Ancient India
Knowledge and Understanding

Krishna

   O son of Pritha, now hear how you can without doubt know me fully, fixing your mind on me, and resting in me, and practicing discipline. I will now tell you exhaustively about knowledge together with experience; 1 that being known, there is nothing further left in this world to know.

   Among thousands of men, only some work for perfection; and even of those who have reached perfection, and who are assiduous, only some know me truly.

   I am earth, water, fire, air, space, mind, understanding, and individuality—my nature is divided into these eight parts. 2 But this is a lower form of my nature. Know that there is another form of my nature, and higher than this, which is animate and by which this universe is upheld. Know that all things have these for their source. I am the producer and the destroyer of the whole universe There is nothing else higher than myself; all this universe is woven upon me, like numbers of pearls upon a thread. I am the taste in water, I am the light of the sun and moon, I am 'Om' in all the Vedas, 3 sound in space, and manliness in human beings; I am the fragrant smell in the earth, the light in the fire; I am life in all beings, and penance in those who perform penance.

   Know me, O son of Pritha, to be the eternal seed of all beings; I am the discernment of the discerning ones, and I am the greatness of the great. I am also the strength, unaccompanied by fondness or desire, of the strong. And, O chief of the descendants of Bharata, I am the love which is unopposed to devotion among all beings.

   And all entities which are of the quality of goodness, and those which are of the quality of passion and of darkness, 4 know that they are, indeed, all from me; I am not in them, but they are in me.

   The whole universe, deluded by these three states of mind, developed from the qualities and does not know me who am beyond them and inexhaustible; for this delusion of mine, developed from the qualities, is divine and difficult to transcend. Only those who resort to me transcend this delusion. Wicked men, evil-doers, who are deluded, who are deprived of their knowledge by this delusion, and who incline to the demonic state of mind, do not resort to me. But, Arjuna, doers of good acts of all four classes worship me: one who is distressed, one who is seeking after knowledge, one who wants wealth, and one, O chief of the descendants of Bharata, who is possessed of knowledge.

   Of these, he who is possessed of knowledge, who is always disciplined, and whose worship is addressed to one Being only, is esteemed highest. For to the man of knowledge I am dear above all things, and he is dear to me.

   All these four classes are noble. But the man possessed of knowledge is deemed by me to be my own self. For he with his self devoted to abstraction, has taken to me as the goal than which there is nothing higher.

   At the end of many lives, the man possessed of knowledge approaches me, believing that Vasudeva is everything. 5 Such a high-souled 6 man is very hard to find.

   Those who are deprived of knowledge by various desires approach other divinities, observing various regulations, and controlled by their own natures. 7. Whichever form of divinity any worshipper wishes to worship with faith, to that form I render his faith steady. Possessed of that faith, he seeks to propitiate the deity in that form, and obtains from it those beneficial things which he desires, though they are really given by me. But the fruit thus obtained by them, who have little judgment, is perishable.

   Those who worship the divinities go to the divinities, and my wotshippers, too, go to me. The undiscerning ones, not knowing my transcendent and inexhaustible essence, than which there is nothing higher, think me, who am unperceived, to have become perceptible. Surrounded by the delusion of my mystic power, 8 I am not manifest to all. This deluded world does not know me unborn and inexhaustible.

   I know, Arjuna, the things which have been, those which are, and those which are to be. But nobody knows me. All beings, Arjuna, are deluded at the time of birth by the delusion, O descendant of Bharata, caused by the pairs of opposites arising from desire and aversion. 9 But the men of meritorious actions, whose sins have terminated, worship me, being released from the delusion caused by the pairs of opposites, and being firm in their beliefs

   Those who, resting in me, work for release from old age and death, know the Brahman, the whole Adhyâtma, 10 and all action. And those who know me with the Adhibhûta, the Adhidaiva, and the Adhiyajna, 11 having minds devoted to abstraction, know me when they depart from this world.

Translated by Kashinath Trimbak Telano, 1882
Edited and annotated by Richard Hooker



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Brahman: The Infinite Soul


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1997, Richard Hooker
Updated 10-18-97