Gita 04.33 explained

BG 4.33

These are all different kinds of Yajna, now Krishna will tell which kind of Yajna is better

Bg 4.33

śreyān dravya-mayād yajñāj
jñāna-yajñaḥ paran-tapa
sarvaṁ karmākhilaṁ pārtha
jñāne parisamāpyate

Word for word: 

śreyān — greater; dravyamayāt — of material possessions; yajñāt — than the sacrifice; jñānayajñaḥ — sacrifice in knowledge; paramtapa — O chastiser of the enemy; sarvam — all; karma — activities; akhilam — in totality; pārtha — O son of Pṛthā; jñāne — in knowledge; parisamāpyate — end.

Translation: 

O chastiser of the enemy, the sacrifice performed in knowledge is better than the mere sacrifice of material possessions. After all, O son of Pṛthā, all sacrifices of work culminate in transcendental knowledge.

 

Śreyān -> Better than. dravya-mayād yajñāj -> sacrifice of one’s wealth or his possession. jñāna-yajñaḥ paran-tapa -> It is better actually the sacrifice of knowledge. sarvaṁ karmākhilaṁ pārtha -> sarvaṁ~ karmā~akhilaṁ -> all activities. Their ultimate goal is what parisamāpyate -> end culminate, they attain their highest perfection in gyana. What is this gyana? -> This is the knowledge of our true identity and of our eternal activity.

So 

sarvaṁ karmākhilaṁ pārtha
jñāne parisamāpyate

Krishna is saying if we will compare, some people sacrifice their position and some people will engage their intellectual faculty, among these people who engage their intellectual faculty are better, because ultimately for people it is intellectual faculty which to be educated, intellectual faculty which will redirect our heart from matter towards Krishna. From world to reality beyond the world, so this gyana is not just impersonal gyana, BG uses word gyana to describe many things, so it just refers to spiritual knowledge, the spiritual knowledge will ultimately culminate in the knowledge of Krishna, as we will see in later chapter vedas servya aham eva vedya 15. And in 15.19 one who knows me, knows everything, that person is serva vid, gyana ultimately refers to knowledge about Krishna.

E.g. one person thinking I will renounce kingdom and go to forest … ok…that is one way of doing it…but better is if the person acts in knowledge. 

so

śreyān dravya-mayād yajñāj

better than this is
jñāna-yajñaḥ paran-tapa

As gyana yajna will leads to development of intellect and ultimately one will acquire spiritual knowledge so many people give charity that is good but if they are not advancing in spiritual knowledge then their charity be at best in mode of goodness and it will keep them bound in material existence in Sato Guna but when they understand that I am not body I am soul and soul has eternal relationship with Krishna, and what I possess is also Krishna’s property and is given to me by Krishna, then their charity will lead to purification and ultimately liberation so here Krishna is recommending Arjuna to cultivate Gyana, so how one should cultivate Gyana, so what Krishna is saying? Is He saying go to forest and read scripture and cultivate gayana? Or go to forest and speculate and that is how you cultivate Gana? How to cultivate gyana? What is gyana? What is the glory of gyana? That Shri Krishna will talk about in the next verse.

In this section Shri Krishna has talked about various principle of Yajna in BG 4.24 brahmārpaṇaṁ brahma havir, which was because everything is latently spiritual being Lord’s energy everything can be spiritualized, Principle of yajna is to spiritualize our activity. From 4.25 to 4.29, Shri Krishna describes various forms of Yajna which can be performed by different people, do yajna and strive for purification and 4.30 to 4.33 he describes principles, purpose of Yajna is purification and liberation, without Yajna one cannot be happy, all these Yajna varied in form but they all come from vedas and one who understands this will attain liberation they are all rooted in karma they are all born in karma, those person who understand this and choose right kind of activity attains liberation and liberation involves getting proper knowledge so if somebody do this yajan ignorantly and someone does these yajna with knowledge, the yajan with knowledge is better because yajna in knowledge will lead to further development in knowledge, knowledge deepens and it become more internalized and realized and in that way I become more advance in understanding that knowledge therefore Krishna says jñāne parisamāpyate, ultimately all yajna lead to knowledge. In next verse Krishna will recommend Arjuna how he should acquire knowledge.

Author: Bhavin Kataria

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