Shrimad Bhagvad Gita

Shankar Bhashya on Gita- One shloka a day- 4.24

Gita 4.24

ब्रह्मार्पणं ब्रह्महविर्ब्रह्माग्नौ ब्रह्मणा हुतम्।
ब्रह्मैव तेन गन्तव्यं ब्रह्मकर्मसमाधिना।।4.24।।

The ladle is Brahman, the oblation is Brahman, the offering is poured by Brahman in the fire of Brahman. Brahman alone is to be reached by him who has concentration on Brahman as the objective [As an object to be known and attained].

A question was raised in the previous shloka as to why exactly the kriyamana karma is destroyed completely along with its karma-fala without initiating its own karya (effect) for a person who had the three features mentioned therein namely ‘Gata-sangasya’, ‘Muktasya’ and ‘Jnana-avsthita-chetasah’. In order to respond to this query. Bhagvan starts this shloka. (Please note that 4.23 was for a person mentioned in 4.20 who continues to engage in karma due to prarabdha despite being endowed with the vision of Nishkriya Atman).

The Brahma-vit, knower of Brahman, sees the instrument through which he offers oblations into fire as Brahman alone. Just as one sees absence of silver in shell, he sees its non-existence separate from atman. Thus it is said that the ladle is Brahman alone just as as what seems as silver is shell alone. Brahman and Arpana are not compounded. That which is understood as ladle by ordinary people is Brahman alone for a Brahma-vit. That is the meaning.

Similarly for ‘Brahma-Havi’. What is considered as oblation (by ordinary people) is Brahman alone (for the Brahma-vit).

Similarly for ‘Brahma-Agnau’ which is a compounded word. The fire in which oblation is poured by karta Brahman is also Brahman. The meaning is that the karta is also Brahman. Further, the act of offering by him is Brahman alone. Also, the fruit which is to be realised by him is also Brahman alone.

Brahma-karma means that Brahman alone is the karma (object). One who has samadhi on Brahma-karma is called Brahma-karma-samadhi. Such Brahma-karma-samadhi has Brahman alone as the goal to be reached.

Thus, the kriyamana karma of a person seeking loka-sangraha is also akarma in paramartha. Why? Because of wiping out (of karma) by the Brahma-buddhi.

Further, in case of a sarva-karma-sanyasi who has renounced karmas, this depiction of yajnatva of jnana becomes logical by way of stuti of samyak-darshan. Whatever is well-known as ladle etc in adhiyajna is  Brahman alone in adhyatma for one who is seer of paramartha.

If such meaning is not taken then it will be absurd.

How?

Because everything is Brahman. So what would be the meaning in specifically mentioning ladle etc as Brahman.

Therefore, there is absence of karma for a vidvaan who knows that all this is Brahman alone due to the absence of karaka-buddhi (karaka is accessory to karma. When everything is Brahman, there cannot be any karaka-buddhi). One does not see a karma named yajna without karaka-buddhi. All Agnihotra etc karma are associated with karaka-buddhi such as making an offering to the devata concerned as revealed in Shabda. Also is seen the kartritva-abhimana and desire for karma-fala. They (the karma such as Agnihotra etc) are not seen without the buddhi of kriya-karaka-fala-bheda or without the kartritva-abhimana and desire for karma-fala.

This karma (the karma undertaken by person spoken in 4.20) is such wherein the karak-kriya-fala-bheda-buddhi is obliterated by Brahma-buddhi. And therefore, it is akarma alone. This is also shown in Gita 4.18, 4.20, 6.28, 5.8 etc. And while doing so, Bhagvan demolishes the kriya-karaka-fala-bheda-buddhi at those places. It is seen also that once the kama is obliterated from kamya-agnihotra etc, there results the absence of kamya-agnihotra etc. It is also seen that karmas which are done mati-poorvaka ( = intentionally) and a-mati-poorvaka ( = unintentionally) are the starters of different karyas ( =effects).

Similarly here also, in the case of a vidvaan, whose ladle etc karaka-kriya-fala-bheda-buddhi is obliterated by Brahma-buddhi, even the karma done by external movements become akarma. Therefore it was said in previous verse that Samagra is destroyed. (Both karma and karma-fala are destroyed. Karma here refers to the karma done for yajna by a person having the three features).

Here some say:-

That which is Brahman, is the ladle etc. Brahman alone is situated as five-fold karakas (ladle, karta, oblation, fire and Brahman) such as ladle etc and that Brahman alone does the karma. The ladle-etc-buddhi is not removed there. Rather, the Brahma-buddhi is invoked in ladle etc. just as Vishnu-etc-buddhi is invoked in idols and Brahma-buddhi is invoked in Name-etc.

Here Acharya says that this could have been the meaning if it would not have been the topic of stuti of jnana-yajna. Here, samyak-darshan is referred by the word jnana-yajna. After presenting several specific activities referred by the word yajna, there is a stuti of jnana by Gita 4.33. Here, the statement ‘Brahman is ladle’ is capable of presenting the yajnatva of jnana. But they, who state that one needs to invoke the Brahma-drishti in ladle etc like that of Vishnu-drishti in idol and Brahma-drishti in Names etc, cannot maintain that here the intended topic is that of Brahma-vidya. Because, the object of jnana would be ladle etc for them.

Further, knowledge in the form of invocation of drishti cannot accomplish the Moksha-fala, whereas the text in the instant verse says that Brahman is to be attained by him. Further, it is incongruous to assert that Moksha-fala can be accomplished by something other than samyak-darshan.

And it also goes against the topic. The topic is samyak-darshan as in 4.18 ‘one who sees akarma in karma’. Further, it concludes in samyak-darshan. After doing the stuti of samyak-darshan through 4.33 ‘the jnana-yajna is superior’ and 4.39 ‘one obtains supreme peace after obtaining jnana’, the chapter concludes. That being the case, it is incongruous to suddenly state the Brahma-drishti in ladle etc like Vishnu-drishti in idols, which is out of context.

Therefore, the meaning of the instant shloka is as we have described (i.e. the yajnatva of jnana and seeing the absence of ladle etc separate from Brahman).

Now, after having presented the yajnatva of samyak-darshan, other yajnas are also being presented which start from 4.25.

What for are they presented?

To do the stuti of samyak-darshan.

How?

Here it is said (in next verse):-

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