ब्रह्मार्पणं ब्रह्म हविर्ब्रह्माग्नौ ब्रह्मणा हुतम् | ब्रह्मैव तेन गन्तव्यं ब्रह्मकर्मसमाधिना ||४-२४||
brahmārpaṇaṃ brahma havirbrahmāgnau brahmaṇā hutam . brahmaiva tena gantavyaṃ brahmakarmasamādhinā ||4-24||
4.24. The Brahman-oblation that is to be offered ot the Brahman, is poured into the Brahman-fire by the Brahman; it is nothing but the Brahman that is to be attained by him whose deep contemplation is the [said] Brahman-action.
Shri Purohit Swami
4.24 For him, the sacrifice itself is the Spirit; the Spirit and the oblation are one; it is the Spirit Itself which is sacrificed in Its own fire, and the man even in action is united with God, since while performing his act, his mind never ceases to be fixed on Him.
Sri Abhinav Gupta
4.24 Brahmarpanam etc. That is to be offered to the Brahman (list) : that, the offering of which is in the Brahman i.e., the reentrance of which is only into That, just from which it has originated. The Brahman (2nd) : That which is the same as the entire universe what we see - this is that very oblation. Into the Brahman-fire : into the fire which is the same as the Brahman, the highly tranil Supreme Consciousness. By the Brahman : by one or the other action. Is poured : is offered for the augmentation of It’s lumination. Hence, a man of Yoga, whose Brahman-action of this sort is itself a deep concentration - by him, the Brahman alone is [a goal] to be attained i.e., to be realised, not anything else; for there is no other thing.
Alternatively [in the verse] the meaning ‘by him’ brings in, by implication, the meaning ‘by whom’. So the following is the alignment [of words] : The action, in which the Brahman-oblation, intended to be an offering to a deity of the Brahman-nature, has been indeed poured into the Brahman-fire by the sacrificer, identical with the Brahman - that very Brahman-action of this sort is itself a deep contemplaiton, because it is the means to gain the innate nature of the Self. And what is attained by this Brahman-action-contemplation is the very Brahman Itself and not any other fruit. Indeed it has been maintained [by the Lord] as :
'The way in which men resort to Me, [in the same way I favour them]'. (IV, II)
‘Those, who have cultivated the nature of performing sacrifice which is nothing but Me, but of the delimited nature - they attain, therefore, the fruit of similar [limited] nature. This is different matter. But, with regard to those who have realised the nature of the sacrifice identical with Me ( the Supreme Consciousness), the Unlimited and complete; how could they be entertaining a craving for a bit of limited fruit ?’ This is the idea here.
Thus, a top secret is furnished by this and by the succeeding verses. that has been also detailed by us (Ag.) - even though our intelligence is limited - as far as our intelligence permits, by not transgressing the instructions of our preceptors. Maybe, for a person without a regular course of the oral tradition [of the system], this looks like a picture painted on the sky and does not appeal to his mind. On that account we should not be blamed.
It has been declared by some, in this context, that [here in this verse] the oblation, the fire and the instruments like sruk [used for offering the oblation into the fire in the sacrifice] and also the act [of offering] are all adjectives alifying the Brahmam. This [explanation] deserves to be ignored. For, these commentators have not troden on the path of the secret tradition.
4.24 The expression ‘Brahman is the instrument to offer with’ (It is to be remembered that in Ramanuja’s system ‘Brahman’ in the primary sense is the ‘Whole’ with the Supreme Being as the Soul and Atmans and Matter (Prakrti) as His body in inseparable union with the Whole. So the word ‘Brahman’ can, according to the needs of each context, be used to indicate the Supreme Being, the Atman, or Prakrti; In verse 24 it has been used in all these senses. We have therefore put it in italics. See Introduction.) is adjectival to ’the oblation’. That by which an offering is given, such as a ladle, is an Arpana. It is called Brahman because it is an effect of Brahman, Brahman being the material cause of the universe. ‘Brahmaarpanam’ is the oblation, of which the instrument is Brahman. The oblation, just like the instrument with which it is offered, is also Brahman. It is offered by the agent Brahman into the fire of Brahman. He is the Brahma-karma-samadhi who contemplates thus on all acts as filled with the Supreme Brahman or as having the Supreme Brahman as the Self. He who contemplates on Brahman as the Soul of all actions, reaches Brahman alone, as his own self has the Supreme Brahman as Its Self. The meaning is that the individual self - which is Brahman because of Its having Brahman as Its Self - has to realise Its own real nature. All actions performed by an aspirant for release have the form of knowledge because of their association with the contemplation of the Supreme Brahman as their self. They are a direct means for the vision of the self without the meditation of Jnana Yoga.
Thus, Sri Krsna, after explaining how Karma takes the form of knowledge, now speaks of the various kinds of Karma Yoga.
4.24 Brahma-arpanam, the ladle is Brahman: The knower of Brahman perceives the instrument with which he offers oblation in the fire as Brahman Itself. He perceives it as not existing separately from the Self, as one sees the non-existence of silver in nacre. In this sense it is that Brahman Itself is the ladle-just as what appears as silver is only narcre. (The two words brahma and arpanam are not parts of a compound word, samasa.) The meaning is that, to a knower of Brahman, what is perceived in the world as ladle is Brahman Itself. Similarly, brahma-havih, the oblations is Brahman: To him, what is seen as oblations is nothing but Brahman. In the same way, brahma-agnau, (-this is a compound word-) in the fire of Brahman: The fire into which oblation is hutam, poured; brahmana, by Brahman, by the agent, is Brahman Itself. The meaning is that Brahman Itself is the agent (of the offering). That he makes the offering-the act of offering-, that is also Brahman. And the result that is gantavyam, to be reached by him; that also is brahma eva, surely Brahman. Brahma-karma-samadhina, by him who has concentration on Brahman as the objective: Brahman Itself is the objective (karma); he who has concentration (samadhi) on That is brahma-karma-samdhih. The goal to be reached by him is Brahman alone. Thus, even the action undertaken by one who desires to prevent mankind from going astray is in reality inaction, for it has been sublated by the realization of Brahman. This being so, in the case of the monk from whom aciton has dropped off, who has renounced all activity, viewing his Knowledge as a (kind of) sacrifice, too, becomes all the more justifiable from the point of view of praising full realization. That is, whatever is well known as ladle etc. in the context of a sacrifice, all that, in the context of the Self, is Brahman Itself to one who has realized the supreme Truth. If not so, then, since all in Brahman, it would have been uselesss to specifically mention ladle etc. as Brahman. Therefore, all actions cease to exist for the man of realization who knows that Brahman Itself is all this. And this follows also from the absence (in him) of the idea of accessories. [See note on p.211.-Tr.] For the act called ‘sacarifice’ is not seen to exist without being in association with the idea of accessories. All such acts as Agnihotra etc. are associated with the ideas of such accessories as making an offering etc. to the particular gods who are revealed in the scriptures, and with the idea of agentship as also desire for results. But they are not found bereft of the ideas of such distinctions as exist among action, accessories and results, or unassociated with the ideas of agentship hankering for results. This (apparent) (activity of the man of Knowledge), however, stands dissociated from the ideas of differences among the accessories like ladle etc., actions and results, which get destroyed by the Knowledge of Brahman. Hence, it is inaction to be sure. And thus has it been shown in, ‘He who finds inaction in action’ (18), ‘he really does not do anything even though engaged in action’ (20), ’the organs act on the objects of the organs’ (3.28), ‘Remaining absorbed in the Self, the knower of Reality should think, “I certainly do not do anything”’ (5.8), etc. While pointing out thus, the Lord demolishes in various places the ideas of differences among actions, accessories and results. And it is also seen in the case of rites such as Agnihotra undertaken for results (kamya), that the Agnihotra etc. cease to be (kamya) rites undertaken for selfish motives when the desire for their results is destroyed. Similarly, it is seen that actions done intentionally and unintentionally yeild different results. So, here as well, in the case of one who has his ideas of distinctions among accessories like ladle etc., actions and results eliminated by the knowledge of Brahman, even activites which are merely external movements amount to inaction. Hence it was said, ‘gets totally destroyed.’ Here some say: That which is Brahman is the ladle etc. It is surely Brahman Itself which exists in the five forms [Asscessories that can be indicated by the five grammatical case-ending, viz Nominative, Objective, Instrumental, Dative and Locative. (As for instance, the sacrificer, oblation, ladle, sacrificial fire, and Brahman.-Tr.) of accessories such as the ladle etc. and it is Itself which undertakes actions. There the ideas of ladle etc. are not eradicated, but the idea of Brahman is attributed to the ladle etc. as one does the ideas of Visnu etc. to images etc., or as one does the idea of Brahman ot name etc. Reply: True, this could have been so as well if the context were not meant for the praise of jnanayajna (Knowledge considered as a sacrifice). Here, however, after presenting full realization as expressed by the word jnana-yajna, and the varieties of rites as referred to by the word yajna (sacrifice), Knowledge has been praised by the Lord in, ‘Jnana-yajna (Knowledge considered as a sacrifice) is greater than sacrifices reiring materials’ (33). And in the present context, this statement, ’the ladle is Brahman’ etc., is capable of presenting Knowledge as a sacrifice; otherwise, since Brahman is everything, it will be purposeless to speak specially only of ladle etc. as Brahman. But those who maintain that one has to superimpose the idea of Brahman on the ladle etc., like superimposing the idea of Visnu and others on images etc. and of Brahman on name etc., for them the knowledge of Brahma stated (in the verse) cannot be the intended subject-matter dealt with here, because according to them ladle etc. are the (primary) objects of knowledge (in the context of the present verse). Besides, knowledge in the form of superimposition of an idea cannot lead to Liberation as its result; and what is said here is, ‘Brahman alone in to be realized by him’. Also, it is inconsistent to maintain that the result of Liberation can be achieved without full realization. And it goes against the context-the context being of full realization. This is supported by the fact that (the subject of ) full realization is introduced in the verse, ‘He who finds inaction in action,’ and at the end (of this chapter) the conclusion pertains to that very subject-matter. The chapter comes to a close by eulozing full realization itself in, ‘Jnana-yajna (Knowledge considered as a sacrifice) is greater than sacrifices reiring materials’, ‘Achieving Knowledge, one৷৷.attains supreme Peace,’ (39) etc. That being so, it is unjustifiable to suddenly say out of context that one has to superimpose the idea of Brahman on the ladle etc. like the superimposition of the idea of Visnu on images. Therefore this verse bears the meaing just as it has been already explained. As to that, after having presented Knowledge as a sacrifice, other sacrifices also are being mentioned now in, the verses beginning with, ‘(Other yogis undertake) sacrifice to gods alone,’ etc., for eulogizing that Knowledge:
4.24 Brahman is the instrument to offer with; Brahman is the oblation. By Brahman is the oblation offered into the fire of Brahman; Brahman alone is to be reached by him who meditates on Him in his works.
4.24 The ladle is Brahman [Some translate as ‘Brahman is the ladle৷৷.,’ etc.-Tr.], the oblations 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. (Some translate brahma-karma-samadhina as, ‘by him who sees Brahman in action’.)
4.24 Brahman is the oblation; Brahman is the melted butter (ghee); by Brahman is the oblation poured into the fire of Brahman; Brahman verily shall be reached by him who always sees Brahman in action.
4.24 ब्रह्म Brahman? अर्पणम् the oblation? ब्रह्म Brahman? हविः the clarified butter? ब्रह्माग्नौ in the fire of Brahman? ब्रह्मणा by Brahman? हुतम् is offered? ब्रह्म Brahman? एव only? तेन by him? गन्तव्यम् shall be reached? ब्रह्मकर्मसमाधिना by the man who is absorbed in action which is Brahman.Commentary This is JnanaYajna or wisdomsacrifice wherein the idea of Brahman is substituted for the ideas of the instrument and other accessories of action? the idea of action itself and of its results. By entertaining such an idea the whole action melts away? as stated in the previous verse (No.23).When one attains to the knowledge of the Self or Selfrealisation his whole life becomes a wisdomsacrifice in which the oblation? the melted butter or the offering? the performer of the sacrifice? the action and the goal are all Brahman. He who meditates thus wholly upon Brahman shall verily attain to Brahman.The sage who has the knowledge of the Self knows that the oblation? the fire? the instrument by which the melted butter is poured into the fire and himself have no existence apart from that of Brahman. He who has realised through direct cognitio (Anubhava) that all is Brahman? does no action even if he performs actions. (Cf.III.15)