0 best of the Kuru dynasty, without sacrifice one can never live
happily on this planet or in this life: what then of the next?
Whatever form of material existence one is in, one is invariably
ignorant of his real situation. In other words, existence in the
material world is due to the multiple reactions to our sinful lives.
Ignorance is the cause of sinful life, and sinful life is the cause of one's
dragging on in material existence. The human form of life is the only
loophole by which one may get out of this entanglement. The Vedas,
therefore, give us a chance for escape by pointing out the paths of
religion, economic comfort, regulated sense gratification and, at
last, the means to get out of the miserable condition entirely. The
path of religion, or the different kinds of sacrifice recommended
above, automatically solves our economic problems. By performance
of yajna we can have enough food, enough milk, etc.—even if there
is a so-called increase of population.
When the body is fully supplied,
naturally the next stage is to satisfy the senses. The Vedas prescribe,
therefore, sacred marriage for regulated sense gratification. Thereby
one is gradually elevated to the platform of release from material
bondage, and the highest perfection of liberated life is to associate
with the Supreme Lord. Perfection is achieved by performance of
yajna (sacrifice), as described above. Now, if a person is not inclined
to perform yajna according to the Vedas, how can he expect a happy
life even in this body, and what to speak of another body on another
planet? There are different grades of material comforts in different
heavenly planets, and in all cases there is immense happiness for
persons engaged in different kinds of yajna. But the highest kind of
happiness that a man can achieve is to be promoted to the spiritual
planets by practice of Krishna consciousness. A life of Krishna consciousness is therefore the solution to all the problems of material
- evam bahu-vidha yajna
- vitata brahmano mukhe
- karma-jan viddhi tan sarvan
- evam jnatva vimoksyase.
All these different types of sacrifice are approved by the Vedas, and
all of them are born of different types of work. Knowing them as
such, you will become liberated.
Different types of sacrifice, as discussed above, are mentioned in the
Vedas to suit the different types of worker. Because men are so
deeply absorbed in the bodily concept, these sacrifices are so arranged
that one can work either with the body, with the mind, or with the
intelligence. But all of them are recommended for ultimately bringing
about liberation from the body. This is confirmed by the Lord
herewith from His own mouth.
- sreyan dravya-mayad yajnaj
- jnana-yajnah parantapa sarvam
- karmakhilam partha jnane parisamapyate.
0 chastiser of the enemy, the sacrifice performed in knowledge is
better than the mere sacrifice of material possessions. After all, 0
son of Prtha, all sacrifices of work culminate in transcendental
The purpose of all sacrifices is to arrive at the status of complete
knowledge, then to gain release from material miseries, and, ultimately, to engage in loving transcendental service to the Supreme
Lord (Krishna consciousness). Nonetheless, there is a mystery about
all these different activities of sacrifice, and one should know this
mystery. Sacrifices sometimes take different forms according to the
particular faith of the performer. When one's faith reaches the stage
of transcendental knowledge, the performer of sacrifices should be
considered more advanced than those who simply sacrifice material
possessions without such knowledge, for without attainment of
knowledge, sacrifices remain on the material platform and bestow
no spiritual benefit.
Real knowledge culminates in Krishna conscious-
ness, the highest stage of transcendental knowledge. Without the
elevation of knowledge, sacrifices are simply material activities.
When, however, they are elevated to the level of transcendental
knowledge, all such activities enter onto the spiritual platform.
Depending on differences in consciousness, sacrificial activities are
sometimes called karma-kanda (fruitive activities) and sometimes
jnana-kanda (knowledge in the pursuit of truth). It is better when the
end is knowledge.
- tad viddhi pranipatena
- pariprasnena sevaya upadeksyanti
- te jnanam jnaninas tattva-darsinah.
Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire
from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized
souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the
The path of spiritual realization is undoubtedly difficult. The Lord
therefore advises us to approach a bona fide spiritual master in the
line of disciple succession from the Lord Himself. No one can be a
bona fide spiritual master without following this principle of disciple
succession. The Lord is the original spiritual master, and a person in
the disciple succession can convey the message of the Lord as it is to
his disciple. No one can be spiritually realized by manufacturing his
own process, as is the fashion of the foolish pretenders. The
The path of religion is directly enunciated by the Lord. Therefore,
mental speculation or dry arguments cannot help lead one to the
right path. Nor by independent study of books of knowledge can one
progress in spiritual life. One has to approach a bona fide spiritual
master to receive the knowledge. Such a spiritual master should be
accepted in full surrender, and one should serve the spiritual master
like a menial servant, without false prestige. Satisfaction of the
self-realized spiritual master is the secret of advancement in spiritual
Inquiries and submission constitute the proper combination for
spiritual understanding. Unless there is submission and service,
inquiries from the learned spiritual master will not be effective. One
must be able to pass the test of the spiritual master, and when he sees
the genuine desire of the disciple, he automatically blesses the disciple
with genuine spiritual understanding. In this verse, both blind following and absurd inquiries are condemned.
Not only should one
hear submissively from the spiritual master, but one must also get a
clear understanding from him, in submission and service and inquiries. A bona fide spiritual master is by nature very kind toward
the disciple. Therefore when the student is submissive and is always
ready to render service, the reciprocation of knowledge and inquiries
- yaj jnatva na punar moham
- evam yasyasi pandava
- yena bhutany asesani
- draksyasy atmany atho mayi.
Having obtained real knowledge from a self-realized soul, you will
never fall again into such illusion, for by this knowledge you will see
that all living beings are but part of the Supreme, or, in other words,
that they are Mine.
The result of receiving knowledge from a self-realized soul, or one
who knows things as they are, is learning that all living beings are
parts and parcels of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri
Krishna. The sense of an existence separate from Krishna is called mdyd
(ma—not, yd—this). Some think that we have nothing to do with
Krishna, that Krishna is only a great historical personality and that the
Absolute is the impersonal Brahman. Factually, as it is stated in the
Bhagavad-Gita, this impersonal Brahman is the personal effulgence
of Krishna. Krishna. as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the
cause of everything. In the Brahma-samhild it is clearly stated that
Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the cause of all
Even the millions of incarnations are only His different
expansions. Similarly, the living entities are also expansions of
Krishna. The Mayavadi philosophers wrongly think that Krishna loses
His own separate existence in His many expansions. This thought is
material in nature. We have experience in the material world that a
thing, when fragmentally distributed, loses its own original identity.
But the Mayavadi philosophers fail to understand that absolute
means that one plus one is equal to one, and that one minus one is
also equal to one. This is the case in the absolute world.
For want of sufficient knowledge in the absolute science, we are
now covered with illusion, and therefore we think that we are
separate from Krishna. Although we are separated parts of Krishna, we
are nevertheless not different from Him. The bodily difference of the
living entities is maya, or not actual fact. We are all meant to satisfy
Krishna. By maya alone Arjuna thought that the temporary bodily
relationship with his kinsmen was more important than his eternal
spiritual relationship with Krishna.
The whole teaching of the Gild is
targeted toward this end: that a living being, as Krishna's eternal
servitor, cannot be separated from Krishna, and his sense of being an
identity apart from Krishna is called maya. The living entities, as
separate parts and parcels of the Supreme, have a purpose to fulfill.
Having forgotten that purpose since time immemorial, they are
situated in different bodies, as men, animals, demigods, etc. Such
bodily differences arise from forgetfulness of the transcendental
service of the Lord. But when one is engaged in transcendental
service through Krishna consciousness, one becomes at once liberated
from this illusion. One can acquire such pure knowledge only from
the bona fide spiritual master and thereby avoid the delusion that the
living entity is equal to Krishna.
Perfect knowledge is that the Supreme
Soul, Krishna, is the supreme shelter for all living entities, and giving
up such shelter, the living entities are deluded by the material energy,
imagining themselves to have a separate identity. Thus, under different
standards of material identity, they become forgetful of Krishna.
When, however, such deluded living entities become situated in
Krishna consciousness, it is to be understood that they are on the path
of liberation, as confirmed in the Bhagavatam: Liberation means to be
situated in one's constitutional position as an eternal servitor of
Krishna (Krishna consciousness).
- api ced asi papebhyah
- sarvebhyah papa-krt-tamah
- sarvam jnana-plavenaiva
- vrjinam santarisvasi.
Even if you are considered to be the most sinful of all sinners, when
you are situated in the boat of transcendental knowledge you will be
able to cross over the ocean of miseries.
Proper understanding of one's constitutional position in relationship
to Krishna is so nice that it can at once lift one from the struggle for
existence which goes on in the ocean of nescience. This material
world is sometimes regarded as an ocean of nescience and sometimes
as a blazing forest. In the ocean, however expert a swimmer one may
be, the struggle for existence is very severe. If someone comes
forward and lifts the struggling swimmer from the ocean, he is the
greatest savior. Perfect knowledge, received from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the path of liberation. The boat of Krishna
consciousness is very simple, but at the same time the most sublime.
- yathaidhamsi samiddho
- ’gnir bhasma-sat kurute’
- rjuna jnanagnih sarva-karmani
- bhasma-sat kurute tatha.
As a blazing fire turns firewood to ashes, 0 Arjuna, so does the fire
of knowledge burn to ashes all reactions to material activities.
Perfect knowledge of self and Super self and of their relationship is
compared herein to fire. This fire not only burns up all reactions to
impious activities, but also all reactions to pious activities, turning
them to ashes. There are many stages of reaction: reaction in the
making, reaction fructifying, reaction already achieved, and reaction
a priori. But knowledge of the constitutional position of the living
entity burns everything to ashes. When one is in complete knowledge,
all reactions, both a priori and a posteriori, are consumed. In the
Vedas(Brhad-dranyaka Upanishad) it is stated: "One overcomes both the pious
and impious reactions of work."
- na hi jhanena sadrsam
- pavitram iha vidyate
- tat svayam yoga-samsiddhah
- kalenatmani vindati.
In this world, there is nothing so sublime and pure as transcendental
knowledge. Such knowledge is the mature fruit of all mysticism.
And one who has become accomplished in the practice of devotional
service enjoys this knowledge within himself in due course of time.
When we speak of transcendental knowledge, we do so in terms of
spiritual understanding. As such, there is nothing so sublime and
pure as transcendental knowledge. Ignorance is the cause of our
bondage, and knowledge is the cause of our liberation. 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. In other words, this
knowledge and peace culminate in Krishna consciousness. That is the
last word in the Bhagavad-Gita.
- sraddhaval labhate jnanam
- tat-parah samyatendriyah
- jnanam labdhva param
- santim acirenadhigacchati.
A faithful man who is dedicated to transcendental knowledge and
who subdues his senses is eligible to achieve such knowledge, and
having achieved it he quickly attains the supreme spiritual peace.
Such knowledge in Krishna consciousness can be achieved by a faithful
person who believes firmly in Krishna. One is called a faithful man
who thinks that simply by acting in Krishna consciousness he can
attain the highest perfection. 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.
- ajnas casraddadhanas ca
- samsayatma vinasyati nayam
- loko ’sti na paro na
- sukham samsayatmanah.
But ignorant and faithless persons who doubt the revealed scriptures
do not attain God consciousness; they fall down. For the doubting
soul there is happiness neither in this world nor in the next.
Out of many standard and authoritative revealed scriptures, the
Bhagavad-Gita is the best. Persons who are almost like animals have
no faith in, or knowledge of, the standard revealed scriptures; and
some, even though they have knowledge of, or can cite passages
from, the revealed scriptures, have actually no faith in these words.
And even though others may have faith in scriptures like Bhagavad-Gita, they do not believe in or worship the Personality of Godhead,
Sri Krishna. Such persons cannot have any standing in Krishna consciousness. They fall down. Out of all the above-mentioned persons,
those who have no faith and are always doubtful make no progress
Men without faith in God and His revealed word find no good
in this world, nor in the next. For them there is no happiness
whatsoever. One should therefore follow the principles of revealed
scriptures with faith and thereby be raised to the platform of knowledge. Only this knowledge will help one become promoted to the
transcendental platform of spiritual understanding. In other words,
doubtful persons have no status whatsoever in spiritual emancipation.
One should therefore follow in the footsteps of great acharyas who are
in the disciple succession and thereby attain success.
- atmavantam na karmani
- nibadhnanti dhananjaya.
One who acts in devotional service, renouncing the fruits of his
actions, and whose doubts have been destroyed by transcendental
knowledge, is situated factually in the self. Thus he is not bound by
the reactions of work, 0 conqueror of riches.
One who follows the instruction of the Bhagavad-Gita, as it is
imparted by the Lord, the Personality of Godhead Himself, becomes
free from all doubts by the grace of transcendental knowledge. He,
as a part and parcel of the Lord, in full Krishna consciousness, is
already established in self-knowledge. As such, he is undoubtedly
above bondage to action.
- tasmad ajnana-sambhutam
- hrt-stham jnanasinatmanah
- chittvainam samsayam yogam
- atisthottistha bharata.
Therefore the doubts which have arisen in your heart out of ignorance
should be slashed by the weapon of knowledge. Armed with yoga, 0
Bharata, stand and fight.
The yoga system instructed in this chapter is called sanatana-yoga,
or eternal activities performed by the living entity. This yoga has two
divisions of sacrificial actions: one is called sacrifice of one's material
possessions, and the other is called knowledge of self, which is pure
spiritual activity. If sacrifice of one's material possessions is not
dovetailed for spiritual realization, then such sacrifice becomes
material. But one who performs such sacrifices with a spiritual
objective, or in devotional service, makes a perfect sacrifice. When
we come to spiritual activities, we find that these are also divided
into two: namely, understanding of one's own self (or one's constitutional position), and the truth regarding the Supreme Personality of
One who follows the path of Bhagavad-Gita as it is can
very easily understand these two important divisions of spiritual
knowledge. For him there is no difficulty in obtaining perfect knowledge of the self as part and parcel of the Lord. And such understanding
is beneficial, for such a person can easily understand the transcendental activities of the Lord. In the beginning of this chapter, the
transcendental activities of the Lord were discussed by the Supreme
Lord Himself. One who does not understand the instructions of the
Gila is faithless, and is to be considered to be misusing the fragmental
independence awarded to him by the Lord.
In spite of such instructions, one who does not understand the real nature of the Lord as the
eternal, blissful, all-knowing Personality of Godhead is certainly
fool number one. Ignorance can be removed by gradual acceptance
of the principles of Krishna consciousness. Krishna consciousness is
awakened by different types of sacrifices to the demigods, sacrifice to
Brahman, sacrifice in celibacy, in household life, in controlling the
senses, in practicing mystic yoga, in penance, in forgoing material
possessions, in studying the Vedas, and in partaking of the social
institution called varnasrama-dharma. All of these are known as
sacrifice, and all of them are based on regulated action.
all these activities, the important factor is self-realization. One who
seeks that objective is the real student of Bhagavad-Gita, but one
who doubts the authority of Krishna falls back. One is therefore
advised to study Bhagavad-Gita. or any other scripture, under a
bona fide spiritual master, with service and surrender. A bona fide
spiritual master is in the disciple succession from time eternal, and
he does not deviate at all from the instructions of the Supreme Lord
as they were imparted millions of years ago to the sun-god, from
whom the instructions of Bhagavad-Gita have come down to the
One should, therefore, follow the path of Bhagavad-Gita as it is expressed in the Gita itself and beware of self-interested
people after personal aggrandizement who deviate others from the
actual path. The Lord is definitely the supreme person, and His
activities are transcendental. One who understands this is a liberated
person from the very beginning of his study of Bhagavad-Gita.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta Purports to the Fourth Chapter of the
Srimad Bhagavad-Gita in the matter of Transcendental Knowledge.