THIS deathless Yoga, this deep union,

I taught Vivaswata,〖A name of the sun.〗 the Lord of Light;

Vivaswata to Manu gave it; he

To Ikshwâku; so passed it down the line

Of all my royal Rishis. Then, with years,

The truth grew dim and perished, noble Prince!

Now once again to thee it is declared—

This ancient lore, this mystery supreme—

Seeing I find thee votary and friend.


Thy birth, dear Lord, was in these later days,

And bright Vivaswata's preceded time!

How shall I comprehend this thing thou sayest,

“From the beginning it was I who taught?”


Manifold the renewals of my birth

Have been, Arjuna! and of thy births too!

But mine I know, and thine thou knowest not,

O slayer of thy Foes! Albeit I be

Unborn, undying, indestructible,

The Lord of all things living; not the less—

By Maya, by my magic which I stamp

On floating Nature-forms, the primal vast—

I come, and go, and come. When Righteousness

Declines, O Bharata! when Wickedness

Is strong, I rise, from age to age, and take

Visible shape, and move a man with men,

Succoring the good, thrusting the evil back,

And setting Virtue on her seat again.

Who knows the truth touching my births on earth

And my divine work, when he quits the flesh

Puts on its load no more, falls no more down

To earthly birth: to Me he comes, dear Prince!

Many there be who come! from fear set free,

From anger, from desire; keeping their hearts

Fixed upon me—my Faithful—purified

By sacred flame of Knowledge. Such as these

Mix with my being. Whoso worship me,

Them I exalt; but all men everywhere

Shall fall into my path; albeit, those souls

Which seek reward for works, make sacrifice

Now, to the lower gods. I say to thee

Here have they their reward. But I am He

Made the Four Castes, and portioned them a place

After their qualities and gifts. Yea, I

Created, the Reposeful; I that live

Immortally, made all those mortal births:

For works soil not my essence, being works

Wrought uninvolved.〖Without desire of fruit.〗 Who knows me acting thus

Unchained by action, action binds not him;

And, so perceiving, all those saints of old

Worked, seeking for deliverance. Work thou

As, in the days gone by, thy fathers did.

Thou sayst, perplexed, It hath been asked before

By singers and by sages, “What is act,

And what inaction?” I will teach thee this,

And, knowing, thou shalt learn which work doth save.

Needs must one rightly meditate those three—

Doing,—not doing,—and undoing. Here

Thorny and dark the path is! He who sees

How action may be rest, rest action—he

Is wisest 'mid his kind; he hath the truth!

He doeth well, acting or resting. Freed

In all his works from prickings of desire,

Burned clean in act by the white fire of truth,

The wise call that man wise; and such an one,

Renouncing fruit of deeds, always content,

Always self-satisfying, if he works,

Doth nothing that shall stain his separate soul,

Which—quit of fear and hope—subduing self—

Rejecting outward impulse—yielding up

To body's need nothing save body, dwells

Sinless amid all sin, with equal calm

Taking what may befall, by grief unmoved,

Unmoved by joy, unenvyingly; the same

In good and evil fortunes; nowise bound

By bond of deeds. Nay, but of such an one,

Whose crave is gone, whose soul is liberate,

Whose heart is set on truth—of such an one

What work he does is work of sacrifice,

Which passeth purely into ash and smoke

Consumed upon the altar! All's then God!

The sacrifice is Brahm, the ghee and grain

Are Brahm, the fire is Brahm, the flesh it eats

Is Brahm, and unto Brahm attaineth he

Who, in such office, meditates on Brahm.

Some votaries there be who serve the gods

With flesh and altar-smoke; but other some

Who, lighting subtler fires, make purer rite

With will of worship. Of the which be they

Who, in white flame of continence, consume

Joys of the sense, delights of eye and ear,

Foregoing tender speech and sound of song:

And they who, kindling fires with torch of Truth,

Burn on a hidden altar-stone the bliss

Of youth and love, renouncing happiness:

And they who lay for offering there their wealth,

Their penance, meditation, piety,

Their steadfast reading of the scrolls, their lore

Painfully gained with long austerities:

And they who, making silent sacrifice,

Draw in their breath to feed the flame of thought,

And breathe it forth to waft the heart on high,

Governing the ventage of each entering air

Lest one sigh pass which helpth not the soul:

And they who, day by day denying needs,

Lay life itself upon the altar-flame,

Burning the body wan. Lo! all these keep

The rite of offering, as if they slew

Victims; and all thereby efface much sin

Yea! and who feed on the immortal food

Left of such sacrifice, to Brahma pass

To the Unending. But for him that makes

No sacrifice, he hath nor part nor lot

Even in the present world. How should he share

Another, O thou Glory of thy Line.

In sight of Brahma all these offerings

Are spread and are accepted! Comprehend

That all proceed by act; for knowing this,

Thou shalt be quit of doubt. The sacrifice

Which knowledge pays is better than great gifts

Offered by wealth, since gifts' worth—O my Prince!

Lies in the mind which gives, the will that serves:

And these are gained by reverence, by strong search,

By humble heed of those who see the Truth

And teach it. Knowing Truth, thy heart no more

Will ache with error, for the Truth shall show

All things subdued to thee, as thou to Me.

Moreover, Son of Pandu! wert thou worst

Of all wrong-doers, this fair ship of Truth

Should bear thee safe and dry across the sea

Of thy transgressions. As the kindled flame

Feeds on the fuel till it sinks to ash,

So unto ash, Arjuna! unto nought

The flame of Knowledge wastes works' dross away!

There is no purifier like thereto

In all this world, and he who seeketh it

Shall find it—being grown perfect—in himself.

Believing, he receives it when the soul

Masters itself, and cleaves to Truth, and comes—

Possessing knowledge—to the higher peace,

The uttermost repose. But those untaught,

And those without full faith, and those who fear

Are shent; no peace is here or other where,

No hope, nor happiness for whoso doubts.

He that, being self-contained, hath vanquished doubt,

Disparting self from service, soul from works,

Enlightened and emancipate, my Prince!

Works fetter him no more! Cut then atwin

With sword of wisdom, Son of Bharata!

This doubt that binds thy heart-beats! cleave the bond

Born of thy ignorance! Be bold and wise!

Give thyself to the field with me! Arise!

Here endeth Chapter IV. of the Bhagavad-Gîtâ,

entitled “Jnana-Yôg,” or “The Book of

the Religion of Knowledge”

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