The Bhagavad Gita translated by Antonio T. De Nicolas
The Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 4
The Yoga of Knowledge
The Blessed One said:
1. I proclaimed this imperishable discipline (yoga) to Vivasvān,
He told it to Manu, and he, to Iksvāku.
2. Handed down in this way from one to another,
This yoga was known by the sage-kings,
But, Foe-Destroyer, it became lost on earth with the lapse of time.
3. This very yoga of old
Is being proclaimed by me to you today.
For you are devoted to me, and my friend,
And this yoga is, indeed, the supreme secret.
4. Later was your birth, earlier was the birth of Vivasvān:
How am I to understand this,
That you proclaimed this discipline (to him) in the beginning?
The Blessed One said:
5. Many are my past lives and yours, Arjuna;
I know them all, you do not, Foe-Destroyer.
6. Though I am unborn and of changeless self,
Though I am Lord of beings, having taken my stand over my own prakrti
I am born by my own self’s power (māyā).
7. For whenever there is a decrease in dharma, O Bhārata,
And a rise in adharma,
Then I send forth myself.
8. For the protection of the good and the destruction of evil,
For the purpose of the establishment of dharma,
I am born from age to age.
9. He who knows in truth this, my divine birth and actions,
Having relinquished his body,
He goes not to rebirth but to me, Arjuna.
10. With passion, fear, and anger gone,
Taking refuge in me, Being filled with me,
Many, purified by the exercise of wisdom,
Attain my state (bhāva).
11. In whatever way men approach me,
In the same way they receive their reward;
Men follow my path in every case, Son of Prthā.
12. Those desiring fulfillment of their actions on earth,
Sacrifice to the gods.
Quickly, indeed, comes fulfillment
In the world of men from such actions.
13. I created the four classes
By the differentiation of guna and karma.
Although I made them,
Know me as the imperishable non-doer.
14. Actions do not pollute me,
I do not covet their fruit.
He who knows me thus, is not bound by actions.
15. So knowing, the ancients who desired release were active.
You be active, therefore,
Just as the ancients were long ago.
16. What is action? What is inaction?
Even the wise are confused on this point.
I will declare to you that action which, if you know it,
You will be released from evil.
17. You must understand not only action, however,
But improper action (vikarman) and inaction (akarman):
The way of action is difficult to fathom.
18. He who can see action in inaction,
And inaction in action,
Is a wise man;
He does action in a disciplined way.
19. He whose every undertaking is free of compulsive desire,
Whose actions are burned up by the fire of knowledge,
Him the wise call learned.
20. Having relinquished attachment to the fruit of action,
(karmaphalāsangam, literally, “identification with the fruit of action”)
Being constantly satisfied and without dependence.
He does nothing whatever,
Even though he is engaged in action.
21. Without craving, with mind restrained and relinquishing all possessions,
Being active with body alone,
He does not incur sin.
22. Content with what he happens to find,
Himself beyond the dualities, free from envy,
And the same in success and failure,
He is not bound even though he is acting.
23. The action of the unattached man is free,
Whose understanding is firmly rooted in knowledge,
And who acts as a sacrifice, is wholly dissolved.
24. The act of offering is Brahman, the oblation (offered) is Brahman,
It is poured by Brahman in the fire of Brahman.
Brahman becomes he whose actions are centered on Brahman.
25. Some yogins offer sacrifice to the gods only,
While others make sacrifice by sacrificing the sacrifice itself.
26. There are others who offer hearing and their other senses
Into the fires of equanimity;
Others sacrifice sense objects, into the fire of the senses.
27. Others offer up all the actions of all the senses
And of the vital-breath
Into the fire of the disciplined concentration (yoga) of self-restraint
Which is kindled by knowledge.
28. Others offer as sacrifice their possessions, their austerity,
Or their yogic exercises;
While still others of firmly restrained minds and austere vows,
Offer their scriptural study (Veda) and their knowledge (of it).
29. Others, likewise, having controlled the course
Of their inbreathing and outbreathing (prānāpānagati ruddhvā),
Wholly devoted to breath control (pranāyāmaparāyanāh)
Sacrifice the one breath into the other (apāne juhvati prānam).
30. And others, the abstemious in food,
Offer as sacrifice their life breaths in life breaths.
All these are knowers of sacrifice,
And by sacrifice their sins are destroyed.
31. Those who eat the food of immortality left after the sacrifice,
Attain the primeval Brahman.
Not even this world is for one who does not sacrifice,
How then the next world, Highest of the Kurus?
32. Thus manifold sacrifices are spread out in the face of Brahman.
Know them all to be born of action.
Knowing this, you will be freed.
33. The sacrifice of knowledge is better, Foe-Destroyer,
Than the sacrifice of material things.
All action without exception is completely terminated in knowledge, O Son of Prthā.
34. Know this by obeisance, by inquiry, and by service to them.
Men of wisdom, the seers of truth,
Will explain to you this knowledge.
35. You will never be deluded again, Son of Pāndu,
When you have learned this:
For by this you will see all beings without exception in yourself and in me.
36. Even if you were among sinners the worse of sinners,
You will cross beyond all evil
By the boat of knowledge alone.
37. Just as a kindled fire reduces its fuel to ashes, Arjuna,
So the fire of knowledge reduces all action to ashes.
38. For no equal to wisdom as a purifier is known on earth.
This, the one reaching his own ultimate fulfillment in yoga
Finds in himself with time.
39. He who has faith, who is committed to it, whose senses are controlled,
Gains knowledge, and having obtained it,
He quickly attains supreme peace.
40. But he who is without insight and is without faith,
His very self being doubt, He is lost:
For the doubting one, there is neither this world nor the next,
Nor is there happiness.
41. Actions do not blind him, O Wealth-Winner,
Who has renounced all actions in yoga,
Who has cut out doubt by knowledge,
And who is self-possessed.
42. Therefore, having cut out with your self’s own sword of knowledge,
This doubt in your heart which is born of ignorance,
Get into yoga and raise yourself up, O Bhārata.
This is the end of the fourth chapter, entitled
“The Yoga of Knowledge”