"What is that Brahman, what is Adhyatma, and what, O best of men! is Karma? What also is Adhibhuta, and what Adhidaiva? Who too is Adhiyajna here, in this body, and how therein, O slayer of Madhu? Tell me also how men who are fixed in meditation are to know thee at the hour of death."
"Brahman the Supreme is the exhaustless. Adhyatma is the name of my being manifesting as the Individual Self. Karma is the emanation which causes the existence and reproduction of creatures. (1) Adhibhuta is the Supreme Spirit dwelling in all elemental nature through the mysterious power of nature's illusion. Adhidaiva is the Purusha, the Spiritual Person, and Adhiyajna is myself in this body, O best of embodied men. Whoever at the hour of death abandoneth the body, fixed in meditation upon me, without doubt goeth to me. Whoso in consequence of constant meditation on any particular form thinketh upon it when quitting his mortal shape, even to that doth he go, O son of Kuni. Therefore at all times meditate only on me and fight. Thy mind and Buddhi being placed on me alone, thou shalt without doubt come to me. The man whose heart abides in me alone, wandering to no other object, shall also by meditation on the Supreme Spirit go to it, O son of Pritha. Whosoever shall meditate upon the All-Wise which is without beginning, the Supreme Ruler, the smallest of the small, the Supporter of all, whose form is incomprehensible, bright as the sun beyond the darkness; with mind undeviating, united to devotion, and by the power of meditation concentrated at the hour of death, with his vital powers placed between the eyebrows, attains to that Supreme Divine Spirit.
"I will now make known to thee that path which the learned in the Vedas call indestructible, into which enter those who are free from attachments, and is followed by those desirous of leading the life of a Brahmachari (2) laboring for salvation. He who closeth all the doors of his senses, imprisoneth his mind in his heart, fixeth his vital powers in his head, standing firm in meditation, repeating the monosyllable OM, and thus continues when he is quitting the body, goeth to the supreme goal. He who, with heart undiverted to any other object, meditates constantly and through the whole of life on me shall surely attain to me, O son of Pritha. Those great-souled ones who have attained to supreme perfection come unto me and no more incur rebirths rapidly revolving, which are mansions of pain and sorrow.
"All worlds up to that of Brahman are subject to rebirth again and again, but they, O son of Kunti, who reach to me have no rebirth. Those who are acquainted with day and night (3) know that the day of Brahma is a thousand revolutions of the yugas and that his night extendeth for a thousand more. At the coming on of that day all things issue forth from the unmanifested into manifestation, so on the approach of that night they merge again into the unmanifested. This collection of existing things, having thus come forth, is dissolved at the approach of the night, O son of Pritha; and now again on the coming of the day it emanates spontaneously. But there is that which upon the dissolution of all things else is not destroyed; it is indivisible, indestructible, and of another nature from the visible. That called the unmanifested and exhaustless is called the supreme goal, which having once attained they never more return — it is my supreme abode. This Supreme, O son of Pritha, within whom all creatures are included and by whom all this is pervaded, may be attained by a devotion which is intent on him alone.
"I will now declare to thee, O best of the Bharatas, at what time yogis dying obtain freedom from or subjection to rebirth. Fire, light, day, the fortnight of the waxing moon, six months of the sun's northern course — going then and knowing the Supreme Spirit, men go to the Supreme. But those who depart in smoke, at night, during the fortnight of the waning moon, and while the sun is in the path of his southern journey, proceed for a while to the regions of the moon and again return to mortal birth. These two, light and darkness, are the world's eternal ways; by one a man goes not to return, by the other he cometh back again upon earth. No devotee, O son of Pritha, who knoweth these two paths is ever deluded; wherefore, O Arjuna, at all times be thou fixed in devotion. (4) The man of meditation who knoweth all this reaches beyond whatever rewards are promised in the Vedas or that result from sacrifices or austerities or from gifts of charity, and goeth to the supreme, the highest place."
Thus in the Upanishads, called the holy Bhagavad-Gita, in the science of the Supreme Spirit, in the book of devotion, in the colloquy between the Holy Krishna and Arjuna, stands the Eighth Chapter, by name —
DEVOTION TO THE OMNIPRESENT SPIRIT NAMED AS OM.
1. Karma here is, so to say, the action of the Supreme which is seen in manifestation throughout the evolution of the objective worlds. (return to text)
2. Brahmacharya vow is a vow to live a life of religious study and asceticism — "following Brahma." (return to text)
3. This refers to those who have acquired knowledge of the ultimate divisions of time, a power which is ascribed to the perfect yogi in Patanijali's Yoga Aphorisms. (return to text)
4. The paragraph up to here is thought by some European Sanskritists to be an interpolation, but that view is not held by all, nor is it accepted by the Hindus. (return to text)