers of sacrifice and have burnt up their sins in the fire of sacrifice.”

Once again it is to be done with the Knowledge.

yajñaśiṣṭāmṛtabhujo yānti brahma sanātanam |
nāyaṁ loko’sty ayajñāsya kuto’nyaḥ kurusattama ||4.31||

“When everything is done as a sacrifice, then there is a remainder; that remainder is the delight of existence.”…the supreme delight, the supreme immortality: yajñāśiṣṭāmṛtabhujo. What remains? There is no fruit of any action. What is the fruit? It is the immortal delight of the Brahman itself. In the ritualistic yajñā it is said that in yajñā, when you have done the ritualistic sacrifice, you give up everything, and you eat only what is left. Now, there what is left is your cooked food, whatever other things are distributed away; what is left is only a little. In the 3rd chapter also we were told that one who eats only for himself, one who cooks only for himself is not a Yogi; it is not a yajñā; he is a thief, stena eva (3.12). Now, that is explained here now, that you sacrifice everything, and what remains is amṛita, is immortality, the delight of existence, the real realisation of the Brahman:

yajñaśiṣṭāmṛtabhujo yānti brahma sanātanam |
nāyaṁ loko’sty ayajñāsya kuto’nyaḥ kurusattama ||4.31||

“One who does not perform sacrifice, for him even this world is not available.” kuto’nyaḥ kurusattama, “What would be available to him apart, even the other world.” What is the question of another world at all, or anything else, even this world is not available to him. Why even talk of anything else.

evaṁ bahuvidhā yajñā vitatā brahmaṇo mukhe |
karmajān viddhi tān sarvān evaṁ jñātvā vimokṣyase ||4.32||

“Thus from the mouth of Brahman all these different types of sacrifices have proceeded. Know them all to be born of Karma. Thus knowing you will become liberated.” You can do no action, you can do no sacrifice without action, but the real Karma is not done without knowing so the two are synthesised. No yajñā is done without action and no yajñā is performed without knowing that this yajñā is Brahman, or Brahman into Brahman. It is only when both are synthesised together, then you become the divine worker.

I think we can stop here today and we shall finish this 4th chapter next time, and going to the 5th chapter.