Gita 04.34 explained

We are in concluding section of 4th ch, Shri Krishna has talked about various forms of Yajna by which once can acquire knowledge and knowledge can give us various glorious fruits.

Overview of 4th Ch:

Chp4 Overview

1-10: Krishna teaches and establishes dharma

He teaches and establishes Dharma – 

sambhavāmi yuge yuge

11-15: Krishna is the goal and creator of all paths 

Dharma involves various paths, so Krishna is the goal of those paths and also he is creator of those paths.

16-24: Karma-yoga as dharma

Krishna is recommending the dharma which Arjuna follows and it is Karma Yoga. Because Karma Yoga will eventually leads to liberation as done by many people in the past.

25-33: Achieving Gyana through sacrifices

Then Krishna says how while acting one gets liberation because one acts in Yajna. Achieving Gyana through sacrifices. Karma yoga is one way to develop Gyana, similarly there are various ways by which one can develop Gyana.

34-42: Glory of divya-Gyana

Which of the way one should follow, that one has to acquire from spiritual master.


Bg 4.34

tad viddhi praṇipātena
paripraśnena sevayā
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ
jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ

Word for word: 

tat — that knowledge of different sacrifices; viddhi — try to understand; praṇipātena — by approaching a spiritual master; paripraśnena — by submissive inquiries; sevayā — by the rendering of service; upadekṣyanti — they will initiate; te — you; jñānam — into knowledge; jñāninaḥ — the self-realized; tattva — of the truth; darśinaḥ — seers.


Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.


Tad Viddhi -> That knowledge. Which knowledge this has been talked about in 4.33 verse; jñāne parisamāpyate, ; jñāne — in knowledge; parisamāpyate — end.

sarvaṁ karmākhilaṁ pārtha
jñāne parisamāpyate

All kind of work that is done and all sacrifiecs that are involved in that work all culminates in knowledge.

How this knowledge can be acquired? praṇipātena — by approaching a spiritual master submissively ; paripraśnena — by submissive inquiries; sevayā — by the rendering of service.

upadekṣyanti -> Updesh, to give instruction, SP said they will initiate in that knowledge

tattva-darśinaḥ -> Seers of truth.

Focus here is on Gyana so Krishna doesn’t say here Bhaktinah He says jñāninas, Krishna will later on say all Gyana culminate in Bhakti in 07.19 jñānavān māṁ prapadyate, at this stage Krishna has not introduced Bhakti directly so He is focusing on Gyana, Now He is saying how karma Yoga will lead to Gyana, and Gyana when developed leads to liberation. How one will know Gyana when he will go to spiritual master, he want Gyana and spiritual master should have Gyana so jñāninas. In BG 3.39 Krishna said

āvṛtaṁ jñānam etena
jñānino nitya-vairiṇā 


all living entity are Gyanis as we are sac-cid-anada souls we all have knowledge but currently our knowledge is covered the spiritual master is a person who is able to uncover that conditioning there have become jñāninas, the soul is by nature Gyani but because of covering it becomes Agyani, but spiritual master is one who removed the covering, jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ because the spiritual master is Gyani he has seen the truth so after seeing the truth he can explain the truth to us.

So three things we have to do 

praṇipātena, paripraśnena and sevayā

By humbleness (praṇipātena), inquisitiveness (paripraśnena) and service-mindedness (sevayā). 

Spiritual master is like a coach for us, spiritual master gives us guidance on how to progress in spiritual life.

  1. What is humbleness? Humbleness is to admit that I don’t know the way, praṇipātena means to actually bow down pay obeisance’s, I don’t know, you know, please be my guide.

Actually spiritual journey is an essential journey we have to move inwards, soul is inside we are the soul but we are not aware that we are the soul, so we will direct our consciousness inward and realize that we are the soul, after that we have to realize that the soul is eternally connected to Krishna and Krishna is also inside but we can’t see things inside so we need to know the way, so spiritual master knows the way and he provides the way. So in humbleness we go to Doctor we wanted to know what the problem is, if a patient thinks that he knows more than the Doctor he cannot be treated.

Like Santana Goswami inquires Key Ami, who am I? Why I am suffering in this material world?

  1. Inquisitiveness: Humbleness doesn’t mean that we have to just bow our head and fold hand and pay obeisance’s it means we should be inquisitive, 


inquisitiveness (paripraśnena): This injunction of the Gita indicates that it calls not for blind faith in the name of humbleness, but for a development of our capacity for spiritual perception. By this perception, we start for seeing for ourselves what the guru is seeing. Which means when we inquire from the spiritual master we gradually develops Gyana Chaksu, we develop our capacity for spiritual perception, that doesn’t mean that we started seeing Sad-Cid-Ananda Atma everywhere, that will happen when we will develop spiritual vision also, but we develop capacity for deep thinking and deep thinking leads to deeper observations, so we can see in this world how the promises of this world are false, we can see in this world the truths of Gita demonstrated, and we start for seeing ourselves what guru is saying, so after humbleness there is inquisitiveness, so when spiritual master says that this world is a place of misery but I see so many advertisements, in the advertisement all people and smiling , laughing and all novels have happy endings, so one may think that this world is place of happiness, that’s what the world seems to tell us, then gradually we start seeing beyond the surface, look above the road advertisement is smiling but look on road everyone is sulky, frowning so where people are happy even if they are happy, it is for short time, the world is actually Dukalayam, we start seeing for ourselves what guru is seeing that is what happens by inquisitiveness. 


  1. So humbleness definitely required so that we can learn but humbleness is launching pad for getting spiritual vision or knowledge here. Now it is good to admit that we don’t know and then we get to know.

Initially we ask Doctor I don’t know what is wrong with me but after that it is important to take the medicine, if we don’t take medicine even if we know in full details what is wrong with us it will not help, so this application of knowledge is service-mindedness (sevayā). 

The destination of our spiritual journey is the realization that loving service to Krishna is our only source of lasting fulfillment. We progress towards that realization by serving Krishna as per the guru’s instructions.


We should know that we are not the body we are soul and Krishna is the supreme lord but most transformational realization will be Krishna and Krishna alone is the source of enjoyment everything else which promises enjoyment actually leads to suffering. Service to Krishna will grant me better and greater fulfillment than anything else in this world. Once we get this realization and conviction then the temptation of this world will no longer allure us, and how do we get this by actually living according to this. We may not feel so much satisfaction in loving Krishna right now but if we keep serving Krishna with as much affection and devotional attitude as much we can have then gradually by this we will develop our affection for Krishna and we will get realization also that there is greater happiness in servicing to Krishna than anything else.


Thus, spiritual master’s grace works in three progressive steps:

  • Humbleness enables the guru to show us the way,
  • Inquisitiveness enables us to start seeing the way ourselves (internalize) and
  • Service-mindedness enables us to move along the way.

It is three steps, if I am not humble, guru will not show us the way, so I don’t know, please tell me the way, so by these three steps we get the spiritual knowledge.

 Srila Prabhupada’s purport: The path of spiritual realization is undoubtedly difficult.

Generally we say bhakti is easy to perform, yes the bhakti is easiest among spiritual path and spiritual paths are generally difficult, so why it is difficult? Because we have to fight our inner demons which are six anarthas and they are formidable forces which want to keep us slave so that we keep serving life after life after life so therefore we need guidance of guru.

Sril Prabhupad’s purport: mental speculation or dry arguments cannot help lead one to the right path. Nor by independent study of books of knowledge can one progress in spiritual life.

So these can give us some preliminary knowledge we can read books we can think for ourselves, it can be a slight movement along the right path but if we want serious progress on spiritual path we need a spiritual master. Srila Prabhupad makes a point that spiritual master tests the disciple to see that disciple is sincere disciple is serious, and if disciple is serious then spiritual master accepts disciple, in Krishna Consciousness society this is done by standardizing that one is chanting 16 rounds and following four regulative principle for one year or whatsoever, the period may be depending on individual spiritual master but generally one year is standard minimum, then spiritual master tests the disciple and disciple also needs to test the spiritual master, in today’s society there are so many people claims to be spiritual master and one has to test who is the bonafide spiritual master. 

The spiritual master is turning us towards Krishna by his own example and by his connection with Krishan 


  • Link not just of head, but a link of hearts
  • Piety transforms into spirituality when there is a connection to the guru and a commitment to the process

spiritual master’s one defining character is he should be in Parampara, but a parampara is Link not just of head, but a link of hearts, What is the meaning of this? We look at Srila Prabupad’s book and SBSST book there is lot of difference not in content but in style, presentation, manner of approach they were distinct individual so it is not that disciple is going to repeat verbatim like a robot or like a recorder whatever one has heard he repeats it that can also be done in certain situations where it is required but the important point is, that is not what defines a spiritual master, the spiritual master lives with the principle that are taught in scripture and when the disciple sees how the spiritual master is living the principle of selfless sacrifice then the disciple gets inspired to live with the same principles the principle of selfless devotion that is present in the heart of spiritual master is transferred to the heart of the disciple and when it gets transferred to the hearts of the disciple then their hearts gets linked. So a parampara is links of hearts together in the selfless devotion then when the disciple will become exalted he will become a spiritual master and that spiritual master example will inspire prospective disciple who will also get inspired in selfless devotion which is Bhakti. So parampara is links of hearts based on selfless devotion Bhakti and then piety transforms into spirituality when there is a connection to the guru and a commitment to the process, so many people may have piety. Piety means they may have belief in, do good, we should not be sinful or immoral, no illicit or illegal activities but piety in itself is not spirituality. Piety is in goodness but spirituality is above, it is transcendental Piety transforms into spirituality when there is a connection to the guru and a commitment to the process

And connection is 

tad viddhi praṇipātena
paripraśnena sevayā

So some people say that I have a direct relationship with God why do I need a guru who will come between me and God, I don’t want anyone between me and God, 

Guru’s role

  • The guru doesn’t come in between us and God, but he removes what is between us and God, i.e., the wall of our own false ego. 

The wall of our own misconception and misconceive desires.

Soul and spure soul are neighbors in the heart but there is wall of misconception, soul thinks that I am independent being, I am body and I can enjoy at the body level and based on this misconception there are misconceived misdirected desires and these misdirected desires takes soul’s consciousness away from Krishna so what spiritual master does he gives the knowledge and process by which walls of misconception and misdirected desire can be broken down, the knowledge by which misconception are removed, yes I am part of Krishna and also misdirected desires goes away by knowledge given by guru thus the wall is broken. Guru doesn’t come in between us and Krishna but he removed the wall between us and Krishna. 

And not only that but Spiritual master ultimately connects us with Krishna so without spiritual master we don’t know what is authentic Bhakti therefore spiritual master is essential.

  • He who is his own guru has a fool as his disciple.

Some people says I don’t need a guru I am my own guru so He who is his own guru has a fool as his disciple. That means I am my own disciple which is fool, why? Because we cannot change ourselves by our own? Someone may ask if Krishna loves me so much why He don’t change me why a guru is required, Krishna can reveal to me directly why can’t he do that. Krishna can do anything, it is not a matter of what Krishna can do this is matter of what Krishna wants us to do. Krishna is telling us very categorical in BG Tad Vidi, know this by going to a spiritual master. Krishna loves all living being, at the same time Krishna is reciprocal, Krishna loves all the more those who loves Him. So Krishna wants to glorify those devotees who has sacrificed everything in this world for His sake, those who has focused on pure devotion to Him, those who has sacrificed things of this world for His sake, so Krishna wants to rewards these devotees, ultimate reward will be in rewards where he gives inner love for Himself and spiritual reward taking them back to spiritual world but along with that Krishna wants to reward them in this world also, but the devotees don’t want anything of this world, the devotees are free from attachment from things of this world, so when devotees don’t want anything of this world how can Krishna reward them in this world. Krishna rewards them by granting them the authority by way out of this world. The world is a place of misery and the most precious thing in this world is the way out of this world, just like in a jail what is the most precious thing? The jail doesn’t contain any treasure things or like that, the most precious thing in the jail is the key for the door, out of the jail, so this world is a jail durg (fort) and durga Devi is the presiding deity of this prison, she keeps the living entity trapped in the material world and she is having three prongs Tri Vid Tap, they inflict the conditioned soul with three fold miseries and the purpose of this threefold misery is to tell living entity Go Back To Krishna so the purpose of this threefold misery is not that the person suffer but that the person reforms. So this world which is like a prison the most important thing is how to get out of this world and that knowledge is the most precious thing and Krishna gives it those devotes who has given his everything to Him he gives them authority over this, He says my devotees you will become distributor of this knowledge to everyone, so without being submissive to the devotees this knowledge doesn’t arise in our heart, we may theoretically understand it but we may not get transformed, the theoretical knowledge may not lead to transformation it will not lead to redirection of our hearts, love towards Krishna, for that to happen we need to serve our spiritual master and get bhakti from that spiritual master. So Krishna says prospective devotees that you glorify my surrendered devotees, you become submissive to them and by being submissive to then you will find your way out of this material existence. So we will get this knowledge by surrendering to the spiritual master. 

The spiritual master is very compassionate, caring and he helps souls to come out of this material world. So someone saying that don’t go to any guru he means that he is saying he is guru that is the reason with authority he is saying like that so if we agree and follow him we are following a guru, so we have to follow someone, someone says reject everyone and we are agreeing with him and following him, we cannot reject everyone. So vedic scripture says rather than resenting and rejecting everyone redirect that based on knowledge, understand and choose whom we should follow, choose the right authority and then by that we will become purified enlightened and liberated

Author: Bhavin Kataria

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