Narach Philosophy

CHAPTER 4: JNANA KARMA SANYASA YOGA


The fourth chapter is called "Jnana Karma Sanyasa Yoga" or "The application of Knowledge and Action to Yoga". Yoga is to be understood here as the first manifestation of Vedanta philosophy. Krishna, supreme deity of Yoga-Vedanta, tells Arjuna that He is born from age to age in this world; He is the Supreme Actor who is not tainted by action.

He asks Arjuna to perform all actions as a Yogi, in the spirit of sacrifice, for if man renounces au desire for the fruit of his actions he is unaffected by his acts and incurs no sin. Krishna recounts the variety of sacrifices that maybe performed in the name of God which are all born of action. Finally He tells Arjuna that Sacrifice of Knowledge is better than sacrifice of wealth.

The Blessed Lord said:

All this imperishable Yoga
I told at first to Vivasvan;
Vivasvan then to Manu told;
And Manu unto Ikshavaku.

Thus in succession handed down,
The royal sages knew it all.
This Yoga by long decay of time
Died in the world, O mighty one.

That very same and ancient Yoga
Have I declared to thee today;
Thou art my devotee and friend,
And this the highest mystery.

Arjuna said:

Much later was thy birth, O Lord,
And earlier that of Vivasvan;
How may I understand that thou
Hast told him all this from of old?

The Blessed Lord said:

I have passed through many a birth,
And also thou, O Arjuna,
I know them one and all, but thou
Know'st not, O scorcher of thy foes.

Though of imperishable soul,
Unborn, the lord of beings all,
Controlling my own Prakriti,
By my own Maya am I born.

Whenever, O thou of Bharata race,
There is decay of righteousness,
And springs unrighteousness around,
Do I create myself again.

For the deliverance of the good,
And evil-doers to destroy,
And establish righteousness again,
I am reborn from age to age.

My birth divine and actions, he
Who knoweth in their essence all,
Leaving his body, is not born,
But comes to me, O Arjuna.

From fear, attachment, anger free,
On me depending, full of me,
By fire of knowledge purified,
So many have attained to me.

Howsoever men come to me,
Even so I grant them their desires;
For it is my path, O Pritha's son,
That all men follow every way.

Those who success in actions seek,
Here in this world, they worship gods:
For quickly in this world of men
Success by action is attained.

The fourfold caste was made by me,
Dividing Gunas and Actions all:
Though I their author, know me thou
As actionless, unchanging still.

Nor me do actions ever taint,
No do l ever seek their fruit;
And he who knoweth me as such
Unfettered is by actions he.

Knowing this, men of old performed,
Wishing for freedom, actions all;
Therefore perform all actions thou,
As ancients did in olden time.

What action and inaction is
In this even sages are confused;
I'll tell thee so what action is,
By which wilt thou from ill be free.

One has to know what action is,
Improper action needs to know;
And needs to know inaction too;
The truth of action's hard to find.

In action who inaction sees,
And action in inaction too,
Among the people he is wise,
A Yogi, doer of actions all.

Who hath his undertakings all
Free from all purpose and desire,
Hath burnt his actions in the fire
Of knowledge, he is called the wise.

Renouncing all desire for fruit,
On none depending, ever content,
Engaged in action though he be,
Nothing indeed he doth at all.

Devoid of hope, controlling mind,
And soul, renouncing all desires,
Performing actions for the sake
Of body only, hath no sin.

Content with aught that he obtains,
From opposites and envy free,
The same in failure or success,
Though acting, he is never bound.

Devoid of all attachment, free,
Whose mind is fixed in knowledge still,
Who acts but as in sacrifice,
His actions all dissolve away.

The oblation's Brahma, offering too,
In Brahma's fire, by Brahma made;
And unto Brahma he attains
In action who doth Brahma see.

There are some Yogis who perform
Their sacrifice to many gods;
But others pour in Brahma's fire
Their self but as a sacrifice.

Some ears, and other senses too
Offer in the fire of their control;
Some sound and objects of the sense
Offer in the fire of senses all.

All actions of the senses, some;
And others functions of their breath
Offer in the fire of self-control,
By knowledge that is kindled all.

And some make sacrifice of wealth,
Of Yoga and of austerity;
Of study and of knowledge some;
Of rigid vows and self-restraint.

Some offer their incoming breath
To breath that goeth out, and that
To breathing in, and hold their breath,
Ever engaged in breath control.

Others who regulate their food,
Offer their breath to vital breath;
All these are knowers of sacrifice;
By sacrifice their sins consumed.

The leavings of true sacrifice
Who eat, to deathless Brahma go;
This world is not for those who make
No sacrifice, nor yet the next.

Thus many a sacrifice is made
To Brahma, and of many kinds;
Know they are born of actions all;
And knowing this, thou shalt be free.

Better than sacrifice of wealth
Is sacrifice of knowledge true;
All action O thou Pritha's son,
Is made in knowledge more complete.

Bending before thy master's feet,
By question and by service know;
The wise who have perceived the truth
To thee this knowledge will impart.

Knowing this thou, O Pandava,
Wilt not deluded be again;
And in thy soul wilt thou perceive
These creatures all, and so in me.

And even if thou art the most
Sinful among the sinners all,
Yet by the boat of knowledge thou
Wilt surely cross beyond thy sin.

As doth a blazing fire consume
To ashes, wood, O Arjuna,
The fire of knowledge doth reduce
To ashes action even so.

There's nothing in this world indeed,
Like knowledge which can purify;
He who is perfect made in Yoga
Ere long perceives it in his soul.

This knowledge gains the man of faith;
Devoted one who hath controlled
His senses all and with it he
At once attains to peace supreme.

The ignorant one, devoid of faith,
With doubting soul, doth perish all;
Neither this world, nor next, nor joy,
Can there be for the doubting soul.

Actions by Yoga who has renounced,
And doubts by knowledge rent apart,
He's full of soul, O Arjuna;
No actions him can ever bind.

So with the sword of knowledge rend
This doubt of soul within thy heart,
Of ignorance born, and be thou firm
In Yoga: Arise, O Bharata.

NOTES:

Vivasvan: The first personal form of Vivasvat, the father of Manu.

Manu: Name of one of the great progenitors of the human race. He is said to be Man par excellence. The celebrated "Code of Manu" is ascribed to him.

Ikshavaku: A son of Manu.

Controlling Prakriti: God in Vedanta as well as Yoga is conceived as the ruler of Prakriti.

Maya: Maya is creative energy, and not an illusion as is commonly supposed. Here it is associated with God; sometimes it is associated with Prakriti too.

The four Castes, Gunas, and Action: This is the original idea of the Caste among the Hindus. A man belongs to a particular caste according to the actions he is required to perform.

Burning action in the fire of knowledge: According to Vedanta, or its first manifest form, Yoga, Knowledge and Action are but two counterparts of the same energy of Prana or self-conscious Breath. Burning actions in the fire of knowledge means, therefore, associating knowledge with action, and purifying it thereby.

Brahma and Sacrifice: Brahma is the supreme deity of Nyaya and Vaiseshika system, which hold that necessary actions must be performed as a Sacrifice. Here Krishna attempts to show that actions as a Sacrifice are enjoined in these systems too.

Ears and other senses: There are five senses of knowledge, ears, skin, eyes, tongue and the nose. Their respective attributes are sound, touch, sight, taste and smell. These are called the objects of the senses too.

Actions of the senses: Corresponding to the five senses of knowledge we have the five senses of action, feet, hands, tongue as organ of speech, the organ of creation, and the organ of excretion respectively. In these two verses we get the idea of the sacrifice or creative and selfless functions of the senses of knowledge and action.

Self-restraint: The idea of self-restraint is necessary to Sacrifice; for without it action becomes selfish and regardless of good to others.

Breath-control: Pranayama, by means of which we can control all functions of life. Control or restraint is essential in Sacrifice.

By sacrifice their sins consumed: There can be no effect of actions when they are performed as a Sacrifice. Hence Sacrifice consumes sin or the evil effects of actions.

Sacrifice made to Brahma: We have explained that Brahma is associated with the idea of Sacrifice.

Knowledge and Action: Here we are told that all actions culminate in knowledge, and vice versa. This is the point of view of Vedanta, which holds that knowledge and action are but two counterparts of the same energy of Prana or Breath.

Knowledge and Service: Here we see how knowledge may be acquired by acts of service or helpfulness, that is Sacrifice.

Knowledge consumes the sin of action: The two being harmonized, and action being performed as a Sacrifice, there can be no sin.