Bagawat Geeta, Class 58 – Chapter 4


Shloka # 12:

काङ्क्षन्तः कर्मणां सिद्धिं यजन्त इह देवताः
क्षिप्रं हि मानुषे लोके सिद्धिर्भवति कर्मजा।।4.12।।

People in the world offer scarifices to gods, desiring the success of their works. For, in this human world, quick is the success born of works.

Continuing his teachings of Gita, Swami Paramarthananda said, up to shloka # 12 Sri Krishna talked about Avatara’s. He began the chapter by glorifying Vedas. Once Sri Krishna stopped, Arjuna raised a doubt. Answering him Sri Krishna explained how an Avatara happens. And thereafter Krishna said that even by this avathara gyanam one can get

Liberation although most of the people are not interested in Ishvara gyanam, they are only interested in karmas which will produce material result; He said most people are not interested in moksha; rather most are interested in karma. To obtain moksha is not Bhagawan’s decision, rather it is our decision to make. Most people are interested in material goals only. With this Avatara rahasyam is over.

Now Sri Krishna is entering Gyana-Karma-Sanyasa teaching. Arjuna is not interested in doing his duty as a Kshatriya on the battlefield. Rather, he wants to take sanyasa. Arjuna is afraid of Karma. Sri Krishna wants to take the fear of Karma from Arjuna. As long as a human is alive one has to perform Karma. We cannot live even a moment without action. The types of actions we perform may be different. You will always have one job or another. Sri Krishna says you cannot escape Karma. Only death can cease karma. Even the smallest of atoms is active as is the huge Sun. Both at micro and macrocosmic level there is constant action and it is inevitable. Now with Karma there are always side effects. Karma means responsibility, tension, and the end result may not be always the way we desired. Because of this there is also mental disturbance. Sri Krishna says we must accept Karma as a part of life but we also need to find solutions for the side effects. This is much like some of the drugs we take. I should remain in action without being disturbed. To accomplish this one method is adopting Karma Yoga. Here Sri Krishna also talks of Gyanam as another solution. With Gyanam one is not affected by action or its results. Citing example of the ooze coming out of a Jackfruit, Swamiji says this white ooze sticks to your hands. People apply oil in their hands so that the ooze does not stick. So also Gyanam is the oil that prevents Karma from sticking to us. And this is the topic of this chapter as well.

Sri Krishna says look at me and my life. I have gone through a lot including failures. In spite of my activities I remain untouched by action or results of my karma.

Sri Krishna as creator also had a lot of duties. He was a creator, sustainer and destroyer. I also designed a way of life for human beings to lead and it is in a manual called the Vedas. It teaches a life of harmony for both the individual as well as society. Such a life style is the Varna Ashrama Plan. It has Varna, the four fold division of society. This division allows social harmony and growth in individual, community, nation and cosmos.

Ashrama, describes the four stages of life of an individual that is: Brahmacharya, Grihastashrama, Vanaprastha and Sanyasa ashrama.

In this shloka Sri Krishna talks of Varna Ashrama.

Swamiji described Ashrama as follows:

Brahmacharya: This is the life of a student. In this stage he learns about the human goals. One goal is a material goal of how to earn a living. The second goal is a spiritual goal for inner growth. One goal is outward facing while other is inward facing. A balance has to be stuck between outer and inner growth.

Grihastashrama: Life as a householder. This is the implementation stage of the learning from Brahmacharya. It is a Karma Pradhana life. Activities are extrovert in nature. Hinduism also supports material growth and is not just a religion of escapism, as some would have us believe. All desires are fulfilled in a legitimate manner. Background should be spiritual. His desires will gradually be refined. It is a stage full of activity. Pancha Maha Yagna is usually practiced in this stage to purify the mind. Pancha Maha Yagna was detailed in Chapter 3.

3) Vanaprashta: is a stage of turning the mind inward. This is an Upasana Pradhana Ashrama. Inside or outside his house he will turn inwards.

4) Sanyasa Ashrama: He takes Sanyasa either in the house or leaving the house. Either way he will dissociate mentally. He will handover everybody’s responsibility to Ishwara. He is in a more detached state of mind. This is a Gyana Pradhana stage.

Through these four ashramas the individual has catered to Self and Society. This is like a tree that gives fruits for the benefit of others but also produces seeds to ensure its own propagation.

This is known as ashrama vyavastha.

Shloka # 13:

चातुर्वर्ण्यं मया सृष्टं गुणकर्मविभागशः
तस्य कर्तारमपि मां विद्ध्यकर्तारमव्ययम्।।4.13।।

The fourfold class-system according to the divisions of Prakrti’s constituents and works, has been ordained by Me. Though I am its author, know Me to be the immutable non-agent.

Varna Vyavastha:

Broadly there are four varnas. They are Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra. While these are the four divisions there are three perspectives on how they are based.

The first basis is Character or Guna or Svabhava. Thus there is Guna Brahmana, Kshatriya etc.

Second is based upon profession or Karma. Thus we have Karma Brahmana, Karma Kshatriya etc.

The third is based upon birth or Janma or Jathi. Thus we have Jathi Brahmana, Jathi Kshatriya etc. Swamiji clarified that Jathi is not the same as caste.

Guna Perspective:

What character makes what?

Guna Brahmana is one in whom Satva dominates, or it is Satva Pradhana. Rajas and then Tamas follow it. Satva pradhana represents tranquility and intellectual efficiency. It has been detailed in chapter # 14 of the Gita.  Rajo Guna is a state of hyper activity.  Tamo guna is a state without Satva or Rajas or during sleep. It suppresses inner and outer activity.

Swamiji classified them as follows:

SRT: Thus in Guna Brahmana it is Satva (S), followed by Rajas (R) and then Tamas (T).

RST: In Guna Kshatriya it is RST. Here one is active, but selflessly.

RTS: Rajo Guna dominant backed by Tamo Guna. He is also active but is very selfish. This is Guna Vaishya.

TRS: Tamo Guna pradhana. Most of his time is spent in sleeping. Unskilled, mechanical person. This is Guna Shudra.

Profession or Karma perspective:

  1. Karma Brahmana: All intellectual work. Teaching, research, spiritual and non spiritual etc.
  2. Karma Kshatriya: Maintenance of law and order, defense etc.
  3. Karma Vaishya: Producing wealth, Industry, Trade and business.
  4. Karma Shudra: All activities that help all three above. Unskilled work.

Thus karma Brahmana need not be a Guna Brahmana. A Karma Brahmana selling Gita books may be more a Karma Vaishya.

Jathi Perspective ( by birth):

  • Jathi Brahmana. He can also become a Karma Kshatriya.
  • Jathi Kshatriya
  • Jathi Vaishya
  • Jathi Shudra

Thus there are many permutations and combinations of these Varnas.

From Jathi (birth) perspective all four Varnas are considered equal. Thus, birth does not provide any superiority. All jathi’s should be equally respected.

From Karma Perspective as well all professions are equally important. None is superior. Purushasuktham shows the four parts of the body of God as representing the four Varnas.

With Best Wishes,

Ram Ramaswamy