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Bhagavad Gita


Bhagavad Gita

 



1. Arjun's dejection

2. Philosophy and Spiritual Discipline

3. Discipline of Action

4. Knowledge

5. Renunciation of Action

6. The man of Discipline

7. Knowledge and Judgment

8. The Infinite Spirit

9. The Sublime Mystery

10. Fragments of Devine Power

11. The Vision of Krishn's Totality

12. Devotion

13. Knowing the field

14. The Triad of Nature's Qualities

15. The True Spirit of Man

16. The Devine and the Demonic in Man

17. Three Aspects of Faith

18. The Wondrous Dialogue Concludes

 


The First Teaching -- Arjun's dejection

Dhritarashtr : 
Sanjay, tell me what my sons 
and the sons of Pandu did when they met 
wanting to battle on the field of Kuru,
on the field of sacred duty? 

Sanjaya : 
Your son Duryodhan, the king, 
seeing the Pandav forces arrayed, 
approached his teacher Dron
and spoke in command.

" My teacher, see 
the great Pandav army arrayed
by Drupad's son, 
your pupil, intent on revenge.

Here are heroes, mighty archers 
equal to Bhim and Arjun in warfare, 
Yuyudhan, Virat, and Dhrupad, 
your sworn foe on this great chariot.

Here too are Dhrishtaketu, Cekitana, 
and the brave king of Banares; 
Purujit, Kuntbhoja, 
and the manly king of the Shibis.

Yudhamanyu is bold,
and Uttamaujas is brave;
the sons of Subhadra and Draupadi,
all command great chariots.

Now, honored priest, mark 
the superb men on our side 
as I tell you the names 
of my army's leaders.

They are you and Bhishm, 
Karn and Krip, a victor in battles, 
your own son Ashvatthama, 
Vikarna, and the son of Somadatta.

Many other heroes also risk 
their lives for my sake, 
bearing varied weapons 
and skilled in the ways of war.

Guarded by Bhishm, the strength 
of our army is without limit; 
but the strength of their army, 
guarded by Bhim, is limited.

In all their movements of battle 
you and your men, 
stationed according to plan, 
must guard Bhishm well!"

Bhishm, fiery elder of the Kurus, 
roared his lion's roar 
and blew his conch horn,
exciting Duryodhan's delight.

Conches and kettledrums, 
cymbals, tabors and trumpets 
were sounded at once 
and the din of tumult arose.

Standing on their great chariot, 
yoked with white stallions, 
Krishn and Arjun, Pandu's son, 
sounded their divine conches.

Krishn blew Panchajanya, won from a demon, 
Arjun blew Devadatta, a gift of the gods; 
fierce wolf-bellied Bhim blew Paundra, 
his great conch of the east.

Yudhistir, Kunti's son, the king, 
blew Anantvijay, conch of boundless victory, 
his twin brothers Nakul and Sahadev 
blew conches resonant and jewel toned.

The king of Benares, a superb archer, 
and Shikhandin on his great chariot, 
Dhrishtadyumn, Virat and indomitable Satyaki, 
all blew their conches.

Drupad, with all his five grandsons, 
and Subhadra's strong armed son, 
each in turn blew 
their conches, O King!

The noise tore the hearts 
of Dhritarashtr's sons assembled 
and tumult echoes 
through heaven and earth.

Arjun, his war flag a rampant monkey (Hanuman), 
saw Dhritarashtr's son assembled 
as weapons were ready to clash, 
and lifted his bow.

He told his charioteer: 

"Krishn, 
halt my chariot 
between the armies!

Far enough for me to see 
these men who lust for war, 
ready to fight with me 
in the strain of battle.

I see men gathered here, 
eager to fight, 
bent on serving the folly 
of Dhritarashtr's son."

When Arjun had spoken, 
Krishn halted 
their splendid chariot 
between the armies.

Facing Bhishm and Dron, 
and all the great kings, 
he said, "Arjun, see 
the Kuru men assembled here!"

Arjun saw them standing there: 
fathers, grandfathers, teachers, 
uncles, brothers, sons, 
grandsons, and friends.

He surveyed his elders 
and companions in both armies, 
all his kinsmen 
assembled together.

Dejected, filled with strange pity, 
he said this: 

"Krishn, I see my kinsmen 
gathered here, wanting war.

My limbs sink, 
my mouth is parched, 
my body trembles, 
the hair bristles on my flesh.

The magic bow slips 
from my hands, my skin burns, 
I cannot stand still, 
my mind reels.

I see omens of chaos, 
Krishn I see no good 
in killing my kinsmen 
in battle.

Krishn, I seek no victory, 
or kingship or pleasures. 
What use to us are kingship, 
delights, or life itself?

We sought kingship, delights, 
and pleasures for the sake of those 
assembled to abandon their lives 
and fortunes in battle.

They are teachers, fathers, sons, 
and grandfathers, uncles, grandsons, 
fathers and brothers of wives 
and other men of our family.

I do not want to kill them 
even if I am killed, Krishna; 
not for kingship of all three worlds, 
much less for the earth!

What joy is there for us, Krishn, 
in killing Dhritarashtr's sons? 
Evil will haunt us if we kill them, 
though their bows are drawn to kill.

Honor forbids us to kill 
our cousins, Dhritarashtr's sons; 
how can we know happiness
if we kill our own kinsmen?

The greed that distorts their reason 
blinds them to the sin they commit 
in ruining the family, blinds them 
to crime of betraying friends.

How can we ignore the wisdom 
of turning from this evil 
when we see the sin 
of family destruction, Krishn?

When the family is ruined, 
the timeless laws of family duty 
perish; and when duty is lost, 
chaos overwhelms the family.

In overwhelming chaos, Krishn, 
women of the family are corrupted; 
and when women are corrupted, 
disorder is born in society.

This discord drags the violators 
and the family itself to hell; 
for ancestors fall when rites 
of offering rice and water lapse.

The sins of men who violate 
the family create disorder in society 
that undermines the constant laws 
of caste and family duty.

Krishn, we have heard 
that a place in hell 
is reserved for men 
who undermine family duties.

I lament the great sin 
we commit when our greed 
for kingship and pleasures 
drives us to kill our kinsmen.

If Dhritarashtr's armed sons 
kill me in battle when I am unarmed 
and offer no resistance, 
it will be my reward."

Saying this in the time of war, 
Arjun slumped into the chariot 
and laid down his bow and arrows, 
his mind tormented by grief.

 

The Second Teaching -- Philosophy and Spiritual Discipline

 

Sanjay : 
Arjun sat dejected, 
filled with pity, 
his sad eyes blurred by tears, 
Krishn gave him counsel.

Lord Krishn : 
Why this cowardice 
in this time of crisis, Arjun? 
The coward is ignoble, shameful, 
foreign to the ways of heaven.

Donít yield to impotence! 
It is unnatural in you! 
Banish this petty weakness from your heart, 
Rise to the fight, Arjun!

Arjun : 
Krishna, how can I fight 
against Bhishm and Dron 
with arrows 
when they deserve my worship?

It is better in this world
to beg for scraps of food 
than to eat means 
smeared with the blood 
of elders I killed 
at the height of their power 
while their goals
were still desires.

We don't know which weight 
is worse to bear --- 
our conquering them 
or their conquering us. 
We will not want to live 
if we kill 
the sons of Dhritarashtr 
assembled before us.

The flaw of pity 
blights my very being; 
conflicting sacred duties 
confound my reason. 
I ask you to tell me 
decisively -- Which is better? 
I am your pupil. 
Teach me what I seek!

I see nothing 
that could drive away 
the grief 
that withers my senses; 
even if I won kingdoms 
of unrivaled wealth 
on earth 
and sovereignty over gods.

Sanjay : 
Arjun told this 
to Krishn --- then saying, 
" I shall not fight, " 
he fell silent.

Mocking him gently, 
Krishn gave this counsel 
as Arjun sat dejected, 
between the two armies.

Krishn : 
You grieve for those beyond grief, 
and you speak words of insight; 
but learned men do not grieve 
for the dead or the living.

Never have I not existed, 
nor you, nor these kings; 
and never in the future 
shall we cease to exist.

Just as the embodied self 
enters childhood, youth, and old age, 
so does it enter another body; 
this does not confound a steadfast man.

Contacts with matter make us feel 
heat and cold, pleasure and pain. 
Arjun, you must learn to endure 
fleeting things -- they come and go!

When these cannot torment a man, 
when suffering and joy are equal 
for him and he has courage, 
he is fit for immortality.

Nothing of nonbeing comes to be, 
nor does being cease to exist; 
the boundary between these two 
is seen by men who see reality.

Indestructible is the presence 
that pervades all this; 
no one can destroy 
this unchanging reality.

Our bodies are known to end, 
but the embodied self is enduring, 
indestructible, and immeasurable; 
therefore, Arjun, fight the battle!

He who thinks this self a killer 
and he who thinks it killed, 
both fail to understand; 
it does not kill, nor is it killed.

It is not born, 
it does not die; 
having been, 
it will never not be; 
unborn, enduring, 
constant, and primordial, 
it is not killed 
when the body is killed.

Arjun, when a man knows the self 
t be indestructible, enduring, unborn, 
unchanging, how does he kill 
or cause anyone to kill?

As a man discards 
worn-out clothes 
to put on new 
and different ones, 
so the embodied self 
discards 
its worn-out bodies 
to take on other new ones.

Weapons do not cut it, 
fire does not burn it, 
waters do not wet it, 
wind does not wither it.

It cannot be cut or burned; 
it cannot be wet or withered; 
it is enduring, all pervasive, 
fixed, immovable, and timeless.

It is called unmanifest, 
inconceivable, and immutable; 
since you know that to be so, 
you should not grieve!

If you think of its birth 
and death as ever-recurring, 
then too, Great Warrior, 
you have no cause to grieve!

Death is certain for anyone born, 
and birth is certain for the dead; 
since the cycle is inevitable, 
you have no cause to grieve!

Creatures are unmanifest in origin, 
manifest in the midst of life, 
and unmanifest again in the end. 
Since this is so, why do you lament?

Rarely someone 
sees it, 
rarely another
speaks it, 
rarely anyone 
hears it -- 
even hearing it, 
no one really knows it.

The self embodied in the body 
of every being indestructible; 
you have no cause to grieve 
for all these creatures, Arjun!

Look to your own duty; 
do not tremble before it; 
nothing is better for a warrior 
than a battle of sacred duty.

The doors of heaven open 
for warriors who rejoice 
to have a battle like this 
thrust on them by chance.

If you fail to wage this war 
of sacred duty, 
you will abandon your own duty
and fame only to gain evil.

People will tell 
of your undying shame, 
and for a man of honor 
shame is worse than death.

The great chariot warriors will think 
you deserted in fear of battle; 
you will be despised 
by those who held you in high esteem.

Your enemies will slander you, 
scorning your skill 
in so many unspeakable ways -- 
could an suffering be worse?

If you are killed, you win heaven; 
gain and loss, victory and defeat, 
arm yourself for the battle, 
lest you fall into evil.

Understanding is defined in terms of philosophy; 
now hear it in spiritual discipline. 
Armed with this understanding, Arjun 
you will escape the bondage of action.

No effort in this world 
is lost or wasted; 
a fragment of sacred duty 
saves you from great fear.

This understanding is unique 
in its inner core of resolve; 
diffuse and pointless are the ways 
irresolute men understand.

Undiscerning men who delight 
in the tenets of ritual lore 
utter florid speech, proclaiming, 
" There is nothing else!"

Driven by desire, they strive after heaven 
and contrive to win powers and delights, 
but their intricate ritual language 
bears only the fruit of action in rebirth.

Obsessed with powers and delights, 
their reason lost in words, 
they do not find in contemplation 
this understanding of inner resolve.

Arjun, the realm of sacred lore 
is nature -- beyond its triad of qualities, 
dualities, and mundane rewards, 
be forever lucid, alive to your self.

For the discerning priest, 
all of sacred lore 
has no more value than a well 
when water flows everywhere.

Be intent on action, 
not on the fruits of action; 
avoid attraction to the fruits 
and attachment to inaction!

Perform actions, firm in discipline, 
relinquishing attachment; 
be impartial to failure and success -- 
this equanimity is called discipline.

Arjun, action is far inferior 
to the discipline of understanding; 
so seek refuge in understanding -- pitiful 
are men drawn by fruits of action.

Disciplined by understanding, 
one abandons both good and evil deeds; 
so arm yourself for discipline -- 
discipline is skill in actions.

Wise men disciplined by understanding 
relinquish the fruit born of action,
freed from these bonds of rebirth, 
they reach a place beyond decay.

When your understanding passes beyond 
the swamp of delusion, 
you will be indifferent to all 
that is heard in sacred lore.

When your understanding turns 
from sacred lore to stand fixed, 
immovable in contemplation, 
then you will reach discipline.

Arjun : 
Krishn, what defines a man 
deep in contemplation whose insight 
and thought are sure? How would he speak? 
how would he sit? How would he move?

Lord Krishn : 
When he gives up desires in his mind, 
is content with the self within himself, 
then he is said to be a man 
whose insight is sure, Arjun.

When suffering does not disturb his mind, 
when his craving for pleasures has vanished, 
when attraction, fear , and anger are gone, 
he is called a sage whose thought is sure.

When he shows no preference 
in fortune or misfortune 
and neither exults nor hates, 
his insight is sure.

When, like a tortoise retracting 
its limbs, he withdraws his senses 
completely from sensuous objects,
his insight is sure.

Sensuous objects fade 
when the embodied self abstains from food; 
the taste lingers, but it too fades 
in the vision of higher truth.

Even when a man of wisdom 
tries to control them, Arjun, 
the bewildering senses 
attack his mind with violence.

Controlling them all, 
with discipline he should focus on me; 
when his senses are under control, 
his insight is sure.

Brooding about sensuous objects 
makes attachment to them grow; 
from attachment desire arises, 
from desire anger is born.

From anger comes confusion; 
from confusion memory lapses; 
from broken memory understanding is lost; 
from loss of understanding, he is ruined.

But a man of inner strength 
whose senses experience objects 
without attraction or hatred, 
in self-control, finds serenity.

In serenity, all his sorrows 
dissolve; 
his reason becomes serene, 
his understanding sure.

Without discipline, 
he has no understanding or inner power; 
without inner power, he has no peace; 
and without peace where is joy?

If his mind submits to the play 
of his senses, 
they drive away insight, 
as wind drives a ship on water.

So, Great Warrior, when withdrawal 
of the senses, 
from sense objects is complete, 
discernment is firm.

When it is night for all creatures, 
a master of restraint is awake; 
when they are awake, it is night 
for the sage who sees reality.

As the mountainous depths 
of the ocean 
are unmoved when waters 
rush into it, 
so the man unmoved 
when desires enter him 
attains a peace that eludes 
the man of many desires.

When he renounces all desires 
and acts without craving, 
possessiveness, 
or individuality, he finds peace.

This is the place of the infinite spirit; 
achieving it, one is freed from delusion; 
abiding in it even at the time of death, 
one finds the pure calm of infinity.

 

The Third Teaching -- Discipline of Action

 

Arjun : 
If you think understanding 
is more powerful than action, 
why, Krishn, do you urge me
to this horrific act?

You confuse my understanding 
with a maze of words; 
speak one certain truth 
so I may achieve what is good.

Lord Krishn : 
Earlier I taught the twofold 
basis of good in the world -- 
for philosophers, disciplined knowledge; 
for men of discipline, action.

A man cannot escape the force 
of action by abstaining from actions; 
he does not attain success 
just by renunciation.

No one exists for even an instant 
without performing action; 
however unwilling, every being is forced 
to act by the qualities of nature.

When senses are controlled 
but he keeps recalling 
sense objects with his mind, 
he is a self-deluded hypocrite.

When he control his senses 
with his mind and engages in the discipline 
of action with his faculties of action, 
detachment sets him apart.

Perform necessary action; 
it is more powerful than inaction; 
without action you even fail 
to sustain your own body.

Action imprisons the world 
unless it is done as sacrifice; 
freed from attachment, Arjun, 
perform actions as sacrifice!

When creating living beings and sacrifice, 
Prajapati, the primordial creator, said :

"By sacrifice will you procreate! 
Let it be your wish-granting cow!

Foster the gods with this, 
and may they foster you, 
by enriching one another, 
you will achieve a higher good.

Enriched by sacrifice, the gods 
will give you the delights you desire; 
he is a thief who enjoys their gifts 
without giving them in return. "

Good men eating the remnants 
of sacrifice are free of any guilt, 
but evil men who cook for themselves 
eat the food in vain.

Creatures depend on food, 
food comes from rain, 
rain depends on sacrifice, 
and sacrifice comes from action.

Action comes from the spirit of prayer, 
whose source is OM, sound of the imperishable; 
so the pervading infinite spirit 
is ever present in the rites of sacrifice.

He who fails to keep turning 
the wheel here set in motion 
wastes his life in sin, 
addicted to the senses, Arjun.

But when a man finds delight 
within himself and feels inner joy 
and pure contentment in himself, 
there is nothing more to be done.

He has no stake here 
in deeds done or undone, 
nor does his purpose 
depend on other creatures.

Always perform with detachment 
any action you must do; 
performing action with detachment, 
one achieves supreme good.

Janak and other ancient kings 
attained perfection by actions alone; 
seeing the way to preserve 
the world, you should act.

Whatever a leader does, 
the ordinary people also do. 
He sets the standard 
for the world to follow.

In the three worlds, 
there is nothing I must do, 
nothing unattained to be attained, 
yet I engage in action.

What if I did not engage 
relentlessly in action? 
Men retrace my path 
at every turn, Arjun.

These worlds would collapse 
if I did not perform action; 
I would create disorder in society, 
living beings would be destroyed.

As the ignorant act with attachment 
to actions, Arjun, 
so wise men should act with detachment 
to preserve the world.

No wise man disturbs the understanding 
of ignorant men attached to action; 
he should inspire them, 
performing all actions with discipline.

Actions are all effected 
by the qualities of nature; 
but deluded by individuality, 
the self thinks, " I am the actor."

When he can discriminate 
the actions of nature's qualities 
and think, " The qualities depend 
on other qualities," he is detached.

Those deluded by the qualities of nature 
are attached to their actions; 
a man who knows this should not upset 
these dull men of partial knowledge.

Surrender all actions to me, 
and fix your reason on your inner self; 
without hope or possessiveness, 
your fever subdued, fight the battle!

Men who always follow my thought, 
trusting it without finding fault, 
are freed 
even by their actions.

But those who find fault 
and fail to follow my thought, 
know that they are lost fools, 
deluded by every bit of knowledge.

Even a man of knowledge 
behaves in accord with his own nature; 
creatures all conform to nature; 
what can one do to restrain them?

Attraction and hatred are poised 
in the object of every sense experience; 
a man must not fall prey 
to these two brigands lurking on his path!

Your own duty done imperfectly,
is better than another man's done well. 
It is better to die in one's own duty; 
another man's duty is perilous.

Arjun : 
Krishn, what makes a person 
commit evil 
against his own will, 
as if compelled by force?

Lord Krishn : 
It is desire and anger arising 
from nature's quality of passion; 
know it here as the enemy, 
voracious and very evil.

As fire is obscured by smoke 
and a mirror by dirt, 
as an embryo is veiled by its caul, 
so is knowledge obscured by this.

Knowledge is obscured 
by the wise man's eternal enemy, 
which takes form as desire, 
an insatiable fire, Arjun.

The senses, mind, and understanding 
are said to harbor desire; 
with these desire obscures knowledge 
and confounds the embodied self.

Therefore, first restrain 
your senses, Arjun, 
then kill this evil 
that ruins knowledge and judgment.

Men say that the senses are superior 
to their objects, the mind is superior to the senses, 
understanding superior to the mind; 
higher than understanding is the self.

Knowing the self beyond understanding, 
sustain the self with the self. 
Great Warrior, kill the enemy 
menacing you in the form of desire!

 

The Fourth Teaching -- Knowledge

 

Lord Krishn : 
I taught this undying discipline 
to the shining sun, first of mortals, 
who told it to Manu, the progenitor of man; 
Manu told it to the solar king Ikshvaku.

Royal sages knew this discipline, 
which tradition handed down; 
but over the course of time 
it has decayed, Arjun.

This is the ancient discipline 
that I have taught to you today; 
you are my devotee and my friend, 
and this is the deepest mystery.

Arjun : 
Your birth followed the birth 
of the sun; 
how can I comprehend that you taught it 
in the beginning?

Lord Krishn : 
I have passed though many births 
and so have you; 
I know them all, 
but you do not, Arjun.

Though myself unborn, undying, 
the lord of creatures, I fashion nature, 
which is mine, and I come into being 
through my own magic.

Whenever sacred duty decays 
and chaos prevails, 
then, I create 
myself, Arjun.

To protect men of virtue 
and destroy men of evil, 
to set the standard of sacred duty, 
I appear in age after age.

He who knows my divine 
birth and my actions, escapes rebirth 
when he abandons the body -- 
and he comes to me, Arjun.

Free from attraction, fear, and anger, 
filled with me, dependant on me, 
purified by the fire of knowledge, 
many come into my presence.

As they seek refuge in me, 
I devote myself to them; 
Arjun, men retrace 
my path in every way.

Desiring success in their actions, 
men sacrifice here to the gods; 
in the world of man 
success comes quickly from action.

I created mankind into four classes, 
different in their qualities and actions; 
though unchanging, I am the agent of this, 
the actor who never acts!

I desire no fruit of actions, 
and actions do not defile me; 
one who knows this about me 
is not bound by actions.

Knowing this, even ancient seekers 
of freedom performed action -- 
do as these seers 
did in ancient times.

What is action? What is inaction? 
Even poets were confused -- 
what I shall teach you of action 
will free you from misfortune.

One should understand action, 
understand wrong action, 
and understand inaction too; 
the way to action is obscure.

A man who sees inaction in action 
and action in inaction 
has understanding among men, 
disciplined in all action he performs.

The wise say a man is learned 
when his plans lack constructs of desire, 
when his actions are burned 
by the fire of knowledge.

Abandoning attachment to fruits 
of action, always content, independent, 
he does nothing at all 
when he engages in action.

He incurs no guilt if he has no hope, 
restrains his thought and himself, 
abandons possessions, 
and performs actions with his body only.

Content with whatever comes by chance, 
beyond dualities, free from envy, 
impartial to failure and success, 
he is not bound even when he acts.

When a man is unattached and free, 
his reason deep in knowledge, 
action only in sacrifice, 
his action is wholly dissolved.

The infinite spirit is the offering, 
the oblation it pours into infinite fire, 
and the infinite spirit can be reached 
by contemplating its infinite action.

Some men of discipline offer 
sacrifice only to the gods; 
other sacrifice with oblation 
in the fire of infinite spirit.

Some offer senses such as hearing 
in the fires of restraint; 
others offer sound and other objects 
in the fires of the senses.

Others offer all actions of the senses 
and all actions of breath 
in the fire of discipline kindled 
by knowledge -- the mastery of one's self.

Ascetics who keep strict vows 
sacrifice with material objects, 
through penance, discipline, 
study of sacred lore, and knowledge.

Others sacrifice by suspending 
the cycle of vital breath, 
the flow of inhaling and exhaling, 
as they practice breath control.

Others restricting their food 
offer breaths in vital breaths; 
all these understand sacrifice 
and in sacrifice exhaust their sins.

Men who eat remnants of sacrifice 
attain the timeless infinite spirit; 
what is the world or the next 
for a man without sacrifice, Arjun?

Many forms of sacrifice 
expand toward the infinite spirit; 
know that the source of them all 
is action, and you will be free.

Sacrifice in knowledge is better 
than sacrifice with material objects; 
the totality of all action 
culminates in knowledge, Arjun.

Know it by humble submission, 
by asking questions, and by service, 
wise men who see reality 
will give you knowledge.

Arjun, when you have realized this, 
you will not descend into delusion again, 
knowledge will let you see creatures 
within yourself and so in me.

Even if you are the most evil 
of all sinners, 
you will cross over all evil 
on the raft of knowledge.

Just as a flaming fire reduces 
wood to ashes, Arjun, 
so the fire of knowledge 
reduces all actions to ashes.

No purifier equals knowledge, 
and in time 
the man of perfect discipline 
discovers this in his own spirit.

Faithful, intent, his senses 
subdued, he gains knowledge; 
gaining knowledge, 
he soon finds perfect peace.

As ignorant man is lost, faithless, 
and filled with self-doubt; 
a soul that harbors doubt has no joy, 
not in this world or the next.

Arjun, actions do not bind 
a man in possession of himself, 
who renounces action through discipline 
and severs doubt with knowledge.

So sever the ignorant doubt 
in your heart with the sword 
of self-knowledge, Arjun! 
Observe your discipline! Arise!

 

The Fifth Teaching --Renunciation of Action

 

Arjun : 
Krishn, you praise renunciation 
of actions and then discipline; 
tell me with certainty 
which is better of these two.

Lord Krishn : 
Renunciation and discipline of action 
both effect good beyond measure; 
but of these two, discipline in action 
surpasses renunciation of action.

The man of eternal renunciation 
is one who neither hates nor desires; 
beyond dualities, 
he is easily freed from bondage.

Simpletons separate philosophy 
and discipline, but the learned do not; 
applying one correctly, a man 
finds the fruit in both.

Men of discipline reach the same place 
that philosophers attain; 
he really sees who sees philosophy 
and discipline to be one.

Renunciation is difficult to attain 
without discipline; 
a sage armed with discipline 
soon reaches the infinite spirit.

Armed with discipline, he purifies 
and subdues the self, masters his senses, 
unites himself with the self of all creatures; 
even when he acts, he is not defiled.

Seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, 
eating, walking, sleeping, breathing, 
the disciplined man who knows reality 
should think, "I do nothing at all."

When taking, giving, taking, 
opening and closing his eyes, 
he keeps thinking, "It is the senses 
that engage in sense objects."

A man who relinquishes attachment 
and dedicates actions to the infinite spirit 
is not stained by evil, 
like lotus leaf unstained by water.

Relinquishing attachment, 
men of discipline perform action 
with body, mind, understanding, and senses 
for purification of the self.

Relinquishing the fruit of action, 
the disciplined man attains perfect peace; 
the undisciplined man is in bondage, 
attached to the fruits of his desire.

Renouncing all actions with the mind, 
the masterful embodied self 
dwells at ease in its nine-gated fortress -- 
it neither acts nor causes action.

The lord of the world 
does not create agency or actions, 
or a union of fruits with actions; 
but his being unfolds into existence.

The lord does not partake 
of anyone's evil or good conduct; 
knowledge is obscured by ignorance, 
so people are deluded.

When ignorance is destroyed 
by knowledge of the self, 
then, like the sun, knowledge 
illumines ultimate reality.

That becomes their understanding, 
their self, their basis, and their goal, 
and they reach a state beyond return, 
their sin dispelled by knowledge.

Learned men see with an equal eye 
a scholarly and dignified priest, 
a cow, an elephant, a dog, 
and even an outcaste scavenger.

Men who master the worldly world 
have equanimity -- 
they exist in the infinite spirit, 
in its flawless equilibrium.

He should not rejoice in what he loves 
nor recoil from what disgusts him; 
secure in understanding, undeluded, knowing 
the infinite spirit, he abides in it.

Detached from external contact, 
he discovers joy in himself; 
joined by discipline to the infinite spirit, 
the self attains inexhaustible joy.

Delights from external objects 
are wombs of suffering; 
in their beginning is their end, 
and no wise man delights from them.

A man able to endure 
the force of desire and anger 
before giving up his body 
is disciplined and joyful.

The man of discipline has joy, 
delight, and light within; 
becoming the infinite spirit, 
he finds the pure calm of infinity.

The pure calm of infinity 
exists for the ascetic 
who disarms desire and anger 
controls reason, and knows the self.

He shuns external objects, 
fixes his gaze between his brows, 
and regulates his vital breaths 
as they pass through his nostrils.

Truly free is the sage who controls 
his senses, mind and understanding, 
who focuses on freedom 
and dispels desire, fear, and anger.

Knowing me as the enjoyer 
of sacrifice and penances, lord of all worlds, 
and friends of all creatures 
he finds peace.

 

The Sixth Teaching -- The man of Discipline

 

Lord Krishn : 
One who does what must be done 
without concern for the fruits 
is a man of renunciation and discipline 
not one who shuns ritual fire and rites.

Know that discipline, Arjun, 
is what men call renunciation 
no man is disciplined 
without renouncing willful intent.

Action is the means for a sage 
who seeks to mature in discipline; 
tranquility is the means 
for one who is mature in discipline.

He is said to be mature in discipline 
when he has renounced all intention 
and is detached 
from sense objects and actions.

He should elevate himself by the self, 
not degrade himself; 
for the self is its own friend 
and its own worst foe.

The self is the friend of a man 
who masters himself through the self, 
but for a man without self-mastery, 
the self is like an enemy at war.

The higher self of a tranquil man 
whose self is mastered 
is perfectly poised in cold or heat 
joy or suffering, honor or contempt.

Self-contented in knowledge and judgment 
his senses subdued, on the summit of existence, 
impartial to clay, stone, or gold, 
the man of discipline is disciplined.

He is set apart by his disinterest 
toward comrades, allies, enemies, 
neutrals, nonpartisans, foes, friends, 
good and even evil men.

A man of discipline should always 
discipline himself, remain in seclusion, 
isolated, his thought and self well controlled, 
without possessions or hope.

He should fix for himself 
a firm seat in a pure place, 
neither too high nor too low, 
covered in cloth, deerskin, or grass.

He should focus his mind and restrain 
the activity of his thought and senses; 
sitting on that seat, he should practice 
discipline for purification of the self.

He should keep his body, head, 
and neck aligned, immobile, steady; 
he should gaze at the tip of his nose 
and not let his glance wander.

The self tranquil, his fear dispelled, 
firm in the vow of celibacy, his mind restrained, 
let him sit with discipline, 
his thought fixed on me, intent on me.

Disciplining himself, 
his mind controlled, 
a man of discipline finds peace, 
the pure calm that exists in me.

Gluttons have no discipline, 
nor the man who starves himself, 
nor he who sleeps excessively 
or suffers wakefulness.

When a man disciplines his diet 
and diversions, his physical actions, 
his sleeping and waking, 
discipline destroys his sorrow.

When his controlled thought 
rests within the self alone, 
without craving objects of desire, 
he is said to be disciplined.

"He does not waver, like a lamp sheltered 
from the wind" is the simile recalled 
for a man of discipline, restrained in thought 
and practicing self-discipline.

When his thought ceases, 
checked by exercise of discipline, 
he is content within the self, 
seeing the self through himself.

Absolute joy beyond his senses 
can only be grasped by understanding; 
when one knows it, he abides there 
and never wanders from reality.

Obtaining it, he thinks 
there is no greater gain; 
abiding there, he is unmoved, 
even by deep suffering.

Since he knows that discipline 
means unbinding the bonds of suffering, 
he should practice discipline resolutely, 
without despair dulling his reason.

He should entirely relinquish 
desires aroused by willful intent; 
he should entirely control 
his senses with his mind.

He should gradually become tranquil, 
firmly controlling his understanding; 
focusing his mind on the self 
he should think nothing.

Wherever his faltering mind 
unsteadily wanders, 
he should restrain it 
and bring it under self-control.

When his mind is tranquil, perfect joy 
comes to the man of discipline; 
his passion is calmed, he is without sin, 
being one with the infinite spirit.

Constantly disciplining himself, 
free from sin, the man of discipline 
easily achieves perfect joy 
in harmony with the infinite spirit.

Arming himself with discipline, 
seeing everything with an equal eye, 
he sees the self in all creatures 
and all creatures in the self.

He who sees me everywhere 
and sees everything in me 
will not be lost to me, 
and I will not be lost to him.

I exist in all creatures, 
so the disciplined man devoted to me 
grasps the oneness of life; 
wherever he is, he is in me.

When he sees identity in everything, 
whether joy or suffering, 
through analogy with the self, 
he is deemed a man of pure discipline. 
Arjun : 
You define this discipline 
by equanimity, Krishn; 
but in my faltering condition 
I see no ground for it.

Krishn, the mind is faltering, 
violent, strong, and stubborn; 
I find it as difficult 
to hold as the wind.

Lord Krishn : 
Without doubt, the mind 
is unsteady and hard to hold, 
but practice and dispassion 
can restrain it, Arjun.

In my view, discipline eludes 
the unrestrained self, 
but if he strives to master himself, 
a man has the means to reach it.

Arjun : 
When a man has faith, but no ascetic will, 
and his mind deviates from discipline 
before its perfection is achieved, 
what way is there for him, Krishn?

Doomed by this double failure, 
is he not like a cloud split apart, 
unsettled, deluded on the path 
of the infinite spirit?

Krishn, only you can dispel 
this doubt of mine completely; 
there is no one but you 
to dispel this doubt.

Lord Krishn : 
Arjun, he does not suffer 
doom in this world or the next; 
any man who acts with honor 
cannot go the wrong way, my friend.

Fallen in discipline, he reaches 
worlds made by his virtue, wherein he dwells 
for endless years, until he is reborn 
in the house of upright and noble men.

Or he is born in a family 
of disciplined men; 
the kind of birth in the world 
that is very hard to win.

There he regains a depth 
of understanding from his former life 
and strives further 
to perfection, Arjun.

Carried by the force of his previous practice, 
a man who seeks to learn discipline 
passes beyond sacred lore 
that expresses the infinite spirit in words.

The man of discipline, striving 
with effort, purified of his sins, 
perfected through many births, 
finds a higher way.

He is deemed superior 
to men of penance, 
men of knowledge, men of action; 
be a man of discipline, Arjun!

Of all the men of discipline, 
the faithful man devoted to me, 
with his inner self deep in mine, 
I deem most disciplined.

 

The Seventh Teaching -- Knowledge and Judgment

 

Lord Krishn : 
Practice discipline in my protection, 
with your mind focused on me; 
Arjun, hear how you can know me 
completely, without doubt.

I will teach you the totality 
of knowledge, of judgment; 
this known, nothing else 
in the world need be known.

One man among thousands 
strives for success, 
and of the few who are successful, 
a rare one knows my reality.

My nature has eight aspects: 
earth, water, fire, wind, space, 
mind, understanding, 
and individuality.

This is my lower nature; 
know my higher nature too, 
the life-force 
that sustains this universe.

Learn that this is the womb 
of all creatures; 
I am the source of all the universe, 
just as I am its dissolution.

Nothing is higher than I am; 
Arjun, all that exists 
is woven on me, 
like a web of pearls of thread.

I am the taste in water, Arjun, 
the light in the moon and sun, 
OM resonant in all sacred lore, 
the sound in space, valor in men.

I am the pure fragrance 
in earth, the brilliance in fire, 
the life in all creatures, 
the penance in ascetics.

Know me, Arjun, 
as every creature's timeless seed, 
the understanding of intelligent men, 
the brilliance of fiery horses.

Of strong men, I am strength, 
without the emotion of desire; 
in creatures I am the desire 
that does not impede sacred duty.

Know that nature's qualities 
come from me -- lucidity, 
passion, and dark inertia; 
I am not in them, they are in me.

All this universe, deluded 
by the qualities inherent in nature, 
fails to know that I am 
beyond them and unchanging.

Composed of nature's qualities, 
my divine magic is hard to escape; 
but those who seek refuge in me 
cross over this magic.

Vile, deluded sinners are the men 
who fail to take refuge in me; 
their knowledge ruined by magic, 
they fall prey to demonic power.

Arjun, four types of virtuous men 
are devoted me: 
the tormented man, the seeker of wisdom, 
the suppliant, and the sage.

Of these, the disciplined man of knowledge 
is set apart by his singular devotion; 
I am dear to the man of knowledge, 
and he is dear to me.

They are all noble, but I regard 
the man of knowledge to be my very self; 
self-disciplined, he holds me 
to be the highest way.

At the end of many births, 
the man of knowledge finds refuge in me; 
he is the rare great spirit who sees 
"Krishn is all that is."

Robbed of knowledge by stray desires, 
men take refuge in their desires; 
observing varied rites, 
they are limited by their own nature.

I grant unwavering faith 
to any devoted man who wants 
to worship any form 
with faith.

Disciplined by that faith, 
he seeks the deityís favor; 
this secured, he gains desires 
that I myself grant.

But finite is the reward 
that comes to men of little wit; 
men who sacrifice to gods reach the gods; 
those devoted to me reach me.

Men without understanding, think that I am 
unmanifest nature become manifest; 
they are ignorant of my higher existence, 
my pure, unchanging absolute being.

Veiled in the magic of my discipline, 
I elude most men; 
this deluded world is not aware 
that I am unborn and immutable.

I know all creatures 
that have been, that now exist, 
and that are yet to me; 
but, Arjun, no one knows me.

All creatures are bewildered 
at birth by the delusion 
of opposing dualities 
that arise from desire and hatred.

But when they cease from evil 
and act with virtue, they devote 
themselves to me, firm in their vows, 
freed from the delusion of duality.

Trusting me, men strive 
for freedom from old age and death; 
they know the infinite spirit, 
its inner self and all its actions.

Men who know me as its inner being, 
inner divinity, and inner sacrifice 
have disciplined their reason; 
they know me at the time of death.

 

The Eighth Teaching -- The Infinite Spirit

 

Arjun : 
What is the infinite spirit, Krishn? 
What is its inner self, its action? 
What is its inner being called? 
What is its inner divinity?

Who is within sacrifice, Krishn? 
How is he here in the body? 
And how are men of self-control 
to know you at the time of death?

Lord Krishn : 
Eternal and supreme is the infinite spirit; 
its inner self is called inherent being; 
its creative force, known as action, 
is the source of creatures' existence.

Its inner being is perishable existence; 
its inner divinity is man's spirit; 
I am the inner sacrifice 
here in your body, O Best of Mortals.

A man who dies remembering me 
at the time of death enters my being 
when he is freed from his body; 
of this there is no doubt.

Whatever being he remembers 
when he abandons the body at death, 
he enters, Arjun, 
always existing in that being.

Therefore, at all times remember me 
and fight; 
mind and understanding fixed on me, 
free from doubt, you will come to me.

Disciplined through practice, 
his reason never straying, 
meditating, one reaches 
the supreme divine spirit of man.

One should remember 
man's spirit as the guide, 
the primordial poet, 
smaller than an atom, 
granter of all things, 
in form inconceivable, 
the color of the sun 
beyond darkness.

At the time of death, 
with the mind immovable, 
armed with devotion 
and strength of discipline, 
focusing vital breath 
between the brows, 
one attains the supreme 
divine spirit of man.

I shall teach you, 
in summary, 
about the state 
that scholars of sacred lore 
call eternal, 
the state ascetics enter, 
freed from passion, 
which some men seek 
in the celibate life.

Controlling the body's gates, 
keeping the mind in the heart, 
holding his own breath in his head, 
one is in disciplined concentration.

Invoking the infinite spirit 
as the one eternal syllable OM, 
remembering me as he abandons the body, 
he reaches the absolute way.

When he constantly remembers me, 
focusing his reason on me, 
I am easy to reach, Arjun, 
for a man of discipline.

Reaching me, men of great spirit 
do not undergo rebirth, 
the ephemeral realm of suffering; 
they attain absolute perfection.

Even in Brahma's cosmic realm 
worlds evolve in incessant cycles, 
but a man who reaches me 
suffers no rebirth, Arjun.

When they know that a day of Bramha 
stretches over a thousand eons, 
and his night ends in a thousand eons, 
men understand day and night.

At break of Brahma's day 
all things emerge from unmanifest nature; 
when night falls, all sink 
into unmanifest darkness.

Arjun, the throng of creatures 
that comes to exist dissolves 
unwillingly at nightfall 
to emerge again at daybreak.

Beyond this unmanifest nature 
is another unmanifest existence, 
a timeless being that does not perish 
when all creatures perish.

It is called eternal unmanifest nature, 
what men call the highest way, 
the goal from which they do not return; 
the highest realm is mine.

It is man's highest spirit, 
won by singular devotion, Arjun, 
in whom creatures rest 
and the whole universe extends.

Arjun, I shall tell you precisely 
the time when men of discipline 
who have died 
suffer rebirth or escape it.

Men who know the infinite spirit 
reach its infinity if they die 
in fire, light, day, bright lunar night, 
the sun's six-month northward course.

In smoke, night, dark lunar night, 
the sun's six-month southward course, 
a man of discipline 
reaches the moon's light and returns.

These bright and dark pathways 
are deemed constant for the universe; 
by one, a man escapes rebirth; 
by the other, he is born again.

No man of discipline is deluded 
when he knows these two paths. 
Therefore, Arjun, be armed 
in all times with discipline.

Knowing the fruit of virtue 
assigned to knowledge of sacred lore, 
to sacrifices, to penances, 
and to act in charity, 
the man of discipline 
transcends all this 
and ascends to the place 
of pure beginning.

 

The Ninth Teaching -- The Sublime Mystery

 

Lord Krishn : 
I will teach the deepest mystery 
to you since you find no fault; 
realizing it with knowledge and judgment, 
you will be free from misfortune.

This science and mystery of kings 
is the supreme purifier, 
intuitive, true to duty, 
joyous to perform, unchanging.

Without faith in sacred duty, 
men fail to reach me, Arjun; 
they return to the cycle 
of death and rebirth.

The whole universe is pervaded 
by my unmanifest form; 
all creatures exist in me, 
but I do not exist in them.

Behold the power of my discipline; 
these creatures are really not in me; 
my self quickens creatures, 
sustaining them without being in them.

Just as the wide-moving wind 
is constantly present in space, 
so all creatures exist in me; 
understand it to be so!

As an eon ends, all creatures 
fold into my nature, Arjun; 
and I create them again 
as a new eon begins.

Gathering in my own nature, 
again and again I freely create 
the whole throng of creatures, 
helpless in the force of my nature.

These actions do not bind me, 
since I remain detached 
in all my actions, Arjun, 
as if I stood apart from them.

Nature, with me as her inner eye, 
bears animate and unanimate beings; 
and by reason of this, Arjun, 
the universe continues to turn.

Deluded men despise me 
in the human form I have assumed, 
ignorant of my higher existence 
as the great lord of creatures.

Reason warped, hope, action, 
and knowledge wasted, 
they fall prey to a seductive 
fiendish, demonic nature.

In single-minded dedication, great souls 
devote themselves to my divine nature, 
knowing me as unchanging, 
the origin of creatures.

Always glorifying me, 
striving, firm in their vows, 
paying me homage with devotion, 
they worship me, always disciplined.

Sacrificing through knowledge, 
others worship my universal presence 
in its unity 
and in itís many different aspects.

I am the rite, the sacrifice, 
the libation for the dead, the healing herb, 
the sacred hymn, the clarified butter, 
the fire, the oblation.

I am the universal father, 
mother, granter of all, grandfather, 
object of knowledge, purifier, 
holy syllable OM, threefold sacred lore.

I am the way, sustainer, lord, 
witness, shelter, refuge, friend, 
source, dissolution, stability, 
treasure, and unchanging seed.

I am the heat that withholds 
and sends down the rains; 
I am immortality and death; 
both being and non-being am I.

Men learned in sacred lore, 
Soma drinkers, their sins absolved, 
worship me with sacrifices, 
seeking to win heaven. 
Reaching the holy world of Indra, 
king of the gods, 
they savor the heavenly delights 
of the gods in the celestial sphere.

When they have long enjoyed 
the world of heaven 
and their merit is exhausted, 
they enter the mortal world; 
following the duties 
ordained by sacred lore, 
desiring desires, 
they obtain what is transient.

Men who worship me, 
thinking solely of me, 
always disciplined, 
win the reward I secure.

When devoted men sacrifice 
to other deities with faith, 
they sacrifice to me, Arjun, 
however aberrant the rites.

I am the enjoyer 
and the lord of all sacrifices; 
they do not know me in reality, 
and so they fail.

Votaries of the gods go to the gods, 
ancestor-worshippers go to the ancestors, 
those who propitiate ghosts go to them, 
and my worshippers go to me.

The leaf or flower or fruit or water 
that he offers with devotion, 
I take from the man of self-restraint 
in response to his devotion.

Whatever you do -- what you take, 
what you offer, what you give, 
what penances you perform -- 
do as an offering to me, Arjun!

You will be freed from the bonds of action, 
from the fruit of fortune and misfortune; 
armed with the discipline of renunciation, 
your self liberated, you will join me.

I am impartial to all creatures, 
and no one is hateful or dear to me, 
but men devoted to me are in me, 
and I am within them.

If he is devoted solely to me, 
even a violent criminal 
must be deemed a man of virtue, 
for his resolve is right.

His spirit quickens to sacred duty, 
and he finds eternal peace; 
Arjun, know that no one 
devoted to me is lost.

If they rely on me, Arjun, 
women, commoners, men of low rank, 
even men born in the womb of evil, 
reach the highest way.

How easy it is then for holy priests 
and devoted royal sages -- 
in this transient world of sorrow, 
devote yourself to me!

Keep me in your mind and devotion, 
sacrifice to me, bow to me, 
discipline your self toward me, 
and you will reach me!

 

The Tenth Teaching -- Fragments of Devine Power

 

Lord Krishn : 
Great Warrior, again hear 
my word in its supreme form; 
desiring your good, 
I speak to deepen your love.

Neither the multitude of gods 
nor great sages know my origin, 
for I am the source of all 
the gods and great sages.

A mortal who knows me 
as the unborn, beginningless 
great lord of all worlds 
is freed from delusion and all evils.

Understanding, knowledge, nondelusion, 
patience, truth, control, tranquility, 
joy, suffering, being, nonbeing, 
fear, and fearlessness...

Nonviolence, equanimity, contentment, 
penance, charity, glory, disgrace, 
these diverse attitudes 
of creatures' arise from me.

The seven ancient great sages 
and the four ancestors of man 
are mind-born aspects of me; 
their progeny fills the world.

The man who in reality knows 
my power and my discipline 
is armed with unwavering discipline; 
in this there is no doubt.

I am the source of everything, 
and everything proceeds from me; 
filled with my existence, wise men 
realizing this are devoted to me.

Thinking and living deep in me, 
they enlighten one another 
by constantly telling me 
for their own joy and delight.

To men of enduring discipline, 
devoted to me with affection, 
I give the discipline of understanding 
by which they come to me.

Dwelling compassionately, 
deep in the self, 
I dispel darkness born of ignorance 
with the radiant light of knowledge.

Arjun : 
You are supreme, the infinite spirit, 
the highest abode, sublime purifier, 
man's spirit, eternal, divine, 
the primordial god, unborn, omnipotent.

So the ancient seers spoke of you, 
as did the epic poet Vyasa and the bards 
who sang for gods, ancestors, and men; 
and now you tell me yourself.

Lord Krishn, I realize the truth 
of all you tell me; 
neither gods nor demons 
know your manifest nature.

You know yourself through the self, 
Krishna; supreme among Men, 
Sustainer and Lord of Creatures, 
God of Gods, Master of the Universe!

Tell me without reserve 
the divine powers of your self, 
powers by which you pervade 
these worlds.

Lord of Discipline, 
how can I know you as I meditate 
on you -- in what diverse aspects 
can I think of you, Krishn?

Recount in full extent 
the discipline and power of your self; 
Krishna, I can never hear enough 
of your immortal speech.

Lord Krishn : 
Listen, Arjun, as I recount 
for you in essence 
the divine powers of my self; 
endless is my extent.

I am the self abiding 
in the heart of all creatures; 
I am their beginning, 
their middle, and their end.

I am Vishnu striding among sun gods, 
the radiant sun among lights; 
I am the lightening among wind gods, 
the moon among the stars.

I am the song in sacred lore; 
I am Indr, king of the gods; 
I am the mind of the senses, 
the consciousness of creatures.

I am the gracious Shiv among hauling storm gods, 
the lord of wealth among demigods and demons, 
fire blazing among the bright gods; 
I am the golden Meru towering over the mountains.

Arjun, know me as the gods' teacher, 
chief of the household priests; 
I am the god of war among generals; 
I am the ocean of lakes.

I am Bhrigu, priest of the great seers; 
of words, I am the eternal syllable OM, 
the prayer of sacrifices; 
I am the Himalaya, the measure of what endures.

Among trees, I am the sacred fig-tree; 
I am the chief of the divine sages, 
leader of celestial musicians, 
the recluse philosopher among saints.

Among horses, know me as the immortal stallion 
born from the sea of elixir; 
among elephants, the divine king's mount; 
among men, the king.

I am the thunderbolt among weapons, 
among cattle, the magical wish-granting cow; 
I am the procreative god of love, 
the king of the snakes.

I am the endless cosmic serpent, 
the lord of all creatures; 
I am the chief of all ancestral fathers; 
of restraints, I am death.

I am the pious son of demons; 
of measures, I am time; 
I am the lion among wild animals, 
the eagle among birds.

I am the purifying wind, 
the warrior Ram bearing arms, 
the sea-monster crocodile, 
the flowing river Ganges.

I am the beginning, the middle, 
and the end of creations, Arjun; 
of sciences, I am the science of the self; 
I am the dispute of orators.

I am the vowel 'a' of the syllabary, 
the pairing words in a compound; 
I am the indestructible time, 
the creator facing everywhere at once.

I am death the destroyer of all, 
the source of what will be, 
the feminine powers: fame, fortune, speech, 
memory, intelligence, resolve, patience.

I am the great ritual chant, 
the meter of sacred song, 
the most sacred month in the year, 
the spring blooming with flowers.

I am the dice game of gamblers, 
the brilliance of fiery heroes, 
I am victory and resolve, 
the lucidity of lucid men.

I am Krishn among my might kinsmen; 
I am Arjun among the Pandav princes; 
I am the epic poet Vyas among sages, 
the inspired singer among bards.

I am the specter of rulers, 
the morality of ambitious men; 
I am the silence of mysteries, 
what men of knowledge know.

Arjun, I am the seed 
of all creatures; 
nothing animate or inanimate 
could exist without me.

Fiery Hero, endless 
are my divine powers -- 
of my power's extent 
I have barely hinted.

Whatever is powerful, lucid, 
splendid, or invulnerable 
has its source in a fragment 
of my brilliance.

What use is so much knowledge 
to you, Arjun? 
I stand sustaining this entire world 
with a fragment of my being.

 

The Eleventh Teaching -- The Vision of Krishn's Totality

 

Arjun : 
To favor me you revealed 
the deepest mystery of the self, 
and by your words 
my delusion is dispelled.

I heard from you in detail 
how creatures come to be and die, 
Krishn, and about the self 
in its immutable greatness.

Just as you have described 
yourself, I wish to see your form 
in all its majesty, 
Krishn, Supreme among Men.

If you think I can see it, 
reveal to me 
your immutable self, 
Krishn, Lord of Discipline.

Lord Krishn : 
Arjun, see my forms 
in hundreds and thousands; 
diverse, divine, 
of many colors and shapes.

See the sun gods, gods of light, 
howling storm gods, twin gods of dawn, 
and gods of wind, Arjun, 
wondrous forms not seen before.

Arjun, see all the universe, 
animate and inanimate, 
and whatever else you wish to see; 
all stands here as one in my body.

But you cannot see me 
with your own eye; 
I will give you a divine eye to see 
the majesty of my discipline.

Sanjay : 
O King, saying this, Krishn, 
the great lord of discipline, 
revealed to Arjun, 
the true majesty of his form.

It was a multiform, wondrous vision, 
with countless mouths and eyes 
and celestial ornaments, 
brandishing many divine weapons.

Everywhere was boundless divinity 
containing all astonishing things, 
wearing divine garlands and garments, 
anointed with divine perfume.

If the light of a thousand suns 
were to rise in the sky at once, 
it would be like the light 
of that great spirit.

Arjun saw all the universe 
in its many ways and parts, 
standing as one in the body 
of the god of gods.

Then filled with amazement, 
his hair bristling on his flesh, 
Arjun bowed his head to the god, 
joined his hands in homage, and spoke.

Arjun : 
I see the gods 
in your body, O God, 
and hordes 
of varied creatures; 
Brahm, the cosmic creator, 
on his lotus throne, 
all the seers, 
and celestial serpents.

I see your boundless form 
everywhere, 
the countless arms, 
bellies, mouths, and eyes; 
Lord of All, 
I see no end, 
or middle or beginning 
to your totality.

I see you blazing 
through the fiery rays 
of your crown, mace, and discus, 
hard to behold 
in the burning light 
of fire and sun 
that surrounds 
your measureless presence.

You are to be known 
as supreme eternity, 
the deepest treasure 
of all that is, 
the immutable guardian 
of enduring sacred duty; 
I think you are 
man's timeless spirit.

I see no beginning 
or middle or end to you; 
only boundless strength 
in your endless arms, 
the moon and the sun in your eyes, 
your mouths of consuming flames, 
your own brilliance 
scorching this universe.

You alone 
fill the space 
between heaven and earth 
and all the directions; 
seeing this awesome, 
terrible form of yours, 
Great Soul, 
the three worlds 
tremble.

Throngs of gods enter you, 
some in their terror 
make gestures of homage 
to invoke you; 
throngs of great sages 
and saints 
hail you and praise you 
in resounding hymns.

Howling storm gods, sun gods, 
bright gods, and gods of ritual, 
gods of the universe, 
twin gods of dawn, wind gods, 
vapor-drinking ghosts, 
throngs of celestial musicians, 
demigods, demons, and saints, 
all gaze at you amazed.

Seeing the many mouths 
and eyes 
of your great form, 
its many arms, 
thighs, feet, 
bellies, and fangs, 
the worlds tremble 
and so do I.

Vishnu, seeing you brush 
the clouds with flames 
of countless colors, 
your mouths agape, 
your huge eyes blazing, 
my inner self quakes 
and I find no resolve 
or tranquility.

Seeing the fangs 
protruding 
from your mouths 
like the fires of time, 
I lose my bearings 
and I find no refuge; 
be gracious, Lord of Gods, 
Shelter of the Universe.

All those sons 
of the blind king 
Dhritarastr 
come accompanied 
by troops of kings, 
by the generals Bhishm, 
Dron, Karn, 
and by our battle leaders.

Rushing through 
your fangs 
into grim 
mouths, 
some are dangling 
from heads 
crushed 
between your teeth.

As roiling 
river waters 
stream headlong 
toward the sea, 
so do these human 
heroes enter 
into your blazing 
mouths.

As moths 
in the frenzy 
of destruction 
fly into a blazing flame, 
worlds 
in the frenzy 
of destruction 
enter into your mouths.

You lick at the worlds 
around you, 
devouring them 
with flaming mouths; 
and your terrible fires 
scorch the entire universe, 
filling it, Vishnu, 
with violent rays.

Tell me -- 
who are you 
in this terrible form? 
Homage to you, Best of Gods! 
Be gracious! I want to know you 
as you are in your beginning. 
I do not comprehend 
the course of your ways.

Lord Krishn : 
I am time grown old, 
creating world destruction, 
set in motion 
to annihilate the worlds; 
even without you, 
all these warriors 
arrayed in hostile ranks 
will cease to exist.

Therefore, arise 
and win glory! 
Conquer your foes 
and fulfill your kingship! 
They are already 
killed by me. 
Be just my instrument, 
the archer at my side!

Dron, Bhishm, Jayadrath, 
and Karn, 
and all the other battle heroes, 
are killed by me. 
Kill them 
without wavering; 
fight, and you will conquer 
your foes in battle!

Sanjay : 
Hearing Krishn's words, 
Arjun trembled 
under his crown, 
and he joined his hands 
in reverent homage; 
terrified of his fear, 
he bowed to Krishn 
and stammered in reply.

Arjun : 
Krishn, the universe 
responds 
with joy and rapture 
to your glory, 
terrified demons 
flee in far directions, 
and saints throng 
to bow in homage.

Why should they not bow 
in homage to you, Great Soul, 
Original Creator, 
more venerable than the creator Brahm? 
Boundless Lord of Gods, 
Shelter of All That Is, 
you are eternity, 
being, nonbeing, and beyond.

You are the original god, 
the primordial spirit of man, 
the deepest treasure 
of all that is, 
knower and what is to be known, 
the supreme abode; 
you pervade the universe, 
Lord of Boundless Form.

You are the gods of wind, 
death, fire, and water; 
the moon; the lord of life; 
and the great ancestor. 
Homage to you, 
a thousand time homage! 
I bow in homage to you 
again and yet again.

I bow in homage 
before you and behind you; 
I bow everywhere 
to your omnipresence! 
You have boundless strength 
and limitless force; 
you fulfill 
all that you are.

Thinking you a friend, 
I boldly said, 
"Welcome, Krishna! 
Welcome, cousin, friend!" 
From negligence, 
or through love, 
I failed to know 
your greatness.

If in jest 
I offended you, 
alone 
or publicly, 
at sport, rest, 
sitting, or at meals, 
I beg your patience, 
unfathomable Krishn.

You are the father of the world 
of animate and inanimate things, 
its venerable teacher, 
most worthy of worship, 
without equal. 
Where in all three worlds 
is another to match 
your extraordinary power?

I bow to you, 
I prostrate my body, 
I beg you to be gracious, 
Worshipful Lord -- 
as a father to a son, 
a friend to a friend, 
a lover to beloved, 
O God, bear with me.

I am thrilled, 
and yet my mind 
trembles with fear 
at seeing 
what has not been seen before. 
Show me, God, the form I know -- 
be gracious, Lord of Gods, 
Shelter of the World.

I want to see you 
as before, 
with your crown and mace, 
and the discus in your hand. 
O Thousand-Armed God, 
assume the four armed form 
embodied in your totality.

Lord Krishn : 
To grace you, Arjun, 
I revealed 
through self-discipline 
my higher form, 
which no one but you 
has ever beheld -- 
brilliant, total, 
boundless, primal.

Not through sacred lore 
or sacrificial ritual 
or study or charity, 
or by rites 
or by terrible penances 
can I be seen in this form 
in the world of men 
by anyone but you, Great Hero.

Do not tremble 
or suffer confusion 
from seeing 
my horrific form; 
your fear dispelled, 
your mind full of love, 
see my form again 
as it was.

Sanjay : 
Saying this to Arjun, 
Krishn once more 
revealed 
his intimate form; 
resuming his gentle body, 
the great spirit 
let the terrified hero 
regain his breath.

Arjun : 
Seeing your gentle human form, 
Krishn, I recover 
my own nature, 
and my reason is restored.

Lord Krishn : 
This form you have seen 
is rarely revealed; 
the gods are constantly craving 
for a vision of this form.

Not through sacred lore, 
penances, charity, or sacrificial rites 
can I be seen in the form 
that you saw me.

By devotion alone 
can I, as I really am, 
be known and seen 
and entered into, Arjun.

Acting only for me, intent on me, 
free from attachment, 
hostile to no creature, Arjun, 
a man of devotion comes to me.

 

The Twelfth Teaching -- Devotion

 

Arjun : 
Who best knows discipline: 
men who worship you with devotion, 
ever disciplined, or men who worship 
the imperishable, unmanifest?

Lord Krishn : 
I deem most disciplined 
men of enduring discipline 
who worship me with true faith, 
entrusting their minds to me.

Men reach me too who worship 
what is imperishable, ineffable, unmanifest, 
omnipresent, inconceivable, 
immutable at the summit of existence.

Mastering their senses 
with equanimity toward everything, 
they reach me, rejoicing 
in the welfare of all creatures.

It is more arduous when their reason 
clings to my unmanifest nature; 
for men constrained by bodies, 
the unmanifest way is hard to attain.

But men intent on me 
renounce all actions to me 
and worship me, meditating 
with singular discipline.

When they entrust reason to me, 
Arjun, I soon arise 
to rescue them from the ocean 
of death and birth.

Focus your mind on me, 
let your understanding enter me; 
then you will dwell 
in me without doubt.

If you cannot concentrate 
your thought on me, 
then seek to reach me, Arjun, 
by discipline in practice.

Even if your fail to practice, 
dedicate yourself to action; 
performing actions for my sake, 
you will achieve success.

If you are powerless to do 
even this, rely on my discipline, 
be self-controlled, 
and reject all fruit of action.

Knowledge is better than practice, 
meditation better than knowledge, 
rejecting fruits of action 
is better still -- it brings peace.

One who bears hate for no creature 
is friendly, compassionate, unselfish, 
free of individuality, patient, 
the same in suffering and joy.

Content always, disciplined, 
self-controlled, firm in resolve, 
his mind and understanding dedicated to me, 
devoted to me, he is dear to me.

The world does not flee from him, 
nor does he flee from the world; 
free of delight, rage, fear, 
and disgust, he is dear to me.

Disinterested, pure, skilled, 
indifferent, untroubled, 
relinquishing all involvements, 
devoted to me, he is dear to me.

He does not rejoice or hate, 
grieve or feel desire; 
relinquishing fortune and misfortune, 
the man of devotion is dear to me.

Impartial to foe and friend, 
honor and contempt, 
cold and heat, joy and suffering, 
he is free from attachment.

Neutral to blame and praise, 
silent, content with his fate, 
unsheltered, firm in thought, 
the man of devotion is dear to me.

Even more dear to me are devotees 
who cherish this elixir of sacred duty 
as I have taught it, 
intent on me in their faith.

 

The Thirteenth Teaching -- Knowing the field

 

Lord Krishn : 
The field denotes 
this body, and wise men 
call one who knows it 
the field-knower.

Know me as the field-knower 
in all fields -- what I deem 
to be knowledge is knowledge 
of the field and its knower.

Hear from me in summary 
what the field is 
in its character and changes, 
and of the field-knower's power.

Ancient seers have sung of this 
in many ways, with varied meters 
and with aphorisms on the infinite spirit 
laced with logical arguments.

The field contains the great elements, 
individuality, understanding, 
unmanifest nature, the eleven senses, 
and the five sense realms.

Longing, hatred, happiness, suffering, 
bodily form, consciousness, resolve, 
thus is this field with its changes 
defined in summary.

Knowledge means humility, 
sincerity, nonviolence, patience, 
honesty, reverence for one's teacher, 
purity, stability, self-restraint.

Dispassion toward sense objects 
and absence of individuality, 
seeing the defects in birth, death, 
old age, sickness, and suffering.

Detachment, involvement 
with sons, wife, and home, 
constant equanimity 
in fulfillment and frustration;

Unwavering devotion to me 
with singular discipline; 
retreating to a place of solitude, 
avoiding worldly affairs;

Persistence in knowing the self, 
seeing what knowledge of reality means -- 
all this is called knowledge 
the opposite is ignorance.

I shall teach you what is to be known; 
for knowing it, one attains immortality; 
it is called the supreme infinite spirit, 
beginningless, neither being nor nonbeing.

Its hands and feet reach everywhere; 
its head and face see every direction; 
hearing everything, it remains 
in the world, enveloping all.

Lacking all the sense organs, 
it shines in their qualities; 
unattached, it supports everything; 
without qualities, it enjoys them.

Outside and within all creatures, 
inanimate but still animate, 
too subtle to be known, 
it is far distant, yet near.

Undivided, it seems divided 
among creatures; 
understood as their sustainer, 
it devours and creates them.

The light of lights 
beyond darkness it is called; 
knowledge attained by knowledge, 
fixed in the heart of everyone.

So, in summary I have explained 
the field and knowledge of it; 
a man devoted to me, knowing this, 
enters into my being.

Know that both nature 
and man's spirit have no beginning, 
that qualities and changes 
have their origin in nature.

For its agency in producing effects, 
nature is called a cause; 
in the experience of joy and suffering, 
man's spirit is called a cause.

Man's spirit is set in nature, 
experiencing the qualities born in nature; 
its attachment to the qualities causes 
births in the wombs of good and evil.

Witness, consenter, sustainer, 
enjoyer -- the great lord 
is called the highest self, 
man's true spirit in this body.

Knowing nature and the spirit of man, 
as well as the qualities of nature, 
one is not born again -- 
no matter how one now exists.

By meditating on the self, some men 
see the self through the self; 
others see by philosophical discipline; 
others by the discipline of action.

Others, despite their ignorance, 
revere what they hear from other men; 
they too cross beyond death, 
intent on what they hear.

Arjun, know that anything 
inanimate or alive in motion 
is born from the union 
of the field and its knower.

He really sees 
who sees the highest lord 
standing equal among all creatures, 
undecaying amid destruction.

Seeing the lord standing 
the same everywhere, 
the self cannot injure itself 
and goes the highest way.

He really sees who sees 
that all actions are performed 
by nature alone and that the self 
is not an actor.

When he perceives the unity 
existing in separate creatures 
and how they expand from unity, 
he attains the infinite spirit.

Beginningless, without qualities, 
the supreme self is unchanging; 
even abiding in a body, Arjun, 
it does not act, nor is it defiled.

Just as all-pervading space 
remains unsullied in its subtlety, 
so the self in every body 
remains unsullied.

Just as one sun 
illumines this entire world, 
so the master of the field 
illumines the entire field.

They reach the highest state 
who with the eye of knowledge know 
the boundary between the knower and its field, 
and the freedom creatures have from nature.

 

The Fourteenth Teaching -- The Triad of Nature's Qualities

 

Lord Krishn : 
I shall teach you still more 
of the farthest knowledge one can know; 
knowing it, all the sages 
have reached perfection.

Resorting to this knowledge 
they follow the ways of my sacred duty; 
in creation they are not reborn, 
in dissolution they suffer no sorrow.

My womb is the infinite spirit; 
in it I place the embryo, 
and from this, Arjun, 
comes the origin of all creatures.

The infinite spirit is the great womb 
of all forms that come to be 
in all wombs, 
and I am the seed-giving father.

Lucidity, passion, dark inertia -- 
these qualities inherent in nature 
bind the unchanging 
embodied self in the body.

Lucidity, being untainted, 
is luminous and without decay, 
it binds one with attachment 
to joy and knowledge, Arjun.

Know that passion is emotional, 
born of craving and attachment; 
it binds the embodied self 
with attachment to action.

Know dark inertia born of ignorance 
as the delusion of every embodied self; 
it binds one with negligence, 
indolence, and sleep, Arjun.

Lucidity addicts one to joy, 
and passion to actions, 
but dark inertia obscures knowledge 
and addicts one to negligence.

When lucidity dominates 
passion and inertia, it thrives; 
and likewise when passion or inertia 
dominates the other two.

When the light of knowledge 
shines in all the body's senses, 
then one knows 
that lucidity prevails.

When passion increases, Arjun, 
greed and activity, 
involvement in actions, 
disquiet, and longing arise.

When dark inertia increases, 
obscurity and inactivity, 
negligence 
and delusion, arise.

When lucidity prevails, 
the self whose body dies 
enters the untainted worlds 
of those who know reality.

When he dies in passion, 
he is born among lovers of action; 
so when he dies in dark inertia, 
he is born into wombs of folly.

The fruit of good conduct 
is pure and untainted they say, 
but suffering is the fruit of passion, 
ignorance is the fruit of dark inertia.

From lucidity knowledge is born; 
from passion comes greed; 
from dark inertia comes negligence, 
delusion, and ignorance.

Men who are lucid go upward; 
men of passion stay in between; 
men of dark inertia, 
caught in vile ways, sink low.

When a man of vision sees 
nature's qualities as the agent 
of action and knows what lies beyond, 
he enters into my being.

Transcending the three qualities 
that are the body's source, the self 
achieves immortality, freed from the sorrows 
of birth, death, and old age.

Arjun : 
Lord, what signs mark a man 
who passes beyond the three qualities? 
What does he do to cross 
beyond these qualities?

Lord Krishn : 
He does not dislike light 
or activity or delusion; 
when they cease to exist 
he does nor desire them.

He remains disinterested, 
unmoved by qualities of nature; 
he never wavers, knowing 
that only qualities are in motion.

Self-reliant, impartial to suffering 
and joy, to clay, stone, or gold, 
the resolute man is the same 
to foe and friend, to blame and praise.

The same honor and disgrace, 
to ally and enemy, a man 
who abandons involvements 
transcends the qualities of nature.

One who serves me faithfully, 
with discipline of devotion, 
transcends the qualities of nature 
and shares in the infinite spirit.

I am the infinite spirit's foundation, 
immortal and immutable, 
the basis of eternal sacred duty 
and of perfect joy.

 

The Fifteenth Teaching -- The True Spirit of Man

 

Lord Krishn : 
Roots in the air, branches below, 
the tree of life is unchanging, 
they say; its leaves are hymns, 
and he who knows it knows sacred lore.

Its branches 
stretch below and above, 
nourished by nature's qualities, 
budding with sense objects; 
ariel roots 
tangled in actions 
reach downward 
into the world of men.

Its form is unknown 
here in the world; 
unknown are its end , 
its beginning, its extent; 
cut down this tree 
that has such deep roots 
with the sharp axe 
of detachment.

Then search to find 
the realm 
that one enters 
without returning: 
" I seek refuge 
in the original spirit of man, 
from which primordial 
activity extended."

Without pride or delusion, 
the fault of attachment overcome, 
intent on the self within, 
their desires extinguished, 
freed from dualities, 
from joy and suffering, 
undeluded men 
reach that realm beyond change

Neither sun nor moon 
nor fire illumines 
my highest abode -- 
once there, they do not return.

A fragment of me in the living world 
is the timeless essence of life; 
it draws out the senses 
and the mind inherent in nature.

When the lord takes on a body 
and then leaves it, 
he carries these along, like the wind 
bearing the scents from earth.

Governing hearing, sight, 
touch, taste, smell, 
and thought, he savors 
objects of the senses.

Deluded men do not perceive him 
in departure or presence 
or enjoyment of nature's qualities; 
but the eyes of knowledge see him.

Men of discipline who strive 
see him present within themselves; 
but without self-mastery and reason, 
even those who strive fail to see.

Know that my brilliance, 
flaming in the sun, 
in the moon, and in fire, 
illumines this whole universe.

I penetrate the earth 
and sustain creatures by my strength; 
becoming Som, the liquid of moonlight, 
I nurture all healing herbs.

I am the universal fire 
within the body of living beings; 
I work with the flow of vital breath 
to digest the foods that men consume.

I dwell deep 
in the heart of everyone; 
memory, knowledge, 
and reasoning come from me; 
I am the object to be known 
through all sacred lore; 
and I am its knower, 
and creator of its final truth.

There is a double spirit of man 
in the world, transient and eternal -- 
transient in all creatures, 
eternal at the summit of existence.

Other is the supreme spirit of man, 
called the supreme self, 
the immutable lord who enters 
and sustains the three worlds.

Since I transcend what is transient 
and I am higher than the eternal, 
I am known as the supreme spirit of man 
in the world and in sacred lore.

Whoever knows me without delusion 
as the supreme spirit of man 
knows all there is, Arjun -- 
he devotes his whole being to me.

Arjun, thus I taught 
this most sacred tradition; 
realizing it, one has understanding 
and his purpose is fulfilled.

 

The Sixteenth Teaching -- The Devine and the Demonic in Man

 

Lord Krishn : 
Fearlessness, purity, determination 
in the discipline of knowledge, 
charity, self-control, sacrifice, 
study of sacred lore, penance, honesty;

Nonviolence, truth, absence of anger, 
disengagement, peace, loyalty, 
compassion for creatures, lack of greed, 
gentleness, modesty, reliability;

Brilliance, patience, resolve, 
clarity, absence of envy and of pride; 
these characterize a man 
born with divine traits.

Hypocrisy, arrogance, vanity, 
anger, harshness, ignorance; 
these characterize a man 
born with demonic traits.

The divine traits lead to freedom, 
the demonic lead to bondage; 
do not despair, Arjun; 
you were born with the divine.

All creatures in the world 
are either divine or demonic; 
I described the divine at length; 
hear what I say of the demonic.

Demonic men cannot comprehend 
activity and rest; 
there exists no clarity, 
no morality, no truth in them.

They say that the world 
has no truth, no basis, no god, 
that no power of mutual dependence 
is its cause, but only desire.

Subject to insatiable desire, 
drunk with hypocrisy and pride, 
holding false notions from delusion, 
they act with impure vows.

In their certainty that life 
consists in sating their desires, 
they suffer immeasurable anxiety 
that ends only with death.

Bound by a hundred fetters of hope, 
obsessed by desire and anger, 
they hoard wealth in stealthy ways 
to satisfy their desires.

"I have gained this wish today, 
and I shall attain that one; 
this wealth is mine, 
and there will be more.

I have killed that enemy, 
and I shall kill others too; 
I am the lord, I am the enjoyer, 
successful, strong, and happy.

I am wealthy, and wellborn, 
without peer, 
I shall sacrifice, give, rejoice. "

So say men deluded by ignorance.

Confused by endless thoughts, 
caught in the net of delusion, 
given to satisfying their desires, 
they fall into hell's foul abyss.

Self-aggrandizing, stubborn, 
drunk with wealth and pride, 
they sacrifice in name only, 
in hypocrisy, violating all norms.

Submitting to individuality, power, 
arrogance, desire, and anger, 
they hate me and revile me 
in their own bodies, as in others.

These hateful, cruel, vile 
men of misfortune, I cast 
into demonic wombs 
through cycles of rebirth.

Fallen into a demonic womb, 
deluded in birth after birth, 
they fail to reach me, Arjun, 
and they go the lowest way.

The three gates of hell 
that destroy the self 
are desire, anger, and greed; 
one must relinquish all three.

Released through all these three gates 
of darkness, Arjun, 
a man elevates the self 
and ascends to the highest way.

If he rejects norms of tradition 
and lives to fulfill his desires, 
he does not reach perfection 
or happiness or the highest way.

Let tradition be your standard 
in judging what to do or avoid; 
knowing the norms of tradition, 
perform your action here.

 

The Seventeenth Teaching -- Three Aspects of Faith

 

Arjun : 
Men who ignore the ways of tradition 
but sacrifice in full faith, Krishn, 
what quality of nature is basic in them -- 
lucidity, passion, or dark inertia?

Lord Krishn : 
Listen as I explain 
the threefold nature of faith 
inherent in the embodied self -- 
lucid, passionate, and darkly inert.

The faith each man has, Arjun, 
follows his degree of lucidity; 
a man consists of faith, 
and as his faith is, so is he.

Men of lucidity sacrifice to the gods; 
men of passion, to spirits and demons; 
the others, men of dark inertia, 
sacrifice to corpses and to ghosts.

Men who practice horrific penances 
that go against traditional norms 
are trapped by hypocrisy and individuality, 
overwhelmed by the emotion of desire.

Without reason, they torment 
the elements composing their bodies, 
and they torment me within them; 
know them to have demonic resolve.

Food is also of three kinds, 
to please each type of taste; 
sacrifice, penance, and charity 
likewise divide in three ways.

Foods that please lucid men 
are savory, smooth, firm, and rich; 
they promote long life, lucidity, 
strength, health, pleasure, and delight.

Passionate men crave foods 
that are bitter, sour, salty, hot, 
pungent, harsh, and burning, 
causing pain, grief, and sickness.

The food that pleases 
men of dark inertia is stale, 
unsavory, putrid, and spoiled, 
leavings unfit for sacrifice.

A sacrifice is offered with lucidity 
when the norms are kept and the mind 
is focused on the sacrificial act, 
without craving for its fruit.

But a sacrifice is offered 
with passion, Arjun, 
when it is focused on the fruit 
and hypocrisy is at play.

A sacrifice is governed by dark inertia 
when it violates the norms -- 
empty of faith, omitting the ritual offering 
of food and chants and gifts.

Honoring gods, priests, 
teachers, and wise men, being pure, 
honest, celibate, and nonviolent 
is called bodily penance.

Speaking truth without offense, 
giving comfort, 
and reciting sacred lore 
is called verbal penance.

Mental serenity, kindness, 
silence, self-restraint, 
and purity of being 
is called mental penance.

This threefold penance 
is lucid when men of discipline 
perform it with deep faith, 
without craving for reward.

Wavering and unstable, 
performed with hypocrisy, 
to gain respect, honor, and worship, 
that penance is called passionate.

Performed with deluded perception, 
self-mortification, 
or sadism, 
such penance has dark inertia.

Given its due time and place 
to a fit recipient 
who can give no advantage, 
charity is remembered as lucid.

But charity given reluctantly, 
to secure some service in return 
or to gain a future reward, 
is remembered as passionate.

Charity given out of place and time 
to an unfit recipient, 
ungraciously and with contempt, 
is remembered for its dark inertia.

OM TAT SAT: "That Is the Real" -- 
this is the triple symbol of the infinite spirit 
that gave a primordial sanctity 
to priests, sacred lore, and sacrifice.

OM -- knowers of the infinite spirit 
chant it as they perform 
acts of sacrifice, charity, and penance 
prescribed by tradition.

TAT -- men who crave freedom 
utter it as they perform 
acts of sacrifice, charity, and penance 
without concern for reward.

SAT -- it means what is real 
and what is good, Arjun, 
the word SAT is also used 
when action merits praise.

SAT is steadfastness in sacrifice, 
in penance, in charity 
any action of this order 
is denoted by SAT.

But oblation, charity, 
and penance offered without faith 
are called ASAT, for they have no reality 
here or in the world after death.

 

The Eighteenth Teaching -- The Wondrous Dialogue Concludes

 

Arjun : 
Krishn, I want to know 
the real essence 
of both renunciation 
and relinquishment.

Lord Krishn : 
Giving up actions based on desire, 
the poets know of "renunciation"; 
relinquishing all fruits of action, 
learned men call "relinquishment".

Some wise men say all action 
is flawed and must be relinquished; 
others say action in sacrifice, charity, 
and penance must not be relinquished.

Arjun, hear my decision 
about relinquishment; 
its is rightly declared 
to be of three kinds.

Action in sacrifice, charity, 
and penance is to be performed, 
not relinquished -- for wise men, 
they are acts of sanctity.

But even these actions 
should be done by relinquishing to me 
attachment and fruit of action -- 
this is my decisive idea.

Renunciation of prescribed action 
is inappropriate; 
relinquished in delusion, 
it becomes the way of dark inertia.

When one passionately relinquishes 
difficult action from fear 
of bodily harm, he cannot win 
the fruit of relinquishment.

But if one performs prescribed action 
because it must be done, 
relinquishing attachment and the fruit, 
his relinquishment is a lucid act.

He does not disdain unskilled action 
nor cling to skilled action; 
in his lucidity the relinquisher 
is wise and his doubts are cut away.

A man burdened by his body 
cannot completely relinquish actions, 
but a relinquisher is defined 
as one who can relinquish the fruits.

The fruit of action haunts men 
in death if they fail to relinquish 
all forms, unwanted, wanted, and mixed -- 
but not if men renounce them.

Arjun, learn from me 
the five causes 
for the success of all actions 
as explained in philosophical analysis.

They are the material basis, 
the agent, the different instruments, 
various kinds of behavior, 
and finally fate, the fifth.

Whatever action one initiates 
through body, speech, and mind, 
be it proper or perverse, 
these five causes are present.

This being so, when a man 
of poor understanding and misjudgment 
sees himself as the only agent, 
he cannot be said to see.

When one is free of individuality 
and his understanding is untainted, 
even if he kills these people, 
he does not kill and is not bound.

Knowledge, its object, and its subject 
are the triple stimulus of action; 
instrument, act, and agent 
are the constituents of action.

Knowledge, action, agent are threefold, 
differentiated by qualities of nature; 
hear how this has been explained 
in the philosophical analysis of qualities.

Know that through lucid knowledge 
one sees in all creatures 
a single, unchanging existence, 
undivided within its divisions.

Know passionate knowledge 
as one which regards 
various distinct existences 
separately in all creatures.

But knowledge that clings 
to a single thing as if it were the whole, 
limited, lacking a sense of reality,
is known for its dark inertia.

Action known for its lucidity 
is necessary, free of attachment, 
performed without attraction or hatred 
by one who seeks no fruit.

Action called passionate 
is performed with great effort 
by an individualist 
who seeks to satisfy his desires.

Action defined by dark inertia 
. is undertaken in delusion, 
without concern for consequences, 
for death or violence, or for manhood.

An agent called pure 
has no attachment or individualism, 
is resolute and energetic, 
unchanged in failure and success.

An agent said to be passionate 
is anxious to gain the fruit of action, 
greedy, essentially violent, impure, 
subject to excitement and grief.

An agent defined by dark inertia 
is undisciplined, vulgar, stubborn, 
fraudulent, dishonest, lazy, 
depressed, and slow to act.

Listen as I tell you without reserve 
about understanding and resolve, 
each in three aspects, 
according to the qualities of nature.

In one who knows activity and rest, 
acts of right and wrong, 
bravery and fear, bondage and freedom, 
understanding is lucid.

When one fails to discern 
sacred duty from chaos, 
right acts from wrong, 
understanding is passionate.

When one thinks in perverse ways, 
is covered in darkness, 
imagining chaos to be sacred duty, 
understanding is darkly inert.

When it sustains acts 
of mind, breath, and senses 
through discipline without wavering 
resolve is lucid.

When it sustains with attachment 
duty, desire, and wealth, 
craving their fruits, 
resolve is passionate.

When a fool cannot escape 
dreaming, fear, grief, 
depression, and intoxication, 
courage is darkly inert.

Arjun, now hear about joy, 
the three ways of finding delight 
through practice 
that brings and end to suffering.

The joy of lucidity 
at first seems like poison 
but is in the end like ambrosia, 
from the calm of self-understanding.

The joy that is passionate 
at first seems like ambrosia 
when senses encounter sense objects, 
but in the end it is like poison.

The joy arising from sleep, 
laziness, and negligence, 
self-deluding from beginning to end, 
is said to be darkly inert.

There is no being on earth 
or among the gods in heaven 
free from the triad of qualities 
that are born of nature.

The actions of priests, warriors, 
commoners, and servants 
are apportioned by qualities 
born to their intrinsic being.

Tranquility, control, penance, 
purity, patience, and honesty, 
knowledge, judgment, and piety 
are intrinsic to the action of a priest.

Heroism, fiery energy, resolve, 
skill, refusal to retreat in battle, 
charity, and majesty in conduct 
are intrinsic to the action of a warrior.

Farming, herding cattle, and commerce, 
are intrinsic to the action of a commoner; 
action that is essentially service 
is intrinsic to the servant.

Each one achieves success 
by focusing on his own action; 
hear how one finds success 
by focusing on his own action.

By his own action a man finds success, 
worshipping the source 
of all creatures' activity, 
the presence pervading all that is.

Better to do one's own duty imperfectly 
than to do another man's well; 
doing action intrinsic to his being, 
a man avoids guilt.

Arjun, a man should not relinquish 
action he is born to, even if it is flawed; 
all undertakings are marred by a flaw, 
as fire is obscured by smoke.

His understanding everywhere detached, 
the self mastered, longing gone, 
one finds through renunciation 
the supreme success beyond action.

Understand in summary from me 
how when he achieves success 
one attains the infinite spirit, 
the highest state of knowledge.

Armed with purified understanding, 
subduing the self with resolve, 
relinquishing sensuous objects, 
avoiding attraction and hatred;

Observing solitude, barely eating, 
restraining speech, body, and mind; 
practicing discipline in meditation, 
cultivating dispassion;

Freeing himself from individuality, force, 
pride, desire, anger, acquisitiveness; 
unpossessive, tranquil, 
he is at one with the infinite spirit.

Being at one with the infinite spirit, 
serene in himself, he does not grieve or crave; 
impartial toward all creatures, 
he achieves supreme devotion to me.

Through devotion he discerns me, 
just who and how vast I really am; 
and knowing me in reality, 
he enters into my presence.

Always performing all actions, 
taking refuge in me, 
he attains through my grace 
the eternal place beyond change.

Through reason, renounce all works 
in me, focus on me; 
relying on the discipline of understanding, 
always keep me in your thought.

If I am in your thought, by my grace 
you will transcend all dangers; 
but if you are deafened 
by individuality, you will be lost.

Your resolve is futile 
if a sense of individuality 
makes you think, " I shall not fight" -- 
nature will compel you to.

You are bound by your own action, 
intrinsic to your being, Arjun; 
even against your will you must do 
what delusion now makes you refuse.

Arjun, the lord resides 
in the heart of all creatures, 
making them reel magically, 
as if a machine moved them.

With your whole being, Arjun, 
take refuge in him alone -- 
from his grace you will attain 
the eternal place that is peace.

This knowledge I have taught 
is more arcane than any mystery -- 
consider it completely, 
then act as you choose.

Listen to my profound words, 
the deepest mystery of all, 
for you are precious to me 
and I tell you for your own good.

Keep your mind on me, 
be my devotee, sacrificing, bow to me -- 
you will come to me, I promise, 
for you are dear to me.

Relinquishing all sacred duties to me, 
make me your only refuge; 
do not grieve, 
for I shall free you from all evils.

You must not speak of this 
to one who is without penance and devotion, 
or who does not wish to hear, 
or who finds fault with me.

When he shares this deepest mystery 
with others devoted to me, 
giving me his total devotion, 
a man will come to me without doubt.

No mortal can perform 
service to me that I value more, 
and no other man on earth 
will be more dear to me than he is.

I judge the man who studies 
our dialogue on sacred duty 
to offer me sacrifice 
through sacrifice in knowledge.

If he listens in faith, 
finding no fault, a man is free 
and will attain the cherished worlds 
of those who act in virtue.

Arjun, have you listened 
with your full powers of reason? 
Has you delusion of ignorance 
now been destroyed?

Arjun : 
Krishn, my delusion is destroyed, 
and by your grace I have regained memory; 
I stand here, my doubt dispelled, 
ready to act on your words.

Sanjay : 
As I heard this wondrous dialogue 
between Krishn and Arjun, 
the man of great soul, 
the hair bristled on my flesh.

By grace of the epic poet Vyas, I heard 
the mystery of supreme discipline 
recounted by Krishn himself, 
the lord of discipline incarnate.

O King, when I keep remembering 
this wondrous and holy dialogue 
between Krishn and Arjun, 
I rejoice again and again.

In my memory I recall again 
and again Krishn's wondrous form -- 
great is my amazement, King; 
I rejoice again and again.

Where Krishn is lord of discipline 
and Arjun is the archer, 
there do fortune, victory, abundance, 
and morality exist, so I think.
 
 

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