Nuggets from the Gita : Chapter 4 (The Scripture of Mankind by Swami Tapasyananda)

This is an attempt to awaken your curiosity to read the holy Gita. I am sharing a few nuggets verbatim from each of the chapters of the book, with the hope that this gets you started at your own pace. There are many commentaries on The Gita. This version is based on “The Scripture of Mankind” Translation by Swami Tapasyananda.


This is an overview of the 4th chapter titled “Gyan Karma Yoga” (Renunciation of Action in Knowledge)

This chapter focuses on 3 things

  • The Doctrine of Incarnation
  • The true meaning of Actionlessness
  • Power of Enlightenment 

The Doctrine of Incarnation

Lord Krishna starts the conversation by stating that He has revealed this Spiritual knowledge in different ages for the benefit of man. Whenever unrighteousness prevails I embody myself as the Incarnate for the protection of the good and destruction of the evil

The true meaning of Actionlessness

Non action which the characteristic of the Atman does not mean inactivity. It means being established in pure awareness without involvement in any kind of change. Such a person is an enlightened soul. A person who by effort of his will keeps aloof from external action but inwardly remains subject to attachment and egoistic motivation is an idler.

Knowledge based action is the highest form of Yagna in the Vedic tradition. Sacrifice or Yagna can take many forms. It may be with material ingredients, or Austerity. It may involve the practise of Concentration or control of the Senses and Prana.It may involve Scriptural studies or of practise of discrimination.

The peak of yagna discipline is reached when the doer sees the acts, means of action, things acted upon and the process of the action as being different manifestations of the Brahman. This is called attainment of Samadhi in action.

Power of Enlightenment 

This Jnana is the most powerful of purifiers. It is said that even a sinner becomes a saint on its onset. This wisdom comes naturally to one who becomes perfect in the discipline of dis – interested action.

Important Quotes from this chapter 

  • O Arjuna! You and I have passed through many births. I remember them all, but you do not.
  • Whenever there is a decline of Dharma and ascendence of Adharma then I manifest myself in a body
  • For the protection of the Good, for the destruction of Evil and for the establishment of Dharma, I am born from age to age
  • Whoever worships me through whatever path, I verily accept and bless them in that way
  • What is Work and what is “No Work” is a subject regarding which even the wise are perplexed. I shall therefore speak to you about work, by knowing which one is liberated from evil.
  • The truth about the nature of “beneficial work” has to be understood, as also the ‘baneful work” and of “no work”. The way of work is difficult to understand  
  • One who is free from desires, whose mind is well controlled, and who is without any sense of ownership, incurs no sin from works, as his actions are merely physical.
  • For one who sacrifices not, this world is lost. 
  • O Scorcher of enemies! Sacrifice involving knowledge is superior to sacrifice with material objects. O son of Prtha, all works without exception culminate in knowledge.
  • Just as a well kindled fire reduces a heap of fire wood to ashes, so does the the fire of divine knowledge reduce all sins to ashes
  • A man of deep faith (Shraddha) obtains this divine knowledge, being full of zeal and devotion for it and endowed with mastery of senses. Having obtained this knowledge, he is established in supreme peace very soon.
  • An ignorant man without faith, who knows only to doubt, goes to ruin. To such a doubting soul there is neither this world nor the world beyond. There is no happiness for him. 


Therefore cutting asunder the sceptical tendency of the heart by the sword of divine knowledge , betake yourself to Yoga (Communion through sacrificial action) and arise, O Scion of the Bharata race!


Additional Notes 

  •  This chapter highlights the deep mystery of Divine incarnation. It is a mystery because the infinite, omnipotent being is born as a limited human being.
  • How the incarnation takes place is indicated by two expressions
    • Atma Maya – His inherent power or will. It is what makes the impossible possible. It implies that manifestation in any limited or imperfect form does not affect His infinitude and perfection. The worship of the incarnation is therefore equal to the worship of the Supreme Being Himself.
    • Prakritim Svam Adhistaya – Prakriti is His material nature constituted of the 3 Guna’s. The body and mind of all beings are a combination of these. But in a human the combination is formed subject to Karma. But the body of the Incarnation is not subject to Karma. His body is formed of pure Sattva. The individual on the other hand is born as a slave of Karma for attaining the individual needs of Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha. An individuals body is mainly Tamas and Rajas and as he advances spiritually a little of Sattva also enters.
  • It is more often after His lifetime than when He is alive that an Incarnation receives wide recognition.
  • According to the stages of the evolution of the human mind there will be different conceptions of the Deity. The more skilled the workman the more artistic will be the form he chips out of the block. None can claim that his conception embraces the whole of Him as no bottle can hold the water of the vast ocean. He reveals only what one is fit to receive.
  • The 3 qualities absolutely necessary for progress in spiritual life are
    • Shraddha or Faith
    • Ardent Practise
    • Control of the Senses.

To be continued ……..

Reference for previous chapters 

Nuggets from the Gita – Introduction

Chapter – 3 : Karma Yoga (Communion Through Action)

Chapter – 5 : “Karma Sanyasa Yoga” (Communion through Renunciation)

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One comment on “Nuggets from the Gita : Chapter 4 (The Scripture of Mankind by Swami Tapasyananda)

  • Niteen Patel , Direct link to comment

    One who is free from desires, whose mind is well controlled, and who is without any sense of ownership, incurs no sin from works, as his actions are merely physical.”

    Above fact is very crucial..But how one will get that state.. ?One answer is shraddha… Through which knowledge will come..And one can get that state automatically- naturally will be achieved

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