In the beginning of Chapter 4, Lord Krishna talked about the glory of the Gita as vedasaarah and that He alone taught the Vedic wisdom in the beginning of creation and is teaching the same Vedic wisdom now, in the name of Gita.
Upon hearing this, Arjuna has a doubt due to the teacher being the same with a great gap in time. Lord Krishna introduces the topic of avatara to answer this question. He says “I am the original Vishnu who gave out the Vedic wisdom then, and that Vishnu is now in the form of Bhagavan Krishna”. Not only is the Lord teaching now but he says I am aware of the fact that I am Bhagavan. I alone have taken all the janmas as Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, etc. I have now taken Krishna shariram. I know all my previous avataras, therefore I am Bhagavan Vishnu’s avatara.
Both the avatara and the jeeva-janma take a body. However, there are fundamental differences between the two in the Cause, Nature and Purpose.
The Cause: Jnaanam is the cause of Ishvara avatara. Ajnaanam is the cause of jeeva-janma.
The Nature: The Lord’s shariram is directly born out of maya. Jeeva’s body is not directly born out of maya but through the intermediary process of the five elements.
The Purpose: Jeeva arrives to exhaust his prarabhda punya-paapa. Ishvara arrives to uplift the world.
Lord Krishna points out these three differences. The third difference of purpose is in Verse 7.
Chapter 4 Sloka 7
यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत ।
अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदाऽऽत्मानं सृजाम्यहम् ।।4.7।।
यदा यदा whenever हि surely धर्मस्य of righteousness ग्लानिः decline भवति is भारत O Bharata अभ्युत्थानम् rise अधर्मस्य of unrighteousness तदा then आत्मानम् Myself सृजामि manifest अहम् I.
Whenever there is decline of righteousness, O Arjuna, and rise of unrighteousness, then I manifest Myself.
यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिः भवति whenever there is a decline in dharma. Dharma, as seen in Chapter 3, means cosmic harmony or rhythm. If you take the whole universe as a body, the cosmic orderliness is called cosmic health. At the cosmic level, if there is harmony, it is called dharma. And this harmony alone protects the universe. Dharma alone is the health of the world. It alone sustains the world. Once the orderliness is disturbed, the whole cosmos will be destroyed and we will not be able to survive. And if this inbuilt system doesn’t work, Bhagavan will have to interfere.
Krishna says here, as a sthiti karta of the universe, I will come. Not very often but यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिः whenever there is a declension of dharma. And naturally, अभ्युत्थानम् अधर्मस्य when the adharma, corruption increases. Then, अहम् आत्मानम् सृजामि I myself will consciously, deliberately, voluntarily, take the body.
Chapter 4 Sloka 8
परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम् ।
धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय संभवामि युगे युगे ।।4.8।।
परित्राणाय for the protection साधूनाम् of the good विनाशाय for the destruction च and दुष्कृताम् of the wicked धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय for the establishment of righteousness संभवामि (I) am born युगे युगे in every age.
For the protection of the good, for the destruction of the wicked and for the establishment of righteousness, I am born in every age.
How will the Lord protect dharma and destroy adharma? Krishna says that dharma is protected by protecting the people who follow dharma. Therefore, Krishna says, साधूनाम् परित्राणाय – I take an avatara to protect the dhaarmic people. How is adharma destroyed? Only by destroying the people that are the cause of adharma.
We should note that the adhaarmic people can be destroyed in two ways.
One method is by converting them from adharma to dharma by sama, dana, bheda. When you convert a person from adharma to dharma without doing himsa, you have destroyed the adharmic person. The second is by destroying the adharmic person itself. Bhagavan tries this first, giving them sufficient opportunity to change. Krishna goes as a messenger to Duryodhana and suggests to compromise with the Pandavas but he refuses. This means that sama, dana and bheda have failed. Therefore, Krishna said तस्माद्युध्यस्व भारत (from Chapter 2, Verse 18). Arjuna, destroy them!
Krishna says, दुष्कृताम् विनाशाय and धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय |
Bhagavan established dharma in a different way. A kshatriya and a brahmana can establish dharma, each in their own way. A kshatriya promotes the dhaarmic people and punishes the adhaarmic people. A brahmana sustains dharma by teaching which is the better form of promoting dharma. Punishment is only temporary and will not promote dharma permanently. The ultimate promotion of dharma is for a person to have value for dharma. To know the long term effects of violating dharma requires a sensitive mind. Sensitive mind is developed only by teaching not by advising. A kshatriya protects dharma by protecting the dharmic people and punishing the adhaarmic people. A brahmana protects dharma by teaching. Bhagavan’s avatara has done both. Krishna protected dhaarmic people like Dharmaputra and destroyed adhaarmic people like Duryodhana. This was Krishna’s kshatriya job. Then he taught Gita, or taught dharma. This is why he said धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय | This is the reason that among the 10 avataras, Rama avatara and Krishna avatara are considered the most important ones. Teaching dharma is involved only in these two avataras. Rama taught by living dharma and Krishna, by teaching dharma. Ramayana is Rama ayanam means the way of life led by Rama.
संभवामि I am born or take avatara. युगे युगे every yuga or every time it is required.
Chapter 4 Sloka 9
जन्म कर्म च मे दिव्यमेवं यो वेत्ति तत्त्वतः ।
त्यक्त्वा देहं पुनर्जन्म नैति मामेति सोऽर्जुन ।।4.9।।
जन्म birth कर्म action च and मे My दिव्यम् divine एवम् thus यः who वेत्ति knows तत्त्वतः in true light त्यक्त्वा having abandoned देहम् the body पुनः again जन्म birth नः not एति gets माम् to Me एति comes सः he अर्जुन O Arjuna.
He who thus know, in their true light, My divine birth and action, having abandoned the body, is not born again, he comes to Me, O Arjuna.
In this verse, Krishna tells, knowing the nature of God also leads to liberation.
However, Krishna had mentioned that atmajnaanam is the means of liberation in Chapter 2, Verse 55. Which actually leads to liberation? Are there two paths? Is there a choice?
The scriptures have mentioned that there is only one means of liberation. Therefore, it must be that self-realization and God-realization are identical. Swamiji gives an example of a wave. When a wave knows its true nature, the realization is that it is water. The ocean’s true nature is also water.
Therefore, whether you talk about the true nature of the wave or the true nature of the ocean, the true nature is one alone; there is only one central truth. Similarly, whether you realize your true nature which is the self or whether you realize the true nature of God, you arrive at one “sat chit Ananda svaroopa”.
If a person says, I have realized the self but not God or vice versa; it means he knows neither God nor the self.
Krishna says in this verse, यः वेत्ति suppose a person knows or realizes, मे जन्म or understands the true nature of my avatara. The true nature is that Krishna shariram is not the real Krishna because Krishna shariram is subject to arrival and departure.
Real Krishna is, as we saw in Verse 6:
अजोऽपि सन्नव्ययात्मा भूतानामीश्वरोऽपि सन् |
प्रकृतिं स्वामधिष्ठाय सम्भवाम्यात्ममायया || 6||
Real Krishna is अजः (birth less), अव्ययात्मा (imperishable) real Krishna is free from birth and death; whereas Krishna shariram is subject to arrival and departure.
What is the real Krishna? Not the shariram but the Krishna Paramaatma behind the body. The one who knows this fact, and दिव्यम् कर्म the one who knows Bhagavan’s sports (the divine sport is परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम् from Chapter 4, Verse 8); the one who really understands the Lord, तत्त्वतः means in His true nature….. त्यक्त्वा देहम् पुनः जन्म नः एति that person does not take a body again after death; he will attain liberation. So, the knowledge of the real Krishna will lead to liberation. What is liberation? सः माम् एति he will become one with Me. After death, he will have ब्रह्मनिर्वाणं or ईश्वर ऐक्यम् |
Chapter 4 Sloka 10
वीतरागभयक्रोधा मन्मया मामुपाश्रिताः ।
बहवो ज्ञानतपसा पूता मद्भावमागताः ।।4.10।।
वीतरागभयक्रोधाः freed from attachment fear and anger मन्मयाः absorbed in Me माम् Me उपाश्रिताः taking refuge in बहवः many ज्ञानतपसा by the fire of knowledge पूताः purified मद्भावम् My Being आगताः have attained.
Freed from attachment, fear and anger, absorbed in Me, taking refuge in Me, purified by the fire of knowledge, many have attained to My Being.
Realization of God has two stages.
First it is the realization of the Lord with a form.
The next is the realization of the Lord without a form.
This topic will be elaborated from Chapter 7 onwards.
The realization of the Lord with a form is in two stages.
One is appreciating the Lord with one form, as Rama or as Krishna or as Devi. We should all start with this for emotional health. Talk to God privately, as your confidante. The more you build this relationship, the more the Lord will become real. Then expand it further into realizing Bhagavan as One with the whole universe as his form. The final stage is the formless Ishvara. Every one has to go through these three stages, as they mature in their understanding.
The stages a seeker goes through is described in this sloka.
वीतरागभयक्रोधाः the first stage is to have realization of God in form and follow karma yoga by dedicating all your duties to the Lord and by accepting all situations as Ishvara prasada. The first stage is to surrender to Ishvara and converting the life into worship. By following a karma yoga way of life, we will purify the mind. This will result in getting rid of certain unhealthy ways of thinking. The mental impurities are of raga, bhaya and krodha. Raga is attachment. The attachment will gradually be shifted from the risky and fluid world to the permanently and secure God. The second stage is going from world dependence to God dependence. The raga or attachment to the world has shifted to attachment to Bhagavan. Then Bhagavan dependence will be converted into self-dependence. From world dependence to God dependence to self-dependence – where you discover the Bhagavan as the very self. When raga comes down, bhayam also comes down because fear is directly proportional to the attachment. Then krodha also will come down.