Bhagavad Gita Series IV. Verses 1-2:
The fourth chapter of Bhagavad Gita is known as jnana-karma-sanyasa-yoga. This chapter deals with higher level of knowledge. This chapter contains 42 verses. Jnana here means the knowledge about the Brahman which is known as the supreme knowledge. In this chapter, Krishna continues to dwell on karma yoga and further elaborates on sankhya yoga and renunciation. Krishna teaches sanyasa yoga in the last of chapter of Bhagavad Gita, as renunciation requires intellect of the highest order. In this chapter, Krishna declares the secret of His avatar. Krishna continues. “I imparted this perpetual yoga to Sun. Sun imparted to his son Vaivasvat manu and he imparted this to his son Ikshvahu. Arjuna! This yoga that was taught through family line is known to Raja Rishis. With the passage of time, this yoga seems to have been lost.” In the second chapter, Krishna discussed about karma yoga. He proceeded to discuss elaborately about karma yoga in chapter III.
Krishna begins this chapter by saying ‘perpetual yoga’, by which He means karma yoga combined with devotion and renunciation. The word perpetual signifies the continuity of karmas as otherwise the world cannot exist if everyone is sedentary. Karma yoga is the only yoga that has been taught by Krishna through the last three chapters. To substantiate that karma yoga is meant for all, He makes a reference Sun god and his dynasty, by making it amply clear that karma yoga is to be followed not only by sanyasis, but household as well. Without functioning of house hold, sanyasis cannot exist, yet another incidence of interdependence. The entire creation thrives on the principle of interdependence. The logical end to yoga is the merger of soul with the Brahman. If anyone practices yoga without this in mind, it only leads him to obscurity. Raja rishis mean those sages who ruled kingdoms. For example, king Janaka is considered as one of the best known Raja rishis.
The kind of spiritual knowledge he possessed was inconceivable. Sage Vishwamitra is also known as raja rishi and his yogic powers are well known. Krishna uses the term ‘raja rishi’ because Arjuna also belonged to the dynasty of kings. In the ancient times, kings evinced keen interest in learning the moral and ethical values of administration through the means of yoga. Their primary interest was only the welfare of their citizens. There could be another reason for Krishna to take sun as an example. Sun derives its light from the self-illuminating Atman. A fully realised person establishes perpetual contact with the Brahman that is reflected in the form of powerful vibratory radiance around him. He draws light from Him and distributes. The sun does not require anything in return for His duty of illuminating and sustaining the earth. He performs his duties without any deviation and distraction. Sun is a typical example of karma yogi. Krishna proceeds to say that this yoga got dissipated with the passage of time.
For reaching the Brahman, one can choose any of the paths such as karma yoga (action), bhakti yoga (devotion), jnana yoga (knowledge). The combination of all the three yogas makes a person to advance in spirituality with unfaltering ease. Krishna expresses his concern for dissipating nature of yoga, as He thinks that this yoga should never get ruined with time. As long as the earth exists, this karma yoga cannot vanish in its entirety as, it is perdurable. Karmas have to performed for the existence of earth, but they are not performed in the way Krishna wanted this to be. Krishna highlights the difference between performing karma and renouncing its fruits. Without performing karmas the earth cannot exist therefore, it is a necessity. But renouncing the effects of karma is yoga which Krishna says is dissipated. This is the reason of lesser number of self-realized persons now.