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Srimad-Bhagavad-Gita, English translation and commentary by Swami Swarupananda, [1909], at

p. 96


The Blessed Lord said:

1. I told this imperishable Yoga to Vivasvat; Vivasvat told it to Manu; (and) Manu told it to Ikshvâku: 1

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2. Thus handed down in regular succession, the royal sages knew it. This Yoga, by long lapse of time, declined in this world, O burner of foes.

3. I have this day told thee that same ancient Yoga, (for) thou art My devotee, and My friend, and this secret is profound indeed. 3

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Arjuna said:

4. Later was Thy birth, and that of Vivasvat prior; how then should I understand that Thou toldest this in the beginning?

The Blessed Lord said:

5. Many are the births that have been passed by Me and thee, O Arjuna. I know them all, whilst thou knowest not, O scorcher of foes.

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6. Though I am unborn, of changeless nature and Lord of beings, yet subjugating My Prakriti, I come into being by My own Mâyâ. 6

7. Whenever, O descendant of Bharata, there is decline of Dharma, and rise of Adharma, then I body Myself forth. 7

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8. For the protection of the good, for the destruction of the wicked, and for the establishment of Dharma, I come into being in every age. 8

9. He who thus knows, in true light, My divine birth and action, leaving the body, is not born again: he attains to Me, O Arjuna. 9

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10. Freed from attachment, fear and anger, absorbed in Me, taking refuge in Me, purified by the fire of Knowledge, many have attained My Being. 10

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11. In whatever way men worship Me, in the same way do I fulfil their desires: (it is) My path, O son of Prithâ, (that) men tread, in all ways. 11

12. Longing for success in action, in this world, (men) worship the gods. Because success, resulting from action, is, quickly attained in the human world. 12

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13. The fourfold caste was created by Me, by the differentiation of Guna and Karma. Though I am the author thereof, know Me to be the non-doer, and changeless. 13

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14. Actions do not taint Me, nor have I any thirst for the result of action. He who knows Me thus is not fettered by action. 14

15. Knowing thus, the ancient seekers after freedom also performed action. Do thou, therefore, perform action, as did the ancients in olden times. 15

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16. Even sages are bewildered, as to what is action and what is inaction. I shall therefore tell you what action is, by knowing which you will be freed from evil. 16

17. For verily, (the true nature) even of action (enjoined by the Shâstras) should

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be known, as also, (that) of forbidden action, and of inaction: the nature of Karma is impenetrable.

18. He who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, he is intelligent among men, he is a Yogi and a doer of all action. 18

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19. Whose undertakings are all devoid of plan and desire for results, and whose actions are burnt by the fire of knowledge, him, the sages call wise. 19

20. Forsaking the clinging to fruits of action, ever satisfied, depending on nothing, though engaged in action, he does not do anything.

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21. Without hope, the body and mind controlled and all possessions relinquished, he does not suffer any evil consequences, by doing mere bodily action. 21

22. Content with what comes to him without effort, unaffected by the pairs of opposites, free from envy, even-minded in success and failure, though acting, he is not bound.

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23. Devoid of attachment, liberated, with mind centred in knowledge, performing work for Yajna alone, his whole Karma dissolves away.

24. The process is Brahman, the clarified butter is Brahman, offered by Brahman in the fire of Brahman; by seeing Brahman in action, he reaches Brahman alone. 24

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25. Some Yogis perform sacrifices to Devas alone, while others offer the self as sacrifice by the self in the fire of Brahman alone. 25

26. Some again offer hearing and other senses as sacrifice in the fire of control, while others offer sound and other sense-objects as sacrifice in the fire of the senses. 26

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27. Some again offer all the actions of the senses and the functions of the vital energy, as sacrifice in the fire of control in self, kindled by knowledge.

28. Others again offer wealth, austerity, and Yoga, as sacrifice, while still others, of self-restraint and rigid vows, offer study of the scriptures and knowledge, as sacrifice. 28

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29. Yet some offer as sacrifice, the outgoing into the in-coming breath, and the in-coming into the out-going, stopping the courses of the in-coming and out-going breaths, constantly practising the regulation of the vital energy; while others yet of regulated food, offer in the Prânas the functions thereof. 29

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30-31. All of these are knowers of Yajna, having their sins consumed by Yajna, and eating of the nectar—the remnant of Yajna, they go to the Eternal Brahman. (Even) this world is not for the non-performer of Yajna, how then another, O best of the Kurus? 30

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32. Various Yajnas, like the above, are strewn in the store-house of the Veda. Know them all to be born of action, and thus knowing, thou shalt be free. 32

33. Knowledge-sacrifice, O scorcher of foes, is superior to sacrifice (performed) with (material) objects. All action in its

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entirety, O Pârtha, attains its consummation in knowledge.

34. Know that, by prostrating thyself, by questions, and by service; the wise, those who have realised the Truth, will instruct thee in that knowledge. 34

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35. Knowing which, thou shalt not, O Pândava, again get deluded like this, and by which thou shalt see the whole of creation in (thy) Self and in Me. 35

36. Even if thou be the most sinful among all the sinful, yet by the raft of knowledge alone thou shalt go across all sin.

37. As blazing fire reduces wood into ashes, so, O Arjuna, does the fire of knowledge reduce all Karma to ashes. 37

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38. Verily there exists nothing in this world purifying like knowledge. In good time, having reached perfection in Yoga, one realises that oneself in one's own heart.

39. The man with Shraddhâ, the devoted, the master of one's senses, attains (this) knowledge. Having attained knowledge one goes at once to the Supreme Peace.

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40. The ignorant, the man without Shraddhâ, the doubting self, goes to destruction. The doubting self has neither this world, nor the next, nor happiness. 40

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41. With work renounced by Yoga and doubts rent asunder by knowledge, O Dhananjaya, actions do not bind him who is poised in the Self.

42. Therefore, cutting with the sword of knowledge, this doubt about the Self, born of ignorance, residing in thy heart, take refuge in Yoga. Arise, O Bhârata!

The end of chapter four, designated The Way of Renunciation of Action in Knowledge.


96:1 Vivasvat: the Sun. Manu: the law-giver. Ikshvâku was the famous ancestor of the Solar dynasty of Kshatriyas.

This Yoga is said to be imperishable, because the end attainable through it is imperishable.

97:3 Secret: Not as the privilege of an individual or a sect, but because of its profundity. It is a secret to the unworthy only.

99:6 Subjugating My Prakriti: He does not come into being as others do, bound by Karma, under the thraldom of Prakriti (Nature). He is not tied by the fetters of the Gunas—because He is the Lord of Mâyâ.

By My own Mâyâ: My embodiment is only apparent grid does not touch My true nature.

99:7 p. 100 The Dharma and its opposite Adharma imply all the duties (and their opposites) as ordained for men in different stations by the definite scheme of their life and salvation.

100:8 Destruction of the wicked: in order to destroy their wickedness, and give them life eternal.

100:9 He who knows &c.: He who knows the great truth,—that the Lord though apparently born is ever beyond birth and death, though apparently active in the cause of righteousness, is ever beyond all action,—becomes illumined with Self-knowledge. Such a man is never born again.

101:10 Many have attained: The import is that the path of liberation here taught by Sri Krishna is not of recent origin, nor is it dependent upon His present manifestation, but has been handed down from time immemorial.

102:11 In this sloka Sri Krishna anticipates the objection that God is partial to some and unkind to others, since He blesses some with Self-knowledge and leaves the rest in darkness and misery. This difference is not due to any difference in His attitude towards them, but is of their own choice.

My path: In the whole region of thought and action, wherever there is fulfilment of object, no matter what, the same is due to the Lord. As the Self within, He brings to fruition all wishes, when the necessary conditions are fulfilled.

102:12 p. 103 Because success . . . human world: Worldly success is much easier of attainment than Self-knowledge. Hence it is that the ignorant do not go in for the latter.

103:13 This sloka is intended to explain the diversity of human temperaments and tendencies. All men are not of the same nature, because of the preponderance of the different Gunas in them.

The caste system was originally meant to make perfect the growth of humanity, by the special culture of certain features, through the process of discriminate selection.

Though I am the author &c.: The Lord, though the author of the caste system, is yet not the author. The same dread of being taken as a doer or an agent crops up again and again. The paradox is explained in Chap. IX. 5-10. Mâyâ is the real author, but p. 104 He is taken as such, because it is His light which gives existence, not only to all actions, but to Mâyâ herself.

104:14 Actions do not taint Me: Karma cannot introduce into Me anything foreign. I never depart from My true Self, which is All-fullness.

104:15 p. 105 Knowing thus: Taking this point of view, that is, that the Self can have no desire for the fruits of action and cannot be soiled by action.

105:16 Evil: the evil of existence, the wheel of birth and death.

106:18 An action is an action so long as the idea of actor-ness of the Self holds good. Directly the idea of actor-ness disappears, no matter what or how much is done, action has lost its nature. It has become harmless: it can no longer bind. On the other hand, how much soever inactive an ignorant person may remain, so long as there is the idea of actor-ness in him, he is constantly doing action. Action equals to belief in the actor-ness of oneself and inaction its reverse.

He is the doer of all action: He has achieved the end of all action, which is freedom.

107:19 Whose undertakings &c.: Who is devoid of egoism.

108:21 Evil consequences: resulting from good and bad actions, for both lead to bondage.

109:24 How can the whole Karma of a person engaged in work melt away as stated here? Because after knowledge, his whole life becomes one act of Yajna, in which the process of oblation, the offering, the fire, the doer of the sacrifice, the work, and the goal, are all Brahman. Since his Karma produces no other result than the attainment of Brahman, his Karma is said to melt away.

110:25 Others offer &c.: The sacrifice referred to here, is, divesting the Self of Its Upâdhis (limiting adjuncts), so that It is found to be the Self.

110:26 Others offer sound &c.: Others direct their senses towards pure and unforbidden objects, and in so doing regard themselves as performing acts of sacrifice.

111:28 Offer Yoga as sacrifice: Practise the eightfold Yoga as an act of sacrifice.

112:29 Offer in the Prânas the functions thereof: Whatever Prâna has been controlled, into it they sacrifice all other Prânas; these latter become, as it were, merged in the former. Or, in another way: They control the different Prânas and unify them by the foregoing method; the senses are thus attenuated and are merged in the unified Prâna, as an act of sacrifice. p. 113

All the various acts described in verses 25 to 29, as offerings of sacrifice, are only conceived as such, the study of the scriptures is regarded as an act of sacrifice, and so on.

113:30 They go to the Eternal Brahman: in course of time, after attaining knowledge through purification of heart.

Even this world is not for the non-performer of Yajna: this means,—he that does not perform any p. 114 of the Yajnas above mentioned, is not fit even for this wretched human world,—how then could he hope to gain a better world than this?

114:32 Strewn in the store-house of the Veda: inculcated by or known through the Veda.

115:34 Prostration before the Guru, questions and personal services to him, constitute discipleship.

Those who have realised the Truth: mere theoretical knowledge, however perfect, does not qualify a person to be a Guru: the Truth, or Brahman, must be realised, before one can claim that most elevated position.

116:35 Which: the knowledge referred to in the preceding sloka to be learnt from the Guru.

116:37 p. 117 Excepting of course the Prârabdha, or Karma which, causing the present body, has begun to bear fruits.

118:40 The ignorant: one who knows not the Self.

The man without Shraddhâ: one who has no faith in the words and teachings of his Guru.

The doubting self has &c.: One of a doubting disposition fails to enjoy this world, owing to his constantly rising suspicion about the people, and things around him, and is also full of doubt as regards the next world; so do the ignorant and the man without Shraddhâ.

Next: Fifth Chapter. The Way of Renunciation