Thursday, September 07, 2006

Al Biruni and the Bhagavad Gita

There is a theory in certain quarters that the Bhagavad Gita was mostly forgotten in India until the British recovered it in the eighteenth century. In this regard, the early 11th century testimony of Al Biruni, a courtier of Mahmud of Ghazni, may be of interest.

The sources are the E.C. Sachau translation of Alberuni's Tarikh-ul-Hind and a modern book:

Alberuni's India
Translated by E.C. Sachau
ISBN 393 00568 2

The Living Gita : The complete Bhagavad Gita and commentary.
Sri Swami Satchidananda
ISBN 0-8050-1400-4

Some preliminaries from the Sachau translation of Alberuni :

(page 14) :

"The following passage is taken from the book Gita, a part of the book Bharata, from the conversation between Vasudeva and Arjuna :-- ...."

(page 64) : [discussing Indian literature ]

"Besides they have a book which they hold in such veneration that they firmly assert that everything which occurs in other books is found also in this book, but not all which occurs in this book is found in other books. It is called Bharata, and composed by Vyasa the son of Parasara at the time of the great war between the children of Pandu and those of Kuru. ....."

"Vyasa asked Brahman to procure him somebody who might write for him the Bharata from his dictation. Now he intrusted with this task his son Vinayaka, who is represented as an idol with an elephant's head, and made it obligatory on him never to cease from writing. At the same time Vyasa made it obligatory on him to write only that which he understood. Therefore Vyasa, in the course of his dication, dictated such sentences as compelled the writer to ponder over them, and thereby Vyasa gained time for resting awhile."

(pages 200-203 give a brief outline of the story of the epic that we have today. )


The following is all that I could find in Alberuni's Indica that refers to the Gita, then I give the chapter:verse number of what I think are the verses referred to by Alberuni; the translation of the verse is from Swami Satchidananda.

Page 14 :

The following passage is taken from the book Gita, a part of the book Bharata, from the conversation between Vasudeva and Arjuna :--

"I am the universe, without a beginning by being born, or without and end by dying. I do not aim by whatever I do at any recompense. I do not specially belong to one class of beings to the exclusion of others, as if I were the friend of one and the enemy of others. I have given to each one in my creation what is sufficient for him in all functions. Therefore whoever knows me in this capacity, and tries to become similar to me by keeping desire apart from his action, his fetters will be loosened, and he will easily be saved and freed."

From the Swami Satchidananda translation of the Bhagavadgita :

{"I am the universe..." is scattered across the Bhagavad Gita. For example : }

The truth is that I am eternal; I am not born, I never
die and I am the Lord of everything....

Apart from me, there is nothing whatsoever. The entire
creation is strung out on me like a necklace of precious

Look at my body, Arjuna. You will see the entire universe
there -- all that moves and all that [seems to be] unmoving,
as well as anything else you wish to see. And all are part
of the same, which is me.

{"I do not specially ...." }

I am the same toward all beings. Before me, no one is
hateful and no one is more or less cherished. However,
those who lovingly worship me will realize that they are
actually part of me.

I am unaffected by all actions, nor do I desire any results.
Whoever experiences this quality in me is also free.

{"I have given to each one in my creation .... : I have no satisfactory match. }

This passage reminds one of the definition of philosophy as the striving to become as much as possible similar to God.

Further, Vasudeva speaks in the same book :--

"It is desire which causes most men to take refuge with God for their wants. But if you examine their case closely, you will find that they are very far from having an accurate knowledge of him; for God is not apparent to everyone, so that he might perceive him with his senses. Therefore they do not know him. Some of them do not pass beyond what their senses perceive; some pass beyond this, but stop at the knowledge of the laws of nature, without learning that above them is one who did not give birth nor was born, the essence of whose being has not been comprehended by the knowledge of anyone, while his knowledge comprehends everything."

Good people worship me, Arjuna, for four basic reasons :
to be relieved of suffering, to understand life, to rise
from poverty to wealth, and just because they are wise

Foolish people don't look beyond physical appearance. Thus
they overlook my true nature which is Lord of everything.

Most people fail to look beyond the three qualities of my
prakriti. People see only these changing qualities and
don't see me, the transcendent One. In the midst of all
that changes, I am what doesn't change.

Not everyone can see me as I truly am, because I veil my-
self in maya. Thus deluded, the world does not recognize
me as the one who was never born and never changes.

Arjuna, I know all about every creature in the past ,present
and even future. Yet no one knows all about me.
Among all people, whoever recognizes me as the unborn and
beginningless lord of everything, knows the truth and frees
himself from wrongdoing.

Page 19 :

Regarding the whole creation, they think that it is a unity, as has already been declared, because Vasudeva speaks in the book called Gita " " To speak accurately, we must say that all things are divine; for Vishnu made himself the earth that the living beings should rest thereupon; he made himself fire and wind in order to make them grow; and he made himself the heart of every single being. He presented them with recollection and knowledge and the two opposite qualities, as is mentioned in the Veda."

{While the divinity inherent in all things is one of the themes of the Gita, this kind of specific statement I do not find. The "two opposite qualities" is in better shape :}

By animating my prakriti, I repeatedly create the infinite
varieties of all beings which are subject to the rule of my

People are deluded by attraction and aversion, which spawn
all the pairs of opposites. These dualities, Arjuna, subject
all to maya at birth.

The Vedas discuss the three gunas, Arjuna, transcend the
three gunas and you will be free of the pairs of opposites --
ever-balanced, free of wanting ......

Page 25 :

Vasudeva speaks to Arjuna instigating him to the battle, whilst they stand between the two lines : "If you believe in predestination, you must know that neither they nor we are mortal and do not go away without a return, for the souls are immortal and unchangeable. They migrate through the bodies, while man changes from childhood into youth, into manhood and infirm age, the end of which is the death of the body. Thereafter the soul proceeds on its return."

There never was a time when I did not exist, nor
you, nor any of these ruling princes. And neither
will there ever come a time when we cease to be.

That which is embodied experiences the body's childhood,
youth, and old age, and also in time acquires another body.
This does not disturb one whose mind is calm.

Further he says : "How can a man think of death and being killed who knows that the soul is eternal, not having been born and not perishing; that the soul is something stable and constant; that no sword can cut it, no fire burn it, no water extinguish it, and no wind wither it ? The soul migrates from its body, after it has become old, into another, a different one, as the body, when its dress has become old, is clad in another. What then is your sorrow about a soul which does not perish ? If it were perishable, it would be more becoming that you should not sorrow about a thing which may be dispensed with, which does not exist, and which does not return into existence. But if you look more to your body than to your soul, and are in anxiety about its perishing, you must know that all that which is born dies and all that which dies returns into another existence. However, both life and death are not your concern. They are in the hands of God, from whom all things come and to whom they return."

Whoever truly knows the Self -- indestructible, eternal,
birthless and changeless -- in what way would such a person
kill, Arjuna ? Who would be killed ?

Weapons do not affect the Self; fire does not burn
it, water does not wet it, and wind does not dry it.

The Self cannot be pierced or cut; it cannot be
burned, moistened or dried. It is endless, all-
pervading, stable, immovable and everlasting.

Just like casting off worn-out clothing and putting
on new ones, that which is embodied casts off worn-
out bodies and enters others that are new.

Even if you imagined Atman (the Self) continually
taking birth and dying -- even then, mighty Arjuna,
there is no reason to grieve.

Whatever is born will undoubtedly die; whatever is
dead certainly will be born. You should not mourn
what is inevitable.

Arjuna, beings originally are all unmanifested. At
midstate they're manifested; and unmanifested again
at the end. What is the point of lamenting ?

{I'm not happy with the last three lines. Perhaps they are a paraphrasing of :}

The blessed Lord said : I am all-powerful time, destroyer
of the worlds and now I have come to devour this world.
Whether you fight or not, all the warriors of the opposing
army gathered here will surely die.

Page 26 :

In the further course of conversation Arjuna speaks to Vasudeva : "How did you dare thus to fight Brahman, Brahman who was before the world was and before man was, whilst you are living among us as a being whose birth and age are known ?"

{I'm confused by the above. "Fight Brahman" is almost certainly a mistranslation.}

Arjuna asked : You were born long after Vivasvat. How
is it possible that you taught this in the beginning?

Thereupon Vasudeva answered : "Eternity (pre-existence) is common to both us and to him. How often have we lived together, when I knew the times of our life and death, whilst they were concealed from you ! When I desire to appear in order to do some good, I array myself in a body, since one cannot be with man except in a human shape."

Lord Krishna said : You and I have taken many births,
Arjuna. I know them all but you do not.

The truth is that I am eternal; I am not born, I never
die and I am the Lord of everything. Still, by control-
ling the elements of my nature (my prakriti), I appear
to take births by my power of illusion (maya).

When righteousness is lost and wickedness prevails, I
appear on earth in bodily form.

Age after age I take birth to protect the good, destroy
the wicked and establish virtue.

Vasudeva says : " He who hopes for salvation and strives to free himself from this world, but whose heart is not obedient to his wish, will be rewarded for his action in the worlds of those who receive a good reward; but he does not attain his last object on account of his deficiency, therefore he will return to this world, and will be found worthy of entering a new shape of a kind of beings whose special occupation is devotion. Divine inspiration helps him to raise himself in this new shape by degrees to that which he already wished for in the first shape. His heart begins to comply with his wish; he is more and more purified in different shapes, until he at last obtains salvation in an uninterrupted series of new births."

Arjuna asked : Krishna, what happens to someone who has
sincere belief, but cannot yet control the mind, or someone
who falls away from these practices before achieving per-
fection through yoga ?

Then the blessed Lord said : Do not worry, Arjuna. There
is no destruction -- either in this world or in the next --
for anyone who has embarked on the yogic path. O my son,
know for certain that anyone who does good never comes to
a bad end.

Whoever embarks on the yogic path -- and leaves his body
before reaching his highest goal -- attains the heavenly
state of the virtuous. He stays there a very long time
and then takes birth again in this world in a home of the
pure and prosperous in order to continue his quest.

Or he is reborn into a family of wise yogis. Such a birth
in this world is rare indeed.

In this environment, Arjuna, he soon recalls the knowledge
gained in previous births, and strives for realization even
more earnestly than before.

By earnest and persistent effort -- even over many lifetimes --
a yogi becomes completely purified of all selfish desire and reaches
the supreme goal of life.

Further, Vasudeva says : "If the soul is free from matter, it is knowing; but as long as it is clad in matter, the soul is not-knowing, on account of the turbid nature of matter. It thinks that it is an agent, and that the actions of the world are prepared for its sake. Therefore it clings to them, and it is stamped with the impressions of the senses. When, then, the soul leaves the body, the traces of the impressions of the senses remain in it, and are not completely eradicated, as it longs for the world of the sense and returns towards it. And since it in these stages undergoes changes entirely opposed to each other, it is thereby subject to the influences of the three primary forces. What, therefore, can the soul do, its wing being cut, if it is not sufficiently trained and prepared?"

{I am not very satisfied with the following : }

The qualities of nature (calmness, restlessness, inertia)
do all that is done. But because the mind is clouded by
ego, a person thinks : I am the doer.

Those still deluded by nature's qualities become attached
to nature's functions. But the one of perfect understanding
should not disturb the mind of someone who does not know

....Though they may have been meticulous in religious
observances, if they still want something, they are caught
in the endless chain of personal desires, and thus must
continue to take birth after death.

Vasudeva says : "The best of men is the perfectly wise one, for he loves God and God loves him. How many times has he died and been born again ! During his whole life he perseveringly seeks for perfection till he obtains it."

After many life times, a person grows wise and takes
refuge in me and nothing else. Then he realizes that
I am all that is. Such a great soul is rare indeed.

Page 35 : [ a discussion of moksha and the paths leading to it ] :

In the book Gita we read : "Man is created for the purpose of knowing; and because knowing is always the same, man has been gifted with the same organs. If man were created for the purpose of acting, his organs would be different, as actions are different in consequence of the difference of the three primary forces. However, bodily nature is bent upon acting on account of its essential opposition to knowing. Besides, it wishes to invest action with pleasures which in reality are pains. But knowledge is such as to leave this nature behind itself prostrated on the earth like an opponent, and removes all darkness from the soul as an eclipse or clouds are removed from the sun."

{This is a complete mystery to me. }

Now we return and continue our quotation from the book Gita.

"Likewise the other organs of the senses serve for acquiring knowledge. The knowing person rejoices in turning them to and fro on the field of knowledge, so that they are his spies. The apprehension of the senses is different according to time. The sense which serve the heart perceive only that which is present. The heart reflects over that which is present and remembers also the past. The nature takes hold of the present, claims it for itself in the past, and prepares to wrestle with it in the future. The reason understands the nature of a thing, no regard being had of time or date, since past and future are the same for it. Its nearest helper are reflection and nature; the most distant are the five senses. When the senses bring before reflection some particular object of knowledge, reflection cleans it from the errors of the functions of the senses, and hands it over to reason. Thereupon reason makes universal what was before particular, and communicates it to the soul. Thus the soul comes to know it."

{ Where is this from ? }

Page 36 :

In the book Gita we read : " How is a man to obtain liberation who disperses his heart and does not concentrate it alone upon God, who does not exclusively direct his action towards him ? But if a man turns away his cogitation from all other things and concentrates it upon the One, the light of his heart will be steady like the light of a lamp filled with clean oil, standing in a corner where no wind makes it flicker, and he will be occupied in such a degree as not to perceive anything that gives pain, like heat or cold, knowing that everything besides the One, the Truth, is a vain phantom."

When you have your mind well trained so that it
rests solely in Atman, without wanting anything,
then you are established in Yoga.

The well-trained mind of a yogi, concentrating on
the Self, is as steady as a flame in a windless

Once you are established in this (reality), there's
absolutely nothing else to achieve, nor will any-
thing ever shake you again -- not even the worst
possible affliction.

Yoga is a means to disconnect your identification with
that which experiences pain.

In the same book we read : "Pain and pleasure have no effect on the real world, just as the continuous flow of the streams to the ocean does not affect its water. How could anybody ascend this mountain pass save him who has conquered cupidity and wrath and rendered them inert ?"

{While the ideas are Gita-like, the specific similes of the streams entering the ocean, and the mountain-pass I miss. The stream-ocean analogy that I found is :}

Someone with personal desires will not experience true
peace. But when all desires merge, like different rivers
flowing into the vast, deep ocean, then peace is easily

Page 37 :

The book Gita says : "All that which is the object of a man's continuous meditating and bearing in mind is stamped upon him, so that he even unconsciously is guided by it. Since, now, the time of death is the time of remembering what we love, the soul on leaving the body is united with that object which we love, and is changed into it."

If you are thinking of me at the time of physical
death, you will leave your body and come directly
to me, there is no doubt about it.

A person goes to whatever he is thinking of at the
time of physical death, Arjuna, because his mind
established that direction.

However, the reader must not believe that it is only the union of the soul with any forms of life that perish and return into existence that is perfect liberation, for the same book, Gita, says : "He who knows when dying that God is everything, and that from him everything proceeds, is liberated, though his degree be lower than that of the saints."

{The idea again is one of the themes of the Gita, but the specific language? Also see 8:5, 8:6 above. }

The same book says : "Seek deliverance from this world by abstaining from any connection with its follies, by having sincere intentions in all actions and when making offerings by fire to God, without any desire for reward and recompense; further by keeping aloof from mankind."

{This is generic Gita. }

Page 38 :

The book Gita says : "He who mortifies his lust does not go beyond the necessary wants; and he who is content with that which is sufficient for the sustaining of life will not be ashamed nor be despised."

The same book says : "If man is not without wants as regards the demands of human nature, if he wants nourishment to appease thereby the heat of hunger and exhaustion, sleep in order to meet the injurious influences of fatiguing motions and a couch to rest upon, let the latter be clean and smooth, everywhere equally high above the ground and sufficiently large that he may stretch his body upon it. Let him have a place of temperate climate, not hurtful by cold nor by heat, and where he is safe from the approach of reptiles. All this helps him to sharpen the function of his heart, that he may without any interruption concentrate his cogitation on the unity. For all things besides the necessities of life in the way of eating and clothing are pleasures of a kind which in reality, are disguised pains. To acquiesce in them is impossible, and would end in the gravest inconvenience. There is pleasure only to him who kills the two intolerable enemies, lust and wrath, already during his life and not when he dies, who derives his rest and bliss from within, not from without; and who, in the final result, is able altogether to dispense with his senses."

{I'm not happy with this either. I think here Alberuni or his translator reveals his limitations. I think what was meant is the following : }

To practice meditation, fix up a clean meditation place
with your seat neither too high nor too low. Insulate the
seat with a grass mat, then a deer skin and over those a
clean cloth.

Then sit and calm the mind the senses by concentrating on one
thing; thus you practice Yoga for self-purification.

It is impossible to practice Yoga effectively if
you eat or sleep either too much or too little.

But if you are moderate in eating, playing, sleeping, staying
awake, and avoiding extremes in everything you do, you will
see that these yoga practices eliminate all your pain and

{The last lines are generic Gita ideas. }
While still in a human body, if you can stand fast amid
the forces of desire and anger, then surely you are a yogi
destined for happiness.

The yogi who discovers happiness and joy within is also
illumined solely from within. That yogi becomes one with
God and marvels in the ecstasy of God.

Vasudeva spoke to Arjuna: "If you want the absolute good, take care of the nine doors of thy body and know what is going in and out through them. Constrain thy heart from dispersing its thoughts by thinking of the upper membrane of the child's brain which is first soft, and then is closed and becomes strong, so that it would seem that there were no more need of it. Do not take perception of the senses for anything but the nature immanent in their organs, and therefore beware of following it."

{Here again, Alberuni or his translator reveals his limitations. Almost certainly what is meant by "thinking of the upper membrane of the child's brain" is the chakra at the top of the head. Verses dealing with the nine gates are : }

By mentally renouncing the fruits of his action, the yogi's mind
becomes disciplined. Thus, he knows himself to be Atman, happily
abiding in the city of nine gates (the body). He knows he is not
the doer who acts or causes to act.

This is the effective yoga technique :At the time of leaving the
body, mentally withdraw attention from the gates of the body into
the heart area, and from there direct the prana into the head.

When the light of wisdom shines through all the gates of the body
this is a sign that sattva is dominant.

{The last line about sense perceptions may be : }

Arjuna, one may intuit the relationship between nature's qualities
(gunas) and action (karma). Whoever does so knows that nature, as
the senses, merely abides with nature, as the sense objects. He
identifies with neither, and thus does not become entangled.

The book Gita says : "Men err in what is ordered and what is forbidden. They do not know how to distinguish between good and evil in actions. Therefore, giving up acting altogether and keeping aloof from it, this is *the* action."

Even the sages are sometimes confused about action and inaction ...

Distinguish between right action, wrong action and inaction. The
way of karma is nearly impossible to understand.

The same book says : "The purity of knowledge is high above the purity of all other things, for by knowledge ignorance is rooted out and certainity is gained in exchange for doubt, which is a means of torture, for there is no rest for him who doubts."

{Any ideas about the above ?}

Because of ignorance, some people have no sincere
belief and are constantly skeptical; they are
ruined. A mind like that is unhappy in the present
and the future.

The author of the book Gita distributes the duties of worship among the body, the voice, and the heart.

What the body has to do is fasting, prayer, the fulfillment of the law, service towards the angels and the sages among the Brahmans, keeping clean the body, keeping aloof from killing under all circumstances, and never looking at another man's wife and other property.

These are the physical disciplines (tapas) : serving
God, the twice-born, spiritual teachers, and the wise;
staying pure, virtuous, continent and practicing non-
injury (ahimsa).

What the voice has to do is the reciting of the holy texts, praising God, always to speak the truth, to address people mildly, to guide them and to order them to do good.

These are the disciplines of speech : speaking truthfully,
pleasantly and kindly with words that do not excite others
and reading scripture (svadhyaya).

What the heart has to do is to have straight, honest intentions, to avoid haughtiness, always to be patient, to keep your senses under control, and to have a cheerful mind.

These are the mental discipilines : tranquility, gentleness,
goodheartedness, silence, self-control and purity of thought.

Page 42:

...Arjuna asks, "What is Brahman like in the world ?" Whereupon Vasudeva answers "Imagine him like an Asvattha tree."

This is a huge precious tree, well known among them [Hindus] standing upside down, the roots being above, the branches below. If it has ample nourishment, it becomes quite enormous; the branches spread far, cling to the soil and creep into it. Roots and branches above and below resemble each other to a degree that it is difficult to say which is which.

{Alberuni here describes the banyan tree, the vata or nyagrodha; but the Gita talks of the Asvattha, or pipul tree (as do the Upanishads ).}

"Brahman is the upper roots of this tree, its trunk is the Veda, its branches are the different doctrines and schools, its leaves are the different modes of interpretation; its nourishment comes from the three forces; the tree becomes strong and compact through the senses. The intelligent being has no other keen desire but that of felling this tree, i.e., abstaining from this world and its vanities. When he has succeeded in felling it, he wishes to settle in the place where it has grown, a place in which there is no returning in a further state of metempsychosis. When he obtains this, he leaves behind himself all the pains of heat and cold, and coming from the light of sun and moon and common fires, he attains to the divine lights."

The blessed Lord said : The wise speak of an eternal Asvattha tree
(sacred fig) with its roots above and its branches here in this world.
Its leaves are the Vedas (holy scriptures). Whoever understands this
tree knows the most sacred wisdom.

Nourished by the gunas, its branches spread above and below. It buds
forth all the sense objects, and its roots reach down to this world,
binding people to one action after another.

The true nature of this tree -- its form, origin, end and even pre-
sence -- is not perceived at the level of worldly awareness. Just
cut down this deep-rooted Asvattha tree with the sharp sword of non-

There is a place from which none ever returns. That is the goal. Seek
it by vowing : I take refuge in the original Purusha, who is the lord
and source of all, the Absolute, from which streams forth the eternal

Fortunate are those seekers who are no longer deluded (by that tree)
and thus are liberated from pride. Because they have conquered personal
attachment, they ever abide in their true identity, which is the Self.
No longer disturbed by personal desires, which have completely abated,
or the pairs of opposites, such as pleasure and pain, they attain that
eternal goal.

THAT is beyond the light of the sun, the moon or fire. That is where
I am. When you reach this goal, you will never again fall back to a
feeling of separateness.

Page 50:

Arjuna asked about the nature of the four castes and what must be their moral qualities, whereupon Vasudeva answered :

Indeed, Arjuna, the qualities in one's own nature determine
the appropriate role and duties for each person -- whether
scholar or priest (brahmin), leader or warrior (kshatriya);
tradesperson (vaisya), or laborer (sudra).

"The Brahmana must have an ample intellect, a quiet heart, truthful speech, much patience; he must be master of his senses, a lover of justice, of evident purity, always directed upon worship, entirely bent upon religion."

By nature the priest or teacher (brahmin) is inclined
toward serenity, self-control, self-discipline, purity
and forgiveness, as well as virtuous behavior, learning,
Self-realization and faith in the eternal.

"The Kshatriya must fill the hearts with terror, must be brave and high-minded, must have ready speech and a liberal hand, not minding dangers, only intent upon carrying the great tasks of his calling to a happy ending."

The leader or warrior (kshatriya) is naturally inclined
to courage, vigor, firmness of mind, resourcefulness,
generosity, leadership and the resolve not to flee,
but to persevere in the midst of battle.

"The Vaisya is to occupy himself with agriculture, with the acquisition of cattle, and with trade."

"The Sudra is to endeavour to render services and attention to each of the preceding classes, in order to make himself liked by them."

The tradesperson (vaisya) is naturally inclined toward
farming, dairying, and other business trades. And working
people by nature are inclined toward service.

"If each member of these castes adheres to his customs and usages, he will obtain the happiness he wishes for, supposing that he is not negligent in the worship of God, not forgetting to remember him in his important avocations. But if anybody wants to quit the work and duties of his caste and adopt those of another caste, even if it would bring a certain honor to the latter, it is a sin, because it is a transgression of the rule."

Anyone can attain perfection by devoting himself to the
work that comes most naturally. I will explain how.

When you do the work that by your nature is your calling,
you are worshipping the creator of all beings who is
omnipresent, and thus you attain perfection.

It is better to do your own dharma imperfectly than to
excel at another's dharma. Whoever accepts the duties
of his nature is free from sin.

It is better to do your own dharma even imperfectly, than
someone else's dharma perfectly. Even better to die in
your dharma than in another's, which brings great fear.

Further, Vasudeva speaks, inspiring him with courage to fight the enemy :

"Dost thou not know, O man with the long arm, that thou art a Kshatriya; that thy race has been created brave, to rush boldly to the charge, to care little for the vicissitudes of time, never to give way whenever their soul has a foreboding of coming misfortune ? for only thereby is the reward to be obtained. If he conquers, he obtains power and good fortune. if he perishes, he obtains paradise and bliss. Besides, thou showest weakness in the presence of the enemy, and seemest melancholy at the prospect of killing this host; but it will be infinitely worse if thy name will spread as that of a timid cowardly man, that thy reputation among the heroes and the experienced warriors will be gone, that thou wilt be out of their sight, and thy name no longer remembered among them. I do not know a worse punishment than such a state. Death is better than to expose thyself to the consequences of ignominy.
If, therefore, God has ordered thee to fight, if he has deigned to confer upon thy caste the task of fighting and has created thee for it, carry out his order and perform his will with a determination which is free from any desire, so that thy action will be exclusively devoted to him."

Furthermore, looking at your own duty, you
will see no reason to waver. For certainly
there is nothing higher for a Kshatriya than
a righteous war.

Happy indeed are the Kshatriyas, Arjuna,
called to fight in such a battle that comes
of itself -- like an open gate to heaven.

If you are killed, you will gain heaven.
If you are victorious, you will enjoy the
earth. Therefore, rise up, Arjuna, resolved
to fight !

But if you don't fight when its your duty
to do so, you lose your honor and incur sin.

People will continually recall your shame.
And for one who has been honored, dishonor is
worse than death.

The great charioteers will suppose you withdrew
from battle out of fear. Those who thought so
highly of you will take you lightly.

And your enemies will deride your strengths and
slander you. What could be more painful ?

Seeing the same in pleasure and pain, gain and
loss, victory and defeat, in battle -- just for
the sake of the battle -- then you will be

Dedicate all your actions to me. (Then) your
mind will rest in the Self (Atman), free of
the wishing and selfishness fever, and you
can engage in battle.

.... This view [that liberation is common to all castes and to the whole human race, if their intention of obtaining it is perfect ] is also based on the fact that Vasudeva was a descendant of a Sudra family and also on the following saying of his, which he addressed to Arjuna : "God distributes recompense without injustice and without partiality. He reckons the good as bad if people in doing good forget him; he reckons the bad as good if people in doing bad remember him and do not forget him, whether those people be Vaisya, or Sudra or women. How much more this will be the case when they are Brahmana or Kshatriya."

I am the same toward all beings. Before me, no one
is hateful, and no one is more or less cherished.
However, those who lovingly worship me will realize
that they are actually part of me and that I live in

No matter your birth, race, sex or caste -- even if
you are scorned by others -- if you take refuge in me,
then certainly you will attain the Supreme Goal.

Page 59 : [about idols]

Therefore the book Gita says : "Many people try to approach me in their aspirations through something which is different from me; they try to insinuate themselves into my favor by giving alms, praise and prayer to something besides me. I, however, confirm and help them in all these doings of theirs, and make them attain the object of their wishes, because I am able to dispense with them."

In the same book Vasudeva speaks to Arjuna : "Do you not see that most of those who wish for something address themselves in offering and worshipping to the several classes of spiritual beings, and to the sun, moon and other celestial bodies ? If now God does not disappoint their hopes, though he in no way stands in need of their worship, if he even gives them more than they asked for, and if he gives them their wishes in such a way as though they were receiving them from that to which they had addressed their prayers -- viz. the idol -- they will proceed to worship those whom they address, because they have not learned to know him, while he, by admitting this kind of intermediation, carries their affairs to the desired end. But that which is obtained by desires and intermediation is not lasting, since it is only as much as is deserved for any particular merit. Only that is lasting which is obtained from God alone, when people are disgusted with old age, death and birth (and desire to be delivered therefrom by Moksha)."

Others still allow personal desires to lead astray
their good judgement. [Thus] they follow their
lower nature and worship lesser gods for their

A devotee may select any name or form as
the object of his worship. But if he has
sincere belief (shraddha), I make his faith
strong and steady.

Then when he worships with steady faith the
form he has chosen, he gets what he wants.
But actually, I am the one fulfilling his

However, those of limited understanding
obtain limited satisfaction. Those who
worship the devas go to the devas; my
devotees come to me.

Because their understanding is still shallow,
many still believe that I, the unmanifested
one, am limited to one particular manifestation.
They have not yet seen my true nature which is
unchanging and supreme.

Page 271 : [about caste inequities]

...All these things originate in the difference of classes or castes, one set of people treating the others as fools. This apart, all men are equal to each other, as Vasudeva says regarding him who seeks salvation : "In the judgement of the intelligent man, the Brahman and the Candala are equal, the friend and the foe, the faithful and the deceitful, nay even the serpent and the weasel. If to the eyes of intelligence all things are equal, to ignorance they appear as separated and different."

{The ones close to this are : }

A person stands supreme who has equal regard for
friends, companions, enemies, neutral arbiters,
hateful people, relatives, saints and sinners.

Those who have realized the Self see that same Self
equally in a humble scholar, a cow, a dog or a dog-eater.

Vasudeva speaks to Arjuna : "If the civilization of the world is that which is intended, and if the direction of it cannot proceed without our fighting for the purpose of suppressing evil, it is the duty of us who are the intelligent to act and to fight, not in order to bring to an end that which is deficient within us, but because it is necessary for the purpose of healing what is ill and banishing destructive elements. Then the ignorant imitate us in acting, as the children imitate their elders, without their knowing the real aim and purpose of actions. For their nature has an aversion to intellectual methods, and they use force only in order to act in accordance with the influences of lust and passion on their senses. In all this, the intelligent and educated man is directly the contrary of them."

{ Another puzzle here. The only verses that come anywhere close are : }

Whatever a great person does is followed by others who set
their standard by his or her example.

Arjuna, there's nothing in the three worlds that I ought to
do, nor anything for me to achieve that I have not already
achieved -- yet I continue doing things.

If I ever stop doing my continuous work, Arjuna, everyone would
follow my example in every way.

If I stop doing, the worlds would perish; I would confuse all
the species and cause the destruction of all creatures.

The unenlightened do things with attachment (wanting some results
for themselves). An enlightened person does things with the same
zeal, Arjuna, but without attachment, and thus guides others on
the path of selfless action (Karma Yoga).

Page 283 : [about cremation]

The belief of the Hindus on this head was confirmed by the words of Vasudeva, which he spoke regarding him who is liberated from the fetters (of bodily existence). "His death takes place during uttarayana (i.e., the northern revolution of the sun from the winter solstice to the summer solstice),
during the white half of the month, between lighted lamps, i.e., between conjunction and opposition (new moon and full moon), in the seasons of winter and spring."

If a yogi who knows reality leaves his
body during the six months of the northern
passage of the sun, which is the path of
light, fire, day, and the bright two weeks
of the moon, he goes directly to Brahman
(absolute oneness).



multisubj yb said...

YOU may like to see my translation and commentary of Gita, about 75% finished.

Anonymous said...

good endevour.

i needed to this before.. tommorow gita jayanti

there was mention on notes of
somthing about encyclopedia indica though after years never came in touch with a copy

Anonymous said...

thanks bhai

confirm the "encyclopedia indica" note