|The Bhagavad Gita|
Translation: Arnold, Sir Edwin Date: 400 BCE
Source: Indian History Sourcebook
Jnana-Yog or "The Book of the Religion of Knowledge"
This deathless Yoga, this deep union, I taught Vivaswata,1 the Lord of Light; Vivaswata to Manu gave it; he To Ikshwaku; so passed it down the line Of all my royal Rishis. Then, with years, The truth grew dim and perished, noble Prince! Now once again to thee it is declared This ancient lore, this mystery supreme Seeing I find thee votary and friend.
[Footnote 1: A name of the sun.]
Thy birth, dear Lord, was in these later days, And bright Vivaswata's preceded time! How shall I comprehend this thing thou sayest, "From the beginning it was I who taught?"
Manifold the renewals of my birth Have been Arjuna! and of thy births too! But mine I know, and thine thou knowest not, O slayer of thy Foes! Albeit I be Unborn, undying, indestructible, The Lord of all things living; not the less By Maya, by my magic which I stamp On floating Nature-forms, the primal vast In come, and go, and come. When Righteousness Declines, O Bharata! when Wickedness Is strong, I rise, from age to age, and take Visible shape, and move a man with men, Succoring the good, thrusting the evil back, And setting Virtue on her seat again. Who knows the truth touching my births on earth And my divine work, when he quits the flesh Puts on its load no more, falls no more down To earthly birth; to Me he comes, dear Prince!
Many there be who come! from fear set free, From anger, from desire; keeping their hearts Fixed upon me - my Faithful - purified By sacred flame of Knowledge. Such as these Mix with my being. Whoso worship me, Them I exalt; but all men everywhere Shall fall into my path; albeit, those souls Which seek reward for works, make sacrifice Now, to the lower gods, I say to thee Here have they their reward. But I am He Made the Four Castes, and portioned them a place After their qualities and gifts, Yea, I Created, the Reposeful; I that live Immortally, made all those mortal births: For works soil not my essence, being works Wrought uninvolved.2 Who knows me acting thus Unchained by action, action binds not him; And, so perceiving, all those saints of old Worked, seeking for deliverance. Work thou As, in the days gone by, thy fathers did.
[Footnote 2: Without desire of fruit.]
Thou sayst, perplexed, It hath been asked before By singers and by sages, "What is act, And what inaction?" I will teach thee this, And, knowing, thou shalt learn which work doth save. Needs must one rightly meditate those three Doing, - not doing, - and undoing. Here Thorny and dark the path is! He who sees How action may be rest, rest action - he Is wisest 'mid his kind; he hath the truth! He doeth well, acting or resting. Freed In all his works from prickings of desire, Burned clean in act by the white fire of truth, The wise call that man wise; and such an one, Renouncing fruit of deeds, always content, Always self-satisfying, if he works, Doth nothing that shall stain his separate soul, Which - quit of fear and hope - subduing self Rejecting outward impulse - yielding up To body's need nothing save body, dwells Sinless amid all sin, with equal calm Taking what may befall, by grief unmoved, Unmoved by joy, unenvyingly; the same In good and evil fortunes; nowise bound By bond of deeds. Nay, but of such an one, Whose crave is gone, whose soul is liberate, Whose heart is set on truth - of such an one What work he does is work of sacrifice, Which passeth purely into ash and smoke Consumed upon the altar! All's then God! The sacrifice is Brahm, the ghee and grain Are Brahm, the fire is Brahm, the flesh it eats Is Brahm, and unto Brahm attaineth he Who, in such office, meditates on Brahm. Some votaries there be who serve the gods With flesh and altar-smoke; but other some Who, lighting subtler fires, make purer rite With will of worship. Of the which be they Who, in white flame of continence, consume Joys of the sense, delights of eye and ear, Foregoing tender speech and sound of song: And they who, kindling fires with torch of Truth, Burn on a hidden altar-stone the bliss Of youth and love, renouncing happiness: And they who lay for offering there their wealth, Their penance, meditation, piety, Their steadfast reading of the scrolls, their lore Painfully gained with long austerities: And they who, making silent sacrifice, Draw in their breath to feed the flame of thought, And breathe it forth to waft the heart on high, Governing the ventage of each entering air Lest one sigh pass which helpeth not the soul: And they who, day by day denying needs, Lay life itself upon the altar-flame, Burning the body wan. Lo! all these keep The rite of offering, as if they slew Victims; and all thereby efface much sin Yea! and who feed on the immortal food Left of such sacrifice, to Brahma pass To The Unending. But for him that makes No sacrifice, he hath nor part nor lot Even in the present world. How should he share Another, O thou Glory of thy Line.
In sight of Brahma all these offerings Are spread and are accepted! Comprehend That all proceed by act; for knowing this, Thou shalt be quit of doubt. The sacrifice Which Knowledge pays is better than great gifts Offered by wealth, since gifts' worth - O my Prince! Lies in the mind which gives, the will that serves: And these are gained by reverence, by strong search, By humble heed of those who see the Truth And teach it. Knowing Truth, thy heart no more Will ache with error, for the Truth shall show All things subdued to thee, as thou to Me. Moreover, Son of Pandu! wert thou worst Of all wrong-doers, this fair ship of Truth Should bear thee safe and dry across the sea Of thy transgressions. As the kindled flame Feeds on the fuel till it sinks to ash, So unto ash, Arjuna! unto nought The flame of Knowledge wastes works' dross away! There is not purifier like thereto In all this world, and he who seeketh it Shall find it - being grown perfect - in himself. Believing, he receives it when the soul Masters itself, and cleaves to Truth, and comes Possessing knowledge - to the higher peace, The uttermost repose. But those untaught, And those without full faith, and those who fear Are shent; no peace is here or other where, No hope, nor happiness for whoso doubts. He that, being self-contained, hath vanquished doubt, Disparting self from service, soul from works, Enlightened and emancipate, my Prince! Works fetter him no more! Cut then atwain With sword of wisdom, Son of Bharata! This doubt that binds thy heart-beats! cleave the bond Born of thy ignorance! Be bold and wise! Give thyself to the field with me! Arise!
Here endeth Chapter IV. of the Bhagavad-Gita, entitled "Jnana-Yog," or "The Book of the Religion of Knowledge"