Bhagavad Gita

This first millennium BCE text, literally “The Song of God,” is considered among the holy scriptures of Hinduism. It consists of a dialogue between a war-prince having a life-crisis and his charioteer and consultant-teacher Krishna, one of the avatars (or manifestations) of the supreme being Vishnu.

The term yoga here, originating in the concept of “yoking” or joining, and involving meditation, is seen as the path to enlightenment. Much of the dialog in the Bhagavad Gita concerns action vs. renunciation, the latter declared not to be an automatic solution to life’s troubles.

The ideas in these discourses influenced Gandhi, and in turn Martin Luther King, Jr., among others.

Second Discourse

These bodies
have an end;
but they are said
to belong to the eternal
embodied self —
that which is never lost
and cannot be measured.
So fight, Son of Bharata!

The one who perceives
the self as a killer,
and the one who perceives
the self as killed:
neither of them know
that this self
does not kill,
nor is it killed.

The person whose mind
is free from anxiety
about sorrows,
and free from greed
for pleasures,
with rage, passion and fear gone,
whose thoughts are firm,
that one is said to be a sage.

Clinging is born
to someone
who dwells on
the spheres of the senses;
desire is born
from clinging;
and anger is born
from desire.

Third Discourse

. . .
The Self, confused
by the idea of an ‘I’,
thus thinks,
‘I am the doer.’

Seventh Discourse

. . .
I am the taste in the waters,
the radiance in the sun
and in the rabbit-marked moon,
the sacred syllable ‘Om’
. . . .

Son of Bharata,
because of the rise
of hatred and desire,
and the confusion
of dualities,
at birth, all beings
end up in delusion,
Scourger of the Enemy.

Seventeenth Discourse

Food is also dear
to everyone
in three ways:
as sacrifice, as heat
and also as gift.
. . . .

Work Consulted

The Bhagavad Gita. Tran. Laurie L. Patton. NY: Penguin Classics, 2008.