by Kashinath Trimbak Telang | 1882 | 125,859 words

Volume 8, The Sacred Books of the East. This part Contains the english translation of the Bhagavad-gita....

Chapter VIII

Arjuna said:

What is that Brahman, what the Adhyātma, and what, O best of beings! is action? And what is called the Adhibhūta? And who is the Adhiyajña, and how in this body, O destroyer of Madhu? And how, too, are you to be known at the time of departure (from this world) by those who restrain their selfs?

The Deity said:

The Brahman is the supreme, the indestructible. Its manifestation (as an individual self) is called the Adhyātma. The offering (of an oblation to any divinity), which is the cause of the production and development of all things, is named action. The Adhibhūta is all perishable things. The Adhidaivata is the (primal) being. And the Adhiyajña, O best of embodied (beings)! is I myself in this body[1]. And he who leaves this body and departs (from this world) remembering me in (his) last moments, comes into my essence. There is no doubt of that. Also whichever form[2] (of deity) he remembers when he finally leaves this body, to that he goes, O son of Kuntī! having been used to ponder on it. Therefore, at all times remember me, and engage in battle. Fixing your mind and understanding on me, you will come to me, there is no doubt. He who thinks of the supreme divine Being, O son of Pṛthā! with a mind not (running) to other (objects), and possessed of abstraction in the shape of continuous meditation (about the supreme), goes to him. He who, possessed of reverence (for the supreme Being) with a steady mind, and with the power of devotion, properly concentrates the life-breath between the brows[3], and meditates on the ancient Seer, the ruler, more minute than the minutest atom[4], the supporter of all, who is of an unthinkable form, whose brilliance is like that of the sun, and who is beyond all darkness[5], he attains to that transcendent and divine Being. I[6] will tell you briefly about the seat, which those who know the Vedas declare to be indestructible; which entered by ascetics from whom all desires have departed; and wishing for which, people pursue the mode of life of Brahmacārins[7]. He who leaves the body and departs (from this world), stopping up all passages[8], and confining the mind within the heart[9], placing the life-breath in the head, and adhering to uninterrupted meditation[10], repeating the single syllable 'Om,' (signifying) the eternal Brahman[11], and meditating on me, he reaches the highest goal. To the devotee who constantly practises abstraction, O son of Pṛthā! and who with a mind not (turned) to anything else, is ever and constantly meditating on me, I am easy of access. The high-souled ones, who achieve the highest perfection, attaining to me, do not again come to life, which is transient, a home of woes[12]. All worlds, O Arjuna! up to the world of Brahman, are (destined) to return[13]. But, O son of Kuntī! after attaining to me, there is no birth again. Those who know a day of Brahman to end after one thousand ages, and the night to terminate after one thousand ages, are the persons who know day and night[14]. On the advent of day, all perceptible things are produced from the unperceived; and on the advent of night they dissolve in that same (principle) called the unperceived. This same assemblage of entities, being produced again and again, dissolves on the advent of night, and, O son of Pṛthā! issues forth on the advent of day, without a will of its own[15]. But there is another entity, unperceived and eternal, and distinct from this unperceived (principle), which is not destroyed when all entities are destroyed. It is called the unperceived, the indestructible; they call it the highest goal. Attaining to it, none returns[16]. That is my supreme abode. That supreme Being, O son of Pṛthā! he in whom all these entities dwell[17], and by whom all this is permeated, is to be attained to by reverence not (directed) to another. I will state the times, O descendant of Bharata! at which devotees departing (from this world) go, never to return, or to return. The fire, the flame[18], the day, the bright fortnight, the six months of the northern solstice, departing (from the world) in these, those who know the Brahman go to the Brahman. Smoke, night, the dark fortnight, the six months of the southern solstice, (dying) in these, the devotee goes to the lunar light and returns[19]. These two paths, bright and dark, are deemed to be eternal in this world[20]. By the one, (a man) goes never to return, by the other he comes back. Knowing these two paths, O son of Pṛthā! no devotee is deluded[21]. Therefore at all times be possessed of devotion, O Arjuna! A devotee knowing all this[22], obtains all the holy fruit which is prescribed for (study of) the Vedas, for sacrifices, and also for penances and gifts, and he attains to the highest and primeval seat.

Footnotes and references:


Adhyātma where it occurs before (e. g. p. 55) has been rendered 'the relation between the supreme and individual soul.' As to p. 78 action, cf. pp. 53, 54. Adhibhūta is apparently the whole inanimate creation, and Adhidaivata is the being supposed to dwell in the sun. Adhiyajña is Kṛṣṇa. Cf. too pp. 113, 114.


Some commentators say 'whatever thing' generally. The 'form' remembered in one's last moments would be that which had been most often meditated on during life.


Cf. supra, p. 67.


Kaṭha, p. 105; Śvetāśvatara, p. 333.


Cf. Śvetāśvatara-upaniṣad, p. 327.


Kathopaniṣad, p. 102.


As to Brahmacārins, see supra, p. 69.


'The senses,' say the commentators. Might it not refer to the 'nine portals' at p. 65 supra? See also, however, p. 108.


I. e. thinking of nothing, making the mind cease to work. Cf. Maitrī-upaniṣad, p. 179.


Cf. Maitrī-upaniṣad, p. 130, uninterrupted, like 'oil when poured out,' says the commentator.


Cf. Chāndogya-upaniṣad, p. 151; Māndukya, pp. 330-388 (Om is all-past, present, and future); Nṛsiṃha Tāpinī, pp. 110, 117, 171; Maitrī, p. 140; Praśna, p. 220. On the opening passage of the Chāndogya, Śaṅkara says, 'Om is the closest designation of the supreme Being. He is pleased when it is pronounced, as people are at the mention of a favourite name.' See also Max Müller, Hibbert Lectures, p. 84; Goldstücker's Remains, I, 122.


See infra, p. 86; and cf. Sutta Nipāta, p. 125.


They are only temporary, not the everlasting seats of the soul.


Cf. Manu I, 73. Śaṅkara says, that this explains why the abodes of Brahmā and others are said to be not lasting. They are limited by time. As to ages, Śrīdhara says, a human year is a day and night of the gods. Twelve thousand years made of such days and nights make up the four ages: one thousand such, 'quaternions of ages' make up a day, and another thousand a night of Brahmā. Of such days and nights Brahmā has a hundred years to live. At the close of his life, the universe is destroyed.


Cf. p. 82 infra; also Manu-smṛti I, 52; and Kālidāsa's Kumārasambhava II, 8.


Cf. Kaṭhopaniṣad, p. 149; and also p. 112 infra.


I. e. by whom, as the cause of them, all these entities are supported; cf. p. 82 infra.


Śrīdhara understands 'the time when,' in the sentence preceding this, to mean the path indicated by a deity presiding over p. 81 time, by which;' and the fire-flame as included in this, though having no connexion with time. Śaṅkara agrees, though he also suggests that fire means a deity presiding over time. I own I have no clear notion of the meaning of these verses. Cf. Chāndogya, p. 342; Bṛhad-āraṇyaka-upaniṣad, p. 1057 seq.


Cf. Prasna-upaniṣad, p. 64; and Śārīraka Bhāṣya, p. 747 seq.


I. e. for those who are fitted for knowledge or action.


I. e. does not desire heaven, but devotes himself to the supreme Being, seeing that heavenly bliss is only temporary.


All that is stated in this chapter.

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