Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 4, Verse 36

अपि चेदसि पापेभ्य: सर्वेभ्य: पापकृत्तम: |
सर्वं ज्ञानप्लवेनैव वृजिनं सन्तरिष्यसि || 36||

api ched asi pāpebhyaḥ sarvebhyaḥ pāpa-kṛit-tamaḥ
sarvaṁ jñāna-plavenaiva vṛijinaṁ santariṣhyasi

apieven; chetif; asiyou are; pāpebhyaḥsinners; sarvebhyaḥof all; pāpa-kṛit-tamaḥmost sinful; sarvamall; jñāna-plavenaby the boat of divine knowledge; evacertainly; vṛijinamsin; santariṣhyasiyou shall cross over

api ched asi papebhyah sarvebhyah papa-krit-tamah
sarvam jnana-plavenaiva vrijinam santarishyasi


BG 4.36: Even those who are considered the most immoral of all sinners can cross over this ocean of material existence by seating themselves in the boat of divine knowledge.


Material existence is like a vast ocean, where one is tossed around by the waves of birth, disease, old age, and death. The material energy subjects everyone to the three-fold miseries: ādiātmik—miseries due to one’s own body and mind, ādibhautik—miseries due to other living entities, and ādidaivik—miseries due to climactic and environmental conditions. In this state of material bondage, there is no respite for the soul, and endless lifetimes have gone by being subjected to these conditions. Like a football being kicked around the field, the soul is elevated to the celestial abodes, dropped to the hellish planes of existence, and brought back to the earthly realm, etc. according to its karmas of righteous or sinful deeds.

Divine knowledge provides the boat to cross over the material ocean. The ignorant perform karmas and get bound by them. Performing the same karmas as a yajña to God liberates the knowledgeable. Thus, knowledge becomes the means of cutting material bondage. The Kaṭhopaniṣhad states:

vijñānasārathiryastu manaḥ pragrahavān naraḥ

so ’dhvanaḥ pāramāpnoti tadviṣhṇoḥ paramaṁ padam (1.3.9)

“Illumine your intellect with divine knowledge; then with the illumined intellect, control the unruly mind, to cross over the material ocean and reach the divine realm.”

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