Chapter 4

Jnana Yoga

(The Path of Knowledge)

1. The Blessed Lord said: "I taught this immortal Yoga to Vivasvan; Vivasvan passed it on to Manu; and Manu taught it to Ikshvaku.

2. "Thus handed down in succession, it became known to the royal sages. However, with the passage of time this supreme Yoga has been lost to the world.

3. "This same Yoga have I expounded to thee today, for thou art My friend and devotee; and this Yoga is the Supreme Mystery."

4. Arjuna said: "Later was Thy birth, my Lord, and earlier the birth of Vivasvan. How then am I to understand that Thou taught him in the beginning?"

5. The Lord said: "Many births have we passed through, O Arjuna, both thou and I. I know them all but thou knowest them not, O Parantapa.

6. "Though birthless and deathless, and though I am the Lord of all beings, yet, keeping My Prakriti under control, I sometimes accept birth through My own Divine potency 11 .

7. "Whenever there is a decline of Dharma and a rise Adharma, I incarnate Myself.

8. "For the protection of the virtuous, for the destruction of the wicked, and for the reestablishment of Dharma , I am born from age to age.

9. "Whoso knows, in the true light, the secret of My Divine birth and action, will never be born again when he leaves the body; he comes to Me.

10. "Completely rid of passions, fear and anger, wholly absorbed in Me, seeking refuge in Me, purified by the penance of Wisdom , many have in the past attained transcendental Love for Me.

11. "In whatsoever way men approach Me, in that same way do I return their Love. In every way, O Partha, the path that men follow is Mine.

12. "Those who long for success in actions on earth, offer sacrifice to the deities; for quickly indeed does success come from such action.

13. "The four orders of society 12 were created by Me according to the Gunas and Karmas of each. Though I am the author thereof, know Me nevertheless to be actionless and changeless.

14. "Actions do not taint Me, nor am I concerned with the fruits thereof. He who knows Me thus is not bound to his actions.

15. "Knowing this, seekers of Liberation in bygone eras did not hesitate to perform action. Do thou likewise as did the ancients of yore.

16. "Sages too are perplexed as to what is action and what is inaction. Therefore, I will expound them to thee, knowing which thou shalt be freed from evil.

17. "Inscrutable is the nature of action, and discrimination is required to understand the true meanings of Karma, Akarma and Vikarma 13 .

18. "Who sees inaction in action and action in inaction, he is enlightened among men; even while doing all work, he remains established in Yoga.

19. "He whose every undertaking is free from desire and selfish purpose, and whose actions are burnt by the fire of Knowledge - such is he whom the Wise hail as a sage.

20. "Having renounced the fruits of action, ever content, dependent on none, though engaged in action, verily he does not do anything.

21. "Free from desire for the results of his actions, with his mind and senses fully under control, giving up all sense of ownership, he incurs no sin performing action with body alone.

22. "Content with whatever comes to him, transcending the pairs of opposites, without envy, balanced both in failure and success, he is not bound though performing actions.

23. "The actions of him who is unattached, whose mind is established in Knowledge, dissolve away entirely, being done as a sacrifice.

24. "The act of offering is Brahman and the offering itself is Brahman ; the one who offers is Brahman and the sacred fire into which the offering is made is also Brahman . He alone attains Brahman who, in all his actions, is fully absorbed in Brahman.

25. "Some offer sacrifice to the Devas 14 alone while others 15 offer the self (ego) as a sacrifice in the fire of Knowledge.

26. "Some offer the senses such as hearing, in the fire of sense control; while others offer sound and other objects of perception to the fire of the senses.

27. "Others again, kindled by Wisdom, sacrifice all the activities of the senses and of the vital energy 16 in the fire of self-restraint.

28. "Some perform sacrifice using material objects, some through austerity, others via Yoga; others again, of disciplined minds and strict vows, make the study of the scriptures, and the acquisition of knowledge [of the scriptures] their sacrifice.

29. "There are some who practice sacrifice by the control of the breath and the subtle governance of the forces of vital energy. Yet others, abstemious in food, practice sacrifice by spiritualizing their vital energy.

30. All these, although apparently different, know what sacrifice is and use it to purge themselves completely of sin. Partaking of the residues of sacrifice, the food of immortality, they come to primeval Brahman .

31. "This world is not for him who performs no sacrifice, O best of the Kurus, much less the other.

32. "Thus, many and various are the sacrifices enunciated by the Vedas. Know them all to be born of action, and thou shalt win release.

33. "Superior to the sacrifice of material objects is that based on Knowledge; for all action, which does not bind, finds its consummation in Knowledge.

34. Seek enlightenment by serving and prostrating before illumined souls; and learn through reverential questioning.

35. "Arjuna, when thou hast gained this Knowledge, ignorance will no longer delude thee. Through Knowledge, thou shalt see all beings in Creation in thine own Self and then in Me.

36. "Even though thou be the foulest of sinners, still thou wouldst cross over all sin by the raft of Knowledge alone.

37. "As the blazing fire reduces firewood to ashes, so does the fire of Wisdom burn all Karma to ashes.

38. "Verily, there is nothing in this world greater and purer than Knowledge. He who is perfected in Yoga will, in the course of time, find Wisdom within his own Self.

39. "The man of faith, intent on Wisdom, his senses duly subdued, eventually gains Knowledge; and having gained Knowledge, he soon attains the Supreme peace.

40. "But the man who is ignorant and without faith and always doubting goes to ruin. Not this world nor the world beyond nor happiness is for the doubting soul.

41. "O Dhananjaya, actions do not bind him who through Yoga has renounced the fruits of action, whose doubts have been destroyed by Knowledge and who is poised in the Self.

42. "Therefore, with the sword of Wisdom, slash this doubt born of ignorance seated in thy heart, and devote thyself to Yoga. Arise, O Bharata!"

Thus in the Bhagavad Gita, the Essence of the Upanishads, the Science of Brahman, the Scripture of Yoga, the Dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjuna, ends the fourth chapter, entitled:



12Varnas viz., the Brahmins, the Kshatriyas, the Vaisyas and the Sudras.
13Action, inaction and forbidden action.
14Minor deities.
15More evolved.