4:1, 2: The Blessed One said: I instructed this immutable yoga system to the sun god Vivasvan. He taught it to Manu and Manu taught it to Iksvaku.
Thus through disciplic succession the royal sages understood this knowledge, but with the passing of time the great yoga system was lost to this world, O chastiser of enemies.
4:3: Today that ancient yoga system is declared by Me unto you. Because you are My devotee and friend I will fully reveal this foremost of all mysteries.
4:4: Arjuna asked: You were born after Vivasvan; how am I to understand that in the beginning You thus instructed him?
4:5: The Blessed One said: Many, many births both you and I have passed through. I can remember all of them, but you cannot, O chastiser of enemies.
4:6: Although I am unborn, being the imperishable and supreme Lord of all those who are born, I manifest and establish Myself within nature by My illusory power.
4:7: Surely, whenever and at whatever time righteousness declines, O descendant of Bharata, and there occurs a predominance of unrighteousness, at that time I manifest Myself.
4:8: In order to deliver saintly people, to destroy the wicked and to firmly reestablish religious principles, I appear age after age.
4:9: Those who accurately know the nature of My birth and divine activities, once the body is abandoned, are never born again but attain Me, O Arjuna.
4:10, 11: Freed from attachment, fear and anger, always absorbed in Me, taking refuge in Me, purified through the fires (or austerities) of knowledge, many have attained devotion to Me.
To those who betake themselves of Me in the manner mentioned I reward my path, but everyone follows Me in all ways, O Arjuna.
4:12: Desiring success in fruitive activities men in this world perform sacrifices to the gods and quickly become successful in their endeavors.
4:13: The fourfold caste system was created by Me in accordance with the divisions of qualities and works. Of that system know Me to be the author, even though I do nothing and am immutable.
4:14: Actions do not taint Me nor do I desire fruitive activities. One who thus desires Me is not bound by karmic reactions.
4:15: Knowing that the ancients, who also sought liberation, performed their actions in this way, you should follow their example and perform your activities.
:16: Even the great sages are deluded about what is action and what is inaction. I will explain action to you, knowing which you will be liberated from all misfortune.
4:17: The nature of action should be discerned. One should understand wrong actions as well as inaction, for the path of action is obscure.
4:18: One who sees action in inaction and inaction in action is intelligent among beings. Such a soul is perfectly yoked [to the truth] in all activities.
4:19, 20: One whose endeavors are without desire and ulterior motives, whose actions have been purified by the fires of right-knowledge, such a person is called a pundit or learned person by those who understand.
Abandoning all attachment to fruitive activities, he is always satisfied, depending on none, ever engaged in activities, yet doing nothing.
4:21: Hoping for nothing, controlling the mind and self, the wise renounce all material possessions. Their only actions are those demanded by the body. Thus no guilt is acquired.
4:22: Satisfied with whatever comes of its own accord, one is free from all dualities and envy; is equipoised in success or failure, and although acting, remains unfettered.
4:23: One who is liberated and who is devoid of attachment, whose mind is established in knowledge and who sacrifices all actions, has all reactions melt away.
4:24: Brahman is the oblation, Brahman is the clarified butter, Brahman is the fire of sacrifice. The offering is performed by Brahman to reach Brahman through completely concentrated actions.
4:25 -30: Some yogis sacrifice to the devas while others perform sacrifices into the fire of brahman, thus they also offer sacrifice.
Others offer the senses of hearing etc. into the fire of restraint while others offer sound vibrations and various objects of the senses into the fire of the senses.
Still others sacrifice all the functions of the senses and the breath/energy of life into the fire of the yoga of self restraint. Such sacrifice is sparked by knowledge.
Others sacrifice their possessions or offer the sacrifice of austerities and thus observe yogic austerities. Others offer the sacrifice of Vedic study and the sacrifice of knowledge while still others become ascetics and take upon themselves rigid vows.
Yet others sacrifice the incoming breath into the outgoing breath and the outgoing into the incoming, thus by restraining the movements of the outgoing and incoming breaths they are intent on restricting the life air.
Others regulate eating by sacrificing the life air into the life air. All those who understand the goal of sacrifice have their sins burnt up in the fire of sacrifice.
4:31: Those who have tasted the nectar of such sacrifices go to the Supreme. O best among the Kurus, this world is not eternal; for one who does not sacrifice, how can the other be attained?
4:32: Thus there are many types of sacrifices promulgated in Vedas. They are all born of actions conducted in the 'mouth of brahman.' Knowing them you will be liberated.
4:33: Superior to the sacrifice of material objects is the sacrifice of knowledge, O chastiser of the enemy [Arjuna] because all action [karma] culminates in knowledge [jnana].
4:34, 35: To learn that knowledge prostrate before, submissively question and render service to those who know the truth and those realized saints will instruct you in knowledge.
[Realizing that knowledge] you will never again be deluded, O son of Pandu, but will see all living entities within yourself and in Me.
4:36: Even if you are the most sinful of all sinners, still by this boat of knowledge you will cross over the great sea of sin.
4:37: Just as a blazing fire reduces wood to ashes, O Arjuna, so too does the fire of knowledge reduce all activities to ashes.
4:38: Indeed, nothing comparable to pure knowledge exists here in this world. One who is advanced in yoga finds this knowledge within himself in due time.
4:39: One who has faith and is determined to control the senses, achieves this knowledge. Having achieved it, such a soul very soon attains the highest peace.
4:40: Those who are devoid of knowledge and who doubt the scriptural conclusions perish. For one who is filled with doubts there is no happiness in this world or the next.
4:41: One who has renounced fruitive activities by yoga, whose doubts are cut asunder by knowledge, who has mastered the self, is not bound by actions, O Dhananjaya.
4:42: Therefore, cut off the ignorance which is abiding in your heart with the sword of knowledge. Taking refuge in yoga, O descendant of Bharata, stand and fight [or do your duty].
Go to: Chapter Five.
Go to Notes and References.
Go to: the Beginning.