Gita series 59. Bhagavad Gita Chapter IV verses 35-39

“Having thus obtained the supreme knowledge, you will not again be subjected to delusion. When you have attained that kind of knowledge, first you will see the entire universe within you and then in Me. Even if you are the worst sinner, yet you will be able to cross the sea of sin by using that Knowledge as boat. Arjuna! Like blazing fire turns the logs into ashes, the fire of Knowledge turns all actions into ashes. There is no purifier like Knowledge in this earth. One who has purified his heart by persistent practice of karma yoga automatically realizes the Self (within) in course of time. The one who has mastered his senses by devoted to his Knowledge in absolute faith, attains that Knowledge. Having thus known the Truth, he immediately attains supreme peace (Self realization).”

In the previous verses (Gita series 58), Krishna stressed the importance of Supreme knowledge that is required to realize the Self. Only a living master can lead one into the right spiritual path. Voracious reading could lead to confusion and misapprehension. The master or guru teaches his disciple about the Brahman. If a guru himself continues to dwell on rituals, how can he lead his disciple to Self-realization? Therefore, the role of guru assumes significance. If one is able to attain the true knowledge, he becomes devoid of delusion. What is true knowledge? True knowledge is that knowledge which makes one realise that what is perceived is all Brahman. Delusion leads to duality. Duality means comprehending a second, apart from the Brahman. Truth or Knowledge is non-duality which advocates omnipresence nature of God and at last he realizes that Self is not different from self (God is not different from the self). If one is afflicted with delusion or maya, because he had not attained the necessary knowledge to realize the Brahman, he is subjected to pleasure and pain. Delusion makes one feel the dichotomies. Dichotomies, though continue to exist, a Self-realized person does not take cognisance of the opposites. It is the Supreme knowledge that makes to him to believe that everything is God given and pre-determined. He knows that whatever happens to him is due to his karmic afflictions. Isha Upanishad verse 7 explains this thus “When a person knows that he himself has become everything and he knows the oneness of things, how can he hate or love anything?” ‘Seeing the universe within you’ means the Self-realization within. Krishna further says ‘and then in Me’ indicating that He is that Brahman. Self-realisation happens in two stages. First, looking within for the source of creation and the second stage is the affirmation that the Brahman, the original source is within. Self-realisation happens decisively and the process is not reversed.

Even if one is the worst sinner, if he has realized the Self within, then he is absolved of his entire sins. Assuming that the sins committed by him are the size of a sea, he can easily cross the sea of sins using his knowledge as the ship. But without acquiring the necessary knowledge, he continues to dwell on his karmas and the emancipation evades him. He feels the dualities or opposites such as pleasure and pain. Dualities drag a person further down from the path of spirituality and make him suffer from attachments, desires, sensory afflictions, etc. Unfortunately if such a situation unfolds, he can never get away from the effects of karmas and is born again and again. But, if one acquires the necessary knowledge to realize the Brahman, all his actions are obliterated, like logs put into a fire turning into ash. From the ash, the burnt object cannot be retrieved. Once the effects of karmas are burnt, they can never resurrect. Karmas of past and present are burnt, leaving nothing in karmic account. Unless karmic account becomes zero, future births can never be avoided. The Brahman has no role to play in removing one’s karmas. They are not removed by prayers and rituals. They can be removed only by unconditional surrender to Him. The thought of unconditional surrender arises only if one attains the Supreme Knowledge. Only meditation helps, nothing else. That is why Krishna says that Knowledge is the best purifier. Krishna refers to mental or internal purification. Spirituality does not bother about exterior. When the mind gets rid of desires and attachments, mind becomes purified. If one is able to get rid of one’s ego, rest of the process of realisation happens automatically. No more efforts are needed and no practice is required. Ego-less thought, processes the balance. The mind can be purified only by following the principles of karma yoga, discussed in the earlier chapters. Karma yoga means continuously performing prescribed actions without attachments to the fruits of such actions. A typical example of karma yogi is the nature of a person helping a poor student to pursue his education by sacrificing his week end parties. Week end party surely is a luxury for him, than helping a poor boy to pursue his studies. For him, Self-realization happens automatically, without any additional efforts.

Such a situation arises only for a person who has mastered his senses. Mastering senses does not mean getting rid of everything or staying away from everything. Conquering senses is a misnomer. Senses can never be conquered. They can be mastered. If somebody shouts, we hear that shout. Unless one’s hearing is impaired, one hears that shout. Mastering the senses means that one is not distracted by that shout. He will still hear that shout, but the sound does not distract him. For him sound and silence (dualities or opposites) are the same. This is possible only if one has the highest form of knowledge that has been discussed above. It is not enough if one has attained that kind of knowledge, but he has to repose faith in that knowledge. He has to believe that his knowledge is the supreme and will lead to Self-realization. Lack of faith is the greatest hindrance to spiritual progression. If all these combinations work together, he attains the bliss and moves closer to the Brahman. Truth here means “I am That” or “I am Brahman”. There is no second to the Brahman and all that pervades the universe are the reflection of the Brahman, causing an affirmation that That Brahman is Me.

Further Readings:

E-Book - Bhagavad Gita - Chapters I and II

Bhagavad Gita. Chapter IV. 31 - 34.

Bhagavad Gita. Chapter IV. 40 - 42.