Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 4, sloka 36

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath

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Sloka 36


Even if you are the most sinful of all sinners you shall cross over all sins by the raft of knowledge.


The emphasis on this Sloka is on “Papa and Papebhyaha”. It means, “The sin and those who commit acts of sin.”

We have dealt with sin several times already in the preceding chapters. “Sin” can be defined as act/acts or thoughts that generate in the mind that are contrary to the sastras and which are considered as “unrighteous.” Hatred, lust, greed, arrogance, enmity, anger etc make one commit acts of sin. The root cause for committing the sin is “Ego” which is man’s worst enemy in the spiritual progress towards “Liberation.”

In the Hindu philosophy, the emphasis is on achieving “Liberation”. Liberation is freedom from rebirth, uniting with the God principle and experiencing the “Eternal Bliss.” Attachment to the physical body, one’s family, friends, positions acquired in life prevents us progressing in the path to Liberation. Each one of us has gone through several births and deaths in the past and the probabilities are that we will continue to progress in the same path and end up having to be born again and again. The cycle of births and deaths is the “samsara”, the philosophy talks about and the samsara is compared to an ocean in this Sloka.

We need to have the knowledge that we are on an ocean and that there is a shore at the other end. We have knowingly or unknowingly out of ignorance committed a number of sins in the past that includes past births also. We have not paid for those mistakes yet. These have accumulated and it has become a big and mighty ocean. If it dawns on us that we have made ourselves drown into the ocean and we need to come out of the ocean then we have to look for means to reach the shore. The means given by Lord Krishna out of compassion to all is “Jnana”. The Jnana to dispel the ignorance will then act as the raft on our life’s boat and assists us towards having a smooth passage to the shore overcoming all obstacles in the way. The main message from the Lord to all spiritual seekers is “Nishkama karma and Karma Phala tyaga.” The sins referred to are the acts committed out of ignorance of one’s own true identity and the sinners are those who conduct such sins. The philosophy does not condemn one as sinner but points out to the sins in the actions. Swamy Vivekananda stresses on his commentary on Sloka 3, chapter 2, (Klaibyam Maa sma gamaha Partha) that any work which brings the latent divinity is punya (virtue) and that which makes the body and mind weak is verily, sin. Discrimination between “Truth and un-truth” and dispassion to worldly possessions are the keystone of spiritual knowledge which will assist in crossing over the ocean of samsara.

Copyright for the texts on Bhagavad Gita by Dr. P.V. Nath, UK.
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Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 4, sloka 37

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath

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Sloka 37


O Arjuna, just as the blazing fire reduces fuel to ashes, so does the fire of knowledge reduce all actions to ashes.


After having referred the Jnana to the raft in the last verse, Jnana is compared to “the fire.” What does the fire do?

Any item that is burnt by the fire is considered to be the fuel for the fire. Firewood, any material made of wood like the chair, table etc, paper and any flammable product can be the fuel. The fuel would have some form of identity before being burnt. After it is burnt, there is no more identity left of the fuel. What are left are only the ashes.

All the actions we conduct do normally end up with entry of new vasanas on our mind. This would result in further new actions and consequent accumulation of new vasanas. It is an ongoing chain of actions and reactions. The purpose of Jnana given by the Lord is to clear the vasanas without formation of new vasanas. This is known as “burning of the existing vasanas.” The vasanas are technically said to have burnt to ashes with no more identity left. Those actions conducted without “the Jnana” (out of ignorance) generally are considered as “sins” because they lead to rebirth into this world of samsara. Based on this explanation, Jnana is said to burn the sins.

This is the time to introduce three popular words in the literature concerning actions and reactions. These are:

In relation to actions, Sanchita  –  past
Prarabdha  –  present
Aagaami  –  future

Whatever actions we conducted in the past life that resulted in further vasanas and such vasanas have not materialised into actions remain in our mind at the time of physical death as unfulfilled desires/hatreds etc. These are the bundles of vasanas we carry to our next birth, next stage of life. This is known as “Sanchita karmas” .It is like the sack we carry on our back as our luggage. No one can carry the bag for us and it is solely on us to take responsibility for all the unfulfilled vasanas of the past.

In the new birth or the new stage in our life, we will get the fruition of some of these accumulated vasanas. It is like taking some items from the sack we carry.

For whatever good we may have done in the past, we might get good benefit/reward in some form or other. (Example- in an examination we might have probably entitled to get 80% of marks but we may end up by getting highest marks.) On the other hand, for whatever wrong actions we might have conducted in the past and not experienced the results thereof, we would experience some form of hardship or other. (Taking the example of the student sitting for an examination – the student might have been entitled to higher marks but will end up getting lower marks.)

We can use this explanation for happy and painful experiences in our lives. The sastras say this is the “Prarabdha” which is the fate. It is the fate decreed by the Supreme for our actions of the past. In other words, it is the result of our actions committed knowingly/unknowingly in the past.

We still may have a number of unfulfilled items in the sack that would need to be taken to the next birth or next stage in our life. In our present life, we would have added more vasanas into the sack with the innumerable thoughts that cross the mind. We would have added additional desires/hatreds into the sack and death may have proceeded before the fulfilment of those at the time of death. So, we would not know what the future holds for us for tomorrow to come in our life either as a new stage in life or a new birth. This is known as “Aagaami.” It simply means “not known”. We do not know tomorrow and hence it becomes “Aagaami.”

Even though we have no control over the present from results of the past, we, the humans have the blessings of the intellect that will help us to correct the present actions and thoughts. By understanding the scriptures, knowing dharma and adharma, truth and un-truth, we can put new good vasanas in our sacks and will then be expected to have a better tomorrow. The Jnana which we are learning now will help in making for a better tomorrow not only for us but through our actions for the society.

To summarize: we can make our future blissful by our present actions conducted with the knowledge acquired (following the path of righteousness), learn to accept the hardships now as the results of our past (grin and bear and at the same time do not forget to continue to discharge the duty as far as possible.) Thus we can leave a better world for tomorrow not only for us but for our future generations to come.

Copyright for the texts on Bhagavad Gita by Dr. P.V. Nath, UK.
Questions concerning the text please direct to Dr. Nath at ““. Find out more at Follow us on Twitter: or Follow us on Posterous:

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Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 4, sloka 38

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath 

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Sloka 38 


Certainly there is nothing as pure as knowledge in this world. He who is himself perfected in yoga finds it in the Self by himself in due season. 


Na hi jnanena sadrusham pavitram: there is nothing as pure as the knowledge.
Iha vidyate: certainly/indeed. 

This statement applies to all forms of knowledge, be it spiritual or be it material science, more so in relation to the spiritual knowledge. 

The root word for the Vedas is “vid”. It means “to know.” The knowledge of one’s own self, the knowledge of the eternal truth is emphasised as the real knowledge in the Vedas. Vedas are the authoritative books on Hindu philosophy. 

Opposite of the knowledge is “ignorance.” Ignorance of our true nature, ignorance of our origin has made us fall into this whirlpool called samsara. We are experiencing so much of suffering in our life and see suffering all round us. 

The Gita is to remind us of our true nature which is Tat-Tvam-Asi. “Thou Art That” says the Lord. What are we doing? What have we done?
We have forgotten this “Maha vakya” (famous statement from Chandogya Upanishad, Sama Veda.) We have covered ourselves with ignorance and the root cause for it is the development of “ego”. Finds it in the Self:
“The Self” referred to is the Atman/Soul. It is within us. The same Atman is also in all forms of life. There is no differentiation in the Self. It is “Nirakara, Nirguna”. The entire journey of every individual, taking one back to all the past births is all about the realising this statement. We start the spiritual quest with the question “Ko’ham?” – “Who am I?”
The end for the quest is finding the answer “So’ ham” – “I am That.” 

In due course:
The time taken for “Vasana kshaya and mano nasha” (destruction of all vasanas and destruction of the mind) is not in our hands. We fall prey to worldly pleasures and either fall down from the spiritual heights achieved or stay trapped in the present without upward progress. But, at the end, each one of us will realise the truth and attain Moksha. We are not told that it is possible for only selected few but only that it will happen in due course of time. 

The Lord has no favourites. In chapter 12 He enumerates 36 qualities of a true Bhakta and says that he who develops all the qualities of a Bhakta is inevitably “verily the Lord Himself” only and there is no differentiation between such a devotee and the Lord. What He is asking us is development of all divine qualities (chapter 16) / qualities of a true Bhakta (chapter 12) /qualities of a true Jnani (chapter 13) / features of Sthitaprajna (chapter 2) or features of a Gunatita (chapter 14). All of these have one thing in common and that is annihilation of “ego” and surrender to Him. 

Copyright for the texts on Bhagavad Gita by Dr. P.V. Nath, UK.
Questions concerning the text please direct to Dr. Nath at ““. Find out more at Follow us on Twitter: or Follow us on Posterous:

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The 7th International Gita Conference | Haridwar, India | 2009

Na me’ bhaktaha pranshyati OM Jaya Guru Datta

The Seventh Global Gita Conference


SGS Bhadrakali Peetham, Haridwar

(Opposite: Kachchi ashram, Saptasarovar Maarg)


Saturday, Sunday, 24, 25 October, 2009

Organised by

The International Gita Foundation Trust ®

(Chief Patron, Hon’ble Sri T.N.Chaturvedi, Former Governor, Karnataka,)

In conjunction with

Sri Avadhoota Datta Peetham, Mysore.

The conference includes:

  • Gita Recitation on the banks of the river Ganga by revered Swamijis and delegates,
  • Blessings and discourses by:
    • Poojya Sri Sri Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji, Mysore,
    • Poojya Sri Datta Vijayananda Teertha Swamiji, Mysore,
    • Mahamandaleshwar Poojya Swami Shri Satyamitrananda Giri ji Maharaj, Bharat Mata Mandir, Haridwar, (to be confirmed)
    • Dharma Ratna Swami Shri Gopal Sharan Ji Devacharya, Shri Golak Dham Ashram, New Delhi,
    • Yog Rishi Poojya Swami Shri Ram Dev Ji Maharaj, Patanjali Yog Peeth, Haridwar.
    • Poojya Swami Shri Chidanand Saraswati Ji Maharaj, Paramarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh,
    • Sadhvi Bhagavati, Paramarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh,
    • Poojya Swami Shri Pranavananda Ji Maharaj, Omkara ashrama, Bellary,
    • Sri Raghavan, Duva Associates, Bangalore,
    • And few more saints and philosophers of repute,
  • Cultural programme by visually challenged artists, Bangalore.
  • Gita recitation by young children.

Further details will be released soon.

Local tours, Accommodation, booking:

Ripsan Travels Pvt Ltd, Dehradun. (Official travel agents)

Contact:, 0135 2642906, 3291528 9412058057

Chitra Jaikumar:; 080 25240082; 94486 72554

IGFT, 1473, 2nd cross, judicial layout, GKVK post, Bangalore 560065, mobile: 98452 87516,

Shri Ganapati Sachchidananda Ashrama, Mysore, 570025. 0821 2481482,

Des Raj Sapra, Bhadrakali Peetham, Opp Kachchi Ashram, Haridwar, 249410. 01334 261478

Chairperson: Dr.P.V.Nath MBE, Tapaswi, 21 Beamish View, Stanley, DH 9 0XB, UK, 077791 78430, 01207 290606,

Official website:

The 5th International Gita Conference | UK | 2007

“Faith and Global Peace”
August 18th and 19th, 2007, Durham, UK

 Jaya Guru Datta.
Due to the Lords grace I was able to attend this conference, and at the break between the discussion of chapter 2 and 3 of the Gita in the Newsletter, I hope I can convey some of the vibrant energy of those two days to you – and I´d like to strongly recommend you to make an extra effort to join the 6th Gita Conference next year.

So before this one the International Gita Foundation Trust under the auspices of Dr. Nath already organized four annual conferences, all held in India. Now for the first time a location on another continent was chosen, and most likely next year will see the conference being held in New York. In the UK the conference was organized jointly by the Gita Trust and Kalapremi, an arts development organization, and I congratulate them both on the fine organization which created an inspiring and spiritually refreshing and uplifting atmosphere for all the attendants. My sincere thanks go to all the women and men involved who made this a big success for more than 300 people.

Now I can´t do justice to all the speakers in a short report, so I beg the pardon of those not mentioned hereafter – they all were most valuable to create the overall outcome. However let me single out some personal highlights. Whenever in the following there is a quote from a speaker, then it is taken from the Souvenir book released at the conference.

So the motto as stated on the front page of the Souvenir was:

“In all beings separated into different categories, that knowledge which sees the One inseparable reality, know that to be the pure knowledge.”
(Gita, Chapter 18, Verse 20)

This topic of Oneness in all religions was the central theme especially of the second day, where it was displayed on stage by representatives of a variety of churches and religions – in the morning we had speakers of acclaimed reputation, in the afternoon we had teenagers talking about the role of the youth towards Global Peace. And two things really made me happy:

(1) To hear and to see that they all were as sincere on their own path as they had a loving understanding for the different roads taken by the others to achieve the same goal uniting them all.

(2) To experience that for the Youth Forum in the afternoon the conference hall was even more crowded than ever before at the conference (the different parts could be booked separately).
Let me quote from the paper by Miss Lalita Kameswari from India, 19 years old and winner of the Gita competition the year before, invited to the conference by the Trust:

“Youth of our nation is experiencing today the need for an ideal which consistently motivates them for a self-sacrificing and dynamic action. It is natural for the youth to have the daring to plan, an irresistible urge and energy to work, the enthusiasm to conceive, …., an avalanche of power and strength, energy and vitality … but then how to train our mind in the very midst of confusing situations, how to juggle explosive conditions, threatening challenges and suffocative situations? This is what is exhaustively explained in Gita.”

In my humble opinion the conference really succeeded in taking up this very important point of transferring the ancient knowledge of the Gita to the young people today. And as this is what the future of all of us will be based upon, therefore I started my report with it and congratulate the organizers on their achievement.

But as the youth as well as we all need guidance, for the conference it was but natural to start with messages and blessings by the dignitaries:
H.H. Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji
H.H. Sri Jagadguru Taralabalu Swamy
H.H. Sri Sukhabodhananda Swamy
H.H. Sri Japananada Swamy.

From the talks please let me single out H.H. Sri Sukhabodhananda Swamy. He gave a scintillating speech on “Problems are inevitable – Suffering is optional” or put in another way: “Learn to have fun with a problem – that´s how to treat a problem wisely.” Thereby we may reach peace of mind and follow “the principal message of Bhagavad Gita being ‘Sama’ or ‘Equal’ to diverse emotions.” He demonstrated his approach very vividly throughout his talk by explaining the essence of the Gita on the fingers of just one hand: four fingers standing for the four ways of Yoga, then the forefinger bowing down to the thumb for the Mudra to represent life as whole and complete in every moment. Sri Sukhabodhananda was a great example himself that “to be spiritual” means “to heighten the spirit”.

Then in the evening we had another great example of this from Bhakti Bharati Pujya Shri Prema Pandurang and Party. She gave an equally scintillating “Musical Discourse” on Sri Krishna and the Gita – making all the audience forget that we had had a full day with about nine hours of talks already. It was as inspiring for the mind as it was a joy for the eyes, the ears and the heart. And it made us remember that the Gita is not a “text” but it is a beautiful poem and a “celestial song”.

So let me end with a quote from Dr. Nath:

“Wherever there is hatred let us sow the seed of love,
Wherever there is animosity, let us sow the seed of friendship,
Whenever we see ignorance, pain and sorrow, let us show compassion.”

With deeply felt gratitude for the conference and for the blessings of being able to attend it.

Conference Program:
The International Gita Foundation Trust:
Sri Sukhabodhananda Swamy:
Bhakti Bharati Pujya Shri Prema Pandurang: