Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Bhagavad Gita is Hinduism's core sacred text, a dialogue of and on dharma. It enshrines the essential values of the Vedic, Upanishadic and epic traditions -- shruti (the revealed) and smriti ( the remembered). Its structure is informal question and answer; its mode is enquiry and search; its goal is self discovery and spiritual illumination

Puroshattam Lal

poet, critic, transcreator of Sanskrit, Hindi, Bengali and Punjabi texts -- is Professor of English at St. Xavier's College, Calcutta. The recipient of the Padma Shri in 1970, he was also honoured with a D.Litt by Westminister College in 1977

Canto I : Arjuna's Grief

Because Arjuna refuses to act - he won't fight his friends, relatives and gurus, the epic story of the Mahabharata slides to a standstill. Without action, no narrative is possible; indeed no life. Krishna in the Gita provides the kick-start by stressing the imperative need to act. Very simply, the Gita is a compressed analysis of the three kinds of action possible in human affairs : ritual action (for the physically inclined), reasoned action ( for the intellectual) and spirtitual action (for those inspired by relegious devotion).

The key shloka of Canto 1 is the last (47). Arjuna, stricken by paralyzing sorrow, swirling in indecisions's quicksand, throws away his bow and quiver, and slumps down on this war chariot.

He gives three reasons for his suddenly discovered 'pacifism'. One : sva-jana (one's own people) are to be respected and loved, not 'wasted'. Two : others, blinded by greed, may go in for kula-kshaya (family ruin), but mutually assured destruction is not the civilised way of responding to aggression; certainly not his way. Three : killing is the ultimate crime; better be killed weaponless (ashastram) than kill, whatever the context of the contention.

No wonder Mahatma Gandhi treated the Gita as his 'mother', for here is the core of the philosophy of unarmed resistance, even at the risk of losing one's life. Satyagraha, after all, is 'soul-force'. Those who take up the sword, warned Jesus, shall perish by it; but does it follow that those who die swordless in battle shall find life everlasting ?

Dhritarashtra asked :

Tell me Sanjaya, What did the Pandavas and Kauravas do, gathered on the sacred battlefield of Kurukshetra ?

Sanjaya replied :

Seeing the army of the Pandavas, Duryodhana went to his acharya Drona, and said :

'Look at the vast army of the Pandavas, under the command of Dhristadyumna:

Heroes all of them, mighty bowmen rivalling Bhima and Arjuna: Yuyudhana, Virata and Drupada,

Dhristaketu, Chekitana and the king of Varanasi, Purujit, Kuntibhoja and Shaiba:

Yudhamanyu, and Uttamaujas, Abhimanyu and the sons and grandsons of Drupada.

And look at our army too, O Brahmin; I give you the names of our commanders:

First of all, you, Bhisma, Karna and Kripa: Ashvatthaman, Vikarna and the sons of Somadatta:

And many others, all well-armed, eager to die if necessary for my sake.

My army seems weak compared to theirs, mine marshalled by Bhisma, theirs by Bhima.

Let the orders be passed to protect Bhisma: let the troops form ranks'

Bhisma, anxious to revive Duryodhana's spirits blew fiercely on his conch, like a lion roaring.

Conches and kettledrums, horns and tabors blew suddenly. The noice was tremendous.

Standing in their white horsed chariot, Krishna and Arjuna blew their conches.

Krishna's conch was called Panchajanya, Arjuna's Devadutta, and Bhima's Paundra.

Any Yudhisthira blew his conch of Endless Victory, Nakula his of Honey Tone and Sahadeva his called the Jewel Blossom.

Each blew his own conch -- the supreme archer, the king of Varanasi, the mighty charioteer Shikhandin, Dhristadyumna, Virata and the undefeated Satyaki;

Drupada, too, and Draupadi's sons, and the strong-muscled Abhimanyu.

And thuderous peal after peal, crashing through heaven and earth, shattered the morale of Dhritarashtra's camp.

Seeing Dhritarashtra's men eager for war, and battle impending, ape-emblemed Arjuna lifted his bow and turned to Krishna.

Arjuna said to Krishna : 'Take my chariot, Krishna, between the two camps:

Let me see my enemy before I fight him. Who are the ones gathered here for bloodshed ?

I can see them, flatterers of evil Duryodhana on sacred Kurukshetra'

On Arjuna's request, Krishna took the glittering chariot midfield.

Facing, Bhisma, Drona and the lords of the Earth, he said: 'Here are the Kauravas, Arjuna.'

Arjuna saw, in the camps of both, his fathers and grandfathers, his brother and cousins, his sons and grandsons, his friends and acharyas,

His fathers-in-law and acquaintances. He saw his kinsmen assembled for war.

Arjuna, stirred to compassion, said : I have seen my kinsmen gathered for war;

My mouth is dry with fear, my limbs refuse to listen to me, trembling seizes me;

My skin chafes, and the divine Gandiva bow slips from my hand. Neither can I stand erect : my mind whirls,

And unholy omens appear before my eyes. In killing my brothers, Krishna, I cannot see anything noble --

I do not want this victory, this glory, this happiness. What is glory to us, Krishna, what are pleasures and life,

If those who from us deserve glory, pleasure, and life, are ready to fight us, having given up the world's delights --

Our uncles, our sons and our grandfathers, our eldest kinsmen, acharyas, our fathers-in-law and our grandsons.

I would not kill them, not for the three worlds, let alone the earth. I had rather they killed me, Krishna.

What joy is there in slaying Dhritarashtra's sons ? -- It is a terrible crime to kill them, however much we hate them.

I will not kill my kinsmen, Krishna : how could happiness be mine if I murder my brothers ?

Their reasons obscured by greed, they see no wrong in disunion of brothers, in hate against friends;

But we, the clear of mind who understand right and wrong, should we not refrain from such vile acts ?

Family dharma disappears in the family when the family breaks up; that disappearing, adharma takes over.

Where adharma rules, the women are corrupted; with the women corrupted, even caste is endangered.

Intermixture of castes spells of doom for the family; as well as for the destroyers of the family; and the spirits of the ancestors fall, denied rice-and-water homage.

And by this looseness of the destroyers of the family is the age-old dharma of caste and the family destroyed.

We have heard, Krishna, hell awaits the families which discard dharma.

Aho ! What a terrible thing it is to kill brothers, and the cast covetous eyes on their land !

Let the sons of Dhritarashtra kill me. I will not protest. Better be killed than kill.

Sanjaya said :

Arjuna flung away his bow and quiver, and slumped down on the seat of his glittering chariot, stricken with sorrow.

Canto II : the Path of Yoga

The third shloka of Canto II, is its key : 'Don't be a coward, Arjuna'. It is not ordinary debility; not disability; not inability that Arjuna suffers from. It is hriday-durbala (heart-non-strength). This in psychological terms, is indecisiveness resulting from confusion and an erroneous sense of insecurity. In spiritual terminology, it is a moral paralysis of the will caused by fear of death or indeed, by dread of the pointlessness of life itself.

But how to overcome this fearful fear of fear ? Krishna provides many clues, but it is Arjuna who wraps them all up by using, in shloka 54, what is one of the most popular and discussed compounds of the Gita : sthita-prajya ( the steady minded person). Nothing is possible if the mind is not steady, poised, balanced, tranquil, for only then can it do properly what it is programmed to do : think clearly. The steady-minded person cultivates restraint, selflessness and detachment. By allowing life to happen calmly to him instead of he happening to life passionately, he discovers and cherishes the truth that something h igher than matter pervades matter and transcends matter. This something is atman, the quintessential principle of life itself. If all matter disappeared, the atman is would remain, because "the untrue never is; the True never is not". Matter is the perishable dress worn by the imperishable Spirit. Thus sthita-prajna realisation must become the basis for Arjuna's commitment on the battlefield -- and, indeed, for everyone's commitment in the complex business of daily living.

Sanjay reported :

Krishna's words to Arjuna, whose mind was heavy with grief and whose eyes were filled with tears of pity, were :

Your sorrow in this crisis, Arjuna, is disgraceful. It stands in the way of heavenly fulfilment.

Don't be a coward, Arjuna. It does not become you at all. Shake off your weakness and rise !

Arjuna replied :

How can I fight Bhisma and Drona, my gurus, who deserve my veneration ?

Why, it would be preferable to live as a begger than kill these great gurus. To murder teachers is to eat blood-stained food.

Who can say which is better, Krishna, we defeating them or they defeating us ? Dhritarashtra's sons are our enemies. Killing them will bring us life-long misery.

Paralysed by pity, full of doubts, I ask for your grace. I am your worshipper. Put me on the right path. Show me what is good for me.

I know of nothing that can remove this sense-killing sorrow --- neither tyranny over the gods nor kingship of the earth.

Sanjaya continued :

These were Arjuna's words to Krishna. He adde, ' I will not fight' and lapsed into silence.

To Arjuna, sad in the middle of the battlefield, Krishna, as if smiling, said :

You mourn those, Arjuna, who do not deserve mourning. The learned mourn neither the living nor the dead. (Your words only sound wise)

Do not think I never was, that you are not, that all kings are not. And it was not that we shall cease to be in the future.

To the embodied atman childhood, maturity and old age happen naturally. The acquisition of a new body is natural too. This does not confuse the steady soul.

Heat, cold, pain, pleasure -- these spring from sensual contact, Arjuna. They begin, and they end. They exist for the time being. Endure them.

The man whom these cannot distract, the man who is steady in pain and pleasure, is the man who achieves serenity.

The untrue never is; the True never is not. The knowers of truth know this.

And the Self that pervades all things is imperishable. Nothing corrupts this imperishable Self.

How utterly strange that bodies are said to be destroyed when the immutable, illimitable and indestructible Self lives on ! Therefore, rise, Arjuna, and fight !

Who sees the Self as slayer, and who sees it as slain, know nothing about the Self. This does not slay. It is not slain.

It is not born, it does not die. It does not evolve. It is birthless, changeless, and eternal. It does not die when the body dies.

And if a man knows it as imperishable, changeless and birthless, how can he possibly killl, or make another kill ?

As a person throws away worn-out clothes and puts on a new dress, the embodied Self throws out the worn-out body and enters into a new one.

Weapons do not harm this Self, fire does not burn it, water does not wet it, wind does not dry it.

It cannot be cut, kindled, wetted, dried; immobile, immovable, immutable, all pervasive, it is eternal.

It is unmanifest, unknowable and unchangeable. Realise this, and do not grieve.

Ever if it were endlessly to be born, and endlessly to die, you should not grieve.

For death is sure of that which is born, and of that which is dead, birth is certain. Why do you grieve over the inevitable ?

All things are unmanifest in the beginning, manifest in the middle and unmanifest at the end. Is this a cause for grief ?

It is wonderful to see it, wonderful to hear about it, wonderful to talk about it. But it is impossible to know it.

This embodied atman, Arjuna, is imperishable. You have no reason to grieve fo rany creature.

Think of your own dharma, and do not hesitate, for there is nothing greater to a warrior than a just war.

Lucky are the soldiers who fight in such a war; for them it is an easy entry into heaven.

But if you persist in ignoring dharma, your dignity and sva-dharma are lost; and you expose yourself to shame.

Your shame will never end. Shame is worse than death to a man of honour.

The chariot-warriors will say, 'He fled.' And those who once praised you will brand you a coward.

Your enemies will hurl insults at you. What could be more painful ?

Die, and enjoy heaven. Live, and enjoy the world. Arise, Arjuna, and fight !

Equate pain and pleasure, profit and loss, victory and defeat. And fight ! There is no blame this way.

I have given you the theory.Now listen to the practice. Learn how to break the fetter of karma.

There is no waste of half-done work in this and no going back. A little of this dharma removes a world of fear.

In this there is only single-minded will; while the efforts of confused people are many-branching and full of contradiction.

There is no constancy in the man who runs after pleasure and power, whose reason is robbed by the fool's flattery,

Who abiding by the rules of the Vedas proclaims that there is nothing else.

The honeyed rituals of the Vedas, promising enjoyment and power, are certain to lead him into fresh births.

The Vedas deal with the three qualities. Know them, detach yourself from them, keep your poise, detach yourself from selfishness and be firm in your Self.

The Vedas are as useless to a self-aware Brahmin as a pond when water has flooded the land.

Your duty is to work, not to reap the fruits of the work. Do not seek rewards, but do not love laziness either.

Be steady in Yoga, do whatever you must do; give up attachment, be indifferent to failure and success. This stability is Yoga.

Selfish work is inferior to the work of the balanced, uncoveting mind; shelter yourself in this mental stability, Arjuna. Harassed are the seekers of the fruits of action.

With this mental poise you will release yourself from good deeds and ill deeds. Devote yourself to this Yoga: it is the secret of success in work.

The steadfast in wisdom, the steadfast of mind, giving up the fruits of action, achieve the perfect state.

When your mind is no more obscured by desire, repose will come to you concerning what is heard and what is yet to be heard.

When your mind, so long whirled in conflicting thought, achieves poise, and steadies itself in itself, you will have realised Yoga.

Arjuna asked :

Who is the man of poise, Krishna ? Who is steady in devotion ? How does he speak, rest, walk ?

Krishna answered :

He has shed desire; he is content in the atman by the atman.

He is steady. He endures sorrow. He does not chase pleasure. Attachment, anger and fear do not touch him.

He is not selfish. He does not rejoice in prosperity. He is not saddened by want.

He can recall his senses from their objects as the tortoise pulls in its head. He is serene.

Objects scatter away from the good but lazy man, but desire remains. In the perfect state, however, desire also goes.

Yes, it is true that the violent senses rock the reason of the wisest man.

But the steadfast man thinks of me, and commands his desires. His mind is stable, because his desires are subdued.

Meditation on objects breeds attachment; from attachment springs covetousness; and covetousness breeds anger.

Anger leads to confusion, and confusion kills discrimination; discrimination gone, choice is rendered impossible; and when moral choice fails, man is doomed.

But a person who is established in firmness, free from pleasure and repugnance, traversing experience with his senses restrained -- such a person finds tranquility.

When tranquility comes, sorrow goes; a person whose wisdom is tranquil is truly stable.

The wavering person does not grow. Without growth, there is no peace; without peace, there is no bliss.

The mind is swayed by the senses; they destroy discrimination, as a storm sinks boats on a lake.

Only that man can be described as steady whose feelings are detached from their objects.

What is night to others is daylight to the restrained man; and when dawn comes to others, night comes to the perceiving sage.

The ocean, deep and silent, absorbs a thousand waters. The saint absorbs a thousand desires, and finds peace -- which the satisfier of the senses cannot.

Undistracted, passionless, egoless, he finds peace.

Peace is to be in Brahman, Arjuna, to suffer no more delusion. In peace is eternal unity with Brahman, the peace of Nirvana.

Canto III : the Yoga of Action

Fine, argues Arjuna : the steady-minded man is superior, because his mind thinks clearly. If mind, reason, thought, knowledge are so precious, why not stick to contemplation, which is pure, instead of recommending action, which is physical, impure ? Why say : 'Fight' ?Why not just : 'Think' ?

Krishna's answer is the key shloka 35 of Canto III : 'shreyam-svadharma' (one's own dharma is the best). At any given time a human being stands at the crossroads of four dharmas : sva-dharma (me-ness, self-preservations), kula-dharma ( family duties; geneological roots); yuga dharma (the spirit of the age, the nexus of the epoch; say Marxism, capitalism, Freudianism, feminism - in the twentieth century), and sanatana-dharma (the eternal values that mankind cannot change but which persuade mankind to change itself into, hopefully, a better, nobler, more 'human' species).

Arjuna is caught in a conflict of four dharmas. He thinks his sva-dharma is to lay down arms; his family Kshatriya dharma advises him to do battle; the dharma of the Dvapar-Yuga demands taking sides in the doomsday clash; and the sanatana dharma states that all life is sacred and the atman cannot perish.

Which dharma should he choose ? Only the naive, facile and overzealous will say that the sanatana dharma is always the best. Krishna's advice seems to be : Remember the heirarchy : lowest is the flesh; then come the senses; then the mind; the intellect; the atman. Steady yourself with your Self (samstabhi-atmanam-atmana) -- and choose. That is your dharma -- that is your choice.

Arjuna asked :

If as you say, Krishna, knowledge excels actions, why do you urge me to this terrible war ?

You bewilder me with confusing speech : tell me that one truth by which I may find you.

Krishna replied :

From the beginning, two methods are offered : for the contemplative the Yoga of knowledge, for the active the Yoga of action.

No one reaches perfection through inaction : no one reaches perfection by renouncing work.

For look, not a moment gives rest, not a moment is without work. The senses, products of Nature, compel all to work.

He is a fool and a scoundrel who, abstaining from action nevertheless sits and dreams up sensual visions.

But he excels, who commands his senses by his mind, and progresses in the Yoga of work.

To work is better than not to work. Inaction will not keep the even the body together. Therefore, Arjuna, work, but work selflessly.

All deeds are traps, except disciplined deeds. Hence the need for selfless action.

When the world was created, Prajapati said : ' This world will be your wish-fulfilling cow.'

Worship the gods with this, and they will listen; and mutually shall the great good come.

The gods will satisfy your desires. He is a thief, who takes satisfaction, and gives back nothing.

Those who eat sanctified food, are cleaned of wrong, but the selfish who eat for themselves, eat filth.

Food is the cause of life, from rain is food born; ritual produces rain, and ritual is born of karma.

Karma comses from the Vedas, and the Vedas from Brahma. Brahma depends on worship.

His life is futile, who is not aware of this wheel's revolutions, who lives merely to wallow in his senses.

But he who is merged in the atman, content in the atman, at peace in the atman, for him deeds are not fetters.

To work and not to work mean nothing to him; he does not need outside help.

Do what must be done, Arjuna, and do it selflessly; selfless action is the path to perfection.

Through work did Janaka and others reach perfection; do your work for the good of your fellow-beings.

People will always imitate a superior, following the example set by his action.

I have no duty, I have nothing not attained and nothing to attain, yet even I persist in work.

For if I were to stop working, men would follow my example.

If I did not work, the three worlds will crumble, judgment would blur, chaos follow, and all being perish.

The wise man must act, even as the work-obsessed fool does, but shedding selfishness, and pursuing knowledge.

Leave aside the fool's work-centred reasoning; let the learned learn more through selfless work.

All action is performed by the senses; confused by his ego, man thinks 'I am the doer'.

But the man who sees the nature of matter and the nature of karma, who sees how the senses play on the senses, he is not deceived.

There is no need for those who know truth to humiliate the dull witted workers who are attached to their senses, and deceived by the senses.

Offer all your actions to Me, and take rest in the atman, crush hope and the ego, and fight -- rid of your doubts.

They also escape the fetters of action who devote themselves to Me, in full faith.

But those who carp, and shun my teaching, and confusing themselves, lose clear vision, they are doomed.

Even the wisest man must conform to this nature. How will stubborness help ?

Desire and disgust are products of nature. No man must live in the shadow of either -- they are his deadly enemies.

One's own dharma, however imperfect, is better thatn another's, however perfect. Better death in own's dharma; another's dharma can be treacherous.

Arjuna asked :

But what is it, Krishna, that propels man to wrong-doing against his true desire ?

Krishna replied :

It is greed, Arjuna, and it is anger, created by the terrible and heinous rajas-guna. Treat them as your enemies.

As smoke smothers fire, as dust films glass, as womb enfolds seed, so greed destroys judgment.

Greed is a fierce fire. It destroys judgment. If fools the wise.

It hides in the mind, the intellect and the senses. It destroys the atman by working through them.

Therefore, first control the senses. Destroy this heinous enemy of knowledge.

They say the senses are higher than the flesh; the mind is higher than the senses; the intellect is higher than the mind, and the atman is higher than the intellect.

Steady the atman in the atman. Strengthened by pure consciousness, destroy the great enemy called kama !

Canto IV : the Yoga of Action and Renunciation

Since there are four dharmas simultaenously operating and no guarantee that people will make the right choice, ups and downs in the course of over-all Dharma are inevitable. However the cosmos is fitted with a self-correcting mechanism. This 'mechanism' is explained in the key shloka 7 of Canto IV, a shloka that most Hindus know by heart and are prone to repeat whenever they feel that things are falling apart, as if it were some kind of magic panacea : ' When Dharma declines, and adharma flourishes, I give myself birth, to restore the balance.' Divinity is not born; only creatures caught in the coils of karma get born and re-born. Divinity gives itself birth as and when required. The implication is that, just as there is Krishna present to console, advise and inspire Arjuna, his devotee (bhakta) and friend (sakha), so there is always a divine presence for anyone ready to receive spiritual guidance. Knock -- and the door opens.

The important thing is to realise that all action must be treated as 'ritual' (yajna) and not sensual. In ritual action, selflessness, dedication and sacrifice are of the essence. All action is service, but not to oneself. The concept of service purifies action of selfishness. This liberates the doer from the hell brought by ill karma, and equally from the heaven of good karma. Both heaven and hell are seen in Hinduism as temporary after-life punishments for ill deeds and good deeds. The secret is to see inaction in action ('ritual' unself-concious action brings no fruits, good or bad); and action in inaction ('selfish' knowledge brings fruits, good or bad).

Krishna continued :

To Vivasat I gave this eternal discipline; Vivasat told it to Manu, Manu to Ikshvaku.

So its continuity was assured, and the royal saints understood it; but as time passed, its significance declined.

Today, because your respect me, and because you are my friend, I give you this timeless, mysterious and profound discipline.

Arjuna asked :

But you were born later than Vivasat; and yet you say you gave it to him. What do you mean ?

Krishna replied :

You, and I, have seen many births -- I can recall them all, but you cannot.

I am the birthless and changeless, I am the Lord. I am born through the power of maya.

When dharma declines and adharma flourishes, I give myself birth, to restore the balance.

And every age witnesses my birth; I come to protect the good and destroy the wicked. I come to re-establish the dharma.

The man who approves the divinity of my birth and the miracle of my work, discards his body and is not born again.

Free from greed, fear and anger, merged in me, sheltering in me, purified by the discipline of knowledge, many have known me.

I satisfy all, whatever the form of worship. My path is the path all follow, in different ways.

Men worship gods in the hope of material gain -- they know work brings quick results.

Though I am the creator of the four castes on the basis of guna and karma, I am not really their creator.

For I have no desire for the fruits of action. So work does not fetter me. To know this is to be free.

Sages in the past, seeking perfection, knew this, and knowing it, progressed. Learn from their example.

What is work ? and what is not work ? are questions that perplex the wisest of men. Let me instruct you on the nature of work and remove your confusion.

Karma is a great mystery, but what is work one must know, and what is not work, and prohibited work.

That man knows what work is, who sees action in inaction, and inaction in action. He is wise.

And if he works selflessly, if his actions are purified in the fire of knowledge, he will be called wise by the learned.

He abandons greed; he is content; he is self-sufficient; he works, yet such a man cannot be said to work.

If he forsakes hope, restrains his mind, and relinquishes reward -- he works, yet he does not work.

He is satisfied with whatever comes, unaffected by extremes, free from jealousy, he maintains poise in failure and success -- his deeds do not fetter him.

His karma disappears, his work is all discipline; he is free from greed, he is steady in knowledge.

'The ritual is Brahman, the offering is Brahman, given by Brahman in the fire of Brahman' -- such absorption in Brahman takes him to Brahman.

Some yogis sacrifice to the gods, others pay homage by offering the atman in the fire of the Brahman.

Some offer their senses as homage, others offer the objects of the senses.

Some offer wealth, others penance, and still others Yoga; some, controlled and dedicated, offer wisdom and learning.

Some channelise their vital life-breaths, the prana and apana. They concentrate on breath-restraint.

Still others, digesting food, offers the body's functions. They have realised the meaning of discipline and are purified by it.

They eat the fruits of discipline, and reach the eternal Brahman. Even this world is not for the man without discipline; how will he gain a better one, Arjuna ?

Discipline shows the face of Brahma. It is the product of acation. Know this, and be free.

Sacrifice of knowledge is superior to sacrifice of wealth; action's consummation is wisdom.

Be humble, serve others; ask questions, and you shall know; the wise who have reached the truth, shall instruct you.

Knowledge will remove your bewilderment, and you will see all creation in yourself and in me.

The raft of knowledge ferries even the worst ill-doer to safety.

As a flaming fire consumes logs into ashes, so knowledge consumes karma.

There is no purifier like knowledge in this world: time makes man see the truth in this.

The devoted man, indefatigable commander of his senses, gains knowledge; with this knowledge he finds the final peace.

The ignorant, the disrespectful, the disbelieving, await ruin. The doubt-ridden find joy neither in this world nor in the next.

Work will not fetter him who shelters in the atman. Discipline purifies his work, Arjuna, and knowledge dissipates his belief.

Slice with the sword of knowledge this disbelief in the atman ! Disbelief is the product of ignorance. Find strength in discipline, and arise, Arjuna !

Canto V : the Yoga of Renunciation

To Arjuna, wondering why renunciation of work ( which is what he thinks he is doing by refusing to fight) is treated Krishna on par with performance of work (which Arjuna considers as inferior), Krishna gives a categorical answer in the key second shloka of Canto V : 'Renunciation and activity both liberate, but to work is better than to renounce.'

No question of it -- the Gita is the gospel of action, selfless action, fruit-forsaking action.

Gracefully, almost unobtrusively, Krishna brings in here the Upanishadic concepts of the Witness and the Participant. Two birds sit on the golden bough of the pippala tree, says the Shvetashavatara Upanishad. One bird eats the sweet fruit, the other watches the first bird eat. Both are happy. One is happier. Which ? And why ?

Our body is the sweet, sensual pippala tree. The atman is the watching bird. Our deeds are the eating bird. The watching stops when the tree withers and dies, and the watching bird flies away. Till that time, eating and watching proceed simultaenously. So the advice of Krishna is simple. Watch life detachedly. Enjoy it coolly. Savour your deeds as you would the performance of an actor in a play. Be involved - and yet free. As he says in shlokas 8 and 9 : 'Seeing, listening, eating, talking, breathing .... he should say, "I do nothing at all, only my senses are busy."'

Arjuna asked :

First you say 'Renounce', Krishna, then you say, 'Work', which is better ? -- Tell me clearly.

Krishna replied :

Renunciation and activity both liberate, but to work is better than to renounce.

He is the constant sannyasi, who neither hates nor desires; free from extremes, his salvation progresses.

The ignorant, not the learned, think that the two are different. If one is practised in earnest, the rewards of both are received.

The strivers in work reach the fulfilment of the strivers in renunciation. See both as the same, and you see the truth.

Renunciation is very difficult, Arjuna; but the sage spurred to work by wisdom, soon finds Brahman.

A man who commands his senses and vanquishes his body, who sees one's atman as the Atman in all, who purifies his mind before he performs his deeds -- such a man is not sullied.

Though seeing, listening, smelling, eating, walking, sleeping, breathing, talking, holding and discarding,

He should say, ' I do nothing at all, only my senses are busy.'

As a lotus leaf will not be stained by slime, so the detached person, offering his deeds to Brahman, will not be stained by work.

Yogis work with the body, the mind and the senses, but abandon greed, in order to purify the atman.

Abandoning the fruits of work, the balanced mind attains peace; but the unsteady mind, motivated by greed, is trapped in its own reward.

The stable person, renouncing work through knowledge, neither acts himself, nor forces action on others, but takes refuge in the in the body, the city of nine gates.

Brahman is concerned with neither the doer nor the deed, nor the reward of the deed.

Brahman does not cause anyone's reward or punishment. Wisdom is blocked by ignorance, and delusion is the result.

But, like the sun, knowledge reveals Brahman to those whose ignorance is removed by self-realisation.

Washed in the light of knowledge and never born again, are those whose minds are engrossed in the atman, whose fulfilment is in the atman.

A Brahmin, a cow, a dog, an elephant are all the same to an atman-knower.

He has transcended life, he reposes in Brahman, his mind is not nervous and agitated.

Reposing in Brahman, and maintaining serenity, undeluded, the knower of Brahman is not happy with what is pleasant, nor unhappy with what s unpleasant.

Unaffected by the world, he enjoys the bliss of atman. He achieves eternal peace, sunk in the meditation of Brahman.

Restlessness is the product of sensual joys, joys that are impermanent, joys that begin and end. The wise do not seek pleasure in them.

He is reposed, he is happy, who has no anger, who has no desire.

Whose contentment lies within, whose repose is within, whose glory is within, that yogi finds Brahmin, and is liberated.

All evils discarded, all doubts erased, all senses restrained, devoted to service, he is liberated.

There is the Nirvana of Brahman for all who strive thus, their passions controlled, and their atman realised.

Controlling his vision, curbing his life-breaths, regulating prana and apana,

Commanding his senses, mind and intellect, rid of lust, anger and greed, he finds moksha.

For he knowsme as the giver of ritual and religious discipline, the Creator of the worlds, and the refuge of all things; and he finds peace.

Canto VI : the Yoga of Meditation

The steady-minded person (sthita-prajna) who is able to say truthfully, 'I do nothing at all, only my senses are busy', must be a very rare phenomenon. To dispel Arjuna's fear that he is not the candidate for such high-class spiritual achievement, Krishna provides the key shloka 40 of Canto VI. What matters in Yoga, he says, is not success but sincere effort.'The struggle for virtue (kalyan) is never wasted.'

Peace of mind is not a goal but a process. Krishna goes into some detail on the nature of this process, especially the signs by which it can be recognised. To begin with, the aspirants must discipline desire, he must learn to respect his atman by using it to control his animal impulses; he must discover the pleasures of solitude and solitariness; he must perform daily whatever physical yoga is required to discipline his body; he must practise the principle of golden mean in every activity; he must look on delight and suffering everywhere as his own.

Such effort and empathy characterise the true Yogi, who is superior to the penance-doers, the learned in theoretical knowledge, and the busily active. Such a person, explains Krishna, may not attain the supreme bliss (sukhamuttamam), but 'he is never far from me, and I am never far from him'.

The supreme bliss is not a product of determined seeking after it, but a possible by-product of honest yogic effort to improve the quality of one's humanity.

Krishna continued :

Whoever does his work selflessly combines renunciation and activity -- not one who does not work, or rejects the prescribed duties.

Right action is really renunciation. No yogi succeeds without discarding desire.

The man desirous of Yoga seeks action as the path; when Yoga is achieved, serenity takes over.

Then he is not bound either to sense-objects or to work, then he is rid of all desires.

The atman is the means of spiritual achievement. On no account should the atman be harmed. It is your best friend, do not make it your worst enemy.

It is a friend of the man who uses it to subdue it : it is an enemy of the man who does not.

The atman is the consummation of the tranquil-minded and the self-subdued, who are serene in heat and cold, disgust and delight, honour and infamy.

When a clod of earth, stone, and gold become alike, serenity is achieved.

Serenity is achieved by a man who considers impartially his friends, his lovers, enemies, kinsmen, even the wicked.

Living in solitude, mind and and body's passion in check, a yogi should strive for absorbtions in the atman.

And he should seat himself in a clean spot, not too high and not too low, spread over with the kusha grass, deer-skin, and a piece of cloth.

And fixing his mind on a single goal, subduing the demands of the eager senses, he should struggle in Yoga, to cleanse his heart.

And he must hold his body still, his head and neck erect, not let his eyes stray, but gaze only at the tip of his nose.

Tranquil and courageous, an avowed brahmachari, his mind subdued, his thougt focussed on me, he must sit, considering me his ultimate goal.

Thus absorbed, thus steadfast, lost in me, he will find peace, and bliss beyond peace, called Nirvana.

Yoga is not for the glutton, or one who fasts too much; it is not for the sleep-heavy or the sleepless.

Yoga destroys despair; it is only for the moderate in eating and resting, in sleeping and working.

You become tranquil when the subdued mind is established in the atman, when anxiety is overcome, and desires abandoned.

The flame of a wind-less lamp is never fitful -- a good smile for a controlled yogi, absorbed in Yoga.

When the mind is steady in Yoga and achieves tranquility, and when the atman reveals Brahman, when one is contented in atman;

When perfect calm comes, experienced by the liberated atman ( a goal from which there is no straying);

And when, having achieved this ineffable state, no anxiety disturbs --

Yoga is won ! And this is achieved after much hardship.

Forsaking desire, and controlling his senses, the yogi must not think of anything else.

Success will come by slow degrees. Should his fickle mind stray,

He must subdue it, reclaim it, and guide it by the atman.

The supreme bliss is found only by the tranquil yogi, whose passions have been stilled.

His desires washed away, the yogi easily achieves union with the Brahman.

He sees the atman in all beings, and all being in the atman, for his heart is firm in Yoga.

Who sees me in all things, and all things in me, he is never far from me, and I am never far from him.

He worships me and lives in me, whoever he might be, for he has achieved unity of being, he sees me in all things.

He treats delight and suffering everywhere as his own, he is the supreme yogi.

Arjuna said :

You have told me this Yoga of peace and unity of being, but my mind is restless, I do not understand what you say.

For the mind, Krishna, is powerful, violent, uncontrollable. Harnessing the mind is like harnessing the wind.

Krishna replied :

The mind indeed is all that you say, Arjuna, but determination helps; and renunciation curbs it.

Without determination, no man can reach Yoga, but the self-disciplined, struggling nobly, can achieve it.

Arjuna asked :

What happens to the well-meaning man who does not succeed in Yoga ; whose mind wanders, who loses control --

Does he not plummet down, is he not doomed like a tattered cloud ?

Dispel this doubt, Krishna -- you are the best remover of doubt.

Krishna replied :

He need not fear, neither now nor later -- the struggle for virtue is never wasted.

He reaches the worlds of the blessed, and lives a long time; then he is reincarnated in the homes of the prosperous and the righteous.

Or he finds birth among learned yogis -- a difficult birth to obtain, very difficult.

Then he gets back his former intelligence, and once again struggles in Yoga.

His primary struggle continues its momentum. Even a man who merely asks to be enlightened in Yoga is superior to the performer of mechanical rituals.

The yogi who perseveres, resolves through numerous births before reaching the supreme goal.

Be a yogi, Arjuna, for the yogi is above those who do penance, above the learned, and above the active workers.

And even among the yogis, he is the best who communes with me in his atman. I am sure of this.

Canto VII : the Yoga of Knowledge

Some truths have to be accepted by the novice in yoga as self-evident : selfishness harms, selflessness improves; there is a lower, pulling-down tendency in man's make-up, and there is a higher, raising-up movement as well; an invisible divine shakti holds the universes of the cosmos together, like pearls hanging on a string; life is an ambivalent mix of delight and disgust, right and wrong, high and low, progress and regress.

Though self-evident, these truths can be, and have to be, learnt, acquired, accepted, divined, taken on trust, gained by experience, intuition or symbiosis. Whichever way they come is fine, for they make special and precious the person who knows them. The key shloka of Canto VII is number 17 : 'He is dear to me' (sa cha mama priyah). Of the four kinds of good people, the sorrowing, the seeker after truth, the seeker of bliss, and the wise -- the wise is the best. The suffering person wishes to end his sorrow, the truth seeker wishes to gain enlightenment, the seeker of bliss (some translate this into 'wealth') wants salvation. All are using talent and skill as a means to an end. Only the wise man is secure in the knowledge that wisdom is an end in itself. He has seen through the myriad fruit-offering seductions of maya. He is not deceived by the dangling carrots of sex, fame, money, and power; by the dazzling interplay of cause and effect. He knows that wisdom's lamp is self-glowing, self-secure, self-charging.

It is wisdom, says Krishna, to know the Adhyatman, the Adhibhuta, the Adhidaiva, and the Adhiyajna.

Krishna continued :

Listen, Arjuna, to how you can come to me, by sheltering in me, and practising Yoga.

I will tell you all knowledge, all realisation; after knowing which, there is nothing more to know.

Out of thousands one perhaps strives for perfection, and one perhaps out of those who strive actually finds me.

Earth, water, fire, air, ether ; mind, intellect, and egoism -- these eight constituents make up Nature.

This is the lower Nature but different from this is the higher nature -- the principle of life which sustains the worlds.

These two, womb of all life, are in my power; I am the birth and dissolution of this universe.

There is nothing superior to me, Arjuna : the worlds depend on me as pearls hang on a string.

I am the salt of the ocean, the brilliance of the moon and the sun, I am AUM in the Vedas, and sound in the sky, and manliness in man.

I am the fragrance in the earth, and brightness in fire: I am life in all, and penance in the pure ones.

Consider me the undying seed of all life: the glory of the glorious, the wisdom of the wise.

I am the pure and selfless strength of the strong : I am desire too, desire that does not transgress dharma.

They are all mine, the states of sattva, and rajas, and tamas; I am not in them : they are in me.

These three manifestations of the three gunas deceive the world, and it fails to recognise me, because I am beyond them.

It is difficult indeed to pierce this divine maya of the gunas. But the faithful are able to pierce it.

The ill-minded and the ignorant are victims of maya, and do not worship me.

There are four types of good men who worship me, Arjuna : the sorrowing, the truth-seeker, the seeker of bliss, and the wise man.

The wise man, steadfast, devoted to me, is the best among these. I love the wise, Arjuna, and he is dear to me.

They are all good, but the wise man is my own self : his mind is balanced, he is devoted to me as the supreme goal.

After many births, the wise man reposes in me, convinced that I am all : such a pure soul is difficult to come across.

There are others, made blind by various desires, who adhere to various rites, prostrate themselves before various gods, according to their natures.

I make firm the devotion of any worshipper, no matter what his form of worship is.

And with that devotion he progresses in worship, and obtains his desires, which I alone offer.

But the reward for men of small intelligence is small. The worshippers of the gods go to the gods; who loves me comes to me.

I am the formless, but the foolish think I have form. They do not understand my real nature.

I am covered by maya, and all do not see me. I am birthless and deathless, this world of illusion does not understand me.

I know what is, what was, and what will be; but none knows me.

The play of ambivalence, of disgust and delight, flings all beings into delusion.

But holy men free themselves from extremes, and become my devoted worshippers.

They strive for salvation from death and old age, they shelter in me; they understand Brahman and the nature of karma.

They continue in knowledge till the time of death, for they are firm of reason : they know the Adhibhuta, the Adhidaiva, the Adhiyajna, and the Ahyatman

Canto VIII : the Nature of Brahman

Adhataman, Adhibhuta, Adhidaiva, Adhiyajna : this quartet constitutes the quintessence of natural and supernatural knowledge which, intelligently filtered in a receptive mind, becomes wisdom.

Adhyatman (adhi-atman : pervader of atman). Adhibhuta (pervader of all creatures). Adhidaiva (pervader of the gods). Adhiyajna ( pervader of ritual deeds).

Behind the technical philosophical terminolory, the meaning is clear. The Supreme Ultimate Brahman is the energising principle behind the individual atman, the Fire, of which the atman is a spark. Brahman also energises the vast variety of physical life. Brahman charges the creative imagination of the morally noble and god-like. Brahman inspires the dedicated selflessness that goes into ritual acts such as sacred offering and sacrifices. The key shloka 15 of Canto VIII applies to a person who has this wisdom : 'For such a pure soul (mahatma) there is no more the sorrow of rebirth.'

No commentator has satisfactorily glossed the two sholokas that speak of Time that makes the yogis return to the world (by the dark path) and not return (by the bright path). Perhaps fire, brilliance, daytime, the bright fortnight and the six month course fo the northern sun refers to the mystic insights into one pole of the ambivalence of maya. The opposite pole of the dark path might refer to the insights of the occults, or tantric, 'wisdom' -- the dark side of ambivalence which ensures not salvation (moksha) but re-birth.

Arjuna asked :

Puroshattama, what is Brahman, and Adhyatman, and Karma ? What is Adhibhuta, and what is Adhidaiva ?

And what is Adhiyajna and how ? And how will the self-restrained realise you, at the time of death ?

Krishna replied :

Brahman is the Supreme Indestructible, and its existence is separate forms is Adhyatman. Karma is the momentum that commences the birth of beings.

The destructible is Adhibhuta, and the male principle is Adhidaiva, and I am Adhiyajna in the human body.

He attains my being abandoning his body, whose concentration at the time of death is on me. Do not doubt this.

Whatever his concentration is on, he achieves that at the time of death.

Therefore, think of me -- and fight ! Your mediation focused on me, you shall achieve me.

Absolutely unwavering, consistently absorbed in the male principle, the Purusha, the mind reaches him.

'The Purusha is all-knowing, lord of all, the ancient, smaller than an atom, incomprehensible of form, dazzling as the sun, and free of the veiling darkness of maya.'

He achieves Purusha who, at the time of death, is steady and devoted; has fixed his life-breath through the power of Yoga between his eyebrows, and who thinks thus.

I will now tell you of what the learned Vedas conceive as the Imperishable, which is achieved through the self control of brahmacharya.

With the senses all restrained, absorbed in yogic meditation,

He achieves the supreme goal, who forsakes his body with the syllable AUM on his lips, symbol of the Brahman.

The yogi who every day keeps me in mind, constant and steadfast, finds me easy of achievement.

He reaches the supreme perfection, and he achieves me; for such a pure soul there is no more the sorrow of rebirth.

Even the world of Brahma cannot escape rebirth; but there is no rebirth once I am achieved.

The man who understands day and night can also understand the thousand-yuga day of Brahma and his thousand-yuga night.

When the day of Brahma commences, all forms evolve from the unmanifested; when night commences, they dissolve into the unmanifested.

And this swarm of beings, successively reborn, dissolves as the night of Brahma commences, and emerges with the commencement of another day.

But beyond this unmanifested, there is another Unmanifested, the undying reality, which does not dissolve though all beings dissolve.

This Indestructible and Unmanifested is the Supreme Goal : this is Brahman; this is the state of perfection from which there is no rebirth.

Only complete worship of him in whom all things repose, of him who pervades all the worlds, can obtain this supreme perfection.

I will tell you of time which makes yogis return to the world and and return.

Fire, brilliance, daytime, the bright fortnight, and the six-month course of the northern sun -- this takes the knowers of Brahman to Brahman.

Smoke, night-time, the dark fortnight, and the six month course of the southern sun -- this takes the yogi to the lunar brilliance, but he returns.

Rightly are they thought absolute, there bright and dark paths : for one results in non-return; and the other causes return.

The yogi who understands the nature of these paths is not deceived; therefore, Arjuna, make yourself firm in Yoga.

For the yogi is above the rewards offered in the Vedas, above ritual, penance and charity -- he alone understands the nature of Reality, he alone finds the supreme goal.

Canto IX : the Secret of Work

Logic and reason and discussion, Socratic dialogue and Vyasan question-and-answer go as far as the limits set by the human brain. At a certain point, the queries stop, the imagination falters, the heart remains unsatisfied. The conviction is partial not total, because the analytic method has not been fulfilled by the mystic visions and intuitive insight.

'The worlds hang on me like pearls on a string' -- was Krishna's poetic metaphor to suggest a mystical truth. He proceeds further now by saying, 'By invisible presence straddles this universe ......' Like the invisible winds reposing in the sky, 'all beings repose in me'. He is referring to the 'yogamaishvaram', the miraculous Yoga by which the invisible informs the visible, the transcendent permeates the physical, the divine irradiates the secular, while remaining 'neutral, unattached, ', unbound (nibadhna). Inapprehensible, we clutch Thee !

The key shloka of Canto IX is number 23 : 'Even the worshippers of images, in reality worship me; their faith (shraddha) is real, though their means is poor'.

It is a magical word : shraddha. The closest English equivalent is 'faith'. But shraddha has associations with darshan, and woshipping a physical image of a non-physical divinity is a form of darshan provided it is done with shraddha. No shraddha is refused : 'I will accept any gift, a fruit, a flower, a leaf, even water, if it is offered purely, and devoutly with love .... No worshipper of mine is ever rejected'.

Krishna continued :

I will give you the profoundest of secrets, Arjuna, leading to perfection, for you are not cynical.

This is the most perfect of sciences, of secrets the most profound, of salvation the supreme; this you will understand immediately, and perform without difficulty.

Disrespectful men, ignoring this, fail to attain me, and fall into fearful rebirths.

My invisible presence straddles this Universe : all beings have life in me, but I am not in them.

Look at my miraculous Yoga, Arjuna, -- even beings are not in me ! Though it creates and sustains beings, my Self is not established in them.

Like the tremendous wind reposing in the sky though it seems to travel everywhere, so all being repose in me.

And when a day of Brahma ends, all beings return to my Nature; when a day begins, they emerge again.

I vitalise my Prakriti, and this swarm of beings is evolved, all subordinate to Prakriti.

But these acts do not affect me, Arjuna -- I am neutral, unattached.

Under my supervision, Nature turns out the animate and the inanimate ; this is the reason the world forever keeps spinning.

The ignorant fail to recognise me in my human form, because they are not aware of my status and lord of all things.

Hollow of hopes, hollow of deeds, hollow of knowledge, they are the rakshasas, swamped by delusions.

But the mahatmas have knowledge of my transcendent nature : they consider me the changeless source of being, they adore me with single-minded devotion.

They worship me, and they sing my praises; they strive resolutely for me; they pay homage to me, they are always constant.

Others worship me as the all-formed, as unity, as many-formed, as separate : each worships as best as he can.

I am the ritual, the sacred gift, and the sacred tree, I am the holy food, and the mantra, I am the sacred fire and the sacred offering.

I am the father and the mother of this world, I maintain it and purify it; I am the goal of knowledge, I am the Aum and the three Vedas;

The supporter, the refuge, the lord, the silent witness, the friend, the origin, the dissolution, the storehouse, and the seed.

I offer heat : I send and withhold the rain : I am death and moksha, Arjuna : I am what is, I am what is not.

The learned in the three Vedas worship me and drink the soma juice, and, purified, they pray for the heavens; reaching the worlds of Indra, they enjoy the pleasures of the gods.

Having enjoyed heaven, they return to the material world because their virtues have been sufficiently rewarded. Those who adhere to the words of the Vedas are doomed to constant rebirth.

But those who worship me and my unity in all beings are the truly persevering, and to these I give what they do not have and increase what they have.

Even the worshippers of images, in reality worship me; their faith is real, though their means are poor.

For I am the lord and enjoyer of all ritual; but they do not know me, they are born again.

The worshippers of the gods achieve the gods; of the fathers, the fathers; the worshippers of the spirits go to the spirits; my worshippers come to me.

I will accept any gift, a fruit, a flower, a leaf, even water, if it is offered purely, and devoutedly, and with love.

Whatever you do, Arjuna, whatever you sacrifice, whatever you give in charity, whatever penance you perform, do it for my sake.

This will free from the fetters of work, and you will come to me, with your heart steady in Yoga.

All beings are the same to me, Arjuna : I hate none, I love none; but those who are my devoted worshippers, they are in me, and I am in them.

If the wickedest man acknowledges me as supreme aboveall, regard him virtuous, Arjuna : he has chosen the true path.

Soon will he become pure-hearted, and achieve undying peace. I promise you this : no worshipper of mine is ever rejected.

Sheltering in me, all achieve the supreme goal -- women, Vaishyas, Shudras, and all of low birth.

Small wonder that the pious Brahmins and the steadfast saints find me. Give up this brief joyless world, Arjuna, and strive for me.

Be in me, Arjuna. Worship me. Sacrifice to me. Bow to me. And so you will come to me.

Canto X : the Univeral Glory

What faith provides is an experience that reason can only indicate or describe : the 'divine glories' (divyanam vibhutanam) and 'unfathomable prowess' (vibhutervistaro) of Godhead. That is why the key shlokas of Canto X are numbers 40 and 42, specially 42 : 'What use to you is this parade of my powers ? Have faith in me; know I exist, and that I sustain the world'.

Connected with the shraddha (faith) is bhakti (devotion). Bhakti, because it is outgoing, is the very opposite of desire, which is in-growing and so, when faith and devotion join hands, compassion is born. 'My compassion like a glowing lamp of wisdom scatters the ignorant darkness' of anywho happily sing the glories of God.

Arjuna's problem is obvious. As a Kshatriya warrior, he is unfamiliar with the co-ordinates of bhakti, though he knows what shraddha is, since training in arms under a guru demands the strictest shraddha. The only way he can discover the meaning of bhakti is by asking what it is -- a very poor way -- as unhelpful as trying to experience the fragrance of a rose by looking up its definition in a dictionary.

Yet Krishna goes along with Arjuna's request for a 'narration' of his yoga-bibhuti. How Arjuna will get a taste of this bhakti nectar (amrita : non-death) will become clear as the narration continues. The ladder of reason is a prelude to the leap of faith and devotion.

Krishna continued :

Listen to my wisdom, Arjuna : I speak for your good, for you are a good listener.

Neither the gods nor the saints have understood my divine origin; for I am the cause of the birth of the gods and the saints.

Whoever knows me as birthless, without beginning, and the supreme master of the universe, he of all mortals sees clear, and is absolved of taint.

Intellect, knowledge, vision, perseverance, truth and renunciation, gentleness, joy, sorrow, birth, death, awe, fearlessness,

Ahimsa, equanimity, penance and charity, fame and sense of shame -- these human states arise from my being alone.

The seven saints and the four founders of the human race were products of my mind; from them was born this swarm of life.

This the truth. The man who knows the difference between illusion and reality is the yogi.

I am the source of everything, everything evolves from me -- thinking in this manner, the learned concentrate on me.

Their minds in me, their senses in me, instructing each other and singing my glory, they are happy.

And I enlighten them, and they come to me, for they are devoted and steadfast.

I dwell in their heart, and my compassion like a glowing lamp of wisdom scatters their ignorant darkness.

Arjuna said :

You are the Supreme Brahman, the supreme goal, the supreme purifier; self glowing Purusha, the first God;

Narada, Asita, Devala, and Vyasa have called you eternal, and this now your own revelation.

All that you say to me is true, Krishna; neither the gods nor the anti-gods comprehend your essence.

You alone know yourself by yourself, transcendent Purusha; you are the source of life, the God of gods, the Lord of the world.

Speak to me of your divine powers which sustain the world and proclaim your existence.

How shall I achieve you, Krishna ? What will be the objects of my meditation ?

Narrate your Yoga and your glory at length. Such nectar from your lips is what I desire.

Krishna replied :

I shall narrate you my divine glories in a brief sequence -- there is no end otherwise to them.

I am the atman, conscious in the heart of all life; I am also the beginning, the middle, and the end of all life.

I am the Vishnu of the Adityas, the glorious sun among the heavenly bodies; Marichi among the winds, and the moon among the planets.

Of the Vedas, I am the Samaveda, Indra among the gods; of the faculties I am intelligence; and I am the consciousness of the world's creatures.

I am the Shankara among the Rudras and Kubera among the Yakshas and Rakshasas; I am the Pavaka among the Vasus, and among mountains I am Meru.

Among priests, Arjuna, I am Brihaspati, among commanders Skanda, and the ocean among expanses of water.

I am Bhrigu among saints, Aum among words, among sacrifices I am Japayajna, and the Himalaya among the steadfast objects.

Among trees I am the fig-tree, and Narada among holy men, among Gandharvas Chitraratha, and Kapila among saints.

Among horses I am Ucchaishravas, sprung from nectar; among elephants Airavata, and among human being king.

Among weapons I am the thuderbolt, and among cattle the heavenly cow: I am sexual desire too, creator of life; and among snakes I am Vasuki.

Ananta among serpent, Varuna among the creatures of the sea; the Aryaman of spirits of fathers, and the god of death among governors;

Prahlada of Daityas, Kala of measures, lion among beasts, Garuda among birds;

Among cleansers I amt the wind, Parshuram among warriors, the crocodile among fish, and Ganga among rivers.

I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all that is in flux; among wisdoms I am knowledge of the atman, and I am truth among disputes.

Among letters I am A, among compounds the Dvandva; I am the immeasurable Kala, and the many-formed sustainer.

I am merciless death, I am the wealth of the wealthy; among female virtues I am fame, beauty, memory, wisdom, chastity, and sweet speech.

Among hymns I am Brihatsama, among metres the Gayatri; among months Margashirsh and among seasons spring full of flowers;

I am the deceit of the deceitful, and the strength of the strong; I am the struggle, I am realisation, and the virtue of the virtuous.

I am Krishna among the Yadavas, and Arjuna among the Pandavas; among poets I am Vyasa, among ascetics Ushanas.

Among punishers I am the mace; I am the subtlety of the tactful, the silence of the secretive, and the wisdom of the wise.

I am the germ of life; nothing animate or inanimate has existence without me.

There is no limit to my divine glory, but this is but a fragment you hear of my unfathomable prowess.

If there is any man powerful, blessed and talented, his glory is derived from a part of my glory.

But what use to you is this parade of my powers ? Have faith in me; know I exist, and that I sustain the worlds.

Canto XI : the Cosmic Multi-revelation

Canto XI is the vishva-rupa-darshan, the mystic cosmic multi-revelation of Divinity. To some, it is the pinnacle of the Gita, the poem's dazzling hard-core truth, its quintessence. To others, it is a betrayal of confidence, with Krishna stunning Arjuna with magic when all that Arjuna wanted was logic. To each his own. What matters is that the Canto flows naturally and effortlessly out of Canto X. The stepping stone of reason has led to the threshold of faith. What Arjuna 'sees' is nothing less that everything : birth/death, creation/dissolution, Kala the preserver and Kala the destroyer, Krishna calamitous and Krishna compassionate. He had earlier begged Krishna not to 'bewilder' him with confusing speech : 'Tell me that one truth (tadekam vada) by which I may know you.' This then is that one truth, simultaenously freeing and fearful, a horripilating experience of the unity that underlies the multitudinosity of reality.

The key shloka of Canto XI cannot be any but number 12 : 'Were a thousand suns to explode suddenly in the sky, their brilliance would approximate the glory of the sight'. This shloka was quoted in its entirety by E.Robert Oppenheimer when the first nuclear device was exploded in the Nevada desert (Oppenheimer had studied Sanskrit in his college days).

The 'beatific' vision brings a sea-change in Arjuna, and he asks no more questions. Prostrating himself before Krishna in total anjali, he receives the rest of the Gita with a newly discovered spiritual humility.

Arjuna said :

You have destroyed my doubts with your compassionate words, full of wisdom about the nature of Brahman.

I have heard of your greatness, I have heard of the birth and death of creatures.

And there is truth in your words, O Parameshvara ! I ask you, Purushottama, give me revelation !

If you think me worthy, Krishna, I beg of you, Yogeshvara, give me revelation !

Krishna said :

Look, Arjuna, at my divine forms, various-coloured, various-shaped, in a bewildering panorama.

See the Adityas, and the Vasus, the Rudras, the Ashvins and the Maruts; see also glories you have never witnessed before.

See the entire universe revolving in me, the animate and the inanimate -- see whatever else you wish to see.

I will grant you super-sensuous sight to witness my glory -- your mortal eyes are unable to behold it.

Sanjaya reported :

Then Krishna the Lord of yoga revealed his supreme form --

Possessing numerous mouths and eyes, glittering with divine ornaments, displaying divine signs,

Divinely garlanded, divinely scented, all-shaped, all-powerful, transcendent and limitless.

Were a thousand suns to explode suddenly in the sky, their brilliance would approximate the glory of the sight.

And in the body of Krishna, Arjuna saw the separate universes united, and resting.

Struck with awe, his hair on end, horripilating, he bent his head and offered pranama.

Arjuna said :

I see all the gods in your body, O Vishveshvara, all variety of life. I see Brahma on the lotus, the saints, and the nagas.

I see your form stretching on every side, arms, stomachs, mouths and eyes, without beginning, middle, or end.

I see your crown, your chakra, your mace, your gathered radiance covering the three worlds.

You are the supreme reality, the end of knowledge; the shelter of the three worlds, the protector of dharma, the ancient Purusha.

I see you without start or growth or end, many-armed, omnipotent. The sun and the moon are your eyes, the flame in your mouth burns the three worlds.

You will the interworld space and all things else; I shake with fear, the three worlds shake, witnessing your awesome form.

These countless gods merge into you, singing your praise with palms joined; Svasti ! Prosper ! is the chant of the saints and the yogis.

The Rudras, the Adityas, the Vasus, the Ashvins, the Maruts, the Gandharvas, the Yakshas, the anti-gods and the Siddhas -- all marvel, they all are spellbound.

Seeing your limitless form, many-mouthed, many-eyed, many-armed, many-thighed, -bellied, and -footed, the worlds are spellbound, and I am spellbound.

I see you reach the sky, glorious with colour, with mouths agape, and wide red eyes, and my heart knows fear, my steadfastness disappears : O Krishna, peace deserts me.

Take pity, O God, Lord of the three worlds. Seeing your mouths, vivid with teeth glowing like fires on the day of dissolution, my head whirls. O Krishna, peace has deserted me.

Bhisma, Drona and Karna, Dhritarashtra's sons, kings and warriors,

Sweep into your mouth; between your teeth their heads protrude, dreadfully crushed.

Like many streams rushing into the ocean, these heroes rush into your flaming mouths.

Like moths rushing to the fatal flame, these heroes rush into your flaming mouths.

And you chew the worlds in you flaming mouths, and lick your lips; O Krishna, your shafts of flame brighten the universe.

Tell me who you are, O fiery-formed. O Krishna, have pity. How can I know you ?

Krishna replied :

I am Time, Kala, supreme destroyer of the three worlds, here visible in the three worlds. Even if you refuse to fight, none of these soldiers will live.

Wake up Arjuna, and win glory ! Destroy your enemies and enjoy your kingdom ! Their death is ordained -- you are only the immediate cause.

All have already been killed by me -- Drona and Bhisma, Jayadratha, Karna and the others. Fight ! the day is yours.

Sanjaya reported :

Hearing this Arjuna, shaking, prostrated himself before Krishna.

Arjuna said :

It is in the fitness of things, Krishna, that the world rejoices and sings your praises, the rakshasas scatter in fear, and bands of devotees stand in silent supplication.

Why shouldn't they ? Why shouldn't they worship the creator of Brahma, the lord of Brahma, the Infinite, the God of gods, the refuge of the three worlds ? You are deathless, you are real, you are unreal, you are what is beyond these.

You are the first God, and the primal Purusha, the refuge of the three worlds, the knower and the known, the ultimate end. O Infinite form, the universe is rich with you !

You are the god of wind, fire, and death, you, are Prajapati; I worship you a thousand times, and a thousand times again.

May homage flow to you from all quarters! Your boundless power sweeps the universe. You are all.

And I have presumed, from love and casual regard, and called you Krishna, Yadava, and friend, thinking you a friend, unmindful of your glory.

I have lowered your in laughter, in resting, eating and walking, alone and in company. Forgive me, Krishna.

For you are the world's father, the goal of its supplication, the most mighty. The three worlds do not know your equal -- who can surpass you ?

I bend my body to your glory, I beg forgiveness of you, my lord ! Be merciful to me, as friend to friend, lover to beloved, father to son.

Though terror shudders in my heart, my joy brims over. O refuge of hte worlds, O God of gods, I beg your grace. Reveal to me your form !

Let me see you with crown, mace, chakra. I long to see you! O thousand-armed, show me your four-armed form!

Krishna said :

My love shows this supreme revelation, Arjuna; none has seen this before.

Neither study of Vedas, sacrifices, gifts, ceremonies, nor the strictest penance wil reveal me in this form to any other person.

Forget your fear and bewilderment. Throw off your terror, be glad of heart -- and look !

Sanjaya reported :

Krishna graced Arjuna with a vision of his peaceful form. Krishna gave Arjuna peace.

Arjuna said :

Seeing your peaceful form, Krishna, my peace returns, I am normal again.

Krishna said :

It is very difficult to see what you have seen; even the gods hunger for such a vision.

Neither the Vedas nor penance, charity, nor sacrifice, can make men see me as you have seen me.

Single-minded devotion alone can make this form appear.

He reaches me who struggles for me, who has me as an ideal, who is free from desire and is unaffected by anger.

extract from Brighter than a Thousand Suns by Robert Jungk

By two o'clock in the morning, all those taking part in the experiment where in their places. They were assembled in the Base Camp, some ten miles from Point Zero where there stood the high scaffolding on which the new, still untested weapon had been placed -- the bomb on which they had been working for the last two years and had now finally brought to completion. They tried on the dark glasses with which they had been provided and smeared their faces, by artificial light, with anti-sunburn cream. They could hear dance music from the loudspeakers distributed throughout the area. From time to time the music was interrupted with the news of the progress of the preparations. It had been arranged that the shot should take place at 4 a.m.But the bad weather rendered a postponement necessary.

At the control point, slightly over five and a half miles from the scaffolding, Oppenheimer and Groves conferred about whether the test should be put off altogether. Groves reports : "During most of the time, we were strolling about in the dark, outside the control building, looking up at the stars. We kept assuring each other that either one or both of the two stars visible had grown brighter." After consultation with the meteorological experts it was eventually decided to explode the experimental bomb at 5:30 a.m.

At ten minutes past five, Oppenheimer's deputy, the atomic physicist, Saul K. Allison, one of the twenty people in the control room, began to send out time signals. At about the same time Groves, who had by then left the control point and had returnded to the Base Camp, something over four miles further back, was giving the scientific personnel waiting at the Camp their last instructions. They went to put on their sun-glasses and lie down on their faces with their heads turned away. For it was considered practically certain that anyone who tried to observe the flames with the naked eye would be blinded.

During the ensuing period of waiting, which seemed an eternity, hardly a word was spoken. Everything was giving free play to his thoughts. But so far as those who have been asked can remember, these thoughts were not apocalyptic. Most of the people concerned, it appears, were trying to work out how long it would be before they could shift their uncomfortable position and obtain some kind of view of the spectacle awaited. Fermi, experimental-minded as ever, was holding scraps of paper with which he meant to gauge the air pressure and thereby estimate the strength of the explosion the moment it occured. Frisch was intent on memorising the phenomena as precisely as possible, without allowing either excitement or preconceived notions to interfere with his faculty of perception. Groves was wondering for the hundredth time whether he had taken every possible step to ensure rapid evacuation of a disaster. Oppenheimer oscillated between fears that the experiment would fail and fears that it would succeed.

Then everything happened faster than it could be understood. No one saw the first flash of the atomic fire itself. It was only possible to see its dazzling white reflection in the sky and on the hill. Those who then ventured to turn their heads percieved a bright ball of flame, growing steadily larger and larger. "Good God, I believe that the long haired boys have lost control !" a senior officer shouted. Carlson Mak, one of the most brilliant members of the theoretical division, actually thought -- though his intelligence told him the thing was impossible -- that the ball would fire would never stop growing till it had enveloped all heaven and earth. At the moment everyone forgot what he had intended to do.

Groves writes : "Some of the men in their excitement, having had three years to get ready for it, at the last minute forgot those welders' helmets and stumbled out of the cars where they were sitting. They were distinctly blinded for two to three seconds. In that time they lost the view of what they had been waiting for over three years to see."

People were transfixed at the power of the explosion. Oppenheimer was clinging to one of the uprights in the control room. A passage from the Bhagavad Gita, the sacred epic of the Hindus, flashed into his mind : If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst into the sky, that would be like the splendour of the Mighty One ---

Yet, when the sinister and gigantic cloud rose up in the far distance over Point Zero, he was reminded of another line from the same source : I am become Death, the shatterer of worlds.

Sri Krishna, the Exalted One, lord of the fate of mortals, had uttered the phrase. But Robert Oppenheimer was only a man, into whose hands, a far too mighty instrument of power had been given.

[pages 182 - 183]

Canto XII : the Way of Devotion

Shraddha and bhakti -- faith and devotion -- are the two words repeatedly stressed in the previous two Cantos. The key last shloka of Canto XII clinches the favoured status of devoted believers :'Dear to me are those who along this deathless dharma, and follow me with shraddha. They are my devotees, and I love them'.

So far, in seven consecutive shlokas, 13 - 19, Krishna has described the good points in the character of an ideal devotee (bhakta) : compassion for all creatures, freedom from jealousy, fear and worry, self-sufficiency, indifference to ups and downs, self-control, determination, decisiveness, impartiality to friend and foe, equal-mindedness in devotion, praise and blame; silence, satisfaction; single-mindedness in devotion. At the end of each shloka he remarks : 'sa me priyah' (he is dear to me).

In the final shloka of the Canto, he adds, 'bhaktase-ativa me priyah'. 'Ativa priyah' ('exceedingly dear') -- the only way one can express it in English is by using the word 'love'. 'I love such devotees' is what Krishna is saying. A stage has now been reached in the relationship between confused Arjuna and the confident Krishna when their Nara-Narayan closeness asserts itself. This intimacy is very special. Arjuna has been described by Krishna as his 'sakha' ( a word for which there is no parallel in English, though 'loving friend and loved friend' comes near); and now Arjuna is on the brink of becoming a still more special person : a sakha-bhakta, a loved and loving friend-cum-devotee.

Arjuna asked :

Who are the better yogis, Krishna, those who steadfastly worship you, or those who worship the invisible and ineffable Brahman ?

Krishna replied :

Those who worship me single-mindedly and those who have unshakeable faith, are for me the most learned in Yoga.

But those who worship the deathless Brahman, the imperishable, unnameable, the invisible, the immutable, unshakeable, and eternal --

They subdue their senses, and seek the welfare of all, they also find me.

But their problems are greater : for finite beings to attain the infinite is difficult.

Those who worship me, offer their deeds to me, consider me the supreme goal,

And think of me with singleminded devotion -- I am their salvation from the whirlpool of the world.

Put all your mind in me, all your intelligence in me; and you will certainly live in me for all time.

If you are unable to do so, at least learn the importance of virtuous habit.

If the art of good habit is difficult, learn to do everything for my sake -- even that will suffice.

If even that is difficult, take shelter in me, do not hanker for the fruits of your actions. Discipline yourself.

Knowledge is superior to good habit, meditation is superior to knowledge, and giving up the fruits of actions is superior to meditation.

Dear to me is the man who hates no one, who feels for all creatures, who has shed 'I' and 'mine', who is not excited by sorrow or joy,

Who is patient and serene, steadfast and subdued.

Dear to me is the man who neither annoys nor gets annoyed, who is free from passion, jealousy, fear and worry.

Dear to is the man who is self-sufficient, chaste, indifferent, determined and decisive.

Dear to me is the man neither regretful nor passionate, who forsakes the fruits of deeds, renounces purity and impurity, and is devoted.

Dear to me is the man alike to friend and foe, alike in fame and infamy, in heat and cold, in joy and sorrow; unattached,

Equal-minded in blame or praise, silent, satisfied, undisturbed, singleminded in devotion. He is dear to me.

Dear to me are those who walk along this deathless dharma, and follow me with shraddha. They are my devotees, and I love them.

Canto XIII : the Knower of the Field

It is to such a loved and loving devotee that Krishna now offers insights into two of the subtlest concepts of Upanishadic philosophy : Purusha and Prakriti, and Kshetra and Kshetrajna. Loosely, one may translate the first pair as Male and Femal; or Spirit and Nature; or Soul and Matter; or Energy and Mass. The second can be Englished with greater precision : Field and the Knower of the Field.

Purusha informs, permeates, energises, and shines through Prakriti. Prakriti is primordial, undifferentiated nature. Under the influence of Purusha, Prakriti produces the universe, the raw and the refined, teeming, variegated life of the cosmos. However, Purusha the activating agent, itself remains unaffected. Like the sky that spreads everywhere, Purusha (or Brahman or, in differentiated form, the atman) remains pure. Paradoxically, though involved in Prakriti, Purusha is the detached, supreme witness. It is not a participant.

Another way of looking at it is to describe Prakriti, in its differentiated form, as the Kshetra, the Field, the Body, the Ground of Karma's Fruits. The Kshetrajna is the knower of the Body, the atman, the Witness, the Uninvolved Participant, the Bird Watching the Bird Eating, always pure, always free, so long as it knows the truth about itself and Prakriti. The key shloka 18 hymns this truth : 'It is the light of lights, shining through darkness, it is the only knowledge worth knowing; it is the end of knowledge; it exists in everyone's heart

Arjuna asked :

What is Prakriti and Purusha, what is the Field and the knower of the Field, what is knowledge and what is knowable ?

Krishna replied :

This body is the called the Field, and the man who masters it is called theKnower of the Field.

.I am the Knower of all Fields; what is knowable is knowledge of the Field and its Knower.

Listen to me well if you wish to know what the Field is, what its qualities are, what effects are born of what causes, and also who the Knower is and what his attributes are.

Variously have sages sung it, in delightful songs, in shlokas of clarity, for the glory of Brahman.

The qualities of the Field are these : the elements, egoism, the intellect and the invisible mind, the ten senses,

Lust, anger, pleasure and pain; intelligence, patience; and the sum of all these.

Knowledge of the Field consists of the following : humility, non-pride, ahimsa, dignity, tranquility, homage, chastity, self-control, and steadfastness;

Abandonment of sensual desires, absence of egoism; meditation on defects of birth, of age and death, sickness and sorrow;

Non-attachment even to son, wife and home, single-minded faith in me;

Pilgrimage to places of quiet, discontent with crowds;

Persistence in spiritual struggle, awareness of the end of knowledge. The opposite of all this is ignorance.

I will tell you what must be known : knowing which, immortality possible. What must be known is neither being nor non-being.

Its hand, feet and ears are everywhere; it stands, straddling the three worlds.

It is radiant with the senses, yet not sensual. It is despotic, yet it invigorates everything.

It is outside and inside life, it is the animate and the inanimate; it is ineffable, it is far and near.

It is one, yet split up into myriad beings : it is the sustainer of beings, their destroyer and creator.

It is the light of lights, shining through darkness : it is the only knowledge worth knowing ; it is the end of knowledge, it exists in everyone's heart.

This is the nature of the Field. This is the knowledge that must be known.

Prakriti and Purusha are without any beginning, and all the interplay of the senses is the result of Prakriti.

Prakriti is the cause of the body's senses' evolution, Purusha the cause of the feeling of of pleasure and pain.

Hidden in Prakriti, Purusha experiences the Prakriti-produced senses; his birth is pure or impure wombs is the result of this attachment.

The supreme Purusha is also the Witness, the Permitter, the Sustainer and the Enjoyer, the highest God, the Supreme Soul.

The man who understands Purusha and Prakriti exhausts his succession of births.

Some through devotion see the atman; others choose the path of knowledge; still others follow the path of action.

Others, unaware of this, worship by hearsay; they also are saved, for they have faith.

Whatever creature is born, animate or inanimate, is born of the union between the Field and the Knower.

His vision is clear w ho sees Brahman as equal in all being, as the non-material in the material.

And seeing Brahman equal in all beings, he takes care not to injure Brahman by the atman, and achieves the supreme goal.

His vision is clear, too, who sees all actions of Prakriti, and the atman as unaffected.

And when he sees in the scattered existences of all being an essential unity, he becomes Brahman.

Beginningless and feelingless, this unchangeable atman neither acts nor is affected by acts, though it is lodged in the body.

As the all-embracing sky is pure though it spreads everywhere, so the atman, so the atman, everywhere scattered, remains always pure.

As the single sun illluminates this vast earth, so he who lives in the Field illuminates the entire Field.

And those who can distinguish clearly between the Field and the Knower eventually reach the supreme goal.

Canto XIV : the Different Gunas

If Purusha is the 'light of lights', what is Prakriti ? Prakriti, explains Krishna, is 'my womb, and I place the seen in it'. Prakriti is primordial matter, both crude and subtle. It consists of three gunas or qualities (literally, 'threads'). The three threads that, in varying permutations and combinations, make up all material phenomena are : sattva, rajas, tamas. These three have been translated and interpreted in all manner of ways. Very simply, sattva is the quality of light, goodness, knowledge, vitality; rajas -- the quality of grayness, amorality, curiosity, physical strength; tamas -- the quality of grayness, immorality, ignorance, laziness. The permutations and combinations of these gunas are endless, and each person is dominated, at different times, by one or other of these gunas, which provide the unique stamp of individuality, of character, or personality. But this personality is Prakriti-based; it is grounded in a mix of raw and refined tendencies, inclinations, proclivities, behaviour patterns. They are not the real person, the Purusha. The aim of life is to see through and overcome these physical guna-pulls and arrive at a clear awareness of one's real Self.

The key last but one shloka of Canto XIV makes this and unequivocal requirement of the spiritual aspirant : 'My unswerving devotee transcends the gunas and is ready for union with the Brahman'.

Krishna said :

I will now give you the greatest knowledge of all, through which the sages have achieved perfection.

They are not subject to rebirth at the time of creation, nor are they affected at the time of the world's dissolution.

The great Prakriti is my womb, and I place the seed in it; in this way, Arjuna, life begins.

Remember : whatever form of birth is there in this world, the great Prakriti is the ultimate womb, and I am the seed-giving father.

Sattva, rajas and tamas -- these Prakriti-produced gunas unite the body to the atman.

Sattva unites with purity and luminosity; its points of reference are happiness and knowledge.

Rajas is the quality of passion, it causes unrest and attachment; it unites by creating attachment to action.

Tamas is born of ignorance : it unites through unknowing, torpor and sleep.

Sattva refers to happiness, rajas to action; tamas, stifling discrimination, to unknowing,

Sattva occassionally rules over rajas and tamas; rajas over sattva and tamas, and tamas over sattva and rajas.

When the light of wisdom penetrates every sense, sattva is predominant.

Cupidity and desire to work, restlessness and passion are born when rajas rules.

Darkness, sloth, misunderstanding and delusion are born when tamas rules.

And if the atman meet death during sattva's predominance, it straightaway reaches the pure regions of the knowers of wisdom.

Death in rajas means birth among the action-obsessed; death in tamas means birth among the unreasoning.

The fruits of noble action are sattva and gentle; the fruits of rajas agony, of tamas ignorance.

Wisdom is the result of sattva, and lust of rajas; ignorance, misunderstanding and delusion of tamas.

The sattvika go up, the rajasika hang in midspace, the tamasika, caught in the lowest guna, go down.

When the sage sees no other worker but the gunas and sees also what is beyond the gunas, he reaches me

The atman which transcend matter-involved gunas is untouched by birth and death, decay and sorrow, and finds immortality.

Arjuna asked :

How does one recognise the transcender of the gunas ? how does he behave, what does he do with his life ?

Krishna replied :

He does not dislike light, he does not dislike work, he does not desire them when he is without them;

He behaves detachedly; he knows the gunas are working, and he remains steady;

He remains serene in pain and joy, or when considering a piece of earth, a stone or a lump of gold; he remains serene in moments of glory and shame;

He remains serene in honour and dishonour; he has abandoned wordly undertakings. Such a man is said to have transcended the gunas.

My unswerving devotee transcends the gunas and is ready for union with Brahman.

For I am the abode of Brahman, the deathless and the unchanging, the abode of eternal dharma and supreme felicity.