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Bhagavad Gita Chapter 4 – Verse 11 – 15

Following is an excerpt from an Audio Class on Bhagavad Gita Chapter 4 – Verse 11 to 15 and it is the brief discussion about Transcendental Knowledge.

In these verses, Krishna explains how actions become ‘Transcendental’ when executed in full knowledge of Krishna at the Supreme Goal of all path. Transcendental means to go beyond, when we go beyond something we’re called as transcending something. So in the material world, when on goes to spiritual world, that is one is transcending the material world. Therefore, whatever actions one takes in this world, it can be either good or bad, one would get reaction for the same as every action gives you equal and opposite reaction. The irony is that if you take a good action, you will get good reaction but good reaction means again you have to take birth, which means it not actually good in one sense. Whereas bad action means bad reaction and here again you have to take birth. Therefore, one has to perform transcendental action which are beyond good and bad of this world. That doesn’t mean one has to change his personality or job or dress, it simply means you don’t have to work for yourself but work for a noble cause because when there is a noble cause one doesn’t get a good or bad reaction but one goes beyond. So Bhagavad Gita is teaching us that we have to perform actions that will not give us any reactions so that we can get liberated and we can go back to spiritual world. So that is why the word transcendental is used. Now in this section Krishna is saying that our actions become transcendental when we are in full knowledge of Krishna and when we are remembering Krishna then we’re safe. All of us go through difficulties in life and all us have set backs, ups and downs and sometimes we also get happiness, so if we are remembering Krishna when we’re in happiness and distress both time then our actions become transcendental.

In previous lectures, there was a brief discussion that somebody may accuse Krishna of our lifestyle and our behavior and hold Krishna responsible for all bad activities happening but Krishna denies the same by narrating the most important verses in Bhagavad Gita especially related to Hinduism in Chapter 4 Verse 13. Krishna says that he is not the doer but he created a system so that people can be happy and can engage in a nice way. Krishna clearly says that he created the four divisions of Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra but he also makes it clear that this division are made on the bases of the modes of nature that we’ve acquired and work that we have performed. Again, people accuse that there is caste system based on birth and Krishna says that it is not based on birth but based on the modes that we acquire. We all have different modes and nature, so Krishna says the divisions are made according to the three modes.

However, when there is exploitation and discrimination based on caste then that is wrong and that is what we have to cure. Considering an example of husband and wife, both are doctors then is it possible that their son is also called as a doctor? The answer is No, because he has to qualify himself to be a doctor, he may get good facility or good advice to be a doctor but he himself has to become a doctor on his own. Similarly, someone is born in a Brahmin family and he has all the opportunity to become a Brahmin and for which he first has to qualify himself as a Brahmin to be called as a Brahmin. So a child of a Brahmin family cannot simply say that “my parents are Brahmin so I am also a Brahmin.” So the conclusion is that one who is born in a doctor family has a chance to become a doctor and one who is born in a Brahmin family has a chance to become a Brahmin but they both have to qualify themselves on their own.

Krishna has made a perfect system and we should appreciate Krishna’s wisdom in creating the three modes and creating this material world in such a way that we can smoothly practice our duties and go back to Godhead and just like our body have legs which is important for walking, the society has Shudras who are the labor class and every society needs a working class. Now the body is moving because of the legs and it is the main part of a human body so Shudras is helping us move in life but in today’s world it has become a bad word and it is natural because people have abused the system and this is happening at global level, not just in India. The social body has corrupted because the Brahmins became corrupted. Therefore, we have to give importance to this Varnashrama System and this is scientific and not any exploratory system. Now this system has got corrupted over a period of time and in Iskcon we are trying to serve in a humble way by creating a class of Brahmins. At the same time it does not mean we don’t need Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra. Ultimately, we are focusing on making a person a devotee of the Lord and a devotee of the Lord is willing to do services of all four categories. But for sustaining our services in long run and be peaceful, we have to pick up services which are according to our nature and be happily situated. So the Varnashrama system is not the ultimate goal of life but Varnashrama system is to help us engage in devotional service properly according to what you like and as you grow older you have to do work according to your nature.

So Krishna is saying that he is not responsible for your actions but what will happen if we understand that Krishna is not responsible, if we stop playing the blame game and accept that Krishna is not responsible for our action then we will realize that we should blame our desires and therefore we won’t get reaction to it. So if you’re in misery or distress then don’t blame God but your desires because of which you’re at this situation.

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