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श्रीमद्-भगवद्-गीता with Translation

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Bhagavad-Gītā is a part of the Mahā-Bhārata, attributed to Śrī Veda-Vyāsa. It is a report of a dialogue between Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Śrī Arjuna.

ओं, स॒ ह ना॑व् अवतु। स॒ ह नौ॑ भुनक्तु। स॒ह वी॒र्यं॑ करवावहै। ते॒ज॒स्विना॒व् अधी॑तम् अस्तु॒ मा वि॑द्विषा॒वहै᳚। ओं शान्तिः॒ शान्तिः॒ शान्तिः॑॥
Om; tad, ha, asmad, √av. Tad, ha, asmad, √bhuj. Saha, vīrya, √kṛ. Tejasvin, adhīta, √as, mā, vi-√dviṣ. Om, śānti, śānti, śānti.

The Bhagavad Gītā is a report of a dialogue between Arjuna, the greatest warrior of his time, and Kṛṣṇa his friend and mentor. It is set at the start of a huge war, involving millions of soldiers, over the right of succession for a kingdom in north-central India, five thousand years ago. Two groups of cousins (all in the Kuru clan) laid claim to the kingdom. On one side was Prince Arjuna and his brothers, the five sons of the deceased King Pāṇḍu. On the other side was King Duryodhana and his brothers, the ninety-nine sons of King Dhṛta-rāṣṭra, the brother of King Pāṇḍu. The Bhagavad Gītā is centrally located in the much larger story, now called the Mahā-bhārata, attributed to the near-mythical Vyāsa, the greatest ever Indian writer and editor.
The antecedents that led to this war and the account of the war and its aftermath are covered in the rest of the Mahā-bhārata. The Bhagavad Gītā starts with an introduction to the scene of the dialogue. In the first chapter, Sañjaya, the minister to King Dhṛta-rāṣṭra, brings the king up to date on what had happened at the war front. Sañjaya’s narration forms the text of the Bhagavad Gītā. Sañjaya doesn’t require war correspondents and spies. He is endowed with a magical ability to not only see and hear what is going on at the distant battlefield, but also to know the thoughts in the warriors’ minds. The Mahā-bhārata is, as teacher Swami Dayananda Saraswati says (2004, The Context of the Gītā Vol. 1 pg. 59), a historical poem, an imaginative weaving of drama around certain historical events and people.
Kṛṣṇa was the most attractive divinity, the Lord incarnate, during Arjuna’s time and became the most celebrated focus of all Indian arts. Arjuna was the leader of his time. He fought against unjust aggression and is the greatest mortal martial artist in all of Indian history and mythology. In the middle of the first chapter, Sañjaya finally speaks of these two main characters: Arjuna commands Kṛṣṇa to drive his chariot between the two armies so that he can get a close look at whom he would have to fight. Kṛṣṇa drives the chariot into position and says, “Behold these assembled Kurus.”
Arjuna does not objectively see those lined up against him as warriors, but instead only sees his relatives, teachers, and friends. He subjectively sees only “my people.” At this, Arjuna loses his ability to remain the warrior and leader of his side. He questions the previously clear justifications for the war that he and his brothers had discussed with respected counselors – and with Kṛṣṇa himself. A stream of emotionally grounded arguments against the war springs up in Arjuna. Finally, he collapses on the chariot seat, unable to proceed and wondering if the unthinkable – retreat – is the wisest course.
In the second chapter, knowing full well that the reasons for this war are sound, Kṛṣṇa prods Arjuna to regain his composure and proceed. But the crisis in Arjuna’s heart is not just about the war. It is deeply centered on the purpose of life itself. Arjuna feels a basic sorrow about the endless limitations of life – even of being a king of a huge empire or the king of heaven. He sees no purpose in a life that makes one struggle against others to gain fleeting moments of enjoyment, which are tainted by their costs. Arjuna begins to believe that his born duty as a prince and warrior is contrary to his goal. He wonders if he should drop everything and take to a life of renunciation. In fact, he loses sight of what his goal in life is – if it is enjoyment, then it is no longer worth it; if it is duty and justice, he doubts they are worth their cost. Still, Arjuna knows that Kṛṣṇa is more than a friend. He looks upon Kṛṣṇa as divine and knows that Kṛṣṇa has the wisdom to teach him what the ultimate good is, which Arjuna believes will solve his predicament. In the eleventh verse of chapter 2, the teaching, the reason for the Bhagavad Gītā, begins with a discussion – not of war, but of reality and how to live accordingly.
This vision of reality is initially presented in chapter 2 of the Bhagavad Gītā, from verse 11 to verse 30, and is elaborated throughout the other chapters, especially in chapter 13. This reality is referred to by the terms brahman, ātmā, or Bhagavān, depending on whether the term is in reference, respectively, to itself, to oneself, or to the universe. This reality is presented in the Bhagavad Gītā as timeless and locationless. It is the very fabric of the warp-and-woof of time and space, and is the very center of oneself, the observer of this entire universe.
The divisions of time and space of the universe – of before and after, inside and outside, up and down – that we each know, are the result of our limited views of the universe from our tiny perspectives. From the perspective of the total, of the infinite whose center is everywhere, there is only one uniform, timeless, and locationless reality. This is the truly objective vision of the world, free of limited perspective, free of subjectivity. It is seeing reality as it is. This is the vision of the Lord, of Bhagavān. It is the ultimate good, the ultimate goal of everyone. The life lived toward and within this goal is without sorrow, is conflict free, meritorious, and filled with complete satisfaction with oneself and the world. It is this vision that is taught in the Bhagavad Gītā.
Indeed, it is upon this clear vision of reality, taught in the Bhagavad Gītā and in the core tradition of ancient India literature, that the culture of universal justice (dharma) is based. Dharma is the natural application of the life of one who has this clear vision of reality. How the person who has this vision of reality would behave in various situations is the guiding principle for determining what dharma is.
A life of dharma, which is meant for gaining this vision of reality, is given the title of yoga (a means) in the Bhagavad Gītā. Today’s popular meaning of “yoga” is not the “eight limbs of yoga” , defined by the teacher Patanjali over two thousand years ago in his Patanjali Yoga Sutras (Aruna 2012). Today’s yoga is narrowly confined to just one or two of the eight limbs; specifically, āsana (posture) and breath control (prāṇāyāma) (see Patanjali Yoga Sutras 2.46–53) now promoted by contemporary yoga teachers. The original meaning of “yoga” in the Bhagavad Gītā can easily be drawn from the text itself. It refers to a way of living that helps the mind to mature so that one can fully appreciate this vision of timeless and locationless reality. It is, then, this vision of reality that fulfills one’s life. It is the ultimate good, the ultimate goal of everyone. That is how yoga is presented in the Bhagavad Gītā and how it has been taught for told and untold thousands of years, of which the Bhagavad Gītā is but a recent illumination, though it was composed well over two (or perhaps five) thousand years ago. This vision of reality has been preserved throughout the cycles of manifestation and destruction of the universe. It is a timeless vision of the timeless reality that forms the basis of this universe of time and space.
This timeless reality cannot be known as a this or that, cannot be arrived at by deduction or induction, cannot be a limited object of any mentation or meditation. You can only be it. To appreciate this reality, you need only remove the wrong notions you have about yourself, this reality. To do this, you need not remove the limitations, but only understand the nature of these limitations – and why they cannot limit the reality in which they shine as its glories.
This is the teaching that removes the basic, but unexamined, sorrow centered on the countless limitations of a human life and replaces it with a fulfillment centered on the limitless nature of oneself. It is a teaching that does not view itself as Indian, but as belonging to all humankind from time immemorial. It is a teaching that is faithfully preserved by the people of India, not created by them. It is the teaching of the Lord. Not a Lord amongst or against other Lords, but rather there is only this Lord. Every thing; every being; you, yourself are but this Lord – this limitless reality. All this is one – oneself.
God does not look over you. Rather, you look over your body, your mind, and your life. You look over the universe as it presents itself to your senses and your mind, which are also part of this universe. The universe is ordered by the natural laws that are also called dharma, the laws of cause and effect. These laws govern not only the physical but also the mental, the subtle. While you overlook all this before you, you remain the same (sama) while the entire universe continually changes. This continually changing time–space intersection of your experience, this physical and subtle universe before you, has you as its basis, as its very existence.
All this that your senses can perceive, all this that your mind can conceive or imagine, all the laws of the world and of the mind that you are able to appreciate, all that your languages can describe, and even the basic building block of everything (whatever it is currently calculated to be by science) – all are limited in time and space, including time and space itself. All this observed universe has you as its observer and as its basis in reality (sat-cit, reality-awareness). This observer (you) cannot be limited as an object of the senses or the mind, since it is (you are) ever the subject, alone factually free of the perceived and conceived limitations of time and space and all within time and space. This is the basis of your undoubted and unchanging self-existence throughout your life – despite your changing body, mind, and environment.
Such an unchanging basis of reality, which you are, alone can be the background, the substratum and surface, within which this ever-changing universe plays itself out. Such a basis of reality alone is the ultimate you seek. The seeker is but you, the limitless observer – the seeker seeking itself. Only ignorance can be the cause of this estrangement and subsequent seeking.
This teaching, in the Bhagavad Gītā in the form of a dialogue, removes that ignorance. In the Bhagavad Gītā, the divinity (Kṛṣṇa) is teaching the student in you (Arjuna is oneself). This is the divine teaching of your self-identity with all, with the total. It is also the teaching of independence, of freedom from all this before you. You are the being of this universe. This being is at once both the beloved (priya) and the love (prema) itself. It is a total turnaround in the understanding of oneself and of the universe.
I am not limited; I am limitless. And this current universe within time and space is completely within my self. My self is complete fulfillment.
As the doubts subside, the freedom and joy that is one’s nature become fully appreciated. This understanding is the grandest vision, the ultimate knowledge to gain, the ultimate good. Then life truly becomes fun and sport, just as Kṛṣṇa’s life was lived with fun and sport – like a song (gītā). It is a life free of guilt, free of hurt, and free of fear.
Let us begin the Songs of the Glorious Lord (Bhagavad Gītā).

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The Topic of Arjuna’s Sorrow
The first chapter of the Bhagavad Gītā introduces both the scene of the narration and the scene of the dialogue. The dialogue consists of the teaching of and by the Lord, Kṛṣṇa, to the student, Arjuna. In the first scene, the scene of the narration, the king’s minister, Sañjaya, is narrating for King Dhṛta-rāṣṭra. Sañjaya tells what happened on the field of battle just prior to start of the war. He describes how the king’s son approached his teacher in martial arts to whip up his teacher’s desire for revenge against Drupada on the opposing side of the battlefield; for fear that the teacher (a brāhmaṇa) did not have the heart of a warrior (kṣatriya) in battle.
Sañjaya then narrates the second scene, the scene of dialogue, which is just before the battle. In this scene, Arjuna commands Kṛṣṇa to drive his chariot between the two armies so that he can get a close look at whom he will fight. Kṛṣṇa drives the chariot and says, “Behold these assembled Kurus.” Arjuna does not see those lined up against him as warriors, but instead only sees his relatives, teachers, and friends. He only sees “my people” (verse 31). At this, Arjuna loses the ability to remain the warrior and leader. A stream of emotionally grounded arguments against this war wells up in him. His mind becomes stressed and overwhelmed by pity to such an extent that he is physically incapacitated. Finally, Arjuna collapses on the chariot seat, unable to proceed and wondering if the unthinkable – retreat – would be the wisest course.
In this chapter, Arjuna argues that war based on greed and desire for power is never justified. However, such a war is not what Arjuna faces. Rather, this war, clearly narrated in the Mahā-bhārata as a war of justice (dharma) against injustice (a-dharma), is for the survival and reestablishment of justice over injustice. But, even in a just war, an individual on either side of battle may have mixed motivations. The individual may be for or against the war and yet be overwhelmed by desire for power and pleasures. A question for the individual is whether the mind’s likes and dislikes override one’s own sense of justice or one’s duty to uphold justice. The answer to this question may hinge on the individual’s understanding of life and death. If the fear of death trumps all, or if justice is thought not worth dying for, then one may succumb to the persuasion of the mind’s likes and dislikes.
We can look at Arjuna’s struggle in this crisis as a metaphor for our own lives. Each of us is in a life-and-death struggle, having to make decisions on a daily and hourly basis that make life a series of heavens and hells – for ourselves and for others. The Bhagavad Gītā presents this daily struggle – not the struggle of war or the justification for war, but the struggle of what is life and what is death (metaphysically and morally) – in a deeply philosophical and personal manner. It is not a theoretical discussion, but a methodical presentation of an indisputable reality and the assimilation of this vision of reality in one’s life. Arjuna’s situational crisis mirrors each person’s existential crisis regarding the meaning of life and the fear of death. Arjuna’s crisis is the catalyst for presenting a clear vision of life and death that solves the felt crisis in every human heart, and for revealing the way to open the heart to this vision and allow it to firmly remain there.
dṛta-rāṣṭra, √vac:
dharma-kṣetra, kuru-kṣetra, samaveta, yuyutsu; māmaka, pāṇḍava, ca, eva, kim, √kṛ, sañjaya.

Dhṛta-rāṣṭra said: What indeed did my people and the Pāṇḍavas do, assembled at Kuru-kṣetra, the field of dharma, desiring to fight, O Sañjaya?
sañjaya, √vac:
dṛṣṭvā, tu, pāṇḍava-anīka, vyūḍha, dus-yodhana, tadā; ācārya, upasaṅgamya, rājan, vacana, √brū.

Sañjaya said: Then, seeing the army of the sons of Pāṇḍu in battle formation, King Duryodhana, approaching his teacher Droṇa, spoke these words.
√dṛś, etad, pāṇḍu-putra, ācārya, mahatī, camū; vyūḍhā, dru-pada-putra, yuṣmad, śiṣya, dhīmat.
O Teacher, please look at this great army of the sons of Pāṇḍu, formed and led by your brilliant disciple, the son of Drupada.
आचार्य, तव धीमता शिष्येण द्रुपद-पुत्रेण व्यूढां पाण्डु-पुत्राणाम् एतां महतीं चमूं पश्य॥
atra, śūra, mahā-iṣvāsa, bhīma-arjuna-sama, √yudh; yuyudhāna, virāṭa, ca, dru-pada, ca, mahā-ratha.
dhṛṣṭa-ketu, cekitāna, kāśi-rāja, ca, vīryavat; puru-jit, kunti-bhoja, ca, śaibya, ca, nara-puṅgava.
yudhā-manyu, ca, vikrānta, uttama-ojas, ca, vīryavat; sau-bhadra, drau-padeya, ca, sarva, eva, mahā-ratha.

Here are the heroes, great archers, equal in battle to Bhīma and Arjuna – Yuyudhāna (Sātyaki), Virāṭa, the great warrior Drupada, Dhṛṣṭa-ketu, Cekitāna, the valiant king of Kāśi, Purujit, Kunti-bhoja, the best of men Śaibya, the powerful Yudhāmanyu, the valiant Uttamaujas, the son of Subhadrā (Abhimanyu), and the five sons of Draupatī – every one a great warrior.
asmad, tu, viśiṣṭa, yad, tad, ni-√budh, dvi-ja-uttama; nāyaka, asmad, sainya, sañjñā-artham, tad, √brū, yuṣmad.
Whereas, O Best of brāhmaṇas, please know those leaders of my army who are distinguished among us. I mention them for your recognition.
bhavat, bhīṣma, ca, karṇa, ca, kṛpa, ca, samitim-jaya; aśva-tthāman, vikarṇa, ca, sauma-datti, tathā, eva, ca.
There are: Your Honor (Droṇa), Bhīṣma, Karṇa, the victorious in battle Kṛpa, Aśvatthāman, Vikarṇa, and the son of Soma-datta.
anya, ca, bahu, śūra, mad-arthe, tyakta-jīvita; nānā-śastra-praharaṇa, sarva, yuddha-viśārada.
And many other heroes who have given up their lives for me, all armed with many kinds of hand-held weapons and missiles, experts in warfare.
a-paryāpta, tad, asmad, bala, bhīṣma-abhirakṣita; paryāpta, tu, idam, etad, bala, bhīma-abhirakṣita.
That army of ours, protected by Bhīṣma, is not overwhelmed; whereas this army of theirs, protected by Bhīma, is overwhelmed.
ayana, ca, sarva, yathā-bhāgam, avasthita; bhīṣma, eva, abhi-√rakṣ, bhavat, sarva, eva, hi.
All of you stationed in your respective positions, in all the lanes of attack against your formations, protect Bhīṣma.
tad, sañjanayat, harṣa, kuru-vṛddha, pitā-maha; siṃha-nāda, vinadya, uccais, śaṅkha, √dhmā, pratāpavat.
Grandfather Bhīṣma, the powerful elder of the Kurus, loudly let out a lion’s roar and blew his conch, elating him, Duryodhana.
tatas, śaṅkha, ca, bheryī, ca, paṇava-ānaka-go-mukha; sahasā, eva, abhi-√han, tad, śabda, tumula, √bhū.
Then, all at once on Duryodhana’s side, conches, kettle drums, various small and large drums and horns were sounded. The noise was tumultuous.
tatas, śveta, haya, yukta, mahat, syandana, sthita; mādhava, pāṇḍava, ca, eva, divya, śaṅkha, pra-√dhmā.
Then Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, standing in the great chariot yoked with white horses, blew their divine conches.
pāñca-janya, hṛṣīka-īśa, deva-datta, dhanam-jaya; pauṇḍra, √dhmā, mahā-śaṅkha, bhīma-karman, vṛka-udara.
Kṛṣṇa blew His conch called Pāñca-janya; Arjuna blew his conch called Deva-datta. Bhīma, the Wolf-Bellied, blew his huge conch called Pauṇḍra.
an-anta-vijaya, rājan, kuntī-putra, yudhi-sthira; nakula, saha-deva, ca, su-ghoṣa-maṇi-puṣpaka.
King Yudhi-ṣṭhira, the son of Kuntī, blew his conch called An-anta-vijaya. Nakula and Saha-deva blew their conches called Su-ghoṣa and Maṇi-puṣpaka.
kāśya, ca, parama-iṣvāsa, śikhaṇḍin, ca, mahā-ratha; dhṛṣṭa-dyumna, virāṭa, ca, sātyaki, ca, a-parā-jita.
dru-pada, drau-padeya, ca, sarvaśas, pṛthivī-pati; sau-bhadra, ca, mahā-bāhu, śañkha, √dhmā, pṛtak, pṛtak.

The expert archer king of Kāśi, the great warrior Śikhaṇḍin, Dhṛṣṭa-dyumna, Virāṭa, and the unsurpassed Sātyaki, Drupada, the five sons of Draupadī, and the mighty-armed son of Su-bhadrā (Abhimanyu) – O King Dhṛta-rāṣṭra, all on the Pāṇḍava side blew their individual conches.
tad, ghoṣa, dhārta-rāṣṭra, hṛdaya, vi-√dṝ; nabhas, ca, pṛthivī, ca, eva, tumula, vyanunādayat.
Reverberating between heaven and earth, that tumultuous sound pierced the hearts of the allies of Dhṛta-rāṣṭra.
atha, vyavasthita, dṛṣṭvā, dhārta-rāṣṭra, kapi-dhvaja; pravṛtta, śastra-sampāta, dhanus, udyama, pāṇḍava.
hṛṣīka-īśa, tadā, vākya, idam, √ah, mahī-pati; arjuna, √vac:
senā, ubhā, madhya, ratha, √sthā, asmad, a-cyuta.
yāvat, etad, nis-√īkṣ, asmad, yoddhu-kāma, avasthita; kim, v, saha, yoddhavya, idam, raṇa-samudyama.

O King Dhṛta-rāṣṭra, then as the clash of swords was about to begin, Arjuna, with Lord Hanumān as his banner, seeing the allies of Dhṛta-rāṣṭra assembled, raised his bow and then said these words to Kṛṣṇa. Arjuna said: O Kṛṣṇa, place my chariot between both armies so that I can examine these assembled wishing to do battle, and with whom I should fight at the outset of this war.
yotsyamāna, ava-√īkṣ, asmad, yad, etad, atra, samāgata; dhātra-rāṣṭra, dus-buddhi, yuddha, priya-cikīrṣu.
So I can see those about to fight who have assembled here, wishing to please in war the distorted-thinking Duryodhana.
sañjaya, √vac:
evam, ukta, hṛṣīka-īśa, guḍākā-īśa, bhārata; senā, ubhā, madhya, sthāpayitvā, ratha-uttama.
bhīṣma-droṇa-pramukhatas, sarva, ca, mahī-kṣit; √vac, pārtha, √dṛś, etad, samaveta, kuru, iti.

Sañjaya said: O Dhṛta-rāṣṭra, having thus been ordered by Arjuna, Lord Kṛṣṇa placed the great chariot between both armies, right in front of Bhīṣma and Droṇa and all these kings, and then said, ‘Arjuna, behold these assembled Kurus.’
tatra, √dṛś, sthita, pārtha, pitṛ, atha, pitā-maha; ācārya, mātula, bhātṛ, putra, pautra, sakhi, tathā.
śvaśura, su-hṛd, ca, eva, senā, ubhā, api; tad, samīkṣya, tad, kaunteya, sarva, bandhu, avasthita.
kṛpā, parā, āviṣṭa, viṣīdat, idam, √brū;

Now Arjuna saw stationed there – in both armies – fathers, grandfathers, teachers, uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, comrades, fathers-in-law, and friends. That Arjuna, seeing all those assembled relatives and being overwhelmed with great pity, became sad and said this.
arjuna, √vac:
dṛṣṭvā, idam, sva-jana, kṛṣṇa, yuyutsu, samupasthita.
√sad, asmad, gātra, mukha, ca, pari-√śuṣ; vepathu, ca, śarīra, asmad, roma-harṣa, ca, √jan.

Arjuna said: O Kṛṣṇa, seeing these, my people on both sides, who have come ready to fight, my limbs are limp, my mouth is dry, my body is trembling, and my hairs are on end.
gāṇḍīva, √sraṃs, hasta, tvac, ca, eva, pari-√dah; na, ca, √śak, avasthātum, √bhram, iva, ca, asmad, manas.
My bow Gāṇḍīva slips from my hand, and my skin burns. My mind seems to spin, and I am unable to stand.
nimitta, ca, √dṛś, viparīta, keśava; na, ca, śreyas, anu-√dṛś, hatvā, sva-jana, āhava.
O Kṛṣṇa, I see bad omens (such as a twitching eye), and I see no good by killing my people in this war.
na, √kāñkṣ, vijaya, kṛṣṇa, na, ca, rājya, sukha, ca; kim, asmad, rājya, go-vinda, kim, bhoga, jīvita, vā.
O Kṛṣṇa, I do not desire for myself victory, nor kingdom, nor pleasures. O Kṛṣṇa, what is the use of a kingdom to us? What is the use of pleasures or living?
yad, arthe, kāṅkṣita, asmad, rājya, bhoga, sukha, ca; tad, idam, avasthita, yuddha, prāṇa, tyaktvā, dhana, ca.
ācārya, pitṛ, putra, tathā, eva, ca, pitā-maha; mātula, śvaśura, pautra, śyāla, sambandhin, tathā.

For whose sake we have desired kingdom, experiences, and pleasures – those same are assembled here in battle, giving up their lives and wealth: teachers, fathers, sons, grandfathers, uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law, and other relations.
etad, na, hantum, √iṣ, ghnat, api, madhu-sūdana; api, trai-lokya-rājya, hetu, kim, nu, mahī-kṛte.
O Kṛṣṇa, though they are about to kill me, I do not wish to kill them – even for dominion over the three worlds (earth, sky, and heaven), much less for a kingdom on this earth.
nihatya, dhārta-rāṣṭra, asmad, kim, prīti, √as, jana-ardana; pāpa, eva, ā-√śri, asmad, hatvā, etad, ātata-āyin.
What satisfaction would we have by killing the sons of Dhṛta-rāṣṭra, O Kṛṣṇa? By killing these felons, only sin would befall us.
tasmād, na, arha, asmad, hantum, dhārta-rāṣṭra, sva-bāndhava; sva-jana, hi, katham, hatvā, sukhin, √as, mādhava.
Therefore, we ought not to kill our own relatives, the sons of Dhṛta-rāṣṭra. By killing our own relations, how would we be happy, O Kṛṣṇa?
yadi, api, etad, na, √dṛś, lobha-upahata-cetasas; kula-kṣaya-kṛta, doṣa, mitra-droha, ca, pātaka.
katham, na, jñeya, asmad, pāpa, idam, nivartitum; kula-kṣaya-kṛta, doṣa, prapaśyat, jana-ardana.

Even if these – whose minds are overwhelmed by greed – do not see the problem wrought by destroying the family or the crime in betraying friends, how can we – who clearly see the problem wrought by destroying the family – not know to withdraw from this sin, O Kṛṣṇa?
kula-kṣaya, pra-√naś, kula-dharma, sanā-tana; dharma, naṣṭa, kula, kṛtsna, a-dharma, abhi-√bhū, uta.
When the family is destroyed by this killing of the men, the protectors of the family, the ancient traditions (dharmas) of the family are destroyed. When tradition is destroyed, corruption (a-dharma) indeed overwhelms the entire family.
a-dharma-abhibhava, kṛṣṇa, pra-√duṣ, kula-strī; strī, duṣṭā, vārṣṇeya, √jan, varṇa-saṅkara.
O Kṛṣṇa, due to the family being overpowered by corruption, the women of the family are debased. O Kṛṣṇa, when the women are debased, there arises confusion of the social groups.
saṅkara, naraka, eva, kula-ghna, kula, ca; √pat, pitṛ, hi, etad, lupta-piṇḍa-udaka-kriya.
Confusion leads to hell for the destroyers of the family, as well as for the family. Their ancestors, being deprived of the post-death rituals of offerings of rice balls, water, etcetera, indeed fall (to a lower status).
doṣa, etad, kula-ghna, varṇa-saṅkara-kāraka; ud-√sad, jāti-dharma, kula-dharma, ca, śāśvata.
Because of these crimes of the destroyers of the family, bringing about the confusion of the social groups, the ancient community traditions – as well as the family traditions – are destroyed.
utsanna-kula-dharma, manuṣya, jana-ardana; naraka, niyatam, vāsa, √bhū, iti, anu-√śru.
O Kṛṣṇa, we have heard that the people who destroy the family tradition (dharma) surely have a stay in hell.
aho, bata, mahat, pāpa, kartum, vyavasita, asmad; yad, rājya-sukha-lobha, hantum, sva-jana, udyata.
Oh! We are fixed to perpetrate a great sin, if, out of greed for kingdom and its pleasures, we are prepared to kill our own people.
yadi, asmad, a-pratīkāra, a-śastra, śastra-pāṇi; dhārta-rāṣṭra, raṇa, √han, tad, asmad, kṣematara, √bhū.
If the armed sons of Dhṛta-rāṣṭra were in battle to kill me, unresisting and unarmed, that would be better for me (than this sin).
sañjaya, √vac:
evam, uktvā, arjuna, saṅkya, ratha-upastha, upa-√viś; visṛjya, sa-śara, cāpa, śoka-saṃvigna-mānasa.

Sañjaya said: Speaking thus, Arjuna, giving up his bow and arrows in the middle of the battle-field, sat down on the chariot seat, his mind overcome with sorrow (in the form of guilt and hurt).
Om (brahman, the witness of all) is that (only) reality. Thus ends the first chapter, called ‘The Topic of Arjuna’s Sorrow,’ of the (eighteen chapters of) Songs of the Glorious Lord, which is (looked upon as) sacred teaching (Upaniṣad) and (whose teaching is) in (the form of) a dialogue between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, (the subject matter being) knowledge of brahman and yoga.

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The Topic of Knowledge
Kṛṣṇa is being asked to be a guru, a teacher. He himself has been a young student under the sage Sāndīpani, so, in addition to being the Lord incarnate, Kṛṣṇa clearly is equipped with the methodology of teaching presented in the Upaniṣads. He shows this by fluently quoting and paraphrasing verses of several Upaniṣads and by wholesale borrowing topics from several more to weave a complete vision.
The Advaita Vedānta teaching is then not new. It is completely within the ancient tradition of the Upaniṣad scriptures and elaborates the preparation required to assimilate the direct knowledge of the teaching. It is not a “secret” teaching for the initiated only. Rather, it is presented in the middle of the Mahā-bhārata, the most popular storybook in Indian literature.
In chapter 2, Kṛṣṇa teaches Arjuna that the people Arjuna is grieving are, in fact, the being that is timeless and unchanging, and none other than the self of Arjuna. So, being changeless, Arjuna, from the true perspective of himself, whether he knows it or not, is not the doer of action – not the slayer of these people or even of these bodies before him.
This is called viveka, discernment of the real from the unreal, the self from the nonself. This teaching is quite shocking (āścaryavat), and not easily understood when first heard. Therefore, Kṛṣṇa further explains. He speaks from the perspective of the relative reality of living and explains that impermanent entities obviously have an end and that their lot after their end is both unknown and unknowable to others. So, even relatively then, there is no basis for grieving, he tells Arjuna. Moreover, Kṛṣṇa says, if Arjuna deserts the battlefield, he is deserting his duty, and this will bring unwanted repercussions in this life and later.
Kṛṣṇa then proceeds to teach the prerequisite understanding that a student needs in order to assimilate this profound teaching. This understanding involves committing to doing one’s duty with the intent of gaining in this life the knowledge that liberates. This preparation is presented in the Upaniṣads by the description of the qualifications of the student and by various upāsanas, meditations on life and the universe that instill a cosmic perspective to living. This preparation is here called karma-yoga. It is a dispassion (vairāgya) for material and even spiritual results that are time bound. Then, with this dispassion, doing action as a participation in the cosmic cycle simply because it is a duty-to-be-done and is the proper thing to be done that matures the mind. The mature mind then has the discipline and clarity to assimilate the self-knowledge that liberates – that brings one to an appreciation of brahman, the ultimate reality, as one’s self.
sañjaya, √vac:
tad, tathā, kṛpā, āviṣṭa, aśru-pūrṇa-ākula-īkṣaṇa; viṣīdat, idam, vākya, √vac, madhu-sūdana.

Sañjaya said: Kṛṣṇa spoke these words to him, Arjuna, who in that way was overwhelmed by pity, with eyes stressed and full of tears and was sad.
śrī-bhagavat, √vac:
kutas, yuṣmad, kaśmala, idam, vi-sama, samupasthita; an-ārya-juṣṭa, a-svar-gya, a-kīrti-kara, arjuna.

The Lord said: In such a crisis, at the outset of this war, from where came to you this despair, unacceptable for a person of the Veda culture, not leading to heaven, and engendering dishonor, O Arjuna?
klaibya, mā, sma, √gam, pārtha, na, etad, yuṣmad, upa-√pad; kṣudra, hṛdaya-daur-balya, tyaktvā, ud-√sthā, param-tapa.
Do not yield to impotency, O Arjuna. It does not befit you. Give up this lowly weakness of heart and get up, O Arjuna (Vexer of Foes)!
arjuna, √vac:
katham, bhīṣma, asmad, saṅkhya, droṇa, ca, madhu-sūdana; iṣu, prati-√yudh, pūjā-arha, ari-sūdana.

Arjuna said: O Kṛṣṇa (Destroyer of Demons and Foes), how will I fight in battle with arrows against Bhīṣma and Droṇa, who are worthy of my worship, thus becoming a destroyer of my gurus?
guru, a-hatvā, hi, mahā-anubhāva, śreyas, bhoktum, bhaikṣya, api, iha, loka; hatvā, artha-kāma, tu, guru, iha, eva, √bhuj, bhoga, rudhira-pradigdha.
It would be better I not kill these highly honored gurus and even beg alms here in the world, become a renunciate, than kill these gurus seeking their own ends and then indulge here in pleasures, drenched with their blood.
na, ca, etad, √vid, katara, asmad, garīyas, yad, vā, √ji, yadi, vā, asmad, √ji; yad, eva, hatvā, na, √jīv, tad, avasthita, pramukhe, dhārta-rāṣṭra.
We, I, do not know which one of the two is better for us – whether by my fighting we should conquer or by my withdrawal they should conquer us. Those allies of Dhṛta-rāṣṭra, after slaying whom we would not want to live, stand facing us.
kārpaṇya-doṣa-upahata-sva-bhāva, √prach, yuṣmad, dharma-sammūḍha-cetas; yad, śreyas, √as, niścitam, √brū, tad, asmad, śiṣya, yuṣmad, asmad, √śās, asmad, yuṣmad, prapanna.
With my mind overcome by miserliness, yet to be spent seeking the ultimate good (śreyas), and confused about dharma, I ask You – what is definitely śreyas? That, please tell me. I am Your student. Having surrendered to You, please teach me.
na, hi, pra-√dṛś, asmad, apa-√nud, yad, śoka, ucchoṣaṇa, indriya; avāpya, bhūmi, a-sa-patna, ṛddha, rājya, sura, api, ca, ādhipatya.
Because, though gaining an unrivalled and prosperous kingdom on earth and even lordship over the heavenly deities, I do not see on my own what would remove the sorrow, the guilt and hurt, drying up my senses.
sañjaya, √vac:
evam, uktvā, hṛṣīka-īśa, guḍākā-īśa, param-tapa (param-tapa); na, √yudh, iti, go-vinda, uktvā, tūṣṇīm, √bhū, ha.

Sañjaya said: Having thus spoken to Kṛṣṇa, Arjuna, the Vexer of Foes, told Kṛṣṇa ‘I will not fight’ and became silent.
tad, √vac, hṛṣīka-īśa, pra-hasat, iva, bhārata; senā, ubhā, madhya, viṣīdat, idam, √vac.
O Dhṛta-rāṣṭra, with a smile at the new-found student in Arjuna and at the bold request to teach Arjuna between two armies at the outset of war, Kṛṣṇa said these words to him, Arjuna, who was sad in the midst of both armies.
śrī-bhagavat, √vac:
a-śocya, anu-√śuc, yuṣmad, prajñā-vāda, ca, √bhāṣ; gata-asu, a-gata-asu, ca, na, anu-√śuc, paṇḍita.

The Lord said: You have grieved for those not to be grieved, yet proclaim words of wisdom. The wise do not grieve for those whose life’s breath is gone or not yet gone.
na, tu, eva, asmad, jātu, na, √as, na, yuṣmad, na, idam, jana-adhipa; na, ca, eva, na, √bhū, sarva, asmad, atas, param.
Never was there a time that I was not, nor you, nor these kings. Nor will any of us cease to exist hereafter.
dehin, idam, yathā, deha, kaumāra, yauvana, jarā; tathā, deha-antara-prāpti, dhīra, tatra, na, √muh.
For the one with a body (the dehī), like passing through childhood, maturity, and old age in this body, so too for the dehī who remains the same there is the gain of another body after this body dies. Concerning this, the wise person is not confused.
mātrā-sparśa, tu, kaunteya, śīta-uṣṇa-sukha-duḥkha-da; āgama-apāyin, a-nitya, tad, √tij, bhārata.
O Arjuna, the contacts of the senses, or rather, the sense objects – from a distance or in contact, which give cold/hot and pleasure/pain, the natural pairs of opposites, have a beginning and an end and therefore are time bound. Endure them, accept them objectively as they are, O Arjuna.
yad, hi, na, √vyath, etad, puruṣa, puruṣa-ṛṣabha; sama-duḥkha-sukha, dhīra, tad, a-mṛtatva, √kḷp.
O Arjuna, the person whom these unavoidable contacts or sense objects do not afflict, who is the same in pleasure and pain, and who is discerning – that one is fit for freedom.
na, a-sat, √vid, bhāva, na, a-bhāva, √vid, sat; ubha, api, dṛṣṭa, anta, tu, idam, tattva-darśin.
A-sat (the unreal, the time-bound form) has no being of its own, and sat (the real, existence) has no nonbeing. This conclusion, regarding both these, is discerned by the seers of the truth. (In ‘this form exists,’ ‘that form exists,’ existence is constant. But the unreal, time-bound forms constantly change.)
avināśin, tu, tad, √vid, yad, sarva, idam, tata; vināśa, a-vyaya, idam, na, ka-cid, kartum, √arh.
By which sat (existence/reality) all this, the a-sat (the ‘this and that’ time-bound world, including this body-mind complex), is pervaded, know that, the timeless and real, to be indestructible. Nothing is able to bring about the destruction of this that does not change.
antavat, idam, deha, nitya, ukta, śarīrin; a-nāśin, a-prameya, tasmāt, √yudh, bhārata.
These bodies of the timeless, indestructible, non-objectifiable as the self-evident subject embodied one who obtains as the being/reality of these body-mind complexes are said to be subject to unavoidable death. Therefore fight, O Arjuna.
yad, enad, √vid, hantṛ, yad, ca, enad, √man, hata; ubha, tad, na, vi-√jñā, na, idam, na, √han, na, √han.
The one who thinks this (the embodied one, the real, the self-evident subject) is the agent of destruction, change, etcetera, and the one who thinks this (the embodied one, the real) is the object of destruction – both do not know. This neither destroys nor is destroyed.
na, √jan, √mṛ, vā, kadā-cid, na, idam, bhūtvā, a-bhavitṛ, vā, na, bhūyas; a-ja, nitya, śāśvata, idam, purāṇa, na, √han, hanyamāna, śarīra.
This, the embodied one, the real, is never born, nor dies. It is not that, coming to be, it again comes not to be, nor the opposite – becoming nonexistent, it again comes to be. This – which is unborn, permanent, ever the same, and always there – is not destroyed, not changed, when the body is being destroyed, changed.
√vid, a-vināśin, nitya, yad, enad, a-ja, a-vyaya; katham, tad, puruṣa, pārtha, kim, √han, √han, kim.
O Arjuna, when one knows this, the dehī (oneself, the embodied one, the real), to be indestructible, permanent, unborn, and unchanging, then how does that person cause the death of whom, or kill whom?
vāsas, jīrṇa, yathā, vihāya, nava, √grah, nara, apara; tathā, śarīra, vihāya, jīrṇa, anya, sam-√yā, nava, dehin.
Just as a person discarding worn-out clothes takes other new ones; similarly, the embodied one, discarding worn-out bodies, takes on other new ones.
na, enad, √chid, śastra, na, enad, √dah, pāvaka; na, ca, enad, √klid, ap, na, √śuṣ, māruta.
Weapons made from the element earth do not cut it, nor does the element fire burn it, nor does the element water soak it, nor does the element wind wither it.
a-chedya, idam, a-dāhya, idam, a-kledya, a-śoṣya, eva, ca; nitya, sarva-gata, sthāṇu, a-cala, idam, sanā-tana.
This is uncutable. This is unburnable, unwetable, and unwitherable. This is timeless, locationless, stable, unmoving, and always existing.
a-vyakta, idam, a-cintya, idam, a-vikārya, idam, √vac; tasmāt, evam, viditvā, enad, na, anuśocitum, √arh.
This is said to be not manifest to the senses, not an object of thought since it is the conscious being that is aware of all thoughts, and not subject to change. Therefore, since there is no basis for grief regarding the self, knowing this as such, you cannot grieve.
atha, ca, enad, nitya-jāta, nityam, vā, √man, mṛta; tathā, api, yuṣmad, mahā-bāhu, na, evam, śocitum, √arh.
O Arjuna, now if you consider this, the self – as the body or as an individual soul, to continually be born and die – even in that way, you should not grieve.
jāta, hi, dhruva, mṛtyu, dhruva, janman, mṛta, ca; tasmāt, a-parihārya, artha, na, yuṣmad, śocitum, √arh.
Because, for what is born, death is certain, and for what is dead, birth in another form is certain. Then you should not grieve over a situation that cannot be avoided.
a-vyakta-ādi, bhūta, vyakta-madhya, bhārata; a-vyakta-nidhana, eva, tatra, kim, paridevanā.
O Arjuna, all beings are unseen before their beginning, unknown as to whom or what they were before their birth; are seen in between; and are unseen after their end, unknown as to their lot after death. Regarding that, why grieve?
āścaryavat, √dṛś, ka-cid, enad, āścaryavat, √vad, tathā, eva, ca, anya; āścaryavat, ca, enad, anya, √śru, śrutvā, enad, √vid, na, ca, eva, ka-cid.
As a wonder, someone sees, knows, this timeless, locationless, embodied one – the real! Similarly, as a wonder, another, the teacher, speaks of this and, as a wonder, another listens about this! Even after listening, another still does not know this which is oneself!
dehin, nityam, a-vadhya, idam, deha, sarva, bhārata; tasmāt, sarva, bhūta, na, yuṣmad, śocitum, √arh.
O Arjuna, this embodied one in every body is ever indestructible; therefore, you should not grieve over all these beings.
sva-dharma, api, ca, avekṣya, na, vikampitum, √arh; dharmya, hi, yuddha, śreyas, anya, kṣatriya, na, √vid.
Even in regard to your own dharma (nature and duty), you should not waver. Because, for a warrior such as you – by nature and duty, there is no greater good than a battle on the side of dharma, a battle for the protection of what supports people through their maturation to wisdom.
yad-ṛcchā, ca, upapanna, svar-ga-dvāra, apāvṛta; sukhin, kṣatriya, pārtha, √labh, yuddha, īdṛśa.
By happenstance an open door to heaven has come. O Arjuna, fortunate are warriors who get such a battle.
atha, ced, yuṣmad, idam, dharmya, saṅgrāma, na, √kṛ; tatas, sva-dharma, kīrti, ca, hitvā, pāpa, ava-√āp.
Now if you will not undertake this battle on the side of dharma, then forfeiting your dharma (nature and duty) and honor, you will incur karma demerit (pāpa).
a-kīrti, ca, api, bhūta, √kath, yuṣmad, a-vyayā; sambhāvita, ca, a-kīrti, maraṇa, ati-√ric.
These creatures, even yesterday’s recruits, will also recount your unfading infamy. Dishonor for one who had been honored is worse than death.
bhaya, raṇa, uparata, √man, yuṣmad, mahā-ratha; yad, ca, yuṣmad, bahu-mata, bhūtvā, √yā, lāghava.
The great warriors will think you withdrew from battle out of fear. Among whom, having been highly honored, you will become insignificant.
a-vācya-vāda, ca, bahu, √vad, yuṣmad, a-hita; nindat, yuṣmad, sāmarthya, tatas, duḥkhatara, nu, kim.
Moreover, your enemies, belittling your prowess, will speak many unutterable words about you. What is more painful than that?
hata, vā, pra-√āp, svar-ga, jitvā, vā, √bhuj, mahī; tasmāt, ud-√sthā, kaunteya, yuddha, kṛta-niścaya.
Killed, you will gain heaven; conquer and you will enjoy the world. Therefore, O Arjuna, resolve to fight, and get up!
sukha-duḥkha, sama, kṛtvā, lābha-a-lābha, jaya-a-jaya; tatas, yuddha, √yuj, na, evam, pāpa, ava-√āp.
Being the same in pleasure/pain, gain/loss, or victory/defeat, thus prepare for battle, for your duty (sva-dharma), whatever it is, as it presents itself throughout life’s changes. In this way you will incur no karma demerit (pāpa).
etad, yuṣmad, abhihita, sāṅkhya, buddhi, yoga, tu, idam, √śru; buddhi, yukta, yad, pārtha, karma-bandha, pra-√hā.
This wisdom regarding sāṅkhya (the knowledge of reality), the ultimate good (śreyas) that you asked for, has been told to you. On the other hand, O Arjuna, listen to this wisdom regarding yoga (the means for preparing for this knowledge); endowed with which, you will be free from the bondage that is karma.
na, iha, abhikrama-nāśa, √as, pratyavāya, na, √vid; su-alpam, api, idam, dharma, √trai, mahat, bhaya.
In this, the means for complete freedom (śreyas), there is no loss of progress, nor adverse result. Even a little of this yoga, this means – which is also dharma (one’s nature and duty, which will support one through the maturation process) – protects from great fear.
vyavasāya-ātmikā, buddhi, ekā, iha, kuru-nandana; bahu-śākhā, hi, an-antā, ca, buddhi, a-vyavasāyin.
Regarding this, the means for śreyas, the well-discerned knowledge is but one, O Arjuna. However, for those with no discernment of this fact, the notions regarding the means for śreyas are indeed many-branched and endless.
yad, idam, puṣpitā, vāc, pra-√vad, a-vipaścit; veda-vāda-rata, pārtha, na, anya, √as, iti, vādin.
kāma-ātman, svar-ga-para, janma-karma-phala-pradā; kriyā-viśeṣa-bahulā, bhoga-aiśvarya-gati, prati.

O Arjuna, the unwise – who remain engrossed in the bulk of the words of the Vedas (scriptures) that deal with heaven-going and gaining power, wealth, and progeny; arguing that there is nothing more; who are full of desires, requirements/anticipations; and who hold heaven as primary – they spout flowery discourse full of special rituals directed toward gaining power and objects of consumption, but yield further birth as a result of their actions.
bhoga-aiśvarya-prasakta, tad, apahṛta-cetas; vyavasāya-ātmikā, buddhi, samādhi, na, vi-√dhā.
For those whose minds are carried away by that flowery talk and who are attached to consumption and power, a well-discerned knowledge is not formed in their mind (samādhi).
trai-guṇya-viṣaya, veda, nis-trai-guṇya, √bhū, arjuna; nis-dvan-dva, nitya-sattva-stha, nis-yoga-kṣema, ātmavat.
For them, the Vedas are only about the three-fold universe (traiguṇya). O Arjuna, be [more and more] free from traiguṇya, free from the pairs of opposites, ever established in a contemplative disposition (sattva), free from acquiring and protecting, and be attentive.
yāvat, artha, uda-pāna, sarvatas, sampluta-udaka; tāvat, sarva, veda, brāhmaṇa, vijānat.
For a contemplative person (a brāhmaṇa) who knows sat (the all pervading reality), there is as much usefulness in all the Veda rituals as there is in a small watering hole in a once-dry river bed, when the river is in a flood everywhere. Seeing the truth everywhere, one is no longer dependent on the Veda rituals.
karman, eva, adhikāra, yuṣmad, mā, phala, kadācana; mā, karma-phala-hetu, √bhū, mā, yuṣmad, saṅga, √as, a-karman.
You, as a human, have control only in doing action, never in its results. Do not think yourself to be the cause of the results of action, that cause being but the Lord as embodied in the universal laws of karma (action and its result). Nor should you have attachment to inaction. Or – You, Arjuna, are entitled only in doing your duty, never claiming the results. Do not promote further results of action as rebirths, nor be inclined toward inaction.
yoga-stha, √kṛ, karman, saṅga, tyaktvā, dhanam-jaya; siddhi-a-siddhi, sama, bhūtvā, samatva, yoga, √vac.
O Arjuna, being free from attachment toward anticipated results, being the same (sama) toward success or failure, established in yoga, in this attitude, then perform action. Sameness of attitude (buddhi) toward results – whatever they are is called yoga.
dūreṇa, hi, avara, karman, buddhi-yoga, dhanam-jaya; buddhi, śaraṇa, anu-√iṣ, kṛpaṇa, phala-hetu.
Action or ritual, by itself, is indeed far inferior to the means which is this attitude (buddhi-yoga), O Arjuna. Seek refuge in this attitude. Those whose motives are only for the results of action are misers, are yet to spend their intellect in motivation for śreyas.
buddhi-yukta, √hā, iha, ubha, su-kṛta-dus-kṛta; tasmāt, yoga, √yuj, yoga, karman, kauśala.
Endowed with this attitude, one sheds in this world both karma merit and demerit. Therefore, commit to this yoga. Propriety in actions, acting within dharma (your natural duty) where the means are as important as the end, is called yoga.
karma-ja buddhi-yukta, hi, phala, tyaktvā, manīṣin; jamna-bandha-vinirmukta, pada, √gam, an-āmaya.
Because the wise, endowed with this attitude – after discarding the pressure for result born of action, appreciating dharma as ‘to be done,’ accepting the results gracefully, freed by knowledge from the bondage that is birth – they reach the attainment that is free from affliction.
yadā, yuṣmad, moha-kalila, buddhi, vi-ati-√tṝ; tadā, √gam, nis-veda, śrotavya, śruta, ca.
When your intellect crosses over the confusion that is delusion, then you will gain a dispassion for what has been heard and is yet to be heard from the secular and spiritual marketers.
śruti-vipratipannā, yuṣmad, yadā, √sthā, niścalā; samādhi, a-calā, buddhi, tadā, yoga, ava-√āp.
When your intellect – previously distracted by the śruti, the bulk of the Vedas concerned with providing means for gaining heaven, power, wealth, and progeny – becomes steady and centered on your self (samādhi), then you will attain yoga.
arjuna, √vac:
sthita-prajña, kim, bhāṣā, samādhi-stha, keśava; sthita-dhī, kim, pra-√bhāṣ, kim, √ās, √vraj, kim.

Arjuna said: What is the description of the one whose wisdom is firm (sthita-prajña), who is established within the self (samādhi), O Kṛṣṇa? What would the one whose wisdom is firm speak? How would that one sit? How would that one walk?
śrī-bhagavat, √vac:
pra-√hā, yadā, kāma, sarva, pārtha, manas-gata; ātman, eva, ātman, tuṣṭa, sthita-prajña, tadā, √vac.

The Lord said: O Arjuna, when one abandons all desires, notional requirements in order to become happy, as they arise in the mind and is happy by oneself, by an informed intellect, in one’s self alone, then that one is called one whose wisdom is firm (sthita-prajña).
duḥkha, an-udvigna-manas, sukha, vigata-spṛha; vīta-rāga-bhaya-krodha, sthita-dhī, muni, √vac.
The one whose mind is not afflicted in adversities, who has no longing in pleasures, and who is free from attraction (rāga), fear, and anger, that wise person is called one whose wisdom is firm.
yad, sarvatra, an-abhisneha, tad, tad, prāpya, śubha-a-śubha; na, abhi-√nand, na, √dviṣ, tad, prajñā, pratiṣṭhitā.
The one who is unattached in all situations, who neither rejoices on getting anything pleasant, nor hates getting anything unpleasant – that one’s wisdom is firm.
yadā, sam-√hṛ, ca, idam, kūrma, aṅga, iva, sarvaśas; indriya, indriya-artha, tad, prajñā, pratiṣṭhitā.
When, like a turtle and its limbs, one is at will able to completely withdraw the senses from their sense pursuits and again extend them out at will – that one’s wisdom is firm.
viṣaya, vi-ni-√vṛt, nis-āhāra, dehin; rasa-varjam, rasa, api, idam, para, dṛṣṭvā, ni-√vṛt.
For the embodied one who does not feed, does not indulge the senses, the objects turn back, are not pursued, but the longing remains. Knowing the ultimate (para, brahman reality), even one’s longing ceases.
yatat, hi, api, kaunteya, puruṣa, vipaścit; indriya, pramāthin, √hṛ, prasabham, manas.
Because, O Arjuna, even though a discerning person puts forth effort, the distracting senses forcefully take away the mind.
tad, sarva, saṃyamya, yukta, √ās, mad-para; vaśa, hi, yad, indriya, tad, prajñā, pratiṣṭhitā.
Mastering all those senses, the one who is disciplined should remain with Me, the Lord, reality, as the para (highest, the limitless). For the one whose senses are indeed under authority of an informed intellect, wisdom is firm.
dhyāyat, viṣaya, pumaṃs, saṅga, tad, upa-√jan; saṅga, sam-√jan, kāma, kāma, krodha, abhi-√jan.
krodha, √bhū, sammoha, sammoha, smṛti-vibhrama; smṛti-bhraṃśa, buddhi-nāśa, buddhi-nāśa, pra-√naś.

For a person who mentally dwells on objects, attachment to them arises; from attachment allowed to flame up by one’s value structure arises binding desire, requirements in order to be happy and anticipations of their fruition; from thwarted anticipations arises anger; from anger is delusion, error in judgment; from delusion is lapse of memory, what has been taught; from lapse of memory is lapse of intellect, wisdom; from lapse of intellect, what distinguishes the human condition, the person is destroyed. [The unique human opportunity to attain the ultimate good (śreyas) is wasted, and the person remains in the life of becoming (in saṃsāra).]
rāga-dveṣa-viyukta, tu, viṣaya, indriya, carat; ātma-vaśya, vidheya-ātman, prasāda, adhi-√gam.
Whereas, moving among the objects with the senses under authority of the intellect and freed from being overpowered by attraction and repulsion (rāga-dveṣa – see 3.34), the one whose mind is disciplined attains clarity.
prasāda, sarva-duḥkha, hāni, idam, upa-√jan; prasanna-cetas, hi, āśu, buddhi, pari-ava-√sthā.
When there is clarity, there comes the destruction of all one’s sorrows in the form of guilt and hurt, because, for the one whose mind is clear, the self-knowledge which destroys the sorrow quickly becomes firm.
na, √as, buddhi, a-yukta, na, ca, a-yukta, bhāvanā; na, ca, a-bhāvayat, śānti, a-śānti, kutas, sukha.
For the one who is not disciplined, knowledge is not there, nor contemplation. For the noncontemplative, there is no clarity. For the nonclear, how can there be the appreciation of the sukha (fulfillment that is the nature of the limitless self, known as I)?
indriya, hi, carat, yad, manas, anu-vi-√dhā; tad, idam, √hṛ, prajñā, vāyu, nau, iva, ambhas.
Because, that very mind, which follows after the roaming senses, takes away one’s wisdom, like a small boat on the water, which follows after the wind.
tasmāt, yad, mahā-bāhu, nigṛhīta, sarvaśas; indriya, indriya-artha, tad, prajñā, pratiṣṭhitā.
Therefore, O Arjuna, the one whose senses under authority of the intellect are, or rather, are capable of being, completely withdrawn from the sense pursuits – that one has wisdom that is firm.
yad, niśā, sarva-bhūta, tad, √jāgṛ, saṃyamin; yad, √jāgṛ, bhūta, tad, niśā, paśyat, muni.
What is like night for all beings – in that, the wise who is disciplined is awake. In what it is that beings are awake to, that is like night for the wise one who sees clearly. [The wise are awake to reality (sat), and others are only awake to what they believe is reality, but is unreal (a-sat).]
āpūryamāṇa, a-cala-pratiṣṭha, samudra, ap, pra-√viś, yadvat; tadvat, kāma, yad, pra-√viś, sarva, tad, śānti, √āp, na, kāma-kāmin.
Like the full and unmoved ocean into which the waters enter, their source being the ocean, yet its nature being unaffected by their variations, the one whom all objects of desire enter yet remains the same in nature – that one gains peace. Not so the one who requires/anticipates these objects, like a small pond requires its streams.
vihāya, kāma, yad, sarva, pumaṃs, √car, nis-spṛha; nis-manas, nis-aham-kāra, tad, śānti, adhi-√gam.
Giving up all binding desires, requirements/anticipations, the person who moves about free from longing, free from the judgment “this is mine” and free from the judgment “I am only this much” – that person attains peace.
etad, brāhmī, sthiti, pārtha, na, enad, prāpya, vi-√muh; sthitvā, idam, anta-kāla, api, brahma-nirvāṇa, √ṛ.
This is being firm in/as reality (brahman, sat), O Arjuna. Attaining this, one is not any longer deluded. Being firm in this, even just at the moment of death, one attains liberation in/as brahman.
om, tad, sat. iti, śrīmat-bhagavat-gītā, upaniṣad, brahma-vidyā, yoga-śāstra, śrī-kṛṣṇa-arjuna-saṃvāda, sāṅkhya-yoga, nāma, dvitīya, adhyāya.
Om (brahman, the witness of all) is that (only) reality (sat). Thus ends the second chapter, called ‘The Topic of Knowledge,’ of the (eighteen chapters of) Songs of the Glorious Lord, which is (looked upon as) sacred teaching (Upaniṣad) and (whose teaching is) in (the form of) a dialogue between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, (the subject matter being) knowledge of brahman and yoga.

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The Topic of Action
In chapter 3, Arjuna has a doubt: The Upaniṣad teachings say that the self does not do action, so, even if it is Arjuna’s duty, why and how should he undertake the action of this battle? Isn’t renunciation (sannyāsa) alone the lifestyle extolled in the Upaniṣads? Arjuna wonders: Even if karma-yoga (the means that is duty) is an alternate lifestyle, Kṛṣṇa has not said that it leads by itself to the ultimate good (śreyas). Arjuna questions why Kṛṣṇa is compelling him into gruesome action and wants to know, between the two lifestyles, which leads to śreyas.
Kṛṣṇa replies that, indeed, in the Upaniṣads, He taught that the two lifestyles lead to śreyas, absolute freedom. But simply adopting either of these two lifestyles does not give freedom (mokṣa). Kṛṣṇa will clearly explain later, in chapter 4 (4.33–39), that it is knowledge that gives mokṣa. In chapter 3, Kṛṣṇa points out that both lifestyles are conducive to gaining and assimilating this knowledge. One cannot really be said to have gained this knowledge without having also assimilated it, because this knowledge is not information about some remote object, but instead is self-knowledge. However, if one is not mentally prepared for a life of renunciation, then it may prove to be useless. Karma-yoga is meant for preparing the mind for a life of renunciation, as well as for gaining and assimilating the knowledge. This is the order of the four stages of life: student, householder, retiree, renunciate. Kṛṣṇa does not think Arjuna, who had to this point dedicated his life to gaining the warrior’s skills and weapons needed to take back the kingdom, is prepared for the quiet life of renunciation (sannyāsa). So, between the two lifestyles, Kṛṣṇa recommends karma-yoga to Arjuna.
Even in the lifestyle of sannyāsa, for one who does not have self-knowledge and thinks he or she is a doer, there is action. Therefore, one needs to understand why and how one should perform action. Kṛṣṇa explains that the entire cosmos is interconnected. Helping one another, all beings thrive. The one who fights against this great cosmic wheel lives life in vain; whereas the one who follows this cosmic ecological system – with the goal of attaining the limitless – eventually attains the limitless. Action done with this understanding is thus converted into a spiritual act (yajña), which makes it karma-yoga. In particular for Arjuna, because he is looked upon as a leader, he ought to enthusiastically perform his own duty as a yajña, thus encouraging others to do the same – for the benefit of all. Even in renunciation (sannyāsa), action is done with the attitude of karma-yoga.
But if the self does not do action, then what sense does it make to say one should perform action? Kṛṣṇa answers this concern by explaining that, indeed, the self does not do physical or mental action. Rather, action is done by the body and mind. Action, along with the body and mind, belong to the sphere of nature, not to ātmā, the self. This body and mind is not one’s personal creation. One must then renounce the ego’s imagined ownership of actions, as well as the actions of the body and mind, relinquishing them to where they belong – unto the Lord’s cosmic nature and order – and choose to perform duty as an offering to the whole. Such action alone will not bind one to disappointment, sorrow, and death. This is karma-yoga, which develops one’s discernment (viveka) and dispassion (vairāgya).
arjuna, √vac:
jyāyasī, ced, karman, yuṣmad, matā, buddhi, jana-ardana; tad, kim, karman, ghora, asmad, ni-√yuj, keśava.

Arjuna said: O Kṛṣṇa, if it is Your contention that knowledge is better than action, then why do You compel me into this gruesome action, O Kṛṣṇa?
vyāmiśra, iva, vākya, buddhi, √muh, iva, asmad; tad, eka, √vad, niścitya, yad, śrayas, asmad, √āp.
With apparently contradictory words, You seem to confuse my mind. Please decide on just one and tell me that one by which I may gain complete freedom (śreyas).
śrī-bhagavat, √vac:
loka, idam, dvi-vidhā, niṣṭhā, purā, proktā, asmad, an-agha; jñāna-yoga, sāṅkhya, karma-yoga, yogin.

The Lord said: O Arjuna, long ago in this world I taught (in the Upaniṣads) two different lifestyles – one through the means that is knowledge (jñāna-yoga) for those dedicated to knowledge, and the other through the means that is duty (karma-yoga) for yogīs, (those dedicated to duty as a means).
na, karman, an-ārambha, naiṣ-karmya, puruṣa, √aś; na, ca, sannyasana, eva, siddhi, sam-adhi-√gam.
A person does not gain actionlessness, (complete freedom), by not undertaking action, nor does one gain this success, complete freedom, merely by (taking the vow of) renunciation (sannyāsa).
na, hi, ka-cid, kṣaṇam, api, jātu, √sthā, a-karma-kṛt; √kṛ, hi, a-vaśa, karman, sarva, prakṛti-ja, guṇa.
Because nobody ever remains, even for a second, without performing action. Because everybody, being helpless, is made to perform action by the modifications of the three constituent principles of the universe (guṇas) born of nature (prakṛti).
karma-indriya, saṃyamya, yad, √ās, manas, smarat; indriya-artha, vimūḍha-ātman, mithyā-ācāra, tad, √vac.
The one who sits, restraining the organs of action, yet contemplating the sense objects with the mind – that one is called one whose mind is deluded and whose conduct is useless. (Such is the predicament of a renunciate not prepared for a contemplative lifestyle.)
yad, tu, indriya, manas, niyamya, ā-√rabh, arjuna; karma-indriya, karma-yoga, a-sakta, tad, vi-√śiṣ.
However, O Arjuna, the one who rules the senses with the mind, is unattached, (not anticipating results), who through the organs of action undertakes action as a yajña, (means for preparing for knowledge) – that one is better (than the deluded of useless conduct).
niyata, √kṛ, karman, yuṣmad, karman, jyāyas, hi, a-karman; śarīra-yātrā, api, ca, yuṣmad, na, pra-√sidh, a-karman.
You Arjuna, (personally), should do your enjoined duty (rather than do nothing or try to take to a contemplative life of sannyāsa), since duty is superior to inaction and, through inaction, even the maintenance of your body would be impossible.
yajña-artha, karman, anyatra, loka, idam, karma-bandhana; tad-artham, karman, kaunteya, mukta-saṅga, sam-ā-√car.
A person is one whose actions bind, apart from duty/action performed as a yajña (act of worship). O Arjuna, free from attachment (to the results of action), perform action for the sake of that yajña.
saha-yajñā, prajā, sṛṣṭvā, purā, √vac, prajā-pati; idam, pra-√su, etad, yuṣmad, √as, iṣṭa-kāma-dūh.
In the beginning, the Lord of the universe manifested the people along with yajña and said (through the Vedas), ‘With this yajña may all of you multiply. Let this yajña be what yields all your desired results.’
deva, √bhū, idam, tad, deva, √bhū, yuṣmad; paras-para, bhāvayat, śreyas, para, ava-√āp.
Support the deities, (the Lord viewed through all the various aspects of nature), with this yajña. May those deities support all of you. Supporting one another, all of you will attain limitless śreyas (complete freedom), (or heaven if this is your ultimate goal).
iṣṭa, bhoga, hi, yuṣmad, deva, √dā, yajña-bhāvita; tad, datta, a-pradāya, idam, yad,√bhuj, stena, eva, tad.
Supported through yajña, the deities will give to all of you desired objects indeed. One who consumes the objects given by those deities, (the forces of nature), without offering to these deities is but a thief.
yajña-śiṣṭa-aśin, sat, √muc, sarva-kilbiṣa; √bhuj, tad, tu, agha, pāpa, yad, √pac, ātma-kāraṇa.
Those who eat the food left after first offering to the Lord are freed from all transgressions; whereas those who cook only for themselves, those sinners, eat sin, (karmic demerit).
anna, √bhū, bhūta, parjanya, anna-sambhava; yajña, √bhū, parjanya, yajña, karma-samudbhava.
All creatures are born from food. Food is born from rain. Rain is born from (the cyclic karma results of) ritual (yajña). That yajña is born from karma (action – ritual, prayer, duty, etcetera).
karman, brahma-udbhava, √vid, brahman, a-kṣara-samudbhava; tasmāt, sarva-gata, brahman, nityam, yajña, prati-sthā.
Know that karma is born from the Brahman (the Veda, the scriptures), and the Veda comes from the imperishable Lord. Therefore, (being given by the all-knowing Lord for all humankind), the Veda is all encompassing and is ever established in yajña (ritual and duty).
evam, pravartita, cakra, na, anu-√vṛt, iha, yad; agha-āyus, indriya-ārāma, mogham, pārtha, tad, √jīv.
O Arjuna, the one who does not cause oneself to follow in this life the cosmic wheel thus set in motion, whose life is (thus mostly of) karma demerit, and whose pleasure is through the senses – that one lives in vain.
yad, tu, ātma-rati, eva, √as, ātma-tṛpta, ca, mānava; ātman, eva, ca, santuṣṭa, tad, kārya, na, √vid.
Whereas, the person who would find pleasure within the self alone, be satisfied with the self, and be contented in the self alone – that one has nothing yet to be done.
na, eva, tad, kṛta, artha, na, a-kṛta, iha, kaścana; na, ca, idam, sarva-bhūta, ka-cid, artha-vyapāśraya.
For that one in this world, there is, indeed, no goal by doing, nor by not doing. Nor for that one is there any dependence for any-thing toward any being.
tasmāt, a-sakta, sa-tatam, kārya, karman, sam-ā-√car; hi, ācarat, karman, para, √āp, pūruṣa.
Therefore, unattached, please always perform what is to be done, because the person who is unattached (in attitude, then eventually in knowledge, while) performing action attains the limitless.
karman, eva, hi, saṃsiddhi, āsthita, janaka-ādi; loka-saṅgraha, eva, api, sampaśyat, kartum, √arh.
Indeed, along with performing their duties, King Janaka and others attained complete freedom. Even considering just the rallying of the people (to the path of dharma, i.e., not leading others astray), you ought to act (approriately).
yad, yad, ā-√car, śreṣṭha, tad, tad, eva, itara, jana; tad, yad, pramāṇa, √kṝ, loka, tad, anu-√vṛt.
Whatever an important person does, that alone the other people do. The authority which that one accepts, that the people accept.
na, asmad, pārtha, √as, kartavya, tri, loka, kiñcana; na, an-avāpta, avāptavya, √vṛt, eva, ca, karman.
O Arjuna, for me (as an individual who has this knowledge) there is nothing in the three worlds (earth, sky, and heaven) that must be done, nothing to be attained that has not been attained; yet I indeed engage in action.
yadi, hi, asmad, na, √vṛt, jātu, karman, a-tandrita; asmad, varman, anu-√vṛt, manuṣya, pārtha, sarvaśas.
O Arjuna, if indeed I (as Kṛṣṇa, as an incarnation of the Lord and as leader of the province of Dvārakā, thus an important person,) were ever to not engage in action unwearied, then the people would follow my path in every way (including into lazy inaction).
ud-√sad, idam, loka, na, √kṛ, karman, ced, asmad; saṅkara, ca, kartṛ, √as, upa-√han, idam, praja.
If I were not to perform action, these people would perish. I would become the author of social confusion, and I would thus destroy these people.
sakta, karman, a-vidvas, yathā, √kṛ, bhārata; √kṛ, vidvas, tathā, a-sakta, cikīrṣu, loka-saṅgraha.
O Arjuna, as (dedicatedly as) the unwise, who are bound (to the results of) action, engage in action, so the wise – unattached, (not requiring/anticipating results), and desirous for rallying the people (to dharma) – would likewise engage in action.
na, buddhi-bheda, √jan, a-jña, karma-saṅgin; √juṣ, sarva-karman, vidvas, yukta, samācarat.
One should not sow dissension in the understanding of the unwise who are bound to (the results of) action. The wise one, who is committed (to dharma) and to performing all duties (appropriate to one’s status), should encourage (the others).
prakṛti, kriyamāṇa, guṇa, karman, sarvaśas; aham-kāra-vimūḍha-ātman, kartṛ, asmad, iti, √man.
Actions are in all ways done by the constituent principles (guṇas, i.e., products) of nature (prakṛti). But one whose mind is confused – (in many and various ways) by a notion about ‘I’ – thinks ‘I am the doer.’
tattva-vid, tu, mahā-bāhu, guṇa-karma-vibhāga; guṇa, guṇa, √vṛt, iti, matvā, na,√sañj.
Whereas, O Arjuna, the one who knows the truth of the distinction of the guṇas (from ‘I’) and of their actions (from ‘I’), thinking, ‘the guṇas (as the body and mind) engage amongst the guṇas (as the objects: physical and mental),’ that one is not bound.
prakṛti, guṇa-sammūḍha, √sañj, guṇa-karman; tad, a-kṛtsna-vid, manda, kṛtsna-vid, na, vi-√cal.
Those who confuse themselves with the guṇas of nature are bound in the guṇas and their actions (or the actions of the guṇas). Lacking this discernment and of incomplete knowledge, they are the ones that one who has complete knowledge should not disturb.
asmad, sarva, karman, sannyasya, adhi-ātma-cetas; nis-āśīs, nis-mama, bhūtvā, √yudh, vigata-jvara.
With a mind centered on oneself (in relation to the Lord, to reality), offering all action in Me, (the Lord – as prakṛti, nature, the cosmic order, the wielder of this order), being free from anticipations, free from the judgment ‘this is mine,’ and without anguish, O Arjuna, fight.
yad, asmad, mata, idam, nityam, anu-√sthā, mānava; śrad-dhāvat, an-asūyat, √muc, tad, api, karman.
Those people who have trust (in My teaching), who are not cynical and who constantly follow this, My teaching – they also, (whether karma-yogīs or sannyāsīs (who pursue this teaching while engaged in duties or as renunciates),) are freed from (the bond that is) karma.
yad, tu, etad, abhyasūyat, na, anu-√sthā, asmad, mata; sarva-jñāna-vimūḍha, tad, √vid, naṣṭa, a-cetas.
Whereas, those who are cynical, who do not follow this, My teaching, know them – who are thus variously confused in all other areas of knowledge (because they do not know who the ‘I’ is) and lacking discernment – as lost.
sa-dṛśam, √ceṣṭ, svā, prakṛti, jñānavat, api; prakṛti, √yā, bhūta, nigraha, kim, √kṛ.
Even a wise person acts in keeping with his or her own nature. Creatures go (with their own) nature. What will (external behavioral) restraint accomplish?
indriya, indriya, artha, rāga-dveṣa, vyavasthita; tad na vaśa, ā-√gam, tad, hi, idam, paripanthin.
Attraction and repulsion (rāga and dveṣa) are (naturally) there toward the object of each of the senses. One should not come under their control, because those two are one’s enemies, (not the object, nor the resulting, natural behavior).
śreyas, sva-dharma, vi-guṇa, para-dharma, su-anuṣṭhita; sva-dharma, nidhana, śreyas, para-dharma, bhaya-āvaha.
One’s own duty, (though sometimes) lacking virtue, is better than a different duty, (even though) well performed (or more enjoyable). Death in one’s own duty is better; as a different duty brings fear (in the forms of conflict, regret, and retribution).
arjuna, √vac:
atha, kim, prayukta, idam, pāpa, √car, pūruṣa; an-icchat, api, vārṣṇeya, bala, iva, niyojita.

Arjuna said: O Kṛṣṇa, now what compels a person – even though not choosing – to commit prohibited acts, as if pushed by force?
śrī-bhagavat, √vac:
kāma, etad, krodha, etad, rajas-guṇa-samudbhava; mahā-aśana, mahā-pāpman, √vid, enad, iha, vairin.

The Lord said: (That seeming force is) this binding desire (kāma – whether positive or negative, empowered attraction or repulsion) (and when thwarted) this anger. It, kāma, is born of the agitation principle (rajas guṇa), is a glutton, and accumulates a lot of karma demerit. Know it to be the enemy here.
dhūma, ā-√vṛ, vahni, yathā, ādarśa, mala, ca; yathā, ulba, āvṛta, garbha, tathā, tad, idam, āvṛta.
Like fire is covered by smoke, like a mirror covered by dirt, and like a fetus covered by the womb, similarly, by that (kāma) this (knowledge) is covered. (And that covering is removed by the breath of teaching, by the action of dharma (duty and justice), and by time, respectively).
āvṛta, jñāna, etad, jñānin, nitya-vairin; kāma-rūpa, kaunteya, dus-pūra, an-ala, ca.
O Arjuna, by this constant enemy in the form of binding desire, insatiable like fire, the knowledge of the (one who is yet to be) wise is covered.
indriya, manas, buddhi, idam, adhiṣṭhāna, √vac; etad, vi-√muh, etad, jñāna, āvṛtya, dehin.
Its, (desire’s), abode is said to be the senses, the mind, and the intellect. Covering knowledge through (misdirecting) these, it variously deludes the individual, (the one identified with one’s body).
tasmāt, yuṣmad, indriya, ādi, niyamya, bharata-ṛṣabha; pāpman, pra-√hā (pra-√han, hi), enad, jñāna-vijñāna-nāśana.
Therefore, O Arjuna, exercising authority over the senses at their source, please indeed destroy this sinful destroyer of knowledge and of the assimilation (of that knowledge).
indriya, para, √ah, indriya, para, manas; manas, tu, parā, buddhi, yad, buddhi, paratas, tu, tad.
They say that the senses are superior (to the body and all other objects), the mind is superior to the senses, the intellect is superior to the mind; whereas the one who is superior to the intellect is that (limitless self).
evam, buddhi, para, buddhvā, saṃstabhya, ātman, ātman; √han, śatru, mahā-bāhu, kāma-rūpa, dus-āsada.
O Arjuna, in this way of knowing (oneself) as superior to the intellect, steadying the one by the other one, (steadying the senses by the mind, the mind by the intellect, and the intellect by self-knowledge), destroy the enemy in the form of kāma, (otherwise so) difficult to get a fix on.
om, tad, sat. iti, śrīmat-bhagavat-gītā, upaniṣad, brahma-vidyā, yoga-śāstra, śrī-kṛṣṇa-arjuna-saṃvāda, karma-yoga, nāma, tṛtīya, adhyāya.
Om (brahman, the witness of all) is that (only) reality. Thus ends the third chapter, called ‘The Topic of Action,’ of the (eighteen chapters of) Songs of the Glorious Lord, which is (looked upon as) sacred teaching (Upaniṣad) and (whose teaching is) in (the form of) a dialogue between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, (the subject matter being) knowledge of brahman and yoga.

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The Topic of Knowledge and the Renunciation of Action
At the end of the third chapter, the Lord discloses the secret to overcoming binding desire (kāma), which binds one helplessly to a life of unending need for becoming, called saṃsāra. The secret, an elaboration of 2.58–68, is to control the intellect by self-knowledge – this is viveka, discernment of the real from the unreal, the self from the nonself. With this informed intellect, one steadies the previously rudderless mind, which in turn controls the senses – this is vairāgya, dispassion toward the present memories of the past, the present imaginations of the future, and the appearances in the present that one calls “me,” “mine,” and “not me,” “not mine.” By vairāgya (dispassion), the mind becomes free of its imagined entanglement in saṃsāra, its imagined world of me/mine and not me/not mine, of likes and dislikes, aspirations and fears. Then the mind sees a natural world free of these projections. This relative freedom allows the mind to become clear. In this clear mind, the self-knowledge that resolves the life of unbecoming becoming (saṃsāra) quickly becomes firm (2.64–65).
At the beginning of chapter 4, Kṛṣṇa concludes by extolling the lineage of the Vedānta teaching, starting from Himself. But Arjuna does not let Kṛṣṇa’s teaching end there. Arjuna asks how Kṛṣṇa can say He taught this knowledge at the beginning of humankind. Kṛṣṇa replies that He is speaking from the standpoint of the Lord. This embodiment, seated before Arjuna, is a divine form acquired due to the natural need to rebalance dharma (tradition and justice) and a-dharma (disorder and injustice) in this world. Kṛṣṇa says that His actions do not bind Him, nor is He the doer of these actions. Kṛṣṇa explains that those who similarly perform action not backed by binding desire, and who know themselves as the actionless self, attain His nature. He explains that action is to be undertaken as a yajña (3.9–30), a spiritual act for the benefit of the whole, as indeed Kṛṣṇa’s action is. Kṛṣṇa then lists various types of yajñas (spiritual acts) that have been given in the Vedas, saying that these actions, though considered spiritual, are produced by nature’s body and mind alone. The one who knows one’s self as not limited by the body and mind, which perform these actions, is thus free from their binding nature. By this knowledge, one will see all of nature’s beings in Him and even in oneself (4.35). This is called being the reality of all (sarvātma-bhāva), appreciating oneself as the whole, free of divisions and their limitations. The Lord describes sarvātma-bhāva as taking refuge in Him by being Him alone, attaining His nature (4.10, 2.72). This is nonduality (a-dvaita).
Gaining this knowledge is the goal of performing these yajñas for purity of mind. Knowledge is attained by surrender to a teacher within this teaching lineage who will teach you. Kṛṣṇa then proceeds to praise this knowledge as the ultimate purifier. But it requires trust in this teaching as a valid means of knowledge. What blocks this teaching from blessing is not discerning the self from the nonself (a lack of viveka, discernment); due to a doubtful (cynical) mind that does not trust the teaching. This is important for every student to understand, so it is repeated throughout the Lord’s teaching (3.31–32; 4.39–42; 5.25; 6.47; 7.1; 9.1, 9.3; 12.2, 12.20; and 18.10, 18.67, 18.71).
śrī-bhagavat, √vac:
idam, vivasvat, yoga, proktavat, asmad, a-vyaya; vivasvat, manu, pra-√ah, manu, ikṣvāku, √brū.

I taught this unchanging yoga (both jñāna-yoga and karma-yoga) to Vivasvān (the sun deity – considered the progenitor of the solar-clan of rulers on earth). Vivasvān taught it to Manu (the first human and first of the solar kings on earth in this age, kalpa). Manu taught it to (his son) Ikṣvāku
evam, param-parā-prāpta, idam, rāja-ṛṣi, √vid; tad, kāla, ih, mahat, yoga, naṣṭa, param-tapa.
In this way, being handed down from one to another, the kings who were sages (or the kings and sages) knew this yoga. After a long time, here (today, among these kings), that yoga has been lost, O Arjuna.
tad, eva, idam, asmad, yuṣmad, adya, yoga, prokta, purā-tana; bhakta, √as, asmad, sakhi, ca, iti, rahasya, hi, etad, uttama.
I just taught to you this very same ancient yoga because you are My devotee and friend. This secret (teaching of yoga) is the most profound indeed.
arjuna, √vac:
a-para, bhavat, janman, para, janman, vivasvat; katham, etad, vi-√jñā, yuṣmad, ādi, proktavat, iti.

Arjuna said: Your birth was not long ago; Vivasvān’s birth was long ago. How should I understand that You taught Vivasvān in the beginning?
śrī-bhagavat, √vac; bahu, asmad, vyatīta, janman, yuṣmad, ca, arjuna; tad, asmad, √vid, sarva, na, yuṣmad, √vid, param-tapa.
The Lord said: Many births have passed for Me and for you, O Arjuna. I know them all; you do not, O Arjuna.
aja, api, sat, a-vyaya-ātman, bhūta, īśvara, api, sat; prakṛti, svā, adhiṣṭhāya, sam-√bhū, ātma-māyā.
Though unborn, undiminished, and the Lord of all beings, wielding My prakṛti (the projecting power of the Lord, which manifests as all of nature), I (as an incarnate form) am (as though) born by My own māyā (projecting power, My prakṛti).
yadā, yadā, hi, dharma, glāni, √bhū, bhārata; abhyutthāna, a-dharma, tadā, ātman, √sṛj, asmad.
O Arjuna, whenever indeed there is a wane of dharma (tradition and justice) and an ascendancy of a-dharma (disorder and injustice), then I manifest Myself (appropriate to the situation).
paritrāṇa, sādhu, vināśa, ca, dus-kṛt; dharma-saṃsthāpana-artha, sam-√bhū, yuga, yuga.
I appear in various yugas (the various ages within the cycles of the universe) for the protection of those committed to dharma, for the destruction of those committed to a-dharma (what is opposed to dharma), and for the reestablishment of dharma.
janmam, karman, ca, asmad, divya, evam, yad, √vid, tattvatas; tyaktvā, deha, punar-janman, na, √i, asmad, √i, tad, arjuna.
The one who thus knows in reality My divine birth and action (knows the nature of Me and prakṛti) – that one, upon giving up the body, is not reborn. That one attains Me, O Arjuna.
vīta-rāga-bhaya-krodha, manmaya, asmad, upāśrita; bahu, jñāna-tapas, pūta, mad-bhāva, āgata.
Freed from longing, fear, and anger, having taken refuge in Me by being Me alone, and purified by the discipline that is knowledge – many have attained My nature (complete freedom).
yad, yathā, asmad, pra-√pad, tad, tathā, eva, √bhaj, asmad; asmad, vartman, anu-√vṛt, manuṣya, pārtha, sarvaśas.
In which-ever way the people worship to Me, in that very same way I bless them. O Arjuna, people follow My path in every way.
kāṅkṣat, karman, siddhi, √yaj, iha, devatā; kṣipram, hi, mānuṣa, loka, siddhi, √bhū, karma-jā.
Desiring a result of action here, many worship the deities – because in the human world a result born of action comes quickly.
cātur-varṇya, asmad, sṛṣṭa, guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśas; tad, kartṛ, api, asmad, √vid, a-kartṛ, a-vyaya.
I manifested the four-fold varṇa (grouping within society – educators, administrators, entrepreneurs, and laborers) according to the divisions of guṇa (mental disposition) and karma (duty). Though its author, know Me to be changeless and not a doer.
na, asmad, karman, √lip, na, asmad, karma-phala, spṛhā; iti, asmad, yad, abhi-√jñā, karman, na, tad, √bandh.
Actions do not affect Me, nor do I have longing toward the result of action. The one who knows Me thus, that one is not bound by actions.
evam, jñātvā, kṛta, karman, pūrva, api, mumukṣu; √kṛ, karman, eva, tasmāt, yuṣmad, pūrva, pūrvatara, kṛta.
Knowing (Me) in this way, even previous desirers of complete freedom performed their duty. Therefore, you also perform your duty, as the previous ones did before.
kim, karman, kim, a-karman, iti, kavi, api, atra, mohita; tad, yuṣmad, karman, pra-√vac, yad, jñātvā, √muc, a-śubha.
What is action? What is inaction? Regarding this, even the (so-called) wise are confused. I will teach you about that action, knowing which you will be free from the unpleasant (life of becoming, from saṃsāra).
karman, hi, api, boddhavya, boddhavya, ca, vi-karman; a-karman, ca, boddhavya, gahanā, karman, gati.
Because what is to be known is also about (enjoined) action, about prohibited action, and about inaction. The nature of action is difficult to know.
karman, a-karman, yad, √dṛś, a-karman, ca, karman, yad; tad, buddhimat, manuṣya, tad, yukta, kṛtsna-karma-kṛt.
The one who can see inaction (actionlessness) in action, and action in inaction (in not doing one’s duty) – that one is wise among people. That one is a yogī and has accomplished everything that is (essential) to be done.
yad, sarva, samārambha, kāma-saṅkalpa-varjita; jñāna-agni-dagdha-karman, tad, √ah, paṇḍita, budha.
Whose every activity is free from kāma (requiring and anticipating) and (its cause) saṅkalpa (self-purpose), that one – whose (accumulated) karmas are burned up by the fire that is knowledge – the sages call wise.
tyaktvā, karma-phala-āsaṅga, nitya-tṛpta, nis-āśraya; karman, abhipravṛtta, api, na, eva, ka-cid, √kṛ, tad.
Giving up identification with actions and attachment to results, always contented, without dependence (on anything), that one – though fully engaged in action – does not (in reality) do anything (is truly actionless).
nis-āśīs, yata-citta-ātman, tyakta-sarva-parigraha; śārīra, kevalam, karman, kurvat, na, √āp, kilbiṣa.
Free from fancies (of the future), by whom the body and mind are mastered, who has disowned every possession, doing action only for sustaining the body, that one (a renunciate, sannyāsī) incurs no fault (no binding karma merit or demerit).
yad-ṛcchā-lābha-santuṣṭa, dvam-dva-atīta, vi-matsara; sama, siddhi, a-siddhi, ca, kṛtvā, api, na, ni-√bandh.
Satisfied with whatever happens (unasked), (whose mind is) unaffected by the natural pairs of opposites, free of repulsion (on account of another’s virtue or prosperity), and equanimous in success or failure, that one – though engaged in action – is not bound.
gata-saṅga, mukta, jñāna-avasthita-cetas; yajña, ācarat, karman, samagra, karman, pra-vi-√lī.
For the one who is without attachment, who is free, whose mind is rooted in (self-)knowledge, and who acts for the sake of a sacred act (yajña), all karma (along with its pending results) dissolves.
brahman, arpaṇa, brahman, havis, brahma-agni, brahman, huta; brahman, eva, tad, gantavya, brahma-karma-samādhi.
The instrument for offering is brahman (reality, the limitless self). The oblation is brahman, offered by brahman into the fire that is brahman. Brahman indeed is to be attained by the one whose vision of identity is that (every aspect of) action is brahman.
daiva, eva, apara, yajña, yogin, pari-upa-√ās; brahma-agni, apara, yajña, yajña, eva, upa-√hu.
Some (karma-)yogīs perform yajña only for invoking (the Lord in the form of) a deity. Others (who are sannyāsīs, who have given up entitlement to ritual) offer yajña (as themselves) by yajña (as themselves) into the fire (the knowledge) that is brahman.
śrotra-ādi, indriya, anya, saṃyama-agni, √hu; śabda-ādi, viṣaya, anya, indriya-agni, √hu.
Others offer their sense organs – such as hearing, etcetera – into the fires that are the mastery (over each of the senses). Others (deliberately) offer sense objects – such as (only proper) sound, etcetera – into the fires that are the senses (themselves).
sarva, indriya-karman, prāṇa-karman, ca, apara; ātma-saṃyama-yoga-agni, √hu, jñāna-dīpita.
Others offer all activities of the organs and activities of the vital energies into the fire, lit by knowledge, that is the discipline consisting of mastery over oneself (the body-mind complex) [or consisting of contemplation on the self (YS.3.4)].
dravya-yajña, tapas-yajña, yoga-yajña, tathā, apara; sva-adhyāya-jñāna-yajña, ca, yati, saṃśita-vrata.
So too others of firm vows and efforts are those whose (distribution of) wealth is the yajña, those for whom prayerful discipline is the yajña, those whose very yoga practices are the yajña, and those who recite their Veda as a yajña and those who (later) study the meaning of their Veda as a yajña.
apāna, √hu, prāṇa, prāṇa, apāna, tathā, apara; prāṇa-apāna-gati, ruddhvā, prāṇa-āyāma-parāyaṇa.
So too, others whose ultimate end is the practice of breath control – they offer (as a discipline) the outgoing breath into the ingoing breath, the ingoing breath into the outgoing breath, and (offer by) stopping the flow of both exhalation and inhalation.
apara, niyata-āhāra, prāṇa, prāṇa, √hu; sarva, api, etad, yajña-vid, yajña-kṣapita-kalmaṣa.
Others whose food (consumption) is regulated offer (submit for discipline) their (undisciplined) prāṇas into their (disciplined) prāṇas (such as a well-kindled digestive fire). All of those (preceding) who have an attitude of worship (during their activities) have (to that extent) their impurities (that obstruct self-knowledge) destroyed by yajña.
yajña-śiṣṭa-a-mṛta-bhuj, √yā, brahman, sanā-tana; na, idam, loka, √as, a-yajña, kutas, anya, kuru-sattama.
Those who (seek brahman and) partake of the offering (made) immortal after yajña proceed to gaining (in knowledge) the ever existent brahman (reality). This human world is not there for (the benefit of) one without yajña, much less another world (where effort is not available), O Arjuna.
evam, bahu-vidha, yajña, vitata, brahman, mukha; karma-ja, √vid, tad, sarva, evam, jñātvā, vi-√muc.
In this manner, there are many and various yajñas elaborated in the words of the Veda. Know all of them to be produced by (traiguṇya-)karma (by the action of nature, not by ātmā, oneself). With this understanding, you will be freed (from their otherwise binding nature).
śreyas, dravyamaya, yajña, jñāna-yajña, param-tapa; sarva, karman, a-khila, pārtha, jñāna, pari-sam-√āp.
Yajña consisting of knowledge is superior to yajña consisting of materials (and action), O Arjuna. O Arjuna, all action in its entirety is culminated in knowledge.
tad, √vid, praṇipāta, paripraśna, sevā; upa-√diś, yuṣmad, jñāna, jñānin, tattva-darśin.
Understand that (knowledge). By surrender (to the feet of the teacher, that is, with an attitude of acceptance of the teacher as a source of knowledge), by inquiry, and by service (to the teacher – as traditionally no tuition is charged during the study) the wise – who have the vision of the truth – will teach you this knowledge.
yad, jñātvā, na, punar, moha, evam, √yā, pāṇḍava; yad, bhūta, a-śeṣeṇa, √dṛś, ātman, atha-u, asmad.
Understanding this (knowledge), you will not again in this way become deluded, O Arjuna. By this (knowledge) you will see all beings in Me and even in yourself.
api, ced, √as, pāpa, sarva, pāpa-kṛttama; sarva, jñāna-plava, eva, vṛjina, sam-√tṝ.
Even if you are one who has done sins worse than any sinner, by the raft that is knowledge alone you will cross over all (forms of) karma demerit.
yathā, edhas, samiddha, agni, bhasma-sāt, √kṛ, arjuna; jñāna-agni, sarva-karman, bhasama-sāt, √kṛ, tathā.
O Arjuna, just as a well-ignited fire reduces logs to ashes, so this fire that is knowledge reduces all karmas (all results of karma waiting to fructify in the individual jīva’s karma account) to ashes.
na, hi, jñāna, sa-dṛśa, pavitra, iha, √vid; tad, svayam, yoga-saṃsidda, kāla, ātman, √vid.
In this world, indeed, there is no purifier equal to knowledge. In time, the one who is prepared by (karma-)yoga (and has a proper teacher) gains that (knowledge) easily in one’s (prepared) mind.
śrad-dhāvat, √labh, jñāna, tad-para, saṃyata-indriya; jñāna, labdhvā, parā, śānti, a-cireṇa, adhi-√gam.
One who has trust (in this teaching as a valid means of knowledge), for whom that (knowledge) is the ultimate, and whose senses are mastered (by karma-yoga) – that one attains knowledge. Having gained knowledge, one immediately attains limitless peace.
a-jña, ca, a-śrad-dadhāna, ca, saṃśaya-ātman, vi-√naś; na, idam, loka, √as, na, para, na, sukha, saṃśaya-ātman.
The nondiscerning, having no trust, whose mind is full of doubts – that one perishes (remains in the life of becoming, saṃsāra). For the one whose mind is full of doubts, this world is not there, nor the next, nor is there any happiness (because of constant doubts).
yoga-sannyasta-karman, jñāna-sañchinna-saṃśaya; ātmavat, na, karman, ni-√bandh, dhanam-jaya.
Actions do not bind the one who has renounced karma through (jñāna-)yoga (knowledge as the means even though engaged in activity), whose doubt has been completely severed by knowledge, and who is attentive (whose vision of reality is never lost), O Arjuna.
tasmāt, a-jñāna-sambhūta, hṛd-stha, jñāna-asi, ātman; chittvā, enad, saṃśaya, yoga, ā-√sthā, ud-√sthā, bhārata.
Therefore, severing with the sword that is knowledge this doubt about yourself (initially in regard to one’s duty, later in regard to oneself, ātmā), rooted in the intellect and born of a lack of discernment, commit to (karma-)yoga and get up, O Arjuna!
om, tad, sat. iti, śrīmat-bhagavat-gītā, upaniṣad, brahma-vidyā, yoga-śāstra, śrī-kṛṣṇa-arjuna-saṃvāda, jñāna-karma-sannyāsa-yoga, nāma, caturtha, adhyāya.
Om (brahman, the witness of all) is that (only) reality. Thus ends the forth chapter, called “The Topic of Knowledge and the Renunciation of Action,” of the (eighteen chapters of) Songs of the Glorious Lord, which is (looked upon as) sacred teaching (Upaniṣad) and (whose teaching is) in (the form of) a dialogue between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, (the subject matter being) knowledge of brahman and yoga.

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The Topic of Renunciation of Action
In chapter 5, Arjuna asks Kṛṣṇa to clarify the distinction between the sannyāsa (renunciation) and karma-yoga (seeking while living a life of duties) lifestyles and which one would be better for him. The Lord replies that an essential element of both lifestyles is renunciation. He explains that the candidate for sannyāsa lifestyle already has a certain mastery in renunciation; otherwise that lifestyle would be difficult – just as He said earlier, in the third chapter (3.6), that sannyāsa is useless for one without mental discipline. On the other hand, karma-yoga prepares the mind for the renunciation required in a life of sannyāsa. The distinction between the two lifestyles involves the qualification of the candidate regarding his or her degree of mastery in renunciation. Kṛṣṇa, for this reason, again recommends karma-yoga for Arjuna. The degree of renunciation required for sannyāsa is such that if one has to ask whether one is ready for it, then one is probably not ready for it. However, because the sole purpose of both sannyāsa and karma-yoga is the śreyas (the ultimate good) that is freedom (mokṣa), in this there is no difference between them. Because knowledge liberates and the pursuit of knowledge is in both lifestyles, both lead to mokṣa. Perfect renunciation is simply the assimilated knowledge that the self does not, in fact, do action. This can be realized within either lifestyle.
Kṛṣṇa then goes on to say that this knowledge culminates in oneself being brahman, the limitless reality. There is no rebirth for such a person because there is no longer a distinct individuality that owns a history burdened with yet-to-fructify karmas, results of action. The one with this culmination of knowledge has attained a fulfillment that does not wane. Until this assimilation of the knowledge – with its appreciation of this fulfillment – is complete, one must make proper efforts to free the mind from requirements, anticipations, and anger. One should make effort to master the mind so that one can gain this knowledge. For this, meditation and contemplation are proper means, within both sannyāsa and karma-yoga lifestyles. At the end of this chapter, Kṛṣṇa introduces the topic of meditation and contemplation, which is taken up in greater detail in chapter 6.
There is a difference between meditation and contemplation. Meditation (dhyāna) is the employment of techniques for mastering the mind and is mental worship of the Lord, or prayer. Contemplation, also called dhyāna or more specifically called nididhyāsana, is seeing the truth of the teaching in order to remove obstacles to assimilating it. Meditation is preliminary and prepares the mind to remain in contemplation of the teaching. Meditation happens in the seat of meditation; whereas contemplation happens both in the seat of meditation and during the rest of one’s time. We can meditate even before we hear this teaching. Contemplation requires that we have heard and are clear on the teaching being contemplated. Assimilation of this teaching, of this knowledge, requires contemplation – or at least a contemplative mind.
arjuna, √vac:
sannyāsa, karman, kṛṣṇa, punar, yoga, ca, √śaṃs; yad, śreyas, etad, eka, tad, asmad, √brū, su-niścitam.

Arjuna said: O Kṛṣṇa, You praise the renunciation (sannyāsa) of action and also (karma-)yoga. Of these two, please tell me definitely that one which is better (for me who does not yet wise).
śrī-bhagavat, √vac:
sannyāsa, karma-yoga, ca, niḥśreyasa-kara, ubha; tad, tu, karma-sannyāsa, karma-yoga, vi-√śiṣ.

The Lord said: Both (lifestyles of) sannyāsa and karma-yoga lead to complete freedom. But, of the two, karma-yoga is better than renunciation of action (for the unwise you, Arjuna).
jñeya, tad, nitya-sannyāsin, yad, na, √dviṣ, na, √kāṅkṣ; nis-dvam-dva, hi, mahā-bāhu, sukham, bandha, pra-√muc.
The (karma-yogī) who neither hates nor longs (for anything) should be known as always a sannyāsī (renunciate in quality, though not in lifestyle). Because, O Arjuna, being free from (the hold of) the opposites (rāga and dveṣa – binding likes and dislikes), one is effortlessly freed from bondage (i.e., easily qualified for knowledge).
sāṅkhya-yoga, pṛthak, bāla, pra-√vad, na, paṇḍita; eka, api, āsthita, samyak, ubha, √vid, phala.
Children (that is, the nondiscerning), not the wise, claim that sāṅkhya (renunciation by knowlege) and (karma-)yoga are different. One who has completely followed just one (of the two) attains the common result of both.
yad, sāṅkhya, pra-√āp, sthāna, tad, yoga, api, √gam; eka, sāṅkhya, ca, yoga, ca, yad, √dṛś, tad, √dṛś.
The status (complete freedom – mokṣa) that is gained by those who renounce through knowledge is also gained by those who follow (karma-)yoga. One (really) sees, who sees that renunciation through knowledge (sāṅkhya) and (karma-)yoga are one (in result).
sannyāsa, tu, mahā-bāhu, duḥkha, āptum, a-yogatas; yoga-yukta, muni, brahman, na-cireṇa, adhi-√gam.
Whereas, O Arjuna, without (first following karma-)yoga, sannyāsa (as renunciation or as a lifestyle) is difficult to accomplish. The one who is contemplative (muni) who has been prepared through (karma-)yoga (in this life and/or prior lives) in no time attains brahman (limitless reality).
yoga-yukta, viśuddha-ātman, vijita-ātman, jita-indriya; sarva-bhūta-ātma-bhūta-ātman, kurnat, api, na, √lip.
Prepared by (karma-)yoga, (thus) whose character is without defect, who has discipline over the body, who has mastered the senses, and (finally) whose self is (known as) the self of all beings – though performing action, that one is not affected.
na, eva, ka-cid, √kṛ, iti, yukta, √man, tattva-vid; paśyat, śṛṇvat, spṛśat, jighrat, aśnat, gacchat, svapat, śvasat.
pralapat, visṛsat, gṛhṇat, unmiṣat, nimiṣat, api; indriya, indriya-artha, √vṛt, iti, dhārayat.

The contemplative knower of the truth, maintaining that the organs (of sense and action) engage in their objects, would (or should) think “I do not do anything,” even though seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting, moving, reclining, breathing, talking, releasing, grasping, or opening and closing (the eyes).
brahman, ādhāya, karman, saṅga, tyaktvā, √kṛ, yad; √lip, na, tad, pāpa, padma-patra, iva, ambhas.
Giving up attachment (not anticipating results), the one who performs actions, offering (them) unto brahman (the Lord – as prakṛti, nature, the cosmic order) – that one is not affected by karma demerit (pāpa), like a lotus leaf (is not soaked) by water.
kāya, manas, buddhi, kevala, indriya, api; yogin, karman, √kṛ, saṅga, tyaktvā, ātma-śuddhi.
Giving up attachment, the (karma-)yogīs perform action with their body, mind, intellect, and senses only (not by “I”), for ātma-śuddhi (transparency/clarity of character/mind).
yukta, karma-phala, tyaktvā, śānti, √āp, naiṣṭhikī; a-yukta, kāma-kāra, phala, sakta, ni-√bandh.
Giving up (the notion of control – adhikāratva) (over) the result of action, the (karma-)yogī attains a peace born of (the degree of) commitment; (whereas) with no (commitment to) karma-yoga, attached to results by the pressure of requirements, that one is bound.
sarva-karman, manas, sannyasya, √ās, sukham, vaśin; nava-dvāra, pūra, dehin, na, eva, kurvat, na, kārayat.
The embodied one who has self-control, renouncing all actions through the mind (by knowledge, not by bodily inaction), remains happy within the nine-gated city (the body with its nine apertures), neither doing nor causing activity.
na, kartṛtva, na, karman, loka, √sṛj, prabhu; na, karma-phala-saṃyoga, sva-bhāva, tu, pra-√vṛt.
The master (of the nine-gated city, and who is ātmā) effects neither doership nor actions (or objects) for the person, nor connection with (attainment of) the results of action; whereas the person’s constitution (aparā prakṛti, the complex of the guṇas) engages in action.
na, ā-√dā, ka-cid, pāpa, na, ca, eva, su-kṛta, vubhu; a-jñāna, āvṛta, jñāna, tad, √muh, jantu.
The locationless (self – ātmā) takes on neither the karma demerit nor merit of anyone (whether of a jñānī, a karma-yogī or a non-karma-yogī). Knowledge is covered by ignorance and, because of that, individuals are deluded (thinking, ‘I have merit or demerit’).
jñāna, tu, tad, a-jñāna, yad, nāśita, ātman; tad, ādityavat, jñāna, pra-√kāś, tad, para.
Whereas, for those whose very ignorance is destroyed by knowledge of the self, this knowledge, like the sun, reveals (the fact that their self-evident self is) that limitless (reality – brahman).
tad-buddhi, tad-ātman, tad-niṣṭha, tad-para-ayana; √gam, a-punar-āvṛti, jñāna-nirdhūta-kalmaṣa.
Those whose intellect (knowledge) has attained that (brahman), (because) self is (recognized as) that (brahman), (because) commitment is in that (brahman), (because) having that (brahman) as the ultimate end – (thus) having impurities shaken off by knowledge they gain no rebirth.
vidyā-vinaya-sampanna, brāhmaṇa, go, hastin; śvan, ca, eva, śva-pāka, ca, paṇḍita, sama-darśin.
These wise people see sama (the same one – immutable brahman – in all beings): in a brāhmaṇa person endowed with knowledge and discretion, in a cow, an elephant, a dog, and a dog-eater (that is, one who lives outside the cultural norms of Veda society).
iha, eva, tad, jita, sarga, yad, sāmya, sthita, manas; nis-doṣa, hi, sama, brahman, tasmāt, brahman, tad, sthita.
Those whose mind is rooted in what is by nature sama (the same) win over birth here itself. Because the defectless brahman is sama (the same), therefore they abide in brahman (reality).
na, pra-√hṛṣ, priya, prāpya, na, ud-√vij, prāpya, ca, a-priya; sthira-buddhi, a-sammūḍha, brahma-vid, brahman, sthita.
The one who knows brahman, who is established in brahman, whose knowledge is without doubts, and who is no longer deluded would not be elated at obtaining what is liked, nor agitated at obtaining what is disliked.
bāhya-sparśa, a-sakta-ātman, √vid, ātman, yad, sukha; tad, brahma-yoga-yukta-ātman, sukha, akṣaya, √aś.
The one whose mind is (relatively or absolutely) not attached to external sense objects finds (relative or absolute) happiness in the self. That one whose mind is endowed with clear knowledge of brahman attains the fulfillment (sukha) that does not wane, (attains mokṣa).
yad, hi, saṃsparśa-ja, yoga, duḥkha-yoni, eva, tad; ādi-antavat, kaunteya, na, tad, √ram, budha.
O Arjuna, because those experiences are born of sense objects, are sources of pain alone (immeasurably less than the sukha, the fulfillment that does not wane) and have a beginning and end – the wise one does not revel in those (experiences).
√śak, iha, eva, yad, soḍhum, prāk, śarīra-vimokṣaṇa; kāma-krodha-udbhava, vega, tad, yukta, tad, sukhin, nara.
The one who is able to withstand here itself the force born of requiring (kāma) and anger (krodha) before release from the body (before death), is a karma-yogī. That one is a happy person.
yad, antar-sukha, antar-ārāma, tathā, antar-jyotis, eva, yad; tad, yogin, brahma-nirvāṇa, brahma-bhūta, adhi-√gam.
Whose fulfillment is within (the self), whose reveling is within (the self), and whose mind is within (centered on the self) only – that one is a yogī who, being brahman, gains liberation in/as brahman, (gains mokṣa, i.e., being free while alive remains free upon death).
√labh, brahma-nirvāṇa, ṛṣi, kṣīṇa-kalmaṣa; chinna-dvaidha, yata-ātman, sarva-bhūta-hita, rata.
Whose impediments have been (sufficiently) destroyed (by karma-yoga), who have (sufficiently) mastered themselves (their body-mind complex, by aṣṭāṅga-yoga and upāsana), who are happily engaged in the good of all beings, whose doubts have been resolved – becoming wise (ṛṣis) they gain liberation in/as brahman.
kāma-krodha-viyukta, yati, yata-cetas; abhitas, brahma-nirvāṇa, √vṛt, vidita-ātman.
For the one who makes (proper) effort – free from requirements/anticipations and anger, whose mind is mastered and whose self is known – there is liberation in/as brahman both (here and hereafter, that is, before and after the death of the body).
sparśa, kṛtvā, bahis, bāhya, cakṣus, ca, eva, antare, bhrū; prāna-apāna, sama, kṛtvā, nāsā-abhyantara-cārin.
yata-indriya-manas-buddhi, muni, mokṣa-para-ayana; vigata-icchā-bhaya-krodha, yad, sadā, mukta, eva, tad.

Keeping external the external sense objects and the vision within the eyebrows (that is, the eyes shut), keeping (naturally) equal the exhalation and inhalation moving within the nostrils, the one who is contemplative – whose senses, mind, and intellect are mastered (enough to sit in meditation), having complete freedom (mokṣa) as the ultimate end, from whom are (mostly or completely) gone requiring/anticipating, fear and anger – that one (who sits in meditation, contemplating this teaching) is always liberated indeed.
bhoktṛ, yajña-tapas, sarva-loka-mahā-īśvara; su-hṛd, sarva-bhūta, jñātvā, asmad, śānti, √ṛ.
Knowing (and contemplating) (oneself, the witness of the thoughts of everyone, as the Lord) Me as (the doer and) the experiencer of sacred acts (yajña) and prayerful discipline, the limitless Lord of all worlds, and the (natural) friend of all beings, one attains the clarity (called mokṣa).
om, tad, sat. iti, śrīmat-bhagavat-gītā, upaniṣad, brahma-vidyā, yoga-śāstra, śrī-kṛṣṇa-arjuna-saṃvāda, karma-sannyāsa-yoga, nāma, pañcama, adhyāya.
Om (brahman, the witness of all) is that (only) reality. Thus ends the fifth chapter, called “The Topic of Renunciation of Action,” of the (eighteen chapters of) Songs of the Glorious Lord, which is (looked upon as) sacred teaching (Upaniṣad) and (whose teaching is) in (the form of) a dialogue between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, (the subject matter being) knowledge of brahman and yoga.

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The Topic of Contemplation
In this chapter, Kṛṣṇa again states that renunciation is at the core of karma-yoga. Renunciation is essentially mental. It is the mind that needs to be freed from the hold of its likes and dislikes. Whether that renunciation gets translated into the renunciation of material comforts is a lifestyle choice that is secondary to mental renunciation of likes and dislikes, although it is a natural progression for the one who has the understanding necessary to be free from one’s likes and dislikes. But unless one is, in fact, able to give up material comforts, then one’s supposed mental power of renunciation is more an imagination. Renunciation means knowledge, not denial; it is the knowledge that the self is not a doer or an enjoyer.
The assimilation of this knowledge is assisted by the outward discipline of the lifestyles of karma-yoga and jñāna-yoga (knowledge as a means), and by the inward discipline of meditation and contemplation. These inward disciplines are available for both lifestyles, but the sannyāsa lifestyle and the student and retired stages of a karma-yoga life provide more opportunity for continual practice of these inward disciplines. Śama means the cessation of duties, and the sannyāsa lifestyle within the Indian culture best affords the opportunity for śama. With śama, one can focus on meditation and contemplation. But śama is just an opportunity; one has to choose inner disciplines in order to assimilate the teaching. A sannyāsī (renunciate) who is not in contemplation of the teaching is one who has fallen from the yoga.
This chapter introduces meditation and contemplation as a discipline, a yoga, within but not exclusive to jñāna-yoga. It is a solitary pursuit, once learned, meant for removing any remaining obstacles to knowledge. Meditation techniques are for gaining a steadiness of mind with the purpose of contemplating the teaching, helping one assimilate the teaching. Some details are provided in this chapter on meditation techniques; more can be gained, if needed, from the Upaniṣads (for example, Śvetāśvatara 1.10–16, Joshi 2007) and from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (1.12–51 and 2.46–3.3).
Those meditation techniques meant for gaining siddhis (special powers over nature or over others) are contrary to the teaching given here by Lord Kṛṣṇa (see 2.41–45). Patanjali said these siddhis are impediments to progress in contemplative absorption (Yoga Sutras 3.37). So the contemplation is only on the teaching given here by Lord Kṛṣṇa. The danger in focusing elsewhere is that we may become lost in pursuits outside of the teaching of the Lord and fall from the yoga. Many people have been waylaid in popular yoga power trips. If, instead, we follow the Lord’s teaching, it will show us how to progress in contemplative absorption for gaining knowledge.
Some think that they cannot meditate because the mind wanders when they sit in meditation. Incorrect! This is exactly meditation. Meditation is continually bringing the naturally mobile mind back to its intended focus. If it does not wander away, then it is samādhi (absorption in the topic); in which case, the meditation has more than succeeded. As soon as the mind has gained a certain degree of steadiness, it should be turned to contemplation of the teaching. Such a steady mind can then remain with the teaching both in and out of the seat of meditation. This is the ideal pursuit of every seeker, whether one is in karma-yoga or sannyāsa.
śrī-bhagavat, √vac:
an-āśrita, karma-phala, kārya, karman, √kṛ, yad; tad, sannyāsin, ca, yogin, ca, na, nis-agni, na, ca, a-kriya.

The Lord said: One who does action to be done without depending on the result of action is (also) a sannyāsī (renunciate, in terms of one’s binding likes and dislikes) and yogī (meditator, in terms of a having a composed mind), not (just) one who (formally) gives up fire rituals (for dedicated listening to and reflecting on this teaching) and (all other) practices (except dedicated contemplation).
yad, sannyāsa, iti, pra-√ah, yoga, tad, √vid, pāṇḍava; na, hi, a-sannyasta-saṅkalpa, yogin, √bhū, kaścana.
What they call sannyāsa (renunciation) – know that to be (the defining core of karma-)yoga, O Arjuna. Because anyone who has not renounced (given up) requirements/anticipations (regarding the result of action) is not a (karma-)yogī.
ārurukṣu, muni, yoga, karman, kāraṇa, √vac; yoga-ārūḍha, tad, eva, śama, kāraṇa, √vac.
For the (relatively) contemplative one who desires to attain yoga (the contemplation presented herein), karma(-yoga) is said to be the means. Only for that one who has attained yoga (contemplation), śama (cessation of duties, a sannyāsa lifestyle of jñāna-yoga) is said to be the means.
yadā, hi, na, indriya-artha, na, karman, anu-√sañj; sarva-saṅkalpa-sannyāsin, yoga-ārūḍha, tadā, √vac.
When, indeed, one is attached neither to the sense objects nor to the actions (themselves), then this renunciate of all fancies is said to be yogārūḍha (one who has attained contemplation) (and, hence, is qualified for sannyāsa lifestyle of only contemplation).
ud-√dhṛ, ātman, ātman, na, ātman, ava-√sad; ātman, eva, hi, ātman, bandhu, ātman, eva, ripu, ātman.
(This is a solitary pursuit, because) one should lift oneself (the body-sense-mind complex) up (to yoga) by oneself (the body-sense-mind complex). One should not lower oneself, because oneself alone (not anyone else) is the friend of oneself, and oneself alone (not anyone else) is the enemy of oneself.
bandhu, ātman, ātman, tad, yad, ātman, eva, ātman, jita; an-ātman, tu, śatrutva, √vṛt, ātman, eva, śatruvat.
By whom oneself (the body-sense-mind complex) is mastered by oneself (the body-sense-mind complex) – for that one, oneself is the friend of oneself; whereas, for the one who has not (mastered) oneself, oneself alone remains as an enemy, like an (external) enemy.
jita-ātman, praśānta, parama-ātman (param, ātman), samāhita; śīta-uṣṇa-sukha-duḥkha, tathā, māna-apamāna.
In (the natural situations of) cold/hot, pleasure/pain, and in respect and disrespect – for the one whose body-sense-mind complex is mastered and who is clear, the mind is completely composed.
jñāna-vijñāna-tṛpta-ātman, kūṭa-stha, vijita-indriya; yukta, iti, √vac, yogin, sama-loṣṭa-aśma-kāñcana.
Whose mind is content with one’s knowledge and its assimilation; who remains unchanged (kūṭa-stha); whose senses are mastered; for whom a lump of clay, a stone, and gold are (transcended as the reality, sat, that is) the same (sama) (otherwise, they are all seen as an-artha, nothing to do for my security) – that yogī is called composed (yukta).
su-hṛd-mitra-ari-udāsīna-madhya-stha-dveṣya-bandhu; sādhu, api, ca, pāpa, sama-buddhi, vi-√śiṣ.
That one is exalted whose vision is the same (sama) toward the kind-hearted, friends, enemies, acquaintances, mediators, the hateful, kin, the virtuous, and even sinners.
yogin, √yuj, sa-tatam, ātman, rahas, sthita; evākin, yata-citta-ātman, nis-āśis, a-parigraha.
Remaining in seclusion, alone, with a mind and body that is mastered, without fancies (of the future), without possessions, may the yogī (the sannyāsī) constantly unite the mind (contemplate).
śuci, deśa, pratiṣṭhāpya, sthira, āsana, ātman; na, atyucchrita, na, atinīca, caila-ajina-kuśa-uttara.
tatra, eka-agra, manas, kṛtvā, yata-citta-indriya-kriya; upaviśya, āsana, √yuj, yoga, ātma-viśuddhi.

Arranging one’s seat in a clean place, firm, not too high nor too low, on which the cover is (from top to bottom): a (soft) cloth, a hide (for padding), and kuśa grass (for insulation from cold and dampness, or whatever else provides the same). Then sitting upon that seat (or its equivalent) – making the mind single-pointed (having just one object) – may the one whose activities of the mind and senses are mastered contemplate (the teaching) for clarity of mind (for removing obstacles to abiding in this knowledge).
sama, kāya-śiras-grīva, dhārayat, a-cala, sthira; samprekṣya, nāsikā-agra, sva, diś, ca, an-avalokayat.
praśānta-ātman, vigata-bhī, brahma-cāri-vrata, sthita; manas, saṃyamya, mad-citta, yukta, √ās, mad-para.

Holding the body, head, and neck in line and still; being steady (having a wide base); (as though) looking at the tip of one’s nose (relaxing the shut eyes, whose open gaze otherwise would be along the tip of the nose); not looking (nor listening, etcetera) in all directions; being of clear mind, without fear, and firm in one’s vow of seeking brahman (brahma-carya – listening to the teacher, then continually contemplating and teaching others); mastering the mind – may the yogī sit, thinking of Me (through My teaching), having Me as the ultimate.
yuñjat, evam, sadā, ātman, yogin, niyata-mānasa; śānti, nirvāṇa-paramā, mad-saṃsthā, adhi-√gam.
Always uniting the mind (contemplating) in this way, having mastered the mind, the yogī attains the clarity (śānti) whose culmination is complete freedom, centered on Me (the Lord, Parameśvara).
na, atyaśnat, tu, yoga, √as, na, ca, eka-antam, an-aśnat; na, ca, atisvapna-śīla, jāgrat, na, eva, ca, arjuna.
Whereas (jñāna-)yoga (contemplation of the teaching) is not there for one who eats too much, nor for one who does not eat adequately, nor for one who habitually sleeps too much, nor for one who is (habitually always) awake, O Arjuna.
yukta-āhāra-vihāra, yukta-ceṣṭa, karman; yukta-svapna-avabodha, yoga, √bhū, duḥkha-han.
For one whose food and activity are moderated – whose bodily movement is regulated during activities (without meaningless, wasted bodily movement), whose sleeping and waking hours are moderated – (jñāna-)yoga is the destroyer of all sorrows.
yadā, viniyata, citta, ātman, eva, ava-√sthā; nis-spṛha, sarva-kāma, yukta, iti, √vac, tadā.
When the mind that is mastered abides in ātmā (oneself) alone, then – being free from attraction toward all (objects of) desire – one is said to be composed (yukta).
yathā, dīpa, nivāta-stha, na, √iṅg, tad, upamā, smṛtā; yogin, yata-citta, yuñjat, yoga, ātman.
“Like the (flame of an) oil lamp in a windless place does not flicker.” This is the example cited for the mastered mind of the yogī who is uniting in yoga (who is in contemplation) of ātmā.
yatra, upa-√ram, citta, niruddha, yoga-sevā; yatra, ca, eva, ātman, ātman, paśyat, ātman, √tuṣ.
When the mind – mastered by following yoga (contemplation) – abides (in ātmā), and when one sees the ātmā (oneself) by the ātmā (the mind), then one is satisfied in oneself alone.
sukha, ātyantika, yad, tad, buddhi-grāhya, atīndriya; √vid, yatra, na, ca, eva, idam, sthita, √cal, tattvatas.
yad, labdhvā, ca, apara, lābha, √man, na, adhika, tatas; yad, sthita, na, duḥkha, guru, api, vi-√cal.
tad, √vid, duḥkha-saṃyoga-viyoga, yoga-sañjñita; tad, niśyaya, yoktavya, yoga, a-nirviṇṇa-cetas.

When one knows that same limitless sukha (fulfillment that is the nature of ātmā) – which is to be grasped by the intellect, yet is not within the scope of the senses – and, abiding (there in the sukha), never moving away from this truth (this reality), having gained that which one knows is not bettered by another gain, and abiding in which (reality) one would not be affected – even by great pain – know that disassociation (vi-yoga) from association (saṃ-yoga) with sorrow to be what is called yoga (essentially an undoing of one’s natural, but unanalyzed, attachment to/identity with the body-mind complex through inquiry into reality and continued contemplation). That (jñāna)-yoga should be pursued with firm resolve by a mind that is not indifferent (since the natural identifications are very strong).
saṅkalpa-prabhava, kāma, tyaktvā, sarva, a-śeṣatas; manas, eva, indriya-grāma, viniyamya, samantatas.
śanais, śanais, upa-√ram, buddhi, dhṛti-gṛhītā; ātma-saṃstha, manas, kṛtvā, na, ka-cid, api, √cint.

Totally giving up all anticipations born of scheming (saṅkalpa about one’s goals in meditation), exercising complete authority by the mind alone (in meditation) over all the organs (of sense and action), one should slowly (and gently) – with the intellect endowed with resolve (prior to sitting in meditation) – bring (the mind) to abide (in ātmā). Making the mind abide in ātmā (Paramātmā, the Lord as one’s self), may one contemplate nothing else.
yata, yata, nis-√car, manas, cañcala, a-sthira; tatas, tatas, niyamya, etad, ātman, eva, vaśam, √nī.
Bringing it (the mind) back from whichever (distracting object) the (naturally) mobile, unsteady mind goes to – (by understanding that object also as) within (para/limitless) ātmā alone – may one bring (the mind) under control.
praśānta-manas, hi, enad, yogin, sukha, uttama; upa-√i, śānta-rajas, brahma-bhūta, a-kalmaṣa.
Limitless fulfillment (as though) reaches (since it is already the nature of) this (jñāna-)yogī who has a mind that is clear, that is, whose cloud (of delusion) has subsided, who (recognizes one’s self) is free from impurities, and who has attained brahman.
yuñjat, evam, sadā, ātman, yogin, vigata-kalmaṣa; sukhena, brahma-saṃsparśa, atyanta, sukha, √aś.
Always uniting the mind (contemplating) in this way, free from impurities, the (jñāna-)yogī easily gains limitless fulfillment that is (revealed) by the contact with (the knowledge of) brahman (revealed as one’s nature, upon removal of ignorance).
sarva-bhūta-stha, ātman, sarva-bhūta, ca, ātman; √īkṣ, yoga-yukta-ātman, sarvatra, sama-darśana.
Whose mind is absorbed in this contemplation, who sees sama (the same, that is, brahman) everywhere – sees one’s self abiding in all beings and all beings in one’s self (assimilates the knowledge of oneself as being Paramātmā, the Lord as one’s self).
yad, asmad, √dṛś, sarvatra, sarva, ca, asmad, √dṛś; tad, asmad, na, pra-√naś, tad, ca, asmad, na, pra-√naś.
The one who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me – I am not lost (remote) to that one, nor is that one lost (remote) to Me.
sarva-bhūta-sthita, yad, asmad, √bhaj, ekatva, āsthita; sarvathā, vartamāna, api, tad, yogin, asmad, √vṛt.
Having attained (this vision/knowledge of) oneness, the one who thus gains Me as abiding in all beings, that (jñāna-)yogī, though engaging in all types (of action), abides in Me (abides not just when in the seat of meditation – because knowledge is continuous, in and out of meditation).
ātma-aupamya, sarvatra, sama, √dṛś, yad, arjuna; sukha, vā, yadi, vā, duḥkha, tad, yogin, parama, mata.
O Arjuna, the one who sees (that life is) the same everywhere, whether pleasant or unpleasant, with oneself as the basis of comparison (since ātmā is one) – that (jñāna-)yogī is regarded as the most exalted.
arjuna, √vac:
yad, idam, yoga, yuṣmad, prokta, sāmya, madhu-sūdana; etad, asmad, na, √dṛś, cañcalatva, sthiti, sthirā.

Arjuna said: O Kṛṣṇa, this (jñāna-)yoga that you have talked about as (the vision of) sameness, I do not see its steady continuance due to the very fleeting nature (of the mind).
cañcala, hi, manas, kṛṣṇa, pramāthin, balavat, dṛḍha; tat, asmad, nigraha, √man, vāyu, iva, su-dus-kara.
O Kṛṣṇa, since the mind is very fleeting, distracting, strong, and well rooted, I think that its control is quite as difficult as that of the wind.
śrī-bhagavat, √vac:
a-saṃśayam, mahā-bāhu, manas, dus-nigraha, cala; abhyāsa, tu, kaunteya, vairāgyya, ca, √grah.

The Lord said: O Arjuna, without a doubt, the mind is fleeting and difficult to master. But, O Arjuna, with repetition (in prayerful meditation and eventually in contemplation) and with dispassion (by objective inquiry into the distracting objects and their valuation) it is mastered.
a-saṃyata-ātman, yoga, dus-pāpa, iti, asmad, mati; vaśya-ātman, tu, yatat, śakya, avāptum, upāyatas.
By one whose mind is not mastered, this (jñāna-)yoga is difficult to gain, whereas by one whose mind is mastered and who makes effort through (proper) means (through the contemplation presented in this teaching), it is possible to gain. This is my vision.
arjuna, √vac:
a-yati, śrad-dhā, upeta, yoga, calita-mānasa; a-prāpya, yoga-saṃsiddhi, kim, gati, kṛṣṇa, √gam.

Arjuna said: O Kṛṣṇa, (the sannyāsī talked about in this teaching) endowed with trust (in this Your teaching), but who does not make (adequate) effort, whose mind wanders away from yoga, not gaining success in yoga – what is that one’s lot?
kad-cid, na, ubhaya-vibhraṣṭa, chinna-abhra, iva, √naś; a-pratiṣṭha, mahā-bāhu, vimūḍha, brahman, pathan.
O Kṛṣṇa, deluded in the path (in the means for the knowledge) of brahman, fallen from both (karma-yoga and jñāna-yoga), and thus without a basis, I hope that that one does not fizzle out, like a cloudlet (split off from a cloud bank)?
etad, asmad, saṃśaya, kṛṣṇa, chettum, √arh, a-śeṣatas; tvad-anya, saṃśaya, idam, chettṛ, na, hi, upa-√pad.
Now, O Kṛṣṇa, You ought to completely remove my doubt, since – other than You (the Lord, Īśvara) – there is no remover of this (particular) doubt.
śrī-bhagavat, √vac:
pārtha, na, eva, iha, na, amutra, vināśa, tad, √vid; na, hi, kalyāṇa-kṛt, ka-cid, dus-gati, tāta, √gam.

The Lord said: O Arjuna, neither here itself (due to the positive attitude of trust, śraddhā) nor hereafter (according to karma) is there loss for that one. Because, O Dear One, (to the extent) anyone performs adaptive action (in keeping with dharma), (to that extent) that one does not get a bad lot.
prāpya, puṇya-kṛt, loka, uṣitvā, śāśvatī, samā; śuci, śrīmat, geha, yoga-bhraṣṭa, abhi-√jan.
The one who has “fallen” from this yoga gains the (same) worlds (heavens) of those who do adaptive actions, lives there for countless years, then is (re-)born in the home of the virtuous (following dharma) and fortunate family.
athavā, yogin, eva, kula, √bhū, dhīmat; etad, hi, dus-labhatara, loka, janman, yad, īdṛśa.
Or (even better) that one is born in the family of wise yogīs. Such a birth as this is indeed more difficult to attain in this world.
tatra, tad, buddhi-saṃyoga, √labh, paurva-dehika; √yat, ca, tatas, bhūyas, saṃsiddhi, kuru-nandana.
There, one gains connection with (quickly matures to) an intellect (like the one) that existed while in the previous body and then strives further than that, toward success (complete freedom), O Arjuna.
pūrva-abhyāsa, tad, eva, √hṛ, hi, avaśa, api, tad; jijñāsu, api, yoga, śabda-brahman, ati-√vṛt.
By that previous (life’s) practice (its karma-phala, the result of its karma) alone, even without will, one is indeed swept along. Just desiring to know about this (jñāna-)yoga one (quickly) goes beyond the Veda text (its bulky heaven-going section).
prayatna, yatamāna, tu, yogin, saṃśuddha-kilbiṣa; an-eka-janma-saṃsiddha, tatas, √yā, parā, gati.
The (jñāna-)yogī who indeed strives with resolve (until) free from faults, accomplished (by accumulated effort) after many (prior) births (wherein all obstacles to knowledge are overcome) – that one thereupon gains the limitless end.
tapasvin, adhika, yogin, jñānin, api, mata, adhika; karmin, ca, adhika, yogin, tasmāt, yogin, √bhū, arjuna.
This yogī is superior to tapasvīs (who perform prayerful disciplines) and is also considered superior to jñānīs (that is, scholars who treat this teaching as just theory rather than as about themselves). This yogī is also superior to those who perform rituals. Therefore, be a yogī (through karma-yoga become a jñāna-yogī), O Arjuna.
yogin, api, sarva, mad-gata, antar-ātman; śrad-dhāvat, √bhaj, yad, asmad, tad, asmad, yuktatama, mata.
One who has trust (śraddhā) – the mind absorbed in Me – seeks Me (through this contemplation). That one is considered by Me the most exalted among all yogīs.
om, tad, sat. iti, śrīmat-bhagavat-gītā, upaniṣad, brahma-vidyā, yoga-śāstra, śrī-kṛṣṇa-arjuna-saṃvāda, dhyāna-yoga, nāma, ṣaṣṭha, adhyāya.
Om (brahman, the witness of all) is that (only) reality. Thus ends the sixth chapter, called “The Topic of Contemplation,” of the (eighteen chapters of) Songs of the Glorious Lord, which is (looked upon as) sacred teaching (Upaniṣad) and (whose teaching is) in (the form of) a dialogue between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, (the subject matter being) knowledge of brahman and yoga.

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The Topic of Knowledge and Its Assimilation
When this teaching uses the word knowledge by itself, it indicates the completion of the knowledge that yields complete freedom. When it uses the two words knowledge (jñāna) and assimilation (vijñāna), it is distinguishing simple understanding about the teaching from its fulfillment in complete freedom. It is the difference between saying “The teaching and the teacher say I am (the self is) completely free” and saying “I am completely free.” The first speaker may simply be a scholar; the later is a master. In the preceding chapter, a life of contemplation is encouraged for the assimilation of the teaching about the nature of the limitless self.
This chapter marks a shift in emphasis from the nature of the individual (and the pursuit and assimilation of the knowledge of the nature of the individual) to the nature of the Lord (and the pursuit and assimilation of the knowledge of the nature of the Lord). This shift in emphasis lasts through chapter 12. Chapter 13 then gives a marvelous presentation of the identity of the Lord and the individual – of the Lord who is both the field and the knower of the field, and the individual who is this same knower of the field. The great Upaniṣad statement “Tat tvam asi (That [Lord] you are)” is the basis for these shifts in emphasis from the individual (“you”) to the Lord (“that”) and then to their identity (“are”). Whether one fully knows the microcosm or fully knows the macrocosm, either one amounts to complete knowledge – as the truth of one is the truth of the other. That is the very nature of truth. Truth is without division and infinite. If it is limited in any way, then it is only a concept that is subject to correction and negation.
The knowledge of the Lord starts with the macrocosm. The macrocosm is all the objects of your five senses and the concepts that make up your mind. This is the entirety of the universe, the field, before you. Even what you don’t know falls within the concept of what you know you do not know. We have to pause to appreciate how complete this ancient description of the macrocosm is. Even our vaunted modern-day physics is not as complete. Physics has only recently come to accept that the observer needs to be taken into account in order to correctly understand even a single event in the universe. But the knowledge of the Lord does not stop at that, as there is also the being that is aware of the observations and concepts in the mind.
When a scientist observes a person, the scientist can never observe that person’s awareness. Hence, psychology and the other sciences – because of the scientific method to which they are wed – are forever shut off from arriving at an understanding of the nature of this awareness, which awareness is in fact self-evident to everyone. Psychology cannot even directly study the mind. Psychologists rely on clients’ subjective responses to determine what is happening in the mind. For example, if you were the client, you would have to tell the psychologist whether stimulating a particular part of your brain evoked a particular thought in your mind. If a set of neurons firing was exactly the same as a thought, then why would a psychologist need to ask you?
Before anyone knew there were such neurons, everyone was clear what thoughts they entertained. Indeed, scientists don’t even see these neurons firing in their lab; they see only spikes on a graph, once or twice removed from what they are claiming is the fact of thought. At best, scientific theories about awareness and the mind are suppositions and inferences – to be corrected and negated by the next generation. Scientists cannot directly study your mind any more than they can read your mind. However, you alone can contemplate all this before you (including your mind) with this teaching, within self-evident awareness, and as the Lord – because the Lord is none other than yourself.
śrī-bhagavat, √vac:
asmad, āsakta-manas, pārtha, yoga, yuñjat, mad-āśraya; a-saṃśayam, samagra, asmad, yathā, √jñā, tad, √śru.

The Lord said: O Arjuna, please listen to that (jñānaṃ sa-vijñānam, knowledge and its assimilation) by which – having your mind committed to Me, having Me as your foundation, and taking to (My two-fold) yoga – you will know Me (Parameśvara, paraṃ brahma) complete, without doubt.
jñāna, yuṣmad, asmad, sa-vijñāna, idam, √vac, a-śeṣatas; yad, jñātvā, na, iha, bhūyas, anya, jñātavya, ava-√śiṣ.
This knowledge (jñāna), along with its assimilation (vijñāna), I will tell you completely, knowing which nothing more remains here to be known.
manuṣya, sahasra, ka-cid, √yat, siddhi; yatat, api, siddha, ka-cid, asmad, √vid, tattvatas.
Among thousands of people, a rare one makes an effort for this accomplishment. Even of those who make an effort and are prepared, a rare one knows Me in reality.
bhūmi, ap, an-ala, vāyu, kha, manas, buddhi, eva, ca; aham-kāra, iti, idam, asmad, bhinnā, prakṛti, aṣṭadhā.
Earth (solidity), water (liquidity), fire (heat/light), wind (movement), space (dimension), mind, intellect, and the “I” notion (– the universe divided into five sensible elements and the means to sense them) – this is My nature (prakṛti) divided in eight ways.
a-parā, idam, itas, tu, anyā, prakṛti, √vid, asmad, parā; jīva-bhūtā, manā-bāhu, yad, idam, √dhṛ, jagat.
This is not My ultimate (nature – it is a lower level of reality within Me, as a-sat is to sat, the unreal is to the real). Whereas, O Arjuna, different from this, please know My ultimate nature, ultimate prakṛti – being the basis of the jīva (individual) and by which this universe is sustained.
enad-yoni, bhūta, sarva, iti, upa-√dhṛ; asmad, kṛtsna, jagat, prabhava, pralaya, tathā.
Please bear in mind that all beings have these two (prakṛtis, the universe of forms and its reality) as their source. I am the source of the entire universe, as well as its resolution.
mattas, paratara, na, anya, ka-cid, √as, dhanam-jaya; asmad, sarva, idam, prota, sūtra, maṇi-gaṇa, iva.
There is no other (cause) superior to Me, O Arjuna. Like collections of gems (so many glories) on a thread, all this is strung in Me.
rasa, asmad, ap, kaunteya, prabhā, √as, śaśi-sūrya; praṇava, sarva-veda, śabda, kha, pauruṣa, nṛ.
O Arjuna, I am (to name a few) the taste in (the essence of) water, the light of the moon and sun, the sound symbol Om in all the Vedas, the sound in (the essence of) space, and the humanness (the unique capacity of self-judgment) in humans.
puṇya, gandha, pṛthivī, ca, tejas, ca, √as, vibhāvasu; jīvana, sarva-bhūta, tapas, ca, √as, tapasvin.
I am sweet fragrance in earth and the tejas (heat and light) in (the essence of) fire. I am the life in living beings, and the prayerful discipline in ascetics.
bīja, asmad, sarva-bhūta, √vid, pārtha, sanā-tana; buddhi, buddhimat, √as, tejas, tejasvin, asmad.
O Arjuna, please understand the ever-existing Me as the seed of all beings. I am the intellect of all who have an intellect, and the brilliance of all that have brilliance.
bala, balavat, ca, asmad, kāma-rāga-vivarjita; dharma-a-viruddha, bhūta, kāma, √as, bharata-ṛṣabha.
In all that have strength, I am the strength that is free from kāma (requirement/anticipation – toward the unattained) and rāga (attachment – toward the attained), and in all beings (I am nonbinding) desire not opposed to dharma (My universal order), O Arjuna.
yad, ca, eva, sāttvika, bhāva, rājasa, tāmasa, ca, yad; matta, eva, iti, tad, √vid, na, tu, asmad, tad, tad, asmad.
Those things born from sattva (clear energy) and those from rajas (agitation) and tamas (mass, dullness) (guṇas), know them to be from Me only. They (the a-sat – all impermanent things) are in Me (sat – permanent existence, that is, their existence depends on Me), but I am not in them (that is, My existence does not depend on them).
tri, guṇamaya, bhāva, idam, sarva, idam, jagat; mohita, na, abhi-√jñā, asmad, idam, para, a-vyayva.
This entire world (of humans) is deluded by these things that are modifications of the three guṇas. This (populace) does not know Me, who is distinct (a separate order of reality, as a-sat is to sat, the unreal is to the real) from them (from what they think they are), and is changeless (not modified into them).
daivī, hi, etad, guṇamayī, asmad, māyā, dus-atyayā; asmad, eva, yad, pra-√pad, māyā, etad, √tṝ, tad.
Because, this, My māyā (prakṛti, this captivating world of appearances, mere names and forms) – in the form of the three guṇas and coming from Me the Lord – is difficult to cross. (Therefore, giving up all else in māyā) those who seek only Me (as themselves) cross this māyā.
na, asmad, dus-kṛtin, mūḍha, pra-√pad, nara-adhama; māyā, apahṛta-jñāna, āsura, bhāva, āśrita.
Those who do maladaptive action, who are deluded and the lowest among people, do not seek (the ultimate) Me. Robbed of discerning capacity by (this enchanting) māyā (this captivating world of appearances), they have resorted to the condition of an asura (one who fights against the Lord’s order, against the cosmic cycle).
catur-vidha, √bhaj, asmad, jana, su-kṛtin, arjuna; ārta, jijñāsu, artha-arthin, jñānin, ca, bharata-ṛṣabha.
Fourfold are the people who do adaptive action and who seek Me, O Arjuna. (These four kinds of devotees, bhaktas, are) the one who is seized by trouble, the one who requires security, the one who wants to know (Me), and the jñānī (one who knows Me), O Arjuna.
tad, jñānin, nitya-yukta, eka-bhakti, vi-√śiṣ; priya, hi, jñānin, atyartham, asmad, tad, ca, asmad, priya.
Among them, the jñānī (who knows Me) – who is always united (in Me) and whose worship is of the one (Lord as everything) – is distinguished, because I (ātmā) am totally beloved to that jñānī and that one is (totally) beloved to Me (as ātmā alone is beloved, priya – see Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 2.4.5).
udāra, sarva, eva, etad, jñānin, tu, ātman, eva, asmad, mata; āsthita, tad, hi, yukta-ātman, asmad, eva, an-uttamā, gati.
All (four) indeed are exalted, but the jñānī is ātmā (My self) alone. That is My vision. Because that one, whose mind is absorbed (in Me), has attained the goal that is but Me, beyond which there is none.
bahu, janman, anta, jñānavat, asmad, pra-√pad; vāsu-deva, sarva, iti, tad, mahā-ātman, su-dus-labha.
At the end of many births, the one who (finally) has the knowledge that “the Lord (Vāsu-deva, the conscious being in which everything exists) is all (the Lord is all this, including oneself),” attains Me. That wise person is very rare.
kāma, tad, tad, hṛta-jñāna, pra-√pad, anya-devatā; tad, tad, niyama, āsthāya, prakṛti, niyata, svā.
Those whose discrimination has been robbed by various requirements and are ruled by their own disposition worship various deities, following various stipulations (per the appropriate deity to fulfill each particular requirement).
yad, yad, yad, yad, tanu, bhakta, śrad-dhā, arcitum, √iṣ; tad, tad, a-calā, śrad-dhā, tad, eva, vi-√dhā, asmad.
Whoever be the devotee and to whichever (limited) form (of Mine) one wishes to worship with faith – for that one, the very same faith I make firm (by giving the result of the devotee’s action).
tad, tad, śrad-dhā, yukta, tad, rādhana, √īh; √labh, ca, tatas, kāma, asmad, eva, vihita, hi, tad.
That one, endowed with that faith, engages in the worship of that (deity, that limited form of Me) and obtains from that (deity) those desired objects – because those are ordained by Me alone (in the form of the laws of karma).
antavat, tu, phala, tad, tad, √bhū, alpa-medhas; deva, deva-yaj, √yā, mad-bhatka, √yā, asmad, api.
But for those of limited discernment (hence, of limited goals and of limited capacity for appreciation) that result is limited (in time, in value, etcetera). Those who worship the deities go to the (limited world of the) deities, and those who worship (the limitless) Me go to Me (as their self).
a-vyakta, vyakti, āpanna, √man, asmad, a-buddhi; para, bhāva, ajānat, asmad, a-vyaya, an-uttama.
Those who lack discernment, not knowing My limitless nature – changeless and beyond which there is none – think of Me, who is formless, as having attained a form.
na, asmad, prakāśa, sarva, yoga-māyā-samāvṛta; mūḍha, idam, na, abhi-√jñā, loka, asmad, a-ja, a-vyaya.
Veiled (seemingly embodied in names and forms) by māyā, which is the union (of the three guṇas), I am not evident to everyone. This person (the general populace) who is deluded does not (properly) know Me, the unborn and changeless (ātmā, the self, their self).
√vid, asmad, samatīta, vartamāna, ca, arjuna; bhaviṣya, ca, bhūta, asmad, tu, √vid, na, ka-cid.
O Arjuna, I know (all) things past, present, and future. But no one (except the jñānī who knows himself or herself as Me) knows Me.
अर्जुन, अहं समतीतानि वर्तमानानि च भविष्याणि च भूतानि वेद। न तु कश्चन मां वेद॥
यतः एवम्, अतः –
icchā-dveṣa-samuttha, dvam-dva-moha, bhārata; sarva-bhūta, sammoha, sarga, √yā, param-tapa.
O Arjuna, Scorcher of Foes, all beings at birth – because of the delusion occasioned by the natural pairs of opposites, (which delusion is) born of requiring and aversion – become completely deluded.
yad, tu, anta-gata, pāpa, jana, puṇya-karman; tad, dvam-dva-moha-nirmukta, √bhaj, asmad, dṛḍha-vrata.
But those people of adaptive action whose karma demerit (and merit) has come to an end – being freed from the delusion occasioned by the (natural) pairs of opposites – and whose commitment is firm, they worship Me (as themselves).
jarā-maraṇa-mokṣa, asmad, āśritya, √yat, yad; tad, brahman, tad, √vid, kṛtsna, adhi-ātma, karman, ca, a-khila.
Those who make effort for freedom from old age and death – taking refuge in Me – they know that brahman (reality, Me) in entirety as adhyātma (centered on/existing in the body – as pratyag-ātmā, themselves) and (they know) all about karma.
sa-adhi-bhūta-adhi-daivam, asmad, sa-adhi-yajñam, ca, yad, √vid; prayāṇa-kāla, api, ca, asmad, tad, √vid, yukta-cetas.
Those who know Me as adhibhūta (centered on/existing in beings) and adhidaiva (centered on/existing in deities) and as adhiyajña (centered on/existing in rituals), whose minds are absorbed in Me even at the moment of death – they know Me.
Om (brahman, the witness of all) is that (only) reality. Thus ends the seventh chapter, called “The Topic of Knowledge and Its Assimilation,” of the (eighteen chapters of) Songs of the Glorious Lord, which is (looked upon as) sacred teaching (Upaniṣad) and (whose teaching is) in (the form of) a dialogue between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, (the subject matter being) knowledge of brahman and yoga.

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The Topic of the Imperishable Reality
The entirety of this universe has been presented in the previous chapter, as only the Advaita Vedānta teaching can present it. Modern sciences are limited in their scope and therefore can neither confirm nor disaffirm this teaching, nor are they required to confirm it. The sciences have their own relative scope in which they provide solutions pending further study. Because only you can know your own mind and because a complete teaching must include yourself (the witness of all, including the mind), self-examination is required – in the light of this teaching – to confirm the teaching. No future science or new savior (whether in the future or the past) can do that for you.
This teaching – which examines the nature of the entire universe and the very nature of you, its witness – was given, Lord Kṛṣṇa says, at the beginning of humankind (4.1); it comes with each manifestation of the universe. It was not first given only this century, this millennium, two- or two-thousand-five-hundred or five thousand years ago – condemning previous generations to so-called “barbaric” ignorance or to lesser realms (or even torturous realms) just because they weren’t exposed to the products of the various world religions, cults, or sciences. The Vedānta teaching indicates that all possible subtle heavens or hells exist for everyone, of all generations, in keeping with their will-based deeds (7.22–23) – regardless of the era, culture, or religion in which they live. The Vedānta teaching alone reflects the eternal, universal justice to all living beings of all generations.
This teaching also indicates that there can be a transcendence of this universe, both physical and subtle – a final release from the revolutions through universal realms of existence. This release is by knowledge alone and is available during this lifetime – not supposedly after you die. This freedom, in fact, is already our nature, hidden from us by our ill-conceived notions of ourselves. This freedom is not some new knowledge given by a savior or liberator, but is the self-knowledge within each of us that blossoms once the ignorant notions have been removed and the heart is sufficiently purified of its guilts and hurts. Attaining this freedom is attaining the self of all, attaining the very being of the Lord, reality as-it-is. For this reason, Kṛṣṇa says that the greatest devotee (bhakta) to the All, to the Lord which is all, is the jñānī, the one who knows this (7.16–19, 8.22).
In chapter 8, Lord Kṛṣṇa again states that reality is unchanging and limitless and is the very nature of oneself. The Lord, this reality, alone is the embodied one in all bodies. The one who knows and thus remembers the Lord – without a doubt, as one’s self – attains that unchanging and limitless reality (8.3–10). But the one who is mistakenly identified with the changing and limited – whether that be as tiny as this body-mind complex or as grand as the manifestation of this universe (yet excluding one’s self) – will, upon the failure of the body to retain the subtle mind, move on to subtle realms. That is, one’s subtle mind with the identified ego reflecting within it will move to subtle realms. These realms will be in keeping with the grandeur of what one had continually identified with in this life. Then that subtle mind, with its ego, will be born again – with an appropriate material body to exhaust more of one’s accumulated store of karmas. Therefore, the Lord says “know Me” (13.2) and “remember Me” (8.7).
arjuna, √vac:
kim, tad, brahman, kim, adhi-ātma, kim, karman, puruṣa-uttama; adhi-bhūta, ca, kim, prokta, adhi-daiva, kim, √vac.
adhi-yajña, katham, kim, atra, deha, idam, madhu-sūdana; prayāṇa-kāla, ca, katham, jñeya, √as, niyata-ātman.

Arjuna said: O Kṛṣṇa, what is that brahman (reality)? What is adhyātma (centered on the body)? What is karma (action and its result)? What is called adhibhūta (centered on beings)? And what is called adhidaiva (centered on the deities)? Here, in this body, what and how is (attained) adhiyajña (the one centered on ritual), O Kṛṣṇa? And, at the moment of death, how are those who have mastered the mind to know You?
śrī-bhagavat, √vac:
a-kṣara, brahman, parama, sva-bhāva, adhi-ātma, √vac; bhūta-bhāva-udbhava-kara, visarga, karma-sañjñita.

The Lord said: Brahman (reality) is changeless and limitless. Adhyātma (the self – centered on the body) is said to be of its (brahman’s) nature. What is called karma is (an act of) offering (in what should be a sacred act, yajña, and its result, phala) that causes the arising of existence (embodiment) of beings.
adhi-bhūta, kṣara, bhāva, puruṣa, ca, adhi-daivata; adhi-yajña, asmad, eva, atra, deha, deha-bhṛt, vara.
Adhibhūta (the world – centered on beings/things) is perishable existence. And adhidaivata (adhidaiva, the chief deity – centered on deities) is puruṣa (the cosmic person, called Hiraṇya-garbha). Adhiyajña (centered on yajña, ritual) here, in the body, is Me alone, O Exalted Among the Embodied Ones.
anta-kāla, ca, asmad, eva, smarat, muktvā, kalevara; yad, pra-√yā, tad, mad-bhāva, √yā, na, √as, atra, saṃśaya.
Remembering Me alone at the moment of death, having given up the body, the one who (as though) departs (from the standpoint of the wise person’s, jñānī’s, subtle mind dissipating upon leaving the physical body) – that one attains My nature (complete freedom, called mokṣa). In this there is no doubt.
yad, yad, vā, api, smarat, bhāva, √tyaj, anta, kalevara; tad, tad, eva, √i, kaunteya, sadā, tad-hhāva-bhāvita.
O Arjuna, (when) in the end one gives up the body, whatever thing one (naturally) remembers – always having been made in that state (of obsession through constant contemplation of whatever is ultimate to one) – that alone one reaches (as a positive or negative result, depending on whether one acted upon the obsessions in keeping with dharma or not).
tasmāt, sarva, kāla, asmad, anu-√smṛ, √yudh, ca; asmad, arpita-manas-buddhi, asmad, eva, √i, a-samśayam.
Therefore, please remember Me (as presented in this teaching) at all times and fight (O Arjuna). Being one whose mind and intellect are both offered unto Me (the Lord – as nature, prakṛti, the cosmic order), without a doubt you will reach Me (as reality, brahman) alone.
abhyāsa-yoga-yukta, cetas, na-anya-gāmin; parama, puruṣa, divya, √yā, pārtha, anucintayat.
kavi, purāṇa, anuśāsitṛ, aṇu, aṇīyas, anu-√smṛ, yad; sarva, dhātṛ, a-citya-rūpa, āditya-varṇa, tamas, parastāt.

O Arjuna, accordingly (with My teaching), reflecting with a mind endowed with the yoga consisting of continued practice (study and contemplation) and not inclined to go elsewhere (to anything as not-Me), the one who would contemplate (continuously and at the moment of death) the all-knowing Lord (the kavi) – the one who is always there, the one who accordingly (through dharma) rules, subtler than the subtle (dimensionless), the dispenser of all (results of action), whose form cannot be comprehended, whose appearance is (illuminating) like the sun, and is beyond darkness (ignorance) – that one attains the limitless, effulgent person (puruṣa), Me.
prayāṇa-kāla, manas, a-cala, bhakti, yukta, yoga-bala, ca, eva; brū, madhya, prāṇa, āveśya, samyak, tad, tad, para, puruṣa, upa-√i, divya.
At the moment of death, with a steady mind endowed with devotion and, indeed, with (mental) strength through yoga (continued practice of contemplation), properly placing (as a visualization) the (last) breath between the eye-brows, one attains (by being, not by movement) that limitless, effulgent person (puruṣa), Me.
yad, a-kṣara, veda-vid, √vad, √viś, yad, yati, vīta-rāga; yad, icchat, brahma-carya, √car, tad, yuṣmad, pada, saṅgraheṇa, pra-√vac.
I will briefly tell you about that end – which is imperishable, which the knowers of the Veda declare, which renunciates (yatis) who are free from longing enter, and desiring which they take to brahma-carya (living for only attaining brahman).
sarva-dvāra, saṃyamya, manas, hṛd, nirudhya, ca; mūrdhan, ādhāya, ātman, prāṇa, āsthita, yoga-dāraṇā.
om, iti, eka-a-kṣara, brahman, vyāharat, asmad, anusmarat; yad, pra-√yā, tyajat, deha, tad, √yā, paramā, gati.

Closing all the gates (the sense organs) and (as a visualization) withdrawing the mind into the heart; placing one’s breath at (the top of) the head and remaining there holding (the last breath) by (the strength of) yoga; chanting the single syllable “Om,” which is brahman; remembering Me accordingly (through My teaching), (while) giving up the body – the one (yogī who is not yet a sthita-prajña, of firm wisdom) who departs (by movement, as it were) – that one reaches the most exalted end (within saṃsāra, the universe of becoming, that is, reaches Brahma-loka, the seventh heaven, where one may be taught the knowledge of brahman and thus freed.
an-anya-cetas, sa-tatam, yad, asmad, √smṛ, nityaśas; tad, asmad, su-lobha, pārtha, nitya-yukta, yogin.
(Whereas, the one with firm wisdom, sthita-prajña,) O Arjuna, the one whose mind (sees) no other (than Me everywhere), remembering Me continually and for a long time – for that yogī who is always (even while living) united (in Me), I am easily gained.
asmad, upetya, punar-janman, duḥkha-ālaya, a-śāśvata; na, √āp, mahā-ātman, saṃsiddhi, paramā, gata.
The people who are wise (the mahātmās), attaining Me, do not gain another birth (do not go to another world, loka), which is the abode of misery and is ever changing (and therefore finite). They have gained (while living) the limitless success (called freedom, mokṣa).
ā, brahma-bhūvana, loka, punar-āvartin, arjuna; asmad, upetya, tu, kaunteya, punar-janman, na, √vid.
O Arjuna, (all) worlds, including Lord Brahmā’s world (the highest abode in saṃsāra, the heaven called Brahma-loka), are that from which there is a return (a rebirth, unless taught the knowledge of reality, brahma-vidyā, in Brahma-loka by Lord Brahmā); whereas, O Arjuna, attaining Me, there is no rebirth.
sahasra-yuga-paryanta, ahan, yad, brahman, √vid; rātri, yuga-sahasra-antā, tad, ahan-rātra-vid, jana.
Those people who are knowers of day and night know that a day of Lord Brahmā is that lasting thousands of ages (yugas) (four thousand yugas equal a thousand mahā-yugas which equal 4.32 billion human years), and (His) night is that (also) lasting thousands of yugas (four thousand yugas).
a-vyakta, vyakti, sarva, pra-√bhū, ahan-āgama; rātri-āgama, pra-√lī, tatra, eva, a-vyatka-sañjñaka.
At the coming of the day (for Lord Brahmā), all individuals/things (vyaktas) (by force of past karma) manifest (in due time) from the unmanifest. At the coming of the night (they, unless freed by knowledge, will have) resolve(d) back into that called the unmanifest (a-vyakta) itself.
bhūta-grāma, tad, eva, idam, bhūtvā, bhūtvā, pra-√lī; rātri-āgama, a-vaśa, pārtha, pra-√bhū, ahan-āgama.
O Arjuna, that very same group of beings (of individuals, jīvas) – born again and again (within countless cosmic cycles) without (their or My) will (due to their karma) – resolves at the coming of the night and manifests at the coming of the day.
para, tasmāt, tu, bhāva, anya, a-vyakta, a-vyakta, sanā-tana; yad, tad, sarva, naśyat, na, vi-√naś.
Whereas, different from that unmanifest (Lord Brahmā’s nighttime within saṃsāra) is another unmanifest (the a-kṣaraḥ puruṣaḥ, imperishable fullness – not manifest to the senses, being one’s self), which always exists. That is not destroyed when all things are destroyed.
a-vyakta, a-kṣara, iti, ukta, tad, √ah, paramā, gati; yad, prāpya, na, ni-√vṛt, tad, dhāman, parama, asmad.
This unmanifest (Me) is said to be imperishable (a-kṣara). That (and not Brahma-loka), they say, is the ultimate end. Gaining which, they do not return – that is My limitless abode.
puruṣa, tad, para, pārtha, bhakti, labhya, tu, an-anyā; yad, antar-stha, bhūta, yad, sarva, idam, tata.
O Arjuna, that which has all beings within it and by which all this is pervaded – that puruṣa (the one who fills this universe) is limitless, yet can be attained by devotion in which there is no other (considered apart from Me, the a-kṣaraḥ puruṣaḥ, imperishable fullness).
yatra, kāla, tu, an-āvṛtti, āvṛtti, ca, eva, yogin; prayāta, √yā, tad, kāla, √vac, bharata-ṛṣabha.
Now, on which time (that is, route) the yogīs depart – (where) they attain either no return (at least in this kalpa/cycle of manifestation) or a return (a rebirth) – that time (that route) I will tell (to you), O Arjuna.
agni, jyotis, ahan, śukla, ṣaṣ-māsa, uttara-ayana; tatra, prayāta, √gam, brahman, brahma-vid, jana.
(Where) there are (the deities) Fire, Light, Day, the Bright (fortnight of the moon), and the Six-Month Northern Coursing (of the sun to guide) – there, the people who meditate on (the qualified) brahman (on a manifestation of brahman in the world), having departed, (eventually) attain brahman (via being taught this knowledge, vidyā, in Brahma-loka.
dhūma, rātri, tathā, kṛṣṇa, ṣaṣ-māsa, dakṣiṇa-ayana; tatra, cāndramasa, jyotis, yogin, prāpya, ni-√vṛt.
(Where) there are (the deities) Smoke, Night, the Dark (fortnight of the moon), and the Six-month Southern Coursing (of the sun to guide) – there, gaining (a stay in) a lunar (a lesser, heaven), the yogī returns (is reborn).
[यत्र गत्याम्] धूमः, रात्रिः, तथा कृष्णः [पक्षः], षण्-मासाः दक्षिण-अयनं [देवताः सन्ति], तत्र चान्द्रमसं ज्योतिः [दिवम् इत्यर्थः] प्राप्य, योगी निवर्तते॥
śukla-kṛṣṇā, gati, hi, etad, jagat, śāśvatā, matā; ekā, √yā, an-āvṛtti, anyā, ā-√vṛt, punar.
These two paths of the world, the bright and the dark, indeed are considered eternal. By one (path), one gains no return (having lots of time to be taught this knowledge of reality, brahma-vidyā, by Lord Brahmā, or at least no return in this cycle, kalpa). By the other (path), one returns again.
na, etad, sṛti, pārtha, jānat, yogin, √muh, ka-cana; tasmāt, sarva, kāla, yoga-yukta, √bhū, arjuna.
O Arjuna, knowing these two paths, a yogī is not deluded. Therefore, at all times, be committed to (a life of seeking Me through karma-)yoga, O Arjuna.
veda, yajña, tapas, ca, eva, dāna, yad, puṇya-phala, pradiṣṭa; ati-√i, tad, sarva, idam, viditvā, yogin, para, sthāna, upa-√i, ca, ādya.
Knowing this (My answers to your seven questions), a yogī goes beyond all that karma merit (spent for heaven-going) that is revealed (to accrue) in (reciting) the scriptures (Vedas), in rituals, in prayerful disciplines, and in charity. And that one (immediately) attains the ultimate abode (which is Me), the origin.
om, tad, sat. iti, śrīmat-bhagavat-gītā, upaniṣad, brahma-vidyā, yoga-śāstra, śrī-kṛṣṇa-arjuna-saṃvāda, jñāna-vijñāna-yoga, nāma, saptama, adhyāya.
Om (brahman, the witness of all) is that (only) reality. Thus ends the eighth chapter, called “The Topic of the Imperishable Reality,” of the (eighteen chapters of) Songs of the Glorious Lord, which is (looked upon as) sacred teaching (Upaniṣad) and (whose teaching is) in (the form of) a dialogue between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, (the subject matter being) knowledge of brahman and yoga.

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The Topic of King of All Knowledge, King of All Secrets
Chapter 9 explains the relationship between this manifest universe and the Lord. This “relationship” is peculiar: The Lord is timeless and spaceless, yet manifests to us as time and space and as all within time and space. The Lord describes it thus: “All beings exist in Me, but I am not in them. Beings do not exist in Me… My ātmā (self) produces things, sustains things, but does not exist in things” (see 9.4–5). This peculiar “relationship,” like a secret (4.2–3, 9.1–2, 11.1, 15.20, and 18.63–64, 18.68, and 18.75), needs to be revealed by one who knows.
There are various analogies to understand this “relationship.” The analogy that the Lord gives in this chapter (9.6) is that of air within space. This analogy requires some understanding of Upaniṣad cosmogony. Space means dimension and air means movement. Movement arises from there being dimension; without dimension there is no movement. The understanding of movement must include dimension, but dimension does not require movement, nor is it changed in any way by this movement. Movement comes and goes within dimension, but, from the standpoint of movement, dimension always exists. Yet, dimension does not exist as a separate, limited entity within or outside movement.
Other analogies can also help us understand this “relationship” between this manifest universe and the Lord. The manifest within the Lord can be likened to clay pots within the world of clay. All clay pots are nothing but clay. You cannot take away clay and still have a clay pot. Before, during, and after the existence of a clay pot, there is only clay. Clay is the material cause (upādāna-kāraṇa) of a clay pot, but a clay pot is not a separate entity from clay. Pot is just a name we give to clay in a particular form. Being simply a name and form we attribute to clay, a pot itself does not have within its nature clay – because it could just as well be a metal or glass pot. Pot or plate is just an adjective we give to clay. Similarly, this universe of entities is simply the various names we give to forms appearing in existence-awareness (in the Lord).
Another analogy is a dream within you, the dreamer. The dream and the entities within the dream exist in you. But as real, separate entities, they do not exist in you. The dream is you, but you are not the dream. You alone are the permanent, unaffected existence within which the dream world comes and goes, cycles in and out of manifestation. Once you wake up, the particular problems of the dream disappear; you are “freed,” as it were, from the dream problems. The dream is not a modification of you, the dreamer. Even while within the dream, you are – to the extent you identify yourself with the dream – only notionally, not actually, affected by the problems in the dream. Like the dream world in relation to you, the dreamer, this universe is a lower level of reality within the real you, like the unreal to the real (a-sat to sat).
As has already been taught, the real you is nothing but the Lord. The universe is “related” to the real you, ātmā (the self), in the same way as it is to the Lord. Yet, out of ignorance, we think we are born into and die from this world and that we travel to heavenly or hellish realms within this universe.
śrī-bhagavat, √vac:
idam, tu, yuṣmad, gṛhyatama, pra-√vac, an-asūyu; jñāna, vijñāna-sahita, yad, jñātvā, √muc, a-śubha.

The Lord said: Whereas (apart from that traveling to heavens, such as Brahma-loka (8.16)), I will tell to you, who are not cynical, this most secret knowledge – along with its assimilation – knowing which (in this life), you will be freed from the unpleasant (life of becoming, from saṃsāra).
rāja-vidyā, rāja-guhya, pavitra, idam, uttama; pratyakṣa-avagama, dharmya, su-sukha, kartum, a-vyaya.
This (knowledge) is the king (final authority) of (all) knowledge, the king of (all) secrets, the greatest purifier, directly known (once ignorance is removed), in keeping with dharma, very easy to attain, and imperishable (because it is one’s self and so never lost).
a-śrad-dadhāna, puruṣa, dharma, idam, param-tapa; a-prāpya, asmad, ni-√vṛt, mṛtyu-saṃsāra-vartman.
O Arjuna, people having no trust for this dharma (this knowledge, jñāna, which is in keeping with dharma) do not attain Me and return (remain) on the path of saṃsāra (life of becoming) (filled) with death.
asmad, tata, idam, sarva, jagat, a-vyakta-mūrti; mad-stha, sarva-bhūta, na, ca, asmad, tad, avasthita.
This entire universe is pervaded by Me as a form not manifest (to the senses). All beings exist in (are because of) Me, but I am not in (because of) them, (like clay pots subsist in/are because of clay, but the world of clay does not subsist in/is not because of pots).
na, ca, mad-stha, bhūta, √dṛś, asmad, yoga, aiśvara; bhūta-bhṛt, na, ca, bhūta-stha, asmad, ātman, bhūta-bhāvana.
(Yet as separate) beings (like pots from clay, they) do not exist in Me. Look at My Lordly yoga (connection to/attainment in) (the world)! My ātmā (self, the self of all) produces (all) things (all names and forms), sustains (all) things, but does not exist in (is not dependent on, these) things.
yathā, ākāśa-sthita, nityam, vāyu, sarvatra-ga, mahat; tathā, sarva, bhūta, mad-stha, iti, upa-√dhṛ.
Just as the vast air, which moves everywhere, always exists within space; similarly, please understand that all beings (all names and forms) exist within Me, (are always within – yet are not polluting, are not separate from, are not other than Me).
sarva-bhūta, kaunteya, prakṛti, √yā, māmikā; kalpa-kṣaya, punar, tad, kalpa-ādi, vi-√sṛj, asmad.
O Arjuna, at the end of the kalpa (manifestation cycle, the start of night for Lord Brahmā), all beings go into My unmanifest nature (prakṛti, māyā) (they become unmanifest). Again, at the beginning of the manifestation cycle, I project (remanifest) them (their bodies and minds, from My māyā).
prakṛti, svā, avaṣṭabhya, vi-√sṛj, punar, punar; bhūta-grāma, idam, kṛtsna, a-vaśa, prakṛti, vaśa.
Having control over (not deluded by) My prakṛti, again and again (each kalpa) I project this entire group of beings without (their or My) will, by the force (in the form of all the karmas of all the jīvas) of prakṛti (of māyā).
na, ca, asmad, tad, karman, ni-√bandh, dhanam-jaya; udāsīnavat, āsīna, a-sakta, tad, karman.
O Arjuna, these karmas (actions and their results) do not bind Me, who is seated (here as the basis of prakṛti), seemingly indifferent (being its mere conscious witness), and unattached toward these karmas.
asmad, adhyakṣa, prakṛti, √sū, sa-cara-a-caram; hetu, idam, kaunteya, jagat, vi-pari-√vṛt.
Because of Me, the overseer, prakṛti begets (all) that moves and does not move (or is sentient and insentient). For this reason (because of Me), O Arjuna, the universe revolves (in and out of manifestation).
ava-√jñā, asmad, mūḍha, mānuṣī, tanu, āśrita; para, bhāva, a-jānat, asmad, bhūta-mahā-īśvara.
Not knowing My limitless nature, as the Lord of (all) beings, the deluded disregard Me, who obtains (as the self, as I) in (this and every) human body.
mogha-āśa, mogha-karman, mogha-jñāna, vi-cetas; rākṣasī, āsurī, ca, eva, prakṛti, mohinī, śrita.
Those whose hopes are in vain (are still unhappy), whose actions are in vain (are still incomplete), whose knowledge is in vain (are still ignorant of Me/reality), and who lack discernment – they tend toward a deluding disposition that is criminal (rākṣasī) or barbaric (āsurī).
mahā-ātman, tu, asmad, pārtha, daivī, prakṛti, āśrita; √bhaj, an-anya-manas, jñātvā, bhūta-ādi, a-vyaya.
Whereas, O Arjuna, the wise (the discerning) – who tend toward a disposition that is uplifting (daivī), whose mind (seeks) no other (than Me), knowing (of) Me as the changeless source of beings – they seek Me.
sa-tatam, kīrtayat, asmad, yatat, ca, dṛḍha-vrata; namasyat, ca, asmad, bhakti, nitya-yukta, upa-√ās.
Always acknowledging Me and making (proper) effort (to gain Me, those) whose commitment is firm, surrendering (to Me), always united to Me with devotion – they (the karma-yogīs) seek (Me).
jñāna-yajña, ca, api, anya, yajat, asmad, upa-√ās; ekatva, pṛthaktva, bahudhā, viśvatas-mukha.
And still others (jñāna-yogīs, sannyāsīs) worshipping (Me) through the sacred act (yajña) that is knowledge, seek Me – whose face is everywhere, in many ways – as being one (“(Separate) beings do not exist in Me” BhG-T.9.5) and as being distinct, (“(All) beings exist in Me” BhG-T.9.4).
asmad, kratu, asmad, yajña, svadhā, asmad, asmad, auṣadha; mantra, asmad, asmad, eva, ājya, asmad, agni, asmad, huta.
The Veda ritual is Me, the act of worship is Me, the food (offered to the ancestors) is Me, the food offered to the Lord is Me, the chant is Me, the clarified butter (warmed by the sun and offered into the fire) is Me, the (sacrificial) fire is Me, and the oblation is Me.
pitṛ, asmad, idam, jagat, mātṛ, dhātṛ, pitā-maha; vedya, pavitra, om-kāra, ṛc, sāman, yajus, eva, ca.
The father (efficient cause), mother (material cause), (My own) grandfather (the uncaused cause), and the sustainer of this universe are Me. The (only) one to be known, the purifier, “Om” (My name), the Ṛg-Veda, the Sāma-Veda; and the Yajur-Veda (are Me).
gati, bhartṛ, prabhu, sākṣin, nivāsa, śaraṇa, su-hṛd; prabhava, pralaya, sthāna, nidhāna, bīja, a-vyaya.
The goal, the nourisher, the Lord, the (only) witness (of everything), the abode, the shelter, and the friend (are Me). The origin, the dissolution, the continued existence, the receptacle, and the imperishable seed (the continual cause of everything, are Me).
√tap, asmad, asmad, varṣa, ni-√grah, ud-√sṛj, ca; a-mṛta, ca, eva, mṛtyu, ca, sat, a-sat, ca, asmad, arjuna.
I heat. I hold back and give forth the rain. The immortality (of the gods) and also the death (of mortals are Me). Both reality (the sustaining cause) and unreality (the time-bound effects) are Me, O Arjuna.
trai-vidya, asmad, soma-pa, pūta-pāpa, yajña, iṣṭvā, svar-gati, pra-√arth; tad, puṇya, āsādya, sura-indra-loka, √aś, divya, dyu, deva-bhoga.
Those versed in the three Vedas, who drink (who participate in) the soma (ritual and thus are relatively cleansed of karma demerit), propitiating Me with rituals – they pray for going to heaven. Attaining the world of Lord Indra as (a result of their) karma merit (puṇya), they enjoy heavenly experiences of the celestials in heaven.
tad, tad, bhuktvā, svar-ga-loka, viśāla, kṣīṇa, puṇya, martya-loka, √viś; evam, trayī-karma, anuprapanna, gata-āgata, kāma-kāma, √labh.
Having enjoyed that vast (subtle) world (called) heaven, when their puṇya is spent, they (re-)enter the world of mortals. In this manner, following ritual (enjoined) by the three (scriptures, śrutis, the three forms of Vedas), those who require objects of desire take to coming and going (remain in saṃsāra).
an-anya, cintayat, asmad, yad, jana, pari-upa-√ās; tad, nitya-abhiyukta, yoga-kṣema, √vah, asmad.
(But) for those people who are not separate (from Me), who contemplate Me and gain (Me), being always one (with Me), I procure what they want to acquire and protect; (I, the Lord, take care of the bodily and mental needs of these renunciates, sannyāsīs).
yad, api, anya-devatā-bhakta, √yaj, śrad-dhā, anvita; tad, api, asmad, eva, kaunteya, √yaj, a-vidhi-pūrvakam.
O Arjuna, even those who are devoted to deities as different (from Me and themselves) – who, filled with faith, perform (various) acts of worship – they also worship only Me, (but) not in accordance to a (valid) means (of knowing Me, the Lord, who is each of these deities).
asmad, hi, sarva-yajña, bhoktṛ, ca, prabhu, eva, ca; na, tu, asmad, abhi-√jñā, tattvena, atas, √cyu, tad.
I am indeed the experiencer (recipient) of all yajñas (acts of worship) and the only Lord, but they do not know Me in reality. Therefore, they fall away (they lose Me out of ignorance).
√yā, deva-vrata, deva, pitṛ, √yā, pitṛ-vrata; bhūta, √yā, bhūta-ijya, √yā, mad-yājin, api, asmad.
Those who have commitment to the deities reach the (world of) deities. Those who have commitment to the ancestors reach the (world of) ancestors. Those who worship spirits reach the (world of) spirits. And those who are disposed to worship Me reach Me.
patra, puṣpa, phala, toya, yad, asmad, bhakti, pra-√yam; tad, asmad, bhakti-upahṛta, √aś, prayata-ātman.
The one who offers to Me with devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit, water – I receive that as offered out of the devotion of one whose mind is mastered (to that extent – to the extent that one acknowledges Me, the Lord, and can act on that acknowledgment).
yad, √kṛ, yad, √aś, yad, √hu, √dā, yad; yad, √tapasya, kaunteya, tad, √kṛ, mad-arpaṇa.
O Arjuna, whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever worship you perform, whatever you give, whatever discipline you undertake – that may you do as an offering to Me (as a karma-yoga meant for gaining a mind that can know Me, not to get some small result).
śubha-a-śubha-phala, evam, √muc, karma-bandhana; sannyāsa-yoga-yukta-ātman, vimukta, asmad, upa-√i.
In this manner you will be freed from the bondage that is karma, which has (or is in the form of) pleasant and unpleasant results. (Being) one whose mind is endowed with (such) renunciation and with (karma-)yoga and (to that extent) freed, you will attain Me.
sama, asmad, sarva-bhūta, na, asmad, dveṣya, √as, na, priya; yad, √bhaj, tu, asmad, bhakti, asmad, tad, tad, ca, api, asmad.
I am the same (sama) in all beings. For Me, no one is disfavored or favored. Rather, those who seek Me with devotion – they are in Me and I am also in them.
api, ced, su-dus-ācāra, √bhaj, asmad, an-anya-bhāj; sādhu, eva, tad, mantavya, samyak, vyavasita, hi, tad.
Even if one whose conduct was highly maladaptive seeks Me – being one who seeks Me as not separate (from oneself) – that one is to be considered an accomplished person (a sādhu), because that one is of clear understanding.
kṣipram, √bhū, dharma-ātman, śaśvat, śānti, ni-√gam; kaunteya, prati-√jñā, na, asmad, bhatka, pra-√naś.
Quickly that (person of maladaptive conduct) becomes one whose mind conforms to dharma and gains the peace that is ever the same (being the peace that is the nature of oneself). O Arjuna, please know that My devotee is never lost.
asmad, hi, pārtha, vyāpaśritya, yad, api, √as, pāpa-yoni; strī, vaiśya, tathā, śūdra, tad, api, √yā, parā, gati.
O Arjuna, even those whose birth would be unwanted (born into a criminal or barbaric family) – also women, merchants, and laborers – they, too, because they take refuge in Me, gain the ultimate end.
kim, punar, brāḥmaṇa, puṇya, bhakta, rāja-ṛṣi, tathā; a-nitya, a-sukha, loka, idam, prāpya, √bhaj, asmad.
What again (to speak of) brāhmaṇas (considered to have) virtuous (births) who are devoted, similarly, kings who are also sages (like King Janaka, taught by seer/sage Yājña-valkya). Having attained this impermanent and unpleasant loka (this human embodiment), may you seek Me.
mad-manas, √bhū, mad-bhakta, mad-yājin, asmad, namas-√kṛ; asmad, eva, √i, yuktvā, evam, ātman, mad-para-ayana.
May you be one whose mind (remains) in Me, devoted to Me, and who performs (all actions as) rituals to Me. Surrender to Me. Having prepared your mind in this way, having Me as the ultimate end, you will attain Me alone.
om, tad, sat. iti, śrīmat-bhagavat-gītā, upaniṣad, brahma-vidyā, yoga-śāstra, śrī-kṛṣṇa-arjuna-saṃvāda, rāja-vidyā-rāja-guhya-yoga, nāma, navama, adhyāya.
Om (brahman, the witness of all) is that (only) reality. Thus ends the ninth chapter, called “The Topic of the King of All Knowledge, the King of All Secrets,” of the (eighteen chapters of) Songs of the Glorious Lord, which is (looked upon as) sacred teaching (Upaniṣad) and (whose teaching is) in (the form of) a dialogue between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, (the subject matter being) knowledge of brahman and yoga.

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The Topic of Glories
Literature is also part of our universe. For Arjuna, literature includes the mythologies (purāṇas) and the Vedas. Many of the purāṇas were written after the major Upaniṣads and the Rāmāyaṇa epic, but before the Mahā-bhārata epic, of which the Bhagavad Gītā is part. Prior to the purāṇas, the deities in the Vedas, including the Upaniṣads, were barely personified forces of nature, such as Agni (Fire), Vāyu (Wind), and Indra (Mind and king of the deities). The purāṇas introduced personified deities, such as Viṣṇu (Sustainer), Śiva (Destroyer), Lakṣmī (Abundance), and Sarasvatī (Culture). The deities of the purāṇas married, had families and adventures, and got in and out of trouble.
Similar to the shift in literature of natural forces to personified ones is the shift of human characters to deities. In Vālmīki’s original Rāmāyaṇa epic (the story has undergone many retellings), Rāma is a man of virtue (dharma). In the later, poetic retellings of the Rāmāyaṇa story, Rāma is a deity, an incarnation of Lord Viṣṇu. The personification of the divine aspects of nature and the divination of human characters have benefits – such as inspiring imaginative minds – but if we overlook the earlier literature, we may fail to appreciate the wonder and glory of the forces of nature and the majesty of life in a purely scientific spirit. We may also lose the culture-free unity inspired by nonpersonified nature deities. For example, a lack of attention to the earlier literature may contribute to one thinking that Kṛṣṇa is superior to Rāma, or Śiva to Viṣṇu (which is equivalent to a schoolyard argument that “my dad is better than your dad”). The Advaita Vedānta teaching has survived nonetheless, and the blend of the purāṇas and earlier literatures has indeed blessed us – despite the fractured appearances of Hinduism today.
The Mahā-bhārata epic and the Bhagavad Gītā present Kṛṣṇa as Lord Kṛṣṇa, an incarnation of Lord Viṣṇu. However, this teaching would be just as powerful and true if Kṛṣṇa was presented as a man of knowledge who had completely assimilated the knowledge of the identity of himself with the total. If this were the case, then we would understand that, when He talks about Himself, Kṛṣṇa legitimately talks from the perspective of the Lord (compare Taittirīya Upaniṣad 3.10.5–6). This teaching, after all, unfolds the fact that we all are already free and are already the Lord, but we don’t know it until we are taught. If we take Kṛṣṇa as a person, a genius who was born already wise, and understand that Kṛṣṇa would have been exposed from childhood to the wonderful literature and culture that confirms the wisdom that one is the self of all, then we would understand these statements He makes about Himself in the light of the purāṇa literature. Kṛṣṇa is a special incarnation of the Lord – not born of ignorance.
In this chapter, Kṛṣṇa presents Himself as all the glories (which are described in both sets of literature – the Vedas and the purāṇas), since nothing is apart from the Lord. All we see and all we hear and think are but the Lord. This is a powerful acknowledgment of the real basis of this universe and, when that clear vision includes one’s self, it is the limitless freedom called mokṣa. The inclusion of oneself in the vision of the Lord is the difficult step indicated in the beginning and the end of Kṛṣṇa’s description of His glories (10.20, 10.42). This complete vision is the same as the culmination of the contemplation described earlier (6.10–26) that helps us assimilate this teaching. Meditation or prayer helps us mature into this complete vision until one’s self is included inseparably in this vision of the Lord.
śrī-bhagavat, √vac:
bhūyas, eva, mahā-bāhu, √śru, asmad, parama, vacas; yad, yuṣmad, asmad, prīyamāṇa, √vac, hita-kāmyā.

The Lord said: O Arjuna, listen again to My words (revealing) the limitless. To you who are pleased at this (which is limitless) I will, with a desire for (your) benefit, (again) expound.
na, asmad, √vid, sura-gaṇa, prabhava, na, mahā-ṛṣi; asmad, ādi, hi, deva, mahā-ṛṣi, ca, sarvaśas.
Neither the hosts of deities nor the great seers/sages know (in detail) My glory, since I am the cause of each and every one of (the embodiments of) the deities and sages.
yad, asmad, a-ja, an-ādi, ca, √vid, loka-mahā-īśvara; a-sammūḍha, tad, martya, sarva-pāpa, pra-√muc.
The one who knows Me, the limitless Lord of the universe, as unborn (not an effect) and beginningless (having no cause) – that one, being no longer deluded among mortals, is freed from all pāpas (everything unwanted).
buddhi, jñāna, a-sammoha, kṣamā, satya, dama, śama; sukha, duḥkha, bhava, a-bhāva, bhaya, ca, a-bhaya, eva, ca.
a-hiṃsā, samatā, tuṣṭi, tapas, dāna, yaśas, a-yaśas; √bhū, bhāva, bhūta, mattas, eva, pṛthak-vidha.

From Me alone are (all these) different kinds of things belonging to (living beings): the capacity to know, knowledge, freedom from delusion, accommodation (patience and understanding), truthfulness, mastery over (ways of) behavior, mastery over (ways of) thinking, pleasure, pain, birth (including the becoming within change), death (including the un-becoming within change), fear and also fearlessness, harmlessness, equanimity (toward any result), contentment, prayerful discipline, charity, and fame and ill fame.
mahā-ṛṣi, saptan, pūrva, catur, manu, tathā; mad-bhāva, mānasa, jāta, yad, loka, idam, prajā.
The ancient, seven seers and four Manus (progenitors of the four social lineages) whose minds were (resolved) in Me, were born from (My) mind (via the total subtle body of the universe, Hiraṇya-garbha). Of them, (all) these people in the world were (born).
etad, vibhūti, yoga, ca, asmad, yad, √vid, tattvatas; tad, a-vikampa, yoga, √yuj, na, atra, saṃśaya.
The one who knows in truth this glory and My (Lordly, aiśvarya) yoga (connection to/attainment) (in the world) – that one is endowed with an unshakable yoga (vision of sameness). In this there is no doubt.
asmad, sarva, prabhava, mattas, sarva, pra-√vṛt; iti, matvā, √bhaj, asmad, budha, bhāva-samanvita.
I am the source of everything and because of Me everything continues. Knowing this, the wise, endowed with (this) bhāva (vision – initially an attitude giving relative freedom, then a clear knowledge giving complete freedom) (thus) attain Me.
mad-citta, mad-gata-prāṇa, bodhayat, paras-para; kathayat, ca, asmad, nityam, √tuṣ, ca, √ram, ca.
Those whose mind is centered on Me, whose powers (of sensing and action) are resolved in Me, teaching one another (maintaining this teaching tradition), and always telling about Me – they are satisfied (not needing anything else) and happy (in Me).
tad, sa-tata-yukta, bhajat, prīti-pūrvakam; √dā, buddhi-yoga, tad, yad, asmad, upa-√yā.
For those who are always committed and worship (Me) with love, I give the attainment through knowledge by which they gain Me.
tad, eva, anukampā-artham, asmad, a-jñāna-ja, tamas; √naś, ātma-bhāva-stha, jñāna-dīpa, bhāsvat.
Out of compassion for them alone, I, attaining in (every) thought in the mind (as the conscious I itself), destroy the darkness (the delusion) born of ignorance – with the shining oil lamp that is knowledge.
arjuna, √vac:
para, brahman, para, dhāman, pavitra, parama, bhavat; puruṣa, śāśvata, divya, ādi-deva, a-ja, vibhu.
√ah, yuṣmad, ṛṣi, sarva, deva-ṛṣi, nāra-da, tathā; asita, devala, vyāsa, svayam, ca, eva, √brū, asmad.

Arjuna said: You are paraṃ brahman (limitless reality), limitless light (or the ultimate abode), the most purifying. All the sages, the divine sage Nārada, similarly (the seers) Asita, Devala and Vyāsa call You “the timeless one who fills everything,” the “celestial (not of this ordinary world) Lord who was there at the beginning – unborn and all pervasive.” And You, Yourself, say to me (the same thing).
sarva, etad, ṛta, √man, yad, asmad, √vad, keśava; na, hi, yuṣmad, bhagavat, vyakti, √vid, deva, na, dānava.
All this that You tell me, I consider true, O Kṛṣṇa. O Lord, indeed neither the deities nor demons know Your (full) manifestation.
svayam, eva, ātman, ātman, √vid, yuṣmad, puruṣa-uttama; bhūta-bhāvana, bhūta-īśa, deva-deva, jagat-pati.
O Being Who Transcends, Producer of Beings, Lord of Beings, Lord of the Gods, and Lord of the Universe – You, Yourself alone, know Yourself with Your mind.
vaktum, √arh, a-śeṣeṇa, divyā, hi, ātma-vibhūti; yad, vibhūti, loka, idam, yuṣmad, vyāpya, √sthā.
The glories by which You remain, pervading these worlds – the extraordinary glories of ātmā (Yourself, the self of all) – indeed, You (alone) are able to describe completely.
katham, √vid, asmad, yogin, yuṣmad, sadā, paricintayat; kim, kim, ca, bhāva, cintya, √as, bhagavat, asmad.
O Yogī (of yogīs), (while) always contemplating (You) everywhere, how should I know You? And, O Lord, in which things are (You) to be meditated on by me?
vistareṇa, ātman, yoga, vibhūti, ca, jana-ardana; bhūyas, √kath, tṛpti, hi, śṛṇvat, na, √as, asmad, a-mṛta.
O Kṛṣṇa, please tell again in detail the connection/attainment (yoga) of ātmā (Yourself, the self of all) and (of Your) glory (in the world), because in listening to (this) immortal nectar (the words from the Lord’s mouth) I have no satiation; I cannot get enough.
śrī-bhagavat, √vac:
hanta, yuṣmad, √kath, divyā, hi, ātma-vibhūti; prādhānyatas, kuru-śreṣṭha, na, √as, anta, vistara, asmad.

The Lord said: Well now, O Arjuna, I will tell to you the extraordinary glories of My self (the self of all), wherever there is importance, since there is no end to My detailed description.
asmad, ātman, guḍākā-īśa, sarva-bhūta-āśaya-sthita; asmad, ādi, ca, madhya, ca, bhūta, anta, eva, ca.
O Arjuna, the self (yourself, the I) residing in the mind (in the seat of thoughts wherein reality is to be acknowledged) of all beings is Me (“tat tvam asi, that [Lord] you are” – contemplate on that, O Arjuna). The source, the center, and the resolution of (all) beings is Me.
āditya, asmad, viṣṇu, jyotis, ravi, aṃśumat; marīci, marut, √as, nakṣatra, asmad, śaśin.
I am, among the twelve sun deities (for the twelve months) (the one called) Viṣṇu (who pervades), among luminaries the sun with its rays, and among the storm deities (the progenitor of the people, Prajā-pati, called) Marīci. Among the (nightly) luminous bodies the moon is Me.
veda, sāma-veda, √as, deva, √as, vāsava; indriya, manas, ca, √as, bhūta, √as, cetanā.
I am (the melodious) Sāma-Veda among the Vedas. I am Lord Indra among the deities (among the class of deities called the vasus). And I am the mind (manas) among the powers (of perception and action). I am the faculty of cognition (the intellect, buddhi) among (all created) things (as the apex of evolution).
rudra, śaṅkara, ca, √as, vitta-īśa, yakṣa-rakṣas; vasu, pāvaka, ca, √as, meru, śikharin, asmad.
And among the deities of destruction I am (their source called) Śaṅkara (the one who blesses – by removing obstructions). I am, among protectors and stealers of wealth Kubera (the Lord of wealth), and Lord Agni among the eight (vasus). I am Mount Meru among peaks.
puras-dhas, ca, mukhya, asmad, √vid, pārtha, bṛhas-pati; senā-nī, asmad, skanda, saras, √as, sāgara.
And, O Arjuna, know (Lord Indra’s priest) Bṛhas-pati – the chief among priests in charge – to be Me. I am Skanda (the leader of the divine army, also called Lord Subrahmaṇya) among army commanders, and the ocean among natural bodies of water.
mahā-ṛṣi, bhṛgu, asmad, gir, √as, eka, a-kṣara; yajña, japa-yajña, √as, sthāvara, hima-ālaya.
I am (the seer/sage and Prajā-pati called) Bṛgu (son of Lord Varuṇa) among divine sages, and the single syllable (Om) among words. I am, among yajñas (rituals) the yajña that is (the simple, harmless) japa (mental repetition of the Lord’s name). And, among mountain ranges the Himālayas.
aśva-ttha, sarva-vṛkṣa, deva-ṛṣi, ca, nāra-da; gandharva, citra-ratha, siddha, kapila, muni.
The sacred fig tree (depicted as the tree of saṃsāra) among trees, (the popular, trickster sage) Nārada among the celestial sages, Citra-ratha (the king) among divine musicians, and the seer/sage Kapila among siddhas (a class of sages born already wise from deities) are Me.
uccais-śravas, aśva, √vid, asmad, a-mṛta-udbhava; airāvata, gaja-indra, nara, ca, nara-adhipa.
Know among horses (Lord Indra’s white steed called) Uccaiḥ-śravas born from (the gods and demons churning the primordial milky ocean for) the immortal nectar, (Lord Indra’s white) Airāvata among noble elephants, and among people the king – (know all) to be Me.
āyudha, asmad, vajra, dhenu, √as, kāma-duh; prajana, ca, √as, kam-darpa, sarpa, √as, vāsuki.
I am (Lord Indra’s) lightning bolt among weapons and Kāma-dhenu (the wish-fulfilling cow) among cows. I am the deity that is desire (for immortality) who causes progeny. I am (the divine, poisonous king of snakes used to churn the primordial milky ocean) Vāsuki among snakes.
an-anta, ca, √as, nāga, varuṇa, yādas, asmad; pitṛ, aryaman, ca, √as, yama, saṃyamat, asmad.
And I am An-anta (on whom Lord Viṣṇu reclines) among (many-headed) snakes. I am (the Lord of water) Varuṇa among creatures (and deities) of water. I am (the king of the ancestors called) Aryaman among the ancestors. I am (the feared) Yama (Lord Death) among discipliners.
prahlāda, ca, √as, daitya, kāla, kalayat, asmad; mṛga, ca, mṛga-indra, asmad, vainateya, ca, pakṣin.
And I am (the demon-yet-Nārāyaṇa-devotee called) Prahlāda among the demons (born of Diti). I am time (itself) among those who calculate (time). I am (the fearless king of beasts) the lion among wild animals, and (Viṣṇu’s high-flying devotee) Garuḍa among birds.
pavana, pavat, √as, rāma, śastra-bhṛt, asmad; jhaṣa, makara, ca, √as, srotras, √as, jāhnavī.
I am the wind among those that purify. I am (one of My incarnations, avatāras, the embodiment of dharma) Lord Rāma among those who wield weapons. I am (a type of dangerous water beast called) Makara among aquatic creatures. I am (the sacred river) Gaṅgā among rivers.
sarga, ādi, anta, ca, madhya, ca, eva, asmad, arjuna; adhi-ātma-vidyā, vidyā, vāda, pravadat, asmad.
I am the source, the center, and the resolution of the cycles of manifestation (of the universe), O Arjuna. I am knowledge centered on the self (amounting to freedom, mokṣa) among (all forms of) knowledge, and the discussion (that leads to truth) among those who discuss.
a-kṣara, a-kāra, √as, dvam-dva, sāmāsika, ca; asmad, eva, a-kṣaya, kāla, dhātṛ, asmad, viśvatas-mukha.
I am (the initial) letter (or simplest and most common sound) ‘a’ among the letters (or sounds) of the (Sanskrit) alphabet; and the list compound (dvandva, where importance is the same, sama, in each member) among compounds. Ceaseless time is Me. The all-pervasive giver (of results of action, karma-phalas) is Me.
mṛtyu, sarva-hara, ca, asmad, udbhava, ca, bhaviṣyat; kīrti, śrī, vāc, ca, nārī, smṛti, medhā, dhṛti, kṣamā.
And I am Mṛtyu (Lord Death) (as) the one who takes away everything (your life), and prosperity among what will be. Among feminine (Sanskrit words, I am) ‘fame’, ‘wealth’, ‘speech’, ‘memory’, ‘the capacity to retain’ (what is learned), ‘resolve’, and ‘accommodation’.
bṛhat-sāman, tathā, sāman, gāyatrī, chandas, asmad; māsa, mārga-śīrṣa, asmad, ṛtu, kusuma-ākara.
Similarly I am the (prominent) Sāma-Veda verses (sung) in the Bṛhatī (meter) among Sāma-Veda verses, and the (most famous verse called) Gāyatrī among (all) verses of the Veda. I am (the cool) November/December among lunar months, and the flowering spring among seasons.
dyūta, chalayat, √as, tejas, tejasvin, asmad; jaya, √as, vyavasāya, √as, sattva, sattvavat, asmad.
I am the (royal) game of dice among those that deceive. I am the brilliance of the brilliant. I am victory. I am clarity in thinking. I am the contemplative disposition (sattva) among the contemplative.
vṛṣṇi, vāsu-deva, √as, pāṇḍava, dhanam-jaya; muni, api, asmad, vyāsa, kavi, uśnas, kavi.
I am, among the Vṛṣṇi clan (Mr.) Kṛṣṇa, among Pāṇḍu’s sons (you, the award-winning) Arjuna. Among sages, also, Veda-Vyāsa (another name or title for Vyāsa who is composing this epic), and among seers the seer Śukrācārya (the wise but unheeded counselor to the demons) are Me.
daṇḍa, damayat, √as, nīti, √as, jigīṣat; mauna, ca, eva, √as, guhya, jñāna, jñānavat, asmad.
I am the rod among those that tame. I am the process of justice among those who desire victory. I am silence among secrets. I am the knowledge among those who have knowledge.
yad, ca, api, sarva-bhūta, bīja, tad, asmad, arjuna; na, tad, √as, vinā, yad, √as, asmad, bhūta, cara-a-cara.
Moreover, what is the bīja (seed, or efficient cause – nimitta-kāraṇa, intelligent cause) of all things, that also I am, O Arjuna. There is no moveable or immovable (sentient or insentient) being that can exist without Me (as both the efficient cause and material cause of the universe).
na, anta, √as, asmad, divyā, vibhūti, param-tapa; etad, tu uddeśatas, prokta, vibhūti, vistara, asmad.
There is no end to My divine glories, O Arjuna. Rather, I have told (only) in part this detailed description of (My) glory.
yad, yad, vibhūtimat, sattva, śrīmat, ūrjita, eva, vā; tad, tad, eva, ava-√gam, yuṣmad, asmad, tajas-aṃśa-sambhava.
Whatever entity has glory, has wealth, or is indeed powerful – that itself, may you know, is born of a fraction of My power. (No one is the author of any glory, so arrogance or jealousy regarding these glories is baseless. Knowing this brings relative freedom.)
athavā, bahu, etad, kim, jñāta, yuṣmad, arjuna; viṣṭabhya, asmad, idam, kṛtsna, eka-aṃśa, sthita, jagat.
But, rather, what (is gained) by your knowing (just) this much (about Me), O Arjuna? I remain sustaining this entire universe with (just) a fraction (of My self). (The whole, infinite Me includes everything, including you. Knowing this brings complete freedom.)
om, tad, sat. iti, śrīmat-bhagavat-gītā, upaniṣad, brahma-vidyā, yoga-śāstra, śrī-kṛṣṇa-arjuna-saṃvāda, vibhūti-yoga, nāma, daśama, adhyāya.
Om (brahman, the witness of all) is that (only) reality. Thus ends the tenth chapter, called “The Topic of Glories,” of the (eighteen chapters of) Songs of the Glorious Lord, which is (looked upon as) sacred teaching (Upaniṣad) and (whose teaching is) in (the form of) a dialogue between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, (the subject matter being) knowledge of brahman and yoga.

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The Topic of the Vision of the Cosmic Form
Now Arjuna makes a bold claim that is common among new students to this teaching. He says, “OK, I get it!” But what Arjuna “gets” is a particular concept; he has not fully assimilated the teaching. We know this because his next request is to especially experience the vision of this teaching. And the vision of this teaching is not a special experience.
The culmination of this teaching is a complete vision, a complete knowledge, of the all – including, inseparably, oneself – so every single experience, no matter how mundane, is immediately assimilated within this complete vision. This complete vision cannot be lost – because it is not an experience; it is simply knowledge. Once gained, it cannot be forgotten. Just as one cannot forget that one exists, one cannot forget – once clearly known – that one exists free of limitations.
If we think that there is some special enlightenment experience in the future to be reached, then we simply are not yet clear in this knowledge and what the complete vision is. It is often confused with a kind of samādhi in meditation, wherein the experiential subject/object separation disappears for a time. That is just what it is: a temporary experience that can be produced with a lot of practice. We all naturally have a very similar experience when we have a good night’s sleep. Like when we wake from sleep, when we get up from meditation we aren’t wiser. We simply get up with new information that such a nice experience happens and thus is possible. Like with sleep, we only know we had that special experience when it is over. How that experience could ever be confused with enlightenment is a wonder. A temporary mokṣa (liberation) is hardly a mokṣa. It is like a prisoner getting out of jail for a few minutes every other day. At first it is something to look forward to, but eventually it becomes just another frustration; the person remains a prisoner.
That said; the mind is capable of such epiphanies. These are natural and may be triggered by a breakthrough at some level in understanding oneself or the world, or even mechanically by certain physical or mental practices. These epiphanies can occur, but they are not the permanent, assimilated vision – the knowledge – that is unfolded by the Lord in the Bhagavad Gītā. In the Lord’s teaching, the real knowledge is of what is, always has been, and always will be (2.16–25). It is knowledge of the timeless reality as one’s self right now. It is not knowledge of what will be for a certain time and remembered later. It is a vision that, once gained, is never lost. This is especially indicated in verses 6.27–31 and 9.1–2.
Yet, in chapter 11, Arjuna naively asks Kṛṣṇa for a special perception of the Lord. Lord Kṛṣṇa indulges him, as only Kṛṣṇa can – as a friend and also as a teacher – to tamp down Arjuna’s boastful claim. He temporarily gives Arjuna a special sight of the infinite Lord. But though the vision starts wonderfully, Arjuna soon becomes fearful – because he has not assimilated his self in his understanding of the Lord. He feels overwhelmingly limited by what he sees as “out there” in this infinite sight, and this exacerbates the already existing fear in his heart. This fear, naturally occurring in the human heart, is due to the sense of limitation that arises from our perception of all the “others.” Arjuna’s fear indicates that he has not yet acquired clarity, much less maturity, in the vision of oneness. Maturity in this knowledge first requires clarity, then assimilation in the heart. Habitual doubts and their connected emotions based on our prior ignorance are gradually rendered more and more impotent as we mature in this vision. So this chapter, although seeming to be simply a praise of the Lord, importantly conveys a warning that this teaching is not meant to be additional information about God and life. Rather, it is a transformative, liberating teaching that is to be completely assimilated.
arjuna, √vac:
mad-anugraha, parama, guhya, adhi-ātma-sañjñita; yad, yuṣmad, ukta, vacas, tad, moha, idam, vigata, asmad.

Arjuna said: This delusion of mine (lack of discernment about the nature of myself) is gone (more or less, as questions follow) because of those words, the greatest secret – called the (jñāna, knowledge) centered on the ātmā (self) – which You told for my blessing.
bhava-apyaya, hi, bhūta, śruta, vistaraśas, asmad; tvattas, kamala-patra-akṣa, mahā-ātmya, api, ca, a-vyaya.
O Lotus-Petal Eyes, I have indeed heard from You in detail about the manifestation and dissolution of (all) beings, and also about (Your) imperishable glory.
evam, etad, yathā, √ah, yuṣmad, ātman, parama-īśvara; draṣṭum, √iṣ, yuṣmad, rūpa, aiśvara, puruṣa-uttama.
Just as You describe Yourself, O Lord – in that way I wish to see this, Your divine form, O Being Who Transcends.
√man, yadi, tad, śakya, asmad, draṣṭum, iti, prabhu; yoga-īśvara, tatas, asmad, yuṣmad, √dṛś, ātman, a-vyaya.
If You think that I am able to see that, O Lord, then – O Lord of the Pursuits of yogīs – please show to me (Your) imperishable form.
śrī-bhavagavat, √vac:
√dṛś, asmad, pārtha, rūpa, śataśas, atha, sahasraśas; nānā-vidha, divya, nānā-varṇa-ākṛti, ca.

The Lord said: Behold, O Arjuna, My forms by the hundreds and by the thousands – effulgent, of many varieties, and of many colors and forms.
√dṛś, āditya, vasu, rudra, aśvin, marut, tathā; bahu, a-dṛṣṭa-pūrva, √dṛś, āścarya, bhārata.
Behold the (twelve) ādityas (sun deities), the (eight) vasus (attendant deities to Lord Indra), the (eleven) rudras (deities of destruction), the (two) aśvins (charioteers of the sun), and the maruts (storm deities). Behold (My) many unseen-before wonders, O Arjuna.
iha, eka-sta, jagat, kṛtsna, √dṛś, adya, sa-cara-a-cara; asmad, deha, guḍākā-īśa, yad, ca, anya, draṣṭum, √iṣ.
Behold, O Arjuna – now, here in My body, in one place – the entire universe consisting of both the moving and the nonmoving, and whatever else you wish to see.
na, tu, asmad, √śak, draṣṭum, idam, eva, sva-cakṣus; divya, √dā, yuṣmad, cakṣus, √dṛś, asmad, yoga, aiśvara.
But with just this, your own vision, you cannot see (all of) Me. I give to you an extraordinary (magical) vision (a capacity to see everything, including the entire subtle universe, and to see into the future). Behold My Lordly power.
sañjaya, √vac:
evam, uktvā, tatas, rājan, mahā-yoga-īśvara, hari; √dṛś, pārtha, parama, rūpa, aiśvara.

Sañjaya said: O King (Dhṛta-rāṣṭra), having spoken thus, then Lord Hari (Lord Kṛṣṇa as the destroyer of all pāpas), the limitless Lord of pursuits of the yogīs, showed to Arjuna the limitless form of the Lord.
an-eka-vaktra-nayana, an-eka-adbhuta-darśana; an-eka-divya-ābharaṇa, divya-an-eka-udyata-āyudha.
That form consisted of countless mouths and eyes, countless amazing sights, countless celestial ornaments, and countless extraordinary, upraised weapons.
divya-mālya-ambara-dhara, divya-gandha-anulepana; sarva-āścaryamaya, deva, an-anta, viśvatas-mukha.
(That form also) wore celestial garlands and attire, (was anointed) with celestial, fragrant ointment, mostly all a wonder – effulgent, boundless, and in all directions.
dyu, sūrya-sahasra, √bhū, yugapad, utthitā; yadi, bhās, sa-dṛśī, tad, √as, bhās, tad, mahā-ātman.
If the brilliance of a thousand suns were to simultaneously arise in the sky, that would be akin to the brilliance of that magnificent form.
tatra, eka-stha, jagat, kṛtsna, pravibhakta, an-akadhā; √dṛś, deva-deva, śarīra, pāṇḍava, tadā.
Then Arjuna saw in that body of the Lord of deities the entire universe in one place (but) distinctly divided in manifold ways.
tatas, tad, vismaya-āviṣṭa, hṛṣṭa-roman, dhanam-jaya; praṇamya, śiras, deva, kṛta-añjali, √bhāṣ.
Thereupon, that Arjuna – overwhelmed with awe and with body hairs on end, bowing his head to the Lord, with hands folded (in supplication) – spoke.
arjuna, √vac:
√dṛś, deva, yuṣmad, deva, deha, sarva, tathā, bhūta-viśeṣa-saṅgha; brahman, īśa, kamala-āsana-stha, ṛṣi, ca, sarva, ura-ga, ca, divya.

Arjuna said: O Lord, I see in Your body all the deities and hosts of different types of beings, Lord Brahmā seated in the lotus (in Brahma-loka within the lotus-like universe), and all the sages and celestial serpents.
an-eka-bāhu-udara-vaktra-netra, √dṛś, yuṣmad, sarvatas, an-anta-rūpa; na, anta, na, madhya, na, punar, yuṣmad, ādi, √dṛś, viśva-īśvara, viśva-rūpa.
I see You as having countless (bodies with) arms, bellies, mouths, and eyes – whose forms are endless in all directions. And I see not Your end, nor middle, nor beginning, O Lord of the Universe whose form is the universe.
kirīṭin, gadin, cakrin, ca, tejas-rāśi, sarvatas-dīptimat; √dṛś, yuṣmad, dus-nirīkṣya, samantāt, dīpta-an-ala-arka-dyuti, a-prameya.
I see You (that is, Arjuna sees the Lord as he would have imagined Him from reading the purāṇas, and so it was shown by the Lord) with crown, mace, and discus (the popular Lord Viṣṇu form) – a mass of brilliance lit up on all sides, whose brilliance on all sides is like blazing fire or the sun, difficult to see and incomprehensible (to the senses).
yuṣmad, a-kṣara, parama, veditavya, yuṣmad, idam, viśva, para, nidhāna; yuṣmad, a-vyaya, śāśvata-dharma-goptṛ, sanā-tana, yuṣmad, puruṣa, mata, asmad.
You are thought by me to be the imperishable, limitless (brahman that is) to be known, the ultimate basis of this universe, the imperishable protector of the perennially eternal laws (dharma) (remanifesting during each creation cycle), and the eternal puruṣa (being who fills everything).
an-ādi-madhya-anta, an-anta-vīrya, an-anta-bāhu, śaśi-sūrya-netra; √dṛś, yuṣmad, dīpta-huta-āśa-vaktra, sva-tejas, viśva, idam, tapat.
I see You as having no beginning, middle, or end, (as One) whose power is limitless, whose arms are countless, for whom the moon and the sun are eyes, whose mouths are like blazing hutāśas (fires, literally “oblation eaters”), and heating this universe with Your radiance.
dyāvā-pṛthivī, idam, antaram, hi, vyāpta, yuṣmad, eka, diś, ca, sarvā; dṛṣṭvā, adbhuta, rūpa, ugra, yuṣmad, idam, loka-traya, pravyathita, mahā-ātman.
You alone indeed pervade this (space) between heaven and earth (the subtle to the physical universe), and all the directions. Seeing this, Your form (as separate from themselves) – wondrous and violent – the (beings of the) three worlds are shaken with fear, O Lord.
adas, hi, yuṣmad, sura-saṅgha, √viś, ka-cid, bhīta, prāñjali, √gṝ; su-asti, iti, uktvā, mahā-ṛṣi-siddha-saṅgha, √stu, yuṣmad, stuti, puṣkalā.
Those hosts of deities (who have incarnated in the form of the good warriors about to do battle on the field) indeed enter into You (into Death). Some, frightened, pray with hands folded (in supplication). The hosts of great sages and divine sages, saying “let there be well-being,” worship You with eloquent praise.
rudra-āditya, vasu, yad, ca, sādhya, viśva, aśvin, marut, ca, ūṣma-pa, ca; gandharva-yakṣa-asura-siddha-saṅgha, vi-√īkṣ, yuṣmad, vismita, ca, eva, sarva.
The (eleven) rudras and the (twelve) ādityas, the (eight) vasus and these (twelve) sādhya (deities), the (ten) viśvas, the twin aśvin deities, the maruts, certain of the ancestors, and the hosts of celestial musicians, yakṣas, asuras, and siddhas – all are indeed struck with wonder and gaze upon You.
rūpa, mahat, yuṣmad, bahu-vaktra-netra, mahā-bāhu, bahu-bāhu-ūru-pāda; bahu-udara, bahu-daṃṣṭrā-karāla, dṛṣṭvā, loka, pravyathita, tathā, asmad.
O Mighty Armed, seeing Your immense form – with countless mouths and eyes; with countless arms, thighs, and feet; with countless bellies; and horrible with countless fangs – the people are shaken with fear, and so am I (not understanding my identity with You).
nabhas-spṛśa, dīpta, an-eka-varṇa, vyātta-ānana, dīpta-viśāla-netra; dṛṣṭvā, hi, yuṣmad, pravyathita-antar-ātman, dhṛti, na, √vid, śama, ca, viṣṇu.
Indeed, seeing You reaching the sky, blazing with countless appearances, with gaping mouths and brilliant, large eyes – (my) mind shaken with fear – I find no resolve or composure, O Lord Viṣṇu.
daṃṣṭrā-karāla, ca, v, mukha, dṛṣṭvā, eva, kāla-an-ala-sannibha; diś, na, √jñā, na, √labh, ca, śarman, pra-√sad, deva-īśa, jagat-nivāsa.
Indeed, seeing Your mouths – horrible with fangs and like the fire (at the end) of time (itself) (at the end of each cycle of the universe) – I know not (have lost) my bearings and have no joy. Be gracious, O Lord of the Deities, Abode of the Universe.
adas, ca, yuṣmad, dhṛta-rāṣṭra, putra, sarva, saha, eva, avani-pāla-saṅgha; bhīṣma, droṇa, sūta-putra, tathā, adas, saha, asmadīya, api, yodha-mukhya.
Indeed, along with the host of world rulers all those sons of Dhṛta-rāṣṭra, similarly, Bhīṣma, Droṇa, and the charioteer’s son (Karṇa), along with our prominent warriors also – (all) enter into You (into Death).
vaktra, yuṣmad, tvaramāṇa, √viś, daṃṣṭrā-karāla, bhayānaka; ka-cid, vilagna, daśana-antara, sam-√dṛś, cūrṇita, uttama-aṅga.
Hurrying, they enter into Your frightening mouths (that are) horrible with fangs. Some are clearly seen stuck between (Your) teeth, with (their) heads crushed.
yathā, nadī, bahu, ambu-vega, samudra, eva, abhimukha, √dru; tathā, yuṣmad, adas, nara-loka-vīra, √viś, vaktra, abhivijvalat.
Like the many, converging streams of rivers flow only to the ocean, so those heroes of the world of humans enter into Your flaming mouths.
yathā, pradīpta, jvalana, patam-ga, √viś, nāśa, samṛddha-vega; tathā, eva, nāśa, √viś, loka, yuṣmad, api, vaktra, samṛddha-vega.
Like moths at full speed enter a burning flame to their death, in the very same way those people also, at full speed, enter Your mouths to their death.
√lih, grasamāna, samantāt, loka, samagra, vadana, jvalat; tejas, āpūrya, jagat, samagra, bhās, yuṣmad, ugrā, pra-√tap, viṣṇu.
Completely swallowing all the people with (Your) burning mouths, You repeatedly lick (Your lips as if enjoying this). Filling the entire universe with (Your) brilliance, Your violent flames burn, O Lord Viṣṇu.
ā-√khyā, asmad, kim, bhavat, ugra-rūpa, namas, √as, yuṣmad, deva-vara, pra-√sad; vijñātum, √iṣ, bhavat, ādya, na, hi, pra-√jñā, yuṣmad, pravṛtti.
Who are You with (such) a violent form? Please tell me. Let (my) salutation be unto You, O Exalted Among Deities; please be gracious. I wish to clearly know You, the cause (of everything), because Your action I do not understand.
śrī-bhagavat, √vac:
kāla, √as, loka-kṣaya-kṛt, pravṛddha, loka, samāhartum, iha, pravṛtta; ṛte, api, yuṣmad, na, √bhū, sarva, yad, avasthita, prati-anīka, yodha.

The Lord said: I am time who destroys people, expanded (to fill this cosmic form). Here (now, in this form) I undertake to destroy the people. Even without you, all these warriors stationed (here) in the opposing armies will not survive (it being their lot, karma-phala, to perish).
tasmāt, yuṣmad, ud-√sthā, yaśas, √labh, jitvā, śatru, √bhuj, rājya, samṛddha; asmad, eva, etad, nihata, pūrvam, eva, nimitta-mātra, √bhū, savya-sācin.
Therefore, get up and gain fame. Conquering the enemies, may you enjoy the prosperous kingdom. By Me alone these (warriors) have already indeed been destroyed. May you (your actions) be merely (My) instrument, O Arjuna (Skilled with the Left Hand).
droṇa, ca, bhīṣma, ca, jayat-ratha, ca, karṇa, tathā, anya, api, yodha-vīra; asmad, hata, yuṣmad, √han, mā, √vyath, √yudh, √ji, raṇa, sa-patna.
Please kill Droṇa, Bhīṣma, Jayad-ratha, and Karṇa, and similarly the other leaders among the warriors also – who (already) have been destroyed by Me (as the giver of their result of action, karma-phala). Do not be afraid (that what you are doing is not dharma, is a-dharma, it is not). In battle you will conquer the enemies. (O Arjuna,) fight.
sañjaya, √vac:
etad, śrutvā, vacana, keśava, kṛta-añjali, vepamāna, kirīṭin; namas-kṛtvā, bhūyas, eva, √ah, kṛṣṇa, sa-gadgadam, bhīta-bhīta, praṇamya.

Sañjaya said: Hearing these words of Kṛṣṇa, the trembling Arjuna (the Crowned One) – with hands folded, bowing, and very frightened, bowing again – spoke with a faltering voice to Kṛṣṇa.
arjuna, √vac:
sthāne, hṛṣīka-īśa, yuṣmad, prakīrti, jagat, pra-√hṛṣ, anu-√rañj, ca; rakṣas, bhīta, diś, √dru, sarva, √namasya, ca, siddha-saṅgha.

Arjuna said: O Kṛṣṇa, it is proper that by the praise of You the world rejoices and is attracted (to You), (while) the frightened demons run in (all) directions, and all the hosts of divine sages surrender (to You).
kasmāt, ca, yuṣmad, na, √nam, mahā-ātman, garīyas, brahman, api, ādi-kartṛ; an-anta, deva-īśa, jagat-nivāsa, yuṣmad, a-kṣara, sat-a-sat, tad, para, yad.
O Lord, why would they not surrender to You who are greater than Lord Brahmā, and (who are) the primal cause? O Limitless, Lord of the Deities, and Abode of the Universe, You are that imperishable, ultimate (param) (reality, brahman), which is both reality and unreality (both cause and effect, as well as beyond both these concepts, sat-a-sat-param).
yuṣmad, ādi-deva, puruṣa, purāṇa, yuṣmad, idam, viśva, para, nidhāna; vettṛ, √as, vedya, ca, para, ca, dhāman, yuṣmad, tata, viśva, an-anta-rūpa.
You are (the one existing before) the beginning of the deities, the puruṣa (the being who fills this universe) that is always there. You are the ultimate place of resolution of this universe. You are both the (only) knower and what is to be known, and the ultimate abode. You pervade the universe, O You of Endless Forms.
vāyu, yama, agni, varuṇa, śaśa-aṅka, prajā-pati, yuṣmad, pra-pitā-maha, ca; namas, namas, yuṣmad, √as, sahasra-kṛtvas, punar, ca, bhūyas, api, namas, namas, yuṣmad.
You are (the deities and the entities) Wind, Death, Fire, Water, and Moon, as well as Lord of the Universe and Great-Grandfather (the uncaused cause of the cause of the universe). Let there be repeated salutations to You – again and again, a thousand times, repeated salutations to You.
namas, purastāt, atha, pṛṣṭhatas, yuṣmad, namas, √as, yuṣmad sarvatas, eva, sarva; an-anta-vīrya-a-mita-vikrama, yuṣmad, sarva, sam-√āp, tatas, √as, sarva.
Salutation to You in front (of me) and behind (me). Let there be salutation to You, indeed, in all directions, O Everything. You of infinite power and infinite prowess completely pervade all. Therefore, You are all.
sakhi, iti, matvā, prasabham, yad, ukta, he, kṛṣṇa, he, yādava, he, sakhi, iti; ajānat, mahiman, yuṣmad, idam, asmad, pramāda, praṇaya, vā, api.
yād, ca, avahāsa-artham, a-sat-kṛta, √as, vihāra-śayyā-āsana-bhojana; eka, athavā, api, a-cyuta, tad, samakṣaṃ, tad, √kṣam, yuṣmad, asmad, a-prameya.

O Changeless, if, not knowing this (form), Your glory – whether out of carelessness or even out of friendship – thinking (You a mere) “friend,” I impulsively called out “O (Mr.) Kṛṣṇa,” “O Yādava (Clansman),” “O Buddy,” and if – while walking, lying down, sitting, or eating, alone or even there in public – You have, out of jest, been slighted (treated as if not there), then I beg the patience and understanding of You who cannot be (separately) known.
pitṛ, √as, loka, cara-a-cara, yuṣmad, idam, pūjya, ca, guru, garīyas; na, tvad-sama, √as, abhudhika, kṛtas, anya, loka-traya, api, a-pratima-prabhāva.
You are the father of the mobile and immobile world, (alone) to be worshipped, and its venerable teacher. There is no equal to You in even the three worlds (the earth, sky, and heaven), (so) how (could there be) another who is superior, O You of Incomparable Glory?
tasmāt, praṇamya, praṇidhāya, kāya, pra-√sad, yuṣmad, asmad, īśa, īḍya; pitṛ, iva, putra, sakhi, iva, sakhi, priya, priyā, √arh, deva, soḍhum.
Therefore, bowing and properly prostrating (my) body, I propitiate You who are the worshipful Lord. Like a father toward his son; a friend toward his friend; and a beloved toward his lover (as my creator, comrade, and the focus of my devotion) you ought to be patient and understanding (toward my mistakes), O Lord.
a-dṛṣṭa-pūrva, hṛṣita, √as, dṛṣṭvā, bhaya, ca, pravyathita, manas, asmad; tad, eva, asmad, √dṛś, deva, rūpa, pra-√sad, deva-īśa, jagat-nivāsa.
Having seen what was not seen before, I am pleased – and (yet) my mind is shaken with fear. O Lord, please show me that form (as my friend) alone. Be gracious, O Lord of the Deities, the Abode of the Universe.
kirīṭin, gadin, cakra-hasta, √iṣ, yuṣmad, draṣṭum, asmad, tathā, eva; tad, eva, rūpa, catur-bhuja, sahasra-bāhu, √bhū, viśva-mūri.
(But first) so too, I wish to (again) see You (as before (Bh.G.11.17)) with crown, mace, and discus in hand (within the cosmic form). Please be with just that same four-armed form (as Lord Viṣṇu that I worship as my personal deity, iṣṭa-devatā), O Thousand-Armed Whose Form Is the Universe.
śrī-bhagavat, √vac:
asmad, prasanna, yuṣmad, arjuna, idam, rūpa, para, darśita, ātma-yoga; tejomaya, viśva, an-anta, ādya, yad, asmad, tvad-anya, na, dṛṣṭa-pūrva.

[Having again taken the popular Lord Viṣṇu form] The Lord said: O Arjuna, being pleased, I showed to you through My power this limitless form, which – brilliant, universal, endless, and primal (form) of Me – has not been seen by anyone (other) than you.
na, veda-yajña-adhyayana, na, dāna, na, ca, kriyā, na, tapas, ugra; evam-rūpa, śakya, asmad, nṛ-loka, draṣṭum, tvad-anya, kuru-pravīra.
Not by study of the Vedas or of rituals (yajñas), or by charity, or by (performing) rituals, or by vigorous prayerful disciplines can I be seen in such a form in the world of humans by anyone (other) than you, O Arjuna.
mā, yuṣmad, vyathā, mā, ca, vumūḍha-bhāva, dṛṣṭvā, rūpa, ghora, īdṛś, asmad, idam; vyapeta-bhī, prīta-manas, punar, yuṣmad, tad, eva, asmad, rūpa, idam, pra-√dṛś.
Seeing such a gruesome form as this of Mine, may you have no fear, nor (may your) mind (be) confused. Being without fear and of pleased mind again, may you see now that same form of me (as your friend).
sañjaya, √vac:
iti, arjuna, vāsu-deva, tathā, uktvā, svaka, rūpa, √dṛś, bhūyas; ā-√śvas, ca, bhīta, enad, bhūtvā, punar, saumya-vapus, mahā-ātman.

Sañjaya said: Thus having spoken to Arjuna, Kṛṣṇa showed again his own (human) form. And, having become again the Lord with a pleasing form, soothed him who was frightened.
arjuna, √vac:
dṛṣṭvā, idam, mānuṣa, rūpa, yuṣmad, saumya, jana-ardana; idānīm, √as, saṃvṛtta, sa-cetas, prakṛti, gata.

Arjuna said: O Kṛṣṇa, seeing this, Your pleasing human form, now I have recovered (my) mind and have returned to (my) original disposition.
śrī-bhagavat, √vac:
su-dus-darśana, idam, rūpa, dṛṣṭavat, √as, yad, asmad; deva, api, idam, rūpa, nityam, darśana-kāṅkṣin.

The Lord said: This form of Mine that you have seen, which is very difficult to see – even the gods are always desirous of seeing this form.
na, asmad, veda, na, tapas, na, dāna, na, ca, ijyā; śakya, evam-vidha, draṣṭum, dṛṣṭavat, √as, asmad, yathā.
In which way you have seen Me, in such a form, I can be seen not by (study of) the Vedas, or by prayerful discipline, or by charity, nor by ritual.
bhakti, tu, an-anyā, śakya, asmad, evam-vidha, arjuna; jñātum, draṣṭum, ca, tattvena, praveṣṭum, ca, param-tapa.
Whereas, O Arjuna, Vexer of Foes, (only) by a devotion in which there is no other (outside of Me) am I – in such a form – possible, in truth, to know; to see (not with a magical eye, but with the wise person’s, jñānī’s, eye that sees only Me), and to enter into (to include oneself as Me).
mad-karma-kṛt, mad-parama, mad-bhakta, saṅga-varjita; nis-vaira, sarva-bhūta, yad, tad, asmad, √i, pāṇḍava.
The mat-karma-kṛt (one who performs one’s duty for the sake of attaining Me), for whom the paramount (achievement) is Me, who is devoted to Me, free from attachment (as there is only Me), and without hostility toward any being (all of them being Me) – that one attains Me, O Arjuna.
om, tad, sat. iti, śrīmat-bhagavat-gītā, upaniṣad, brahma-vidyā, yoga-śāstra, śrī-kṛṣṇa-arjuna-saṃvāda, viśva-rūpa-darśana-yoga, nāma, ekā-daśa, adhyāya.
Om (brahman, the witness of all) is that (only) reality. Thus ends the eleventh chapter, called “The Topic of Vision of the Cosmic Form,” of the (eighteen chapters of) Songs of the Glorious Lord, which is (looked upon as) sacred teaching (Upaniṣad) and (whose teaching is) in (the form of) a dialogue between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, (the subject matter being) knowledge of brahman and yoga.

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The Topic of Devotion
The majesty and power of the physical and subtle universe was presented in the preceding chapter. The individual – who takes himself or herself as trapped within that universe, as a victim of the devouring jaws of time – is naturally afraid of the crushing immensity of everything “out there.” But, if one understands that this universe is a single manifestation of the reality that one calls the Lord; that one’s body-mind complex, along with its action, is naturally within the order that manifests as this universe; and that the physical and subtle laws that inform this universe are outside of one’s control but are certain and just – then one can start to objectively reconcile one’s life within the universe.
The results in life are outside of one’s control, but the results are always in keeping with one’s attitude and effort – because all results are within the cosmic order, which takes all factors into account. Every result is acceptable because every result is naturally in keeping with the entirety of the cosmic order. There is no pseudoscientific “randomness” in nature; there is only order and probability everywhere. Only possibilities exist.
The obvious intelligent design that is inherent in nature is evident as its discoverable laws. All is a manifestation of an order that only intelligence can appreciate. This is the starting point of devotion – appreciating and accepting the Lord, the reality, manifesting as the intelligent order within this cosmic wheel. In this chapter, we can understand devotion as the commitment to gaining this appreciation and acceptance. Devotion is not emotional and it is not intellectual. It is the whole person committing the body and mind to the understanding that this universe is an expression of the Lord as the cosmic order and to living this understanding appropriately.
But the Lord is more than this universe. The universe cycles in and out of manifestation within this reality that is the Lord. This Lord is the untainted reality in which the universe appears, plays itself out, and disappears. At the unchanging core of all beings is reality, the Lord’s reality. This reality can be appreciated as having all the glories we see in the universe – this is one appropriate vision. This reality can also be appreciated as being completely free of and untainted by this universe – this is the other appropriate vision.
In the first verse of chapter 12, Arjuna has a question as to which of these two visions is most efficacious in one’s means (sādhana) of seeking the ultimate goal (śreyas). The Lord has sanctioned both lifestyles – pravṛtti (pursuit in) and nivṛtti (withdrawal from) the world, both karma-yoga and sannyāsa. Kṛṣṇa again explains in this chapter that both lifestyles and their respective visions given above – appreciating the glories and acting within them, and appreciating being totally free from the glorious universe – are efficacious. But if one is not prepared – if one is still highly identified with the body and mind and is full of desires – then sannyāsa, the lifestyle wherein one renounces duties in the world and takes only to study and contemplation of the ultimate reality, is a more difficult path. Therefore, Kṛṣṇa recommends karma-yoga as a better starting point for such a person. This is obvious, but still it has to be explained because there are many people, like Arjuna, who fancy taking to sannyāsa – not out of a mature understanding of reality, but as a way to run away from the world and their duties. This seems to have been as common a problem in Kṛṣṇa’s time as it is today.
arjuna, √vac:
evam, sa-tata-yukta, yad, bhakta, yuṣmad, pari-upa-√ās; yad, ca, api, a-kṣara, a-vyakta, tad, kim, yoga-vittama.

Arjuna said: Between those devotees who in this same way (see 11.55) are always committed (to You) (those mat-karma-kṛts) and who seek You (as the form of the universe, viśva-rūpa), and those who (seek You) as the not objectified imperishable (a-kṣara) (formless reality, brahman) – who are the best knowers of yoga?
śrī-bhagavat, √vac:
asmad, āveśya, manas, yad, asmad, nitya-yukta, upa-√ās; śrad-dhā, parā, upeta, tad, asmad, yuktatama, mata.

The Lord said: Those who, placing their mind in Me, being always committed (karma-yogīs who are mat-karma-kṛt), and being endowed with ultimate trust (in My teaching and thus) seek Me – they are considered by Me to be (among) the best knowers of yoga (the means to attain Me).
yad, tu, a-kṣara, a-nirdeśya, a-vyakta, pari-upa-√ās; sarvatra-ga, a-cintya, ca, kūṭa-stha, a-cala, dhruva.
sanniyamya, indriya-grāma, sarvatra, sama-buddhi; tad, pra-āp, asmad, eva, sarva-bhūta-hita, rata.

Whereas those who seek (know Me as) a-kṣara (imperishable brahman) which cannot be described (delimited by words), not objectified (by the senses), is locationless, which cannot be an object of the mind, which remains (true) in the apparent (as the basis and witness of māyā, the manifestation of the Lord as the universe), is immovable and permanent (in time); and those who completely master their organs (of sense and action), whose vision remains the same toward everything, and who are dedicated to the welfare of all beings – they attain only Me.
kleśa, adhikatara, tad, a-vyakta-āsakta-cetas; a-vyakta, hi, gati, duḥkham, dehavat, ava-√āp.
Among those whose mind is committed to what is not objectified, affliction is (or can be) greater, because an end that cannot be objectified is reached with difficulty by those who (instead of being jñānīs, wise) are (sannyāsīs who are still) dehavat (identified with their body).
yad, tu, sarva, karman, asmad, sannyasya, mad-para; an-anya, eva, yoga, asmad, dhyāyat, upa-√ās.
tad, asmad, samuddhartṛ, mṛtyu-saṃsāra-sāgara; √bhū, na-cirāt, pārtha, asmad, āveśita-cetas.

Whereas, O Arjuna, those (karma-yogīs) who seek Me – giving up all action unto Me, having Me as their ultimate, and meditating on Me with undivided discipline – for them whose mind is absorbed in Me, I become before long their liberator from the ocean that is saṃsāra (a life of becoming) which is filled with death.
asmad, eva, manas, ā-√dhā, asmad, buddhi, ni-√viś; ni-√vas, asmad, eva, atas, ūrdhvam, na, saṃśaya.
Place your mind (the vacillating mind) only in Me (gain a steadiness contemplating Me). Place your buddhi (intellect/knowledge) in Me (gain clear knowledge of Me). Thereupon, you will abide in (attain) Me alone. (In this) there is no doubt.
atha, citta, samādhātum, na, √śak, asmad, sthiram; abhyāsa-yoga, tatas, asmad, √iṣ, āptum, dhanam-jaya.
If you are not able to place your mind steadily in Me, then seek to attain Me by a yoga consisting of continual practice (study and contemplation – repeatedly bringing the mind back to these two), O Arjuna.
abhyāsa, api, a-samartha, √as, mad-karma-parama, √bhū; mad-artham, api, karman, kurvat, siddhi, ava-√āp.
(If) you are incapable in even this continual practice, (then as a karma-yogī) be one for whom action dedicated to (attaining) Me is paramount. Even doing actions (at their outset) for the sake of (attaining) Me, you will attain success (in terms, initially, of maturity and peace of mind).
atha, etad, api, a-śakta, √as, kartum, mad-yoga, āśriya; sarva-karma-phala-tyāga, tatas, √kṛ, yata-ātmavat.
If, being committed to My yoga, you are not able to do even this, then – being one whose mind is disciplined – please give up (the false notion of being the author of) the results of all actions (see 2.47 and 18.11).
śreyas, hi, jñāna, abhyāsa, jñāna, dhyāna, vi-√śiṣ; dhyāna, karma-phala-tyāga, tyāga, śānti, an-antaram.
Than abhyāsa (continued practice), understanding (with practice) is better indeed. Than understanding, contemplation (with understanding) is better. Than contemplation, giving up (the false notion of being the author of the) results of action (karma-phala-tyāga) (is initially better). Out of this renunciation, peace (of mind) immediately follows.
a-dveṣṭṛ, sarva-bhūta, maitra, karuṇa, eva, ca; nis-manas, nis-aham-kāra, sama-duḥkha-sukha, kṣamin.
santuṣṭa, sa-tatam, yogin, yata-ātman, dṛḍha-niścaya; asmad, arpita-manas-buddhi, yad, mad-bhakta, tad, asmad, priya.

The jñānī (wise person) who is not displeased toward any being, is friendly and compassionate, free from the judgment “this is mine,” free from the judgment (that) “I (am only this body-mind),” the same in pleasure or pain (not elated nor saddened), accommodative (patient and understanding), always contented and contemplative, disciplined, of firm resolve,with mind and intellect resolved in Me, who is (in this way) devoted to Me – that one is dear to Me (as dear as Myself, because that one is Myself and that one knows this fact).
yad, na, ud-√vij, loka, loka, na, ud-√vij, ca, yad; harṣa-a-marṣa-bhaya-udvega, mukha, yad, tad, ca, asmad, priya.
Of whom the world (living beings and the environment) is not afraid (or need not protect itself against) and who is not afraid of the world, and the one who is freed from elation, intolerance, fear, and anxiety – that one is dear to Me.
an-apekṣa, śuci, dakṣa, udāsīna, gata-vyatha; sarva-ārambha-parityāgin, yad, mad-bhakta, tad, asmad, priya.
Without dependence (on anything for happiness), clean (externally and mentally), adept (wise in all situations), neutral, not shaken with fear, completely renounced all (doership in) activities – who is (in this way) devoted to Me, that one is dear to Me.
yad, na, √hṛṣ, na, √dviṣ, na, √śuc, na, √kāṅkṣ; śubha-a-śubha-parityāgin, bhaktimat, yad, tad, asmad, priya.
Does not become elated, does not become displeased, does not grieve, does not require/anticipate, who (naturally and) completely renounces (the status of being the doer and experiencer in) pleasant and unpleasant activity – who (thus) has devotion, that one is dear to Me.
sama, śatru, ca, mitra, ca, tathā, māna-apamāna; śīta-uṣṇa-sukha-duḥkha, sama, saṅga-vivarjita.
tulya-nindā-stuti, maunin, santuṣṭa, yad, ka-cid; a-niketa, sthira-mati, bhaktimat, asmad, priya, nara.

The same toward (another who takes himself or herself as) an enemy or a friend and toward respect or disrespect, the same toward (the opposites) cold/hot and pleasure/pain, free from attachment, for whom censure and praise are alike (addressing only this body or mind, but not one’s self), disciplined in speech, satisfied with whatever (happens), homeless (a sannyāsī or one who has no ownership toward a house he or she may own), and whose knowledge is firm – who (in this way) has devotion, that person is dear to Me.
yad, tu, dharmya-a-mṛta, idam, yathā-uktam, pari-upa-√ās; śrad-dadhāna, mad-parama, bhakta, tad, atīva, asmad, priya.
Those indeed who follow this, as was told, that is in keeping with dharma and (is an expression of and therefore leading to) complete freedom, who are endowed with trust (in My teaching), for whom I am paramount – such devotees as those are very dear to Me.
om, tad, sat. iti, śrīmat-bhagavat-gītā, upaniṣad, brahma-vidyā, yoga-śāstra, śrī-kṛṣṇa-arjuna-saṃvāda, bhakti-yoga, nāma, dvā-daśa, adhyāya.
Om (brahman, the witness of all) is that (only) reality. Thus ends the twelfth chapter, called “The Topic of Devotion,” of the (eighteen chapters of) Songs of the Glorious Lord, which is (looked upon as) sacred teaching (Upaniṣad) and (whose teaching is) in (the form of) a dialogue between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, (the subject matter being) knowledge of brahman and yoga.

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The Topic of the Distinction of the Field and the Knower of the Field
Knowledge is the direct means of freeing oneself from saṃsāra (the life of unending need for becoming) because the bondage of saṃsāra is one of ignorance – ignorance of the fact that one’s self is none other than the reality of this universe and yet is free of this universe. Through ignorance alone one is bound (yoked) to “otherness,” to the limitations that appear in one’s body and mind in relation to the vast universe. Knowledge does not create freedom since, by one’s very nature, one is already free. Rather, knowledge removes the ignorance that veils the oneness of reality from our understanding.
The reality and freedom of the self is predominately taught in the first six chapters of the Bhagavad Gītā, and the reality and glories of the universe as the Lord is predominately taught in chapters 7–12. Clear statements of the identity of the self and the Lord have been given. In the next six chapters, the oneness of reality is emphasized and methodically unfolded. Through every chapter of the Bhagavad Gītā, the means to assimilate the teaching is continually taught. This means, called yoga, is essentially an enlightened attitude with appropriate values – an attitude one takes to all aspects of the relationship between oneself and the whole. This enlightened attitude is one of a devotee (bhakta) – one who intelligently appreciates and participates in the great cosmic wheel. The bhakta’s attitude yields a clarity that allows the knowledge to be completely assimilated and, hence, made firm.
This teaching of oneness – and of the way to assimilate it – is a means within saṃsāra to get out of saṃsāra. It is the key to release from limitation. In each cycle of the universe, this teaching is handed to the beings who are intelligent and mentally mature enough to make use of it. The yoga (literally, “uniting,” “yoking”) taught in the Bhagavad Gītā is the “uniting” of oneself with this teaching of the oneness of reality. It is the yoga, the commitment to the teaching, that frees us from the “yoke” that otherwise keeps us seemingly limited. In chapter 13, the Lord distinguishes (or “unyokes”) kṣetra – the field, that is, the universe including one’s body-mind complex – from kṣetra-jña, the knower of the field, who is the Lord that is oneself.
Until the reality, brahman – which is to be known as oneself, as the basis of the universe, and as the Lord – is known, making the effort of yoga and attending to the teaching is valid and required. This knowledge is not just a physical, emotional, or intellectual pursuit; nor is it an inactive or overly energetic (tāmasa or rājasa) pursuit. The whole person has to commit to this pursuit of knowledge.
There are two possible lifestyles in this pursuit – sannyāsa and yoga, or in other words nivṛtti and pravṛtti mārgas (disengaging from competitive society and engaging in competitive society) – but the means is one: Knowledge alone is the means. Yoga, as taught in the Bhagavad Gītā, is the preparation for its assimilation. It is purely cognitive (sāttvika) – all the way. Both the one who knows this knowledge and the one who wants to know this knowledge are devotees (bhaktas, see 7.16–18). The belief that there are many yogas (depending on one’s personality) that separately lead to the ultimate goal (śreyas) is not grounded in this teaching here, though elsewhere – outside the Upaniṣads, Bhagavad Gītā, and Brahma-sūtras – such divisions are expressed by those who don’t yet understand this teaching. Kṛṣṇa warned us of such distractions early on (see 2.41). Instead of creating unnecessary divisions among sincere bhaktas, Kṛṣṇa brings the traditional teaching all together in this chapter.
arjuna, √vac:
prakṛti, puruṣa, ca, eva, kṣetra, kṣetra-jña, eva, ca; etad, veditum, √iṣ, jñāna, jñeya, ca, keśava.

Arjuna said: What I wish to know, O Kṛṣṇa, is this: prakṛti and puruṣa (nature and the one who fills nature), kṣetra and kṣetra-jña (the field and the knower of the field), and jñāna and jñeya (knowledge and what is to be known).
śrī-bhagavat, √vac:
idam, śarīra, kaunteya, kṣetra, iti, abhi-√dhā; etad, yad, √vid, tad, pra-√ah, kṣetra-jña, iti, tad-vid.

The Lord said: O Arjuna, this body (where one reaps the fruits – good and bad, puṇya and pāpa – initially presented as this human body and later expanded to the entire body of the universe, to prakṛti) is called the field (kṣetra). Those who know both of these (the kṣetra and kṣetra-jña) call the one who knows this (kṣetra) as the kṣetra-jña (the knower of the field).
sarva-jña, ca, api, asmad, √vid, sarva-kṣetra, bhārata; kṣetra-kṣetra-jña, jñāna, yad, tad, jñāna, mata, asmad.
In all the kṣetras (bodies), know Me (who is not subject to saṃsāra) to be the (only) kṣetra-jña (knower) (know Me, the Lord, as the only I, the only knower), O Arjuna. Knowledge which is of this kṣetra and kṣetra-jña – that (alone) is considered by Me to be knowledge (jñāna) (as it alone is final and it alone releases one from saṃsāra).
tad, kṣetra, yad, ca, yā-dṛś, ca, yad-vikārin, yatas, ca, yad; tad, ca, yad, yad-prabhāva, ca, tad, samāsena, asmad, √śru.
What is that kṣetra? (What is) its appearance, having which modifications? From what (source does) it (arise)? And what is that (source, the kṣetra-jña, which is Me), and what glories is (that source) having? About that, in brief, listen to Me.
ṛṣi, bahudhā, gīta, chandas, vividha, pṛthak; brahma-sūtra-pada, ca, eva, hetumat, viniścita.
(Each, the kṣetra and its source) has been sung as distinct (from each other) in many ways by the seers/sages – through various verses and through concise statements that reveal brahman (reality) with (supporting) logic and which are well ascertained (without doubt).
mahā-bhūta, aham-kāra, buddhi, a-vyakta, eva, ca; indriya, daśan, eka, ca, pañcan, ca, indriya-go-cara.
icchā, dveṣa, sukha, duḥkha, saṅghāta, cetanā, dhṛti; etad, kṣetra, samāsena, sa-vikāra, udāhṛta.

The (five distinct) pervasive (subtle) elements, ahaṅkāra (the I) (the universe’s ahaṅkāra as Lord Brahmā, the author, kartā, of the universe), buddhi (the intellect) (the universe’s intellect as the saṅkalpa, intension, of the Lord at the time of manifestation, wherein the laws are determined by which everything is manifest), and a-vyakta (unmanifest cause, Iśvara-śakti/māyā) (– all eight aforementioned constitute prakṛti), (and then prakṛti’s modifications, including) the ten organs, the one (mind including the intellect), the five (gross) sense objects (as the physical universe), desire, aversion, pleasure, pain, this physical body, cognition, and resolve – (all) this is in brief called the kṣetra (field) along with its modifications.
a-mānitva, a-dambhitva, a-hiṃsā, kṣānti, ārjava; ācārya-upāsana, śauca, sthairya, ātma-vinigraha.
indriya-artha, vairāgya, an-aham-kāra, eva, ca; janma-mṛtyu-jarā-vyādhi-duḥkha-doṣa-anudarśana.

(What is also jñāna, knowledge, is) absence of conceit (not demanding that others know one’s virtues), absence of hypocrisy (not demanding that others recognize virtues that one does not have), harmlessness, accommodation (as patience and understanding), straightforwardness, reverence for (and attendance to) the teacher, cleanliness, steadfastness, self-discipline, dispassion toward sense objects, absence of arrogance (not presenting oneself in the reflection of some glory in one’s possession), and seeing the problem of sorrow (which is guilt and hurt) in birth, death, ageing, and diseases.
a-sakti, an-abhiṣvaṅga, putra-dāra-gṛha-ādi; nityam, ca, sama-cittatva, iṣṭa-an-iṣṭa-upapatti.
asmad, ca, an-anya-yoga, bhakti, a-vyabhicārinī; vivikta-deśa-sevitva, a-rati, jana-saṃsad.
adhi-ātma-jñāna-nityatva, tattva-jñāna-artha-darśana; etad, jñāna, iti, prokta, a-jñāna, yad, atas, anyathā.

(Also) absence of ownership; lack of identification toward son (offspring), wife (spouse), house, etcetera; continual equanimity of mind toward occurrences of the desirable and the undesirable; unswerving devotion in Me through a yoga (vision of identity, samādhi) in which there is no other; the disposition to (or a value to) repair to a quiet place (where I do not have to fear, do not feel I have to change, and do not have to escape from); not longing for the company of people (not needing to escape from myself through others); being always centered on the knowledge of the I; and seeing the goal of the knowledge of truth (that goal being complete freedom) – (all) this is also called jñāna (an expression of knowledge and, thus, a means of gaining knowledge). What is other than this is an obstacle to knowledge (a-jñāna).
jñeya, yad, tad, pra-√vac, yad, jñātvā, a-mṛta, √aś; an-ādimat, para, brahman, na, sat, tad, na, a-sat, √vac.
What is jñeya (to be known), that I (will) tell (you). Knowing which one gains immortality (called mokṣa, freedom, the reason it is to be known) – that (jñeya) is beginningless and limitless brahman (reality, My nature), said to be neither (an object) that is, nor is not.
sarvatas-pāṇi-pāda, tad, sarvatas-akṣi-śiras-mukha; sarvatas-śrutimat, loka, sarva, āvṛtya, √sthā.
(Not that it is not, since) that (reality to be known, jñeyaṃ brahman) remains (motionless, yet) pervading all in the loka (universe) (as each being’s reality) – with (all beings’) hands and feet everywhere; with their eyes, heads, and mouths everywhere; and with their ears everywhere.
sarva-indriya-guṇa-ābhāsa, sarva-indriya-vivarjita; a-sakta, sarva-bhṛt, ca, eva, nis-guṇa, guṇa-bhoktṛ, ca.
(Not that it is, since that reality to be known, jñeyaṃ brahman, merely) appears as the attributes (the functioning – seeing, etcetera) of all the organs (in these bodies, yet) is free from all the organs, is unattached (yet) sustains all, and is free from the guṇas (constituents of nature) (yet) is the experiencer of the guṇas.
bahis, antar, ca, bhūta, a-cara, cara, eva, ca; sūkṣmatva, tad, a-vijñeya, dūra-stham, ca, antike, ca, tad.
It is (with reference to these bodies) outside and inside of (all) beings, and is whatever does and does not move (in the universe). Since it is subtle (innermost, as “I”), it is not knowable (as a “this or that,” an object). It is (as) far (as the farthest, imagined object) and (as) near (as “I”).
a-vibhakta, ca, bhūta, vibhakta, iva, ca, sthita; bhūta-bhartṛ, ca, tad, jñeya, grasiṣṇu, prabhaviṣṇu, ca.
That jñeya (the to-be-known) remains undivided (as one only) yet is seemingly divided (as many) in all beings, (this one and only) is the one who sustains (all these) beings (the embodiments and objects), and is their devourer and creator.
jyotis, api, tad, jyotis, tamas, para, √vac; jñāna, jñeya, jñāna-gamya, hṛd, sarva, viṣṭhita.
It is the light of lights (the solely self-revealing conscious-being by which even the sun is revealed) and is said to be beyond darkness (or ignorance, as it reveals both). It is jñāna (see 13.2 and 13.7–11), jñeya, and the result to be attained by jñāna. It abides in the center of everything (and is to be known in this intellect).
iti, kṣetra, tathā, jñāna, jñeya, ca, ukta, samāsatas; mad-bhakta, etad, vijñāya, mad-bhāva, upa-√pad.
Thus the field, the knowledge, and the to-be-known (the kṣetra, the jñāna, and the jñeya) have been briefly told. Clearly knowing this, one who is devoted to Me (who is this jñeya) is fit for My nature (called mokṣa, complete freedom).
prakṛti, puruṣa, ca, eva, √vid, an-ādi, ubha, api; vikāra, ca, guṇa, ca, eva, √vid, prakṛti-sambhava.
May you know that both nature and the person (prakṛti and puruṣa) are beginningless. And may you know that the guṇas (the mental dispositions – not the three unmodified guṇas, the constituents of prakṛti) and other modifications (from intellects to all physical bodies) are born of prakṛti.
kārya-karaṇa-kartṛtva, hetu, prakṛti, √vac; puruṣa, sukha-duḥkha, bhoktṛtva, hetu, √vac.
Prakṛti (nature) is said to be the cause of the origination of the physical body and its instruments (the mind, senses, etcetera). The puruṣa (the knower of the field, the kṣetra-jña or, in this case, the individual jīva/living entity) is said to be the cause of being the experiencer of pleasant and unpleasant situations.
puruṣa, prakṛti-stha, hi, √bhuj, prakṛti-ja, guṇa; kāraṇa, guṇa-saṅga, idam, sat-a-sat-yoni-janman.
Because the puruṣa (the person) abides in prakṛti, it experiences (the modifications of) the guṇas born of prakṛti. In regard to births in virtuous and nonvirtuous wombs (in saṃsāra), one’s (the ignorant jīva’s) attachment to (the modifications of) the guṇas is the cause.
upadraṣṭṛ, anumantṛ, ca, bhartṛ, bhoktṛ, mahā-īśvara; parama-ātman, iti, ca, api, ukta, deha, idam, puruṣa, para.
(But in fact) the puruṣa (even while in this body) is limitless, the immediate witness, the permitter, the sustainer, the (unattached) experiencer, the (very) Lord (Myself), and is indeed called the Paramātmā (the limitless I).
yad, evam, √vid, puruṣa, prakṛti, ca, guṇa, saha; sarvathā, vartamāna, api, na, tad, bhūyas, abhi-√jan.
The one who in this way knows puruṣa and prakṛti with its guṇas – that one, even though performing action in all ways (whether as a student, householder, retiree, or sannyāsī) is not born again.
dhyāna, atman, √dṛś, ka-cid, ātman, ātman; anya, sāṅkhya, yoga, karma-yoga, ca, apara.
Some (wise people, jñānīs) see the self – in the mind, by the mind – with contemplation (after study to remove obstacles to assimilation of knowledge), (a rare few) others (simply) by inquiry (simply by study of the teaching), and some others (by this teaching) while engaged in their duties.
anya, tu, evam, a-jānat, śrutvā, anya, upa-√ās; tad, api, ca, ati-√tṝ, eva, mṛtyu, śruti-para-ayana.
Whereas others, not (yet) knowing (this teaching), worship (Me) according to what they have heard from others (from gurus who tell them to initially do prayers, pūjyā, mental chanting, japa, etcetera). They also, being ones for whom listening (to the teaching) is the ultimate end, (eventually) cross over death.
yāvat, sam-√jan, ka-cid, sattva, sthāvara-jaṅgama; kṣetra-kṣetra-jña-saṃyoga, tad, √vid, bharata-ṛṣabha.
As long as any being (a jīva, continues to) be (re-)born as immobile or mobile – know that to be due to the saṃyoga (association – due to a lack of viveka, knowing the difference) between the kṣetra and the kṣetra-jña, O Arjuna.
sama, sarva, bhūta, tiṣṭhat, parama-īśvara; vinaśyat, a-vinaśyat, yad, √dṛś, tad, √dṛś.
The one who sees the Lord (Me) as remaining the same in all beings and as not being destroyed among those (bodies) being destroyed – that one (alone) sees.
sama, paśyat, hi, sarvatra, samavasthita, īśvara; na, √hiṃs, ātman, ātman, tatas, √yā, parā, gati.
Because seeing (Me) the Lord as remaining the same (sama) everywhere (as the self of all), one does not by oneself (through the mind) destroy (lose sight of) the self (since that self is the all-pervasive Me) and, hence, attains the ultimate end (the end of saṃsāra, unbecoming becoming).
prakṛti, eva, ca, karman, kriyamāṇa, sarvaśas; yad, √dṛś, tathā, ātman, a-kartṛ, tad, √dṛś.
And the one who sees actions being done in every way by nature (prakṛti) alone and, in that way, (sees) that the self is not a doer – that one alone correctly sees.
yadā, bhūta-pṛthak-bhāva, eva-stha, anu-√dṛś; tatas, eva, ca, vistāra, brahman, sam-√pad, tadā.
When one according (to the teaching) sees that the (apparent) separateness of beings resolves into one (and that all these apparently separate beings) are a projection (a manifestation) from that (one) alone – then he (or she) attains (that same) brahman (as himself or herself).
an-āditva, nis-guṇatva, parama-ātman, idam, a-vyāya; śarīra-stha, api, kaunteya, na, √kṛ, na, √lip.
O Arjuna, since it is beginningless (uncaused/un-effected) and since it is without attributes, this changeless Paramātmā (limitless I) does not do action – even though obtaining in the body – nor is it affected (by the results of action).
yathā, sarva-gata, saukṣmya, ākāśa, na, upa-√lip; sarvatra, avasthita, deha, tathā, ātman, na, upa-√lip.
Just as the all-pervasive (element called) space is not affected (by movements of objects within space) because it is subtle (it is innermost/pervasive, in and through and outside of objects, without itself moving), similarly, the self (ātmā, puruṣa), obtaining in (each) body everywhere, is not affected.
yathā, pra-√kāś, eka, kṛtsna, loka, idam, ravi; kṣetra, kṣetrin, tathā, kṛtsna, pra-√kāś, bhārata.
Just as the one sun illumines this entire world (yet is unaffected by it), similarly, this one obtaining in the kṣetra illumines (lights up, as the conscious being, all thoughts in all minds, which thoughts alone reflect) the entire (known and inferred) kṣetra (field of the universe), O Arjuna.
kṣetra-kṣetra-jña, evam, antara, jñāna-cakṣus; bhūta-prakṛti-mokṣa, ca, yad, √vid, √yā, tad, para.
Those who thus know, through the eye of wisdom, the distinction between the kṣetra and the kṣetra-jña (the object and the subject – the subject being the substance of all objects, of all names and forms), and (their inherent) freedom from prakṛti (the cause) of (all) beings – they attain the ultimate.
om, tad, sat. iti, śrīmat-bhagavat-gītā, upaniṣad, brahma-vidyā, yoga-śāstra, śrī-kṛṣṇa-arjuna-saṃvāda, kṣetra-kṣetra-jña-vibhāga-yoga, nāma, trayas-daśa, adhyāya.
Om (brahman, the witness of all) is that (only) reality. Thus ends the thirteenth chapter, called “The Topic of the Distinction between the Field and the Knower of the Field,” of the (eighteen chapters of) Songs of the Glorious Lord, which is (looked upon as) sacred teaching (Upaniṣad) and (whose teaching is) in (the form of) a dialogue between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, (the subject matter being) knowledge of brahman and yoga.

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The Topic of the Division of the Three Guṇas
Chapter 14 marks the start of the elaboration of the three guṇas (qualities in, or constituents of, nature): sattva (related to knowledge); rajas (related to activity); and tamas (related to inactivity). The universal categorization of the guṇas is used to encompass the total universe, such as the traiguṇya (see 2.45 and 3.27–28), or to encompass just the subtle world of thoughts (see 10.36, 13.19, and 17.2).
The elaboration of the guṇas that begins in this chapter distinguishes appropriate and inappropriate attitudes as they relate to karma-yoga – and ultimately brings us to the transcendence of these guṇas. Universal categorizations, such as the three guṇas, the five elements linked to the five human sense-organs, or the three worlds (earth/sky/heaven), are employed throughout the Upaniṣads to help us apply the teaching to the entire universe. The method of using universal categorization, of covering everything with a few categories, is self-acknowledged in Chāndogya Upaniṣad 6.4.5:
{NEED TO INDENT ENTIRE PARAGRAPH}Because they knew [everything] through these [three categories – the red/white/black, relating to the three visible elements fire/water/earth], they said, “None of us will speak of anything as unheard, unthought, or unknown.”
The universal categorization method is also used in the Bhagavad Gītā to help us understand how the three-fold structure of the universe is reflected in the mind and how the mind should then relate objectively to the universe. Just as Kṛṣṇa used the concept of yoga from Kaṭha Upaniṣad and elaborated on it in previous chapters, in chapter 14 He uses the universal categorization of the guṇas, given in Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad – which borrows heavily from Kaṭha Upaniṣad and employs the terms sāṅkhya (knowledge) and yoga together (see 2.39) – to explain karma-yoga.
Although a predominately sāttvika (uplifting) attitude is the most appropriate attitude within various behaviors, the goal is to appreciate oneself as guṇātīta – one who transcends all three guṇas – as well as one who thus transcends all actions. Among all possible attitudes we can take toward life’s basic activities, the chapters that follow (chapters 14, 17, and 18) indicate that the attitudes that can be categorized as sāttvika are preferred and that the others are to be avoided.
Sometimes the guṇas are used to categorize the predilections (dispositions) toward behaviors, for example, all the categorizations in chapter 14 are of this type. Other times, they are used to categorize the behaviors themselves, for example, most of the categorizations in chapter 17 are of this type – food choices, rituals, religious disciplines, and charities are related to the guṇas. In these cases, predilections or inappropriate behaviors are not to be condemned in others or in one’s self. After all, the things and actions of the world and the thoughts that make up the mind are what they are. They are governed by the universal laws of the total, both physical and psychological, and are affected by the whole universe. They are not meant to be viewed in isolation or out of context. In their context, they cannot be other than what they are – and ought to be accepted as they are.
However, as doers (as long as we take ourselves to be doers), we have a choice in our current action, and the Advaita Vedānta teaching can inform our attitude and our choice in that action. When we make choices informed by the teaching, we live a clean life conducive to assimilating the knowledge unfolded by the teaching. And, by living such a life, we gain this knowledge, which frees us from grief and death.
śrī-bhagavat, √vac:
para, bhūyas, pra-√vac, jñāna, jñāna, uttama; yad, jñātvā, muni, sarva, parā, siddhi, itas, gata.

The Lord said: I will again tell (you) the ultimate knowledge – the most profound of (disciplines of) knowledge – knowing which, all the sages (being released by this knowledge) from this body have attained the ultimate accomplishment.
idam, jñāna, upāśritya, asmad, sādharmya, āgata; sarga, api, na, upa-√jan, pralaya, na, √vyath, ca.
Following this knowledge (this teaching), they, having attained My same nature (identity with Me, timeless reality), do not arise even at the manifestation (of a new universe), nor fall at the dissolution (of this or succeeding universes).
asmad, yoni, mahat, brahman, tad, garbha, √dhā, asmad; sambhava, sarva-bhūta, tatas, √bhū, bhārata.
My womb (prakṛti) (is not different from Me, who) is reality (manifesting) as the vast subtle universe (mahat brahman) (also called Hiraṇya-garbha). Into that (mahat brahman, as the womb) I implant the seed [Iśvara is a masculine word and prakṛti is a feminine word, hence, the impregnation metaphor]. From that is the manifestation of all beings, O Arjuna.
sarva-yoni, kaunteya, mūrti, sam-√bhū, yad; tad, brahman, mahat, yoni, asmad, bīja-prada, pitṛ.
O Arjuna, for those forms which arise in all wombs (of gods, humans, etcetera), the (original) womb is mahat brahman (Me). And I am (also) the father who implants the seed (which seed, being existence and conscious being, satyaṃ jñānam, gives prakṛti, nature-womb, the capacity to create).
sattva, rajas, tamas, iti, guṇa, prakṛti-sambhava; ni-√bandh, mahā-bāhu, deha, dehin, a-vyaya.
O Arjuna, the guṇas, which exist in (constitute) prakṛti, are (called) sattva, rajas, and tamas and (they, apparently, like notional ropes) bind the changeless embodied one (the jīva, the kṣetra-jña) into the body.
tatra, sattva, nis-malatva, prakāśaka, an-āmaya; sukha-saṅga, √bandh, jñāna-saṅga, ca, an-agha.
Among these, sattva – since it is free from impurity – is illuminating and free from affliction – (yet) binds by (one’s) attachment to pleasure and by (one’s) attachment to knowing (attachment/identity is the problem, not the pleasure or knowledge), O Arjuna.
rajas, rāga-ātmaka, √vid, tṛṣṇa-āsaṅga-samudbhava; tad, ni-√bandh, kaunteya, karma-saṅga, dehin.
Know rajas, which is of the nature of attraction (being an impurity to the natural clarity of the sāttvika mind – projecting virtues on things that they don’t have), as born of (increased by) longing and attachment. O Arjuna, it binds the embodied one by attachment to activity.
tamas, tu, a-jñāna-ja, √vid, mohana, sarva-dehin; pramāda-ālasya-nidrā, tad, ni-√bandh, bhārata.
Whereas, know tamas – for all those identified with their body – as delusion (as the lack of discerning the difference between oneself and objects of desire) born of (perpetuated by) ignorance. It binds by carelessness, laziness, and sleepiness, O Arjuna.
sattva, sukha, √sañj, rajas, karman, bhārata; jñāna, āvṛtya, tu, tamas, pramāda, √sañj, uta.
O Arjuna, sattva (as though) binds one into pleasure and rajas (as though) binds one into activity, whereas tamas – covering knowledge (by being an impurity to the natural clarity of the sāttvika mind) – indeed (as though) binds one into carelessness.
rajas, tamas, ca, abhibhūya, sattva, √bhū, bhārata; rajas, sattva, tamas, ca, eva, tamas, sattva, rajas, tathā.
O Arjuna, sattva (throughout the day and one’s life) arises (by overwhelming) rajas and tamas. Rajas arises (by overwhelming) sattva and tamas. Similarly, tamas arises by overwhelming sattva and rajas.
sarva-dvāra, deha, idam, prakāśa upa-√jan; jñāna, yadā, tadā, √vid, vivṛddha, sattva, iti, uta.
When the brightness, which is knowledge, arises in all the sense organs in this body, then one should know indeed that sattva has increased.
lobha, pravṛtti, ārambha, karman, a-śama, spṛhā; rajas, etad, √jan, vivṛddha, bharata-ṛṣabha.
Greed, (physical) restlessness, karma (action that binds), (mental) restlessness, attraction – these arise when rajas has increased, O Arjuna.
a-prakāśa, a-pravṛtti, ca, pramāda, moha, eva, ca; tamas, etad, √jan, vivṛddha, kuru-nandana.
Dullness (here described as a darkness over the mind), absence of (physical) activity, carelessness, and delusion – these arise when tamas has increased, O Arjuna.
yadā, sattva, pravṛddha, tu, pralaya, √yā, deha-bhṛt; tadā, uttama-vid, loka, a-mala, prati-√pad.
But upon sattva being predominant, when an embodied one dies, that one goes to the virtuous worlds of those who know the most exalted (the heavens).
rajas, pralaya, gatvā, karma-saṅgin, √jan; tathā, pralīna, tamas, mūḍha-yoni, √jan.
Upon rajas (being predominant), after dying, one is born among those committed to (the results of) actions (born among humans). Similarly, upon tamas (being predominant), having died, one is born in wombs of those who lack discriminative faculties (born among animals, plants, etcetera).
karman, su-kṛta, √ah, sāttvika, nis-mala, phala; rajas, tu, phala, duḥkha, a-jñāna, tamas, phala.
They say that, for virtuous action, the result – (being) connected to sattva – is free from impurity; but for rajas (cutting corners to get results) the result is pain; and for tamas, the result is ignorance (the inability to get out of ignorance – birth as an animal, etcetera).
sattva, sam-√jan, jñāna, rajas, lobha, eva, ca; pramāda-moha, tamas, √bhū, a-jñāna, eva, ca.
From sattva is born knowledge and from rajas is only greed. From tamas are born carelessness and delusion, and also (continuance) in ignorance.
ūrdhvam, √gam, sattva-stha, madhye, √sthā, rājasa; jaghanya-guṇa-vṛtta-stha, adhas, √gam, tāmasa.
Those who live a life (predominantly) of sattva go up (get birth in heaven). Those predominantly rajas stay in the middle (get human birth). Those predominantly tamas, who are situated in the condition of this bottom guṇa, go down (get a lower birth).
na, anya, guṇa, kartṛ, yadā, draṣṭṛ, anu-√dṛś; guṇa, ca, para, √vid, mad-bhāva, tad, adhi-√gam.
When the seer sees (according to the teaching) that there is not a doer other than the guṇas and knows (the self) as beyond the guṇas, (then) that one attains My nature (called mokṣa).
guṇa, etad, atītya, tri, dehin, deha-samudbhava; janma-mṛtyu-jarā-duḥkha, vimukta, a-mṛta, √aś.
Transcending these three guṇas that give rise to the body – and freed from birth, death, ageing, and sorrow (guilt and hurt) – the embodied one attains immortality.
arjuna, √vac:
kim, liṅga, tri, guṇa, etad, atīta, √bhū, prabhu; kim-ācāra, katham, ca, etad, tri, guṇa, ati-√vṛt.

Arjuna said: By what indications is (it known that) one has transcended these three guṇas, O Lord? What is (that one’s) conduct? And how does one transcend these three guṇas?
śrī-bhagavat, √vac:
prakāśa, ca, pravṛtti, ca, moha, eva, ca, pāṇḍava; na, √dviṣ, sampravṛtta, na, nivṛtta, √kāṅkṣ.
udāsīnavat, āsīna, guṇa, yad, na, vi-√cal; guṇa, √vṛt, iti, eva, yad, ava-√sthā, na, √iṅg.
sama-duḥkha-sukha, sva-stha, sama-loṣṭa-aśma-kāñcana; tulya-priya-a-priya, dhīra, tula-nindā-ātma-saṃstuti.
māna-apamāna, tulya, tulya, mitra-ari-pakṣa; sarva-ārambha-parityāgin, guṇa-atīta, tad, √vac.

The Lord said: O Arjuna, brightness, (attachment-based) activity, and, indeed, delusion – the one who is not displeased when they wax, nor longs for them when they wane (throughout the day and one’s life); who, remaining seemingly indifferent, is not disturbed by the guṇas; who abides – (knowing) indeed that the guṇas act – and does not waiver (from this knowledge); who is the same in pleasure and pain and abides in the self; for whom a lump of clay, a stone, and gold (are transcended) as the same; for whom the pleasant and the unpleasant are (objectively viewed) the same (way); who is wise; for whom censure and praise of the self are alike (addressing only the mind or body – as the ātmā cannot be flattered nor damaged by any misconception of it); who is the same in respect and disrespect (which express only the others’ understanding and value structure, unrelated to the self); the same regarding the side of a friend or an enemy (seeing neither as friend nor enemy); and who has completely renounced (doership in) all activities – that one is called guṇātīta (beyond the guṇas).
asmad, ca, yad, a-vyabhicāra, bhakti-yoga, √sev; tad, guṇa, samatītya, etad, brahma-bhūya, √kḷp.
The one who seeks Me with unswerving devotion (commitment to attain Me through this teaching) – that one transcends these guṇas, becomes fit for being brahman.
brahman, hi, pratiṣṭhā, asmad, a-mṛta, a-vyaya, ca; śāśvata, ca, dharma, sukha, ekāntika, ca.
Because I (the “I” who is the knower, kṣetra-jña, and is the Lord, Maheśvara) am the basis (pratiṣṭhā) of (knowing and, thus, of becoming that) brahman – which is deathless, changeless, and ever the same; is dharma (that which supports); is fulfillment; and is unfailing (not subject to negation).
om, tad, sat. iti, śrīmat-bhagavat-gītā, upaniṣad, brahma-vidyā, yoga-śāstra, śrī-kṛṣṇa-arjuna-saṃvāda, guṇa-traya-vibhāga-yoga, nāma, catur-daśa, adhyāya.
Om (brahman, the witness of all) is that (only) reality. Thus ends the fourteenth chapter, called “The Topic of the Distinction of the Three Guṇas,” of the (eighteen chapters of) Songs of the Glorious Lord, which is (looked upon as) sacred teaching (Upaniṣad) and (whose teaching is) in (the form of) a dialogue between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, (the subject matter being) knowledge of brahman and yoga.

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The Topic of the Being Who Transcends
The fifteenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gītā is a marvelously complete chapter, like the second and the thirteenth. In each of these chapters, the entire Advaita Vedānta teaching is summarized. In chapter 15, the whole universe is presented through the Upaniṣad imagery of the Tree of Saṃsāra. In the Bhagavad Gītā, as in Kaṭha Upaniṣad (which is the source of this imagery), the Tree of Saṃsāra is not an upside-down tree. This common, but mistaken, notion is due to confusion about the meanings of the Sanskrit words “ūrdhva” and “adhas.”
In Sanskrit, ūrdhva can mean up or it can mean superior. Similarly, adhas can mean down or inferior. In Kaṭha Upaniṣad 6.1 and in the first verse of this chapter, these two words are used in their valuation and cause-effect sense (that is, as superior and inferior), not in their directional sense (up and down). If the meanings are taken as up and down, then the imagery is self-contradictory – since the “downward” secondary roots (see 15.2), which extend from the taproot, would actually be upward if the tree were upside down. (For more about the meanings of ūrdhva and adhas, see The Bhagavad Gita Dictionary, Aruna 2012.)
The taproot of the Tree of Saṃsāra is the a-vyakta brahman – the unsensed, unmanifest source of the seen universe. This a-vyakta brahman does not mutate into the vyakta (manifest) universe at the beginning of each manifestation cycle. Rather, the a-vyakta brahman continues to be while the manifest universe shimmers in our perception of it, like the unseen taproot continuously supports the visible and ever-changing tree.
Quantum physics assists in understanding this imagery. The a-vyakta (unmanifest), the kūṭa-stha (what remains immutable and in the form of deception), is like the quantum soup out of which each observer fixes what each calls “my reality” due to individual observations. This “my reality” is no more real than the perceptions and mentations that fix it. It is limited, ever-changing, and not the definitive truth. But there is truth; it is reality in and of itself. It is not other than the reality of oneself, the only observer – not other than the reality of the a-vyakta, called a-vyakta brahman. This unchanging reality is not in time or space, which are just ingredients in “my reality.” Identification with this shimmering “my reality” – a mutual imposing of natures between the observed and the observer, who wants and expects “my reality” to be as unchanging and real as myself (ātmā) yet, at the same time, perceives the observed as limiting and impinging on myself (simply because it is perceived as other than myself) – is the source of grief and death. Therefore, the first step in realizing the inherent freedom that is one’s birthright is cutting attachment to this “my reality,” this Tree of Saṃsāra (15.3–4).
Just as this timeless teaching has no fear of sciences, but rather embraces the sciences for what they are, so also does this teaching have no fear of religion. It embraces religion. This is why, in chapter 15, Kṛṣṇa describes this limitless reality as the Lord, which “in-forms” this universe and the individual – nourishing all. The term Lord is used because this reality is not a dead, insentient thing. It is not the insentient pradhāna (unevolved nature) of the later-day Sāṅkhya philosophy, akin to the evolutionary materialism of the immature Western sciences. Rather, it is the source of the singular intelligent energy that modern string theorists cannot hope to describe. It is the real “soup of everything.” The source of intelligent energy we call “the Lord” is infinitely more than what our minds can grasp; it is beyond all words and thoughts – because it is, indeed, none other than one’s self. The limitless being that we can appreciate is but the self – the observer of all limitations, free of all limitations. It is not theory, not belief.
śrī-bhagavat, √vac:
ūrdhva-mūla, adhas-śākha, aśva-ttha, pra-√ah, a-vyaya; chandas, yad, parṇa, yad, tad, √vid, tad, veda-vid.

The Lord said: They say of the imperishable Aśvattha tree (peepul tree, the fig tree ficus religiosa) (depicting saṃsāra as that tree) that its (tap-)root is ūrdhva (superior) (grounded out of sight in the a-vyakta brahman, reality as the unmanifest), its branches are adhas (inferior) (within time–space), and its leaves are the Vedas. The one who knows that is one who is a knower of the Veda.
adhas, ca, ūrdhvam, prasṛtā, tad, śākhā, guṇa-pravṛddhā, viṣaya-pravālā; adhas, ca, mūla, anusantata, karma-anubandhin, manuṣa-loka.
Its branches (the bodies) extending adhas (below) (as humans, etcetera) and ūrdhva (above) (as celestial beings) are nourished by the guṇas, and their buds (for new bodies) are the objects (in the world). The adhas (downward) (connected with humans) (secondary) roots spreading out (from the taproot) connect to (past) karma (inciting new karma) in the world of humans.
na, rūpa, idam, iha, tathā, upa-√labh, na, anta, na, ca, ādi, na, ca, sampratiṣṭhā; aśva-ttha, enad, su-virūḍha-mūla, a-saṅga-śastra, dṛḍha, chittvā.
tatas, pada, tad, parimārgitavya, yad, gata, na, ni-√vṛt, bhūyas; tad, eva, ca, ādya, puruṣa, pra-√pad, yatas, pravṛtti, prasṛtā, purāṇī.

As (described) here, its essential nature is not perceived – neither its end, beginning, nor middle (all of its perceived substantiality, upon further questioning, dissolves into ephemeral, contingent forms that “exist” only in name, none of which are its essential nature). With a firm ax that is detachment (first) cut (attachment to) this Aśvattha tree whose roots are well entrenched. Then that attainment is to be sought (inquired into), in which, having attained, they (the seekers) do not return again (by making this commitment:) “I surrender to that very puruṣa who is the origin from which this ancient manifestation is projected.”
nis-māna-moha, jita-saṅga-doṣa, adhi-ātma-nitya, vinivṛtta-kāma; dvam-dva, vimukta, sukha-duḥkha-sañjña, √gam, a-mūḍha, pada, a-vyaya, tad.
Free from demanding respect and from delusion, having conquered the fault of attachment, always focused on the (limitless) I, whose requirements have completely gone, freed from the pairs of opposites known as pleasure and pain – those who are undeluded attain that imperishable attainment.
na, tad, √bhās, sūrya, na, śaśa-aṅka, na, pāvaka; yad, gatvā, na, ni-√vṛt, tad, dhāman, parama, asmad.
Neither the sun, nor moon, nor fire illumines that (because that limitless conscious being instead illumines these sources of light) which, having gained, they (the undeluded) do not return. That is the limitless abode of Me.
asmad, eva, aṃśa, jīva-loka, jīva-bhūta, sanā-tana; manas-ṣaṣṭha, indriya, prakṛti-stha, √kṛṣ.
An aspect of Me alone, eternal and in the form of an individual (jīva) – within this world having (many such) jīvas – draws (to itself, as the conscious-being-reflected) the (subtle five) senses, with the mind as the sixth, (all of) which abide in nature (prakṛti).
śarīra, yad, ava-√āp, yad, ca, api, ud-√kram, īśvara; gṛhītvā, etad, sam-√yā, vāyu, gandha, iva, āśaya.
When the Lord (in the form of a jīva) obtains a (gross) body and indeed when that one departs (the body dies), (then) it gathers these (the subtle senses and mind) and departs, like the wind (having gathered) the (subtle) fragrances from their seat (from the flowers).
śrotra, cakṣus, sparśana, ca, rasana, ghrāṇa, eva, ca; adhiṣṭhāya, manas, ca, idam, viṣaya, upa-√sev.
Presiding over (by giving conscious being, satya-jñāna, to the subtle functions of) hearing, vision, touching, taste, and smelling, and the mind, this (Lord, in the form of the individual) experiences the sense objects.
utkrāmat, sthita, vā, api, bhuñjāna, vā, guṇa-anvita; vimūḍha, na, anu-√dṛś, √dṛś, jñāna-cakṣus.
The deluded do not see (do not understand according to the teaching, the Lord in the form of the individual) who departs or even remains (in the body), who is experiencing and is endowed with the guṇas. Those who have the vision that is this knowledge do see.
yatat, yogin, ca, enad, √dṛś, ātman, avasthita; yatat, api, a-kṛta-ātman, na, enad, √dṛś, a-cetas.
(Also) yogīs who strive (who contemplate to remove obstacles to knowing) see this (limitless) one abiding in themselves (in the intellect as the I). (But) though striving, those whose minds are not ready and are not discerning do not see it (the limitless I).
yad, āditya-gata, tejas, jagat, √bhās, a-khila; yad, candramas, yad, ca, agni, tad, tejas, √vid, māmaka.
The brilliance which, obtaining in the sun, illumines the entire world – which is in the moon and which is in fire – know that brilliance as Mine.
go, āviśya, ca, bhūta, √dhṛ, asmad, ojas; √puṣ, ca, oṣadhi, sarvā, soma, bhūtvā, rasa-ātmaka.
Having entered the earth (as the brilliance from the sun), I sustain with My strength all beings. And being the extracted juice in the form of sap (from the earth), I nourish all plants (hence, I am the food).
asmad, vaiśvā-nara, bhūtvā, prāṇin, deha, āśrita; prāṇa-apāna-samayukta, √pac, anna, catur-vidha.
Being the digestive fire, obtaining in the body of living beings, and united with (stoked by) exhalation and inhalation, I cook (inside the body) the four kinds of food (drunk, chewed, licked, and sucked).
sarva, ca, asmad, hṛd, sanniviṣṭa, mattas, smṛti, jñāna, apohana, ca; veda, ca, sarva, asmad, eva, vedya, vedānta-kṛt, veda-vid, eva, ca, asmad.
And I am present (as the conscious being) in everyone’s intellect (energized by Me as the digested food). From Me are memory, knowledge, and forgetting (a necessity for dropping invalid notions). I alone am to be known through all the Vedas. I alone am the author of the Vedas (including their Vedānta), and the one who comes to know the Vedas.
dva, idam, puruṣa, loka, kṣara, ca, a-kṣara, eva, ca; kṣara, sarva, bhūta, kūṭa-stha, a-kṣara, √vac.
Within the world, there are two puruṣas (two aspects of the puruṣa:) the perishable and the imperishable. All beings (all things) are the perishable, and kūṭa-stha (what remains immutable and in the form of deception) (the a-vyakta or māyā) is called the imperishable.
uttama, puruṣa, tu, anya, parama-ātman, iti, udāhṛta; yad, loka-traya, āviśya, √bhṛ, a-vyaya, īśvara.
Whereas, there is another uttama (transcendent) puruṣa (that includes the other two) called Paramātmā (the limitless self), who is the changeless Lord that, pervading the three worlds, sustains (all this which is this perishable and imperishable).
yasmāt, kṣara, atīta, asmad, a-kṣara, api, ca, uttama; atas, √as, loka, veda, ca, prathita, puruṣa-uttama.
Because I am beyond the perishable (puruṣa) and also uttama (transcendent) even to the imperishable (puruṣa),– therefore, among people (in popular literature) and in the Veda, I am renowned as Puruṣottama (the being who transcends).
yad, asmad, evam, a-sammūḍha, √jñā, puruṣa-uttama; tad, sarva-vid, √bhaj, asmad, sarva-bhāva, bhārata.
Being without delusion (through this teaching), the one who thus knows (the meaning of) Me as Puruṣottama – that one becomes the knower of all (by knowing Me, the reality of all), and (thus) attains Me, because of being (identical to the Lord, to the) all, O Arjuna.
iti, guhyatama, śāstra, idam, ukta, asmad, an-agha; etad, buddhvā, buddhimat, √as, kṛta-kṛtya, ca, bhārata.
Thus, I have told this most secret (in terms of sanctity, value, and by appearing to be difficult to understand) teaching, O Sinless One. Knowing this, one becomes one who has (made best use of one’s) intellect and has done what is to be done, O Arjuna.
om, tad, sat. iti, śrīmat-bhagavat-gītā, upaniṣad, brahma-vidyā, yoga-śāstra, śrī-kṛṣṇa-arjuna-saṃvāda, puruṣa-uttama-yoga, nāma, pañca-daśa, adhyāya.
Om (brahman, the witness of all) is that (only) reality. Thus ends the fifteenth chapter, called “The Topic of the Being Who Transcends,” of the (eighteen chapters of) Songs of the Glorious Lord, which is (looked upon as) sacred teaching (Upaniṣad) and (whose teaching is) in (the form of) a dialogue between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, (the subject matter being) knowledge of brahman and yoga.

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The Topic of the Distinction Between Worthy and Unworthy Dispositions
In this chapter, Lord Kṛṣṇa returns to distinguishing appropriate and inappropriate attitudes and behaviors, using the two terms daiva and āsura (see 9.12–13), meaning worthy and unworthy, instead of using the three guṇas. This change of categorization terminology brings up an important point: The teaching of Advaita Vedānta, unlike many philosophies and religions, has no interest in simply categorizing attitudes and behaviors, simply assigning names to various forms of thinking, behaving, or being. Rather, the ultimate purpose in categorizing is to direct us to see beyond names and forms, to appreciate the unchanging, underlying reality. If there are attitudes and behaviors that are helpful or not in bringing about this appreciation, they are indicated. It is not to praise or condemn them, but to point to their possible importance in gaining appreciation of the reality of oneself and the world. Once reality is appreciated for what it is, all these categories drop their significance. None of these categories are ultimate or absolute divisions in the final analysis.
The lack of importance in the naming and categorizing of things shows in the various ways for unfolding the vision of reality seen in Vedānta, in the Upaniṣads. For example, the creation or evolution of divisions in the world being not ultimately real, different teachers in the different Upaniṣads describe the apparent creation of the universe variously as coming from sat (reality), from a-sat (the unmanifest), from brahman (another word for reality, and for the Lord), from ātmā (oneself, the limitless self), from prāṇa (subtle being), etcetera. All these creation descriptions are only as if, temporary explanations for the student who believes the world is real to eventually reveal that these are just so many words and words, and that the reality of the student alone is the reality of these words, of this universe of words and their apparent divisions.
This one unchanging reality is also pointed out variously using different terms: as brahman, Īś (meaning Īśvara, the Lord), and ātmā that reference this one reality in terms of itself, the universe, and oneself, respectively. Moreover, the term for reality, brahman, is used interchangeably with Īśvara and ātmā; the term for the Lord, Īśvara, with brahman or ātmā (see 15.8); and the term for the reality of oneself, ātmā, with brahman, Īśvara, deva (shining one, deity), and so on.
Similar is the various categorizations of reality in this teaching, depending on the perspective towards the one reality that one is assuming for the moment. One can temporarily assume two levels of reality: the real and the unreal (sat and a-sat); or three: the absolute, objective, and imaginary (pāramārthika, vyāvahārika, and prātibhāsika).
In the Bhagavad Gītā, karma-yoga is taught specifically to move the individual’s identity from predominately prātibhāsika (too much subjectivity and self-importance) to vyāvahārika (more objectivity, more Īśvara in one’s life), and, eventually, to pāramārthika (that one is that Īśvara, the only reality); whereas sāṅkhya (the knowledge of reality introduced in the second chapter, see 2.39) assumes the individual is already reasonably objective and attempts to move the individual’s identity from vyāvahārika to pāramārthika, from the changing a-sat to the unchanging sat.
This switching of terminology and perspective is a method employed in the Advaita Vedānta teaching tradition to clarify one’s understanding of reality from every perspective, deterring just memorization of categories. But, to be effective, the method requires a teacher who knows the whole methodology and who has fully benefited from the teaching. The teaching tradition is for passing on this knowledge fully and faithfully to future teachers: oneself re-teaching oneself during situational backslides into habitual thinking and behaviors, as well as passing on this teaching methodology to future generations.
śrī-bhagavat, √vac:
a-bhaya, sattva-samśuddhi, jñāna-yoga-vyavasthiti; dāna, dama, ca, yajña, ca, sva-adhyāya, tapas, ārjava.
a-hiṃsā, satya, a-krodha, tyāga, śānti, a-paiśuna; dayā, bhūta, a-loluptva, mārdava, hrī, a-cāpala.
tejas, kṣamā, dhṛti, śauca, a-droha, na-atimānitā; √bhū, sampad, daivī, abhijāta, bhārata.

The Lord said: Freedom from fear, purity of mind, steadiness in (commitment to) knowledge and its contemplation, charity, mastery over (the ways of) behavior, performing (daily) yajña (prayers, etcetera), reciting to oneself the Veda texts, prayerful discipline, straightforwardness, harmlessness, truthfulness, resolution of anger, renunciation, clarity, a-paiśuna (not exposing defects of one person to another), compassion toward living beings, a-loluptva (absence of agitation of the senses in the presence of objects), gentleness, modesty, absence of (meaningless) physical agitation,; brilliance (expressed as self-confidence), accommodation (patience and understanding), resolve, cleanliness, absence of malice, and absence of demanding respect from others – these are there for one born to the wealth of a deva (worthy person), O Arjuna.
dambha, darpa, abhimāna, ca, krodha, pāruṣya, eva, ca; a-jñāna, ca, abhijāta, pārtha, sampad, āsurī.
O Arjuna, hypocrisy, arrogance (not understanding the factors responsible for what one has, thinking “I am responsible for these”), demanding respect from others, anger, harshness, and lack of discernment – these are there for one born to the wealth of an asura (unworthy person).
daivī, sampad, vimokṣa, nibandha, āsurī, matā; mā, √śuc, sampad, daivī, abhijāta, √as, pāṇḍava.
The wealth (the disposition) of a deva (worthy person) is considered to lead to freedom and of an asura (unworthy person) to bondage. Do not worry; you are born to the wealth of a deva, O Arjuna.
dva, bhūta-sarga, loka, idam, daiva, āsura, eva, ca; daiva, vistaraśas, prokta, āsura, pārtha, asmad, √śru.
In this world, there are two manifestations of (human) beings – the daiva (the worthy, who go with dharma) and the āsura (the unworthy, who fight against dharma). O Arjuna, the worthy has been told in detail. (Now) listen to Me about the unworthy.
pravṛtti, ca, nivrṭti, ca, jana, na, √vid, āsura; na, śauca, na, api, ca, ācāra, na, satya, tad, √vid.
People who are unworthy do not know (adaptive) pursuit or (adaptive) withdrawal. In them there is no (inner) cleanliness, no (adaptive) conduct nor truth.
a-satya, a-pratiṣṭha, tad, jagat, √ah, an-īśvara; aparas-para-sambhūta, kim, anya, kāma-haituka.
They say that people are untruthful (because they themselves are untruthful), are without (an ethical) basis (because they are without one), are godless (because they are), and are born of mutual union (of male and female) due to lust (not due to their karma-phala, not the reward for their societal and personal duty) and nothing else.
etad, dṛṣṭi, avaṣṭabhya, naṣṭa-ātman, alpa-buddhi, √pra-bhū; ugra-karman, kṣaya, jagat, a-hita.
Having recourse to this view (where there is no personal responsibility toward others or for oneself), (thus) whose intellects are lost, (thus) whose minds are limited (to sense pursuits), who are of cruel actions – these enemies are set for destroying the world.
kāma, āśritya, dus-pūra, dambha-māna-mada-anvita; moha, gṛhītvā, a-sat-grāha, pra-√vṛt, a-śuci-vrata.
Taking to desire that is insatiable; filled with hypocrisy, demands for respect, and with arrogance; assuming improper understandings due to delusion; and with unworthy vows, they keep going (in saṃsāra).
cintā, a-parimeyā, ca, pralaya-antā, upāśrita; kāma-upabhoga-parama, etāvat, iti, niścita.
āśā-pāśa-śata, baddha, kāma-krodha-para-ayana; √īh, kāma-bhoga-artham, a-nyāya, artha-sañcaya.

Committed to innumerable worries (over their possessions), which last till death; having consumption of objects of desire as the ultimate; having concluded that (life) is “only this much” (having a philosophy that life is only for consumption); bound by hundreds of fetters that are anticipations; having as their goal (more and more exaggerated) requirements and anger (to control others) – they engage in accumulating wealth for the enjoyment of objects of desire through inappropriate means.
idam, adya, asmad, labdha, idam, pra-√āp, manas-ratha; idam, √as, idam, api, asmad, √bhū, punar, dhana.
(Boasting) “Today I have gained this, and I will acquire this fanciful object (tomorrow). This (wealth I have) now, and this (other) wealth also will be mine.”
adas, asmad, hata, śatru, √han, ca, apara, api; īśvara, asmad, asmad, bhogin, siddha, asmad, balavat, sukhin.
“I have destroyed this enemy, and others I will also destroy. I am the ruler. I am the enjoyer. I am successful, powerful, and happy.”
āḍhya, abhijanavat, √as, kim, anya, √as, sa-dṛśa, asmad; √yaj, √dā, √mud, iti, a-jñāna-vimohita.
“I am wealthy and have an exalted family. Who is there the equal of me! I will perform rituals, I will give, I will enjoy.” Thus those (boast) who are variously lacking in discernment due to ignorance (of dharma and a-dharma, much less of ātmā).
an-eka-citta-vibhrānta, moha-jāla-samāvṛta; prasakta, kāma-bhoga, √pat, naraka, a-śuci.
Variously deluded by many (such) thoughts, enveloped by a net of delusion, attached to the objects of desire (thus compromising on the means to attain these, they accumulate pāpa, karma demerit), and so they fall into an unworthy hell (until the next bad birth).
ātma-sambhāvita, stabdha, dhana-māna-mada-anvita; √yaj, nāma-yajña, tad, dambha, a-vidhi-pūrvaka.
Honored only by themselves, pompous (unable to bow to anyone), filled with demands for respect, and arrogant because of wealth, they sacrifice with rituals that are in name only (since they are done) out of hypocrisy (not faith, śraddhā), and not in accordance to injunction.
aham-kāra, bala, darpa, kāma, krodha, ca, saṃśrita; asmad, ātma-para-deha, pradviṣat, abhyasūyaka.
tad, asmad, dviṣat, krūra, saṃsāra, nara-adhama; √kṣip, a-jasram, a-śubha, āsurī, eva, yoni.

Those who are given to (an exaggerated) self-opinion, power, arrogance, desirable objects, and anger; despising Me in their own and in others’ bodies; and cynical – those hateful, cruel, lowest among people, who do ugly deeds – I continually toss (according to their karma) into (the many) paths of existence consisting of (only) demonic wombs (births as frightening creatures).
āsurī, yoni, āpanna, mūḍha, janman, janman; asmad, a-prāpya, eva, kaunteya, tatas, √yā, adhamā, gati.
O Arjuna, those lacking discernment, falling into a demonic womb in birth after birth, of course, having not attained Me – they (may) go from there (all the way) to the lowest end.
tri-vidha, naraka, idam, dvāra, nāśana, ātman; kāma, krodha, tathā, lobha, tasmāt, etad, traya, √tyaj.
Desire (requiring), anger, and greed: This is the threefold gate of hell (of painful experience), which is the loss of oneself (a destruction of a mind able to pursue a worthy existence). Therefore, one should give up this triad (by this teaching).
etad, vimukta, kaunteya, tamas-dvāra, tri, nara; ā-√car, ātman, śreyas, tatas, √yā, parā, gati.
O Arjuna, being freed from these three gates to darkness (to further lack of discernment), one follows what is good for oneself. Thereupon, that one gains a better end (even all the way to complete freedom, mokṣa).
yad, śāstra-vidhi, utsṛjya, √vṛt, kāma-kāratas; na, tad, siddhi, ava-√āp, na, sukha, na, parā, gati.
The one who, casting away the scriptural injunctions (regarding what is dharma and a-dharma, appropriate and inappropriate), acts out of the pressure of requiring – that one does not attain success (maturity), nor happiness (in this life), nor a better end.
tasmāt, śāstra, pramāṇa, yuṣmad, kārya-a-kārya-vyavasthiti; jñātvā, śāstra-vidhāna-ukta, karman, kartum, iha, √arh.
Therefore, in the determination of what is to be done and not to be done, the scripture is your pramāṇa (means of knowledge). Knowing what is said by the scripture as an injunction, you ought to do your duty here (as a human being capable of choice, follow dharma).
om, tad, sat. iti, śrīmat-bhagavat-gītā, upaniṣad, brahma-vidyā, yoga-śāstra, śrī-kṛṣṇa-arjuna-saṃvāda, daiva-asura-sampad-vibhāga-yoga, nāma, ṣaṣ-daśa, adhyāya.
Om (brahman, the witness of all) is that (only) reality. Thus ends the sixteenth chapter, called “The Topic of the Distinction between Worthy and Unworthy Dispositions,” of the (eighteen chapters of) Songs of the Glorious Lord, which is (looked upon as) sacred teaching (Upaniṣad) and (whose teaching is) in (the form of) a dialogue between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, (the subject matter being) knowledge of brahman and yoga.

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The Topic of the Distinction of the Three Śraddhās
Chapter seventeen is mostly about śraddhā – a positive and receptive (sāttvika) attitude toward learning and life. It is also about the importance of accepting particular universal concepts and facts of reality that are helpful to the development of spiritual maturity. These universal concepts (such as the existence of karma or of heaven) and facts (such as oneself being none other than the limitless existence, brahman) cannot be established by reason – but they are not against reason. Reason based on perceptions cannot prove or disprove what cannot in anyway be perceived or tested (heaven, brahman). However, reason can help us understand the concepts and facts, introduced by scripture teaching, that are outside of sense perception.
Let us assume a person has trust in the teaching that the individual can exist in some way before and after this life. Reason cannot establish this, but once accepted on trust, it can be seen as reasonable, in that it is not unlike the cycling of heavenly and hellish experiences we all have survived in this life that we know in some small or great way we deserved or could not avoid. This acceptance of a continuance of life, and its assumption based on universal karma (cause and effect, potentials created that can fructify much later), provides an objective basis for understanding how my and other’s life is like it is, instead of basing these on sectarian morality, on simple mechanical causality, or on chaotic blind chance.
This objective, universal basis that spans this one life, as well as before and after this life, allows us to take a long-term approach to understanding and making choices in life. Such a long-term approach provides an objective and healthy balance to our whatever-I-can-get-away-with tendencies in life choices and to the why-me responses we have toward painful episodes.
In this short life it is not possible to perceive, and hence confidently infer, karma, heaven, or the limitless nature of oneself. In order to be as doubtless and confident in these concepts and facts as we are doubtless and confident in our sense perceptions, we must consider that there should be a separate means for knowing these with certainty. That means of knowing is here called scripture (śruti). Śraddhā (trust) in this śruti allows us to yield the full benefits of its resulting understandings of life and the world – because these understandings are taken as being as valid as sense perceptions. But if we only halfway believe in karma and heaven, then, when in crisis, we might lack confidence and spiritual maturity in the face of these situations.
With full śraddhā, we can remain unshaken during the unavoidable highs and lows of life. But these beliefs, unlike the fact of one’s limitless nature, must be recognized as beliefs, as possibly as much a myth as any other myth (for example, that there definitely are no heavens or hells, no life prior to this life, etcetera). The real value of the beliefs one accepts is in the maturity of their resulting world view that they provide you.
On one hand, we have gathered in our life opinions based on current pop culture. Yet we know they can be contradicted next week, next year, next government, next decade, next century. These opinions may have benefited some people, but on what basis does one assume that they will benefit my life? Or that they will benefit me later on in my life when I know more than I do now?
On the other hand, we have traditional teachings, perhaps as mythical as the opinions from pop culture, yet we know those teachings must have benefited people throughout their life in some way for countless generations to have survived thousands of years. If those teachings have accumulated and developed over thousands of years and are not just an old frozen document, and if those teachings are about the common human condition and are about topics that modern science has no access, then in whom should you trust?
An intelligent seeker of truth ought not to blindly accept what any teacher says. Rather, the seeker asks questions in order to discern the validity and benefit of what is being taught. To whom should I surrender my śraddhā and my life? Are there half-truths, nonsense, or unintended consequences in these beliefs? These are the concerns of an intelligent seeker of truth. Our śraddhā should always be intelligent, always be sāttvika.
arjuna, √vac:
yad, śāstra-vidhi, utsṛjya, √yaj, śrad-dhā, anvita; tad, niṣṭhā, tu, kim, kṛṣṇa, sattva, āho, rajas, tamas.

Arjuna said: O Kṛṣṇa, those who perform ritual, casting away scriptural injunction yet being endowed with śraddhā (trust in this teaching) – what is their disposition? Sattva, rajas, or tamas?
śrī-bhagavat, √vac:
tri-vidhā, √bhū, śrad-dhā, dehin, tad, sva-bhāva-jā; sātvikī, rājasī, ca, eva, tāmasī, ca, iti, tad, √śru.

The Lord said: For embodied ones (for humans) that śraddhā (expressed here as value structure and attitude toward life), born of one’s nature (from the mind’s latent tendency), is threefold: predominately sattva, predominately rajas, and predominately tamas. Listen about these.
sattva-anurūpā, sarva, śrad-dhā, √bhū, bhārata; śrad-dhāmaya, idam, puruṣa, yad, yad-śrad-dha, tad, eva, tad.
Everyone’s śraddhā is in keeping with their mind (with its specific, latent tendencies), O Arjuna. The person (one’s whole life) is permeated by that śraddhā. Whatever is one’s śraddhā (whatever it conforms to) that one is (lives).
√yaj, sāttvika, deva, yakṣa-rakṣas, rājasa; preta, bhūta-gaṇa, ca, anya, √yaj, tāmasa, jana.
The predominately sattva worship the deities; the predominately rajas worship the yakṣas and rakṣas-es (protectors and stealers of wealth); and other people, who are predominately tamas, worship ghosts and the hosts of (harmful) spirits.
a-śāstra-vihita, ghora, √tap, yad, tapas, jana; dambha-aham-kāra-saṃyukta, kāma-rāga-bala-anvita.
karśayat, śarīra-stha, bhūta-grāma, a-cetas; asmad, ca, eva, antar-śarīra-stha, tad, √vid, āsura-niścaya.

Those people (predominately rajas or tamas) who are riddled with hypocrisy and an exaggerated self-opinion, filled with the pressure of requiring/anticipating and attraction, are nondiscerning, who perform gruesome (to themselves and to other creatures) tapas (religious disciplines) not enjoined in the scripture, who emaciate the elements (the organs) of the body and Me also who is attaining in the body (in that they rub against My teaching, My laws) – know them to be ones whose convictions are unworthy.
āhāra, tu, api, sarva, tri-vidha, √bhū, priya; yajña, tapas, tathā, dāna, tad, bheda, idam, √śru.
Food also, for everyone, is favored threefold; similarly is ritual, religious discipline, and charity. Listen to this their difference.
āyus-sattva-bala-ārogya-sukha-prīti-vivardhana; rasya, snigdha, sthira, hṛdya, āhāra, sāttvika-priya.
Foods that increase longevity, mental clarity, strength, health, pleasure (in taste), and satisfaction (visually or physically); that are tasty, oily, long lasting (in the body), and pleasing to the mind are (said to be) a favorite of one predominately sattva.
kaṭu-amla-lavaṇa-atyuṣṇa-tīkṣṇa-rūkṣa-vidāhin; āhāra, rājasa, iṣṭa, duḥkha-śoka-āmaya-prada.
Foods that are (too) pungent, sour, salty, spicy hot, bitter, astringent, or burning and that give pain, sorrow, and disease are (said to be) a favorite of one predominately rajas.
yāta-yāma, gata-rasa, pūti, paryuṣita, ca, yad; ucchiṣṭa, api, ca, a-medhya, bhojana, tāmasa-priya.
Food whose occasion (to be eaten) has elapsed, that is without taste, stinking (for example, liquor, meat, etcetera), stale, is scrap (from another’s plate), or not fit to be offered (is said to be) a favorite of one predominately tamas.
a-phala-ākāṅkṣin, yajña, vidhi-dṛṣṭa, yad, √yaj; yaṣṭavya, eva, iti, manas, samādhāya, tad, sāttvika.
A ritual (yajña) known through (followed according to) the scripture, which is performed by those who do not require/anticipate its result with the resolve that it is “simply to be done as a worship” is predominately sattva.
abhisandhāya, tu, phala, dambha-artham, api, ca, eva, yad; √yaj, bharata-śreṣṭha, tad, yajña, √vid, rājasa.
Whereas, O Arjuna, whatever (ritual) is performed having as its purpose its result or indeed only out of hypocrisy – know that ritual to be predominately rajas.
vidhi-hīna, a-sṛṣṭa-anna, mantra-hīna, a-dakṣiṇa; śrad-dhā-virahita, yajña, tāmasa, pari-√cakṣ.
A ritual without (or against) scriptural injunction, in which no food is distributed, without mantra (Veda aphorism) (or defective in its accent or utterance), without (proper) dakṣiṇā (wealth given as appropriate to the person’s function), and without faith – they call predominately tamas.
deva-dvija-guru-prājña-pūjana, śauca, ārjava; brahma-carya, a-hiṃsā, ca, śārīra, tapas, √vac.
Tapas (religious discipline) pertaining to the body is said to be the honoring of deities (the intelligent order present in the forces of nature), of those initiated into scriptural study, and of teachers and scholars, cleanliness, straightforwardness (of thought, word, and deed), a life of studentship to the Vedas (for the unwed, it also implies chastity), and harmlessness.
an-udvega-kara, vākya, satya, priya-hita, ca, yad; sva-adhyāya-abhyasana, ca, eva, vāṅmaya, tapas, √vac.
Tapas in the form of speech is said to be speech that is not agitating, is truthful, and both pleasant (now) and beneficial (later for the other person), as well as reciting to oneself the Veda texts (daily, in the prescribed manner).
manas-prasāda, saumyatva, mauna, ātma-vinigraha; bhāva-saṃśuddhi, iti, etad, tapas, mānasa, √vac.
Tapas pertaining to the mind is said to be this: mental clarity, cheerfulness, discipline over (inner) speech (the non-arising of, or the restraint of expressing, unhelpful thoughts), mastery (in general) over the mind, and clean intentions.
śrad-dhā, parā, tapta, tapas, tad, tri-vidha, nara; a-phala-ākāṅkṣin, yukta, sāttvika, pari-√cakṣ.
That threefold tapas (pertaining to body, speech, and mind) performed with complete śraddhā (in this teaching) by disciplined people who do not require/anticipate (limited) results (like wealth and puṇya, karma merit, but instead only seek clarity of mind for knowledge) – they say is predominately sattva.
sat-kāra-māna-pūjā-artham, tapas, dambha, ca, eva, yad; √kṛ, tad, iha, prokta, rājasa, cala, a-dhruva.
Tapas that is performed in word, mind, and deed for the sake (of demanding from others) worship and, indeed, only out of hypocrisy – that (in keeping with its result) here, being unsteady and not long-lasting, is said to be predominately rajas.
mūḍha-grāha, ātman, yad, pīḍā, √kṛ, tapas; para, utsādana-artham, vā, tad, tāmasa, udāhṛta.
Tapas that is performed out of a deluded understanding, for inflicting pain on oneself or for destroying another is said to be predominately tamas.
dātavya, iti, yad, dāna, √dā, an-upakārin; deśa, kāla, ca, pātra, ca, tad, dāna, sāttvika, smṛta.
Charity offered (with the thinking) “this is (simply) to be given,” without regard to (the others’) ability to (return the) favor, at the (proper) place and time, and to a worthy person – that is held to be predominately sattva.
yad, tu, prati-upakāra-artham, phala, uddiśya, vā, punar; √dā, ca, parikliṣṭa, tad, dāna, rājasa, smṛta.
Whereas charity offered for the sake of a return favor or, on the other hand, with a view for a (later) result (for puṇya), and is fraught with pain (a sense of loss at the cost of the charity) is held to be predominately rajas.
a-deśa-kāla, yad, dāna, a-pātra, ca, √dā; a-sat-kṛta, avajñāta, tad, tāmasa, udāhṛta.
Charity offered at the wrong (or inauspicious) place or time to those who are not worthy (such as, to fools or thieves), that is given improperly (with improper protocol) or with disrespect (to the recipient) is said to be predominately tamas.
om, tad, sat, iti, nirdeśa, brahman, tri-vidha, smṛta; brāhmaṇa, tad, veda, ca, yajña, ca, vihita, purā.
“Om tad sat” is considered the threefold expression (revealing) brahman. By that (Lord Brahmā, the first manifestation of the Lord as the total subtle universe) the brāhmaṇas (all people, hence, all creatures, since jīvas require various embodiments), the (four) Vedas, and yajñas (rituals) were formed in the beginning (of each cycle).
tasmāt, om, iti, udāhṛtya, yajña-dāna-tapas-kriyā; pra-√vṛt, vidhāna-uktā, sa-tatam, brahma-vādin.
Therefore, for those who know the Vedas, the activities (such as) rituals, charity, and prayerful disciplines mentioned in (scriptural) injunctions are always begun (by first) uttering “Om” (considered a purifying sound).
tad, iti, an-abhisandhāya, phala, yajña-tapas-kriyā; dāna-kriyā, ca, vividhā, √kṛ, mokṣa-kāṅkṣin.
(Uttering) ‘tad’ (“that”) (also purifying when it refers to brahman in expressions such as “Om tat sat”), those who only desire complete freedom perform various activities (such as) yajña, tapas, and dāna (gifting) without requiring the (particular activity’s limited) result.
sat-bhāva, sādhu-bhāva, ca, sat, iti, etad, pra-√yuj; praśasta, karman, tathā, sat-śabda, pārtha, √yuj.
O Arjuna, this (word) ‘sat’ (also a purifying sound that in its various forms, from the root ‘as’, “to exist,” refers to existence, which is but brahman) is used in the sense of “being existent” and “being good.” Similarly, the word ‘sat’ is used in the sense of “sacred action.”
yajña, tapas, dāna, ca, sthiti, sat, iti, ca, √vac; karman, ca, eva, tad-arthīya, sat, iti, eva, abhi-√dhā.
A sthiti (pursuit or commitment) (with śraddhā) toward yajña, tapas, or dāna is also called ‘sat’, a “proper” pursuit, and, indeed, any action that is for the sake of ‘tad’ (“that” Lord, as in the expression “tat tvam asi,” “That [Lord] you are”) is called ‘sat’.
a-śrad-dhā, huta, datta, tapas, tapta, kṛta, ca, yad; a-sat, iti, √vac, pārtha, na, ca, tad, pretya, na-u, iha.
O Arjuna, whatever offering, charity, or discipline is done without śraddhā is said to be ‘a-sat’ (as good as not done), (since) after death it (the action in the form of karma-phala) is not, nor (is it) here (in this life) (it only amounts to a loss of effort and cost).
om, tad, sat. iti, śrīmat-bhagavat-gītā, upaniṣad, brahma-vidyā, yoga-śāstra, śrī-kṛṣṇa-arjuna-saṃvāda, śrad-dhā-traya-vibhāga-yoga, nāma, sapta-daśa, adhyāya.
Om (brahman, the witness of all) is that (only) reality. Thus ends the seventeenth chapter, called “The Topic of the Distinction of the Three Śraddhās,” of the (eighteen chapters of) Songs of the Glorious Lord, which is (looked upon as) sacred teaching (Upaniṣad) and (whose teaching is) in (the form of) a dialogue between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, (the subject matter being) knowledge of brahman and yoga.

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The Topic of the Renunciation That Gives Complete Freedom
This final chapter of the Bhagavad Gītā answers Arjuna’s long-lasting concern about a life of renunciation, completes the unfoldment of other open topics, and covers new ones (for example, the five causes or factors for the accomplishment of all actions in verses 13–16). Chapter eighteen closes with praise of the teaching lineage (18.67–78) and sums up (18.50–66) the Advaita Vedānta teaching with the essentials that Kṛṣṇa wishes Arjuna – and us – to focus on. That focus is, through karma-yoga and jñāna-yoga, to drop identification as a separate body-mind complex. We are to objectively recognize that this time-bound, limited body-mind complex and its actions are not our own but instead belong to the interconnected totality, to the natural order as a temporary manifestation of the Lord. We are to recognize our timeless identity as the limitless Lord, as existence itself.
Kṛṣṇa does not stop teaching until the student, Arjuna, is fully satisfied and acknowledges that he has understood. This is because the teaching is not only for the student, but is also for the teacher inherent in the student, as the student becomes the teacher for himself or herself throughout the rest of life. Every time the unassimilated mind strays into its old, habitual thinking, the student’s now-informed intellect catches the digression and brings the mind back to clarity. The student’s informed intellect is the same as the teacher’s informed intellect, the same as the informed intellect of that teacher’s teacher, and so on, from the beginningless beginning. That student may eventually become the teacher of others also. The Advaita Vedānta teaching prepares us for all this. It is complete in every way.
All of life, then, is a field for us to resolve remaining habitual thinking. Ultimately, human life is for correcting the erroneous sense of limitation we have and the resulting unacceptability of oneself. It is natural that a teaching exists that directly addresses this need in the human heart – just as the human body needs air, so air is provided; needs food, so food is provided. This teaching is universal to all humankind. Ātmā, the essential conscious being, is as universal as it gets. That the ātmā is the limitless reality of this universe is also as universal as it gets. A life of acknowledging the interconnectedness of the entire cosmos is both ancient and modern, religious and scientific. A life of dedication to one’s duty, in recognition of this interconnectedness, is similarly universal and timeless. To the extent that modern cultures do not emphasize this truth, to that extent these cultures have yet to mature. This complete teaching was not created by Indians. It is the teaching of the Lord – the Lord which is everything, including oneself.
Until we become teachers unto ourselves, we stay with these words of the Lord. We listen to a teacher (4.34) who can unfold these words as they have been unfolded for millennia. This will bring us to the fulfillment of human life – a life free of grief, free of guilt, free of hurt, free of fear, and free of death.
arjuna, √vac:
sannyāsa, mahā-bāhu, tattva, √iṣ, veditum; tyāga, ca, hṛṣīka-īśa, pṛthak, keśi-niṣūdana.

Arjuna said: O Kṛṣṇa, Great Warrior and Slayer of (the Demon) Keśin, I want to know distinctly the truth of (the difference between) sannyāsa and tyāga (both terms mean “renunciation” and are used both separately and seemingly interchangeably by Lord Kṛṣṇa in this teaching).
śrī-bhagavat, √vac:
kāmya, karman, nyāsa, sannyāsa, kavi, √vid; sarva-karma-phala-tyāga, pra-√ah, tyāga, vicakṣaṇa.

The Lord said: Sages know renunciation of (all) karmas backed by desire to be sannyāsa (the lifestyle and, especially, the knowledge “I am not the doer.). The wise (also) say that renunciation of the phala (the result) of all actions (karma-yoga as also taught here) is tyāga.
tyājya, doṣavat, iti, eka, karman, pra-√ah, manīṣin; yajña-dāna-tapas-karman, na, tyājya, iti, ca, apara.
(Now,) some learned people say that (all) karmas are defective (and thus) to be renounced (that karma-yoga is not accepted so sannyāsa lifestyle alone is for those desiring mokṣa). But others think that yajña, dāna, and tapas (ritual, gifting, and spiritual discipline) karma are not to be renounced (that karma-yoga is accepted).
niścaya, √śru, asmad, tatra, tyāga, bharata-sattama; tyāga, hi, puruṣa-vyāghra, tri-vidha, samprakīrtita.
In regard to tyāga (the karma-yoga in the previous verse), listen to My conclusion, O Arjuna. (Since the preceding two opinions are both right and wrong, more needs to be said.) O Fearless amongst Men, tyāga (renunciation) indeed is well said to be threefold.
yajña-dāna-tapas-karman, na, tyājya, kārya, eva, tad; yajña, dāna, tapas, ca, eva, pāvana, manīṣin.
Yajña, dāna, and tapas karma are not to be renounced (but), indeed, to be done. Yajña, dāna, and tapas are indeed purifying for discerning people (for those who consider themselves doers, subject to injunction and needing purification, karma-yoga is a means to mokṣa).
etad, api, tu, karman, saṅga, tyaktvā, phala, ca; kartavya, iti, asmad, pārtha, niścita, mata, uttama.
But, O Arjuna, even these (three) karmas are to be done having renounced attachment (to actions) and (their limited) result (phala) (done without identification with them as “my actions” and with the attitude of karma-yoga). This is My decided and final vision.
niyata, tu, sannyāsa, karman, na, upa-√pad; moha, tad, parityāga, tāmasa, parikīrtita.
Whereas sannyāsa (renunciation) of enjoined karma (the lifestyle of sannyāsa for one who is still deluded about the nature of oneself) is not proper, (because) parityāga (renunciation that is simply nondoing) of that (karma) out of delusion is said to be predominately tamas.
duḥkha, iti, eva, yad, karman, kāya-kleśa-bhaya, √tyaj; tad, kṛtvā, rājasa, tyāga, na, eva, tyāga-phala, √labh.
If one were to renounce karma (take sannyāsa) out of fear of affliction to the body and (thinking it to be) painful, after doing this predominately rajas renunciation, that one would indeed not gain (any) result of that renunciation.
kārya, iti, eva, yad, karman, niyata, √kṛ, arjuna; saṅga, tyaktvā, phala, ca, eva, tad, tyāga, sāttvika, mata.
O Arjuna, if renouncing both attachment (to it) and (its) result (as a karma-yoga) enjoined karma is performed as simply what is to be done, (then) that tyāga (renunciation) is considered predominately sattva.
na, √dviṣ, a-kuśala, karman, kuśala, na, anu-√sañj; tyāgin, sattva-samāviṣṭa, medhāvin, chinna-saṃśaya.
The renunciate (whether a karma-yogī like King Janaka or a sannyāsī) who is endowed with clarity of mind, (thus) who has gained knowledge, and whose doubts have been resolved is not displeased at inauspicious action, nor attached to auspicious (action).
na, hi, deha-bhṛt, śakya, tyaktum, karman, a-śeṣatas; yad, tu, karma-phala-tyāgin, tad, tyāgin, iti, abhi-√dhā.
Because one who has (the judgment that one is) the body is not able to completely renounce (all) action, (then) that one who indeed renounces (at least) the result of actions (a beginning karma-yogī) is called a tyāgī (renunciate).
an-iṣṭa, iṣṭa, miśra, ca, tri-vidha, karman, phala; √bhū, a-tyāgin, pretya, na, tu, sannyāsin, kva-cid.
The one who has not (completely) renounced (karma), upon passing away, has the threefold results of action – undesirable (hell, etcetera), desirable (heaven, etcetera), and their mixture (directly regaining the human condition). But never for the sannyāsī (the complete renunciate).
pañcan, etad, mahā-bāhu, kāraṇa, ni-√budh, asmad; sāṅkhya, kṛta-anta, prokta, siddhi, sarva-karman.
O Arjuna, pay heed to Me about these (following) five causes (factors) for the accomplishment of all actions, which factors have been well told in the teaching that brings an end to action (in Vedānta) – and summarized in the second chapter onward.
adhiṣṭhāna, tathā, kṛtṛ, karaṇa, ca, pṛthak-vidha; vividhā, ca, pṛthak, ceṣṭā, daiva, ca, eva, atra, pañcama.
The locus (the physical body), the agent (the ahaṅkāra/the doer and experiencer), the various organs (of action and knowledge, including the mind), the various kinds of motions (the prāṇas, bodily energies), and indeed, here, the fifth being their presiding deities.
śarīra-vāc-manas, yad, karman, pra-ā-√rabh, nara; nyāyya, vā, viparīta, vā, pañcan, etad, tad, hetu.
Whatever action, proper (adaptive) or otherwise, a person undertakes with the body, speech, or mind (physical, verbal, or mental action) – that (action) has these five (instrumental) factors.
tatra, evam, sat, kartṛ, ātman, kevala, tu, yad; √dṛś, a-kṛta-buddhitva, na, tad, √dṛś, dus-mati.
When that is so (that these five alone cause action), the one who, because of an unprepared mind (that hasn’t accepted or earned this teaching), sees the I – although pure (of action) – as an agent, that distorted thinker does not see (this fundamental mistake distorts everything else).
yad, na, aham-kṛta, bhāva, buddhi, yad, na, √lip; hatvā, api, tad, idam, loka, na, √han, na, ni-√bandh.
One who has no notion that “I did (this),” whose mind is not affected (who has no guilt or hurt regarding action or inaction) – that one, though (having the duty of) killing these people, does not kill, nor is (that one) bound (by the act, just as a judge passing sentence has no guilt).
jñāna, jñeya, parijñātṛ, tri-vidhā, karma-codanā; karaṇa, karman, kṛtṛ, iti, tri-vidha, karma-saṅgraha.
The knowing (jñāna) (of objects, the thought), the object known, and the knower (together) are the threefold instigators of action. The instrument, the object (the desired result), and the doer (kartā) (together) are the threefold constituents of (factors/requirements for) action.
jñāna, karman, ca, kartṛ, ca, tri-dhā, eva, guṇa-bhedatas; pra-√vac, guṇa-saṅkhyāna, yathāvat, √śru, tad, api.
In the teaching of the guṇas, the jñāna, karma and kartā are said to be threefold according to the differences (in predominance) of guṇas. Listen accordingly about them.
sarva-bhūta, yad, eka, bhāva, a-vyayva, √īkṣ; a-vibhakta, vibhakta, tad, jñāna, √vid, sāttvika.
By which one sees (knows) the one changeless, undivided existence (bhāva) in all divided things – know that jñāna (knowledge) to be predominately sattva. (There is only one undivided existence, ātmā, not many; here bhāva cannot mean prakṛti, unmanifest nature, as prakṛti is not changeless).
pṛthaktvena, tu, yad, jñāna, nānā-bhāva, pṛthak-vidha; √vid, sarva, bhūta, tad, jñāna, √vid, rājasa.
Whereas the knowledge (by) which one understands as separate (from each other) the many existences of different kinds, in all things – know that knowledge (all philosophies that hold that there are many ātmās, including the later-day Sāṅkhya philosophy) to be predominately rajas.
yad, tu, kṛtsnavat, eka, kārya, sakta, a-haituka; a-tattva-arthavat, alpa, ca, tad, tāmasa, udāhṛta.
But (the knowledge by) which one is committed to one single effect (in the universe) – as if it is everything – (which knowledge is) without reason, without truth, and limited (the unfortunate position of history- and faith-based cults and pop cultures) – that is said to be predominately tamas.
niyata, saṅga-rahita, a-rāga-dveṣatas, kṛta; a-phala-prepsu, karman, yad, tad, sāttvika, √vac.
Karma that is adaptive (in keeping with dharma), that is done without identification (“I did this”), is free of attraction or repulsion, and (done) by one without a requirement to obtain its result (done by one whose mind is predominately sattva) – that (karma) is said to be predominately sattva.
yad, tu, kāma-īpsu, karman, sa-aham-kāra, vā, punar; √kṛ, bahula-āyāsa, tad, rājasa, udāhṛta.
Whereas karma that is done with a requirement to attain an object of desire or, again, with excessive pride is said to be predominately rajas (it is not the action itself that is rajas, but the mind that motivates the action that is predominately rajas).
anubandha, kṣaya, hiṃsā, an-apekṣya, ca, pauruṣa; moha, ā-√rabh, karman, yad, tad, tāmasa, √vac.
Karma that is undertaken out of delusion – without regard to its consequence, loss (to oneself or others), injury (to oneself or others), or one’s personal capacity – that is said to be predominately tamas (the mind that motivates the action is predominately tamas).
mukta-saṅga, an-aham-vādin, dhṛti-utsāha-samanvita; siddhi-a-siddhi, nis-vikāra, kartṛ, sāttvika, √vac.
The kartā (doer, the one with the notion of doership) (striving toward) being free from attachment (not requiring the result), not claiming “I (did this)”, endowed with resolve and effort, and being without change in success or non-success – is said to be predominately sattva.
rāgin, karma-phala-prepsu, lubdha, hiṃsā-ātmaka, a-śuci; harṣa-śoka-anvita, kartṛ, rājasa, parikīrtita.
The kartā who has attraction (toward things), who has a requirement to obtain the result of an action, who is miserly, whose nature is to hurt (another or oneself), who is unclean (physically/mentally), and subject to elation and sorrow – is said to be predominately rajas.
a-yukta, prākṛta, stabdha, śaṭha, naiṣkṛtika, a-lasa; viṣādin, dīrdha-sūtrin, ca, kartṛ, tāmasa, √vac.
The kartā (doer) who is disturbed, immature, unable to bow (to show respect physically or mentally), who is deceptive, abusive, lazy, depressed, and procrastinating (about addressing any of these and other problems) – is said to be predominately tamas.
buddhi, bheda, dhṛti, ca, eva, guṇatas, tri-vidha, √śru; procyamāna, a-śeṣeṇa, pṛthaktvena, dhanam-jaya.
Listen to what is going to be told separately and completely about the threefold difference according to (predominance of) guṇas (qualities) of the mind and of resolve, O Arjuna.
pravṛtti, ca, nivṛtti, ca, kārya-a-kārya, bhaya-a-bhaya; bandha, mokṣa, ca, yad, √vid, buddhi, tad, pārtha, sāttvikī.
O Arjuna, the mind that knows (the nature of) pursuit and renunciation, what is to be done and not to be done, what is dangerous and not dangerous, and what is bondage and complete freedom – that (mind) is predominately sattva.
yad, dharma, a-dharma, ca, kārya, ca, a-kārya, eva, ca; a-yathāvat, pra-√jñā, buddhi, tad, pārtha, rājasī.
O Arjuna, the mind with which one wrongly knows what is dharma and a-dharma (appropriate and inappropriate) and, (also wrongly) indeed, what is to be done and not to be done – that (mind) is predominately rajas.
a-dharma, dharma, iti, yad, √man, tamas, āvṛtā; sarva-artha, viparīta, ca, buddhi, tad, pārtha, tāmasī.
O Arjuna, the mind which, covered with ignorance, considers a-dharma to be dharma and all things as contrary (to what they are) – that (mind) is predominately tamas.
dhṛti, yad, √dhṛ, manas-prāṇa-indriya-kriyā; yoga, a-vyabhicāriṇī, dhṛti, tad, pārtha, sāttvikī.
O Arjuna, the unswerving resolve with which one sustains activities of the mind, the physiological functions (the prāṇas), and the organs (of action and sensing) – through (unswerving) yoga (a life of discipline) – that resolve is predominately sattva.
yad, tu, dharma-kāma-artha, dhṛti, √dhṛ, arjuna; prasaṅga, phala-ākāṅkṣin, tad, pārtha, rājasī.
Whereas, O Arjuna, Son of Pṛthā, the resolve with which one, being desirous of results, sustains (activities for) religious merit, pleasure, and security (but not for mokṣa) – according to (every) opportunity – that resolve is predominately rajas.
yad, svapna, bhaya, śoka, viṣāda, mada, eva, ca; na, vi-√muc, dus-medhas, dhṛti, tad, pārtha, tāmasī.
O Arjuna, (the resolve) by which one whose thinking is distorted does not give up sleep, fear, sorrow, depression, or intoxication – that resolve (to not change) is predominately tamas.
sukha, tu, idāmīm, tri-vidha, √śru, asmad, bharata-ṛṣabha; abhyāsa, √ram, yatra, duḥkha-anta, ca, ni-√gam.
yad, tad, agra, viṣa, iva, pariṇāma, a-mṛta-upama; tad, sukha, sāttvika, prokta, ātma-buddhi-prasāda-ja.

But now, O Arjuna, listen to Me about the threefold happiness. That in which one discovers happiness by (daily) repetition (of listening and contemplating the teaching) and gains the end of sorrow, that which in the beginning is like poison (as one is for the first time inquiring into the source of the guilt and hurt which for lifetimes have driven one to seek small gratifications in objects) (but) upon a change (in clarity of mind) is like immortal nectar, born of clarity of self-knowledge – that happiness is said to be predominately sattva.
viṣaya-indriya-saṃyoga, yad, tad, agra, a-mṛta-upama; pariṇāma, viṣa, iva, tad, sukha, rājasa, smṛta.
That which is (born) from the contact of the senses with their objects, which in the beginning seems like nectar (but), upon (any) change (in the object, the capacity to acquire, the senses, or the mind) becomes like poison – that happiness is said to be predominately rajas.
yad, agra, ca, anubandha, ca, sukha, mohana, ātman; nidrā-ālasya-pramāda-uttha, tad, tāmasa, udāhṛta.
Happiness (lack of pain or lack of trouble of effort) that arises from sleepiness, laziness, and carelessness, which in the beginning and in the end is self-deluding – that is said to be predominately tamas.
na, tad, √as, pṛthivī, vā, dyu, deva, vā, punar; sattva, prakṛti-ja, mukta, yad, etad, √as, tri, guṇa.
There is no existent thing on earth, in the sky, or even among the gods that can be free from these three guṇas, born as prakṛti (nature). (Brahman/reality, the self, the eternal subject, the “I” of the Lord and of every being, is alone free of the guṇas; all bodies and minds are not).
brāhmaṇa-kṣatriya-viś, śūdra, ca, param-tapa; karman, pravibhakta, sva-bhāva-prabhava, guṇa.
O Arjuna, the karmas of brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas, and of śūdras (educators, defenders, entrepreneurs, and workers) are divided by the (predominance of) guṇas arising from their nature. (In India these titles also arise from birth within the family’s profession, as those who completely accept karma understand that one’s birth matches one’s nature and needs).
śama, dama, tapas, śauca, kṣānti, ārjava, eva, ca; jñāna, vijñāna, āstikya, brahma-karman, sva-bhāva-ja.
The karma (the disposition showing through the activity) of brāhmaṇas – that is born of their nature – is composure, restraint, prayerful discipline, cleanliness, accommodation, straightforwardness, knowledge and its assimilation, and acceptance of the veracity of Veda.
śaurya, tejas, dhṛti, dākṣya, yuddha, ca, api, a-palāyana; dāna, īśvara-bhāva, ca, kṣātra, karman, sva-bhāva-ja.
The karma (the disposition showing through the activity) of kṣatriyas – that is born of their nature – is valor, self-confidence, resolve, adroitness (ability to act without confusion in sudden situations), not turning away in a conflict, charity, and leadership.
kṛṣi-gau-rakṣya-vāṇijya, vaiśya-karman, sva-bhāva-ja; paricaryā-ātmaka, karman, śūdra, api, sva-bhāva-ja.
The karma (the activity, not the disposition) of vaiśyas – that is born of their nature – is agriculture, maintaining animals, or commerce. The karma of śūdras – that is born of their nature – is in the form of service (to others, which is essential in all societies).
sva, sva, karman, abhirata, saṃsiddhi, √labh, nara; sva-karma-nirata, siddhi, yathā, √vid, tad, √śru.
A person dedicated in his or her own karma (duty) attains success (a satisfaction of having done happily what is to be done and not requiring a change to become happier). In this way, one gains success, being dedicated to one’s duty – to this, please listen.
yatas, pravṛtti, bhūta, yad, sarva, idam, tata; sva-karman, tad, abhyarcya, siddhi, √vid, mānava.
From which is the origin of all beings and by which all this is pervaded – (by) invoking (showing as a worship) that (Lord) with one’s duty (by converting duty into a worship through an appreciation of the Lord as the doer, the action, and the result) a person attains success.
śreyas, sva-dharma, vi-guṇa, para-dharma, su-anuṣṭhita; sva-bhāva-niyata, karman, kurvat, na, √āp, kilbiṣa.
One’s own duty – (even if) devoid of merit (even if it does not create puṇya) – is better than a different duty (even if) well performed (because inner maturity, not social climbing, leads to śreyas, freedom). Doing duty enjoined according to one’s disposition, one incurs no fault (no conflict).
saha-ja, karman, kaunteya, sa-doṣa, api, na, √tyaj; sarva-ārambha, hi, doṣa, dhūma, agni, iva, āvṛta.
O Arjuna, one should not give up one’s natural duty (even though defective, even though it consists of the three guṇas and, hence, is part of saṃsāra, compare 18.3–4), because all (other) undertakings are covered with (the same) fault, like (all ritual) fire (is enveloped) by (irritating) smoke.
a-sakta-buddhi, sarvatra, jita-ātman, vigata-spṛha; nais-karmya-siddhi, paramā, sannyāsa, adhi-√gam.
One whose mind is not attached anywhere, who has mastery over the mind, and is free from yearning (all through karma-yoga), (then) by sannyāsa (renunciation, by knowledge of the self as actionless) attains the exalted accomplishment that is actionlessness.
siddhi, prāpta, yathā, brahman, tathā, √āp, ni-√budh, asmad; samāsena, eva, kaunteya, niṣṭhā, jñāna, yad, parā.
O Arjuna, in the way one who has attained success (of karma-yoga) attains brahman, which is the final conclusion of knowledge (unlike knowledge of everything else, which can have no final conclusion) – in that way, in brief, pay heed to Me.
buddhi, viśuddhā, yukta, dhṛti, ātman, niyamya, ca; śabda-ādi, viṣaya, tyaktvā, rāga-dveṣa, vyudasya, ca.
vivikta-sevin, laghu-āśin, yata-vāc-kāya-mānasa; dhyāna-yoga-para, nityam, vairāgya, samupāśrita.
aham-kāra, bala, darpa, kāma, krodha, parigraha; vimucya, nis-mama, śānta, brahma-bhūya, √kḷp.

That one endowed with a clear mind and by resolve; gaining mastery over the body-mind complex (so it is not wasted chasing fancies); giving up the (requiring of) sense objects beginning with sound, etcetera; and giving up (being free from the hold of) attraction and repulsion; having the disposition to repair to a quiet place; having the habit of eating lightly (to stay bright in this quiet lifestyle); whose speech, body, and mind are mastered; who is always keeping contemplation and dedication (focuses only on oneself) as the ultimate; who is completely committed to objectivity; who is free from a notional “I,” power, arrogance, desire, anger, and possession(s); who is free from the judgment “(this) is mine” and is clear – that one is fit for being brahman (reality) (for simply being oneself, without mistaken notions of reality).
brahma-bhūta, prasanna-ātman, na, √śuc, na, √kāṅkṣ; sama, sarva, bhūta, mad-bhakti, √labh, parā.
Attaining brahman (by the knowledge that the limitless brahman is, I am, all this including oneself), and (thus) with a cheerful mind, one neither grieves nor requires (anything). (Thus) being the same toward all beings, one attains the ultimate devotion (bhakti) to Me.
bhakti, asmad, abhi-√jñā, yāvat, yad, ca, √as, tattvatas; tatas, asmad, tattvatas, jñātvā, √viś, tad-an-antaram.
By that bhakti, one knows Me – who I am in extent (as everything) and in reality (as the only thing, the only reality). Therefore, knowing Me in reality, that one (as though) enters (Me) immediately after that (by knowledge alone one attains Me even while living).
sarva-karman, api, sadā, kurvāṇa, mad-vyapāśraya; mad-prasāda, ava-√āp, śāśvata, pada, a-vyaya.
The one who – though always performing all karma – has Me as the basis (of all actions and results) attains by My grace (by the result, the clarity of mind, which is given by the Lord as the teacher and as what is taught) the end which is ever the same and imperishable.
cetas, sarva-karman, asmad, sannyasya, mad-para; buddhi-yoga, upāśritya, mad-citta, sa-tatam, √bhū.
By (this) mind renouncing all actions in Me, having Me as the ultimate, and taking to buddhi-yoga (the means that is evenness of attitude), may you always be one whose mind is centered on Me (always appreciate Me as the basis of yourself, of action, and of its result).
mad-citta, sarva-dus-ga, mad-prasāda, √tṝ; atha, ced, yuṣmad, aham-kāra, na, √śru, vi-√naś.
Being centered on Me, by My grace, you will cross over all difficulties (all the reasons for saṃsāra). Now if, out of an exaggerated self-opinion (that you know better), you do not listen (to Me), (then) you will perish (remain in saṃsāra).
yad, aham-kāra, āśritya, na, √yudh, iti, √man; mithyā, etad, vyavasāya, yuṣmad, prakṛti, yuṣmad, ni-√yuj.
If, relying on your exaggerated self-opinion, you think “I will not fight,” this resolution (of yours) would be mithyā (false or useless). (Because your) natural disposition (as a kṣatriya, warrior) will impel you (to act as a warrior at some later date).
sva-bhāva-ja, kaunteya, nibaddha, sva, karman; kartum, na, √iṣ, yad, moha, √kṛ, a-vaśa, api, tad.
O Arjuna, out of delusion (in this case, in the form of an impulsive decision and misplaced sympathy) what you don’t wish to do, you will do (just) that – even despite your will – (as you are) bound by your karma (your warrior, kṣātraṃ, karma) born of your own disposition.
īśvara, sarva-bhūta, hṛd-deśa, arjuna, √sthā; bhrāmayat, sarva-bhūta, yantra-ārūḍha, māyā.
O Arjuna, the Lord – causing all beings to spin around, (as if) mounted on a machine (as on a wheel revolving in saṃsāra, now up, now down) by māyā (the Lord’s power of projecting) – remains (unmoved, as the self of all) in the seat of the intellect of all beings.
tad, eva, śaraṇa, √gam, sarva-bhāva, bhārata; tad-prasāda, parā, śānti, sthāna, pra-√āp, śāśvata.
With all your being, surrender to that (Lord) alone (who is the center of your being and is in the form of your natural disposition moving you through life), O Arjuna. By that (Lord’s) grace you will attain the ultimate peace, the timeless abode.
iti, yuṣmad, jñāna, ākhyāta, guhya, guhyatara, asmad; vimṛśya, etad, a-śeṣeṇa, yathā, √iṣ, tathā, √kr.
Thus I have told to you the knowledge that is more secret than a secret (being known only through the scripture that reveals it and, even when revealed, which remains unknown to the unprepared). Think this over completely; (then) do as you wish.
sarva-guhyatama, bhūyas, √śru, asmad, parama, vacas; iṣṭa, √as, asmad, dṛḍham, iti, tatas, √vac, yuṣmad, hita.
Listen once more to My paramount declaration, the most secret of all. You (as a friend, a devotee, and a student) are definitely beloved to Me, so I will tell you what is good (for you).
mad-manas, √bhū, mad-bhakta, mad-yājin, asmad, namas-√kṛ; asmad, eva, √i, satyam, yuṣmad, prati-√jñā, priya, √as, asmad.
Become one whose mind is on Me, who is devoted to Me, and who is disposed to the worship of Me. Do salutation to Me. (Being not separate from Me) you will reach Me alone. Yes, I promise you, (as) you are dear to Me.
sarva-dharma, parityajya, asmad, eka, śaraṇa, √vraj; asmad, yuṣmad, sarva-pāpa, √mokṣ, mā, √śuc.
Giving up all dharma (adaptive action) (and a-dharma, maladaptive action, by giving up doership), surrender to Me alone (as there is nothing other than Me). I will completely free you from all pāpas (all forms of bondage, including pleasant and unpleasant karma-phalas, results of action). Do not grieve.
idam, yuṣmad, na, a-tapaska, na, a-bhakta, kadā-cana; na, ca, a-śṛśrūṣu, vācya, na, ca, asmad, yad, abhi-√asūya.
This (which I have taught) to you is never to be taught to one who has no prayerful discipline, or to one who has no devotion (to the teacher or Me), or to one not willing to listen, or to one who is cynical toward Me (the Lord).
yad, idam, parama, guhya, mad-bhakta, abhi-√dhā; bhakti, asmad, parā, kṛtvā, asmad, eva, √i, a-saṃśaya.
The one who will teach this paramount secret (teaching) to My devotees, (thus) offering the highest devotion unto Me – that one will reach Me alone. There is no doubt.
na, ca, tad, manuṣya, ka-cid, asmad, priya-kṛttama; √bhū, na, ca, asmad, tad, anya, priyatara, bhū.
Among people, there is no one dearer to Me than that (teacher), and there will not be another dearer to Me on earth than that (teacher).
adhi-√i, ca, yad, idam, dharmya, saṃvāda, asmad; jñāna-yajña, tad, asmad, iṣṭa, √as, iti, asmad, mati.
And the one who studies (or even recites) this dialogue of ours, which is in keeping with dharma – by that ritual, in the form of knowledge, I would be worshipped (without the Veda forms of worship available today, this study itself suffices for worship). This is My vision.
śrad-dhāvat, an-asūya, ca, √śru, api, yad, nara; tad, api, mukta, śubha, loka, pra-√āp, puṇya-karman.
Even the person who – having trust (in Me, viewing Me as the Lord and not just as Mr. Kṛṣṇa) and not being cynical – would listen (to this teaching), that one also is freed (from much pāpa, unwanted results) and would attain the auspicious worlds of those who do beneficial actions.
kad-cid, etad, śruta, pārtha, yuṣmad, eka-agra, cetas; kad-cid, a-jñāna-sammoha, pranaṣṭa, yuṣmad, dhanam-jaya.
O Arjuna, have you heard this with a single-pointed mind? Has your delusion caused by ignorance been completely destroyed, O Arjuna?
arjuna, √vac:
naṣṭa, moha, smṛti, labdhā, tvad-prasāda, asmad, a-cyuta; sthita, √as, gata-sandeha, √kṛ, vacana, yuṣmad.

Arjuna said: Gone is the delusion. I have gained recognition (without error of myself) by Your grace (by Your teaching), O Kṛṣṇa. I am firm and with doubts gone. I will do what You have said (loka-saṅgraha, rallying the people to dharma, or karma-yoga to assimilate the teaching).
sañjaya, √vac:
iti, asmad, vāsu-deva, pārtha, ca, mahā-ātman; saṃvāda, idam, √śru, adbhuta, roma-harṣaṇa.

Sañjaya said: Thus I have heard this extraordinary, thrilling dialogue between the great-minded Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna.
vyāsa-prasāda, śrutavat, etad, guhya, asmad, para; yoga, yoga-īśvara, kṛṣṇa, sākṣāt, kathayat, svayam.
I have heard – by the grace of (special perception given by) Vyāsa – this paramount, secret (teaching that is) yoga (jñāna-yoga and karma-yoga) from Kṛṣṇa, the Lord of Yoga, (as the first teacher and as its subject matter) Himself directly teaching (it).<
rājan, saṃsmṛtya, saṃsmṛtya, saṃvāda, idam, adbhuta; keśava-arjuna, puṇya, √hṛṣ, ca, muhus, muhus.
O King (Dhṛta-rāṣṭra), remembering over and over this extraordinary, auspicious dialogue between Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, I rejoice again and again.
tad, ca, saṃsmṛtya, saṃsmṛtya, rūpa, atyadbhuta, hari; vismaya, asmad, mahat, rājan, √hṛṣ, ca, punar, punar.
And, O King, remembering over and over that very extraordinary (cosmic) form of Lord Hari (Lord Kṛṣṇa) (in chapter 11), my amazement is great. Again and again I rejoice.
yatra, yoga-īśvara, kṛṣṇa, yatra, pārtha, dhanus-dhara; tatra, śrī, vijaya, bhūti, dhruvā, nīti, mati, asmad.
Wherever is Kṛṣṇa, the Lord of Yoga, and wherever is the bow-bearing Arjuna (in whoever’s heart is the devoted student prepared for action and also the Lord) there, in my opinion, is śrī (wealth and knowledge), vijaya (victory), prosperity, and certain justice.
om, tad, sat, iti, śrīmat-bhagavat-gītā, upaniṣad, brahma-vidyā, yoga-śāstra, śrī-kṛṣṇa-arjuna-saṃvāda, mokṣa-sannyāsa-yoga, nāma, aṣṭā-daśa, adhyāya.
Om (brahman, the witness of all) is that (only) reality. Thus ends the eighteenth chapter, called “The Topic of the Renunciation That Gives Complete Freedom,” of the (eighteen chapters of) Songs of the Glorious Lord, which is (looked upon as) sacred teaching (Upaniṣad) and (whose teaching is) in (the form of) a dialogue between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, (the subject matter being) knowledge of brahman and yoga.

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ओं, पूर्ण॒म् अदः॒ पूर्ण॒म् इदं॒ पूर्णा॒त् पूर्ण॒म् उद॒च्यते।
पूर्ण॒स्य पूर्ण॒म् आदा॒य पूर्ण॒म् एवावशि॒ष्यते।
ओं शा॒न्तिः शा॒न्तिः शा॒न्तिः॥

Om; pūrṇa, adas, pūrṇa, idam, pūrna, pūrṇa, ud-√añc.
pūrṇa, pūrṇa, ādāya, pūrṇa, eva, ava-√śiṣ.
Om, śānti, śānti, śānti.

॥इति श्रीमद्-भगवद्-गीता समाप्ता॥