BECK index


English version by Sanderson Beck

1. The Sorrow of Arjuna
2. The Yoga of Knowledge
3. The Yoga of Action
4. The Yoga of Wisdom
5. The Yoga of Renunciation
6. The Yoga of Meditation
7. The Yoga of Wise Understanding
8. The Yoga of Imperishable God
9. The Yoga of Royal Knowledge and Mystery

10. The Yoga of Manifestation
11. Vision of the Universal Form
12. The Yoga of Devotion
13. Distinguishing the Field and the Knower
14. Distinguishing the Three Qualities
15. The Yoga of the Highest Spirit
16. Distinguishing the Divine and the Demonic
17. Distinguishing Three Kinds of Faith
18. The Yoga of Liberation by Renunciation

Introduction to the Gita

The BHAGAVAD-GITA is contained in Book 6 of the great Hindu epic, MAHABHARATA, probably the longest poem in all of literature. The GITA was written between the fifth century BC and the second century CE and is attributed to Vyasa. According to Aurobindo, who studied Vyasa's writings, nothing disproves his authorship.

The MAHABHARATA tells the story of a civil war in ancient India between the sons of Kuru (Kauruvas) and the sons of Pandu (Pandavas) over a kingdom the Pandavas believe was stolen from them by the cheating of the Kauruvas. Every attempt by the Pandava brothers to regain their kingdom without war has failed.

The BHAGAVAD-GITA is primarily a dialog between Arjuna, the third Pandava brother, and his charioteer, Krishna. Remaining neutral, Krishna allowed one side to use his vassals in battle, while the other side could have him as a charioteer although he would not fight himself. The old blind King Dhritarashtra declined a great sage's offer to give him sight for the battle, because he did not want to see the bloodshed. Instead the great sage gave Sanjaya the ability to perceive at a distance everything that was going on, and he describes the events for the King.

In the GITA Krishna, who is the uncle and friend of the Pandavas, gives Arjuna teachings on yoga, which means union and implies union with God. Krishna is considered by Hindus to be an incarnation of the god Vishnu, the preserver.

In the first chapter of the GITA, some of the heroes of the two armies are mentioned by King Duryodhana, the oldest Kaurava brother, first the Pandavas: the son of Drupada, Bhima, Arjuna, Yuyudhana, Virata, Drupada, Dhrishtaketu, Chekitana, the King of Kashi, Purujit, Kuntibhoja, Shaibya, Yudhamanyu, Uttamauja, the son of Subhadra, and the sons of Draupadi; then the Kauravas: Bhishma, Karna, Kripa, Ashvatthaman, Vikarna, Saumadatti, and Drona. When they blow their conch-horns, Arjuna's brothers are named: Bhima, Yudhishthira, Nakula, and Sahadeva.

Throughout the text various epithets or nicknames are used for Krishna and Arjuna. Krishna is called: Madhava (descendant of Madhu), Hrishikesha (bristling-haired), Keshava (handsome-haired), Govinda (chief of herdsmen), slayer of Madhu (a demon), Janardana (agitator of humans), Varshneya (clansman of the Vrishnis), Vasudeva (son of Vasudeva), Hari, and slayer of Keshin (a demon). Arjuna is called: son of Pandu, Gudakesha (thick-haired), Partha (son of Pritha, Kunti's original name), Kaunteya (son of Kunti), Bharata (ancient name of India, used for other characters as well), Bharata bull, wealth winner, foe scorcher, great-armed one, blameless one, tiger spirit, and Kuru's joy or best of Kurus (Kuru being a common ancestor of both the Pandavas and the Kauravas). Gandiva is the name of Arjuna's bow.

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To listen to Sanderson Beck reading Part 1 (Introduction and chapters 1-2) of the Bhagavad-Gita, please click on the play triangle below.


To listen to Sanderson Beck reading Part 2 of this text (chapters 3-5) of the Bhagavad-Gita, please click on the play triangle below.


To listen to Sanderson Beck reading Part 3 of this text (chapters 6-8) of the Bhagavad-Gita, please click on the play triangle below.


To listen to Sanderson Beck reading Part 4 of this text (chapters 9-11) of the Bhagavad-Gita, please click on the play triangle below.


Dhritarashtra said,
"In the field of duty in the field of Kuru,
gathered together to fight,
what did mine and Pandu's sons do, Sanjaya?"

Sanjaya said,
"Seeing the Pandava army arrayed,
King Duryodhana then approaching his teacher
said this speech:
'Look, master, at the Pandava's great army
arrayed by the son of Drupada, your intelligent student.
Here are heroes, great archers
equal in battle to Bhima and Arjuna;
Yuyudhana and Virata and Drupada of the great chariot;
Dhrishtaketu, Chekitana and the valiant King of Kashi,
Purujit and Kuntibhoja and Shaibya, a human bull;
bold Yudhamanyu and valiant Uttamauja;
the son of Subhadra and the sons of Draupadi;
all having great chariots.

"'Ours who are distinguished know them,
best of the twice-born,
the leaders of my army,
by proper names I tell them to you:
yourself and Bhishma and Karna
and Kripa, victorious in battle,
Ashvatthaman and Vikarna and Saumadatti also;
and many other heroes risking lives for my sake,
armed with various weapons, all skilled in battle.

"'Inadequate is that force of ours guarded by Bhishma,
but adequate is this force of theirs guarded by Bhima.
So in all designated formations
make sure you all protect Bhishma.'

"Cheering him up, the aged Kuru grandsire,
roaring loudly like a lion,
blew his conch horn powerfully.
Then conch horns and kettledrums, tabors, drums, horns
suddenly sounded this tumultuous uproar.
Then standing in the great chariot yoked with white horses,
Madhava and the son of Pandu blew their divine conch horns:
Hrishikesha his Panchajanya, wealth winner his Devadatta;
wolf-bellied Bhima blew Paundra, his great conch horn;
King Yudhishthira blew Anantavijaya;
Nakula and Sahadeva blew Sughosha and Manipushpaka;
and Kashya, top archer, and Shikhandi, of the great chariot,
Dhrishtadyumna and Virata and invincible Satyaki,
Drupada and the sons of Draupadi,
all together, O Lord of the earth,
and strong-armed Saubhadra,
each blew their own conch horns.
This noise burst the hearts of the sons of Dhritarashtra,
and the tumult caused the sky and earth to resound.

"Then seeing the sons of Dhritarashtra in battle order,
in the ensuing clash of weapons
the monkey-bannered son of Pandu raising his bow
then said this speech to Hrishikesha, Lord of the earth:
'Position my chariot between the two armies, changeless one,
so that I may see these who are formed and eager to fight.
With whom must I fight in undertaking this bash?
I see these who are ready to fight
wishing to serve in war
the evil-minded son of Dhritarashtra.'

"Thus Hrishikesha addressed by Gudakesha, O Bharata,
having positioned the best chariot between the two armies,
in front of Bhishma, Drona, and all the rulers of the earth,
said, 'Partha, look at these Kurus assembled here.'

"There Partha saw positioned fathers and grandfathers,
teachers, uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, friends as well,
fathers-in-law and even companions in both armies also.
Regarding all these relatives arrayed, this Kaunteya,
filled with deep pity despondently said this:
'Seeing this, my own people, Krishna, approaching to fight,
my limbs sink, and my mouth dries up,
and trembling in my body and bristling hair occur.
Gandiva slips from my hand, and my skin burns;
and I am not able to stand, and my mind wanders;
and I see contrary omens, Keshava;
and I do not foresee good fortune
in killing my own people in battle.

"'I do not want victory, Krishna,
nor kingdom nor pleasures.
What is kingdom to us, Govinda?
What is enjoyment or life?
Those for whose sake we want kingdom, enjoyment and pleasure
are these positioned for battle, abandoning life and riches,
teachers, fathers, sons, and also grandfathers, uncles,
fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law, and other kin.

"'These I do not wish to kill,
even though they are killing, slayer of Madhu,
even for the sovereignty of the three worlds,
how then for the earth?
Striking down the sons of Dhritarashtra,
what joy could be ours, Janardana?
Evil should cling to us for killing these attackers.
Therefore we should not kill
the sons of Dhritarashtra, our relatives.
How could we ever be happy killing our own people, Madhava?

"'Even if these whose thoughts are overpowered by greed
see no wrong in causing the destruction of family,
injury to friends and crime,
why is it not understood by us to turn away from this evil,
the family-destruction wrong, by discernment, Janardana?
In family destruction the ancient family duties vanish;
in losing duty lawlessness also overcomes the whole family.
From the overcoming of lawlessness, Krishna,
the women of the family are corrupted;
in the spoiling of the women, Varshneya,
is born the intermixture of caste.
The intermixture of the family destroyers and the family
leads to hell;
their ancestors fall, deprived of rice-ball and water rites.
By wrongs of the family destroyers
producing caste intermixture
race duties and eternal family duties are abolished.
Of family-duty-abolishing men dwelling indefinitely in hell
we have often heard.

"'Oh alas! What great evil are we resolved to do,
which through greed for royal pleasures
we are prepared to kill our own people.
If the sons of Dhritarashtra should kill in battle,
unresisting, unarmed, that would be greater happiness to me.'

"Thus speaking on the battlefield,
Arjuna sat down on the chariot seat,
throwing down bow and arrow,
his mind overcome by sorrow."

Sanjaya said,
"To him thus overcome by pity,
whose eyes were filled with tears and downcast, despairing,
the slayer of Madhu said this speech:

"The blessed Lord said,
'How has this timidity in difficulty come upon you,
not proper for an Aryan, not leading to heaven,
causing disgrace, Arjuna?
You should never be a coward, Partha!
this is not fitting in you.
Abandon base faintheartedness, stand up, foe scorcher!'

"Arjuna said,
'How shall I in battle, slayer of Madhu,
with arrows fight against Bhishma and Drona,
the two venerable enemies, slayer of foes?
Instead of killing noble gurus
it is better to live by begging in this world;
having killed gurus desiring gain here on earth
I should enjoy pleasures smeared with blood.
Nor do we know which of these two is more important for us,
whether we should conquer or if they should conquer us,
those standing before us, the sons of Dhritarashtra,
whom having killed, we should not want to live.

"'Weak pity discouraging my being,
I, uncertain in thought as to duty, ask you
which should be better for certain, tell it to me.
I am your student fallen at your feet; correct me!
I do not see what would remove this sorrow of mine,
which dries up the senses,
even if obtaining unrivaled prosperity on earth,
royal power or even the sovereignty of the gods.'"

Sanjaya said,
"Thus having spoken to Hrishikesha,
Gudakesha, foe scorcher, saying,
'I shall not fight' to Govinda, became silent.

"Hrishikesha smiling, so to speak, Bharata,
between the two armies said to the dejected this speech:

"The blessed Lord said,
'You grieve for those who should not be grieved for;
yet you speak wise words.
Neither for the dead nor those not dead do the wise grieve.
Never was there a time when I did not exist
nor you nor these lords of men.
Neither will there be a time when we shall not exist;
we all exist from now on.
As the soul experiences in this body
childhood, youth, and old age,
so also it acquires another body;
the sage in this is not deluded.

"'Material sensations, Kaunteya,
causing cold, heat, pleasure, pain,
coming and going are impermanent;
you must endure them, Bharata.
The person whom these do not trouble, powerful person,
pain and pleasure being equal to the sage,
he is ready for immortality.

"'The existence of the unreal is not found;
the non-existence of the real is not found.
The certainty of both of these has been seen
by the seers of essence.
Know that indestructible essence
by which all this is pervaded.
No one is able to cause the destruction of the imperishable.
These bodies have an end;
it is said of the indestructible, infinite soul
that it is eternal.
Therefore, fight, Bharata!

"'Whoever believes this the killer
and whoever thinks this the killed,
they both do not understand;
this does not kill and is not killed.
Neither is it born nor does it die at any time,
nor having been, will this again not be.
Unborn, eternal, perpetual this ancient being
is not killed with the killing of the body.

"'Whoever knows this, the indestructible,
the eternal, the unborn, the imperishable,
how does this person, Partha, cause the killing of anyone?
Whom does one kill?
As a person abandoning worn-out clothes takes new ones,
so abandoning worn-out bodies the soul enters new ones.
Weapons do not cut this nor does fire burn this,
and waters cannot wet this nor can wind dry it.
Not pierced this, not burned this, not wetted nor dried,
eternal, all-pervading, stable,
immovable is this everlasting.
Unmanifest this, it is said.

"'Therefore knowing this you should not mourn.
And if you think this is eternally born or eternally dying,
even then, you mighty armed, you should not mourn this.
Death is certain for the born,
and birth is certain for the dead.
Therefore you should not mourn over the inevitable.

"'Beings have unmanifest beginnings,
manifest middles, Bharata, unmanifest ends again.
What complaint is there?
Marvelously someone sees this,
and marvelously another thus tells,
and marvelously another hears this,
but even having heard no one knows this.
This embodied soul is eternally inviolable
in the body of all, Bharata.
Therefore you should not mourn for any being.

"'So looking at your duty you should not waver,
for there is no greater duty than battle for the kshatriya.
And by good fortune gaining the open door of heaven,
happy kshatriyas, Partha, encounter such a battle.
Now if you will not undertake this combat duty,
then having avoided your duty and glory, you will incur evil.
And also people will relate your perpetual dishonor,
and for the esteemed, dishonor is worse than dying.
The great warriors will think
you withdraw from battle out of fear,
and having been thought much of
among those you will be held lightly.
And enemies will say of you many words not to be spoken,
deriding your strength.
What is more painful than that?

"'Either killed you will attain heaven,
or conquering you will enjoy the earth.
Therefore stand up, Kaunteya, resolved to the battle.
Making pleasure and pain the same,
gain and loss, victory and defeat,
then engage in battle.
Thus you will not incur evil.

"'This intuition described for you in Sankhya philosophy,
learn this in yoga;
unified by intuition, Partha,
you shall avoid the bondage of action.
There is no lost effort here; no setback occurs.
Even a little of this discipline protects from great fear.

"'Self-determined intuition is one here, Kuru's joy,
but intuitions of the irresolute many-branched, so endless.
This flowery speech which the ignorant proclaim,
delighting in the letter of the scripture, Partha,
saying there is nothing else,
minds desiring the highest heaven,
offering birth as the fruit of action,
performing many special rituals,
aimed toward enjoyment and power,
attached to enjoyment and power,
whose thoughts are stolen away by this,
to those,
self-determined intuition in meditation is not granted.

"'The scriptures categorize three qualities.
Be without the three qualities, Arjuna,
without opposites, eternally staying in goodness,
without possessiveness, soul-established.
As much use as in a well in water overflowing everywhere,
so much are all the scriptures to an enlightened brahman.

"'In action alone is your claim,
never to its fruits at all.
Never should the fruit of action be your motive;
never let there be attachment in your inactivity.
Staying in yoga do your actions,
letting go of attachment, wealth-winner.
Seek refuge in intuition.
Pitiful are those motivated by fruit.
Unified intuition here lets go of both good and bad deeds.

"'Therefore unify yourself with yoga;
yoga is skilled in actions.
Letting go of the fruit of action,
the intelligent of unified intuition,
liberated from the bondage of birth,
go the way free from misery.
When your intuition passes beyond the confusion of delusion,
you will become indifferent to what you hear
and to what has been heard in scripture.
Disregarding scripture, when in meditation
your immovable intuition will stand unmoving,
then you will attain union.'

"Arjuna said,
'What is the definition of one who is
steady in wisdom, steady in meditation, Keshava?
How should one steady in thought speak?
How should one sit? How should one move?'

"The blessed Lord said,
'When one gives up all desires emerging in the mind, Partha,
satisfied in the soul by the soul,
then one is said to be steady in wisdom.

"'Whoever in pain is free of mental anxiety,
in pleasure is free of desire,
departing from passion, fear, and anger,
steady in thought, is called a sage.

"'Whoever is without attachment in all things,
accepting this or that, pleasant or unpleasant,
neither liking nor disliking,
the wisdom of this one is established.

"'And when this one withdraws,
like a tortoise all its limbs,
the senses from the objects of sense,
the wisdom of this one is established.

"'Objects turn away from the embodied one who is fasting,
except flavor;
even flavor turns away from the one seeing the supreme.
Kaunteya, tormenting senses forcibly carry away the mind
even of the striving person of learning.
Restraining all these,
one should sit unified with me in the supreme;
whose senses are in control,
the wisdom of this one is established.

"'From a person's contemplating objects
is born attachment to them;
from attachment is born desire;
from desire is born anger;
from anger comes delusion;
from delusion, memory wandering;
from memory wandering, loss of intuition;
from loss of intuition, one perishes.

"'Lust and aversion eliminated,
but engaging objects with the senses,
the self-governing by self-control attains tranquillity.
In tranquillity is born cessation of all one's pains.
Having clear thoughts, quickly the intuition becomes steady.

"'There is no intuition for the undisciplined,
and for the undisciplined no concentration,
and without concentration no peace.
Without peace, where is happiness?
When the mind is led by the wandering of the senses,
then it carries away wisdom
like the wind a ship on the water.

"'Therefore, mighty-armed, the one whose senses
are completely withdrawn from the objects of sense,
the wisdom of this one is established.
What is night to all beings
in this the restrained is awake;
what beings are awake in
that is the night of the seeing sage.
Just as waters dissolve in the ocean, filled, unmoved, still,
so too all desires dissolve in the one who attains peace,
not in the desirer of desires.
The person who, giving up all desires,
lives free from longing, without possessiveness,
without egotism, this one attains peace.
This is a holy state, Partha.
No one attaining this is deluded.
Steady in this even at the time of death,
one reaches holy nirvana.'

"Arjuna said,
'If your intuition idea is better than action, Janardana,
then why do you urge me into this terrible action, Keshava?
With equivocal speech you confuse my intuition.
This one thing tell me without doubt:
by which I should attain what is better.'

"The blessed Lord said,
'In this world a two-fold basis
was previously taught by me, blameless one:
the knowledge yoga of the Sankhyas
and the action yoga of the yogis.
Not by abstention from actions
does a person attain freedom from action,
and not by renunciation alone
does one approach perfection.
No one even for an instant can ever stay actionless.
Everyone must perform action unwillingly
by the qualities born of nature.

"'Whoever sits, restraining the powers of action
with the mind remembering sense objects,
this deluded self is called a hypocrite.
But whoever, controlling the senses with the mind, Arjuna,
engages by the powers of action in action yoga,
unattached, this one is distinguished.

"'You do controlled action.
Action is better than inaction.
Even your body maintenance
could not be accomplished without action.
Aside from action for the purpose of sacrifice
this world is bound by action.
Perform action for this purpose, Kaunteya,
free from attachment.

"'Having sent forth creatures along with sacrifices,
the Creator anciently said, "By this bring forth;
may this be the milk of your desires."
May you cherish by this the gods;
may the gods cherish you;
cherishing each other, you will attain the supreme good.
Cherished by sacrifice,
the gods will give to you wished-for enjoyments.

"'Whoever enjoys these without offering gifts to them
is just a thief.
The good who partake of the rest of the sacrifice
are released from all evils,
but the wicked who cook for their own sake enjoy impurity.

"'Creatures come from food;
food is produced from rain;
rain comes from sacrifice;
sacrifice is produced by action.
Know that God-produced action
originates in imperishable God.
Therefore all-pervading God
eternally remains in the sacrifice.

"'Thus whoever does not turn the revolving wheel here,
who is malicious, sense-delighted,
this one lives vainly, Partha.
The person who is self-pleased and self-satisfied
and self-content, this one's task is not found.
Whoever has no purpose in what is done or not done,
has no need of purpose in anyone.

"'Therefore without being attached
always perform the action to be done.
Practicing action without being attached,
a person attains the supreme.
By action Janaka and others attained perfection.
You also observing what the world needs should act.

"'Whatever the best do, that others do also.
This sets a standard that the world follows.
Partha, there is nothing for me to do in the three worlds,
nothing unattained to be attained;
yet I engage in action.
If I should not engage in tireless action at all,
people everywhere would follow my path, Partha.
If I should not perform action,
these worlds would be ruined;
I should be a maker of confusion,
and I should destroy these creatures.

"'As the unwise act attached to action, Bharata,
so the wise should act unattached,
intending to maintain the world.
One should not cause the mental breakdown
of the action-attached ignorant.
The wise, practicing union, should encourage all actions.

"'All actions being performed by the qualities of nature,
the ego-deluded self thinks that the "I" is the doer.
But knowing the truth, great-armed one,
of the two roles of quality and action,
"qualities work in qualities,"
thus thinking one is not attached.
Those deluded by the qualities of nature
are attached to qualified actions.
The knower of the whole should not disturb
fools who are ignorant of the whole.

"'Entrusting all actions to me,
meditating on the supreme soul,
being free from desire, free from possession,
fight, cured of fever.
People who constantly practice this doctrine of mine,
trusting, not complaining,
they also are liberated from actions.

"'But those who, complaining about this,
do not practice my doctrine,
confusing all knowledge,
know them to be lost, thoughtless.

"'Even the wise act according to their own nature.
Creatures follow nature.
What will constraint accomplish?
Like-dislike situated in sense and the object of sense,
one should not come under the power of these two adversaries.
Better one's own imperfect duty
than another's duty well performed.
Death in one's own duty is better.
Another's duty brings fear.'

"Arjuna said,
'Then by what compulsion does a person commit harm,
even unwillingly, Varshneya,
as if commanded by force?'

"The blessed Lord said,
'This is desire, this is anger,
born of the emotional quality.
Voracious and greatly injurious,
know this to be the enemy here.
As fire is obscured by smoke, and a mirror by dust,
as the embryo is enveloped by the amnion,
so this is covered by it.
Knowledge is covered by this eternal enemy of knowers,
in the form of desire, Kaunteya,
which is an insatiable fire.
The senses, mind, and intuition are said to be its seat.
With these it confuses knowledge, covering the embodied.
Therefore you, at first restraining the senses,
Bharata bull, kill this harmful thing
that destroys intelligent knowledge.

"'The senses, they say, are high.
Higher than the senses is the mind,
but higher than the mind is the intuition,
but higher than the intuition is this.
Thus intuiting what is higher than the intuition,
sustaining the soul with the soul,
kill the adversary, great-armed one,
the desire-form difficult to approach.'

"The blessed Lord said,
'This imperishable yoga I declared to Vivasvat.
Vivasvat communicated it to Manu,
and Manu told it to Ikshvaku.
Thus received by royal succession,
the royal sages knew this.
In the long time here this yoga was lost, foe scorcher.
This same ancient yoga is declared by me to you today,
since you are my devoted friend.
This is the supreme mystery.'

"Arjuna said,
'Later was your birth, earlier the birth of Vivasvat.
How should I understand
that you declared this so in the beginning?'

"The blessed Lord said,
'Many of my births have passed away,
and yours too, Arjuna.
I know them all; you do not know, foe scorcher.
Though being a birthless imperishable soul,
though being Lord of beings,
controlling my own nature,
I come into being by the magic of my soul.

"'Whenever a decrease of justice occurs, Bharata,
and an uprising of injustice,
then I give forth my soul.
For the protection of the good
and for the destruction of the evil-doers,
for the purpose of establishing justice
I am born from age to age.

"'Whoever truly knows my divine birth and action,
having left the body does not go to rebirth;
this one comes to me, Arjuna.
Passion, fear, and anger gone,
absorbed in me, relying on me,
many purified by disciplined knowledge
have attained my existence.
Whoever approaches me, I love them.
People everywhere follow my path, Partha.

"'Wanting successful actions, they worship gods here.
Quickly in the human world successful action comes.
Four castes were brought forth by me
according to the distribution of the action qualities.
Although I did this,
know me as the imperishable non-doer.
Actions do not affect me, not desiring their fruit.
Thus whoever understands me is not bound by actions.
Thus knowing, action done by the ancients
was also for the seeking of liberation.
Therefore you do actions
as they were done earlier by the ancients.

"'What is action? What is inaction?
Even the poets were confused about this.
I shall explain to you this action,
which knowing you will be liberated from evil.
Being enlightened about action and also wrong action,
and being enlightened about inaction,
the way of action is profound.
Whoever perceives inaction in action and action in inaction
is enlightened among people;
this one does all action united.
The one whose every undertaking
is without desirous intention
has consumed actions in the fire of knowledge;
this one the enlightened call learned.

"'Having abandoned attachment to the fruit of action,
always satisfied, independent even while engaging in action,
one does not do anything.
Hoping for nothing with soul-controlled consciousness,
abandoning every possession,
performing action with the body alone,
one incurs no guilt.
Content with spontaneous gain, transcending duality,
free from envy, indifferent to success and failure,
even when acting one is not bound.

"'With attachment gone, liberated,
thought established in knowledge,
action undertaken as a sacrifice is completely dissolved.
God is the offering; God is the gift
poured out into the fire of God by God.
God is attained by one who contemplates the action of God.

"'Some yogis practice sacrifice to the divine;
others offer sacrifice in the fire of God by sacrifice.
Some offer hearing and other senses
in the fires of restraint;
others offer sound and other sense objects
in the fires of the senses.
Others offer all sense actions and all breath actions
in the yoga fire of self-restraint kindled by knowledge.
Material sacrifices, discipline sacrifices,
yoga sacrifices are thus some;
self-study of knowledge sacrifices
and ascetics are of sharpened vows.

"'Some offer inhalation into exhalation,
also exhalation into inhalation,
restraining the breathing paths
intent on controlling the breath.
Others regulating food offer inhalations into inhalations.
All these knowing sacrifice by sacrifice destroy wrongs.
Those eating the sacred food left from the sacrifice
go to God eternal.

"'Not even this world is for those not sacrificing,
how then the other, best of Kurus?
Thus sacrifices of many kinds
are spread out in the mouth of God.
Know them all to come from action;
knowing this you shall be released.

"'Better than the sacrifice of material possessions
is the knowledge sacrifice, foe scorcher.
All action, without exception, Partha,
is completely comprehended in knowledge.
Know this: by respect, inquiry, service,
knowers who perceive the truth will teach you knowledge,
which knowing you shall not fall again into delusion,
son of Pandu; by this you shall see
every being in the soul, then in me.

"'Even if you are the most evil of all the evil-doers,
by the boat of knowledge you shall cross over all wickedness.
As wood kindled by fire is burned to ashes, Arjuna,
the fire of knowledge burns all actions to ashes also.
No purifier equal to knowledge is found in the world.
The self perfected in union in time finds that in the soul.

"'The trusting gains that knowledge which is supreme;
controlling the senses, gaining knowledge,
one attains supreme peace without delay.
The ignorant and untrusting and self-doubting are lost.
Neither this world nor that beyond nor happiness
is for the self-doubting.

"'Union renouncing action, knowledge severing doubt,
soul composed, no actions bind, wealth winner.
Therefore severing ignorance-produced doubt in the heart
with the knowledge sword of the soul,
establish union and rise, Bharata.'

"Arjuna said,
'Krishna, you praise renunciation of actions and also yoga.
Which one of these two is better?
Tell me this definitely.'

"The blessed Lord said,
'Both renunciation and action yoga lead to the best,
but of the two, action yoga surpasses renunciation of action.
Whoever is indifferent to dualities, great-armed one,
is easily released from bondage.
Sankhya and yoga are separate,
maintain the foolish, not the wise.
Whoever practices even one correctly
finds the fruit of both.
That state attained by the Sankhyas
is also reached by the yogis.
Whoever sees Sankhya and yoga as one, sees.
But renunciation, great-armed one,
is difficult to attain without union.
The wise united in yoga quickly attain God.

"'United in yoga the purified soul
self-controlled, controlling senses,
the soul being the soul of all beings,
even while acting is not affected.
"I am doing nothing at all," thinks the united truth knower,
seeing, hearing, touching, smelling,
eating, walking, sleeping, breathing,
talking, releasing, holding, opening eyes and closing eyes,
believing that the senses operate in the sense objects.

"'Whoever acts putting actions in God,
abandoning attachment, is not affected by evil,
like a lotus leaf by water.
With the body, mind, intuition, and even the senses alone,
yogis perform action, abandoning attachment,
for self-purification.
United, abandoning the fruit of action,
one attains complete peace.
Disunited by desirous action,
attached to the fruit, one is bound.

"'Renouncing all actions with the mind,
the embodied sits happily, master in the city of nine gates,
neither acting nor causing action.
The Lord creates neither agency nor actions of the world
nor the union of action with fruit,
but nature proceeds.
The omnipresent does not take anyone's evil or goodness.

"'Knowledge being concealed by ignorance,
people are deluded by this.
But those whose ignorance is destroyed by knowledge of soul,
like the sun, their knowledge illuminates this supreme.
Those intuiting that, thinking that, established in that,
devoted to that, go not again to rebirth,
knowledge shaking off wrongs.

"'The wise look equally on a brahman
endowed with cultivated learning,
on a cow, an elephant, a dog, or an outcaste.
Here birth is conquered by those
whose mind is established in equanimity.
Guiltless and impartial is God;
therefore they are established in God.

"'One should not rejoice obtaining the pleasant
nor be sad obtaining the unpleasant.
Firm intuition unconfused knowing God
is established in God.
The soul unattached to external contacts
finds happiness in the soul.
This soul united to God by yoga
enjoys imperishable happiness.
Delights born of contact are wombs of pain,
having a beginning and an end, Kaunteya.
The enlightened one is not content in them.

"'Whoever is able to endure here
before release from the body
the agitation originating from desire and anger
is united; this is a happy person.
Whoever has inner happiness, inner joy,
and thus inner light,
this yogi attains the nirvana of God, oneness with God.
Seers attain the nirvana of God, sins wiped out,
dualities dissolved, self-controlled,
rejoicing in the welfare of all beings.
Rid of desire and anger, thoughts restrained, souls known,
the ascetics' nirvana of God lies near.

"'Making external contacts excluded
and the gaze in between the two eyebrows,
making inhalation and exhalation equal,
moving within the nose,
with controlled senses, mind, and intuition,
the sage seeking ultimate liberation,
rid of desire, fear, and anger is forever liberated.
Knowing me, the enjoyer of sacrifice disciplines,
great Lord of all the world, friend of all beings,
one reaches peace.'

"The blessed Lord said,
'Not depending on the fruit of action to be done
whoever performs action is the renouncer and yogi,
not the one without the fire and without action.
Thus what they call renunciation
know this to be yoga, son of Pandu.
Without renouncing motive, no one becomes a yogi.

"'It is said that action is the method
of the sage wishing to ascend to union;
it is said that serenity is the method
of the one who has ascended to union.
When he is not attached to sense objects nor to actions,
renouncing all motivation,
then he is said to have ascended to union.

"'One should uplift the self by the soul;
one should not lower the soul.
The self is the friend of the soul;
the self is the enemy of the soul.
The self is a friend of the soul
whose self is mastered by the soul,
but the self of the non-soul
might become hostile like an enemy.

"'The highest self of the self-mastered, the peaceful,
is steadfast in cold, heat, pleasure, or pain,
as well as in honor or dishonor.
Content in the wisdom of self-knowledge, immutable,
having mastered sense, united thus,
one is said to be a yogi,
to whom a clod, a stone, and gold are the same.
Detached from companions, allies, foes,
neutral toward enemies and friends, also the good and evil,
impartial intuition is distinguished.

"'The yogi should unite constantly with the soul,
situated in solitude, one self-controlled consciousness
without wanting, without possessing.
In a clear place establishing the firm seat of the soul,
neither too high nor too low,
covered with cloth, antelope skin, and kusha grass,
there making the mind single,
consciousness and sense activity controlled,
sitting on the seat
one should practice union for self-purification.
Keeping even the unmoving body, head, and neck steady,
concentrating the eyes on the tip of the nose,
and not looking around,
the self calmed, fear banished, staying in chastity,
controlling the mind, conscious of me,
united, one should sit devoted to me.
Thus always united with the soul,
the yogi of disciplined mind
attains peace, supreme nirvana, founded with me.

"'Yoga is neither eating too much nor not eating at all,
and neither the habit of sleeping too much
nor that of keeping awake, Arjuna.
Food and recreation disciplined,
disciplined in the actions of behavior,
disciplined in sleep and waking,
yoga becomes the ending of sorrow.

"'When conscious control is established in the soul,
free from the longing of all desire,
then one is said to be thus united.
As a lamp in a windless state does not flicker,
the analogy is remembered of the yogi
of conscious control united in the yoga of the soul.
Where consciousness rests curbed by the practice of yoga,
and where by the soul seeing the soul
in the soul one is content.
One knows this perpetual happiness,
which is intuitively perceived beyond the senses,
and established there does not deviate from that truth;
and which having gained, one thinks no other gain
better than this in which is established
one who is not disturbed even by heavy sorrow.
Let it be known that
this dissolution of union with sorrow is called yoga.

"'This yoga is to be practiced
with determination without discouraged thought.
Abandoning without exception all desires born of motivation,
completely mastering the senses with the mind,
one should gradually with firm intuitive perception
quiet the mind, the soul making it stand still.
One should not think of anything at all.
Whenever the unsteady moving mind wanders here and there,
mastering this, one should direct the will in the soul.
Supreme happiness comes to this peaceful mind of the yogi,
emotion pacified, God-realized, sinless.
Thus always uniting the soul, the yogi freed from evil
easily reaches the endless happiness of God-contact.

"'The soul united in yoga observes the soul in all beings
and all beings in the soul, everywhere the same revelation.
Whoever sees me everywhere and sees everything in me,
I am not lost to this one, and this one is not lost to me.
Whoever is established in oneness honors me in all beings;
moving in any way also this yogi lives in me.
Whoever sees by soul analogy everywhere the same, Arjuna,
whether happiness or sorrow,
this one is thought a supreme yogi.'

"Arjuna said,
'This yoga which is explained by you with equanimity,
slayer of Madhu, I do not see standing steady
because of instability.
Unstable is the mind, Krishna, impetuous, strong, rigid;
I think holding it back, like the wind, is difficult.'

"The blessed Lord said,
'Without doubt, great-armed one,
the restless mind is hard to control,
but by practice, Kaunteya, and by detachment
it is controlled.
Undisciplined by the self, union is hard to achieve,
thus is my opinion;
but by self-controlled effort
one is able to reach it by this means.'

"Arjuna said,
'The uncontrolled one, endowed with faith,
the mind straying from union, not attaining perfect union,
walks what road, Krishna?
Failing both is one not lost like a disappearing cloud,
unsupported, great-armed one, confused on the path of God?
Krishna, you can resolve entirely this doubt of mine;
other than you there exists no solver of this doubt.'

"The blessed Lord said,
'Partha, neither here nor above is found the ruin of this;
dear son, no one doing good goes to misfortune.
Reaching the worlds of the good doers,
staying endless years in the house of the radiant glorious
the one fallen from union is born again.
Or one may be born in a family of wise yogis;
such a birth is difficult to obtain in this world.
There this same intuitive union
one receives from a previous embodiment,
and one strives from there again toward perfection, Kuru joy.
By this previous practice one is irresistibly carried on;
wishing to know also of union one transcends divine sound.
But through persevering mental control
the yogi cleansed of guilt, perfected through many births,
then goes to the supreme goal.

"'The yogi is superior to the ascetics,
is also thought to be superior to the knowledgeable,
and the yogi is superior to the active.
Therefore, be a yogi, Arjuna.
Of all these yogis, the one going to me
with inner soul full of faith, who loves me,
this one is thought by me to be most united.'

"The blessed Lord said,
'The mind absorbed in me, Partha,
practicing union relying on me,
without doubt how you shall know me completely: hear that.
I shall tell you without omission
this knowledge with discrimination, which having understood
nothing more remains here to be known.
Of thousands of people hardly anyone strives for perfection;
of those striving, even of the perfected,
hardly anyone knows me truly.

"'Earth, waters, fire, wind,
space, mind, intuition, and ego,
thus is this divided nature of mine eightfold.
This here is the lower, but know my other highest nature,
the life-being, great-armed one,
by which this universe is sustained.
Understand this to be the womb of all beings.
I am the origin of the entire universe, also its dissolution.
There is nothing whatever higher than me, wealth winner.
On me all this is strung like pearls on a thread.

"'I am the flavor in the waters, Kaunteya;
I am the radiance of the moon and sun,
the sacred word in all the Vedas,
the sound in the air, the virility in men,
and the pure fragrance on the earth;
and I am the brilliance in flame,
the life in all beings,
and I am the austerity in ascetics.

"'Know me as the primeval seed of all beings, Partha.
I am the intuition of the intelligent;
the brilliance of the brilliant am I.
And I am the strength of the strong,
freed from desire and passion;
I am the desire in beings
that is not contrary to duty, Bharata bull.

"'And the good states, the active and the slow
which come from me, know them thus:
I am not in them, but they are in me.
Because of these states formed by the three qualities
all this deluded universe does not recognize me
as higher than these and eternal.

"'Divine indeed is this quality-produced illusion
that is difficult to penetrate;
they attain me who transcend this illusion.
Deluded evil doers, the lowest people, do not attain me,
their knowledge robbed by illusion,
attached to demonic existence.

"'Four kinds of benevolent people worship me, Arjuna:
the suffering, those wanting knowledge,
those wanting success, and the wise, Bharata bull.
Of them the wise, eternally united,
devoted to the One, is the best.
I am extremely fond of the wise, and this one is fond of me.
All these are noble, but the wise is considered my soul.
Staying in this soul union with me is the supreme goal.

"'At the end of many births the wise attains me.
Vasudeva is thus all to this great soul who is hard to find.
Those whose knowledge is taken away by various desires
attain other gods, practicing various disciplines,
constrained by their own nature.
Whoever wants to worship with faith
any form one is devoted to,
on that one I bestow this unswerving faith.
United by this faith one is eager for this propitiation,
and receives from there the desires ordained by me.
But this fault of the short-sighted is temporary.

"'Those unenlightened think of me, the unmanifest,
as fallen into manifestation,
unaware of my highest being, eternal and supreme.
I am not visible to all; enveloped in yoga illusion,
this deluded world does not recognize me, unborn and eternal.
I know the past and present and future beings, Arjuna,
but no one knows me.
By the duality delusion arising from like-dislike, Bharata,
all beings fall into confusion at birth, scorcher of foes.

"'But of those in whom evil has come to an end,
whose actions are pure, they liberated from duality delusion
are devoted to me with firm vows.
Those who strive for release from old age and death,
taking refuge in me, know this God fully,
the oversoul, and action without exception.
They who know me as Lord of being, divine Lord
as well as Lord of sacrifice, and also at the time of death,
know me with united consciousness.'

"Arjuna said,
'What is this God? What is this oversoul?
What is action, best person?
And what is Lord of being declared to be?
What is divine Lord said to be?
How and who is the Lord of sacrifice
here in this body, slayer of Madhu?
And how at the time of death
are you known by the self-controlled?'

"The blessed Lord said,
'Imperishable God is supreme;
the oversoul is said to be its own essence,
which originates the essence of being;
action is known as creative power.
The realm of being is the perishable essence,
and the divine realm is Spirit.
I am Lord of sacrifice here in the body, best embodied one.
And at the last hour whoever dies remembering me,
releasing the body, goes to my essence.
There is no doubt about this.
Moreover whatever essence is remembered at the end
when one abandons the body, one goes to that, Kaunteya,
always becoming that essence.
Therefore at all times remember me and fight.
The intuitive mind fixed on me, you will surely come to me.

"'Practicing yoga by uniting, by consciousness,
by not going toward anything else,
one goes to supreme divine Spirit, Partha, meditating.
Whoever meditates on the ancient poet, the ruler,
smaller than an atom, supporter of all,
unimaginable form, the color of the sun beyond darkness,
at the time of death with unmoving mind,
with devotion and united with the strength of yoga,
causing the breath to enter correctly between the eyebrows,
one approaches this supreme divine Spirit,
which the knowers of the Vedas call imperishable,
which the ascetics free of passion enter,
which wanting they follow the way to chastity;
this path I shall explain to you briefly.

"'Controlling all doors
and shutting up the mind in the heart,
placing in the head the breath of the soul,
established in yoga concentration,
chanting thus AUM, the one syllable, God, remembering me,
whoever dies, abandoning the body, goes to the supreme goal.
Having undivided consciousness perpetually,
whoever remembers me always,
for this one I am easy to reach,
Partha, for the yogi who is always united.
Coming to me, the great souls gone to supreme perfection
do not incur rebirth, the impermanent home of suffering.
Up to the God realm, worlds are successive rebirths, Arjuna;
but approaching me, Kaunteya, rebirth is not found.

"'As extending a thousand ages they know a day of God,
a night ending a thousand ages, those knowing day and night.
From the unmanifest all manifestations originate at daybreak;
at nightfall they are dissolved there
into what is known as unmanifest.
This multitude of beings becoming, existing, is dissolved
at nightfall without will, Partha;
it comes into existence at daybreak.

"'But higher than this unmanifest
is another ancient unmanifest essence
which in the perishing of all beings does not perish.
Thus the eternal unmanifest is called the supreme goal,
which attaining they do not return.
This is my supreme abode.
This supreme Spirit, Partha, is to be attained
by undivided devotion, within which beings exist,
by which all this universe is pervaded.

"'But where in time
dying yogis go to non-return and return,
of this time I shall speak, Bharata bull.
Fire, light, day, waxing moon,
six months of spring and summer:
dying then the God-knowers go to God.
Smoke, night, thus the waning moon,
six months of autumn and winter:
there attaining moonlight, the yogi returns.
These two light and dark paths
are thought to be eternal for the universe.
By one one goes to non-return;
by the other one returns again.
Knowing these two paths, Partha,
the yogi is not confused at all.

"'Therefore at all times be united in yoga, Arjuna.
The meritorious fruit which is ordained in the Vedas,
in sacrifices, in austerities, and in charity,
the yogi transcends this; knowing all this
he attains the supreme state and realm.'

"The blessed Lord said,
'Now I shall explain the greatest secret
to you, the uncomplaining: knowledge combined with wisdom,
knowing which you will be liberated from evil.
Ruling knowledge, a ruling secret is this highest purifier,
directly intelligible, correct,
easy to practice, imperishable.
Persons without faith in this doctrine, scorcher of foes,
not attaining me are born again
into the path of death and reincarnation.

"'By my unmanifest form this whole universe is pervaded.
All beings are situated in me, and not I situated in them.
And beings are not situated in me.
Look at my majestic yoga, sustaining beings
and not staying in beings, my soul becoming beings.
As the great omnipresent wind is eternally staying in space,
so all beings stay in me.
Consider this.

"'All beings, Kaunteya,
go to my nature at the end of an era;
at the beginning of an era I send them forth again.
Embracing my own nature I send forth again and again
this whole powerless multitude of beings
by the power of nature.
And these actions do not bind me, wealth winner,
sitting indifferently unattached to these actions.
With me as supervisor nature produces
the animate and inanimate;
by this cause, Kaunteya, the universe revolves.

"'The deluded despise me, the assumed human form,
not knowing my higher essence, the great Lord of beings.
Vain hopes, vain actions, vain thoughtless knowledge
resort to fiendish and demonic deluded nature.

"'But great souls resorting to me, the divine nature,
their undivided minds are devoted to knowing
the imperishable source of being.
Always glorifying me and striving with firm resolve
and honoring me with devotion, they worship ever united.

"'And by the knowledge sacrifice also
others sacrificing worship me,
by oneness, by multiplicity, diversely, omnisciently.
I am the ritual; I am the sacrifice; offering am I;
I am the medicinal herb; the mantra am I;
I am clarified butter; I am fire; I am the oblation.

"'I am the father of this universe, mother, supporter,
grandfather, what is to be known, purifier, sacred AUM,
the Rig, Sama, and Yajur Vedas,
the goal, sustainer, Lord, witness, home, refuge, friend,
the origin, dissolution, state, treasury, seed eternal.
I radiate heat; I withhold and send forth rain;
immortality and death, and truth and untruth am I, Arjuna.

"'Knowers of the three Vedas,
soma drinkers cleansed of evil,
worshipping me with sacrifices seek the way to heaven.
They, attaining the pure world of the gods,
enjoy the heavenly divine pleasures in heaven.
They, enjoying this vast heaven world,
in exhausted merit enter the mortal world.
Thus following the triple duty
desiring desires they obtain the going and coming.
The people of undivided contemplation who worship me,
I lead their constant uniting to security.

"'Even those devoted to other gods
who sacrifice accompanied by faith
they also sacrifice to me, Kaunteya, outside the rules.
For I am the enjoyer and Lord of all sacrifices,
but they do not recognize me in truth;
therefore they fall.
Those devoted to the gods go to the gods;
to the ancestors go those devoted to the ancestors.
To the spirits go those sacrificing to the spirits;
those sacrificing to me go also to me.

"'Whoever offers to me with devotion
a leaf, flower, fruit, water,
that devotion offered from a pure soul I accept.
Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer,
whatever you give, whatever austerity you practice, Kaunteya,
do it as an offering to me.
Thus you will be released from good and evil fruits,
from the bonds of action;
the soul united in the yoga of renunciation,
liberated, you shall come to me.

"'I am the same in all beings;
there is none disliked or favored by me.
But whoever loves me with devotion,
they are in me, and I am also in them.
Even if an evil doer loves me with undivided devotion,
this one is to be considered good;
for this one is correctly resolved.
Quickly the soul becomes right; it enters perpetual peace.

"'Kaunteya, be aware.
No devotee of mine is lost.
Relying on me, Partha, even if they should be
women of evil wombs, merchants, even servants,
they also reach the supreme goal.
How much more then holy teachers, devoted ruling seers!
Having obtained this impermanent unhappy world, love me.
With the mind on me, be devoted to me;
sacrificing to me, honor me;
thus uniting the soul with me as the supreme aim
you will come to me.'

This has been published in the WISDOM BIBLE as a book. For ordering information, please click here. This text is also available as spoken by Sanderson Beck on CD.

10. The Yoga of Manifestation
11. Vision of the Universal Form
12. The Yoga of Devotion
13. Distinguishing the Field and the Knower
14. Distinguishing the Three Qualities
15. The Yoga of the Highest Spirit
16. Distinguishing the Divine and the Demonic
17. Distinguishing Three Kinds of Faith
18. The Yoga of Liberation by Renunciation


BECK index