Home  »  Harvard Classics, Vol. 45, Part 4  »  Chapter V

The Bhagavad-Gita.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Chapter V

YET, Krishna! at the one time thou dost laud
Surcease of works, and, at another time,
Service through work. Of these twain plainly tell
Which is the better way?
To cease from works
Is well, and to do works in holiness
Is well; and both conduct to bliss supreme;
But of these twain the better way is his
Who working piously refraineth not.
  That is the true Renouncer, firm and fixed,         10
Who—seeking nought, rejecting nought—dwells proof
Against the “opposites.” 1 O valiant Prince!
In doing, such breaks lightly from all deed:
’Tis the new scholar talks as they were two,
This Sânkhya and this Yôga: wise men know         15
Who husbands one plucks golden fruit of both!
The region of high rest which Sânkhyans reach
Yogins attain. Who sees these twain as one
Sees with clear eyes! Yet such abstraction, Chief!
Is hard to win without much holiness.         20
Whose is fixed in holiness, self-ruled,
Pure-hearted, lord of senses and of self,
Lost in the common life of all which lives—
A “Yôgayukt”—he is a Saint who wends
Straightway to Brahm. Such an one is not touched         25
By taint of deeds. “Nought of myself I do!”
Thus will he think—who holds the truth of truths—
In seeing, hearing, touching, smelling; when
He eats, or goes, or breathes; slumbers or talks,
Holds fast or loosens, opes his eyes or shuts;         30
Always assured “This is the sense-world plays
With senses.” He that acts in thought of Brahm,
Detaching end from act, with act content,
The world of sense can no more stain his soul
Than waters mar th’ enamelled lotus-leaf.         35
With life, with heart, with mind,—nay, with the help
Of all five senses—letting selfood go—
Yogins toil ever towards their souls’ release.
Such votaries, renouncing fruit of deeds,
Gain endless peace: the unvowed, the passion-bound,         40
Seeking a fruit from works, are fastened down.
The embodied sage, withdrawn within his soul,
At every act sits godlike in “the town
Which hath nine gateways,” 2 neither doing aught
Nor causing any deed. This world’s Lord makes         45
Neither the work, nor passion for the work,
Nor lust for fruit of work; the man’s own self
Pushes to these! The Master of this World
Takes on himself the good or evil deeds
Of no man—dwelling beyond! Mankind errs here         50
By folly, darkening knowledge. But, for whom
That darkness of the soul is chased by light,
Splendid and clear shines manifest the Truth
As if a Sun of Wisdom sprang to shed
Its beams of dawn. Him mediating still,         55
Him seeking, with Him blended, stayed on Him,
The souls illuminated take that road
Which hath no turning back—their sins flung off
By strength of faith. [Who will may have this Light;
Who hath it sees.] To him who wisely sees,         60
The Brahman with his scrolls and sanctities,
The cow, the elephant, the unclean dog,
The Outcast gorging dog’s meat, are all one.
  The world is overcome—aye! even here!
By such as fix their faith on Unity.         65
The sinless Brahma dwells in Unity,
And they in Brahma. Be not over-glad
Attaining joy, and be not over-sad
Encountering grief, but, stayed on Brahma, still
Constant let each abide! The sage whose soul         70
Holds off from outer contacts, in himself
Finds bliss; to Brahma joined by piety,
His spirit tastes eternal peace. The joys
Springing from sense-life are but quickening wombs
Which breed sure griefs: those joys begin and end!         75
The wise mind takes no pleasure, Kunti’s Son!
In such as those! But if a man shall learn,
Even while he lives and bears his body’s chain,
To master lust and anger, he is blest!
He is the Yukta; he hath happiness,         80
Contentment, light, within: his life is merged
In Brahma’s life; he doth Nirvâna touch!
Thus go the Rishis unto rest, who dwell
With sins effaced, with doubts at end, with hearts
Governed and calm. Glad in all good they live,         85
Nigh to the peace of God; and all those live
Who pass their days exempt from greed and wrath,
Subduing self and senses, knowing the Soul!
  The Saint who shuts outside his placid soul
All touch of sense, letting no contact through;         90
Whose quiet eyes gaze straight from fixëd brows,
Whose outward breath and inward breath are drawn
Equal and slow through nostrils still and close;
That one—with organs, heart, and mind constrained,
Bent on deliverance, having put away         95
Passion, and fear, and rage;—hath, even now,
Obtained deliverance, ever and ever freed.
Yea; for he knows Me Who am He that heeds
The sacrifice and worship, God revealed;
And He who heeds not, being Lord of Worlds,         100
Lover of all that lives, God unrevealed,
Wherein who will shall find surety and shield!
Here ends Chapter V. of the Bhagavad-Gîtâ, entitled
“Karmasanyâsayog,” or “The Book of Religion
by Renouncing Fruit of Works”
Note 1. That is, “joy and sorrow, success and failure, heat and cold,”&c.  [back]
Note 2. i.e., the body. [back]