Gita - Chapter 4
CHAPTER 4 - Transcendental Knowledge
In chapter three, Krishna has recommended Arjuna to fight without attachment
and in full knowledge of Him. Therefore, in this chapter He explains the
different aspects of transcendental knowledge. Transcendental knowledge--the
spiritual knowledge of the soul, of God, and their relationship--is both
purifying and liberating. Such knowledge is the fruit of selfless devotional
action (karma-yoga). Here the Lord also explains the remote history of the
Gita, the purpose and significance of His periodic descents to the material
world, and the necessity of approaching a guru, a realised teacher.
Lord Sri Krishna, said that He instructed Bhagavad-gita first to the sun-god,
the sun-god spoke to his son Manu and Manu spoke to his son Iksvaku. Later,
it was repeated by the disciplic succession of the saintly kings. Then, as
the succession was broken, it was respoken by the Lord again to Arjuna about
five thousand years ago. Therefore, one should try to follow the disciplic
succession from Arjuna, and thus be benefited by this great science of Srimad
Arjuna inquired how Krishna could have instructed the sun-god who is senior by
birth to Him. Lord Krishna answered that He could remember speaking Bhagavad-
gita in a previous birth because He is the unborn Lord who possesses a
transcendental body that never deteriorates. The Lord is also described in
the Brahma-samhita as infallible (acyuta), which means that He never forgets
Himself, even though He is in material contact. He is advaita, which means
there is no distinction between His body and Himself. And because the Lord's
body and self are identical, His position is always different from that of the
ordinary living entity, even when He descends to the material platform. At
the same time, He never ages beyond youth. Therefore, it is clear that in
spite of His being in the material world, He is the same unborn, eternal form
of bliss and knowledge, changeless in His transcendental body and intelligence.
Krishna advents Himself whenever religion declines and irreligion rises. He
delivers the pious, annihilates the miscreants, and re-establishes religion.
The Vedas were originally spoken by the Lord Himself to Brahma, from within
His heart. Therefore, the principles of dharma, or religion, are the direct
orders of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the Vedic principles push one
towards complete surrender unto Him.
One who actually knows the transcendental nature of Krishna's birth and
activities attains the abode of the Lord after ending this body and does not
run the risk of returning to this material world. Devotional service or real
love for God is the highest perfectional stage of life. By performing this
devotional service, under the guidance of the bona fide spiritual master, one
can become freed from all material attachment, from the fearfulness of one's
individual spiritual personality, and from the frustrations that result in
void philosophy. In this way, one can become purified by knowledge about
Krishna and attain transcendental love for Him. Then one can ultimately
attain His abode.
Everyone is dependent for his success upon the Lord's mercy. Men in this
world desire success in fruitive activities, and therefore they worship the
demigods. These demigods are all living entities but with different grades of
material power. Hence, they will also vanish with the annihilation of this
material world. Indeed they get their power only by worshipping Lord Krishna.
Therefore everyone ultimately surrenders to Krishna, for it is Krishna that is
awarding the fruits of work.
Lord is the creator of four divisions of human society, namely the brahmanas,
ksatriyas, vaisyas and sudras according to the quality and work associated
with them. Everything is born of Him, everything is sustained by Him, and
everything, after annihilation, rests in Him. No work affects Him nor does He
aspire for fruits. He creates and remains aloof from the creation, i.e., He
is aloof from the material actions and reactions. Thus the activities of the
Lord are not aimed at fruitive results. One who knows this Supreme Truth is
a liberated soul fixed in Krishna consciousness. Knowing Krishna as the
awarder of the results of work, all liberated souls acted without becoming
entangled. Hence, Arjuna should perform his duty and fight for Krishna, but
One who has learned perfectly knows that every living entity is an eternal
servitor of the Lord and that consequently one has to act in Krishna
consciousness. The entire Bhagavad-gita is directed towards this conclusion.
The third chapter already explains that a person acting in Krishna
consciousness is naturally free from the bonds of karma. He is devoid of all
kinds of sense-gratificatory propensities. He has no proprietorship even over
his own body. He neither begs nor borrows, but he labours honestly as far as
is in his power, and is satisfied with whatever is obtained by his own honest
labour. He is not disturbed by the duality of the material world, like heat
and cold, or misery and happiness. He is satisfied both in success and
failure. These signs are visible when one is fully in transcendental
Different types of sacrifice are mentioned in the Vedas to suit different
types of worker. Some yogis perfectly worship the demigods through sacrifices,
and others sacrifice to Brahman. To control the mind, some sacrifice their
hearing, their senses, or their breath. Some sacrifice their possessions,
perform severe austerities, practise yoga, study the Vedas or travel to all
the sanctified places of pilgrimage. But all of them are recommended for u
ltimately bringing about liberation from the body. Krishna consciousness,
however, is different from these because it is the direct service of the
Supreme Lord. Knowing this one is liberated, because ignorance is the cause
of sinful life, and sinful life is the cause of one's dragging on in material
existence. Thus the fruit of all varieties of sacrifice is transcendental
knowledge. Without the elevation of knowledge, sacrifices remain on the
material platform and bestow no spiritual benefit.
Mental speculation or dry arguments cannot help one to lead the right path.
Nor by independent study of books of knowledge can one progress in spiritual
life. To receive transcendental knowledge one should approach and surrender
to a self-realised spiritual master with submissive inquiry and service. Once
having obtained this knowledge one never falls into illusion, for he knows
that all living beings are parts and parcels of Lord Krishna.
Transcendental knowledge destroys all miseries, for it burns the reactions to
all material activities. This knowledge is the mature fruit of devotional
service, and when one is situated in transcendental knowledge, he need not
search for peace elsewhere, for he enjoys peace within himself. Such
knowledge in Krishna consciousness can be achieved by a faithful person who
believes firmly in Krishna. This faith is attained by the discharge of
devotional service, and by chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna
Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, which cleanses
one's heart of all material dirt. Over and above this, one should control the
senses. A person who is faithful to Krishna and who controls the senses can
easily attain perfection in the knowledge of Krishna consciousness without
delay. Those who have no faith and are always doubtful make no progress at
all in this world, nor in the next. One is therefore advised to study
Bhagavad-gita, or any other Scripture, under a bona fide spiritual master.
Hence, the doubts which have arisen in Arjuna's heart out of ignorance should
be slashed by the weapon of knowledge and he should stand and fight.
This summary is taken from the book, "Bhagavad Gita As It Is", By His Divine
Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad. If you need clarifications or
detailed explanation of any point please do not hesitate to contact me.
My E-mail address: email@example.com
Yours in service of Lord Sri Krishna,