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Outline of the Bhagavad-Gita

The blind old father of the Kauravas asked Sangara to tell him how the battle had gone. He replied that, just as the fighting began, Krishna, the Heaven-Born One, stationed his glorious chariot between the armies and entered into a long conversation, with Arguna, the prince-general of the Pandavas. Said Arguna, "My grief at seeing these kindred peoples at war is beyond bearing, and the omens are unfavourable. I long not for victory, but for peace and for the prosperity of all. Behold, in battle array grandfathers, fathers, sons, friends, and allies. We have resolved to commit a great sin, to slay our kindred and associates, and all for lust of wealth and power."

The Holy One (Krishna) said in reply, "Thou grievest for those who need no grief of thine; yet are thy words words of wisdom. The wise have no grief for dead or living; know thou, O Arguna, that the man who has knowledge of the Eternal and Absolute One will never more be born, nor will he know death. As one puts away an old used garment, putting on a new one, so the self in a man puts away the old body and assumes one that is new. He, the Everlasting One, is unchanging and inconceivable. Be not thou grieved and have no fear. If slain in the battle, thou shalt reach endless bliss in heaven. If victorious, thou shalt have happiness on the earth; get thee, therefore, honoured one, to the fight and have no care for pleasure or pain.

"Some obtain comfort from what the Vedas promise with reference to eternal bliss. But these very Vedas teach that a man should strive at self-mortification and advancement in virtue with no regard to any reward. The final good after which men are chiefly to aim is a state of supreme indifference and contempt."

"But," asked Arguna, "what, pray, is that state of equipoise of spirit which thou urgest?"

Said the Holy One, "There is a twofold law: that ofSankhyas, or intellectual devotion, and that of Yogis, or practical devotion. Men must strive after the highest knowledge, that of Brahma, and also seek after right conduct." "What," asked Arguna, "is the cause of sin?" To which the Holy One replied, "Love and hatred, for hatred is begotten of love, and ignorance of moral distinctions and of anger; from all this comes unreasonableness and resulting ruin. A man's knowledge carries always with it desire, as the fire smoke. The senses are great, the mind is greater, and the intellect still greater, but the greatest of all is the Eternal Essence, Brahma.

"Many," said the Holy One, "are my births, and I know them; many too, are thine, but thou knowest them not. I am born from age to age for the defence of the virtuous and the undoing of the wicked. He who believes in my divine birth and work has no second birth, but enters me and abides with me for ever. Know me as the creator of the cates, know me also as the Eternal one that creates nothing. Faith brings with it knowledge, and knowledge contentment. Without knowledge and faith the soul is lost."

Arguna asked, "How fares it with the man who is not able to suppress his lower instincts and to undergo the discipline of Yogis? Is he for this, to be undone for ever?"

"No," replied the Holy One, "neither in this world nor in the next is he lost. The virtuous man does not enter an evil state. He reaches that heaven provided for all the good, and is born thereafter with higher moral capacities, with which, and by means of the knowledge gained in his previous existence, he rises to greater perfection; so that after many births he reaches absolute perfection and is united for ever with Brahma. But learn thou my higher nature; what thou seest is my lower, for I am divine and human. All the world came forth from me, and I will at the last destroy it. Higher [pg 065]than I does not exist. I am taste, light, moon, sun; Iam the mystic OM; I am the mystic seed from which all things grow. He that offers sacrifice to inferior gods goes after death to those gods, but they that worship me come to me."

"What," asked Arguna, "is Brahma, the supreme spirit, the supreme sacrifice?"

The Holy One answered, "He is the Supreme, the Indestructible One; I am the Supreme Sacrifice in my present body.

"Hear now, Son of Pritha," said the Holy One. "If thy heart be fixed on me, and thou seekest refuge in me, thou shalt know me fully, and I shall reveal to thee the perfect knowledge of God and man. There are countless myriads of men in this world, but few there are who seek after perfection, and fewer still there are who obtain it."