Bhagavad-Gita Summary, Chapter IV

[For the Disciple—A Guide]

"Devotion through Spiritual Knowledge."

Krishna explains that wisdom is eternal. It was first taught by him to Sages since the beginning of evolution.

Confused, Arjuna asks Krishna how it was possible for him to be so old as to be the Primeval Teacher.

Krishna speaks then of the reincarnation of the eternal Spirit in each man. It uses many bodies. Memory of the details of past lives are accessible only to a Sage, such as He. Krishna adds that He incarnates periodically when vice and evil overrun the world, and right doctrines have to be restored to open men's awareness, and serve as a guide to the goal of evolution. (Gita, p. 31)

"Even though myself unborn, of changeless essence, and the lord of all existence, yet in presiding over nature—which is mine—I am born but through my own maya—illusion, the mystic power of self-ideation, the eternal thought in the eternal mind. I produce myself among creatures, O son of Bharata, whenever there is a decline of virtue and an insurrection of vice and injustice in the world; and thus I incarnate from age to age for the preservation of the just, the destruction of the wicked, and the establishment of righteousness." (Gita, p. 31)

Krishna, the Universal Spirit shows himself only to pure men. He then appears in that manner in which they may recognize him. The characters and qualities of men divide them into the four castes, not their birth. Changeless, Krishna, the Supreme Spirit, as the author of manifestation, remains unaffected by the wise or foolish actions of beings. The Wise perceive the Immutable to be present in all changes. This confirms the necessity for their continued duties in whatever is their location or condition. (Gita, p. 32)

Wisdom is discrimination between necessary and unnecessary actions. Nature is to be studied, known, regulated, and subdued. From this practice is derived contentment with one's circumstances. Every act ought to be considered sacred, and dedicated to the Supreme Spirit, which is the Unitary factor basic to all Nature. (Gita, pp. 32-4)

Sacrifice is making all actions sacred; give up self-interest. The many forms and methods of sacrifice may be found expressed in some kind of rituals, but the highest, is obtaining spiritual wisdom through study and its application in daily life. Sacrificial spiritual action purifies a man's karma and attunes his personality to the One Spirit. Spiritual knowledge, in application, receives the highest place. No action can be exempted from its purview. Krishna then advises:

"Seek this wisdom by doing service, by strong search, by questions and by humility; the wise who see the truth will communicate it unto thee, and knowing which thou shalt never again fall into error, O son of Bharata. By this knowledge thou shalt see all things and creatures whatsoever in thyself and then in me." (Gita, p. 35)

Spiritual wisdom, when adopted, clears up all errors of ignorance in the mind. It is the universal purifier. Krishna, the Supreme Spirit is perceived in all beings and in every situation by the Wise.

Wisdom springs up spontaneously in the wise man as he progresses. The one-pointed resolve to know and to act as the Supreme purifies all who adopt this discipline. Those who doubt, who are skeptical, who will not enquire into the Spirit, or study, can have no steadiness, certainty or happiness.

"No actions bind that man who through spiritual discrimination hath renounced action and cut asunder all doubt by knowledge, O despiser of wealth. Wherefore, O son of Bharata, having cut asunder with the sword of spiritual knowledge this doubt which existeth in thy heart, engage in the performance of action. Arise!" (Gita, pp. 36-7)

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