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

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

Chapter VIII

WHO is that BRAHMA? What that Soul of Souls,
The ADHYATMAN? What, Thou Best of All!
Thy work, the KARMA? Tell me what it is
Thou namest ADHIBHUTA? What again
Means ADHIDAIVA? Yea, and how it comes         5
Thou canst be ADHIYAJNA in thy flesh?
Slayer of Madhu! Further, make me know
How good men find thee in the hour of death?f
I BRAHMA am! the One Eternal God,
And ADHYATMAN is My Being’s name,         10
The Soul of Souls! What goeth forth from Me,
Causing all life to live, is KARMA called:
And, Manifested in divided forms,
I am the ADHIBHUTA, Lord of Lives;
And ADHIDAIVA, Lord of all the Gods,         15
Because I am PURUSHA, who begets.
And ADHIYAJNA, Lord of Sacrifice,
I—speaking with thee in this body here—
Am, thou embodied one! (for all the shrines
Flame unto Me!) And, at the hour of death,         20
He that hath meditated Me alone,
In putting off his flesh, comes forth to Me,
Enters into My Being—doubt thou not!
But, if he meditated otherwise
At hour of death, in putting off the flesh,         25
He goes to what he looked for, Kunti’s Son!
Because the Soul is fashioned to its like.
  Have Me, then, in thy heart always! and fight!
Thou too, when heart and mind are fixed on Me,
Shalt surely come to Me! All come who cleave         30
With never-wavering will of firmest faith,
Owning none other Gods: all come to Me,
The Uttermost, Purusha, Holiest!
Whoso hath known Me, Lord of sage and singer,
  Ancient of days; of all the Three Worlds Stay,         35
Boundless,—but unto every atom Bringer
  Of that which quickens it: whoso, I say,
Hath known My form, which passeth mortal knowing;
  Seen my effulgence—which no eye hath seen—
Than the sun’s burning gold more brightly glowing,         40
  Dispering darkness,—unto him hath been
Right life! And, in the hour when life is ending,
  With mind set fast and trustful piety,
Drawing still breath beneath calm brows unbending,
  In happy peace that faithful one doth die,—         45
In glad peace passeth to Purusha’s heaven,
  The place which they who read the Vedas name
AKSHARAM, “Ultimate;” whereto have striven
  Saints and ascetics—their road is the same.
  That way—the highest way—goes he who shuts         50
The gates of all his sense, locks desire
Safe in his heart, centres the vital airs
Upon his parting thought, steadfastly set;
And, murmuring OM, the sacred syllable—
Emblem of BRAHM—dies, meditating Me.         55
  For who, none other Gods regarding, looks
Ever to Me, easily am I gained
By such a Yôgi; and, attaining Me,
They fall not—those Mahatmas—back to birth,
To life, which is the place of pain, which ends,         60
But take the way of utmost blessedness.
  The worlds, Arjuna!—even Brahma’s world—
Roll back again from Death to Life’s unrest;
But they, O Kunti’s Son! that reach to Me,
Taste birth no more. If ye know Brahma’s Day         65
Which is a thousand Yugas; if ye know
The thousand Yugas making Brahma’s Night,
Then know ye Day and Night as He doth know!
When that vast Dawn doth break, th’ Invisible
Is brought anew into the Visible;         70
When that deep Night doth darken, all which is
Fades back again to Him Who sent it forth;
Yea! this vast company of living things—
Again and yet again produced—expires
At Brahma’s Nightfall; and, at Brahma’s Dawn,         75
Riseth, without its will, to life new-born.
But—higher, deeper, innermost—abides
Another Life, not like the life of sense,
Escaping sight, unchanging. This endures
When all created things have passed away:         80
This is that Life named the Unmanifest,
The Infinite! the All! the Uttermost.
Thither arriving none return. That Life
Is Mine, and I am there! And, Prince! by faith
Which wanders not, there is a way to come         85
Thither. I, the PURUSHA, I Who spread
The Universe around me—in Whom dwell
All living Things—may so be reached and seen! 1
Richer than holy fruit on Vedas growing,
  Greater than gifts, better than prayer or fast,         90
Such wisdom is! The Yôgi, this way knowing,
  Comes to the Utmost Perfect Peace at last.
Here endeth Chapter VIII. of the Bhagavad-Gîtâ, entitled
“Aksharaparabrahmayôg,” or “The Book of
Religion by Devotion to the One Supreme God”
Note 1. I have discarded ten lines of Sanskrit text here as an undoubted interpolation by some Vedantist. [back]