Bagawat Geeta, Class 67 Chapter 4


Greetings All,

Shloka # 36:

निहत्य धार्तराष्ट्रान्नः का प्रीतिः स्याज्जनार्दन

Even if, among all sinners, you are the very worst, by this raft of knowledge you will go beyond sin.

 Continuing his teachings of Gita, Swami Paramarthananda said, from shloka # 36 onwards Sri Krishna is talking about Gyana phalam. In shloka # 36 he talked about the following benefits by obtaining Gyanam: 1) Sarva moha nasha, 2) Sarvatra Jivatma Paramatma Aikyam and 3) Sarva Papa Nasha.

Shloka # 37:

 यथैधांसि समिद्धोऽग्निर्भस्मसात्कुरुतेऽर्जुन
ज्ञानाग्निः सर्वकर्माणि भस्मसात्कुरुते तथा।।4.37।।

 As a kindled fire reduces all fuels to ashes, so, Arjuna ! does the fire of knowledge reduce all works to ashes.

  1. Sarva Karma Nasha:

Now in this shloka Sri Krishna talks about a fourth benefit of Gyanam called Sarva Karma Nasha.  All three karmas, Sanchita, Prarabhda and Agami Karmas are all destroyed with knowledge. Just as a glove insulates one from an electric shock so also Gyanam insulates one from the effects of Karma. While our karmic events don’t change, our response to them now changes.  The karma cannot affect a Gyani anymore. He is insulated from its effects. It is as though stopped.

Sri Krishna also compares knowledge to a huge conflagration. Everything is burnt in the fire of Gyana including karmas.

The fire for such a conflagration, however, has to be well kindled. A weak fire can be extinguished by a large piece of wood thrown into the fire. Half knowledge, compared here to a weak fire, will not help. Knowledge needs to be obtained from a Parampara Acharya. Sravanam, mananam and nidhidhyasanam are all required. Knowledge obtained in this manner, from a qualified teacher, will reduce everything to ashes.

 What is the difference between Papa Nasha and Karma Nasha? Shloka # 36 talked about Papa Nasha while Shoka # 37 is talking about Karma Nasha.

Papa nasha only refers to papa karmas. Here Karmas mean both papa and punya karmas. Both fall under Samsara. Punya leads to Svarga. But eventually one has to return from Svargam as well. Swamiji compares it to going to America and coming back to Chennai with its heat, humidity and mosquitoes. Thus, Punya is a sorrow that comes later and is a Bandha (attachment). So, Gyani goes beyond both papam and punyam.

Shloka # 38:

हि ज्ञानेन सदृशं पवित्रमिह विद्यते
तत्स्वयं योगसंसिद्धः कालेनात्मनि विन्दति।।4.38।।

Nothing exists here as purifying as knowledge. Perfected in yoga, in course of time, one wins it in one’s own Self.

With Shloka # 37 Gyana Phalam is over. Four Gyana phalams were explained. They were:

1) Sarva moha nasha,

2) Sarvatra Jivatma Paramatma Aikyam,

3) Sarva Papa Nasha and

4) Sarva Karma Nasha.

Now Sri Krihna wants to conclude with some dos and don’ts or Sadhanas.

He says there is no greater purifier than knowledge. There are many purifiers such as Ganga Jalam, Rudra mantra japam, etc. All purifiers can destroy papams. However, only Knowledge can destroy Avidya. No other purifier can destroy Avidya or Agyanam.

Who can get this knowledge? Only qualified and prepared persons can get this knowledge. Such a person is known as Samsidhaha. The method of preparation is known as Yogaha. Yogaha are two fold. They are Karma Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga. Following these two yogas also means leading a religious life. Vedas have decided upon a life style for spiritual growth. Vedic culture is meant for spiritual growth. It, however, does not ignore material growth. If we follow this Vedic life we will reach this knowledge. This is called Yogaha. It is a growth of spiritual, emotional and intellectual attributes. Put in another way it is Tatva Bodha’s Sadhana Chatushtaya Sampathihi. This knowledge can only occur in a pure mind. When asked how long it will take, Sri Krishna does not comment. Rather, he says, enjoy the journey.

Shloka # 39:

रद्धावाँल्लभते ज्ञानं तत्परः संयतेन्द्रियः
ज्ञानं लब्ध्वा परां शान्तिमचिरेणाधिगच्छति।।4.39।।

The man of faith, who has mastered his senses and who is intent on it, wins knowledge. Winning knowledge, he attains without delay the peace supreme.

 In the previous shloka Yoga was mentioned as a Sadhana or a way of religious life and a qualified person was called a Samsiddhaha. In this shloka more sadhanas are prescribed.

 Shradha is now prescribed. It is faith in the validity of scriptures until one gets knowledge. As you study the Gita you will notice that all your doubts are answered at some point during the study. Every Acharya also accepts questions.

Siddhi Grantha is a text that raises a lot of questions and clarifies doubts. This attitude of faith is called Sradha. Such a person is called Sradhavan. Such a person gets knowledge. It should be noted that Vedanta also accepts questions from current situations as well.

Another sadhana mentioned is Tatparam or sincere commitment to the Teacher. Explaining this, Swamiji said in the early stages of his Gita lectures he had Q & A sessions at the end of the class.  However, he found, most people did not come prepared. They would ask questions that were not relevant to the teaching in the class. One should revisit the teaching and this is known as manaha. Only from this process can legitimate doubts arise. This is showing commitment to the teacher.

The next sadhana discussed by Sri Krishna is Sense control and focusing capacity or Samyatindriyaha.  So, all above-mentioned sadhanas are required. They are:

  • Samsidhaha, a qualified person.
  • Sradha, faith in validity of scriptures.
  • Tatparam, sincere commitment to the teacher.
  • Samyatindriyaha, control of senses and a capacity for focus.

All four are required for Gyanam. Such a person gets peace that surpasses all understanding. Sri Krishna promises this benefit in this very life.

He also says with Gyanam we also need to address or overcome some of our deeply entrenched Vasanas as well. This may take some time.

Our actions and responses are governed by two factors, one is our knowledge; and another is our vasana; knowledge will take care of part of the problem, but we have to handle our vasanas, or habits as well.

Habit changing requires deliberate effort. It is not that easy to change well entrenched habits like emotional problems, inferiority complex, lack of self-image jealousy, anger, irritation etc. They are all well entrenched and one needs to handle one of them at a time. Only by controlling our Vasanas can we attain true knowledge.

Shloka # 40:

अज्ञश्चाश्रद्दधानश्च संशयात्मा विनश्यति
नायं लोकोऽस्ति परो सुखं संशयात्मनः।।4.40।।

The ignorant, the unfaithful, the doubting self perishes. Neither this world nor the next nor happiness accrues to the doubter.

In the previous shloka Sri Krishna talked about positive traits. Here, now, he talks about negative traits. He describes them as follows:

  1. Ignorance: with respect to the world. He says every human being has to be informed about the world to lead a normal life. Worldly knowledge is required.
  2. Ashradha: Lack of faith in scriptures.
  3. Samshayaha: Doubt.

Of the three Samshayaha or the doubting Thomas is the most problematic.  Suppose a person is not worldly he may not get worldly ananada, however, due to his shraddha he will obtain Parloka Sukham. One who does not believe in scriptures but believes in worldly pleasures, he may not get Paraloka sukham but he will get Iha Loka sukham. However, a Samshaya Atma even with worldly knowledge will not obtain Iha loka Sukham nor Para Loka Sukham.

So Samshaya is the worst enemy. Trust in family member, co-workers, even own driver etc., is required. Trust involves risk. Trust is very important in life. It is required for Vedanta as well.

Shloka # 41:

योगसंन्यस्तकर्माणं ज्ञानसंछिन्नसंशयम्
आत्मवन्तं कर्माणि निबध्नन्ति धनञ्जय।।4.41।।

 Arjuna! works bind not him who is vigilant, who through yoga, has renounced works and who has slain doubts with knowledge.

 Here Sri Krishna is summing up the sadhanas and the phalams. A person has to go through three stages of sadhana:

  1. First Stage: Yogaha or yoga-samnyasta-karmanam. This means Gyanam and what is the Gyanam? Remembering at all times that I am the Atma, which is an Akarta. A person gets detached from all actions. Since actions belong to the body-mind-complex, he allows the body-mind-complex to function in the world; but he does not have attachment or identification and therefore he has renounced the karma identification.
  2. Second Stage: This stage called Gyana-sanchina-samshayam is where he negates all his doubts by gaining conviction through mananam. Gyanam means conviction; I should be convinced of this knowledge and I should study until I am convinced.
  3. Third stage: is Atmavantam. This is thenidhidhy asanam stage. In this stage, a person is alert and remembers the teaching at all times. Through the teaching, Gyanam must be available in my day-to-day life. So, Atmavan is one who leads an alert life and one who keeps himself in this state of knowledge during all transactions. Due to his alertness, Karma cannot bind the one who has done the shravana, manana and nidhidhyasanam.

Shloka # 42:

तस्मादज्ञानसंभूतं हृत्स्थं ज्ञानासिनाऽऽत्मनः
छित्त्वैनं संशयं योगमातिष्ठोत्तिष्ठ भारत।।4.42।।

Therefore, O Bharata Prince! With the sword of knowledge slay the doubt in the heart born of nescience; resort to Yoga and stand up.

Here Sri Krishna advises Arjuna that he should get rid of all his doubts. For purification of mind, follow Karma yoga, then for enlightenment follow Gyana Yoga. By the sword of understanding all doubts about Karma Yoga and Gyana Yoga will be destroyed. In any event, all doubts are products of ignorance. With knowledge, destroy ignorance.  This you alone can do. Guru cannot do it for you. I can only support you.  You are not yet fit for sanyasa yet. Therefore, be a grihastha. Do your duty, even though it is a bitter and unpleasant one, of killing your own kith and kin. You cannot avoid it. Therefore, O Arjuna, get up, take your bow, arrow and do your duty.

With this Krishna completes this present discourse.

Take Away:

As per shloka # 41, try to reach a state of alertness of mind at all times. Most of the time our mind is not alert. This alert mind is also a detached mind.

With Best Wishes,

Ram Ramaswamy