Bhagavad Gita Ch 4 Summary- Transcendental Knowledge – The 4th chapter of Bhagavad Gita is beautifully decorated with 42 verses. In this chapter, Krishna is explaining Arjuna the process to acquire Transcendental knowledge.
In answer to query of Arjuna about the cause of all sinful activities, Krishna explains that lust is the only cause of it.
Moving towards the solution of it, Krishna says that one must first steady the mind through spiritual intelligence, and by the acquired spiritual strength one can easily conquer lust. This chapter shows the method to acquire this spiritual intelligence.
Table of Contents
Krishna says that spiritual intelligence is received through Parampara starting from Himself. He had earlier spoken Bhagavad Gita to sun-god, Vivasvan and from here the disciplic succession started-
imaṁ vivasvate yogaṁ
proktavān aham avyayam
vivasvān manave prāha
manur ikṣvākave ’bravīt
Translation: The Supreme Lord Shree Krishna said: I taught this eternal science of Yog to the Sun-god, Vivasvan, who passed it on to Manu; and Manu in turn instructed it to Ikshvaku.[BG 4.1]
In Iksvaku dynasty we have personalities like Ambarisha, Dilipa, Sagara, Anshumana, Bhagirataha, Dashratha, Rama. But in the due course of time, people started giving their personal explanations and hence deviated from the real knowledge, and disciplic succession was broken.
Thus to reestablish the Parampara, Krishna spoke this Transcendental knowledge, the science of the relationship with Him, to Arjuna. The spirit of understanding the Bhagavad Gita is mentioned in Verse 3-
sa evāyaṁ mayā te ’dya
yogaḥ proktaḥ purātanaḥ
bhakto ’si me sakhā ceti
rahasyaṁ hy etad uttamam
Translation- That very ancient science of the relationship with the Supreme is today told by Me to you because you are My devotee as well as My friend and can therefore understand the transcendental mystery of this science.[BG 4.3]
One should be a devotee of Krishna to get this knowledge revealed. Nobody other than a devotee can understand this science, doesn’t matter how materially intelligent he is.
Just to remove the doubts of ‘Doubting Thomas’, Arjun asks Krishna, how is it that He spoke to sun god over 120 million years ago, although He is his contemporary. Krishna answers that although both, Arjuna and He, have taken many births, He remembers all of them, but Arjuna cannot. He appears here every millennium to destroy the demons, deliver the pious and establish the principles of religion.
In this modern age of Kaliyuga, He has appeared in the form of His name. He Himself directed us as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to chant His holy names to get liberated from this cycle of birth and death. Krishna says to Arjuna that one who understands this spiritual science through a bonafide Parampara, surely gets liberation.
janma karma ca me divyam
evaṁ yo vetti tattvataḥ
tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma
naiti mām eti so ’rjuna
Translation- One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.[BG 4.9]
Summum Bonum(BG 4.10-4.15)
Krishna says that many many persons have perfected their lives with this transcendental knowledge acquired through parampara. Ultimately everyone surrenders to Krishna willingly or unwillingly since Krishna is the intermediate, immediate, ultimate cause of everything.
As we cultivate Transcendental Knowledge – we must be situated in Varna and Krishna says in Verse 13 that the 4 Varnas are created by Him.
cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ
tasya kartāram api māṁ
viddhy akartāram avyayam
Translation- According to the three modes of material nature and the work associated with them, the four divisions of human society are created by Me. And although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the non-doer, being unchangeable.[BG 4.13]
Krishna is the Summum Bonum of everything and this knowledge will awaken in our hearts only when we are strongly connected with the Parampara.
One who has received the mercy of all the acharyas in the parampara can understand, what is action, Inaction, and Capricious action. Meat eating, illicit sex, intoxication, and gambling come under capricious action. Inaction is not inertness. Inaction means Krishna Consciousness.
Verse 24 is the heart of Ch 4. It is the basis of what is inaction.
brahmārpaṇaṁ brahma havir
brahmāgnau brahmaṇā hutam
brahmaiva tena gantavyaṁ
Translation- A person who is fully absorbed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is sure to attain the spiritual kingdom because of his full contribution to spiritual activities, in which the consummation is absolute and that which is offered is of the same spiritual nature.[BG 4.24]
When everything is dovetailed in the service of Krishna, the actor, performer(instrument), performance, and ingredients, everything attains the nature of divinity. Inaction is Krishna’s Conscious action that is pleasing to Krishna. Anything that doesn’t please Krishna is called action. The example of Srila Prabhupada, founder Acharya of ISKCON, helps us understand this better.
Prabhupada changed the rules and regulations according to time, place, and circumstances, such that more and more people can become Krishna-conscious. He gave up the rigid stigma of Vedic knowledge. He allowed a non-Brahmana to worship, ladies were made Pujaris. Since all his actions pleased Krishna, he was able to successfully spread the movement throughout the world.
Sacrifice (BG 4.25-4.33)
Sacrifice must be performed, otherwise, we cannot be happy. There are different forms of sacrifices performed according to varna and ashrama. Brahmacharis must strictly control their senses by constantly hearing and Grihasthas must give up sense gratification. In Verse 33 Krishna says that when one performs sacrifice, Transcendental Knowledge is the concomitant factor. How do you know that you are performing sacrifice? That should elevate you in Krishna consciousness.
Transcendental Knowledge(BG 4.34-4.42)
Verse 34 is very important in which Krishna describes the way to receive Transcendental knowledge from a teacher in Parampara.
tad viddhi praṇipātena
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ
Translation- 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 truth.[BG 4.34]
When 3 things are there – Proper Humility, Submissive questions, and Service, a seer of truth(tattva darsi) will impart transcendental knowledge unto us.
Transcendental knowledge is relishable after we have burned the sins. The process of burning sin is painful and we require help from a teacher.
Verse 43 represents the conclusion of this chapter.
chittvainaṁ saṁśayaṁ yogam
Translation- Therefore the doubts which have arisen in your heart out of ignorance should be slashed by the weapon of knowledge. Armed with yoga, O Bhārata, stand and fight.[BG 4.43]
The doubts born of ignorance can be destroyed by this Transcendental Knowledge received through a bonafide teacher in Parampara. This knowledge will be revealed when we approach the teacher with humility, submissive doubts, and service.