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Śrīmad bhagavad gītā | Jnana–Karma-Sanyasa yoga ~ Sarga 4 of 18

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Sarga (or) Chapter 4 of 18 : Jnana–Karma-Sanyasa yoga

śloka (verses): 42

Abstract: Krishna reveals that he has lived through many births, always teaching yoga for the protection of the pious and the destruction of the impious and stresses the importance of accepting a guru.

Audio Recitals:

in Sanskrit by Sri Vidyabhushana     
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in Telugu by Ghantasala     
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in English Unknown     
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गीतोपदेश

Gitopadesh (Sanskrit: गीतोपदेश)


Introduction:

In chapter four Lord Krishna reveals how spiritual knowledge is received by disciplic succession and the reason and nature of His descent into the material worlds. Here He also explains the paths of action and knowledge as well as the wisdom regarding the supreme knowledge which results at the culmination of the two paths. Thus this chapter is entitled: Approaching the Ultimate Truth.

Sloka 4.1 audio recital in Sanskrit     

श्रीभगवानुवाच |
इमं विवस्वते योगं प्रोक्तवानहमव्ययम् |
विवस्वान्मनवे प्राह मनुरिक्ष्वाकवेऽब्रवीत् ||४- १||

shrIbhagavAnuvAcha |
imaM vivasvate yogaM proktavAnahamavyayam.h |
vivasvAnmanave prAha manurikShvAkave.abravIt.h || 4-1 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.1

Anvaya: sri-bhagavan uvaca–the Supreme Personality of Godhead said; imam–this; vivasvate–unto the sun-god; yogam–the science of one’s relationship to the Supreme; proktavan–instructed; aham–I; avyayam–imperishable; vivasvan–Vivasvan (the sun-god’s name); manave–unto the father of mankind (of the name Vaivasvata); praha–told; manuh–the father of mankind; iksvakave–unto King Iksvaku; abravit–said.

Translation: The Blessed Lord said: I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Iksvaku.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Here Lord Krishna is praising karma yoga or the performance of Vedic activities by explaining that He, Himself previously had instructed the eternal knowledge of yoga or the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the Ultimate Consciousness. The Supreme Lord did this in order to illustrate the appearance and disappearance of an avatar or incarnation and to discern between Thou referring to the individual consciousness and That referring to the Ultimate Consciousness, following the great Vedic dictum of Thou art That. In chapter two and three the path of jnana yoga or the cultivation of Vedic knowledge through the medium of karma yoga has been established as the means to moksa or liberation from the cycle of birth and death in the material existence. In order to elaborate further by the injunctions of the Vedic scriptures which give a vision for the mind to imagine when performing yagna or Vedic worship like Brahman is the ladle to pour the ghee and Agni is the fire to receive it. The Supreme Lord is praising this yoga and explaining in this first verse how He instructed it and in the next two he shows that that it is confidentially instructed under the auspices of parampara or authorised disciplic succession.


There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

In the third chapter Lord Krishna explained that only karma yoga or the performance of prescribed Vedic activities was suitable for the materialistic person aspiring for moksa or liberation from the cycle of birth and death and that such an aspirant was not competent to follow the path of jnana yoga or the cultivation of Vedic knowledge. It was also shown that even for jnana yoga practitioners that karma yoga when performed as a matter of duty without attachment was preferable. It was further illustrated that for leaders of prominence in society it is an important necessity to perform karma yoga in order that the public is guided and inspired in a righteous manner. The objective of this fourth chapter is to further emphasise the worthiness of karma yoga by giving evidence that it was taught to great personalities at the beginning of this Manavatar or cyclic appearance of one type of divine incarnations as verified in Vedic scriptures over a period of time comprising approximately every 350 million years. Also it will be shown in this chapter how karma yoga partakes of the nature of jnana yoga by reason of spiritual intentions underlying all prescribed Vedic activities. Chapter four finishes up by explaining the nature and varieties of karma yoga and the importance of spiritual awareness connected to performing every action.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

The third chapter established that one desiring moksa or liberation from the cycle of birth and death, whose desires for sense gratification had not been extinguished should engage themselves in karma yoga or performance of prescribed Vedic activities assisted by some Vedic knowledge and feeling completely free from the fear of falling from one’s position. Everyone is not qualified for jnana yoga or the cultivation of Vedic wisdom and even those who are qualified should still follow the path of karma yoga performing prescribed Vedic activities as a matter of duty as an example to the common man for the maintenance of world order.

Now in the fourth chapter Lord Krishna explains karma yoga in the light of historical tradition and that by instructing the knowledge of yoga or the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness, He Himself performed karma yoga in giving these instructions in the past to Visvavan the demigod of the sun and now to His friend Arjuna because he is His surrendered disciple. It should not be thought that Lord Krishna is speaking it just to motivate Arjuna to battle or that the science of this eternal yoga is recent because it was spoken before 120 million years previously at the commencement of this time period of Manu in order to protect all the worlds. Lord Krishna taught this imperishable yoga for the highest benefit of the human species and for the preservation of universal order. Visvavan after gave it to his son Satyavrata who was the Manu of that time period and he later gave it to his eldest son Iksvaku.

Sloka 4.2 audio recital in Sanskrit     

एवं परम्पराप्राप्तमिमं राजर्षयो विदुः |
स कालेनेह महता योगो नष्टः परन्तप ||४- २||

evaM paramparAprAptamimaM rAjarShayo viduH |
sa kAleneha mahatA yogo naShTaH parantapa || 4-2 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.2

Anvaya: evam–thus; parampara–disciplic succession; praptam–received; imam–this science; raja-rsayah–the saintly kings; viduh–understood; sah–that knowledge; kalena–in the course of time; iha–in this world; mahata–by great; yogah–the science of one’s relationship with the Supreme; nastah–scattered; parantapa–O Arjuna, subduer of the enemies.

Translation: This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

This external yoga or the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness. The saintly kings such as King Nimi as well as royal sages at court all were knowledgeable of this yoga as instructed by their ancestors Ishvaktu and others. The reason why the kings of the day were not knowledgeable of this yoga was because it was lost to parampara or authorised disciplic succession due to great passage of time.


There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.

There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Thus was transmitted from Lord Krishna a distinguished parampara or disciplic succession from illustrious father to illustrious son. This knowledge was passed onto the saintly kings and royal sages like Nimi and Sagara; but its origins are without beginning because its roots are in the eternal Vedas. By great efflux of time and degradation of human intelligence limiting qualified recipients this great knowledge disappeared into oblivion due to a break in parampara causing a discontinuation of the tradition in this world.

Sloka 4.3 audio recital in Sanskrit     

स एवायं मया तेऽद्य योगः प्रोक्तः पुरातनः |
भक्तोऽसि मे सखा चेति रहस्यं ह्येतदुत्तमम् ||४- ३||

sa evAyaM mayA te.adya yogaH proktaH purAtanaH |
bhakto.asi me sakhA cheti rahasyaM hyetaduttamam.h || 4-3 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.3

Anvaya: sah–the same ancient; eva–certainly; ayam–this; maya–by Me; te–unto you; adya–today; yogah–the science of yoga; proktah–spoken; puratanah–very old; bhaktah–devotee; asi–you are; me–My; sakha–friend; ca–also; iti–therefore; rahasyam–mystery; hi–certainly; etat–this; uttamam–transcendental.

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; therefore you can understand the transcendental mystery of this science.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Now Lord Krishna is confirming that the very same eternal yoga or science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness that had become lost and disappeared is being taught again in parampara or disciplic succession to His friend Arjuna because he is His disciple. It was not taught by Lord Krishna to others outside of parampara because it is highly confidential and a supreme secret.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

Hari OM! In this chapter the superiority of the intellect having its power of discrimination, the greatness of the atma or soul possessing its eternal nature, the importance of the performance of karma yoga or prescribed Vedic activities according to position and stage in life and the supremacy of jnana yoga or the cultivation of Vedic wisdom. Whatever Lord Krishna has delineated in the previous three chapters should be understood to be dharma or absolute principles of eternal righteousness. This is what is meant by the word iman which means this and refers to the science of yoga which is the science of the individual consciousness in communion with the Ultimate Consciousness. Lord Krishna wants to impress upon posterity that what He is explaining is not temporary relating to time and circumstances but is nitya tattva or eternal truths and rita or inviolable cosmic laws. They never become outdated nor do they become irrelevant with the passage of time. They are always relevant, constantly renewing themselves, remaining ever fresh as nature is in the universe. Nature as was created in the beginning of time and nature as is present now in the world is not different in their essence although there may be difference in the form; but form is but a manifestation it is not the essence. Because of the atrophy of human receptivity and the excess of human depravity along with a decline in human intellect there comes about obscurity in human perception. Therefore from time to time the ashes that are covering the coals need to be brushed away for the embers which were hidden to glow in their eternal splendour. Sometimes the Supreme Lord Himself in His avatara forms as scripturally authorised incarnations manifests and incarnates to periodically re- establish these eternal principles of creation. At other times great souls from the higher realms with exceptional compassion descend and see a need to reiterate and disseminate these divine principles for all of humanity suffering in the perpetual cycle of birth and death. These great souls never modify the intrinsic meaning of these eternal principles nor do they change the essential characteristics of these eternal principles although they make innovations in their preaching and how they distribute them according to time and circumstance. They have nothing new to instruct nor anything to add they merely come to remove aside the ash that has covered the glowing embers of eternal principles and to prepare conditions so that beguiled humanity may have the greatest opportunity to be receptive to these eternal principles.

Now begins the summation.

Hari Om! The wisdom and performance of eternal spiritual principles as given in the Vedic scripture Pancaratra which Lord Krishna aeons before had instructed in initiation to Brahma, Shiva, Indra and Surya the sun-god is again being explained to the Pandavas as the eternal principles of the Bhagavad-Gita which is the abridged form of the Pancaratra and the essence of all Vedic scriptures. The manner in which the demi-gods, the great sages, the saintly kings and how human beings should achieve Vedic wisdom by performing karma yoga in Satya, Treta, Dwarpa and kali yugas or the four measurements of Vedic duration comprising a period of 1, 360, 000 years. All these things are explained in the Bhagavad-Gita. From Arjuna to Manu, all perform karma yoga and gain Vedic wisdom as prescribed in the Bhagavad- Gita. The Brahma Vaivarta Purana states that there is no Vedic scripture superior to the Bhagavad-Gita. The Pancaratra which is supplementary to the four Vedas should be learned and assimilated in its entirety and the Bhagavad-Gita is its essence. Thus there is nothing that can compare to the illustrious Bhagavad-Gita.

Ramanuja’s Commentary :

Lord Krishna is suggesting that it should not be presumed that the yoga or knowledge of the individual consciousness in communion with the Ultimate Consciousness being given by him is just a persuasive speech intended to prompt one to do their duty; for He now reveals that He also instructed it to Visvavan the demi-god controlling the sun, as a way of attaining moksa or liberation from the cycle of birth and death. A method intended for the salvation of all the universes and a measure designed to benefit all of creation, truly being the sublime goal of humans. Visvavan taught it to Manu who instructed it to Ikshavaku and so on successively until it was transmitted to the saintly kings from the mouths of their spiritual masters. But due to the passage of time and dull understanding of humanity this knowledge was lost and forgotten. But the very same yoga, pure and pristine is being revealed in all its entirety and details by Lord Krishna because Arjuna has taken full shelter in Him in loving devotion as the only refuge. No one other then the Supreme Lord Krishna is able to originally explain the Bhagavad-Gita as it is the essence of the sublime wisdom of all the Vedas and encapsulates the mysteries of Vedanta.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna now confirms that the same eternal yoga or science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness that was imparted aeons before to Visvavan is being instructed to His friend Arjuna and no one else. Why no one else? Because Arjuna was qualified to receive this yoga, and because he was Lord Krishna’s surrendered disciple. As this yoga is highly confidential it should not be revealed to those who have no faith nor to those who are unqualified.

Sloka 4.4 audio recital in Sanskrit     

अर्जुन उवाच |
अपरं भवतो जन्म परं जन्म विवस्वतः |
कथमेतद्विजानीयां त्वमादौ प्रोक्तवानिति ||४- ४||

arjuna uvAcha |
aparaM bhavato janma para.n janma vivasvataH |
kathametadvijAnIyA.n tvamAdau proktavAniti || 4-4 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.4

Anvaya: arjunah uvaca–Arjuna said; aparam–junior; bhavatah–Your; janma–birth; param–superior; janma–birth; vivasvatah–of the sun-god; katham–how; etat–this; vijaniyam–shall I understand; tvam–You; adau–in the beginning; proktavan–instructed; iti–thus.

Translation: Arjuna said: The sun-god Vivasvan is senior by birth to You. How am I to understand that in the beginning You instructed this science to him?

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Considering the possibility of Visvavan being instructed 120 million years previously by the same Lord Krishna as He is standing before him, Arjuna asks the Lord to explain just how it was that He taught this eternal yoga or the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness to Visvavan, the demigod of the sun.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

This question is asked in relation to Lord Krishna’s earlier declaration in chapter III.XXX mayi sarvani karmani meaning to offer all activities to Him.

Now begins the summation.

The purpose of inquiry from men of wisdom as given in the Agni Purana has a dual purpose. First is reconfirmation of the knowledge of eternal principles that they already possess. Second is that their explanations offer additional clarification. In this same way these questions asked to Lord Krishna should be understood in this manner. One should be aware that Arjuna was not a novice bereft of Vedic knowledge, he had been to the heavenly planets and had received instuctions from his father Indra the chief of the celestials. He also had never broken his vows and was never defeated in battle. So he was not an ordinary being and was somewhat cognizant of Lord Krishna supreme position.

Ramanuja’s Commentary :

The sun-god Visvavan had duly received the Bhagavad-Gita from Lord Krishna 120 million years previously; yet he was Arjuna’s contemporary; so an explanation of this anomalous anachronism is being requested. One may question what is the purpose to ask this from one who is aware of Lord Krishna’s supreme position for it is known that even saintly and noble souls remember events from previous incarnations. Also before when the Pandava king Yudhisthira performed the Rajasuya ceremony the grandsire Bhishma was heard to say that Lord Krishna alone is the origin of all created beings and the beginning and the ending of all movable and immovable beings. So the reason Arjuna asked such a question was to get clarification presented in an exposition on the meaning of avatars or Lord Krishna’s authorised incarnations in the Vedic scriptures and answer these questions. 1) Are avatars real or illusory? 2) Under what circumstances do avatars manifest? 3) What is the nature of the body the avatar assumes? 4) Are all the avatars expanding from Lord Krishna? 5) Are all the avatars omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent? 6) Are all avatars transcendental to the cycle of birth and death? 7) Are all avatars able to fulfill all desires? 8) What is the time schedule which avatars manifest themselves?

This was the purpose of this question so Lord Krishna would give an expose on these topics.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Although Arjuna had experienced many wonderful and divine lila’s or pastimes with Lord Krishna still he could understand that it would be difficult for others to fathom the reality of His teaching the demigod of the sun Visvavan 120 million years previous. So Arjuna posed this question for Lord Krishna who is isvara or the Ultimate Controller and Supreme Ruler of all creation, time and action. He alone is the ultimate reality and highest destination who incarnated in the family of Vasudeva in order to remove the speculations of those whose minds were made impure by tendency to sinful activities as well as to eradicate the demoniac elements present who were polluting the Earth. The question was asked so Lord Krishna could confirm the truth Himself regarding His transcendental appearance and supra- mundane phenomenal exploits that the miscreants and non-believers refuse to except as being possible for the Supreme Lord. By answering this question all doubts would be cleared up about Lord Krishna’s supreme position.

Sloka 4.5 audio recital in Sanskrit     

श्रीभगवानुवाच |
बहूनि मे व्यतीतानि जन्मानि तव चार्जुन |
तान्यहं वेद सर्वाणि न त्वं वेत्थ परन्तप ||४- ५||

shrIbhagavAnuvAcha |
bahUni me vyatItAni janmAni tava chArjuna |
tAnyahaM veda sarvANi na tvaM vettha parantapa || 4-5 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.5

Anvaya: sri-bhagavan uvaca–the Personality of Godhead said; bahuni–many; me–of Mine; vyatitani–have passed; janmani–births; tava–of yours; ca–and also; arjuna–O Arjuna; tani–all those; aham–I; veda–do know; sarvani–all; na–not; tvam–yourself; vettha–know; parantapa–O subduer of the enemy.

Translation: The Blessed Lord said: Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them, but you cannot, O subduer of the enemy!

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna replying informs Arjuna that He instructed Visvavan in a different form then the one Arjuna is beholding at that moment and that by His supreme potency, immutable and imperishable He remembers it as well as every appearance that He ever manifested.


There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna declaration of: many births have past for you and for Me is a definite affirmation of the reality of reincarnation for Arjuna and confirmation of the avatars or incarnations of the Supreme Lord Krishna. What He is confirming is that His present incarnation is as real as Arjuna’s present life reincarnation and that the ones from the past are real as well, subtly implying that there is a fundamental difference between them. The nature of the avatars, how they manifest and their purpose for incarnating is given next.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna understanding Arjuna’s intention in posing this question explains that many births have passed meaning that they have both experienced many bodily manifestations. Lord Krishna is aware of them all as well as all other living beings because His knowledge is complete and omniscient but Arjuna’s knowledge is veiled as well as all other living entities.

Sloka 4.6 audio recital in Sanskrit     

अजोऽपि सन्नव्ययात्मा भूतानामीश्वरोऽपि सन् |
प्रकृतिं स्वामधिष्ठाय सम्भवाम्यात्ममायया ||४- ६||

ajo.api sannavyayAtmA bhUtAnAmIshvaro.api san.h |
prakR^iti.n svAmadhiShThAya sambhavAmyAtmamAyayA || 4-6 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.6

Anvaya: ajah–unborn; api–although; san–being so; avyaya–without deterioration; atma–body; bhutanam–all those who are born; isvarah–the Supreme Lord; api–although; san–being so; prakrtim–transcendental form; svam–of Myself; adhisthaya–being so situated; sambhavami–I do incarnate; atma-mayaya–by My internal energy.

Translation: Although I am unborn and My transcendental body never deteriorates, and although I am the Lord of all sentient beings, I still appear in every millennium in My original transcendental form.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Because Lord Krishna has just confirmed he remembers many births it may be postulated how can He who is without beginning have a birth and how can he who is imperishable have repeated births. How can the Supreme Lord of all transcendant to all dualities such as virtue and sin be embodied like an individual atma or soul. Lord Krishna responds that he comes into being perfectly with all powers such a omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence by yogamaya which is His divine internal potency. It may be further questioned how can Lord Krishna who does not have even a subtle body composed of the 16 material parts be born at all? To assuage these doubts Lord Krishna reveals that from prakriti or material nature which is completely under His control He accepts the nature of sattva or pure goodness and incarnates Himself in His original form of sac-cid-ananda or pure eternity, knowledge and bliss.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

One may wonder that if the Supreme Lord Krishna is eternal then is His svarupa or transcendental body eternal as well? To this Lord Krishna replies that He is unborn. In this verse the words avyaya atma means the eternal body of the Supreme Lord. This also allows for the reality of His many incarnations such as Rama and Buddha. Just as it has been explained previously that the atma or soul being purely spiritual is without beginning and eternal, in the same way the svarupa of Lord Krishna should be understood to exist. One may further wonder how is it He appears to be born if He is without a beginning and eternal? The answer is He manifests Himself by His Self as pure sattva or goodness by His internal potency known as yogamaya through prakriti or material nature which is completely under His control. One may also wonder how it is He being eternal is able to manifest Himself through a material father and mother such as Vasudeva and Devaki? But as both Vasudeva and Devaki are also part of prakriti, Lord Krishna establishes them in pure sattva as well by His yogamaya potency and manifests Himself through them appearing to be born by normal human perception. It should not be thought that Lord Krishna is dependent upon anything or that He is ever born or that He ever dies nor should it be assumed that He uses the material elements of prakriti to create a form for Himself. His form is transcendental and completely in itself and prakriti which is the substratum of all material existence is subservient to Him. The Supreme Lord Krishna manifests His appearances and disappearances and the conditions necessary to descend and ascend by His own sweet will. Atma mayaya infers the consciousness of the soul. Since for material nature there is the distinct word prakriti, here maya is understood to be referring to yogamaya or the consciousness of Lord Krishna’s internal potency. This means that yogamaya arranges the situation and all the details with phenomenal alacrity and intricacy so that Lord Krishna appears to be born like a normal human being but factually this not so. He appears to be born from a mother and a father but actually it is not the case. Isha means great but Ishvara means greater than isha.Therefore it is stated that since Lord Krishna is superior to those who are isha such as Brahma, Shiva and Shesha, only He is to be known as Ishvara or the greatest of the great and none other.

Ramanuja’s Commentary :

Lord Krishna affirms that although He enters prakriti or material nature which is under His complete control, by His own sweet will through His internal potency known as yogamaya. He is never divested of His supreme transcendental attributes and imperishable potencies as Sovereign Lord of all creation even though His external from appears human. The forms and places where the Supreme Lord resides as described in the Vedic scriptures. 1) He the spirit who luminously resides in the interior of the sun 2) He the spirit who luminously resides in the etheric region of the heart 3) He who is immortal and eternal 4) He who manifested all the demigods and humans 5) He who is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent 6) He who is resplendent and all pervasive 7) He who is transcendental to prakriti or material nature. 8) He who by His omniscience knows the actions and qualities of all beings

The Supreme Lord Krishna assumes forms suitable to time, place and circumstances in regards to celestial being the demigods and terrestrial being humans. He manifests himself as if He were of their nature according to His desire. Being unborn He yet incarnates in many forms whenever and wherever He chooses whereas for material beings they are forcefully born impelled by their karma or the bondage caused from reactions to past actions. Next the time of manifestation for the avatars or incarnations will be indicated.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

The question may be asked that if the Supreme Lord’s knowledge is not veiled like Arjuna’s then how is it that He manifests Himself? To alleviate this doubt Lord Krishna replies with the words ajo pi sann avyayatma meaning He is unborn having an imperishable body. His body is purely spiritual without being the result of any previous actions and manifests itself by His own potency for the benefit of all the worlds. Moreover the characteristics of the Lord Krishna’s svarupa or divine form have been well described in the Vedic scriptures the most precise being known as sac-cid- ananda or comprised of eternity, knowledge and bliss. He Himself declares that being the omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent Supreme Lord of all possessing unlimited forms, attributes and powers which contains the concentrated essence and the maximum of all essences when He manifests Himself by His internal potency known as yogamaya. There is nothing imaginable or unimaginable that is impossible for Lord Krishna. Some commentators interpret this verse to mean that Lord Krishna keeping the material nature under His control manifests Himself through it. But this interpretation is not valid and should not be accepted because it contradicts the Vedic scriptures of the Supreme Lord’s svarupa being sac- cid-ananda. If we are to accept that the Supreme Lord’s svarupa comes from material nature comprised of the gunas or three modes of goodness, passion and nescience then we must accept that it is made of elements like our human body and is perishable also and that is false. The Vedic scriptures state that one who accepts that the Supreme Lord Krishna’s svarupa is made from material elements should be excommunicated and considered as being outside of the Vedic culture and Puranic injunctions. Therefore it should be clearly understood that those that have faith and believe in the Supreme Lord and the eternal Vedic scriptures should accept only the commentaries descending through parampara or authorised Vedic disciplic succession and which are never contradictory to the Vedas, Puranas, Upanisads and other Vedic scriptures.

Sloka 4.7 audio recital in Sanskrit     

यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत |
अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदात्मानं सृजाम्यहम् ||४- ७||

yadA yadA hi dharmasya glAnirbhavati bhArata |
abhyutthAnamadharmasya tadAtmAnaM sR^ijAmyaham.h || 4-7 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.7

Anvaya: yada–whenever; yada–wherever; hi–certainly; dharmasya–of religion; glanih–discrepancies; bhavati–manifested, becomes; bharata–O descendant of Bharata; abhyutthanam–predominance; adharmasya–of irreligion; tada–at that time; atmanam–self; srjami–manifest; aham–I.

Translation: Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion–at that time I descend Myself.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Anticipating the question of exactly when is it that He manifests Himself, Lord Krishna declares unequivocally beginning with the words yada yada meaning whenever and wherever. Whenever there is a decline in righteous and wherever there is a predominance of unrighteousness.


There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

No fixed time schedule has been mandated for Lord Krishna to manifest Himself in His avatar forms or authorised incarnations but he declares beginning with yada yada which means that: whenever or wherever dharma or righteousness as ordained by the Vedic scriptures under varnasrama or the four stages and position in Vedic culture become degraded and unrighteousness increases and becomes dominant at that time Lord Krishna or any of His authorised incarnations descends and becomes manifest. It should be noted that all the names of His avatars or incarnations are recorded in the Bhagavat Purana and othe Vedic scriptures with additional details so that it can be proven when His divine incarnation has manifested.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

So it is accepted that Lord Krishna has no beginning and is immutable and that He instructed Visvavan the demi-god of the sun millenniums before in a past incarnation but a question may arise in regard to the many births. When did all these manifestations take place? Lord Krishna clears up this point beginning with the words yada yada meaning whenever and wherever. This signifies that anytime or anyplace that a decline in righteousness is apparent, being antagonistic and in opposition to divinity, at that time the Supreme Lord manifests Himself. Here the word dharma which means righteousness does not imply ordinary righteousness as applies to the mundane interactions of varnasrama or the position and stages in life. Here dharma applies to the deterioration of bhakti yoga or the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness by the means of loving devotion. When there is a decline in bhakti yoga and the path of devotion to God is opposed by unrighteous rulers who in ignorance are inimical to love of God then at that time Lord Krishna manifests Himself personally. Thus it is stated by Bhumi the goddess of the Earth in the Brahmavaivarta Purana: The Earth is unable to bear the burden of those greatly sinful persons who are averse to devotion to Lord Krishna and who blaspheme Lord Krishna’s devotees. Lord Krishna has explained in the Srimad Bhagavatam that when sattva guna or the mode of goodness increases then humans naturally will proportionately increase in righteousness and devotion to Him. A person living their life without any devotion to God has wasted there human existence and a person who does not take delight in hearing about the sublime transcendental pastimes of the Suprem Lord Krishna which benefits all living entities has lived their life in vain.

Sloka 4.8 audio recital in Sanskrit     

परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम् |
धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय सम्भवामि युगे युगे ||४- ८||

paritrANAya sAdhUnA.n vinAshAya cha duShkR^itAm.h |
dharmasa.nsthApanArthAya sambhavAmi yuge yuge || 4-8 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.8

Anvaya: paritranaya–for the deliverance; sadhunam–of the devotees; vinasaya–for the annihilation; ca–also; duskrtam–of the miscreants; dharma–principles of religion; samsthapana-arthaya–to reestablish; sambhavami–I do appear; yuge–millennium; yuge–after millennium.

Translation: In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Another question may be postulated. For what purpose does Lord Krishna manifest Himself? Anticipating such a question Lord Krishna responds for the protection of the righteous and virtuous and for the annihilation of the sinful and evil. To uphold the tenants and precepts of righteousness that makes sanatan dharma or eternal righteousness invulnerable. For this reason the Supreme Lord incarnates from age to age on particular occasions. But one should not think that the Supreme Lord is biased against the wicked for it is not so, He being equal to all chastises them in the same way a father chastises his son while raising him as a necessary action to insure his proper development.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

Actually there is no mandate that for the protection of the righteous and virtuous Lord Krishna must descend and save them. But by His causeless mercy and in some circumstances for sport He manifests Himself by His own sweet will. In the Rig Veda it is described that this will itself is as an inclination of the Lord. A comparison in human terms it is like the bliss that comes with spontaneous creativity. The Supreme Lord is complete within Himself so there is nothing to be gained for Him by any action; yet and still He still performs unlimited activities. Therefore those expert in bhagavat tattva or knowledge of the Supreme Lord Krishna declare that His impulses are all sublime and transcendental to prakriti or material nature. The word glanir in the previous verse does not mean decline as is often translated but glanir means obscure. If dharma meaning eternal righteous is a perennial principle then it must be devoid of any modification of decline. It has to exist eternally in pristine purity. What happens is that dharma becomes obscure to the masses due to material influences on the mind, agitated by the effects of sense gratification by the onslaught of maya or illusion. When such times arise the purpose of human existence becomes distorted and consequently the activities of humans become more and more degenerated and humans become degraded. At this time the dharma of human beings is said to be glanir or obscured.

Therefore as far as dharma is concerned there is no possibility of their being any decline even as darkness is unable to hide sunlight. However even as large clouds are able to obscure the light of the sun from human vision in the same way non-awareness of the independent supremacy of the Supreme Lord and the human beings total dependency on the Supreme Lord consequently obscures the faith in the Supreme Lord as well as any perception of the Supreme Lord in human beings. So the sense is that glanir is referring to obscurity.

The Supreme Lord Krishna is also designated as Brahman which means eternal in time and dynamic in creativity and is the all pervading luminosity of His effulgence. It is not inert or passive. The word Brahman which is derived from the root brh means to grow, to burst forth which infers constant, continuous creativity, perpetually manifesting. That which is dynamic and creative cannot remain static and passive. The dynamic, spontaneous, creative impulse is what is known as the Supreme Lord Krishna’s lila or divine pastimes. The complete material creation and all its embodied beings is the result of one such impulse of the Supreme Lord Krishna and this is also known as lila. The reality of Lord Krishna’s avatars or incarnations such as Rama or Buddha and the understanding of Lord Krishna’s divine lila’s has often been misconstrued and misinterpreted. But here in this verse He explicitly reveals that he comes to protect the righteous and to vanquish the sinful miscreants and to personally re-establish dharma or eternal righteousness.

Sam-sthapana-arthaya- ca infers to establishing one’s true nature. The Lords divine nature assumes His divine form. Because prakriti or material nature is understood as svabhava the word sam has been used referring to that. The word sva also refers Lord Krishna’s essential svarupa or transcendental form as svabhava refers to the innate form or essence and creation is manifested by this essence being the impulse of His will. There is no difference between the form of Krishna and Himself neither is there any difference between the name of Krishna and Himself. In the Narayana Sruti is states that : the Supreme Lord Krishna is immutable yet through the course of creation He manifests Himself in inconceivable many ways in unlimited forms.

Ramanuja’s Commentary :

The word sadhunam meaning virtuous refers to the sadhus or the saintly devotees, the eminent Vaisnavas who diligently seek refuge in Lord Krishna in every thing they think and do. These persons feel that without seeing and perceiving the Supreme Lord, without chanting His names, without continuously reminiscing over His phenomenal pastimes and without meditating on Him that there lives are devoid and empty and they find it difficult to even carry on their existence. There are even those with whom a single moment of absence from the Lord is like a lifetime. For the protection of these virtuous and holy beings, lest they in their agony of separation from me expire from this world, Lord Krishna bequeaths upon them the privilege of being able to perceive His confidential appearances and pastimes and partake in communion with Him. So in summary the following reasons of Lord Krishna’s avatars or incarnations is: 1) for protecting the virtuous 2) for destroying the wicked 3) for re-establishing dharma or eternal righteousness which had become obscured. As dharma to all beings is factually the primary mode of worship for the Supreme Lord Krishna and His authorised avatars in order to attain moksa or salvation from the cycle of birth and death in the material existence; it should be known as the highest good for all beings. The words yuge yuge meaning from millennium to millennium is to indicate that the Supreme Lords incarnations may appear at anytime not being limited to a particular yuga.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Here the verse reads parittranya sadhunam meaning for protecting the virtuous such protection means specifically for the devotees like Prahlad a great devotee of the Supreme Lord even as a child. His father Hiranyakasipu the demon king was so inimical to devotion to the Supreme Lord that he tried to kill his own son many times but protected by the Supreme Lord, Prahlad was never harmed. Yamaraj the demigod in charge of death who weilds the rod of punishment meted out to the hellish planets; informs his servants to never approach the devotees of the Supreme Lord who behold all with equal vision having taken complete refuge in Him and are under His infallible protection; for neither old age or ourselves are qualified to chastise the devotees in any way. Bring to me those who have never meditated on the Supreme Lord within their heart, bring to me those unrighteous persons of unclean demeanour who do not perform their prescribed duties and bring to me those wretched sinners who are antagonistic and opposed to devotion to the Supreme Lord. So not only does the Supreme Lord Krishna destroys the miscreants but His servitors such as Yamaraj punishes them as well. All this is to enable sanatan dharma or eternal righteousness to be established once again.

Sloka 4.9 audio recital in Sanskrit     

जन्म कर्म च मे दिव्यमेवं यो वेत्ति तत्त्वतः |
त्यक्त्वा देहं पुनर्जन्म नैति मामेति सोऽर्जुन ||४- ९||

janma karma cha me divyamevaM yo vetti tattvataH |
tyaktvA dehaM punarjanma naiti mAmeti so.arjuna || 4-9 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.9

Anvaya: janma–birth; karma–work; ca–also; me–of Mine; divyam–transcendental; evam–like this; yah–anyone who; vetti–knows; tattvatah–in reality; tyaktva–leaving aside; deham–this body; punah–again; janma–birth; na–never; eti–does attain; mam–unto Me; eti–does attain; sah–he; arjuna–O Arjuna.

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.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

The result of realising Lord Krishna’s divine appearances and phenomenal exploits is being given by Him now. One who has truly realised that Lord Krishna’s manifestations is due only to His sweet will and are for the protection of eternal righteous and beneficial to all living beings by this realisation becomes no more attached to their gross and subtle body is not subject to rebirth and is eligible to attain the blessed eternal spiritual realms in bliss with Him.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

For the purpose of showing that moksa or complete liberation from the cycle of birth and death is only possible through complete knowledge of His essence and not by partial knowledge does Lord Krishna speak thus. The complete knowledge is by the knowledge of the Vedic scriptures. That is the way Lord Krishna must be adored. In the Kurma Purana it is stated that: who lives their life following the principles advised in the Vedic scriptures and adores Him accordingly, to those does the Supreme Lord reveal Himself and not to others. So it is clarified that only proceeding in this manner is salvation and liberation achieved and not by any other method digressing from the Vedic scriptures and this is irrevocable. The adjective tattvatah signifies that the entire scope of knowledge is essential. Regarding it thus this is not contradictory. In the Skanda Purana it has been stated that a human being will not be knowledgeable by understanding a single principle without first knowing the entirety of the principles and even Shiva is not capable of doing so, therefore one should diligently endeavour to be aware of all the principles.

Now begins the summation.

Only by learning and comprehending the knowledge revealed in the Vedic scriptures is moksa or liberation possible. By knowing and furthermore correlating this knowledge from different Vedic texts and applying it to one’s everyday life will the ultimate attainment be gained and no other way. It should be clearly understood that the mere knowledge of the facts and details of the Supreme Lords appearance and divine pastimes will not enable one to attain liberation from the material existence without having first applied this learning through the medium of the Vedic scriptures fully into one’s life and all that one’s life encompasses.

Ramanuja’s Commentary :

Whosoever is able to verily realise the divine, spiritual and uniquely phenomenal nature of the Supreme Lord Krishna’s incarnations and transcendental pastimes which are exclusively manifested for the benefit of all those who take refuge in Him solely and which are intended for the protection of the righteous who understand the real tattva or truth concerning His appearances. The word divyam in this verse meaning divine confirms that Lord Krishna appearance is not the same as the compulsory births of the conditioned embodied entities as a consequent reaction to their past life activities arising from their timeless interaction with prakriti or material nature. So in conclusion whoever understands that all avatars or incarnations emanate from Lord Krishna who is eternally possessed with all glorious qualities and wonderful attributes, such a person is not subject to rebirth once they leave their present body, but attains the eternal spiritual abode with the Supreme Lord. Put more succinctly such a person possessing accurate discriminative knowledge from disciplic succession regarding Lord Krishna’s incarnations and divine pastimes becomes free from all sins which stand in the way of coming to Him. Such a person in there present birth will attain Him by placing implicit reliance and full faith in Him in the manner described in previous verses and by making Him the be all and end all of their lives makes themselves extremely dear to the Lord which qualifies their existence for attaining Him. Next will be described the superb godly qualities of the these saintly persons.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Here Lord Krishna speaks of the merits one acquires who knows the true nature of His divine appearances as sac-cid-ananda or eternity, knowledge and bliss and also knows the divine nature of his lila’s or phenomenal pastimes which he accomplishes by his internal potency without any touch of material nature. One who has realised the truth of His reality does not take rebirth again being freed from their gross physical body as well as their subtle body which is the cause of having to accept a gross body and having qualified themselves for liberation are eligible to come to the eternal spiritual realms of Lord Krishna which is the ultimate reality and revels in bliss with Him.

Sloka 4.10 audio recital in Sanskrit     

वीतरागभयक्रोधा मन्मया मामुपाश्रिताः |
बहवो ज्ञानतपसा पूता मद्भावमागताः ||४- १०||

vItarAgabhayakrodhA manmayA mAmupAshritAH |
bahavo GYAnatapasA pUtA madbhAvamAgatAH || 4-10 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.10

Anvaya: vita–freed from; raga–attachment; bhaya–fear; krodhah–anger; mat-maya–fully in Me; mam–unto Me; upasritah–being fully situated; bahavah–many; jnana–knowledge; tapasa–by penance; putah–being purified; mat-bhavam–transcendental love for Me; agatah–attained.

Translation: Being freed from attachment, fear and anger, being fully absorbed in Me and taking refuge in Me, many, many persons in the past became purified by knowledge of Me–and thus they all attained transcendental love for Me.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

It may be enquired how may one be elevated to attaining Lord Krishna merely by knowledge of His appearances and pastimes? This is answered by the instruction: being completely freed from passion, fear and anger then if those persons understand that due to Lord Krishna’s magnanimous compassion He incarnates into His material creation through pure sattva or goodness to protect the principles of sanatan dharma or eternal righteousness and having no attachments and desires thus with no distractions focus their attentions to meditating on Him, fixed in Him, taking sole refuge in Him alone. These rare beings are naturally purified from the dross of ignorance and its products in prakriti or material nature by their own wisdom and penance consisting of performing prescribed Vedic activities according to one’s order and station in life. This by the divine grace of the Supreme Lord through the medium of the bonafide guru exclusively the development of spiritual knowledge commences. The compound word jnana-tapasya means by knowledge and austerities. This knowledge and austerity is taught by the bonafide spititual master and is the procedure for one to receive the divine grace of the Supreme Lord. As all activities of the Supreme Lord are sublimely eternal the bestowal of this grace whenever it is received indicates that it is not newly inculcated but is given eternally as well. The Vedic dictum of that and thou referring to the Supreme Lord and the living entity are spoken of only in the context of the individual consciousness as being distinct from the ultimate consciousness. The individual consciousness as the living entity having numerous limitations and the ultimate consciousness as the Supreme Lord having no limitations. The Supreme Lord being free from ignorance and ever pure while the living entity is purified by degrees by renouncing ignorance through knowledge gained by the divine grace of the Supreme Lord through the mercy of the spiritual master in disciplic succession from one of the four Vedic sampradayas or authorised Vedic channel of disciplic succession.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

By completely renouncing passion, fear and anger and subsequently adoring the Supreme Lord many attained moksa or liberation. Man-maya means complete abidance and refuge in the Lord in all situations.

Now begins the summation.

Mayam means making the Lord the central focus of one’s life as the primary objective. One who knows the Supreme Primacy of the Lord’s position becomes eventually aware of His transcendental integral form. Only those who know the Supreme Resplendent Lord thus are qualified for liberation and no others. Being aware of His integral form indicates attaining their eternal spiritual form similar to His in quality but not quantity.

Ramanuja’s Commentary :

What Lord Krishna is confirming is that legions of human beings over the ages have attained true realisation of His avatar forms or incarnations and His lilas or divine pastimes through jnana yoga or the cultivation of Vedic knowledge and purifying themselves attained moksa or liberation and entered the abode of the Supreme Lord. The spiritually advanced in Vedic wisdom know something of the truth about the Supreme Lord appearances and pastimes. But it is only the Vaisnava devotees of the Supreme Lord, who desire Him alone and who serve Him with love and devotion, only they can truly comprehend the sublime transcendental mystery of His divine appearances, pastimes, forms, abode and nature.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

In the previous verse Lord Krishna declares that those that truly know Him attain Him. Now the question may be raised is there any requirements necessary for attaining Him or does it mean that oneness with Him in His abode transpires automatically with knowledge of Him. To clear this up Lord Krishna states: vita-raga-bhaya-krodha meaning completely freed from passion, fear and anger. Passion is attachment to the opposite sex and children and family life. Fear is abhorrence of frightening situations due to lack of faith in God. Anger is a state of mind that blows up when one’s ardent desires are frustrated by obstacles. This clearly indicates that jnana yoga or the cultivation of knowledge is essential for the mind to control the senses. In the Visnusahasra 136 it is given that: the physical body, the senses, the mind, the intellect, the vitality, splendour, potency, patience, and the atma or soul all are the possessions of the Supreme Lord. The very knowledge of the Supreme Lords transcendental nama or names, rupa or forms, guna or attributes, lila or pastimes and dhama or abode is the tapasya or penance which dissolves all karmas or reactions to previous actions. Thus wholly absorbed internally and externally in the wonderful and phenomenal Supreme Lord one naturally attains moksa or liberation with Him. Although there are different forms accepted when one attains the state of moksa these elevated beings attain oneness with differences or union with separateness. They are united because they all have attributes like omniscience and ananda or bliss. Yet they are separate due to differences in qualities having their own unique, individual spiritual characteristics. The great sage Pantajali of the hatha yoga system defines oneness as union with differences. In this way the statement of oneness of similar qualities in the state of moksa has been explained. There are two realities: one is the reality of oneness in form and the other is the reality of difference in forms. The absence of difference of the individual atma or soul from the paramatma or the supreme soul has already been refuted in chapter II.XIII by the plural usage of souls and concludes with the words dhiras tatra na muhyati meaning the intelligent are not deluded by this.

Sloka 4.11 audio recital in Sanskrit     

ये यथा मां प्रपद्यन्ते तांस्तथैव भजाम्यहम् |
मम वर्त्मानुवर्तन्ते मनुष्याः पार्थ सर्वशः ||४- ११||

ye yathA mAM prapadyante tA.nstathaiva bhajAmyaham.h |
mama vartmAnuvartante manuShyAH pArtha sarvashaH | 4-11||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.11

Anvaya: ye–all of them; yatha–as; mam–unto Me; prapadyante–surrender; tan–unto them; tatha–so; eva–certainly; bhajami–do I reward; aham–I; mama–My; vartma–path; anuvartante–do follow; manusyah–all men; partha–O son of Prtha; sarvasah–in all respects.

Translation: All of them–as they surrender unto Me–I reward accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Prtha.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

There may arise the opinion that Lord Krishna is partial to those who take refuge in Him and disregards those who are more partial to fulfilling their desires with sense objects. To clarify this false assumption the Supreme Lord stated this verse confirming that by whatever mode or method a person worships Him, direct or indirect, full of desires or free from desires He rewards them proportionately. It should not be falsely speculated that the Supreme Lord Krishna ignores those who due to ignorance neglect Him and instead offer others worship in various religions and denominations. It is impossible for Lord Krishna to ignore or exclude anyone because all living beings are factually following His path in every respect. Thus He is worshipped directly by those who are knowledgeable and indirectly by those who are unknowledgeable and correspondingly to their worship He reciprocates to each.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

Not by propitiation to Lord Krishna by itself will moksa or liberation from material existence be granted. Nor will it be granted to other paths of religiosity that are not Vedic; but to all, in the manner which as well as how much they surrender unto the Supreme Lord, He rewards proportionately, granting the rewards to each accordingly. Here the word bhajami means reciprocation indicating that the most beneficial is directly propitiating Him as direct service returns direct reciprocation from the Lord. Those who propitiate others are indirectly also propitiating Lord Krishna as well but without being aware. This is because Lord Krishna is the maintainer and energiser of all creation. Lord Krishna and His authorised avatars or incarnations are what is revealed in the Vedic scriptures to be the ultimate reality and the ultimate goal of human existence.

Now begins the summation.

Tathaiva bhajamy means Lord Krishna reciprocates rewards to all in proportion accordingly to how one propitiates Him. Even those who follow other religions and denominations and propitiate others and are not following the Vedic culture in any way; for them also an allotment of materialistic rewards are made available but in an indirect way because the propitiation to Lord Krishna was made in an indirect way through the worship of other religions and denominations not connected to the eternal Vedic culture. So although it is true that even the worship of our religions and denominations eventually reaches Lord Krishna finally; the Agni Purana advises: Since sanction and entrance to the immortal and eternal regions comes from Him alone and no other; therefore by all means possible one should propitiate the Supreme Lord alone.

Ramanuja’s Commentary :

Not only in His unlimited avatar or incarnation forms in the Vedic pantheon such as Rama or Buddha is Lord Krishna approachable to those who seek refuge in Him as the saviour and maintainer of all creation; but He is also the saviour and maintainer of all those outside of the Vedic culture who seek refuge and redemption from any other religion or denomination as well. By whatever conception the righteous choose to seek god, Lord Krishna manifests Himself in that same manner so that He is always available for them to approach Him in the manner in which they have chosen. The word bhajamy literally means I give service to them. Here it means that the Supreme Lord is available to reciprocate with them. Although Lord Krishna’s divine nature is such that even realised saints and yogis find His sublime nature transcendental to speech and even thought; yet for all those who are situated in righteousness even in other religions and denominations He manifests the way to receive their mode of worship maintaining their faith. This manifestation is not only apparent by their faith but also by their ability to reciprocate with Him by all their senses in as many variegated and diverse ways as they are capable of. Bringing now to a close the subject of avatars, the discourse on karma yoga or the performance of prescribed Vedic activities is resumed. Before presenting the jnana-yoga or cultivation of Vedic knowledge aspect of karma yoga or the performance of prescribed Vedic activities, Lord Krishna first explains how rare is the person who performs this type of karma yoga.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

So if Lord Krishna only bestows His benedictions upon those who are devoted to Him but not to those who are devoted to sense gratification and worldly attachment then there would appear to be some injustice in this. To correct this idea Lord Krishna states this verse. However one approaches Him, with desires or without desires, direct or indirect He rewards them accordingly and this is not only for His devotees who worship Him exclusively; but this also applies to all those who worship others in various religions and denominations. For it is a fact that all living beings in all ways follow in all respects Lord Krishna’s path as He resides as the supreme soul within all living beings. So in conclusion the Supreme Lord Krishna is the ultimate dispenser of all rewards to everyone regardless to whom one offers their homage to; but although the rewards are in equal proportion to the worship which was offered to Him; it should not be assumed that worship of others in various religions and denominations will be equal in quality or quantity to the results of the worship that was offered to Him direct without any intermediary accept the bonafide spiritual master.

Sloka 4.12 audio recital in Sanskrit     

काङ्क्षन्तः कर्मणां सिद्धिं यजन्त इह देवताः |
क्षिप्रं हि मानुषे लोके सिद्धिर्भवति कर्मजा ||४- १२||

kAN^kShantaH karmaNA.n siddhi.n yajanta iha devatAH |
kShipra.n hi mAnuShe loke siddhirbhavati karmajA || 4-12 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.12

Anvaya: kanksantah–desiring; karmanam–of fruitive activities; siddhim–perfection; yajante–worship by sacrifices; iha–in the material world; devatah–the demigods; ksipram–very quickly; hi–certainly; manuse–in human society; loke–within this world; siddhih bhavati–becomes successful; karma-ja–the fruitive worker.

Translation: Men in this world desire success in fruitive activities, and therefore they worship the demigods. Quickly, of course, men get results from fruitive work in this world.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

It may be questioned that since Lord Krishna is the exclusive awarder of moksa or liberation from the cycle of birth and death; then why is it that most people are obliviously worshipping lesser gods instead of Him? The reason He answers is factual. People worship the lesser gods because they desire material benefits which is what the lesser gods can give. Worshipping lesser gods for wealth, dominion, a beautiful wife, a powerful son, such efforts easily bring quick results and the desired rewards. But moksa or liberation is only achieved as a result of cultivating Vedic knowledge about the Supreme Lord and thus it is hard to attain.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

Those that are worshipping the demi-gods and other religions and denominations, how can they be understood to be following Lord Krishna’s path? The proof is given in the second half of this verse being: quick indeed do they get their desired fruits from such worship. This is confirmed in the Chandogya Upanisad where it states: tasya ime venayam gayanti, tasmat te dhanasanayah which clarifies that from the Supreme Lord alone are bequeathed the rewards of one’s actions.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

For the most part persons who desire the material fruits of their actions never worship the Supreme Lord Krishna who is the super soul existing within all living beings and who is the ultimate recipient of all worship and offerings as confirmed in the previous verse. It is very rarely seen that the materialists are inclined to His worship. Instead they worship the demi-gods and other lesser entities. Why is this so? It is because by worshipping them the seekers of material possessions such as wealth, power and dominion find quick results in the fulfilment of their material desires. Manuse loke means in the mortal worlds. This includes all material worlds everywhere in creation. Such persons in these worlds oblivious to the true purpose of human existence due to a vast accumulation of sinful reactions that have not been exhausted from time immemorial. Desire immediate results for their actions causing them to get more and more reactions. Such people worship that which gives temporary material rewards and foolishly pursue transient material objectives even foolishly attempting to gain immortality in their corporeal physical body. Only such a rare being who fearful of samsara or transmigration from physical body to physical body in the endless cycle of birth and death, who aspires for moksa or liberation from the cycle of birth and death, only this rare being would engage themselves in karma yoga or the performance of prescribed Vedic activities as propitiation to the Supreme Lord Krishna. The next verse reveals how to release oneself from sin which obscures one’s perception from realising the need to engage in karma yoga.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

It may be further asked that if Lord Krishna is the exclusive bestower of the goal of life then why is not every one following Him. To alleviate such a doubt Lord Krishna answers that most people are engaged in karma yoga or the performance of prescribed duties of their caste and station. Performing myriad of actions they seek material results from their efforts. These material benefits are beseeched in the forms of wealth, power, good health and such. For these things they worship lesser gods for quick results and not Lord Krishna. But for moksa or liberation the results do not come quickly as this knowledge must refined and perfected picking up where one left off in a previous birth through many lifetimes. The purport is that most people worship various others because in their present life they have no knowledge of and no intrinsic interest in moksa.

Sloka 4.13 audio recital in Sanskrit     

चातुर्वर्ण्यं मया सृष्टं गुणकर्मविभागशः |
तस्य कर्तारमपि मां विद्ध्यकर्तारमव्ययम् ||४- १३||

chAturvarNyaM mayA sR^iShTa.n guNakarmavibhAgashaH |
tasya kartAramapi mA.n vid.hdhyakartAramavyayam.h || 4-13 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.13

Anvaya: catuh-varnyam–the four divisions of human society; maya–by Me; srstam–created; guna–quality; karma–work; vibhagasah–in terms of division; tasya–of that; kartaram–the father; api–although; mam–Me; viddhi–you may know; akartaram–as the non-doer; avyayam–being unchangeable.

Translation: According to the three modes of material nature and the work ascribed to them, the four divisions of human society were created by Me. And, although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the non-doer, being unchangeable.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Some beings perform actions with desire and others perform actions without desire. Thus the difference in actions although subtle can be discerned. Amongst the performers of actions without desire like the Vaisnavas and Brahmins there are further classifications such as uttama or superior, madhya or good and kanistha or average. How is it that Lord Krishna who is the originator of all these classifications be free from any partiality. The word catur-varnyam specifically denotes the four classes of Vedic culture only. The Brahmins or priestly class have a preponderance of sattva guna or mode of goodnes and having their mind and senses under control their duties are to spiritually guide mankind in righteousness. The ksatriya or royal warrior class possesses some sattva but have a preponderance of rajas guna or mode of passion and their duties are to protect dharma or righteousness from the influence of evil and to protect humanity from demoniac forces. The vaisya’s possess some rajas but have a preponderance of tama-guna or mode of ignorance and their duties are farming, agriculture, trade and cow protection. The sudra or lower class possess only a preponderance for tama guna and their duty is to serve the three previous classes to earn their livelihood. So although Lord Krishna is the origin of them all it should be understood that He is not affected by any of them the reason being that He is immutable, imperishable, eternal and transcendental to prakriti or material nature.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna is the origin of the four classifications in Vedic culture as spoken here. Those of sattva guna or the mode of goodness are designated as Brahmins or priestly class. Those of mixed sattva guna and rajas guna or the mode of passion are known as ksatriyas or warrior class. Those mixed with rajas guna and tama guna or the mode of ignorance are the vaisyas or mercantile class and those in tama guna are the sudras or servant class. The actions of Lord always possess shama or tranquillity and dama or self- control in their performance thus even if He appears to do nothing He is the performer and if He appears to be the performer He is the non- performer of His actions. Even though He is the origin of the entire creation He has no desires and remains unattached. Thus it has been perceived that those who perform actions without desires, unattached to rewards have developed an attribute of the Lord.

Now begins the summation.

The four orders descending in purity from sattva guna to rajas guna to tama guna have been described here. Those in sattva guna are the Vaisnava devotees of the supreme Lord Krishna possessing tranquillity and self- control. All others as their sattva decreases are in tama guna in descending order. Thus sattva guna is determined by one’s ability and capacity to be a devotee of Lord Krishna and the further away one is from this the deeper one is covered by tama guna . Thus this is the difference between them and occurs naturally due to their character and disposition. The differences and conditions acquired due to birth should be understood to be merely a designation as devotion to the Supreme Lord Krishna has been seen to arise and manifest in all four orders of existence. Amongst some it is more potent and in others less so and even these differences happen naturally according to an individuals inherent attributes. Although the resplendent Supreme Lord reveals He is kartaram or the origin of all creation He also reveals He is akartaram or not originated from any source. He is independent in Himself and not created from anything. The adjective api used here is to show this special at tribute that there is no creator for Him.

Ramanuja’s Commentary :

The entire material manifestation from Brahma down to a blade of grass has been divided by Lord Krishna into the four-fold divisions in accordance to their natural dispositions and qualities. For humans they are brahmin or the priestly class, kshatriya the royal warrior class, vaisya the farmer and trading class and sudra the servant class. This is in conformance with their material natures being in goodness, passion or nescience which subsequently qualifies them for the type of occupation they engage in their life. Creation implies all the universes where He sustains and maintains as well causing them to manifest and unmanifest. Although He is the origin of all these activities He should be known as not being the doer. This is because the wondrous activities to be found in creation although originated from Lord Krishna do not bind him as He is not the doer. The wonderful variety of creation from demigods, humans, animal etc. are beings created by the effects of their own karma or present reactions to previous actions either by merits or demerits. In as much as one’s own activities determines their karma activating what reward or punishment one will receive; then this is totally determined by each individual themselves and thus Lord Krishna is no way answerable to the reactions living entities bring upon themselves by their actions. There is another reason Lord Krishna is not the doer as well and that is all the embodied being assuming various and diverse forms get endowed with limbs and senses to enjoy material objects being interested in the rewards of their actions. Consequently pursuing this they trap themselves in samsara or the cycle of birth and death in the material existence. It is all of their own doing and Lord Krishna is not responsible for the desires the living entities choose to pursue. In the Vedanta-Sutras which are aphorisms exegetic of the 108 Upanisads by Vedavyasa it states in II.III.XXXIV that: The Supreme Lord can never be reproached for what seems to be partiality and injustice seen as rewards and punishments because the results for all human beings are determined solely by their actions. In the act of manifesting the creation Lord Krishna is the original source but the instrumental cause is prakriti or material nature itself and the determining factor for all beings is that they come into their various existences as a result of their own karma. Except for the will from the original source of Lord Krishna no other cause is needed to manifest myriad’s of marvellous creations represented by unlimited and diverse variegated beings. This is because all embodied beings accept a form in accordance to the inherent primal force of their past karma.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

If not everyone worships Lord Krishna and so many more are worshipers of other religions and denominations then why is this unbalance so prevalent in society. This verse refers to the four orders of Vedic culture exclusively being the brahmins or priestly class, the ksatriya’s or the royal and warrior class, the vaisya’s or farming and trading class and the sudra or the servant classs. These were created according to the natural qualities of their prenatal disposition and classified accordingly to their corresponding birth. The Brahmins have the prenatal quality of sattva or goodness, the ksatriya’s have the prenatal quality of rajas or passion being dominant and sattva being subordinate, the vaisya’s have the prenatal quality of tama guna or ignorance with rajas being subordinate and the sudras have the prenatal quality of ignorance. Any other classification outside of these four cannot be claimed to be originated by Lord Krishna. Although Lord Krishna is the originator of these four orders He is not to be held accountable to the unbalance in society as this is due to the prenatal disposition of all beings based on their activities and subsequent reactions each life.

Sloka 4.14 audio recital in Sanskrit     

न मां कर्माणि लिम्पन्ति न मे कर्मफले स्पृहा |
इति मां योऽभिजानाति कर्मभिर्न स बध्यते ||४- १४||

na mA.n karmANi limpanti na me karmaphale spR^ihA |
iti mA.n yo.abhijAnAti karmabhirna sa badhyate || 4-14 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.14

Anvaya: na–never; mam–unto Me; karmani–all kinds of work; limpanti–do affect; na–nor; me–My; karma-phale–in fruitive action; sprha–aspiration; iti–thus; mam–unto Me; yah–one who; abhijanati–does know; karmabhih–by the reaction of such work; na–never does; sah–he; badhyate–becomes entangled.

Translation: There is no work that affects Me; nor do I aspire for the fruits of action. One who understands this truth about Me also does not become entangled in the fruitive reactions of work.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

The very nature of transcendentalism is being shown here by Lord Krishna declaring that actions of any type never affect Him even if they are for the protection of the universe because He is not touched by egoism and although He is the origin of all He is unattached and desireless. What is the use of saying Lord Krishna is not touched by them when even His devotees who know He is free from desire to fruits of any action are not bound by their actions as well. This is because one who knows the cause of Lord Krishna’s being untouched by actions is due to the absence of all egoism, desires and attachments subsequently has their own egoism, desires and attachments evaporated.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna is declaring that actions do not bind Him as He has no desires to the rewards of any actions. This is not to imply that He does not want the best for creation but only He is equipoise to prakriti or material nature. Even though the Supreme Lord wills the creation into existence and always is the protector of dharma or eternal righteousness and out of His causeless mercy has the best wishes for its development He is not attached to it. This knowledge of this attribute of the Supreme Lord removes one’s own misconceptions of attachment and craving for rewards to the point where one’s desires are not binding by performing prescribed Vedic activities exclusively. In this way a person of Vedic knowledge so inclined would able to attain moksa or freedom from the cycle of birth and death. It is not that moksa comes to everyone automatically in due course of time in that case the whole world would be attaining liberation without the prerequisite knowledge. Therefore one should realise the atma or soul within the heart by knowledge in the mind. By this eternal life is achieved by the spiritually wise. How is this eternity to be understood? As the atma is without beginning or ending , kala or time is without beginning or ending.

Now begins the summation.

To emphasise the distinction between Lord Krishna and other living entities He twice uses the word mam karmani meaning actions do not bind Me and mam abhijanati meaning one who knows Me in truth.

Ramanuja’s Commentary :

Whosoever understands Lord Krishna as being the origin of all as well as being transcendental to all will cease to entangle themselves with desires and attachments to rewards which results in acquiring karma or reactions to actions which binds one to samsara or the cycle of birth and death. It is from past karmas that one is existing in their present lifetime position. Such a person possessing such knowledge and acting upon it appropriately as described in these verses will no longer be bound by karma.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

One may wonder how is it possible that Lord Krishna is not implicated by any actions and that reactions to actions are not applicable to Him? To understand this one should look at it in the following way. Although the growth of mangoes, rice and papayas are undoubtedly supported by rain showers, the rain has no attachment not having any desire for tasting and enjoying the fruits. Similarly in this creation containing various human beings characterised by divine and demoniac natures, possessing good and evil propensities, performing righteous or unrighteous actions and receiving the bestowal of their reactions it is the Supreme Lord Krishna who sanctions these rewards. But there is no partiality or injustice coming from Him every human being creates their own karma or reactions to actions defined by the actions they have been performing life after life since time immemorial. In Brahma Sutras II.III.XXXIV written by Vedavyasa it states that: Partiality and injustice can never be attributed to the Supreme Lord as there are other considerations that must be taken into account and this is because the Vedic scriptures have declared it so. Lord Krishna confirms here that even those who know Him as the origin of creation and all the worlds and know that He is not implicated by any activity being transcendental to prakrit or material nature; these individuals also have their desires and worldly attachments terminated and are not bound by their actions.

Sloka 4.15 audio recital in Sanskrit     

एवं ज्ञात्वा कृतं कर्म पूर्वैरपि मुमुक्षुभिः |
कुरु कर्मैव तस्मात्त्वं पूर्वैः पूर्वतरं कृतम् ||४- १५||

eva.n GYAtvA kR^itaM karma pUrvairapi mumukShubhiH |
kuru karmaiva tasmAttvaM pUrvaiH pUrvatara.n kR^itam.h || 4-15 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.15

Anvaya: evam–thus; jnatva–knowing well; krtam–performed; karma–work; purvaih–by past authorities; api–although; mumuksubhih–who attained liberation; kuru–just perform; karma–prescribed duty; eva–certainly; tasmat–therefore; tvam–you; purvaih–by the predecessors; purva-taram–ancient predecessors; krtam–as performed.

Translation: All the liberated souls in ancient times acted with this understanding and so attained liberation. Therefore, as the ancients, you should perform your duty in this divine consciousness.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Beginning from the previous four verse where Lord Krishna explains: In whatever way one worships Him then that offering He will accept. By this He refuted any conception of partiality of God and allowed Him to propound karma yoga or the performance of prescribed Vedic activities according to status and position in life. Thus knowing that actions performed without egoism do not bind one to material nature. Ancient seekers of moksa or liberation such as King Janaka the father of Sita who performed great deeds of yore for the benefit of the world and for purification of their minds. Therefore Lord Krishna is encouraging Arjuna to follow in their footsteps.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

Even after realising the eternally, transcendental position of the Supreme Lord one should still perform Vedic actions as a matter of principle following the tradition of the ancients. The performance of Vedic actions of the ancients means without desires or attachments.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

Understanding Lord Krishna as delineated in the previous verses did the ancient seers and sages perform Vedic activities dedicated to Him and thus achieved moksa or liberation from material existence. He is encouraging Arjuna to perform karma yoga or prescribed Vedic activities as the ancients such as Visvavan and Manu performed it in knowledge of Him.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

So Lord Krishna sums up His conclusion for this theme by stating that having known that He is completely free from desire and attachment although performing such magnificent activities like creation of all the worlds He is never implicated by it. But great beings like Manu and Janaka performed actions according to the injunctions of the Vedic scriptures and being free from egoism without desire for rewards also achieved moksa or liberation as such actions are never binding. Therefore Arjuna and anyone else should perform such actions following in their footsteps as they have come down through the ages in parampara or diciplic succession.

Sloka 4.16 audio recital in Sanskrit     

किं कर्म किमकर्मेति कवयोऽप्यत्र मोहिताः |
तत्ते कर्म प्रवक्ष्यामि यज्ज्ञात्वा मोक्ष्यसेऽशुभात् ||४- १६||

ki.n karma kimakarmeti kavayo.apyatra mohitAH |
tatte karma pravakShyAmi yajGYAtvA mokShyase.ashubhAt.h || 4-16 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.16

Anvaya: kim–what is; karma–action; kim–what is; akarma–inaction; iti–thus; kavayah–the intelligent; api–also; atra–in this matter; mohitah–bewildered; tat–that; te–unto you; karma–work; pravaksyami–I shall explain; yat–which; jnatva–knowing; moksyase–be liberated; asubhat–from ill fortune.

Translation: Even the intelligent are bewildered in determining what is action and what is inaction. Now I shall explain to you what action is, knowing which you shall be liberated from all sins.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Here it is inferred that action should be performed under the guidance of those situated in jnana yoga or the cultivation of Vedic knowledge, who are knowers of the ultimate truth and such action should not be based on what is popular at the moment in society. Even men of discrimination can be beguiled by the subtle nature of what is action and what is inaction. So now in the next verse Lord Krishna will expound the intricacies of action and inaction that by performing one will be free of the disease of transmigratory existence and will attain moksa or liberation from the cycle of birth and death.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

In the three previous verses Lord Krishna talks about performance of actions, now He promises to gives a detailed explanation that will dispel delusion about the nature of actions.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

Exactly what is the nature of karma or action as performed by the aspirants treading the path to moksa or liberation from material existence and what also is akarma or inaction? By the term akarma is inferred true knowledge relating to the doer which is the atma or soul. What is the action which needs to be performed and what is the wisdom of inaction that is involved in such an action? Even persons of discrimination and knowledge are bewildered in this matter and confused do not understand this differences properly. Lord Krishna now promises to dispel all delusion in the intricacies of this subject. What is the purpose of performing actions as a matter of duty? The satisfaction consists in the knowledge of knowing why the duty is to be discharged. The knower is the person who performs works aspiring for moksa. The ignorant is one who performs work for sense gratification. The former performs work without egoism while the latter performs works full of egoissm. The former is eligible for liberation the latter is eligible for bondage. Why this is so difficult to understand is explained in the next verse.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Arjuna might be thinking that if everyone has to perform actions anyway then he will do it because the Lord advised it so; but he may have doubts about his ability to perform actions in the manner that was performed by the great beings of yore. To clarify this Lord Krishna confirms that even those of discrimination and intelligence are bewildered by the subtleties of action and inaction. The actions performed by an aspirant for moksa or liberation are completely different from those seeking rewards for their actions. Because the intricacies of action and inaction are difficult to comprehend Lord Krishna now promises to explain it definitively, therefore by knowing and performing actions properly one will be freed from the disease of materialism which binds one tightly to samsara the cycle of birth and death.

Sloka 4.17 audio recital in Sanskrit     

कर्मणो ह्यपि बोद्धव्यं बोद्धव्यं च विकर्मणः |
अकर्मणश्च बोद्धव्यं गहना कर्मणो गतिः ||४- १७||

karmaNo hyapi boddhavyaM boddhavya.n cha vikarmaNaH |
akarmaNashcha boddhavya.n gahanA karmaNo gatiH || 4-17 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.17

Anvaya: karmanah–working order; hi–certainly; api–also; boddhavyam–should be understood; boddhavyam–to be understood; ca–also; vikarmanah–forbidden work; akarmanah–inaction; ca–also; boddhavyam–should be understood; gahana–very difficult; karmanah–working order; gatih–to enter in to.

Translation: The intricacies of action are very hard to understand. Therefore one should know properly what action is, what forbidden action is, and what inaction is.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

A question may arise from the previous verse that if bodily activities are action and the absence of bodily activities is inaction then how is it that even those possessing discrimination are deluded in this matter? To answer this question Lord Krishna reveals that there are some special considerations to understand about the true nature of activities prescribed in the Vedic scriptures as well as the real nature of non performance of actions along with the factual nature of prohibited actions which are forbidden. The intricacies of action and inaction are mysterious and hard to fathom and are not commonly known in the world. For example action implies inaction as well as prohibited actions. How this is to be understood is very mysterious and will be explained next.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

Moksa or liberation from the material existence will not be achieved by mere knowing of the do’s and don’ts of action. Only by correct knowledge of the nature of actions can one achieve moksa. Factually this means without knowledge of the resplendent Supreme Lord and how all actions are ultimately performed in relation to Him, it will be impossible to ever be delivered from samsara or the repetitive cycle of birth and death. Realisation of the Supreme Lord Krishna as paramatma or the Supreme Soul within the etheric heart of every living being is the indispensable ingredient for moksa, how can there be success any other way. Karma is performing actions, akarma is the non-performance of actions and vikarma is performing improper actions, which are prohibited. Actions filled with desire and craving are vikarma and prohibited. Why are they prohibited? Because they create bondage for the living entity to material existence. Therefore the wise after reflecting and contemplating the intricacies of action in this light should perform actions accordingly. Such sagacious persons do not become deluded and deviate from this course during adverse situations even though it is deluding and bewildering for others.

Now begins the summation.

Actions also have originated from Lord Krishna so for this reason as well, one desirous of their best welfare should by all means become knowledgeable of Him. Since everything has ultimately emanated from the Will of the Supreme Lord, including even the energy behind every action it is superfluous not to accept Him completely but at least every being should understand His supreme position. Only by knowledge of Him can one tread the path that leads to moksa or liberation from the material existence.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

The actual nature of karma or prescribed Vedic actions performed for attaining moksa or liberation from material existence should be understood. Actions which are nitya or regular and actions which are naimittika or occasional if done with any sense of enjoyment in mind or if they are done with the desire for material rewards should both be known to be vikarma or improper actions. The absence of action known as akarma which sometimes can be considered action as well should also be comprehended. Therefore the path of karma is not easily discernible for one seeking moksa. The reason why regular and occasional activities should be clearly assimilated for an aspirant for moksa is because the rewards for each are varied but one should look at them all with equipoise and realising that they all have one uniform purpose and that is the fulfilment of the goal which is the attainment of moksa. Without proper teaching and understanding of the Vedic scriptures one will not perceive this critical conclusion but this is the Vedic conception as revealed by Lord Krishna already and thus it is not necessary to expatiate upon the subject further here.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Action is generally understood to be the activity of the body and senses while inaction is the opposite of this. How is it that those with discrimination and intelligence are bewildered by this? The true nature of action must be known as well as the real nature of inaction which includes the non-performance of prohibited actions. For the intricacies of action, sinful action and prohibited actions are mysterious and not generally known. The use in the genitive sense of the word karmano meaning actions infers the mysterious characteristics of the true nature of action, inaction and prohibited actions.

Sloka 4.18 audio recital in Sanskrit     

कर्मण्यकर्म यः पश्येदकर्मणि च कर्म यः |
स बुद्धिमान्मनुष्येषु स युक्तः कृत्स्नकर्मकृत् ||४- १८||

karmaNyakarma yaH pashyedakarmaNi cha karma yaH |
sa buddhimAnmanuShyeShu sa yuktaH kR^itsnakarmakR^it.h || 4-18 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.18

Anvaya: karmani–in action; akarma–inaction; yah–one who; pasyet–observes; akarmani–in inaction; ca–also; karma–fruitive action; yah–one who; sah–he; buddhi-man–is intelligent; manusyesu–in human society; sah–he; yuktah–in the transcendental position; krtsna-karma-krt–although engaged in all activities.

Translation: One who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, is intelligent among men, and he is in the transcendental position, although engaged in all sorts of activities.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Showing the mysterious intricacies of action and inaction is being delineated by Lord Krishna. One who sees inactions in actions such as yagna or the worship of the Supreme Lord and who sees that such worship is actually non-action as it leads to knowledge and having no reactions does not bind one to material existence. This person understands. Similarly one who sees action in inaction such as the non-performance of prescribed activities such as Ekadasi vrata or completely abstaining from all grains on the 11th day of the waxing moon and waning moon when not performed results in sinful reactions and binds one to material existence and who sees that such abstention is actually action within inaction is properly situated. Lord Krishna actually praises such a person as being of superior intelligence by dint of their comprehension and subsequent application of this esoteric subject matter. The word yuktah means yogi or one dedicated to the science of the individual consciousness in communion with the ultimate consciousness. This verse verifies previous verse II.XXXXVI with actions offered to the Lord, verse III.IV by not performing actions and verse III.XVII the redundance of action once moksa or liberation is achieved.

In action even when the body and senses are active one who realises the atma or soul is distinct from the physical body sees these actions as inaction. Contrarily one who is void of knowledge sees action as inaction due to avoiding actions because they are troublesome and difficult, for this person the non-performance of action is hypocritical as revealed in verse III.VI and is an obstruction to knowledge.

The performer of actions situated in knowledge of the atma observes the performance of Vedic activities naturally in action and inaction as they come of their own accord. So thus being guided by the atma within there is no scope or possibility for such a person to perform a prohibited act or to not perform prescribed acts as they come of their own accord. Thus it should be noted that the nature of prohibited actions is included as well.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

In this verse Lord Krishna delineates the intricate and subtle forms of actions. When a person performing karma or prescribed Vedic activities resolves with certitude that the action performed is solely for the Supreme Lord and not for the one performing the action whose consciousness is merely a minute reflection of the ultimate consciousness then does realisation begin to dawn within and all actions performed by such a one are factually inaction. Then one realises that all actions performed are actually performed by the Supreme Being Himself in the same consciousness as when the Supreme Reality even creates the universes. This person is spiritually intelligent and situated in true wisdom, for such a person is verily in communion with the Supreme Consciousness and even when this person is not performing any actions, such a person should be understood to be performing all actions and the knower of all actions.

Now begins the summation.

Karma or actions are the nature of all living beings. This is because they are not the actual performer of any action and are dependent. Akarma or inaction is the nature of the Supreme Lord because of His being independent and the factual performer of all actions. The living beings accept karma and reactions to actions when egoism is present in the belief that one is the doer or thinks that the actions were performed by them. In the Narada Purana it states that since the Supreme Lord Krishna is never bound by cause and effect all His actions are to be understood as inaction. In the Pancharatra it is noted that the word krtsna has the attribute of not being perceptible in regards to activities. This denotes that all actions are under the control of the Supreme Lord. Since all material actions are visible to the living beings, what is not visible is the karma or reactions that come with the actions that the living beings are forced to accept due to having desires for the rewards of their actions and this perpetual desire to enjoy causes tem to perform actions which keeps them attached.

Ramanuja’s Commentary :

Action is karma and inaction is akarma. Actions concerning the atma or soul which is the essential subject to be known in human existence is also considered akarma. How this is to be understood Lord Krishna is explaining here. There are two categories to be considered. 1) The person who performs actions while continuously contemplating the atma 2) The person who immersed within the atma perceives the atma performs all actions One who by contemplating the true nature of the atma while performing all activities is in the first category. One who conceives the nature of all activities as actually the doings of the atma is in the second category. By actually performing prescribed Vedic activities with one’s body and at the same time meditating upon it within one’s mind, the objective as well the subjective realisations are achieved and the true nature of the atma is perceived. Whoever sees that karma is within akarma in regards to atma tattva or knowledge o the soul. Such a person is considered to be situated in wisdom and conversant with the ultimate purport of the Vedic scriptures. Such a spiritually intelligent person has realised the essence of all Vedic teachings and has qualified themselves for moksa or liberation from material existence.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Out of compassion Lord Krishna states the truth of action, inaction and prohibited actions. One who sees inaction in action meaning actions bringing no reaction and are not binding to samsara or the cycle of birth and death such as yagna or the worship of the Supreme Lord which leads to knowledge, purity of mind and liberation know it is not binding to samsara. Previously in verse II.XXXX Lord Krishna stated that in prescribed Vedic actions there is no loss or fear of negative results. Contrarily sinful reactions and bondage will be incurred by inaction to the injunction one is qualified to perform such as non-performance of Ekadasi vrata or the complete abstention from all grains on the 11th day of the waxing and waning moons. Lord Krishna spoke of this mentality of hypocrisy in verse III.VI of one who contemplates sense objects while appearing inactive. The use of the particle ca meaning and, denotes that those who are followers of karma yoga or the performance of prescribed Vedic activities wilfully partakes of prohibited food such as grains on Ekadasi then they will be subject to sinful reactions. But if suc a one planning to observe Ekadasi vrata and accidentally partakes of food grains on Ekadasi due to miscalculating the time of commencing or breaking the fast then there is no sinful reactions because the sankalpa or internal invocation was to perform the Ekadasi vrata. Then Lord Krishna praises the one who knows the truth about the intricacies of action and inaction as those of superior intelligence and is firmly on the spiritual path obtaining all fruits because the performer of Vedic actions receives the fruits of the actions included by inaction as well.

Sloka 4.19 audio recital in Sanskrit     

यस्य सर्वे समारम्भाः कामसङ्कल्पवर्जिताः |
ज्ञानाग्निदग्धकर्माणं तमाहुः पण्डितं बुधाः ||४- १९||

yasya sarve samArambhAH kAmasaN^kalpavarjitAH |
GYAnAgnidagdhakarmANa.n tamAhuH paNDitaM budhAH || 4-19 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.19

Anvaya: yasya–one whose; sarve–all sorts of; samarambhah–in all attempts; kama–desire for sense gratification; sankalpa–determination; varjitah–are devoid of; jnana–of perfect knowledge; agni–fire; dagdha–being burnt by; karmanam–the performer; tam–him; ahuh–declare; panditam–learned; budhah–of those who know.

Translation: One is understood to be in full knowledge whose every act is devoid of desire for sense gratification. He is said by sages to be a worker whose fruitive action is burned up by the fire of perfect knowledge.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

The twofold dialectic based on scriptural evidence and inference respectively is one who sees inaction in action and is referred to by Lord Krishna in the previous verse. Those actions that are free from desire are known as samarambha or properly consummated. Actions are desired because of hankering for rewards and these actions are not properly consummated. One who is free from desire and hankering is considered to be intelligent and wise. This is because all actions of such a person turn into inaction by the fire of knowledge that is kindled within the purified mind that is free from all desires and hankerings. Another interpretation of this verse is that for one who is already properly situated in jnana yoga or the cultivation of knowledge and is free from desires to enjoy and hankerings for rewards; whatever action they perform is done as a matter of duty and to inspire others.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

In this verse and the next five verses Lord Krishna describes the nature of karma or prescribed Vedic activities. The knowledge that one is completely dependent upon the Supreme Lord and that the Supreme Lord alone is the actual performer of all actions guarantees that all reactions to actions are neutralised by the fire of wisdom.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

The person performing karma or actions accrues reactions by attachment to desires and hankering for rewards. This is delusion as desires are imagined and fantasised before enactment. Thus it is merely a false idea or wrong notion of the mind. The fantasising alluded to here consists of the mentality which erroneously identifies the atma or soul with prakriti or material nature along with the three gunas being the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance and mistakenly conceives of them as all being one principle. But to that person seeking moksa or liberation all acts regular and occasional performed by them and necessitated by bodily maintenance are not subject to reactions being devoid of desire. Further exemption is guaranteed as the aspirant for moksa is not living in a world of imagination or fantasy because such a person performs every action while being cognisant of the eternal atma. Whoever performs karma in this manner while meditating on the atma is one of spiritual intelligence situated in atma tattva or soul realisation and all reactions to a myriad of past actions have been eradicated by the fire of knowledge. Thus Lord Krishna is praising the person who performs prescribed Vedic activities in atma tattva as being highly laudable. This is in sharp contrast to the karmi or one who performs actions for fruitive rewards being forced to accept reactions.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna propounds the manner in which the spiritually intelligent seeking moksa or liberation act in regards to action and inaction. That person whose every action is free from desire and hankering for rewards be it obligatory or not obligatory, daily or occasional even as well on special days such as festivals for the Supreme Lord’s appearance day. Their actions are incapable of sprouting reactions as they are free from even the thoughts of desire due to being purified by the fire of knowledge which manifests as not desiring the rewards of any action and this applies even up to the Supreme Lord.

Sloka 4.20 audio recital in Sanskrit     

त्यक्त्वा कर्मफलासङ्गं नित्यतृप्तो निराश्रयः |
कर्मण्यभिप्रवृत्तोऽपि नैव किञ्चित्करोति सः ||४- २०||

tyaktvA karmaphalAsaN^ga.n nityatR^ipto nirAshrayaH |
karmaNyabhipravR^itto.api naiva ki~nchitkaroti saH || 4-20 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.20

Anvaya: tyaktva–having given up; karma-phala-asangam–attachment for fruitive results; nitya–always; trptah–being satisfied; nirasrayah–without any shelter; karmani–in activity; abhipravrttah–being fully engaged; api–in spite of; na–does not; eva–certainly; kincit–anything; karoti–do; sah–he.

Translation: Abandoning all attachment to the results of his activities, ever satisfied and independent, he performs no fruitive action, although engaged in all kinds of undertakings.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Once one has given up attachment to actions as a means of obtaining rewards as well as giving up the desire for the rewards of actions one becomes tranquil and content without any need for acquisition or accumulation. Such persons although sometimes appearing to be engaged in actions naturally or prescribed, factually do nothing as all their activities are actually inaction. This is Lord Krishna’s meaning here.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

It is not only by the mere renunciation of the intention for fruits of desire but also it is essential to renounce the affection and intense liking for these fruits in whatever form one is remembering them. This is what Lord Krishna is emphasising here. The nature of spiritual intelligence is being always tranquil and ever content. By acting in this way one assumes the qualities of the eternally equipoised and infinitely independent Supreme Lord.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

Whoever has completely given up all desires and attachments to rewards for actions, who is also nitya-trypto or totally content immersed in the atma or soul, whoever is self satisfied never depending on anything from prakriti or material existence. Such a person although seen to be intently performing various prescribed actions, in reality performs inaction meaning no action that has any binding effect. Because although externally such a person might appear as if performing activities but internally that person is actually cultivating spiritual knowledge and meditating on the atma and thus exempt from any binding effect. Lord Krishna gives the spiritual intelligence aspect of actions is next.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Now Lord Krishna speaks about the non-binding effects that the actions of the spiritually intelligent insure. They are without egoism and unattached to the doership of actions. Being completely satisfied by the bliss they experience within their consciousness they maintain their bodily existence by accepting what comes on its own accord. They are no longer affected by the dualities of life such as good and evil.

Sloka 4.21 audio recital in Sanskrit     

निराशीर्यतचित्तात्मा त्यक्तसर्वपरिग्रहः |
शारीरं केवलं कर्म कुर्वन्नाप्नोति किल्बिषम् ||४- २१||

nirAshIryatachittAtmA tyaktasarvaparigrahaH |
shArIraM kevalaM karma kurvannApnoti kilbiSham.h || 4-21 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.21

Anvaya: nirasih–without desire for the result; yata–controlled; citta-atma–mind and intelligence; tyakta–giving up; sarva–all; parigrahah–sense of proprietorship over all possessions; sariram–in keeping body and soul together; kevalam–only; karma–work; kurvan–doing so; na–never; apnoti–does acquire; kilbisam–sinful reactions.

Translation: Such a man of understanding acts with mind and intelligence perfectly controlled, gives up all sense of proprietorship over his possessions and acts only for the bare necessities of life. Thus working, he is not affected by sinful reactions.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna continuing this theme now explains that one who is completely free from desire does not become tainted by the disease of materialism while performing the natural functions that occur automatically to insure bodily maintenance. Another interpretation of this verse for one who is already situated in jnana yoga or the cultivation of knowledge and is free from desires to enjoy and hankering for rewards and has relinquished all possessions as well. Such a person who performs natural activities for a renunciate like biksa or begging alms from householders at meal times to maintain their existence or prescribed activities such as fasting from all grains on Ekadasi which is the 11th day of the waxing and waning moon. Such a person is not implicated by the disease of materialism by what they perform.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna now gives the method of renouncing desires. Restraining one’s mind and body by the conscious of the atma or soul which is referred to here denotes not being dependent. By renunciation of the senses one becomes devoid of pride. One who is convinced that the Supreme Lord performs all actions and that they do not perform any actions is free from all reactions.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

Here Lord Krishna uses the word nirasir means bereft of expectancy or devoid of all desires for rewards. The words yata-cittatma means to control the mind by the power of the atma or soul, keeping the mind tranquil and equiposed, free from agitation. The words tyakta-sarva-parigrahah means abandoning all cravings for sense objects and sense pleasures. As long as one has life one should perform all actions as a matter of duty merely as a function of their body; in this way there are no reactions to actions and no disease is incurred. One will be free of this. The disease is samsara or repetitive bondage of birth and death in the material existence. If karma yoga or prescribed Vedic activities are performed in this way by those seeking moksa or liberation from samsara this in itself is sufficient enough to lead one to atma tattva or realisation of the soul, eliminating the necessity of having to engage in the intermediate step of performing jnana yoga or the cultivation of Vedic knowledge by strictly controlling the senses and the cessation of actions.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

On who has so renounced desire and hankerings and has controlled senses as well, even if they perform some activity to maintain natural bodily management they are exempt from being implicated into pious and sinful reactions. This is Lord Krishna’s meaning.

Sloka 4.22 audio recital in Sanskrit     

यदृच्छालाभसन्तुष्टो द्वन्द्वातीतो विमत्सरः |
समः सिद्धावसिद्धौ च कृत्वापि न निबध्यते ||४- २२||

yadR^ichchhAlAbhasantuShTo dvandvAtIto vimatsaraH |
samaH siddhAvasiddhau cha kR^itvApi na nibadhyate || 4-22 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.22

Anvaya: yadrccha–out of its own accord; labha–gain; santustah–satisfied; dvandva–duality; atitah–surpassed; vimatsarah–free from envy; samah–steady; siddhau–in success; asiddhau–failure; ca–also; krtva–doing; api–although; na–never; nibadhyate–is affected.

Translation: He who is satisfied with gain which comes of its own accord, who is free from duality and does not envy, who is steady both in success and failure, is never entangled, although performing actions.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Completely content with what comes, unsought, by its own accord, patiently enduring all dualities such as success and failure, happiness and disappointment, free from elation and depression, not subject to jealousy and envy. Lord Krishna confirms that such a person is not bound to accept reactions even though performing actions, such actions being those actions exclusively that are prescribed in Vedic scriptures.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

The characteristics of one who has constrained their mind are being given by Lord Krishna, along with the method of transcending all dualities by being equipoised in all situations whether it is success or failure.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

One who is tranquil and content with whatever spontaneously comes to one of its own accord to maintain one’s existence is the being who has gone beyond the dualities of material existence. This means that such a being patiently endures pleasure and pain, acceptance and rejection, sadness and happiness and the rest of the opposites which inevitably all mortals must face until one attains the goal of their endeavours which is atma tattva or soul realisation. The word vimatsarah means free from malice. One who comprehends that only due to one’s previous activities are present activities manifesting, such a one does not hold malice against others and blaming them others for any negative reactions one may experience. The compound words siddhau-asiddhau samah which means one who keeps their mind balanced and equipoised in success or failure while performing their duties. The essence of what Lord Krishna is saying is that if a person has this mentality while performing activities they will not be bound to samsara or the cycle of birth and death in material existence even though they are not fully following the path of jnana yoga or the cultivation of Vedic knowledge.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

This verse gives the keys to being free from reactions which leads to bondage in the material existence. If one performs all activities in this manner they will neutralise reactions to bodily actions but will still remain bound if there is still any affection for previous actions that are presently being renounced. To this Lord Krishna emphasises being content with whatever comes, unsought, by its own accord. Being satisfied in one’s mind with material things coming unexpected without the least desire or motivation for more and no effort to receive them. If one gets or does not get their mind remains equipoise in tranquility and never agitated by dualities such as success and failure, jubilation and sadness, triumph and disaster, elation and despondency, achievement and non-achievement. Such a spiritually enlightened being never performs an action that is devoid of a connection to the Supreme Being of all. Thus such a person situated in Vedic knowledge can never have a selfish motive or perform a selfish action; on the contrary even if such a person is requested to perform yagna or worship to the Supreme Lord on behalf of someone else and that person is blemished or tainted by material desires then even still one will not be affected by any reactions for performing such an activity to the Supreme Lord due to they are in knowledge.

Some explain in this verse that a yogi or one who developing their individual consciousness to be in communion with the ultimate consciousness after renouncing all desires and enjoyments, including even begging to sustain their physical sustenance should maintain themselves by accepting what comes unsought by its own accord and this insures that their actions become inaction and not subject to reactions. In the normal sense such a person appears to be begging to worldly people but in actual fact according to the injunctions of the Vedic scriptures this not the case and the actions of such a yogi are factually inaction. In this manner such a yogi performs activity for the maintenance of their body by only accepting what comes unsought by its own accord even though for society it appears as if one is begging. Also such a yogi incurs no negative results in the form of reactions by behaving so because all reactions leading to bondage are destroyed by the fire of knowledge. But this explanation does not fit in the context of this verse because of the flaw of being repetitive. This point was already established in the previous verse and actions like begging to maintain physical sustenance are factually no different from natural bodily management. So then the speaking of this verse would be superfluous and that is not the case. Also it is clear that if one takes this verse to refer to a yogi then there would be a contradiction in the succeeding two verses as well because in these verses the action of yagna or worship of the Supreme Lord is presented and a yogi is not entitled to perform any sacrificial rituals. Only the Vaisnavas and the Brahmins following the Vedic injunctions have the authority and are empowered to perform Vedic rituals. So it is not possible to properly explain the context of this verse in reference to a yogi because of impropriety and the correct understanding of this verse is in reference to a Vaisnava or Brahmin devotee of the Supreme Lord Krishna who is without desire and attachment and who is situated in atma tattva or soul realisation. This also applies to a Vaisnava or Brahmin devotee of any of Lord Krishna’s authorised incarnations and expansions.

Sloka 4.23 audio recital in Sanskrit     

गतसङ्गस्य मुक्तस्य ज्ञानावस्थितचेतसः |
यज्ञायाचरतः कर्म समग्रं प्रविलीयते ||४- २३||

gatasaN^gasya muktasya GYAnAvasthitachetasaH |
yaGYAyAcharataH karma samagraM pravilIyate || 4-23 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.23

Anvaya: gata-sangasya–unattached to the modes of material nature; muktasya–of the liberated; jnana-avasthita–situated in transcendence; cetasah–of such wisdom; yajnaya–for the sake of Yajna (Krsna); acaratah–so active; karma–work; samagram–in total; praviliyate–merges entirely.

Translation: The work of a man who is unattached to the modes of material nature and who is fully situated in transcendental knowledge merges entirely into transcendence.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

One who is desireless, free from attraction and repulsion, who performs every action as an act of yagnaya or as offering and worship to the Supreme Lord Krishna. For one situated in karma yoga or the performance of prescribed Vedic activities all their actions become inaction and all reactions along with any impressions are dissolved. For one situated in jnana yoga or the cultivation of Vedic knowledge who has already attained atma tattva or realisation of the soul; the word yagnaya denotes worshipping the Supreme Lord to set an exemplary example in society.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

Now Lord Krishna summarises the conclusion of the previous five verses. The compound words gata- sangasya means being freed from desires for rewards. The word muktasya means being free from bodily vanity. The words jnanavasthita.cetasah means one who has communion with the ultimate consciousness residing in the heart.

Now begins the summation.

Being free from all dependence means to take complete refuge in the Supreme Lord and to be totally under His protection. Liberated means to be free from all sense of pride.

Ramanuja’s Commentary :

By one’s mind being entirely engrossed in atma tattva or soul realisation the attachment to worldly things has naturally been withdrawn. So automatically conceptions of ownership proprietorship are abandoned and realising the reality of the Supreme Being and the importance of propitiation to Him one lives their life in such a way that every action they perform is a yagna or worship and offering to the Supreme Lord Krishna. All past accumulated reactions resulting from previous actions which bind one so terribly to the material existence are completely evaporated without any residue. The spiritual intelligence of performing all actions in the perspective of the atma or soul rather than from the perspective of being immersed within the sense gardens of material nature has explained. The next verse reveals the even higher perspective of comprehending that spirit behind all activities and their factors of performance is the Supreme Spirit the Supreme Lord.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

It is being stated by Lord Krishna why a yogi or one whose individual consciousness is in communion with the ultimate consciousness is not bound by actions although engaged in actions. Because such a one is free of passion and likes and dislikes. Devoid of attachment to the rewards of actions due to one’s mind being firmly fixed in the bliss of the atma or soul and who performs all actions completely according to the Vedic injunctions as a yagna or an offering of worship for the propitiation to the Supreme Lord. This is why such a person is never bound. When such a one is not interested in achieving merit or distinction how can they ever get demerits by being tempted to perform any prohibited act. Although the doer is known to hold equal shares of merit or demerit with the one who caused, the inspirer and the on who proposed in positive or negative results. Such a yogi is never implicated because others perform actions solely for desires of rewards while the yogi does not.

Sloka 4.24 audio recital in Sanskrit     

ब्रह्मार्पणं ब्रह्म हविर्ब्रह्माग्नौ ब्रह्मणा हुतम् |
ब्रह्मैव तेन गन्तव्यं ब्रह्मकर्मसमाधिना ||४- २४||

brahmArpaNaM brahma havirbrahmAgnau brahmaNA hutam.h |
brahmaiva tena gantavyaM brahmakarmasamAdhinA || 4-24 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.24

Anvaya: brahma–spiritual in nature; arpanam–contribution; brahma–the Supreme; havih–butter; brahma–spiritual; agnau–in the fire of consummation; brahmana–by the spirit soul; hutam–offered; brahma–spiritual kingdom; eva–certainly; tena–by him; gantavyam–to be reached; brahma–spiritual; karma–activities; samadhina–by complete absorption.

Translation: A person who is fully absorbed in Krsna 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.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

The actions performed by a person as offerings and worship to the Supreme Lord Krishna are considered inaction as they lead to spiritual intelligence and are not bonded in any way to reactions. For one who has achieved atma tattva or soul realisation all actions are neutralised by knowing that one is not the doer and hence for them even various natural actions are considered inaction. The transformation of action to inaction due to absence of egoism was previously explained in verse 18. Now Lord Krishna is stating that the transformation of action to inaction is always present in the person who performs all their actions in relation to the Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence. One whose mind is absorbed in performing all actions as offerings to the Brahman exclusively, attains the Brahman without a doubt.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

The essential meaning Lord Krishna is conveying here is the establishing of a higher consciousness that sees all activities as offerings to the Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence. Everything is spoken as the Brahman because everything is emanated from the Brahman and everything is contained within the Brahman. It should not be assumed that the unlimited myriad of individual beings are in the likeness of the Brahman because that would be erroneous. The Brahman is the whole and all others are infinitesimal parts of the whole and subservient to it because all comes into existence from the Brahman. In the Padma Purana the sages speak that: The Supreme Lord is verily is the essence and the total of the Vedas. Everything is verily the vision of the Supreme Lord’s consciousness and the Brahman is the manifestation of this consciousness. With the equanimity of one’s intellect Brahman is realised to be the performer of all actions.

Now begins the summation.

How can pride be relinquished? By offering pride to the Brahman along with other unwanted hindrances. The paraphernalia offered to the Brahman is called Brahmarpanamas and they include the fire itself, the ghee or clarified butter and foodgrains offered to the sacred fire as well as the performer of the yagna or worship who propitiates the Supreme Lord by offering oblations. So the Brahman is also the performing presribed Vedic actions with equanimity in higher consciousness. But even with this equanimity all are eternally subservient to the Supreme Lord. The Mahabharata confirms that only the respendent Supreme Lord Krishna is independent everything else is dependent upon Him.

Ramanuja’s Commentary :

Here the word brahmarpanam means the paraphernalia used to offer oblations in yagna or offering of worship to propitiate the Supreme Lord. All the accessories used in yagna are also considered to be Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence, along with the offerings of ghee and grain seeds, the fire they are offered through as well as the performer of the offering. Lord Krishna is explaining that everything used in yagna can be considered as part of the Brahman. One who realises that the Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence is actually abiding in all actions reaches the Brahman which is becoming cognisant of the spiritual substratum of reality underlying and pervading all existence. This is the consciousness of the actions from an aspirant for moksa or liberation where the atma or soul is understood to be non-different from the Brahman. Consequently actions performed in this consciousness are all known to be spiritual and thus realised is in itself a means for achieving atma tattva or soul realisation thus precluding any further need to practice jnana yoga or cultivation of Vedic knowledge.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna explains that all the actions of such a yogi or one whose individual consciousness is in communion with the ultimate consciousness are dissolved but how is this possible? It is because such a yogi is established in the knowledge of the atma or soul with full cognisance of every action being a yagna or offering to the Brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence. As everything in existence is factually within the Brahman it can be understood that everything is actually a form of the Brahman. The Brahman or spiritual substratum of reality is surely the destination to be achieved by those who are experiencing it, as verily it is eternal and permanent. This is in contrast to one being absorbed in obtaining the enjoyments of heaven which are temporary and transitory. Concentration in the Brahman is considered as yagna or propitiation to the ultimate reality.

Sloka 4.25 audio recital in Sanskrit     

दैवमेवापरे यज्ञं योगिनः पर्युपासते |
ब्रह्माग्नावपरे यज्ञं यज्ञेनैवोपजुह्वति ||४- २५||

daivamevApare yaGYa.n yoginaH paryupAsate |
brahmAgnAvapare yaGYaM yaGYenaivopajuhvati || 4-25 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.25

Anvaya: daivam–in worshiping the demigods; eva–like this; apare–some; yajnam–sacrifices; yoginah–the mystics; paryupasate–worship perfectly; brahma–the Absolute Truth; agnau–in the fire of; apare–others; yajnam–sacrifice; yajnena–by sacrifice; eva–thus; upajuhvati–worship.

Translation: Some yogis perfectly worship the demigods by offering different sacrifices to them, and some of them offer sacrifices in the fire of the Supreme Brahman.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

The ability to see the Brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence everywhere is factually a potent form of yagna or offerings of worship as propitiation to the Supreme Lord Krishns. This type of yagna is superior to all other yagnas. In order to show its superiority; the various sacrifices which are methods to attain this knowledge are given in descending order of importance in the next eight verses. Those yagnas in which demi-gods like Indra and Varuna are worshipped are called Daiva- Yagnas. The word eva meaning only shows that Indra and the demi-gods are not viewed as being Brahman. The karma yogis or those performing actions for specific rewards worship the demigods fastidiously. The jnana yogis or those cultivating Vedic knowledge offer the sacrifice back to the Brahman by means of that very sacrifice and dissolve all actions into the Brahman by the sacrifice of spiritual intelligence.


There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna begins with the word daivam meaning the demi-gods. Karma yogis or those following the path of prescribed Vedic activities being on a lower platform devotedly worship the demigods such as Indra for rainfall and Surya for sunlight and derive the desired results sought. While the jnana yogis those following the path of cultivating knowledge offer all their oblations such as ghee or clarified butter and food grains exclusively into the fire as offerings to the Brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence and this is their yagna or worship to the Supreme.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

In this way Lord Krishna is presenting the results one receives while being continuously immersed in the Brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence while performing every action as yagna or offering and propitiation to the Supreme Lord. To show the superiority of this yagna over all others Lord Krishna presents various types of yagnas in by different yogis or those striving to have their individual consciousness in communion with the ultimate consciousness, in the next eight verses. Here worship of the demigods such as Indra and Surya for the desire of material results is done by yogis of little knowledge. Others offer oblations of ghee or clarified butter and grains into the fire as offerings to the Brahman but they see only the fire as a form of the Brahman and not the performer, the offerings and utensils connected with the yagna. This shows that these yogis are on a lower platform than those yogis referred to in the previous verse who see everything connected to the act of yagna as part of the Brahman.

Sloka 4.26 audio recital in Sanskrit     

श्रोत्रादीनीन्द्रियाण्यन्ये संयमाग्निषु जुह्वति |
शब्दादीन्विषयानन्य इन्द्रियाग्निषु जुह्वति ||४- २६||

shrotrAdInIndriyANyanye sa.nyamAgniShu juhvati |
shabdAdInviShayAnanya indriyAgniShu juhvati || 4-26 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.26

Anvaya: srotra-adini–hearing process; indriyani–senses; anye–others; samyama–of restraint; agnisu–in the fire; juhvati–offers; sabda-adin–sound vibration, etc.; visayan–objects of sense gratification; anye–others; indriya–of sense organs; agnisu–in the fire; juhvati–sacrifice.

Translation: Some of them sacrifice the hearing process and the senses in the fire of the controlled mind, and others sacrifice the objects of the senses, such as sound, in the fire of sacrifice.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna continues stating that others like the Brahmacari’s or those practising celibacy offer each particular sense as a sacrifice in the fire of self-discipline and restraining the senses lead a life of self control. The householders offer the sense objects themselves into the senses and while enjoying sense objects remain unattached. They offer the sense objects as oblations into their senses which they envision to be the fire.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna speaks of the different grades and types of yagnas or offerings and worship and the goals desired. Although the word daivam may refer to the demigods; it can also refer exclusively to the resplendent Supreme Lord who verily is the ultimate goal of all yagnas by those exclusively devoted to Him. Thus the propitiation of the Supreme Lord is the distinctive superior attribute of performance of action. For the spiritually intelligent situated in atma tattva there exists nothing else. Every action even every breath is a yagna dedicated to the Supreme Lord. Yagna is verily the Supreme Lord so by this yagna is performed within yagna. In this way it can be understood that everything offered in yagna is of the Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence.

Now begins the summation.

One who perceives the Brahman pervading everywhere there exists nothing else for them except the personal communion with the resplendent Supreme Lord, who to reciprocate with His devotee becomes the very yagna which is being performed. In the fire of the yagna, in the offerings of havih or ghee and grainseeds, in the paraphernalia being used to perform the yagna. In the form of yagna the goal of yagna being the Supreme Lord is verily being offered to Himself. Thus everything becomes the Brahman. Through His propitiation performed according to Vedic injunctions all the sense organs like eyes and tongue are brought under control and all the sense become neutralised and passive. In the Brihadaranya Upanisad I.IV.X it is stated that the Brahman alone was in the beginning and it knew itself as the Brahman and then the Brahman manifested into the all. Whosoever amongst the demigods becomes awakened to this consciousness indeed becomes similar to this consciousness. It is the same for elevated beings and the same for sages and yogis and it is the same for humans.

Ramanuja’s Commentary :

Those practising celibacy offer all their senses such as hearing and seeing into the fire of their controlled mind and this is their yagna or worship to the Supreme Lord Krishna. The yagna that the grihastas or married householders perform is to symbolically offer the sense objects they enjoy into the fire of the senses that enjoy them in an attempt to appease their appetites for gratifying themselves in enjoyment.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna speaks of superior to those by the word apare meaning others. These yogis indulge in the spiritual practice of renunciation and are desirous of attaining knowledge of the Brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence. They keep all their senses away from sense objects and offer the senses into the fire of self-discipline. Others like the grihastas or those family orientated indulging in worldly achievements and desirous of dynasty and progeny offer sense objects into the fire of the senses during enjoyment of them of the sense objects. The senses are considered by them to be the fire and such persons indulge themselves in sense gratification as a symbol of performing yagna or worship.

Sloka 4.27 audio recital in Sanskrit     

सर्वाणीन्द्रियकर्माणि प्राणकर्माणि चापरे |
आत्मसंयमयोगाग्नौ जुह्वति ज्ञानदीपिते ||४- २७||

sarvANIndriyakarmANi prANakarmANi chApare |
Atmasa.nyamayogAgnau juhvati GYAnadIpite || 4-27 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.27

Anvaya: sarvani–all; indriya–senses; karmani–functions; prana-karmani–functions of the life breath; ca–also; apare–others; atma-samyama–controlling the mind; yoga–linking process; agnau–in the fire of; juhvati–offers; jnana-dipite–because of the urge for self-realization.

Translation: Those who are interested in self-realization, in terms of mind and sense control, offer the functions of all the senses, as well as the vital force [breath], as oblations into the fire of the controlled mind.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Others refers to those in jnana yoga or cultivation of Vedic knowledge who meditate in self-purification by offering all their senses like hearing and seeing along with all their organs like the ears and eyes and offer as well the assimilation of all food and drink along with the ten vital airs and even offering the inhaling breath into the exhaling breath. Krikara is known as producing hunger, naga is to be known as eructation, kurma as opening the eyelids, devadatta is the function of yawning and dhananjaya permeates the entire physical body remining even after death. How is it that even these functions are dissolved? They are evaporated by the fire of self-control and yoga or the science of the individual consciousness communing with the ultimate consciousness. Meditation by focusing the mind on the atma or soul is yoga. This yoga is the fire that which is kindled and lit by the knowledge of the Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence. Lord Krishna purport is that by knowledge of the goal of meditation and concentrating the mind on the atma to realise it, all the functions of the body naturally induced to cease.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

The compound words atma-samyama-yogagnau means with the intelligence controlled by the soul by the fire of yoga or the individual consciousness in communion with the ultimate consciousness. This infers that due to spiritual wisdom and knowledge an intensity of self-restraint and determination is activated. It must be emphasised here that mere mechanical control of the senses will not bring the desired result. When the mind has achieved full knowledge and wisdom it perceives that it is no longer needs to control the senses because by discrimination the senses are naturally restrained and one becomes qualified to gain communion with the ultimate consciousness.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

Others offer all the functions of the senses and all the functions of the prana or life breath along with the vital energy of the body in the fire of the purified soul ignited by knowledge. By this Lord Krishna means that such persons direct their efforts in disciplining the mind to refrain from its pursuit of sensual activities.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna speaks of more qualified yogis or one who practices the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness. These yogis are free from attachment to external sense objects because their senses are already under complete control. In this way they offer all their senses such as seeing and hearing and all the natural functions of the body such as speaking, eating, drinking and even breathing as they offer the inhalation into the exhalation and vice versa. Eructation of the body such as the belching sound heard from eating and drinking is to keep the body balanced by letting out air. All these things these yogis offer in the fire of self-purification because by doing so all negative effects are consumed. This allows the mind to be controlled and not diverted to extraneous things making it qualified for meditation kindled by wisdom giving firm resolve and fixed determination to achieve the goal of atma tattva or soul realisation.

Sloka 4.28 audio recital in Sanskrit     

द्रव्ययज्ञास्तपोयज्ञा योगयज्ञास्तथापरे |
स्वाध्यायज्ञानयज्ञाश्च यतयः संशितव्रताः ||४- २८||

dravyayaGYAstapoyaGYA yogayaGYAstathApare |
svAdhyAyaGYAnayaGYAshcha yatayaH sa.nshitavratAH || 4-28 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.28

Anvaya: dravya-yajnah–sacrificing one’s possessions; tapah-yajnah–sacrifice in austerities; yoga-yajnah–sacrifice in eightfold mysticism; tatha–thus; apare–others; svadhyaya–sacrifice in the study of the Vedas; jnana-yajnah–sacrifice in advancement of transcendental knowledge; ca–also; yatayah–enlightened; samsita–taken to strict; vratah–vows.

Translation: There are others who, enlightened by sacrificing their material possessions in severe austerities, take strict vows and practice the yoga of eightfold mysticism, and others study the Vedas for the advancement of transcendental knowledge.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

There are others who unable to perform austerities themselves give charity and feed all the guests at the festivals of the Supreme Lord and also give donations to the twice born Vaisnavas and Brahmins to perform yagnas or offerings of worship to propitiate the Supreme Lord. These practitioners are known as arthayagnas. Yoga is the science of the individual consciousness in communion with the ultimate consciousness. In this state the modifications of the mind are totally controlled. Those who practice this are called yogayagnas. Others practice intense study of the Vedic scriptures by analysing the purport and contemplating its meaning. Then there are those who persevere of unbreakable vows who are never deterred.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

Those who donate artha or wealth for Vedic festivals and rituals also perform yagnas or offerings of worship. Those who perform tapasya or austerities as penance such as fasting for the propitiation of the Supreme Lord also are considered to be offering oblations in yagna. When such austere penance’s are offered as propitiation to the Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence, the penance itself becomes the sacrificial fire. Such an offering is spiritualised by the Brahman and is an offering in wisdom. Offering in wisdom is to attain the realisation that all knowledge and all propensities is ultimately for the realisation of the atma or soul which gives direct communion to the Supreme Lord Krishna. There is a more profound meaning to the word dravya which normally means donations and that is in reference to the nine dravya’s that compose the physical body being earth, fire, water, air, ether, the senses, the mind, the intellect and the soul. Offering one’s everything is also considered offering all one’s possessions and superior to mere wealth. The great sage Yagnavalkya has echoed this by his statement in the Brihadaranya Upanisad II.II.V that there is no hope for moksa or liberation through wealth.

Ramanuja’s Commentary :

There are some perform especially wealthy and opulent yagnas or offerings and worship known as artha yagnas. By this method they earn money honesty and donate it for temple worship and for articles of worship. Others feed the poor or bear the expenses of feeding everyone at festivals of the Supreme Lord and His incarnations. Others have Brahmins perform Yagas and Homas or special ceremonies for birth and weddings and death . All these are known as artha yagnas. Others betake themselves to tapasaya yagnas or expiatory penances and strict austerities such as fasting. Still others resort to yoga yagnas or the communion of the individual consciousness with the ultimate consciousness following the prescribed Vedic injunctions. The communion referred to here is the individual communing by pilgrimage to holy places such as Kurukshetra, to holy rivers like the Ganges, to holy tirthas like Jagannatha Puri, to holy birthplaces like Lord Krishna’s in Mathura. This is what is meant by yoga yagnas. Others exclusively perform svadhyaya yagna or the study of the Vedic scriptures. Others practice jnana yoga or the cultivation of Vedic knowledge and contemplate and reflect on the purport of the Vedic scriptures to better understand them. The word yatayah means diligent and refers to yatis or renunciates who assiduously persevere to accomplish all that they vow to spiritually undertake. The compound word samsita-vratah means they who have firm resolve and fixed determination and refers to the yatis.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Here Lord Krishna reveals others who earn money honestly and donate funds to qualified Vaisnavas and Brahmins to perform yagna or offering of worship to propitiate the Supreme Lord. They also offer foodstuffs to feed all the guests at the Supreme Lord’s festivals. They bear the expense of building temples to the Supreme Lord Krishna or His authorised incarnations as well. This is known as arthayagna. Some perform austerities such as special fasting during the time which corresponds from amavasya or the new moon to purnima or the full moon and back again to amavasya. Others perform yagna by practicing the eight-fold yoga system such as yama or forbearance, niyama or restraint, asanas or postures, pranayama or breathing exercises, pratyahara or withdrawal, dharana or focused attention and samadhi or complete absorption in meditation. Others strive by observing austere vows, others perform yagna by intense study of the Vedic scriptures.

Sloka 4.29 audio recital in Sanskrit     

अपाने जुह्वति प्राणं प्राणेऽपानं तथापरे |
प्राणापानगती रुद्ध्वा प्राणायामपरायणाः ||४- २९||

apAne juhvati prANaM prANe.apAnaM tathApare |
prANApAnagatI rud.hdhvA prANAyAmaparAyaNAH || 4-29 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.29

Anvaya: apane–air which acts downward; juhvati–offers; pranam–air which acts outward; prane–in the air going outward; apanam–air going downward; tatha–as also; apare–others; prana–air going outward; apana–air going downward; gati–movement; ruddhva–checking; prana-ayama–trance induced by stopping all breathing; parayanah–so inclined; apare–others; niyata–controlled; aharah–eating; pranan–outgoing air; pranesu–in the outgoing air; juhvati–sacrifices.

Translation: And there are even others who are inclined to the process of breath restraint to remain in trance, and they practice stopping the movement of the outgoing breath into the incoming, and incoming breath into the outgoing, and thus at last remain in trance, stopping all breathing. Some of them, curtailing the eating process, offer the outgoing breath into itself, as a sacrifice.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna is explaining here that some offer the prana or outgoing breath as a yagna or offering of worship to the apana or incoming breath and the apana as a yagna to the prana continuous practice of this leads to both the prana and apana become an offering to kumbhaka which is the complete cessation of both breaths. When the breath is suspended all the vital forces merge into one and are controlled and the yagna is the merging of the senses into one. Others practice decreasing their food intake until it becomes minimal using it to offer as a yagna the senses which become greatly weakened due to lack of food. They follow the Vedic injunctions that the stomach should be half filled with food, a quarter filled with water and a quarter filled with air. Others meditate on the mystic sound of Hamsah meaning that I am and I am that in reference to the Supreme, for every breath inhaled meditating on ham as that I am and as every breathe exhaled meditating on sah as I am that. It is a known fact that to the extent that the mind becomes steady through continuous practice to that extent so does the breath, speech, body and the gaze become steady.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

Continuing Lord Krishna explains that others who are devoted to pranayama or regulation of the breath offer the prana or outgoing breath to the apana or incoming breath and the incoming breath to the outgoing breath. In this way they arrive at the stage of kumbhaka or complete restraint of the breath and this is considered to be yagna or offerings of worship.

Ramanuja’s Commentary :

Lord Krishna states that other yogis or those practising the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness; they devote themselves to pranayama or breath control consisting of three parts called rechaka or exhalation for 16 beats, puraka or inhaling for 32 beats and kumbhaka or cessation of breath for 64 beats. For every breath the prana or outgoing breath is offerred as yagna or worship into the apana or incoming breath and the apana is offered into the prana. These yogis require light diets and follow strict regimens of practice.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna now speaks of pranayama or breath control. Others offer the prana or exhalation into apana or inhaling breath and then again the apana into the prana. This is also considered as yagna or offerings of worship. How do they do this? It is done by the process of kumbhaka or the cessation of the breath between inhalation and exhalation. In this way they offer their every breath in yagna. In the next verse Lord Krishna tells about the rewards for those who perform such yagnas as mentioned above. Performing means they know the specific purpose for why and what they are performing such yagnas as well as how to perform it properly according to the Vedic saciptures and by doing so in this manner they have absolved their sins.

Sloka 4.30 audio recital in Sanskrit     

अपरे नियताहाराः प्राणान्प्राणेषु जुह्वति |
सर्वेऽप्येते यज्ञविदो यज्ञक्षपितकल्मषाः ||४- ३०||

apare niyatAhArAH prANAnprANeShu juhvati |
sarve.apyete yaGYavido yaGYakShapitakalmaShAH || 4-30 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.30

Anvaya: sarve–all; api–although apparently different; ete–all these; yajna-vidah–conversant with the purpose of performing; yajna–sacrifices; ksapita–being cleansed as the result of such performances; kalmasah–sinful reactions; yajna-sista–as a result of such performances of yajna; amrta-bhujah–those who have tasted such nectar; yanti–do approach; brahma–the supreme; sanatanam–eternal atmosphere.

Translation: All these performers who know the meaning of sacrifice become cleansed of sinful reaction, and, having tasted the nectar of the remnants of such sacrifice, they go to the supreme eternal atmosphere.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Now Lord Krishna is confirming the result accruing to the 12 previously mentioned yagnas or offering of worship to propitiate the Supreme Lord who have accomplished this and that they have purified themselves having absolved all their sins by yagna.


There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

Commencing with artha-yagnas or offering of donations for worship and propitiation of the Supreme Lord up to the yagna of pranayama or breath control, different varieties of karma yoga or prescribed Vedic activities are given that are engaged in by persons according to qualification. Clearly comprehending the purport of chapter 3, verse 10 that all beings are blessed and benefited by yagna; these practitioners have dedicated their lives to the performance of yagna and yet they do not neglect the regular daily duties as well as the occasional duties as prescribed in the Vedic injunctions. Thus they have acted for their ultimate welfare and destroyed all of their sinful reactions from past actions. Maintaining their existence by partaking exclusively only of the sanctified food offered in yagna these practitioners of karma yoga eventually realise the atma or soul within their etheric heart and perceive the eternal Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence which leads to the Supreme Lord.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Yogis or those following the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness enjoy the ambrosial nectar of the remnants left over in the time period after the yagna or offerings of worship are completed. The compound word sista-amrta refers to the remains of nectar after yagna. Through purity of mind followed by acquisition of knowledge one realises the eternal Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence. This is the explanation given by those that do not follow Vaisnavism or the knowledge that the Supreme Lord Krishna and His authorised incarnations are the ultimate goal of the Vedic scriptures. According to the Vedic doctrine of Vaisnavism when the yogis perform the previously mentioned yagnas without desire all their sins are absolved first and then they enjoy the remnants of offerings to the Supreme Lord because yagna itself is verily the Supreme Lord as well. They eat the transcendental food which is known as amrta or nectar because it has been spiritualised by the performance of yagna to the Supreme Lord and realise the Brahman. The Supreme Lord Krishna’s expansion Narayana revealed in the Skanda Purana that those devoted to Him should only partake of food that was already offered to Him. Such food has the power to purify one of all sins and leads to moksa or liberation form the material existence. One who partakes every meal, each day of the food offered to the Supreme Lord as duly offered by the Vaisnavas and Brahmins according to the Vedic scriptures receives inexhaustible merit. Each morsel of such sanctified food is worth 100 such vows as that practised from the new moon to the full moon given previous in verse 28. The Skanda Purana also gives the harsh demerits of one who does not eat sanctified food that was first offered to the Supreme Lord. The Skanda Purana reveals that there are two types of food suitable for eating. One is food that was duly offered to the Supreme Lord and the second is the remnants of the food partaken after the devotees of the Supreme Lord have eaten from His offerings. The third type of food is the food that was not offered to the Supreme Lord before partaking and that should never be eaten by one desiring there own best welfare. One who eats and drinks food and beverages that were not first offered to the Supreme Lord verily the food is equal to excreta and the drink is equal to urine. Therefore the conclusion is for one to ponder and that is: How can there ever be nectar and the realisation of the Brahman and the attainment of moksa for those who eat food not first offered to the Supreme Lord Krishna.

Sloka 4.31 audio recital in Sanskrit     

यज्ञशिष्टामृतभुजो यान्ति ब्रह्म सनातनम् |
नायं लोकोऽस्त्ययज्ञस्य कुतोऽन्यः कुरुसत्तम ||४- ३१||

yaGYashiShTAmR^itabhujo yAnti brahma sanAtanam.h |
nAyaM loko.astyayaGYasya kuto.anyaH kurusattama || 4-31 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.31

Anvaya: na–never; ayam–this; lokah–planet; asti–there is; ayajnasya–of the foolish; kutah–where is; anyah–the other; kuru-sat-tama–O best amongst the Kurus.

Translation: O best of the Kuru dynasty, without sacrifice one can never live happily on this planet or in this life: what then of the next?

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Having performed yagna or offerings of worship that are not prohibited by the Vedic scriptures and after duly propitiating the Supreme Lord. Those who partake of the sanctified food remnants that is leftover which is ambrosial nectar they become spiritualised and attain by wisdom realisation of the eternal Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence. But for those who ignore or neglect to perform yagna their defect is being pointed out that in this material world which is full of the three fold miseries of old age disease and death there will be no chance of happiness for them. So there is no need for such offenders to even think for enjoyment in the heavenly spheres. Lord Krishna is indirectly stating that for one’s ultimate well being one must perform yagna as a way of life without reservation.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

By diminishing the intake of food the influence of the senses are greatly reduced due to weakness of body. The speech is also so diminished as well. Knowing that the senses and tongue which governs both eating and speaking are all subservient to the mind as revealed in the Vedic scriptures, one of controlled mind should only eat what has been ordained and sanctified in yagna or offerings of worship to the Supreme Lord according to the injunctions of the Vedic scriptures otherwise there is no hope for redemption in this world or the next.

Now begins the summation.

Due to yagna and propitiation to the Supreme Lord are the restraint of the senses achieved. By considering that such efforts are the sole purpose of existence one should wholeheartedly engage in yagna without reservation. One should consider one’s life as the oblation offered to the Supreme Lord in full surrender following the injunctions recommended in the Vedic scriptures. In the Brahma Vaivartaka Purana it states that one should realise the Supreme Lord as the yagna and propitiate Him with body, mind and words. When the Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence has been perceived then the relation between the performer, the activity performed, the recepient of the performance and the result of the performance are all factually not separate from the Supreme Lord one will then experience the actual presence of the Supreme Lord everywhere in all situations.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

That person who does not perform yagna or offerings of worship to propitiate the Supreme Lord and who does not perform the regular and occasional duties as prescribed in the Vedic scriptures according to varnasrama or their rank and station in life. Such a person derives absolutely no benefit for receiving a human existence in this world. They have wasted a very precious opportunity as a human birth is very difficult to receive and humans are the only species on the Earth with freewill and the power to reflect on the Supreme. All the goals which humanity aspires for will also allude them for without following the ordinances of the Vedic scriptures which bequeath promotion in the material worlds how can one who never performs yagna even on the level of the food they eat ever expect to be promoted to the heavenly spheres or ever become qualified for the ultimate achievement of moksa or liberation from the cycle of birth and death in the material existence. Moksa is the true goal of all human endeavour and real purpose of human existence. The divine discourse of the Bhagavad-Gita is all about moksa which is the eternal summum bonum or greatest good eternally for all humanity.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Before Lord Krishna spoke of the merits of performing yagna or offerings of worship to propitiate the Supreme Lord. Now He will speak of the demerits accrued by failure to perform yagna. The key word is ayagnasya which means for one who does not perform yagna. Without performing yagna in one of the 12 previously mentioned ways then even the meager joys of this world are not available. If the pleasure of mortals in this world which is very limited is unavailable to those who do not perform yagna then how can one ever attain the higher planetary systems where pleasure is abundant and unlimited.

Sloka 4.32 audio recital in Sanskrit     

एवं बहुविधा यज्ञा वितता ब्रह्मणो मुखे |
कर्मजान्विद्धि तान्सर्वानेवं ज्ञात्वा विमोक्ष्यसे ||४- ३२||

evaM bahuvidhA yaGYA vitatA brahmaNo mukhe |
karmajAnviddhi tAnsarvAnevaM GYAtvA vimokShyase || 4-32 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.32

Anvaya: evam–thus; bahu-vidhah–various kinds of; yajnah–sacrifices; vitatah–widespread; brahmanah–of the Vedas; mukhe–in the face of; karma-jan–born of work; viddhi–you should know; tan–then; sarvan–all; evam–thus; jnatva–knowing; vimoksyase–be liberated.

Translation: 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.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Now Lord Krishna concludes His appraisal of yagnas or offerings of worship to propitiate the Supreme Lord in karma yoga or prescribed Vedic activities in order to adequately praise yagnas performed in jnana yoga or the cultivation of Vedic knowledge. Thus yagna is directly prescribed by the Vedic scriptures which are authorised by the Supreme Lord. Yet it should be understood that all yagnas are accomplished by activity whether it is of the mind, of speech or of the body. This activity material and not of the reality of the atma or soul which is purely spiritual. By comprehending this and devoting oneself to acquiring spiritual knowledge one will attain moksa or liberation from transmigratory existence.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

The word brahmano is referring directly to the Supreme Lord Krishna the recepient of all yagnas or offerings of worship, through His attribute the Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence. Such yagnas according to the qualifiyation of the performer may be mentally performed, orally performed or physically performed. Knowing this and performing ordained activities according to the injunctions of the Vedic scriptures one will attain moksa or liberation from the cycle of birth and death in the material existence. Performing yagna according to one’s rank and station in life is what is being given here and whether it is mental, oral or physical the activity is still performed by concerted effort. So what is ordained by the injunctions of the Vedic scriptures should never be ignored or disregarded.

Now begins the summation.

The words vitata brahmano mukhe means everything should be offered to the Supreme Lord. In the Brahman Vaivartaka Purana it states that: In all yagnas the Supreme Lord alone is to be propitiated. This means that every activity and all endeavours one undertakes should be in harmony with the injunctions and ordinances of the Vedic scriptures which are in complete and total harmony with the divine will of the Supreme Lord. No other alternative is tenable or acceptable for a human being.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna has described the 12 different performances of yagna or offerings of worship in propitiation to the Supreme Lord that are the means of attaining atma tattva or soul realisation performed in karma yoga or prescribed Vedic activities. It should be clearly understood that all yagnas manifest from activity of the mind, the speech or the body and involve the performance of regular daily duties and occasional special duties. Understanding this wisdom and practically applying this knowledge one shall by their own efforts dissolve all their sins and become free from samsara or bondage frrom the cycle of birth and death in the material existence. The wisdom aspect of karma has been explained by showing how jnana yoga or the cultivation of Vedic knowledge is involved in karma yoga. Next the importance of wisdom in jnana yoga will be elucidated.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna confirms the authenticity of the previous described yagnas or offerings of worship as being sanctioned by the Vedic scriptures by the word evam meaning of this kind and the different types have been explained in detail in the parampara or disciplic succession and have been transmitted from spiritual master to disciple in the tradition of the Vedic culture. All of the before mentioned yagnas are performed by mind, by speech or by the physical body but their actions are of a transitory nature and the atma or soul is eternal. So these actions and the atma are not invariably connected. Thus comprehending this in reality one will be free from samsara the cycle of birth and death caused by actions.

Sloka 4.33 audio recital in Sanskrit     

श्रेयान्द्रव्यमयाद्यज्ञाज्ज्ञानयज्ञः परन्तप |
सर्वं कर्माखिलं पार्थ ज्ञाने परिसमाप्यते ||४- ३३||

shreyAndravyamayAdyaGYAjGYAnayaGYaH parantapa |
sarva.n karmAkhilaM pArtha GYAne parisamApyate || 4-33 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.33

Anvaya: sreyan–greater; dravya-mayat–than the sacrifice of material possessions; yajnat–knowledge; jnana-yajnah–sacrifice in knowledge; parantapa–O chastiser of the enemy; sarvam–all; karma–activities; akhilam–in totality; partha–O son of Prtha; jnane–in knowledge; parisamapyate–ends in.

Translation: O chastiser of the enemy, the sacrifice of knowledge is greater than the sacrifice of material possessions. O son of Prtha, after all, the sacrifice of work culminates in transcendental knowledge.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Here the superiority of yagnas or offerings of worship to propitiate the Supreme Lord performed in jnana yoga or in the cultivation of Vedic knowledge is being explained by Lord Krishna. The yagna accomplished by knowledge is superior to the yagna performed by material ingredients for the yagna performed in knowledge is accomplished by no other auspices other than the atma or soul. Although the jnana yagna is dependent upon the activity of the mind yet the knowledge realised that is identical with the atma manifests itself as a modification of one’s thoughts and not a by product of one’s mind as in the case of yagnas performed with material ingredients. The Chandogya Upanisad IV.I.IV states that: Whatever righteousness persons do is all completely comprised of knowledge. In the performance of jnana yagna all activities in their entirety are along with their results are fully comprised of knowledge.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

Every activity recommended in the preceding verses are useful methods of upasana or engaging oneself in glorifying the Supreme Lord. Spiritual knowledge is the result of this.

Now begins the summation.

Everything is verily performance of actions but by itself it amounts to very little. The culmination of Vedic actions is spiritual knowledge and solely in spiritual realisation do actions find fulfilment. In the Mundaka Upanisad it states: That acts of yagna or offerings of worship are undoubtedly meritorious in themselves; but superior to them is spiritual knowledge where all doubts are dispelled and the need for all actions terminated. The point Lord Krishna is making is that all actions culminate in knowledge.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

Karma or actions has two aspects. The action of using the paraphernalia and ingredients to perform it is one aspect and the spiritual intelligence to perform it properly is the second aspect. The second aspect of spiritual knowledge is superior to the first aspect consisting of material ingredients. All activities culmimnate in wisdom. Any action performed without directed intelligence is meaningless. Hence all activities should be performed with wisdom involved being that spiritual knowledge is the goal that is desired to be reached by every means possible uatntil by constant endeavour one attains the final attainment.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Because various types of yagnas or offerings of worship have been equally delineated by Lord Krishna, it is appropriate to include the yagna of knowledge. In order to remove the undesirable contingency of resemblance to the others, Lord Krishna instructs that yagna in the form of knowledge is far superior to yagnas performed with material ingredients to the demi-gods designated by their names and which bestow only trivial rewards of a transitory material nature. For the performer of the yagna of knowledge realises that all the components of action without exception in their entirety along with their cause and effect culminate in the knowledge of everything being the manifestation of the eternal form and attributes of the eternal Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence. Such a person sees everything as Brahman and is unobstructed achieving everything. In the Bhagavad Purana it is stated that: The performers of austerities, the makers of pilgrimages, the chanters of mantras, the givers of donations and others never reachs the achievement of that being who has even one percentage of Vedic knowledge.

Sloka 4.34 audio recital in Sanskrit     

तद्विद्धि प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नेन सेवया |
उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ते ज्ञानं ज्ञानिनस्तत्त्वदर्शिनः ||४- ३४||

tadviddhi praNipAtena pariprashnena sevayA |
upadekShyanti te GYAnaM GYAninastattvadarshinaH || 4-34 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.34

Anvaya: tat–that knowledge of different sacrifices; viddhi–try to understand; pranipatena–by approaching a spiritual master; pariprasnena–by submissive inquiries; sevaya–by the rendering of service; upadeksyanti–initiate; te–unto you; jnanam–knowledge; jnaninah–the self-realized; tattva–truth; darsinah–the seers.

Translation: Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

The means to acquire atma tattva or soul realisation is being stated here: How is this knowledge to be acquired? Lord Krishna reveals it is by inquiry. Inquire from a self-realised being by falling submissively at his feet just like a stick before him. Questions should be asked like. What is the goal of human existence and how is it possible to attain it? One should render humble and sincere service to this self-realised being because this person has realised the ultimate truth, fully steeped in the knowledge of the Vedic scriptures, of the Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence and the intuitive potency which manifests along with it. Such a person will magnanimously instruct one in attaining the ultimate truth.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

Although Arjuna is considered a man of wisdom properly raised and educated in the Vedic culture, still illusion has entered his consciousness. This was highlighted in verse sixteen where the words yat jnatva meaning having understood were used to instruct Arjuna.

Now begins the summation.

Since spiritual wisdom will be revealed in detail in later chapters Lord Krishna now begins speaking briefly about the nature of it here.

Ramanuja’s Commentary :

One should know that this spiritual knowledge relative to the atma or soul propounded by Lord Krishna to be imperishable. One should learn this well and advance themselves along the path by diligently acquiring wisdom and more by submissively approaching realised beings who have realised the ultimate truth. One should render sincere, dedicated service to them with veneration and humility asking relevant questions about the ultimate truth. These being so advanced in atma tattva or soul realisation have experienced the ultimate reality and being pleased by one’s humble demeanour and reverent questions will bless one with divine knowledge which they possess and will impart the transcendental knowledge one is so eager and enthusiastic to learn. If one has not practically realised there atma which is an act of actual perception and situates one in their true nature then such talk about it is merely a hypothesis.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

As to the answer to the question by what means is this spiritual knowledge available Lord Krishna is revealing how to attain this knowledge which is altogether different from actions that bestow material rewards. He instructs everyone to fall at the feet of a self-realised beings rendering service to them with faith and devotion and inquire from them with a pure heart about the purpose of life, the true nature of a living being and how to revive one’s relationship with the Supreme Being? By these questions and by being pleased by one’s sincere service such a self-realised being will guide and instruct one on matters related to the ultimate truth because they have direct experience and wisdom of this and thus will remove all doubts about: Who am I? Why was I born? What is my purpose in life? The self-realised being will dispel all these questions by proper reasoning and evidences from the Vedic scriptures and practical experience and reveal the nature of the individual consciousness and its relationship with the ultimate consciousness which is the goal of all existence. All actions culminate in knowledge when instructed by a self-realised being but never when instructed by those who are not self-realised. By this verse the ancient scriptural adage of : Let one humbly seek a spiritual master who is well learned in the Vedic scriptures and established in the knowledge of the Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence. The plural sense of the words jnaninah meaning those expert in the Vedic scriptures and darsinah meaning those who realised the ultimate truth denotes that all self realised being will possess this spiritual knowledge. It also infers that if one approaches a person for enquiry and discovers that this person is not self-realised and cannot give this spiritual knowledge then one may approach a spiritual master who is self-realised to attain this knowledge.

Sloka 4.35 audio recital in Sanskrit     

यज्ज्ञात्वा न पुनर्मोहमेवं यास्यसि पाण्डव |
येन भूतान्यशेषेण द्रक्ष्यस्यात्मन्यथो मयि ||४- ३५||

yajGYAtvA na punarmohamevaM yAsyasi pANDava |
yena bhUtAnyasheSheNa drakShyasyAtmanyatho mayi || 4-35 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.35

Anvaya: yat–which; jnatva–knowing; na–never; punah–again; moham–illusion; evam–like this; yasyasi–you shall go; pandava–O son of Pandu; yena–by which; bhutani–all living entities; asesani–totally; draksyasi–you will see; atmani–in the Supreme Soul; atho–or in other words; mayi–in Me.

Translation: And when you have thus learned the truth, you will know that all living beings are but part of Me–and that they are in Me, and are Mine.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna now reveals the results of spiritual knowledge that came by inquiring from a self-realised being and that is one will never again be deluded by the illusionary energy thinking that friends and relatives can actually cease to exist. By this spiritual knowledge one will realise the eternal atma or soul within the etheric heart and will see that this eternal soul is within all beings and is the same as one’s own soul and then one will perceive themselves as part of the Supreme Being and perceiving further will see that the Supreme Being in all its wonderous glory and majesty is identical with Lord Krishna.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

By such spiritual knowledge one will realise their atma or soul and seeing the atma within all beings pervading all creation one will perceive that they are all equal as part of the Supreme Being and that the Supreme Being is identical with Lord Krishna.

Now begins the summation.

The word atmani refers to Lord Krishna’s special attribute as paramatma or the super soul within all living beings by which one realises the oneness of all beings in creation.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

By learning this spiritual knowledge one will never be deluded again by maya or illusion which causes one to have the misconception that the atma or soul is the physical body and the notion of the ego consciousness of I- ness and my-ness that is produced thereby. Not by illusion but by the realisation of one’s atma within and the consciousness that all beings in variegated forms all over creation possess this self same soul equally once they are divested from their individual designations and all souls are of a purly spiritual nature once they are disassociated from matter and all are a part of the Supreme Being which is identical to Lord Krishna. The nature of the atma is the essence and is equally the same in all beings as well as being equal with the nature of the Supreme Being. Thus when disassociated from matter one atma is non-different from another and possesses the attributes of the Supreme.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Now regarding the situation on the battlefield, Lord Krishna is clarifying to Arjuna that by this knowledge he will no longer be deluded by the illusion of relatives, friends and preceptors dying and the infatuation of thinking that if they did he would not even want to continue living; because with spiritual knowledge he will realise his atma or soul and will see the soul in all beings is identical with his soul and he will percieve that all souls are the actual body of the Supreme Being and that all these individual souls are pervaded by the Supreme Being and they are never independent from the Supreme Being in the state of bondage or the state of liberation and then it will be perceived that the Supreme Being is identical with Lord Krishna. The difference in various beings is only in their outer physical form which is the product of primordial matter but the atma or soul is purely spiritual and eternal and of the nature of spiritual realisation, not subject to any modification and thus equally situated and established in all beings who were naturally created from material nature. The atma is not a different or separate entity from the Supreme Being.

Sloka 4.36 audio recital in Sanskrit     

अपि चेदसि पापेभ्यः सर्वेभ्यः पापकृत्तमः |
सर्वं ज्ञानप्लवेनैव वृजिनं सन्तरिष्यसि ||४- ३६||

api chedasi pApebhyaH sarvebhyaH pApakR^ittamaH |
sarva.n GYAnaplavenaiva vR^ijinaM santariShyasi || 4-36 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.36

Anvaya: api–even; cet–if; asi–you are; papebhyah–of sinners; sarvebhyah–of all; papa-krttamah–the greatest sinner; sarvam–all such sinful actions; jnana-plavena–by the boat of transcendental knowledge; eva–certainly; vrjinam–the ocean of miseries; santarisyasi–you will cross completely.

Translation: 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.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna now exclaims that even if one was an incorrigible sinner previously if they approach a self-realised being and receive this knowledge from him they will easily cross over the ocean of all their sins solely by the potency of this spiritual knowledge.


There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

To emphasise the power of spiritual knowledge Lord Krishna specifically states in this verse that even the most incorrigible sinner is redeemed if changing their ways acquires and applies spiritual knowledge in their consciousness.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Understand the greatness of this spiritual knowledge Lord Krishna is exclaiming. The words api ced meaning even if, indicates the powerful potency of this spiritual knowledge which can save the most incorrigible sinner if one receives it from a spiritual master and becomes fixed in this consciousness.

Sloka 4.37 audio recital in Sanskrit     

यथैधांसि समिद्धोऽग्निर्भस्मसात्कुरुतेऽर्जुन |
ज्ञानाग्निः सर्वकर्माणि भस्मसात्कुरुते तथा ||४- ३७||

yathaidhA.nsi samiddho.agnirbhasmasAtkurute.arjuna |
GYAnAgniH sarvakarmANi bhasmasAtkurute tathA || 4-37 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.37

Anvaya: yatha–just as; edhamsi–firewood; samiddhah–blazing; agnih–fire; bhasmasat–turns into ashes; kurute–so does; arjuna–O Arjuna; jnana-agnih–the fire of knowledge; sarva-karmani–all reactions to material activities; bhasmasat–to ashes; kurute–it so does; tatha–similarly.

Translation: As the blazing fire turns firewood to ashes, O Arjuna, so does the fire of knowledge burn to ashes all reactions to material activities.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

To remove any doubt or misconceptions that might arise from the previous verse that sins may be crossed over but not absolved Lord Krishna gives the illustration that fire of spiritual knowledge as revealed in the Vedic scriptures burns to ashes all karmas or reactions to actions, with the exception of the prarabdha karma which was the karma by which one received their physical body.


There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.

Ramanuja’s Commentary :

Lord Krishna uses this illustration citing the complete eradication of all sins and their destruction to further emphasise the potency of spiritual knowledge.

Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary :

One might wonder that just as crossing the ocean by boat does not destroy the ocean how is it that the boat of spiritual knowledge can destroy all one’s sins. Lord Krishna states here that the boat of spiritual knowledge will destroy all reactions to actions both those leading to merit and those leading to demerit.

Sloka 4.38 audio recital in Sanskrit     

न हि ज्ञानेन सदृशं पवित्रमिह विद्यते |
तत्स्वयं योगसंसिद्धः कालेनात्मनि विन्दति ||४- ३८||

na hi GYAnena sadR^ishaM pavitramiha vidyate |
tatsvayaM yogasa.nsiddhaH kAlenAtmani vindati || 4-38 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.38

Anvaya: na–never; hi–certainly; jnanena–with knowledge; sadrsam–in comparison; pavitram–sanctified; iha–in this world; vidyate–exists; tat–that; svayam–himself; yoga–in devotion; samsiddhah–matured; kalena–in course of time; atmani–in himself; vindati–enjoys.

Translation: 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 achieved this enjoys the self within himself in due course of time.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

The reason for this conclusion is being given by Lord Krishna and that is amongst all penance’s and austerities and various types of yagnas or offerings of worship there is indeed nothing so purifying that compares with spiritual knowledge. If this is so then why is not everyone striving for the attainment of atma tattva or soul realisation. This will be answered in the next verse. Spiritual knowledge manifests automatically without effort after continuous practice of karma yoga or the following of prescribed Vedic activities has been perfected and not before will one become qualified.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna praises the value of spiritual wisdom in this verse and the next two. In this process what is the role of the Supreme Lord? Is He simply monitoring every activity from His position as paramatma or the supersoul within all living entities. To the contrary, it is the Supreme Lord who illuminates the consciousness of the living entities over and over again and gives them the opportunity to learn about the ultimate truth.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

As in this world and all over the material creation there is nothing more purifying and sanctifying then the spiritual knowledge of atma tattva or soul realisation it is the destructive of all sin. Perfecting oneself by the easy practice of karma yoga or the following of prescribed Vedic activities in the manner instructed by the self-realised spiritual master one will naturally attain atma tattva as well in due course of time.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

In this world nothing is as purifying as spiritual knowledge. Then why is not everyone pursuing this? Lord Krishna explains that first one must become qualified from prolonged practice of karma yoga or prescribed Vedic activities performed without desire for rewards. Then in due course of time if there is no interruption knowledge will arise leading to purity of heart after which atma tattva or soul realisation will be achieved.

Sloka 4.39 audio recital in Sanskrit     

श्रद्धावाँल्लभते ज्ञानं तत्परः संयतेन्द्रियः |
ज्ञानं लब्ध्वा परां शान्तिमचिरेणाधिगच्छति ||४- ३९||

shraddhAvA.Nllabhate GYAnaM tatparaH sa.nyatendriyaH |
GYAnaM labdhvA parAM shAntimachireNAdhigachchhati || 4-39 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.39

Anvaya: sraddha-van–a faithful man; labhate–achieves; jnanam–knowledge; tat-parah–very much attached to it; samyata–controlled; indriyah–senses; jnanam–knowledge; labdhva–having achieved; param–transcendental; santim–peace; acirena–very soon; adhigacchati–attains.

Translation: A faithful man who is absorbed in transcendental knowledge and who subdues his senses quickly attains the supreme spiritual peace.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

The person with faith who follows the Vedic instructions of the spiritual master and who wholeheartedly believes in the knowledge of the Vedic scriptures and who is self-controlled; only such a person receives spiritual realisation and none other. Therefore before ones receives spiritual knowledge through the auspices of faith one has to undergo the path of karma yoga or performance of prescribed Vedic activities for one’s purification. After spiritual realisation is attained then one has become mukta or liberated and has no need to perform any action.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

Receiving knowledge by instructions of the spiritual master becoming more and more devoted and evolved as the process develops and becoming more and more detached from external affairs away from where the sense objects are exerting there influence one will invariably reach the pinnacle of wisdom and attain moksa or liberation from the material existence.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

One might speculate that if one can achieve purity of heart through the practice of karma yoga or prescribed Vedic activities and hence acquire knowledge by this effort then what is the necessity for approaching a spiritual master as spoken of in verse thirty four? To lay this doubt to rest Lord Krishna specifically states who is qualified to receive spiritual knowledge. A person may acquire knowledge by themselves but here are presented all the qualities that are essential for such a person to succeed. The word sraddhavan means a person who has faith. Faith is firmly believing. Believing is something that must have a source from where it believed in. Verily that source is the words of the spiritual master who reveals the inner meaning of the Vedic scriptures by explaining them in an way that is easy to understand. But this is not enough there must also be sincere devoted service to the spiritual master while studying the Vedic scriptures under his tutelage. But there is more one must also avoid the association of those who are not following the Vedic injunctions as association with them may cause one to deviate from the path of knowledge in spite of having faith and be captivated once again by maya or illusion neglecting to study the Vedic scriptures and omitting to serve the spiritual master. So only one who is self-controlled attains spiritual knowledge and acquiring such knowledge one neutralises all extraneous activities and perceives the Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence and from there achieves atma tattva or soul realisation and from that platform attains moksa or liberation from material existence. So a person of faith must follow the age old process in the proper sequence to attain the coveted goal.

Sloka 4.40 audio recital in Sanskrit     

अज्ञश्चाश्रद्दधानश्च संशयात्मा विनश्यति |
नायं लोकोऽस्ति न परो न सुखं संशयात्मनः ||४- ४०||

aGYashchAshraddadhAnashcha sa.nshayAtmA vinashyati |
nAyaM loko.asti na paro na sukhaM sa.nshayAtmanaH || 4-40 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.40

Anvaya: ajnah–fools who have no knowledge in standard scriptures; ca–and; asraddadhanah–without faith in revealed scriptures; ca–also; samsaya–doubts; atma–a person; vinasyati–falls back; na–never; ayam–this; lokah–world; asti–there is; na–neither; parah–next life; na–not; sukham–happiness; samsaya–doubtful; atmanah–of the person.

Translation: But ignorant and faithless persons who doubt the revealed scriptures do not attain God consciousness. For the doubting soul there is happiness neither in this world nor in the next.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

After previously describing the qualifications of an aspirant for spiritual knowledge now Lord Krishna describes the characteristics of one who is unfit and not qualified for spiritual knowledge. One who is ignorant, of little faith, who does not follow instructions of the spiritual master, who doubts the teachings of the eternal Vedic scriptures. Such a person has no chance for spiritual awakening and their human birth was all for nothing and in vain. One who doubts is ruined in this life for one will have little or no success in this world and such a person will have nothing in the next life either because of not acquiring any merit in this life. Nor will there be any happiness for them as due to always doubting one is unable to enjoy anything and thus pleasure for them also is an impossibility.


There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

The word ajnah means fool or one who is uninstructed in Vedic wisdom. The word asraddadhahanah means one who has no faith even after being instructed. The skeptic is one who doubts the knowledge one has already received. One of this disposition perishes for one who doubts the veracity of the atma or soul and the validity of the teaching taught by the spiritual master has no hope in this world or in the heavenly spheres. That is because sacrificing the three goals of human existence being dharma or righteousness, artha or wealth and kama or pleasure. What chance will one have for the fourth being moksa or liberation? For all the ambitions of humans are accomplished by performing some prescribed duty in the Vedic scriptures and fulfilment of any desire is dependent on the conviction that the atma or soul is eternal and the atma is distinct from the physical body. Whoever doubts the existence of the atma or soul or is not sure that it is eternal cannot receive even the smallest percentage of spiritual bliss.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

After explaining concisely how the person of faith acquires spiritual knowledge through the instructions of the spiritual master, Lord Krishna speaks of the miserable fate of the ignorant who are devoid of faith but in this verse He uses the particle ca twice meaning again and again is given to indicate that by the mercy of the spiritual master even the ignorant if they have faith can be eventually liberated by performing some easy simple practice as determined by the spiritual master. But a person with no faith will not engage themselves in any practice because they do not believe. Still one with no faith may still have a chance to be liberated even without practising if they have some association with self realised beings or if they take the opportunity to render service to them. The doubting is of a more severe nature as doubting of the instructions of the spiritual master, doubting the authority of the Vedic scriptures, doubting the superiority of Vaisnavism, doubting the reality of the deities presence. All these things put one’s mind in a hellish condition and with an unstable mind one does not follow any path fully but runs hither and thither and thus deviates from the natural path of human beings which is only found in the Vedic scriptures. For the doubter of little faith there is no happiness in this world or the next having performed no spiritual activities in this life such as even marriage which is a sacred rite and thus having no offspring from marriage which is also a sacred rite and thus by not accruing any spiritual merit in this life one’s chance for happiness in the next life are bleak and grim as well. The meaning is how is it possible for such persons ever to become liberated if they doubt the very essence that they received their existence from.

Sloka 4.41 audio recital in Sanskrit     

योगसंन्यस्तकर्माणं ज्ञानसञ्छिन्नसंशयम् |
आत्मवन्तं न कर्माणि निबध्नन्ति धनञ्जय ||४- ४१||

yogasa.nnyastakarmANaM GYAnasa~nchhinnasa.nshayam.h |
AtmavantaM na karmANi nibadhnanti dhana~njaya || 4-41 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.41

Anvaya: yoga–devotional service in karma-yoga; sannyasta–renounced; karmanam–of the performers; jnana–knowledge; sanchinna–cut by the advancement of knowledge; samsayam–doubts; atma-vantam–situated in the self; na–never; karmani–work; nibadhnanti–do bind up; dhananjaya–O conqueror of riches.

Translation: Therefore, one who has renounced the fruits of his action, whose doubts are destroyed by transcendental knowledge, and who is situated firmly in the self, is not bound by works, O conqueror of riches.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

The dual method of realising the Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence has been taught with karma yoga or the performance as prescribed Vedic activities as the beginning stage and jnana yoga or the cultivation of Vedic knowledge as the intermediate stage in the last two chapters, is being concluded with this verse. One who has offered all actions to the Supreme Lord has renounced actions. This yoga or the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness is performed continuously. Therefore all doubts in regard to ego-consciousness have been destroyed by the fire of knowledge knowing that one is not the physical body. One is consciousness and self alert and is not bound by actions whether they are naturally done for oneself or for others.


There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna explains that the performance of karma yoga or prescribed Vedic activities is the mode of action in the ways He indicated above. Dedication and renunciation means that actions are performed in jnana yoga or the cultivation of Vedic knowledge. When performed in this way the binding power of actions becomes neutralised. Also by this method any doubts concerning the atma or soul are dispelled by knowledge of the atma. The compound word atma-vantam means one who is self-satisfied. One whose mind is unassailable and unapproachable by any type of doubt. Such a person has achieved an unshakeable certitude about the reality and eternality of the soul from the teachings received from the spiritual master. No actions performed for oneself or for others in the present or the future can ever bind such a person.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

In this way the complete failure of the ignorant who doubt the veracity of the spiritual well-wishers has been given in order to remove all doubts of the aspirant for moksa or liberation who has faith follows a life of pious conduct. The dual paths of karma yoga or prescribed Vedic activities and jnana yoga or cultivation of Vedic knowledge are both concluded in this verse and the next. Actions do not bind one to material existence who is renounced. All actions offered or dedicated to the Supreme Lord are always renounced. This is characterised by direct perception of the Supreme Lord and the conscious reality that one belongs exclusively to Him which arises only after the realisation of the Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence is perceived.

Sloka 4.42 audio recital in Sanskrit     

तस्मादज्ञानसम्भूतं हृत्स्थं ज्ञानासिनात्मनः |
छित्त्वैनं संशयं योगमातिष्ठोत्तिष्ठ भारत ||४- ४२||

tasmAdaGYAnasambhUtaM hR^itstha.n GYAnAsinAtmanaH |
chhittvainaM sa.nshayaM yogamAtiShThottiShTha bhArata || 4-42 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 4.42

Anvaya: tasmat–therefore; ajnana-sambhutam–outcome of ignorance; hrt-stham–situated in the heart; jnana–knowledge; asina–by the weapon of; atmanah–of the self; chittva–cutting off; enam–this; samsayam–doubt; yogam–in yoga; atistha–be situated; uttistha–stand up to fight; bharata–O descendant of Bharata.

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 Bharata, stand and fight.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas


Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna is instructing Arjuna to destroy all doubts arising from ignorance of the atma or soul and having discrimination between the soul and the body take refuge in karma yoga or the performance of prescribed Vedic activities which is the means to atma tattva or soul realisation.

I bow to the Supreme Lord Krishna, the destroyer of all doubts who has taught the dual faiths of karma yoga and jnana yoga or the cultivation of Vedic knowledge according to the natural attributes and qualifications among humans.


Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

Having explained the means of acquiring spiritual realisation and the disadvantages of achieving spiritual realisation the Supreme Lord Krishna concludes this chapter.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

The sword of knowledge that Lord Krishna is referring to is atma tattva or soul realisation and the yoga or the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness, He is indicating is karma yoga or the performance of prescribed Vedic activities according to one’s rank and station in life.


Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

The sword of spiritual knowledge is the eternal atma or soul. All doubt should be completely uprooted from one’s heart and mind and follow the path that Lord Krishna has so concisely explained which is first and foremost to do one’s duty in life according to qualification. Following this path one will acquire the spiritual knowledge to cross over samsara the cycle of birth and death and attain moksa liberation from material existence..

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