Chapter Four: 32-33
|Thus, manifold sacrifices are spread out before Brahman.
Know them all as born of action and thus knowing, thou
shalt be liberated.
Superior is wisdom-sacrifice to the sacrifice with objects. All actions in their entirety, Oh Arjuna, culminate in knowledge.
The sacrifices given here in the Gita are only examples. They indicate the essence of the art of life, the spirit of sacrifice or unselfishness. It is not an ideal known as unselfishness, but the direct realization that there is no self independent of the totality. With this shall man flavor all the actions of his life. The Creator intended that this spirit should govern all activities of all beings here. Whereas the so-called "lower" orders of creation (the plants, and the animals to a great extent) instinctively live in this spirit, man, instead of consciously participating in God's will, which this spirit inculcates, dares to flout it and arrogate the action to himself. He who knows that all sacrifices involve action and all actions should be performed as sacrifice, is liberated - from ignorance and egoism, sin and suffering.
Of the sacrifices described in this chapter and of the many more alluded to, the wisdom-sacrifice is the best. All other gifts and all other activities are transitory in their effect. Life itself is short, and even the most spectacular action is reduced to a few lines in a book of history and one more tendency in the soul - if it is not accompanied by right knowledge. Knowledge, on the other hand, liberates the soul from bondage to samsara or the ever-revolving wheel of birth and death. Do not forget that the giver of knowledge is a devotee who considers the recipient as his lord!
Whereas actions are inevitable, knowledge is the goal. The inevitable actions should be performed in the spirit of sacrifice; but knowledge should be acquired and imparted at every turn. For self-knowledge is the goal of actions themselves.
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