Later on was Thy birth, and prior to it was the birth of Vivasvan (the Sun); how am I to understand that Thou didst teach this Yoga in the beginning?
Many births of Mine have passed, as well as of thine, O Arjuna! I know them all but thou knowest not Though I am unborn and of imperishable nature, and though I am the Lord of all beings, yet, ruling over My own Nature, I am born by My own Maya. Whenever there is a decline of righteousness, O Arjuna, and rise of unrighteousness, then I manifest Myself!
That which elevates a man and helps him to reach the goal of life and attain knowledge is Dharma (righteousness); that which drags him into worldliness is unrighteousness. That which helps a man to attain liberation is Dharma; that which makes him irreligious is Adharma or unrighteousness. For the protection of the good, for the destruction of the wicked, and for the establishment of righteousness, I am born in every age. He who thus knows in true light My divine birth and action, after having abandoned the
body is not born again; he comes to Me, O Arjuna! Freed from attachment, fear and anger, absorbed in Me, taking refuge in Me, purified by the fire of knowledge, many have attained to My Being. In whatever way men approach Me, even so do I reward them; My path do men tread in all ways, O Arjuna! Those who long for success in action in this world sacrifice to the gods, because success
is quickly attained by men through action. The fourfold caste has been created by Me according to the differentiation of Guna and
Karma; though I am the author thereof, know Me as the non-doer and immutable.
The four castes are Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaisya and Sudra. This division is according to the Guna and Karma. Guna is quality. Karma is the kind of work. Both Guna and Karma determine the caste of a man. In a Brahmana, Sattwa predominates. He possesses serenity, purity, self-restraint, straightforwardness and devotion. In a Kshatriya, Rajas predominates. He possesses prowess, splendour, firmness, dexterity, generosity and rulership. In a Vaisya, Rajas predominates and Tamas is subordinate to Rajas. He does the duty of
ploughing, protection of cattle and trade. In a Sudra, Tamas predominates and Rajas is subordinate to the quality of Tamas. He
renders service to the other three castes. Human temperaments and tendencies vary according to the Gunas. Actions do not taint Me, nor have I a desire for the fruits of actions. He who knows Me thus is not bound by actions. Having known this, the ancient seekers after freedom also performed actions; therefore, do thou perform actions as did the ancients in days of yore. What is action? What is inaction? As to this even the wise are confused. Therefore, I shall teach thee such action (the nature of action and inaction), by knowing which thou shalt be liberated from the evil (of Samsara, the world of birth and death). For, verily the true nature of action (enjoined by the scriptures) should be known, also (that) of forbidden (or unlawful) action, and of inaction; hard to understand is the nature (path) of action. He who seeth inaction in action and action in inaction, he is wise among men; he is a Yogi and performer of all actions.
It is the idea of agency, the idea of “I am the doer” that binds man to worldliness. If this idea vanishes, action is no action at all. It does not bind one to worldliness. This is inaction in action. But if a man sits quietly, thinking of actions and that he is their doer, he is ever
doing actions. This is referred to as action in inaction. He whose undertakings are all devoid of desires and (selfish) purposes, and whose actions have been burnt by the fire of knowledge,—him the wise call a sage. Having abandoned attachment to the fruit of the action, ever content, depending on nothing, he does not do anything though engaged in activity. Without hope and with the mind and the self controlled, having abandoned all greed, doing mere bodily action, he incurs no sin. Content with what comes to him without effort, free from the pairs of opposites and envy, even-minded in success and failure, though acting, he is not bound. To one who is devoid of attachment, who is liberated, whose mind is established in knowledge, who works for the sake of sacrifice (for the sake of God), the whole action is dissolved. Brahman is the oblation; Brahman is the melted butter (ghee); by Brahman is the oblation poured into the fire of Brahman; Brahman verily shall be reached by him who always sees Brahman in action.
This is wisdom-sacrifice, wherein the idea of Brahman is substituted for the ideas of the instrument and other accessories of action, the idea of action itself and its results. By having such an idea the whole action melts away. Some Yogis perform sacrifice to the gods alone, while others (who have realised the Self) offer the Self as sacrifice by the Self in the fire of Brahman alone. Some again offer hearing and other senses as sacrifice in the fire of restraint; others offer sound and various objects of the senses as sacrifice in the fire of the senses. Others again sacrifice all the functions of the senses and those of the breath (vital energy or Prana) in the fire of the Yoga of self-restraint kindled by knowledge. Some again offer wealth, austerity and Yoga as sacrifice, while the ascetics of self-restraint and rigid vows offer study of scriptures and knowledge as sacrifice. Others offer as sacrifice the outgoing breath in the incoming, and the incoming in the outgoing, restraining the courses of the outgoing and the incoming breaths, solely absorbed in the restraint of the breath.
Some Yogis practise inhalation, some practise exhalation, and some retention of breath. This is Pranayama. Others who regulate their diet offer life-breaths in life-breaths; all these are knowers of sacrifice, whose sins are all destroyed by sacrifice. Those who eat the remnants of the sacrifice, which are like nectar, go to the eternal Brahman. This world is not for the man who does not perform sacrifice; how then can he have the other, O Arjuna?
They go to the eternal Brahman after attaining knowledge of the Self through purification of the mind by performing the above sacrifices. He who does not perform any of these is not fit even for this miserable world. How then can he hope to get a better world than this? various kinds of sacrifices are spread out before Brahman (literally at the mouth or face of Brahman). Know them all as born of action, and knowing thus, thou shalt be liberated. Superior is wisdom-sacrifice to sacrifice with objects, O Parantapa! All actions in their entirety, O Arjuna, culminate in knowledge! Know that by long prostration, by question and by service, the wise who have realised the Truth will instruct thee in (that) knowledge. Yajjnaatwaa na punarmoham evam yaasyasi paandava; Knowing that, thou shalt not, O Arjuna, again become deluded like this; and by that thou shalt see all beings in thy Self and also in Me! Even if thou art the most sinful of all sinners, yet thou shalt verily cross all sins by the raft of knowledge.
One can overcome sin through Self-knowledge, As the blazing fire reduces fuel to ashes, O Arjuna, so does the fire of knowledge reduce
all actions to ashes! Verily there is no purifier in this world like knowledge. He who is perfected in Yoga finds it in the Self in time. The man who is full of faith, who is devoted to it, and who has subdued all the senses, obtains (this) knowledge; and, having obtained the knowledge, he goes at once to the supreme peace. The ignorant, the faithless, the doubting self proceeds to destruction; there is neither this world nor the other nor happiness for the doubting. He who has renounced actions by Yoga, whose doubts are rent asunder by knowledge, and who is self-possessed,—actions do not bind him, O Arjuna! Therefore, with the sword of knowledge (of the Self) cut asunder the doubt of the self born of ignorance, residing in thy heart, and take refuge in Yoga; arise, O Arjuna! Thus in the
Upanishads of the glorious Bhagavad Gita, the science of the Eternal, the scripture of Yoga, the dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjuna, ends the fourth discourse entitled:
“The Yoga of Wisdom”