Ancient India
Brahman: The Infinite Soul

Arjuna

   What is that Brahman, what the Adhyatma, and what, O best of beings, is action? And what is called the Adhibhûta? And who is the Adhiyajna, and how in this body, O destroyer of Madhu? And how, too, are you to be known at the time one departs from this world by those who restrain their selfs? 1


Krishna

   The Brahman is the supreme Being, the indestructible. Its manifestation as an individual self is called the Adhyatma. The offering of a sacrifice to any divinity, which is the cause of the production and development of all things, is named action. 2

   The Adhibhûta is all perishable things. The Adhidaivata is the primal being. And the Adhiyajna, O best of embodied beings, is I myself in this body.

   And he who leaves this body and departs from this world, remembering me in his last moments, comes into my essence. There is no doubt of that.

   Also, whichever form of divinity he remembers when he finally leaves this body, to that he goes, O son of Kunti, having been used to ponder on it.

   Therefore, at all times remember me, and engage in battle. Fixing your mind and understanding on me, you will come to me, there is no doubt. He who thinks of the supreme divine Being, O son of Pritha, with a mind not running to other objects, and possessed of abstraction in the shape of continuous meditation about the supreme, goes to him.

   He who, possessed of reverence for the supreme Being, with a steady mind, and with the power of spiritual discipline, properly concentrates the life-breath 3 between the brows, and meditates on the ancient Seer, the ruler, more minute than the minutest atom, 4 the supporter of all, who is of an unthinkable form, whose brilliance is Iike that of the sun, and who is beyond all darkness, he attains to that transcendent and divine Being.

   I will tell you briefly about the seat, which those who know the Vedas 5 declare to be indestructible; which is entered by ascetics from whom all desires have departed; and wishing for which, people pursue the mode of life of Brahmakarins. 6

   He who leaves the body and departs from this world, stopping up all passages and confining the mind within the heart, placing the life-breath in the head, and adhering to uninterrupted meditation, repeating the single syllable 'Om,' which signifies the eternal Brahman, 7 and meditating on me, he reaches the highest goal.

   To the man of discipline who constantly practises abstraction, O son of Pritha, and who with a mind not turned to anything else, is ever and constantly meditating on me, I am easy of access.

   The high-souled ones, who achieve the highest perfection, attaining to me, do not again come to life, which is transient, a home of woes. 8 All worlds, Arjuna, up to the world of Brahman, are destined to return . But after attaining to me, there is no birth again.

   Those who know a day of Brahman to end after one thousand ages, and the night to terminate after one thousand ages, are the persons who know day and night . On the advent of day, all perceptible things are produced from the unperceived; and on the advent of night they dissolve in that same principle called the unperceived. This same assemblage of entities,being produced again and again, dissolves on the advent of night, and, O son of Pritha, issues forth on the advent of day, without a will of its own. 9

   But there is another entity, unperceived and eternal, and distinct from this unperceived principle, which is not destroyed when all entities are destroyed. It is called the unperceived, the indestructible; they call it the highest goal. Attaining to it, none returns. That is my supreme abode. That supreme Being, O son of Pritha, he in whom all these entities dwell , and by whom all this is permeated, is to be attained to by reverence not directed to any other divinity.

   I will state the times, O descendant of Bharata, at which men of discipline, departing from this world go, never to return, or to return. The fire, the flame, the day, the bright fortnight, the six months of the northern solstice, departing from the world in these, those who know the Brahman go to the Brahman.

   Smoke, night, the dark fortnight, the six months of the southern solstice, dying in these, the man of discipline goes to the lunar light and returns eventually to life.

   These two paths, bright and dark, are deemed to be eternal in this world. By the one, a man goes never to return, by the other he comes back. Knowing these two paths, O son of Pritha, no man of discipline is ever deluded.

   Therefore, at all times be possessed of discipline, Arjuna. A man of discipline, knowing all this, obtains all the holy fruit which is prescribed for study of the Vedas, for sacrifices, and also for penances and gifts, and he attains to the highest and primeval seat.

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



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1997, Richard Hooker
Updated 10-18-97