Bhagavad Gita - Chapter IV:
Transcendental Knowledge

Text 21
Sanskrit working:

English Wording:

  • nirasir yata-cittatma
  • tyakta-sarva-parigrahah
  • sariram kevalam karma
  • kurvan napnoti kilbisam.
English 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.

A Krishna conscious person does not expect good or bad results in his activities. His mind and intelligence are fully controlled. He knows that because he is part and parcel of the Supreme, the part played by him, as a part and parcel of the whole, is not his own activity but is only being done through him by the Supreme. When the hand moves, it does not move out of its own accord, but by the endeavor of the whole body.

A Krishna conscious person is always dovetailed with the supreme desire, for he has no desire for personal sense gratification. He moves exactly like a part of a machine. As a machine part requires oiling and cleaning for maintenance, so a Krishna conscious man maintains himself by his work just to remain fit for action in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, He is therefore immune to all the reactions of his endeavors. Like an animal, he has no proprietorship even over his own body. A cruel proprietor of an animal sometimes kills the animal in his possession, yet the animal does not protest. Nor does it have any real independence.

A Krishna conscious person, fully engaged in self-realization, has very little time to falsely possess any material object. For maintaining body and soul, he does not require unfair means of accumulating money. He does not, therefore, become contaminated by such material sins. He is free from all reactions to his actions.

Text 22

Sanskrit working:

English Wording:

  • yadrccha-labha-santusto
  • dvndvatito vimatsarah samah
  • siddhav assiddhau ca
  • krtvapi na nibadhyate.
English 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 in both success and failure, is never entangled, although performing actions.

Purport: A Krishna conscious person does not make much endeavor even to maintain his body. He is satisfied with gains which are obtained of their own accord. He neither begs nor borrows, but he labors honestly as far as is in his power, and is satisfied with whatever is obtained by his own honest labor. He is therefore independent in his livelihood. He does not allow anyone's service to hamper his own service in Krishna consciousness.

However, for the service of the Lord he can participate in any kind of action without being disturbed by the duality of the material world. The duality of the material world is felt in terms of heat and cold, or misery and happiness. A Krishna con- scious person is above duality because he does not hesitate to act in any way for the satisfaction of Krishna. Therefore he is steady both in success and in failure. These signs are visible when one is fully in transcendental knowledge.

Text 23

Sanskrit working:

English Wording:

  • gata-sangasya muktasya
  • jnanavastita-cetasah
  • yajnayacaratah karma
  • samagram praviliyate.
English 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.

Becoming fully Krishna conscious, one is freed from all dualities and thus is free from the contaminations of the material modes. He can become liberated because he knows his constitutional position in relationship with Krishna, and thus his mind cannot be drawn from Krishna consciousness. Consequently, whatever he does, he does for Krishna, who is the primeval Visnu. Therefore, all his works are technically sacrifices because sacrifice aims at satisfying the Supreme Person, Visnu, Krishna. The resultant reactions to all such work certainly merge into transcendence, and one does not suffer material effects.

Text 24
Sanskrit working:

English Wording:

  • brahmarpanam brahma havir
  • brahmagnau brahmana hutam
  • brahmaiva tena gantavyam
  • brahma-karma-samadhina.
English Translation:
A person who is fully absorbed in Krishna 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.

How activities in Krishna consciousness can lead one ultimately to the spiritual goal is described here. There are various activities in Krishna consciousness, and all of them will be described in the following verses. But, for the present, just the principle of Krishna consciousness is described. A conditioned soul, entangled in material contamination, is sure to act in the material atmosphere, and yet he has to get out of such an environment. The process by which the conditioned soul can get out of the material atmosphere is Krishna consciousness. For example, a patient who is suffering from a disorder of the bowels due to overindulgence in milk products is cured by another milk product, namely curds. The materially absorbed conditioned soul can be cured by Krishna consciousness as set forth here in the Gitd. This process is generally known as yajna, or activities (sacrifices) simply meant for the satisfaction of Visnu, or Krishna.

The more the activities of the material world are performed in Krishna consciousness, or for Visnu only, the more the atmosphere becomes spiritualized by com- plete absorption. The word brahma (Brahman) means "spiritual." The Lord is spiritual, and the rays of His transcendental body are called brahmajyoti. His spiritual effulgence. Everything that exists is situated in that brahmajyoti, but when thejyoti is covered by illusion (mayo) or sense gratification, it is called material. This material veil can be removed at once by Krishna consciousness; thus the offering for the sake of Krishna consciousness, the consuming agent of such an offering or contribution, the process of consumption, the contributor, and the result are—all combined together—Brahman, or the Absolute Truth.

The Absolute Truth covered by mayd is called matter. Matter dovetailed for the cause of the Absolute Truth regains its spiritual quality. Krishna consciousness is the process of converting the illusory consciousness into Brahman, or the Supreme. When the mind is fully absorbed in Krishna consciousness, it is said to be in samddhi, or trance. Anything done in such transcendental consciousness is called yajna, or sacrifice for the Absolute. In that condition of spiritual consciousness, the contributor, the contribution, the consumption, the performer or leader of the performance, and the result or ultimate gain—everything—becomes one in the Absolute, the Supreme Brahman. That is the method of Krishna consciousness.

Text 25
Sanskrit working:

English Wording:

  • daivam evapare yajnam
  • voginah paryupasate
  • brahmagnav apare yajnam
  • yajnenaivopajuhvati.
English Translation:
Some yogis perfectly worship the demigods by offering different sacrifices to them, and some offer sacrifices in the fire of the Su- preme Brahman.


As described above, a person engaged in discharging duties in Krishna consciousness is also called a perfect yogi or a first-class mystic. But there are others also, who perform similar sacrifices in the worship of demigods, and still others who sacrifice to the Supreme Brahman, or the impersonal feature of the Supreme Lord. So there are different kinds of sacrifices in terms of different categories. Such different categories of sacrifice by different types of performers only superfi- cially demark varieties of sacrifice.

Factually sacrifice means to satisfy the Supreme Lord, Visnu, who is also known as Yajna. All the different varieties of sacrifice can be placed within two primary divisions: namely, sacrifice of worldly possessions and sacrifice in pursuit of transcendental knowledge. Those who are in Krishna con- sciousness sacrifice all material possessions for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord, while others, who want some temporary material happiness, sacrifice their material possessions to satisfy demigods such as Indra, the sun-god, etc. And others, who are impersonalists, sacrifice their identity by merging into the existence of impersonal Brahman. The demigods are powerful living entities appointed by the Supreme Lord for the maintenance and supervision of all material functions like the heating, watering and lighting of the universe. Those who are interested in material benefits worship the demigods by various sacrifices according to the Vedic rituals. They are called bahv-isvara-vadi, or believers in many gods.

But others, who worship the impersonal feature of the Absolute Truth and regard the forms of the demigods as temporary, sacrifice their individual selves in the supreme fire and thus end their individual existences by merging into the existence of the Supreme. Such impel sonalists sacrifice their time in philosophical speculation to understand the transcendental nature of the Supreme. In other words, the fruitive workers sacrifice their material possessions for material enjoyment, whereas the impersonalist sacrifices his material designations with a view to merging into the existence of the Supreme. For the impersonalist, the fire altar of sacrifice is the Supreme Brahman, and the offering is the self being consumed by the fire of Brahman.

The Krishna con- scious person, like Arjun, however, sacrifices everything for the satisfaction of Krishna, and thus all his material possessions as well as his own self—everything -is sacrificed for Krishna. Thus, he is the first-class yogi; but he does not lose his individual existence.

Text 26
Sanskrit working:

English Wording:

  • srotradinindriyany anye
  • samyamagnisu juhvati
  • sabdadin visayan anya
  • indriyagnisu juhvati.
English Translation:
Some [the unadulterated brahmacaris sacrifice the hearing process and the senses in the fire of mental control, and others [the regulated householders] sacrifice the objects of the senses in the fire of the senses.


The members of the four divisions of human life, namely the brahmacari, the grhastha, the vanaprastha and the sannyasi, are all meant to become perfect yogis or transcendentalists. Since human life is not meant for our enjoying sense gratification like the animals, the four orders of human life are so arranged that one may become perfect in spiritual life. The brahmacaris, or students under the care of a bona fide spiritual master, control the mind by abstaining from sense gratification. A brahmacari hears only words concerning Krishna consciousness; hearing is the basic principle for under- standing, and therefore the pure brahmacari engages fully in harer namanukirtanam—chanting and hearing the glories of the Lord. He restrains himself from the vibrations of material sounds, and his hearing is engaged in the transcendental sound vibration of Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna.

Similarly, the householders, who have some license for sense gratification, perform such acts with great restraint. Sex life, intoxication and meat-eating are general tendencies of human society, but a regulated householder does not indulge in unrestricted sex life and other sense gratification. Marriage on the principles of religious life is therefore current in all civilized human society because that is the way for restricted sex life. This restricted, unattached sex life is also a kind of yajna because the restricted householder sacrifices his general tendency toward sense gratification for higher, transcendental life.

Text 27
Sanskrit working:

  • sarvanidriya-karmani
  • prana-karmani capare
  • atma-samyama-yogagnau
  • juhvati jnana-dipite.
English Translation:
Others, who are interested in achieving self-realization through control of the mind and senses, offer the functions of all the senses, and of the life breath, as oblations into the fire of the controlled mind.


The yoga system conceived by Patanjali is referred to herein. In the Yoga-sutra of Patarijali, the soul is called pratyag-atma and parag- atma. As long as the soul is attached to sense enjoyment it is called parag-atma, but as soon as the same soul becomes detached from such sense enjoyment it is called pratyag-atma. The soul is subjected to the functions often kinds of air at work within the body, and this is perceived through the breathing system. The Patanjali system of yoga instructs one on how to control the functions of the body's air in a technical manner so that ultimately all the functions of the air within become favorable for purifying the soul of material attach- ment.

According to this yoga system, pralyag-atma is the ultimate goal. This pratyag-almd is withdrawn from activities in matter. The senses interact with the sense objects, like the ear for hearing, eyes for seeing, nose for smelling, tongue for tasting, hand for touching, and all of them are thus engaged in activities outside the self. They are called the functions of the prana-vayu. The apana-vayu goes downwards, vyana-vayu acts to shrink and expand, samana-vdyu adjusts equilibrium, udana-vdyu goes upwards—and when one is enlightened, one engages all these in searching for self-realization.

Text 28
Sanskrit working:

English Wording:

  • dravya-yajnas tapo-yajna
  • yoga-yajnas tathapare
  • svadhyya-jnana-yajnas ca
  • yatayah samsita-vratah.
English Translation:
Having accepted strict vows, some become enlightened by sacrificing their possessions, and other; Dy performing severe austerities, by practicing the yoga of eightfold mysticism, or by studying the Vedas to advance in transcendental knowledge.

These sacrifices may be fitted into various divisions. There are persons who are sacrificing their possessions in the form of various kinds of charities. In India, the rich mercantile community or princely orders open various kinds of charitable institutions like dharma-sald, anna-ksetra, atithi-sald, analhalaya and vidyd-pitha. In other countries, too, there are many hospitals, old age homes and similar charitable foundations meant for distributing food, educa- tion and medical treatment free to the poor. All these charitable activities are called dravyamaya-yajna. There are others who, for higher elevation in life or for promotion to higher planets within the universe, voluntarily accept many kinds of austerities such as can- drdyana and cdturmdsya. These processes entail severe vows for conducting life under certain rigid rules.

For example, under the cdturmdsya vow the candidate does not shave for four months during the year (July to October), he does not eat certain foods, does not eat twice in a day or does not leave home. Such sacrifice of the comforts of life is called tapomaya-yajna. There are still others who engage themselves in different kinds of mystic yogas like the Patanjali system (for merging into the existence of the Absolute), or hatha-yoga or astdnga-yoga (for particular perfections). And some travel to all the sanctified places of pilgrimage. All these practices are called yoga-yajna, sacrifice for a certain type of perfection in the material world. There are others who engage themselves in the studies of different Vedic literatures, specifically the Upanisads and Veddnta- sutras, or the Sankhya philosophy.

All of these are called svddhydya- yajna, or engagement in the sacrifice of studies. All these yogis are faithfully engaged in different types of sacrifice and are seeking a higher status of life. Krishna consciousness, however, is different from these because it is the direct service of the Supreme Lord. Krishna consciousness cannot be attained by any one of the above-mentioned types of sacrifice but can be attained only by the mercy of the Lord and His bona fide devotees. Therefore, Krishna consciousness is transcendental.

Text 29
Sanskrit working:

English Wording:

  • apane juhvati pranam prane
  • panam tathapare pranapan-gati
  • ruddhva pranayama-parayanah
  • apare niyataharah pranan pranesu juhvati.
English Translation:
Still others, who are inclined to the process of breath restraint to remain in trance, practice by offering the movement of the outgoing breath into the incoming, and the incoming breath into the out- going, and thus at last remain in trance, stopping all breathing. Others, curtailing the eating process, offer the outgoing breath into itself as a sacrifice.

This system of yoga for controlling the breathing process is called pranayama, and in the beginning it is practiced in the hatha-yoga system through different sitting postures. All of these processes are recommended for controlling the senses and for advancement in spiritual realization. This practice involves controlling the airs within the body so as to reverse the directions of their passage. The apana air goes downward, and the prana air goes up. The pranayama-yogi practices breathing the opposite way until the currents are neutralized intopuraka, equilibrium. Offering the exhaled breath into the inhaled breath is called recaka. When both air currents are completely stopped, one is said to be in kumbhaka-yoga. By practice of kumbhaka-yoga, one can increase the duration of life for perfection in spiritual realization. The intelligent yogi is interested in attaining perfection in one life, without waiting for the next. For by practicing kumbhaka-yoga, the yogis increase the duration of life by many, many years. A Krishna conscious person, however, being always situated in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, automatically becomes the controller of the senses. His senses, being always engaged in the service of Krishna, have no chance of becoming otherwise engaged. So at the end of life, he is naturally transferred to the transcendental plane of Lord Krishna; consequently he makes no attempt to increase his longevity. He is at once raised to the platform of liberation, as stated in Bhagavad-Gita:

"One who engages in unalloyed devotional service to the Lord transcends the modes of material nature and is immediately elevated to the spiritual platform." A Krishna conscious person begins from the transcendental stage, and he is constantly in that consciousness. Therefore, there is no falling down, and ultimately he enters into the abode of the Lord without delay. The practice of reduced eating is automatically done when one eats only Krishna-prasadam, or food which is offered first to the Lord. Reducing the eating process is very helpful in the matter of sense control. And without sense control there is no possibility of getting out of the material entanglement.

Text 30

Sanskrit working:

English wording:

  • sarve ’py ete yajna-vido
  • yajna-ksapita-kalmasah
  • yajna-sistamrta-bhujo
  • yanti brahma sanatanam.
English Translation:
All these performers who know the meaning of sacrifice become cleansed of sinful reactions, and, having tasted the nectar of the results of sacrifices, they advance toward the supreme eternal atmosphere.

From the foregoing explanation of different types of sacrifice (namely sacrifice of one's possessions, study of the Vedas or philosophical doctrines, and performance of the yoga system), it is found that the common aim of all is to control the senses. Sense gratification is the root cause of material existence; therefore, unless and until one is situated on a platform apart from sense gratification, there is no chance of being elevated to the eternal platform of full knowledge, full bliss and full life. This platform is in the eternal atmosphere, or Brahman atmosphere. All the above-mentioned sacrifices help one to become cleansed of the sinful reactions of material existence. By this advancement in life, not only does one become happy and opulent in this life, but also, at the end. he enters into the eternal kingdom of God, either merging into the impersonal Brahman or associating with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna.

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