The Bhagavad Gita – Capsule 4

The Bhagavad Gita in Capsules – Chapter 4

The book “The Prasthānatraya – An Introduction” by Revered Swami Harshananda, President of Ramakrishna Math, Bengaluru was published in 2001. The Swami has bestowed on us a summary of the 18 chapters of the Bhagavad Gita of Lord Krishna. I bow my head in reverence and in praise of Swamiji and pray for his blessings in my taking the liberty of retyping the summary from the book and posting it in my blog.

This is the Summary of the fourth chapter, Jnāna Yoga


Srīkrishna reminisces how he had given this yoga (Karmayoga) in ancient days to Vivasvān and he to Manu and Manu to Iksvāku, and how this tradition got lost over the years.

Here Arjuna raises a doubt as to how Srīkrishna of the present times could have taught it to most ancient teachers like Manu. Then Srīkrishna tells Arjuna how both he and himself have taken many births, the only difference being that he knows all his past births whereas Arjuna does not.

It is here that Srīkrishna reveals that he is God Himself and how he reincarnates whenever dharma (righteousness) declines and adharma (unrighteousness) gets the upper hand, in order to restore the balance. Anyone who understands the secret of his avatāra or incarnation will attain liberation. Being God Himself, He responds to his devotees as per their attitudes and prayers if they approach Him through knowledge and devotion.

Incidentally Srīkrishna reveals how he has divided the society into four varnas or groups based upon the nature and vocation of the people. Then he further elucidates Karmayoga. As a part of the same, he describes the various types of yajnas or sacrifices thereby expanding the scope of the term.

He avers that jnānayajna or knowledge-sacrifice is far superior to dravyamaya-yajna or sacrifices done with material objects. He then extols jnāna or spiritual wisdom and exhorts Arjuna to get it by approaching the great teachers, because works done with this background of jnāna will never bind.


Courtesy: Swami Harshananda  (emphases, if any, are mine. – nytanaya)


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