This chapter tells how Lord Ṛṣabhadeva left His body. He was not attached to His body even when it was being burned up in a forest fire. When the seed of fruitive activity is burned by the fire of knowledge, the spiritual properties and mystic powers are automatically manifest, yet bhakti-yoga is not affected by these mystic powers. An ordinary yogī is captivated by mystic powers and his progress checked; therefore a perfect yogī does not welcome them. Because the mind is restless and undependable, it must remain always under control. Even the mind of the advanced yogī Saubhari created such a disturbance that he lost his yogic mystic powers. Due to a restless mind, even a very advanced yogī can fall down.
The fire of knowledge
Bhagavad-gita As It Is
BG Chapters 1 - 6
As a blazing fire turns firewood to ashes, O Arjuna, so does the fire of knowledge burn to ashes all reactions to material activities.
Perfect knowledge of self and Superself and of their relationship is compared herein to fire. This fire not only burns up all reactions to impious activities, but also all reactions to pious activities, turning them to ashes. There are many stages of reaction: reaction in the making, reaction fructifying, reaction already achieved, and reaction a priori. But knowledge of the constitutional position of the living entity burns everything to ashes. When one is in complete knowledge, all reactions, both a priori and a posteriori, are consumed. In the Vedas (Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad 4.4.22) it is stated, ubhe uhaivaiṣa ete taraty amṛtaḥ sādhv-asādhūnī: "One overcomes both the pious and impious reactions of work."
SB Canto 4
A blazing fire is visible by its exhibition of heat and light; similarly, when the living entity within the heart becomes enlightened with full spiritual knowledge and detached from the material world, he burns up his material covering of the five elements—earth, water, fire, air and sky—and becomes free from the five kinds of material attachments, namely ignorance, false egoism, attachment to the material world, envy and absorption in material consciousness. Therefore pañcātmakam, as mentioned in this verse, refers to either the five elements or the five coverings of material contamination. When these are all burned into ashes by the blazing fire of knowledge and detachment, one is fixed firmly in the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Unless one takes shelter of a bona fide spiritual master and advances one's attraction for Kṛṣṇa by the spiritual master's instructions, the five coverings of the living entity cannot be uncovered from the material heart. The living entity is centered within the heart, and to take him away from the heart is to liberate him. This is the process.
SB Canto 5
Dear Lord, all the great sages who are thoughtful and saintly persons incessantly recount Your spiritual qualities. These sages have already burned up all the unlimited dirty things and, by the fire of knowledge, strengthened their detachment from the material world. Thus they have attained Your qualities and are self-satisfied. Yet even for those who feel spiritual bliss in chanting Your attributes, Your personal presence is very rare.
Generally people think that one should act very piously in order to be relieved from misery, but this is not a fact. Even though one engages in pious activity and speculation, he is nonetheless defeated. His only aim should be emancipation from the clutches of māyā and all material activities. Speculative knowledge and pious activity do not solve the problems of material life. One should be inquisitive to understand his spiritual position. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (4.37):
- yathaidhāṁsi samiddho 'gnir
- bhasmasāt kurute 'rjuna
- jñānāgniḥ sarva-karmāṇi
- bhasmasāt kurute tathā
"As a blazing fire turns firewood to ashes, O Arjuna, so does the fire of knowledge burn to ashes all reactions to material activities."
SB Canto 7
A twice-born brāhmaṇa (dvija) gains his life by the grace of his parents through the process of purification known as garbhādhāna. There are also other processes of purification, until the end of life, when the funeral ceremony (antyeṣṭi-kriyā) is performed. Thus in due course a qualified brāhmaṇa becomes uninterested in materialistic activities and sacrifices, but he offers the sensual sacrifices, in full knowledge, into the working senses, which are illuminated by the fire of knowledge.
SB Canto 8
For a devotee who has taken the lotus feet of the Lord within his heart, the Lord gives spiritual enlightenment, known as jñāna-dīpa, by special mercy from within. This jñāna-dīpa is compared to the fire hidden within araṇi wood. To perform fire sacrifices, great sages previously did not ignite a fire directly; the fire would be invoked from araṇi wood. Similarly, all living entities are covered by the modes of material nature, and the fire of knowledge can be ignited only by the Supreme Personality of Godhead when one takes Him within one's heart. Sa vai manaḥ kṛṣṇa-padāravindayoḥ (SB 9.4.18). If one takes seriously the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, who is seated within one's heart, the Lord eradicates all ignorance.
Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures
Madhudviṣa: Thirty-seven: "As the blazing fire turns wood to ashes, O Arjuna, so does the fire of knowledge burn to ashes all reactions to material activities (BG 4.37)."
Prabhupāda: Yes. I may be very seriously sinful, but when I get the knowledge of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, all my sins will be burned into ashes. Just like if you have... You have got a small fire. You bring tons of wood. Go on putting it. Go on putting it. Gradually everything will become ashes. This example. Tons of wood, you go on putting in that small fire. May not be immediately, but you go on putting, day after day, hours after hours; all wood will be burned into ashes. Very nice example.
Yathā, "as," as an edhāṁsi. Edhāṁsi means "fuel." Sammidho 'gniḥ, "blazing fire." Bhasmasāt, "turns into ashes." "Just like blazing fire, whatever you put into it, any fuel, that becomes turned into ashes, similarly," jñānāgniḥ, "when your fire of knowledge will be ablaze, then sarva-karmāṇi, all reactions of your work, will turned into ashes." Because the reaction of our karma, reaction of our work, is the cause of our bondage. There are good work and bad work. Here it is stated, sarva-karmāṇi. Sarva-karmāṇi means either good work or bad work. There are reactions of bad work, and there is reaction of good work. But a, a person who is going to be liberated from this material bondage, for him, both good work and bad work are reprehensible. There is no need of reaction of good work also. In this material world we are attached to perform good work. Not all. Those who are in the modes of goodness, they want to do some good work in the material estimation. And those who are in the modes of passion and ignorance, they do work, bad work, passionate work, work in ignorance. But those who are going to be Kṛṣṇa conscious, they have no need, either this good work or bad work.
The whole thing is... Now, jñānāgniḥ, knowledge, fire of knowledge. That fire of knowledge does not burn in our mind. You see? Therefore we accept this miserable life as happiness because there is want of that knowledge. Just like a dog or a hog cannot understand what sort of miserable life he's passing on. He thinks that "I am all right. I am enjoying life very nicely." That is the... That is called covering influence of material energy.