Chapter 4, Srimad Bhagavad-gita

Sunday 21 April, Curitiba, Brazil

SORRY, NOT ATTRACTIVE
Karma: -1 Jnana: 0 Bhakti: +1
BG 4.38

न हि ज्ञानेन सदृशं पवित्रमिह विद्यते ।
तत्स्वयं योगसंसिद्धः कालेनात्मनि विन्दति ॥३८॥

na hi jñānena sadṛśaṁ pavitram iha vidyate
tat svayaṁ yoga-saṁsiddhaḥ kālenātmani vindati [38]

iha–In this world, or, of the aforementioned practices of austerity, etc.; (kim api) na hi vidyate–there is nothing; pavitram–(as) pure; jñānena sadṛśam–as knowledge. yoga-saṁsiddhaḥ–A person successful in (niṣkām karma) yoga; vindati–realises; svayam–for himself; tat–that knowledge; ātmani–within the heart; kālena–after (a long) time.

“In this world, there is nothing as pure as knowledge. Eventually, a person who has achieved perfection in the yoga of selfless action naturally realises this knowledge within his heart.”

So we’re coming to the end of chapter four. This verse makes for an interesting discussion point, as it highlights the different levels of knowledge presented in Sri Gita. Here the superiority and purity of knowledge compared to karma is stated, reflecting the general, stereotyped Vedic view, and indeed general view in the religious world on the whole.

This verse is also one example of how we can see in a number of instances that Srimad Bhagavatam gives a deeper understanding than Bhagavad Gita. Because Srimad Bhagavatam points out,

naiskarmyam apy achyuta-bhava-varjitam
na sobhate jnanam alam niranjanam
kutah punah sasvad abhadram isvare
na charpitam karma yad apy akaranam

“Even pure knowledge (jnan) free from all worldly entanglement is never beautiful if it is devoid of devotion to Achyuta (Krishna). How, then, can action (karma), which is always miserable, ever be beautiful if it is not offered to Him, even if it is selflessly performed?”

Compared to the entangling nature of karma and the resulting suffering it brings about, the achievement of spiritual knowledge is something very attractive, prestigious and desirable. However from the absolute perspective, without the connection of the positive attainment of bhakti, without realizing our natural function as dedicating units, without the satisfaction of Sri Krishna our beloved Lord, it is also negligible and even impure and unattractive.

For example, as a dysfunctional member of society someone may be in prison for some time, but if they repent and change their ways they may be released. However, unless they do something positive and progressive with their lives upon their release it is not really noteworthy.

Furthermore, from the deepest devotional perspective anything done contrary to the fundamental current of bhakti is actually impure and sinful. Srila Sridhar Maharaj would often quote this line from the Narada-pancharatra: Tat Paratvena nirmalam, purity is to be determined by the degree it is in the interest of the central interest, the Lord’s interest. This has some significant implications: that what is considered pure from an ordinary, moral perspective may actually be impure from a devotional perspective, and vice versa.

Reference:
sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam
hrsikena hrsikesa-sevanam bhaktir uchyate
(Sri Narada-pancharatra)

“Devotion is said to be service to the master of the senses, performed with all the senses, and which is completely free from all material designations, intent upon Him, and uncontaminated.”

Additional comments by Nrsingha Chaitanya Prabhu in our whatsapp discussion:

Very nice! I love the clarity of defining things in gradation and in context. Guru Maharaj says, as connotation (the intended context) increases, denotation (the general or generic meaning) decreases. And visa versa.

Many statements of the scriptures glorify partial conceptions of progress to inspire people in ways that are appropriate for them at their level. But many of those statements are unfortunately not seen in context of the highest goal – pure devotion, and this can lead people to become attached to these partial conceptions as all-in-all. Or final goals in themself.

But finally Krsna puts the whole advice of the Gita in perspective “sarva dharma parityaja, mam ekam saranam vraja…”

“If you can surrender to Me as your only shelter, than all other means of progress that I just described become redundant and can be rejected!”

It is such a high standard. But having these explanations to guide us makes it possible for us to benefit from the different levels of scriptural advice in such a way that it is supportive and compatible with the final goal! 🙏

Seen in the right light, all subsidiary goals like liberation, become landmarks along the path, glorifying and exalting the unparalleled position of Devotion.

As seen in the verse, atmaramas ca munayo..

Tuesday 9 April 2019, Campos do Jordao, Brazil

APPROACHING THE SPIRITUAL MASTER

BG 4.34

तद्विद्धि प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नेन सेवया ।
उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ते ज्ञानं ज्ञानिनस्तत्त्वदर्शिनः ॥३४॥

tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ [34]

tat–Such knowledge; viddhi–should be known; praṇipātena–by submission, obeisances; paripraśnena–by relevant inquiry; sevayā–and by sincere service. jñāninaḥ–Those learned in the scriptures; tattva-darśinaḥ–endowed with divine revelation of the Supreme Absolute Truth; upadekṣyanti–will impart; jñānam–knowledge; te–to you.

“You will be able to attain knowledge by satisfying the divine master with submission, relevant inquiry, and sincere service. The enlightened souls who are learned in scriptural knowledge and endowed with direct realisation of the Supreme Absolute Truth will impart divine knowledge to you.”

Dandabat pranams dear friends.
Continuing with chapter four we’ve come to this super important and famous verse describing the qualifications of a genuine guru as well as a genuine disciple. If you only learn a few verses, I’d recommend you include this one on your list. It is a valuable meditation for all of us who are aspiring to be true disciples.

Param Guru Maharaj has already given a very clear and illuminating explanation of this verse which is published in Sri Guru & His Grace (thanks to Sripad Goswami Maharaj!), so rather than say anything myself I’d rather reproduce that here:

——————

Here, Krishna has given us the standard by which we can understand what is what from a bona fide source. The standard to measure truth or untruth must come not from a vitiated, vulnerable plane, but from a real plane. And to realize that, we must have these three qualifications: pranipat, pariprasna, and seva. Pranipat means we must surrender to this knowledge, for it is not an ordinary class of knowledge, which as a subject we can make our object; it is supersubjective. We may be the subjects in this mundane world, but we will have to become objects to be handled by the superknowledge of that plane.

Pranipat means that one approaches a spiritual master, saying, “I am finished with the experience of this external world; I have no charm for anything in this plane, where I have already traveled. Now I am offering myself exclusively at your altar. I want to have your grace.” In this mood we should approach that higher knowledge.

Pariprasna means honest, sincere inquiry. We must inquire not with the tendency of discussion or in the mood of argument, but all our efforts should be concentrated in a positive line to understand the truth, without the spirit of doubt and suspicion. With full attention we should try to understand that truth, because it is coming from a higher plane of reality that we have never known.

Finally, there is sevaya, or service. This is the most important thing. We are trying to gain this knowledge not so we can get the help of that plane, not so we can utilize that experience for living here; rather we must give our pledge to serve that plane. Only with this attitude may we approach that plane of knowledge. We shall serve that higher knowledge; we won’t try to make it serve us. Otherwise, we won’t be allowed to enter into that domain. Absolute knowledge won’t come to serve this lower plane. We must offer ourselves to be used by Him, not that we shall try to use Him in our own selfish way, to satisfy our lower purpose.

With the mood of service we shall dedicate ourselves to Him; not that He will dedicate Himself to satisfy our lower animal purpose. So, with this attitude we shall seek the plane of real knowledge and receive the standard understanding. And then we can know what is what, and have a proper estimation of our environment.

This is Vedic culture. Absolute knowledge has always been imparted by this process alone, and never by the intellectual approach. Srila Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta used to give the analogy of the bee: honey is in a bottle, the cork is in place, and the bee has taken his seat on the glass. He tries to taste the honey by licking the bottle. But, just as the bee cannot taste the honey by licking the outside of the glass bottle, the intellect cannot approach the world of spirit. We may think that we have attained it, but that is not possible: a barrier is there, like the glass. Intellectual achievement is not real achievement of higher knowledge. Only through faith, sincerity, and dedication can we approach that higher realm and become a member. We can enter that higher plane only if they grant us a visa and admit us. Then we can enter that land of divine living.

So, a candidate must have these three qualifications before he can approach the truth which is on the higher plane of Absolute Reality. He can approach the Absolute Truth only with an attitude of humility, sincerity, and dedication.

—————

Sunday 7 April 2019

SYMPATHETIC DEALINGS WITH NATURE

BG 4.13

चातुर्वर्ण्यं मया सृष्टं गुणकर्म्मविभागशः ।
तस्य कर्त्तारमपि मां विद्ध्यकर्त्तारमव्ययम् ॥१३॥

chātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ
tasya kartāram api māṁ viddhy akartāram avyayam [13]
 

chātuḥ-varṇyam–The four social divisions or varṇas—brāhmaṇ, kṣatriya, vaiśya, and śūdra; sṛṣṭam–are manifest; mayā–by Me; guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ–classified according to the modes of nature and corresponding activities (vide 18.41–44). kartāram api–Although I am the accomplisher; tasya–of that; viddhi–know; mām–Me; akartāram–to be the non-doer; avyayam–and unchangeable. [13]

“The four social divisions, classified according to the material modes of nature and corresponding activities, are made manifest by Me. Although I am the doer of this, know Me to be the non-doer and unchangeable.”

This is a significant verse, quoted many times by our Gurus, because here Krishna explains the true purpose of the socio-religious varnasram system of Vedic India, which as he says here he created himself. Although as we see today and have seen throughout history the system has been a tool for exploitation, oppression, and prejudice, the original concept was that persons would be recognized and engaged in society solely according to their qualities (guna) and activity (karma), not birth and bloodline. The idea was not an oppressive hierarchal system, but rather a supportive structure that engaged persons’ material nature in work and duties that suited them, would make a positive contribution to society, and most importantly enabled them to more peacefully practise spiritual life. For example persons with an attraction for fighting would be engaged as protective warriors (ksatriyas) while persons with an attraction for study would be recognized as brahmans and engaged as spiritual guides; persons with desire for a relationship with the opposite sex would enter marriage life and accept the duties of a grhastha supporting society and religious practice in various ways, while others with more of a monastic tendency would be accepted as brahmachari or sannyasi monks and situated accordingly. With this positive outlet for their acquired material tendencies they could more peacefully follow spiritual practices. As Srila Gurudev appreciated very much, Srila Sridhar Maharaj referred to this system as “sympathetic dealings with nature”, a way of living in harmony with our material natures that supported our practice of spiritual life. This is also sometimes referred to as daiva-varnasram, or god-centred varnasram (as opposed to asura-varnasram, a materialistic social system).

It was this god-centred varnasram, a social system structured to facilitate the culture of Krishna consciousness, that Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur instituted within the Gaudiya Math in a very revolutionary way. He introduced sannyas into the Gaudiya line, he gave brahman thread to non-blood brahmans, and so on. Of course Vaishnavism is purely spiritual and superior to varnasram, but since we are conditioned souls the idea is to take help of some material structure that both supports our individual spiritual practice and also better facilitates preaching on a societal level.

Question:

Dear Viśākhā, concerning the Varna Aśrama, I have often wondered who was the person, the role, in charge of doing the choice to say to young people ‘look, you better be a brahmana, or a kshattrya and so on. How did it happen that this authority had been lost? Was there a particular age in which the choice was made? Was it possible to shift from a varna to another during one’s life period, even in grown-up age? (And what about his wife, for instance, if one married into Vaisya, and subsequently reached Kshattrya?). This authority either was also in charge to decide the membership into a particular aśrama, or the aśrama was a free choice?
Dear Viśākhā, since we have seen that you are a well of knowledge, it is productive that we take water from it, isn’t it? Affectionate Dandavat.

Answer:

Dear Marco, my pranams.
I’m not sure about this actually. One point is that I’m not sure Krishna’s idea behind varnasram was ever completely understood and implemented in a widespread way. For example, the Vishnu avatar Parasuram was born to a highly qualified brahman but clearly exhibited a ksatriya nature; while I can’t be completely sure of the accuracy, according to several popular culture versions of his history that I’ve heard there was friction between him and his father because his father didn’t appreciate his ksatriya tendencies and tried to mould him as a brahman, even as Parasuram resisted. That was in Treta-yuga.
I think also that in general persons would tend to be born within the varna that suited them and persons who were a mismatch were more of an exception. I would imagine that observing this incongruity and re-situating them accordingly would be something that would happen in an organic way.

KRISHNA GIVES US WHAT WE WANT

BG 4.11

ये यथा मां प्रपद्यन्ते तांस्तथैव भजाम्यहम् ।
मम वर्त्त्मानुवर्त्तन्ते मनुष्याः पार्थ सर्व्वशः ॥११॥

ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham
mama vartmānuvartante manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ [11]

yathā–Howsoever; ye–those who; prapadyante–surrender; mām–to Me; aham–I; tathā eva–accordingly; bhajāmi–reward; tān–them. (he) pārtha–O Arjuna; sarvaśaḥ manuṣyāḥ–all types of men (on all paths); anuvartante–follow; mama vartma–My path. [11]

“Howsoever people surrender to Me, I accordingly reward them. Being the ultimate goal of all paths, I am the objective to be attained by all. O Pārtha, all men follow My various paths.”

This is a very important and often quoted verse. The world is a jungle of ideologies and so many propagate differing paths for the attainment of happiness and success in various fields, both material and spiritual. Many may quarrel as to which represents actual reality, but the truth is that all are real in one way or another. The truth is that whatever we want to believe we will come to experience that. The world is after all a playground for the souls who want to concoct their own version of reality.

Srila Sridhar Maharaj explains, ‘Om’, the original Vedic sound, means ‘Yes’. “Yes, whatever you believe, that is. Whatever you want, that is.” It may be a temporary truth and it may be based on misconception, but still it has some degree of reality in the sense of something we may perceive and experience through our limited mundane faculties.

The Lord is reciprocating with everyone on one level or another and nothing is separate from him. Nothing is outside of him or his control. Every path, whether spiritual or material, has its source in him and so directly or indirectly all are following him. Indeed Krishna is sometimes himself propagating anti-devotional paths (appearing personally as Buddha, or sending Lord Shiva as Shankaracharya) to accommodate and gradually uplift persons of such tendency.

This verse also has quite sobering implications for practitioners of Krishna consciousness: if we want the truth Krishna will give us the truth, but if we want to be cheated Krishna will cheat us. If we are sincere we will be led to higher and higher layers of truth, but if we are insincere we will become comfortable with some strand of misconception which suits us in some way or another.

kṛṣṇa yadi chuṭe bhakte bhukti mukti diyā
kabhu prema-bhakti nā dena rākhena lukāiyā

“If Krishna wants to evade someone he will give them some bhukti (material enjoyment) and mukti (liberation), but he will never give prema-bhakti, which he keeps hidden.” (Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta, 1.8.18)

Question:

Dear Viśākhā, I have a couple of questions concerning the last post you wrote, that on March 16th. I hope I’m not bothering you too much, therefore I hope that the questions might be useful to our friends in the group. Following the example you gave related to Srimad Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaja, a person like myself (very ignorant) or even a devotee into practitioner stages, can we either overtake too some vedic rules according to our (low) degree of consciousness, in case of need and in absence of a senior devotee, or this is valid for very high personalities only, as Maharaja?

The other question regards the quoted verse of Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.187) that speaks:

“One who engages in the transcendental service of the Lord in body, mind and words is to be considered liberate di in all conditions of material existence.”

Can this person either leave at will this plane of existence, can he even perform activities that are considered to be miraculous by normal people, or his liberation is just a label with no effective difference between this condition and his previous period of life?

Thanking you in advance, and Dandavat .

Answer:

Pranams Marco.

I am always happy to receive your questions which engage me in doing something meaningful with my time.

In response to your first question:

smartavyaḥ satataṁ viṣṇur vismartavyo na jātuchit
sarve vidhi-niṣedhāḥ syur etayor eva kiṅkarāḥ
(Padma-purāṇa)

“Viṣṇu should always be remembered and never forgotten at any time. All the rules and prohibitions mentioned in the śāstras should be the servants of these two principles.”

Our gurus do not want us to be robots. They want us to consciously enter into the practice and understand the real purpose of rules and when they should be applied and when given less attention. At the same time a sincere practitioner will be hesitant to make very serious transgressions of the normal standard, so you have made a valid point. We will question if we are qualified enough to adjust the normal rule. We will simply have to be sincere and act according to our best conscience, and consult with higher authorities when appropriate and if possible. We are fortunate though that we have seen and heard of many examples of how our Gurus have adjusted rules and thereby given us some idea of which are more essential and which less so and can be neglected when needed.

Your second question: liberation here refers to being free from the influence and entanglement of the material energy. They are instead under the influence of the spiritual energy which is connected with the Lord, his grace, his eternal abode, and the spirit of dedication. They are not bound by material laws, though on the surface it may appear that they do so many ordinary things like us. They may leave this plane at will, if they wish, and they may perform feats which appear ‘miraculous’ to us, though generally genuine saints avoid such exhibitions which are a distraction from the essential things of sharanagati (surrender) and exchanges of love with the Lord and his devotees.

I hope this answers your questions. If not please let me know.

RECOGNISING DIVINITY

BG 4.9

जन्म कर्म्म च मे दिव्यमेवं यो वेत्ति तत्त्वतः ।
त्यक्त्वा देहं पुनर्जन्म नैति मामेति सोऽर्ज्जुन ॥९॥

janma karma cha me divyam evaṁ yo vetti tattvataḥ
tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti mām eti so ’rjuna [9]

(he) arjuna–O Arjuna; yaḥ–one who; vetti–knows; evam–thus; tattvataḥ–the reality; me–of My; divyam–spontaneous, divine; janma karma cha–birth and activities; saḥ–he; tyaktvā–upon giving up; deham–the body; na eti–does not accept; punaḥ janma–rebirth. mam eti–He attains Me. [9]

“O Arjuna, one who comes to know thus the truth of My Pastimes of divine birth and activities, does not undergo rebirth. After giving up this body, he attains Me. (My grace is revealed to him as My personal transcendental joyful potency, hlādinī-śakti. His heart is melted in divine love, and he attains My eternal devotional service.)”

When the Lord appears within this mundane world by his grace, to uplift the souls of this world, he performs many humanlike activities (especially Sri Krishna in His aprakrta-lila) and it is easy to therefore consider him mundane, as many do, or see these avatars as a lower expression of divinity than the impersonal Brahman aspect, as many do. One must look beyond the apparent, the objective side of things, and recognize the spiritual nature behind the cover, recognize these activities to be ‘lila’, the Lord’s divine play, drama, pastime. So for example one may think, “Oh, Krishna took birth in a prison cell” or “Krishna is a womanizer and enjoys with many women” but one with spiritual vision will understand these activities are completely different from an ordinary human being’s. They all take place on the spiritual platform, and not out of any mundane necessity but only to facilitate the Lord’s divine play.

Although here it is specifically the Lord’s lila which is being referred to, Srila Gurudev has also discussed this word ‘tattvatah’ in a more broad sense as meaning being able to understand the essence of Krishna consciousness as a whole. He gave a very wonderful example: he cited the famous incident when Srila Sridhar Maharaj’s godbrother Srimad Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaj was preaching in a distant place (I believe Kashmir) where they had no contacts. Thus he and his party ate one day at a local restaurant. Upon receiving the food someone in the group complained there were onions in the preparations. Goswami Maharaj responded confidently, “I don’t see any onions, only mahaprasad!” From an external perspective, and according to Vedic rulings, one would say the food was impure, but Goswami Maharaj, with his deeper vision saw that this restaurant was the only source of food in this area, and whatever they received there could only be the Lord’s grace.

It is mentioned here “After giving up this body, he attains Me. However our acharyas have commented that in fact one who realizes the Lord’s divine nature will attain him even before giving up their body. One will be liberated even though apparently living within a conditioned body. In this regard we can cite this famous verse from Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.187):

īhā yasya harer dāsye
karmaṇā manasā girā
nikhilāsv apy avasthāsu
jīvan-muktaḥ sa uchyate

“One who engages in the transcendental service of the Lord in body, mind and words is to be considered liberated in all conditions of material existence.”

SPIRITUAL RENAISSANCE

BG 4.7–8

यदा यदा हि धर्म्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत ।
अभ्युत्थानमधर्म्मस्य तदात्मानं सृजाम्यहम् ॥७॥

yadā yadā hi dharmasya glānir bhavati bhārata
abhyutthānam adharmasya tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham [7]

(he) bhārata–O Arjuna; yadā yadā hi–whenever; glāniḥ–a decline; dharmasya–of religion; (cha)–and; abhyutthānam–an uprising; adharmasya–of irreligion; bhavati–occurs; tadā–then; aham sṛjāmi–I appear, seemingly like a being born in this world—I make My advent; ātmānam–Myself.

“O Bhārata, whenever there is a decline of religion and an uprising of irreligion, I personally make My advent.”

परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम् ।
धर्म्मसंस्थापनार्थाय सम्भवामि युगे युगे ॥८॥

paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṁ vināśāya cha duṣkṛtām
dharma-saṁsthāpanārthāya sambhavāmi yuge yuge [8]

paritrāṇāya–For the deliverance; sādhūnām–of saintly devotees; (tathā)–and; vināśāya–for the vanquishing; duṣkṛtām–of miscreants; saṁsthāpana-arthāya cha–and for firmly establishing; dharma–dhyān (meditation), yajna (performance of sacrifice), paricharyā (worship), and saṅkīrtan (congregational chanting of the Holy Names) all centred on Me; (aham)–I; sambhavāmi–appear; yuge yuge–age after age.

“I appear age after age to deliver the saintly devotees, vanquish the miscreants, and firmly establish true religion.”

These are probably the two most famous verses of Srimad Bhagavad Gita. For preaching purposes, especially if addressing a Hindu crowd, it is crucial to know them, otherwise you just won’t be taken seriously.

So here the Lord outlines the four main reasons which cause Him to descend to this worldly plane. Paritranaya sadhunam: to deliver the sadhus. On a simplistic level this indicates the Lord rescuing his beloved devotees who are being disturbed by the demonic. Prahlad Maharaj is a perfect example of this. But one may ask, the true sadhus are never disturbed by anything of this mundane world, so although we can appreciate the Lord manifesting a heroic mood towards them, is there any other significance to this? The answer is that the deeper meaning of ‘deliverance’ here is in the sense of giving his personal darshan to His devotees who because of their intense love are suffering in His separation.

From one perspective we can cite just one reason for the Lord’s appearance in this world: the love of his devotee. We can also appreciate this in the statements “When there is an uprising of irreligion and a decline of religion I appear” and “To firmly establish true religion”. Because, so often we see that it is first one of his devotees who appeals to the Lord to descend and fulfill these objectives, as in the case of Advaita Acharya calling upon the Lord to descend and uplift the degraded souls of Kali-yuga. So it is in response to Advaita’s prayer that the Lord decides to bestow his mercy upon all and spread the yuga-dharma of Harinam-sankirtan.

“Vanquish the miscreants”: one may ask if this is cruelty on the part of the Lord. Actually it is his mercy. Everything the Lord does is an act of mercy and kindness, it may just be manifest in different ways. By killing the demonic he saves them from the hellish suffering which they are due, and additionally, as it is well known, everyone who is killed by the Lord achieves liberation (sayujya-mukti).

*Note: There was a very well made and popular television series produced in the 1980s which chanted these two verses in the intro to every episode, along with another very well-known verse which we already went through, karmany evadhikaras te. You can see if you can recognize them:https://www.youtube.com/watch…
I like the fact that they use images produced by Iskcon and actually give credit to Srila Swami Maharaj Prabhupad. If you are interested in having a better idea of the background of Bhagavad-gita and don’t feel you can get through the vast text of Mahabharat this is one option. The series is very well made and I feel they received some special blessings in producing it. There is something quite inspired about it. Of course there is an old-fashioned feel to it and some of the special effects look a little silly, but if you can get past that it’s clearly been very well directed and the casting and acting is very good. It’s also nice that they give a central position to Lord Krishna and the actor who plays him is great. The Bhagavad-gita episodes are pretty incredible, he does an outstanding job chanting so many of the verses. The only annoying thing is a narrative running through (I think spoken by ‘Time’ or something like that) which is something they’ve added, which has a bit of a mayavad feel. Also the English subtitles are not always completely accurate.

THE DEGRADING INFLUENCE OF TIME
BG 4.2

एवं परम्पराप्राप्तमिमं राजर्षयो विदुः ।
स कालेनेह महता योगो नष्टः परन्तप ॥२॥

evaṁ paramparā-prāptam imaṁ rājarṣayo viduḥ
sa kāleneha mahatā yogo naṣṭaḥ parantapa [2]

evam–In this way; paramparā-prāptam–attained through disciplic succession; rājarṣayaḥ–the saintly kings; viduḥ–came to know; imam–this path. (he) parantapa–O Arjuna, subduer of the enemy; saḥ yogaḥ–that yoga; naṣṭaḥ–has been lost; iha–at present; mahatā kālena–after the passage of a long time. [2]

“O conqueror of the enemy, thus the saintly kings such as Nimi, Janaka, and others learned this yoga, which was passed down to them by disciplic succession. But in the course of time, this teaching has been lost.”

Dandabat pranams dear friends. So now we have come to chapter 4 of Srimad Bhagavad-gita.

This is a verse to be familiar with at least as it is very well known and often quoted. It is like a precursor to the more famous verses 4.7–8 which we’ll come to next, and highlights the need for constant, fresh revelation and re-establishment of the truth. By the degrading influence of material time and the material energies, the truth becomes obscured, polluted, distorted, and so on.

We experience ourselves how at times we may perceive and experience spiritual truth vividly, with great clarity and a feeling of deep immediacy and necessity, but the next moment, in another environment, in different association, in different circumstances, it may all seem very hazy and suddenly there are a million and one more important priorities. Hence the need for again and again revisiting the truth in the form of higher Vaishnavas and scriptures and reminding and re-awakening ourselves to the reality of higher truth.