Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 4, sloka 19

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath
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Sloka 19


He whose undertakings are all free from desire and purpose, whose actions have been burnt by the fire of knowledge, him, the wise call a “Pandit”.


“Arambha” means “beginning.” “Samarambha” means “beginning of actions or undertaking of actions.”

There is usually a purpose and desire behind undertaking important actions in one’s life. For example, the parents who decide to send their child to the university do so with a desire to make him a degree holder who will become eligible to work and stand on his own two feet. The couple who would like to get married will do so with a desire to enjoy the married life together.

Samkalpa: “mental resolve, volition, purpose, intention.”

Usually in the Hindu tradition, before any major undertaking like marriage, building a new house, sending the children to university etc, the concerned persons conduct a “Vrata” (religious observance) to please the Lord and request Him/Her to bestow grace. The priest who conducts the Vrata makes the individual repeat some prayers that declare the will/mental resolve to conduct the religious observance. This intention to conduct the religious observance is “Samkalpa.” The purpose behind an undertaking is “Samkalpa.”

Kamasamkalpa: if the purpose behind the intention is to fulfill a desire it is called “Kama samkalpa.”
Varjitaha: free from.

Pandit (also spelt as Pundit):

It is a title given to a Hindu scholar. Nowadays it refers to any learned person. A well learned wise man is a pandit.

In this sloka Sri Krishna says that a truly wise man who conducts actions in the spirit of nishkama karma (desire-less actions) and with no egoistic feeling is a Pandit. He has understood the principle of “Karma” and knows the intricacies of actions. From this statement we can understand that mere book-learning is not enough to receive the title of “Pandit.” Pandit should have mastered both the Jnana and karma yogas and has no desire and purpose behind any actions. He works as the servant of the Lord within. He looks upon his body as “Upadhi” or medium for the Lord to express His actions.

If we can realise that we are “Nimittamatra” (visible agents of actions) we would have understood the philosophy of the Gita.

“Thus says so the wise” says the Lord. He does not say “I say so” but brings in the authority of the learned scholars.

The learned scholars compare the knowledge to “Fire.” Fire” as we know is a great purifier. The heat from the fire is used in many situations like purifying the gold, sterilising instruments etc. (water and air are also the purifiers)

The desires are precursors of actions and so our desires have to be burnt out in the fire of knowledge. This comes from “Atma Jnana” or knowledge of the Self.

Our heart beats incessantly and our lungs function constantly without the agency of “I”. This is so because they have become “involuntary actions.” We do not think of the benefits of breathing and circulation before every breath and heart beat. There is no “Arambha” for these two acts. How does this happen?

This is because at birth we trigger off a centre in our brain that takes over these bodily involuntary actions. It works constantly till we depart from this world. Similarly our actions as members of this universe should be involuntary actions without any desire for actions or for the results of actions. “Sri Krishnarpanamastu” (I offer all to Krishna.) should be the spirit of any work we undertake.

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Posted via email from International Gita Foundation Trust