Chapter 12 from THE BHAGAVID GITA

from the Norton translation of THE BHAGAVID GITA
translated from Sanskrit by Gavin Flood and Charles Martin

In Chapter 12, Arjuna asks Krishna (whose divine form he has just experienced in the previous chapter) whether it is better to worship Brahman, the nameless, formless Absolute, or to worship a god who manifests himself in time and space, as Krishna has. Krishna responds that both paths will ultimately lead to the goal of union with him, but that the way of personal devotion is a more accessible one for almost everyone. He then instructs Arjuna in the latter path. Krishna emphasizes that even less than total devotion will yield favorable results, and that devotion will endear the devotee to him.


Arjuna said,

1/    ‘Who are more knowing of yoga,
those who worship you steadfastly,
or those other ones who worship
the eternal unseen Brahman?

The Blessed Lord said,

2/    ‘Those who, steadfast in their yoga,
worship me with attentive minds,
endowed with the most perfect faith,
are considered the more knowing.

3/    ‘Those who worship the unchanging,
unseen and inexplicable,
the omnipresent beyond thought,
the summit-dwelling constancy;

4/    ‘who restrain their many senses,
who practice equanimity,
rejoicing in the welfare of
all creatures, also come to me.

5/    ‘A greater toil is known by those
whose minds cleave to the unseen Brahman;
embodied ones attain that goal
only with much more exertion.

6/    ‘But those who yield all acts to me,
intent on me as the highest,
and worship me, meditating
with undistracted discipline—

7/    ‘O Son of Pritha, presently
I will redeem, from the ocean
of death and transmigration, those
whose conscious minds have entered me.

8/    ‘But fix your mind on me alone,
and place your intellect in me:
I will be your only abode
from that time forth, without a doubt!

9/    ‘Or if you are unable to
keep your mind fixed on me always,
then by the practice of yoga
seek to attain me, Arjuna!

10/    ‘If incapable of practice,
be intent upon my action,
and just by acting for my sake
you will attain to perfection.

11/    ‘And if incapable of that,
lean upon my yogic power;
abandon all the fruits of
action, and act with self restraint!

12/    ‘Value knowledge over practice,
meditation over knowledge;
highest is renunciation,
whence comes, immediately, peace.

13/    ‘Who does not hate any being,
is friendly and compassionate,
without possessiveness and ego,
the same in grief and joy, enduring,

14/    ‘the yogi who lives in content,
firmly resolved and self-restrained,
whose higher mind is fixed on me,
devoted, is most dear to me.

15/    ‘One who does not shrink from the world,
one from whom the world does not shrink,
freed from distress, from impatience,
fear and joy, is most dear to me.

16/    ‘Who sits apart, indifferent,
pure, able, free of anxiety;
who has abandoned all beginnings,
devoted, is most dear to me.

17/    ‘Who neither hates nor rejoices,
who neither grieves nor desires,
abjuring pleasant and unpleasant,
devoted, is most dear to me.

18/    ‘Alike with enemy and friend,
the same to honor and disgrace,
to cold and heat, joy and anguish,
freed from attachment to results,

19/    ‘with one response to praise or blame,
contented with whatever comes,
silent, homeless, steady in mind,
devoted, is most dear to me!

20/    ‘Those who honor this immortal
law, as I have described above,
keeping their faith, intent on me
as highest, are most dear to me!’”



Gavin Flood is Professor of Hindu Studies and Comparative Religion at Oxford University and Academic Director of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies.  He lives in Oxford. He is the author of An Introduction to Hinduism.

Charles Martin is a poet, critic, and translator. His translation of the Metamorphoses of Ovid received the Harold Morton Landon Award from the Academy of American Poets in 2004. He lives in Syracuse, NY.

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