śārīram kevalam karma
kurvan nā’pnoti kilbiṣam (4.21)
[4.21]:”He who has conquered his mind and senses, and given up all objects of sensual pleasure, does not partake of sin even when his body seems to be engaged in action.”
It is only the physical body of the man, who has overcome both his mind and senses, renounced all objects of worldly enjoyment, and achieved total freedom from desire, that seems to be engaged in action, whereas, in truth, he does nothing, and that is why he does not incur sin. He is perfect and so he is emancipated from the cycle of birth and death.
samaḥ siddhāv asiddhau ca
kṛtvā’pi na nibadhyate (4.22)
[4.22]:”Contented with what comes to him unsought, he who is indifferent to happiness and sorrow, free from envy, and even-minded in success and failure, is a man of equanimity, unenslaved by action even when he performs it.”
When a man is contented with whatever comes to him without being desired or asked for, indifferent to happiness and sorrow, and love and animosity, free from any negative feeling, and abiding with equanimity in attainment and non attainment, he is not fettered by action even though he appears to be engaged in it.
Since the goal he had aimed at is now achieved and it will not ever desert him, he is freed from the terror of defeat. Looking alike at achievement and non-achievement this man acts, but without infatuation. And what he does is nothing other than yagya, the act of supreme sacrifice.
samagram pravilīyate (4.23)
[4.23]:”When a man is free from attachment, his mind rests firmly in the knowledge of God, and when his actions are like the yagya made to God, he is truly emancipated and all his actions cease to be.”
Performance of yagya itself is action and direct perception of God is knowledge. Acting in the spirit of sacrifice and dwelling in the knowledge achieved from direct perception of God, all the actions of this liberated man who is devoid of attachment and desire undergo a process of dissolution.
Now his actions are of no consequence to the worshipper, because God, the goal he had striven for, is no longer away from him. Now, what other fruit will grow from a fruit? Therefore, such liberated men’s need of action for themselves comes to an end. Yet they act as messiahs, but even while doing this they remain untouched by what they do.
brahmā’rpaṇam brahma havir
brahmāgnau brahmaṇā hutam,
brahmai’va tena gantavyam
[4.24]:”Since both the dedication and the oblation itself are God, and it is the Godlike teacher who offers the oblation to the fire which is also God, the attainment, too, of the man whose mind is set on God like action is God himself.”
The emancipated man’s yagya is God, what he offers as oblation is God, and the sacred fire to which the sacrifice is made is also God. That is to say that what is offered by the Godlike worshipper to the sacred fire that is an embodiment of God is also God himself. That which is worthy of being secured by the man whose actions have been dissolved and stilled by God’s loving touch is also God. So this man does nothing; he only acts for the good of others.
These are attributes of the realized sage who has reached the stage of final attainment. But what is the nature of yagya that is performed by worshippers who have just set out on the quest ?
Sri Krishn exhorted Arjun in the last chapter to perform the ordained action. Elaborating on what this ordained action is, he said that it is performance of yagya. (3.9) Anything apart from this that is done by mortals is only bondage. But action in the true sense provides freedom from fetters of the world. So Arjun was told to rid himself of attachment and act in the spirit of renunciation for the accomplishment of yagya.
In doing so, however, Yogeshwar Krishn raised a new question: What is yagya and how to perform it in the due manner? Thereafter he elucidated the characteristic features of yagya, its origin, and the profit that ensues from it. So the characteristic features of yagya, were dwelt upon. But it is only now that the meaning of yagya is explained.
daivam evā’pare yajñam
brahmāgnāv apare yajñam
yajñenai’vo pajuhvati (4.25)
[4.25]:”Some yogis perform yagya to foster divine impulses, whereas some other yogis offer the sacrifice of yagya to (a seer who is) the fire of God.”
In the last verse Sri Krishn portrayed the sacrifice made by sages who have made their abode in the Supreme Spirit. But he now depicts the yagya performed by worshippers who wish to be initiated into yog. These novices undertake sincere performance of yagya to gods to foster them, that is, they strengthen and augment divine impulses in the heart. Here it is useful to remember how Brahma had directed mankind to foster gods by yagya. The more virtues there are cultivated and garnered in the heart, the more the worshipper advances towards the ultimate excellence until he at last attains it. The novice worshipper’s yagya is thus aimed at strengthening the forces of righteousness in his heart.
A detailed account of the divine treasure of righteousness is given in the first three verses of Chapter 16. Righteous impulses lie dormant in all of us and it is an important duty to cherish and wake them up. Pointing this out, Yogeshwar Krishn tells Arjun not to grieve because he is endowed with these godly merits. With them he will dwell in Sri Krishn and attain to his eternal being, because righteousness brings the ultimate good.
On the contrary, there are the demoniacal, devilish forces which lead the soul to rebirth in low and inferior forms; It is these negative impulses that are offered as oblation to fire. This is yagya and also its inception.
Other yogis perform yagya by offering sacrifice to the accomplished teacher in his heart-the sacred fire that is an embodiment of God.Sri Krishn further adds that in the human body he is the adhiyagya or that in whom the oblation is consumed.
Sri Krishn too was a yogi and an accomplished teacher.These other yogi offer oblations to the Godlike teacher who also annihilates evils like fire. They perform sacrifices aimed at this accomplished teacher who is also an embodiment of sacrifice. In brief, they concentrate their minds on the form of the accomplished teacher, a realized sage.
[As expounded by most revered Gurudev Swami Adgadanand Jee Paramhans]
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