The Course of Cosmic Evolution
Translation and Comment by Dr. Radhakrishnan
Sanskrit Text, Transliteration and word meaning by Veeraswamy Krishnaraj
किं तद्ब्रह्म किमध्यात्मं किं कर्म पुरुषोत्तम ।
अधिभूतं च किं प्रोक्तमधिदैवं किमुच्यते ॥८- १॥
arjuna uvāca = Arjuna said: kim1 = What; [is] tad2 = that; brahma3 = Brahman? kim4 = What; [is] adhyātmam5 = the Self [indwelling Self]? kim6 = What; [is] karma8 = Karma? puruṣottama9 = O Supreme Soul; kim12 = what; [are] adhibhūtam10 = beings on the physical plane of existence; ca11 = and; kim15 = what; proktam13 = spoken of; [as] adhidaivam14 = presiding deity; ucyate16 = is called. 8.1
(8.1) What is Brahman (or the Absolute)? What is the Self and what is action, O the Best of persons? What is said to be the domain of the elements? What is called the domain of the gods?
■ What is present in the self (adhyātmam)? What is present in the gods (adhidaivam)? What is present in the sacrifice (adhiyajñam)? What is present in all beings (adhibhūtam)? The answer to these questions is that the Supreme Spirit pervades all created beings, all sacrifices, all deities and all work. These are only the varied expressions of the Supreme.1
1mamaiva rūpāntarāṇi. Abhinavagupta.
अधियज्ञः कथं कोऽत्र देहेऽस्मिन्मधुसूदन ।
प्रयाणकाले च कथं ज्ञेयोऽसि नियतात्मभिः ॥८- २॥
kotra dehesmin madhusūdana
adhiyajñaḥ1 katham2 kaḥ3 atra4 dehe5 asmin6 madhusūdana7
katham2 = How; [and] kaḥ3 = who; [is] adhiyajñaḥ1 = Presiding deity of sacrifice; atra4 = here; [in] asmin6 = this; dehe5 = body; madhusūdana7 = O Madhusudana ca9 = and; prayāṇa8Akāle8B = at the time8B of death8A; katham10 = how; [are] jñeyaḥ11 asi12 = you to be known; [by] niyata-ātmabhiḥ13 = persons with centered self-controlled mind? 8.2
(8.2) What is the domain (part) of sacrifice in this body and how, o Madhusūdana (Kṛṣṇa), How again art Thou to be known at the time of departure by the self-controlled?
■ How art Thou revealed at the hour of death to the spiritualminded?
अक्षरं ब्रह्म परमं स्वभावोऽध्यात्ममुच्यते ।
भूतभावोद्भवकरो विसर्गः कर्मसंज्ञितः ॥८- ३॥
śrībhagavān uvāca = Sri Bhagavan said: brahma2 = Brahman; [is] akṣaram1 = imperishable; paramam3 = Supreme. svabhāvaḥ4 = Its own nature; ucyate6 = is said to be; adhyātmam5 = the indwelling Soul. karma12 saṁjñitaḥ13 = Karma is the name for; bhūta7 - bhāvaḥ8 - udbhava9 - karaḥ10 = the creator of existing beings [= beings7-existence or becoming8-creation9- Creator10 = creator of the bodies of beings.
The Blessed Lord said:
(8.3) Brahman (or the Absolute) is the indestructible, the Supreme (higher than all else), essential nature is called the Self. Karma is the name given to the creative force that brings beings into existence.
■ svabhāvaḥ4: Brahman assumes the form of Jīva, Chap. XV, 7.1
■ adhyātma5: the lord of the body, the enjoyer.2 It is the phase of the Divine which constitutes the individual self.
■ Brahman is the immutable self-existence on which all that lives, moves and has its being rests. Self is the spirit in man and nature. Karma is the creative impulse out of which life's forms issue. The whole cosmic evolution is called karma. The Supreme undertakes it and there is no reason why the individual Jīva should not take part in it. The Immutable which is above all dualities of subject and object, becomes, from the cosmic end, the eternal subject, adhyātma, facing the eternal object which is mutable in nature, prakṛti, the receptacle of alI forms, while karma is the creative force, the principle of movement. All these are not independent but are the manifestations of the One Supreme. The subject-object interaction which is the central pattern of the cosmos is the expression of Brahman, the Absolute Spirit which is above the distinctions of subject and object.
■ Māṇḍūkya Up, affirms that while the Absolute is indescribable, qualityless.3 the living God is the ruler of the world, the indwelling soul.4 The distinction between Godhead and God, the Absolute and the Personal God, Brahman and Īśvara, is clearly enunciated in this Upaniṣad, The personal God is the cosmic Lord, while Brahman is the supra-cosmic reality.
1svasya eva brahmaṇa eva aṁśatayā jīvarūpeṇa. bhāvānāṁ svabhāvah. Śrīdhara
2 sa eva ātmānam deham. adhīkṛtya bhoktrtvena vartamāno'dhyātma-śabdena ucyate. Śrīdhara.
3 adṛṣṭam, avyavahāryam, agrāhyam, alakṣaṇam, acintyam, avyapadeśyam, ekātmapratyayasāram,
prapañcopaśamam, śāntam, śivam, advaitam·7
4esa sarśesvara esa sarvajña, eṣo'ntaryāmi esa yoniḥ sarvasya
prabhavāpyayau hi bhūtānām. 6.
अधिभूतं क्षरो भावः पुरुषश्चाधिदैवतम् ।
अधियज्ञोऽहमेवात्र देहे देहभृतां वर ॥८- ४॥
adhibhūtam1 kṣaraḥ2 bhāvaḥ3 puruṣaḥ4 ca5 adhidaivatam6
adhibhūtam1 = Being on the physical plane of existence; [is] kṣaraḥ2 = perishable. puruṣaḥ4 = The Universal Being; [is of] bhāvaḥ3 = the nature; [of] adhidaivatam6 = Presiding Deity; ca5 = and; aham8 = I; [am] adhiyajñaḥ7 = the Presiding deity of sacrifice; eva9 = indeed; atra10 = in this; dehe11 = body; deha-bhṛtām12 vara13 = O the Best13 among the embodied beings12. 8.4
(8.4) The basis of all created things is the mutable nature: the basis of the divine elements is the cosmic spirit. And the basis of all sacrifices, here in the body is Myself, O Best of embodied beings (Arjuna).
■ Here again the author wishes us to possess an integral knowledge of the Divine in all aspects. There is the Immutable Divine, Brahman; there is the Personal God Īśvara, the object of all devotion; there is the Cosmic Self, Hiraṇyagarbha the presiding deity of the cosmos, and the Jīva the individual soul which partakes of the higher nature of the Divine and prakṛti the mutable nature. See VII, 4 ff.
अन्तकाले च मामेव स्मरन्मुक्त्वा कलेवरम् ।
यः प्रयाति स मद्भावं याति नास्त्यत्र संशयः ॥८- ५॥
antakāle ca mām eva smaran muktvā kalevaram
anta-kāle1 ca2 mām3 eva4 smaran5 muktvā6 kalevaram7
anta-kāle1ca2 = At the time of death also; yaḥ8 = he who; prayāti9 = departs [dying]; smaran5 = remembering; mām3 = Me; eva4 = indeed; [while] muktvā6 = giving up; kalevaram7 = the body; saḥ10 = he; yāti12 = attains; madbhāvam11 = my state. asti14 = There is; na13 = no; saṁśayaḥ16 = doubt; atra15 = in this. 8.5
(8.5) And whoever, at the time of death, gives up his body and departs, thinking of Me alone, he comes to My status (of being); of that there is no doubt.
■ This verse takes up the point raised in VII, 30. The importance of the state of mind at the moment of death is emphasized in the Upaniṣads, Chāndogya, III, I4, 1; Praśna, III, 10. We will think of God in the last moments only if we are devoted to Him previously also.
यं यं वापि स्मरन्भावं त्यजत्यन्ते कलेवरम् ।
तं तमेवैति कौन्तेय सदा तद्भावभावितः ॥८- ६॥
yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ tyajaty ante kalevaram
yam yam1 va api2 smaran3 bhāvam4 tyajati5 ante6 kalevaram7
yam yam1 va api2 = Whatever it is; [one] smaran3 = remembers; [of] bhāvam4 = being; [while] tyajati5 = giving up; kalevaram7 = the body; ante6 = at the end; kaunteya11 = O Kaunteya; tam tam8 eva9 = that one indeed; [he] sadā13 = always; eti10 = attains; tat14 bhāva15 bhāvitaḥ16 = remembering16 that14 state15. 8.6
(8.6) Thinking of whatever state (of being) he at the end gives up his body, to that being does he attain, O Son of Kuntī (Arjuna), being ever absorbed in the thought thereof.
■ sadā13 tat14 bhāva15 bhāvitaḥ16 : ever absorbed in the thought thereof. It is not the casual fancy of the last moment but the persistent endeavour of the whole life that determines the future.
■ tadbhāvabhāvitaḥ: literally, made to become (bhāvita) in the condition (bhāva) of that. The soul goes to that on which its mind is set during the last moments. What we think we become. Our past thoughts determine our present birth and our present ones will determine the future.
तस्मात्सर्वेषु कालेषु मामनुस्मर युध्य च ।
मय्यर्पितमनोबुद्धिर्मामेवैष्यस्यसंशयम् ॥८- ७॥
anusmara yudhya ca
tasmāt1 sarveṣu2 kāleṣu3 mām4 anusmara5 yudhya6 ca8
tasmāt1 = Therefore; sarveṣu2 = at all; kāleṣu3 = times; anusmara5 = continue remembering; mām4 = Me; ca8 = and; yudhya6 = fight; [with] manaḥ11 = mind; [and] buddhiḥ12 = intellect; arpita10 = dedicated ; mayi9 = to Me; eṣyasi15 = you will reach; mām13 = Me; eva14 = alone; asaṁśayaḥ16 = without doubt. 8.7
(8.7) Therefore at all times remember Me and fight When thy mind and understanding are set on Me, to Me alone shalt thou come without doubt.
■ sarveṣu2 kāleṣu3 : at all times. Only then shall we be able to remember God in the critical last moments. Śrīdhara.
■ mām4 anusmara5 yudhya6 : remember Me and fight. It is not fight on the material plane that is intended here for it cannot be done at all times. It is the fight with the powers of darkness that we have to carry on perpetually.
■ We must engage in the work of the world retaining our consciousness of Eternity, the brooding presence of the Unchanging God. Just as a dancing girl fixes her attention on the waterpot she bears on her head even when she is dancing to various tunes, so also a truly pious man does not give up (his attention) to the blissful feet of the Supreme Lord even when he attends to his many concerns."1 All actions of our lives are to be surrendered to God who encloses, penetrates, and gives meaning to our lives. The mere remembrance of God purifies all work. Cp. ''l bow to the Infallible. By thinking of Him or calling on His name, every defect in austerities, sacrifice and ritual is removed.''2
1 punkhānupunkhaviṣayan upasevamāno
dhīro na muñcati mukundapadāravindam
maulistha kuṁbha parirakṣana dhir naṭīva.
2 yasya smṛtyā ca nāmoktyā tapoyajñakriyādiṣu nyūnaṁ saṁpūrṇatām yāti sadyo vande tam acyutam.
अभ्यासयोगयुक्तेन चेतसा नान्यगामिना ।
परमं पुरुषं दिव्यं याति पार्थानुचिन्तयन् ॥८- ८॥
abhyāsayogayuktena cetasā nānyagāminā
cetasā2 na anya-gāminā4
pārthā8 = O Partha; abhyāsa1A yoga-yuktena1B= engaged in the yoga1B of practice1A; cetasā2 = with the mind; na anya-gāminā4 = not distracted to other things; yāti7 = one attains; paramam5 = the Supreme; anucintayan9 = by always thinking of; divyam8 = the divine; puruṣam6 = Person [Paramesvara). 8.8
(8.8) He who meditates on the Supreme Person with his thought attuned by constant practice and not wandering after anything else, he, O Pārtha (Arjuna), reaches the Person, Supreme and Divine.
■ It is not death-bed repentance that will save us but constant practice and unwavering dedication to the Supreme.
कविं पुराणमनुशासितार-: मणोरणीयांसमनुस्मरेद्यः ।
सर्वस्य धातारमचिन्त्यरूप : मादित्यवर्णं तमसः परस्तात् ॥८- ९॥
kaviṁ purāṇam anuśāsitāraṁ
anuśāsitāram3 aṇoḥ4 aṇīyāṁsam5
yaḥ7 = He who; anusmaret6 =meditates on; kavim1 = the Omniscient [the sage, Seer, Poet]; purāṇam2 = the beginningless; anuśāsitāram3 = the Ruler of all; aṇīyāṁsam5 = subtler; aṇoḥ4 = than the subtle; dhātāram9 = the Protector; sarvasya8 = of all; [of] acintya10 = inconceivable; rūpam11 = form; āditya-varṇam12 = of the color of the sun; parastāt14 = beyond; tamasaḥ13 = darkness [attains the Supreme]. 8.9
(8.9) He who meditates on the Seer, the ancient, the ruler, subtler than the subtle, the supporter of all, whose form is beyond conception, who is sun-colored beyond the darkness.
■ See Śvetāśvatara Up., 111, 18.
■ kavi: seer. It is taken to mean omniscient.1
■ Here is a description not of the relationless, immutable Absolute but of Īśvara, the Personal God, Seer, Creator and Ruler of the cosmos. He is the light opposed to darkness.2
1 kaviṁ krāntadarśinam sarvajñam. S.
2 prakāsarūpatvena tamovirodhinam. Madhusūdana.
प्रयाणकाले मनसाचलेन : भक्त्या युक्तो योगबलेन चैव ।
भ्रुवोर्मध्ये प्राणमावेश्य सम्यक् : स तं परं पुरुषमुपैति दिव्यम् ॥८- १०॥
prayāṇakāle manasācalena bhaktyā yukto yogabalena caiva
prayāṇa-kāle1 = At the time of demise; acalena3 manasā2 = with unvacillating3 mind2; yuktaḥ5 = absorbed; bhaktyā4 = with devotion; yoga-balena6 = by strength of Yoga; ca7 = and; eva8= indeed; āveśya12 = steadying; prāṇam11 = the vital breath; samyak13 = completely; madhye10 = between; bhruvoḥ9 = the eyebrows; saḥ14 = he; upaiti18 = attains; tam15 = that; param16 = supreme; divyam19 = divine; puruṣam17 = Person [the Omniscient]. 8.10
(8.10) He who does so, at the time of his departure, with a steady mind, devotion and strength of yoga and setting well his life force in the center of the eyebrows, he attains to this Supreme Divine Person.
■ Apparently this practice is possible only for those who choose the moment of death by the power of yoga.1
1yogenānte tanu tyajām. Kālidāsa: Raghuvaṁśa. I. 8.
यदक्षरं वेदविदो वदन्ति : विशन्ति यद्यतयो वीतरागाः ।
चरन्ति : तत्ते
vadanti4 viśanti5 yat6 yatayaḥ7 vīta-rāgāḥ8
pravakṣye17 = I shall talk; te14 = to you; saṅgraheṇa16 = in brief; yat1 = that; yat6 = which; veda-vidaḥ3 = knowers of Vedas; vadanti4 = call; akṣaram2 = immutable; icchantaḥ10 = desiring; yat9 = which; yatayaḥ7 = the seers or ascetics; caranti12 = practice; brahmacaryam11 = celibacy. [They] vīta-rāgāḥ8 = free from passion; viśanti5 = enter; tat13 = that [Aksaram]; padam15 = goal (parama padam = Supreme Abode). 8.11
(8.11) I shall briefly describe to thee that state which the knowers of the Veda call the Imperishable, which ascetics freed from passion enter and desiring which they lead a life of self-control.
■ See Kaṭha Up., II, 15. "The word which all the Vedas rehearse, and which all austerities proclaim, desiring which men live the life of religious studentship--that word to thee I briefly declare." Theists look upon it as the highest heaven "the highest place of Viṣṇu." Viṣṇu paramam padam.
सर्वद्वाराणि संयम्य मनो हृदि निरुध्य च ।
मूर्ध्न्याधायात्मनः प्राणमास्थितो योगधारणाम् ॥८- १२॥
sarvadvārāṇi saṁyamya mano hṛdi nirudhya ca
saṁyamya2 = Controlling; sarva-dvārāṇi1 = all the portals of the senses; nirudhya5 = confining; manaḥ3 = the mind; hṛdi4 = in the heart; ca6 = and; ādhāya8 = fixing; ātmanaḥ9 = his own; prāṇam10 = breath; mūrdhni7 = in the head; [and] āsthitaḥ11 = having established; yoga12 dhāraṇām13 = firmness in13 yoga12... 8.12
(8.12) All the gates of the body restrained, the mind confined within the heart, one's life force fixed in the head, established in concentration by yoga.
■ The body is called the nine-gated city: V, I3. The mind which is confined within the heart means the mind whose functions are checked. The yoga śāstra tells us that the soul which passes from the heart through suṣumṇanādi to the brahmarandhra in the head and thence goes out, becomes one with the Supreme.
ओमित्येकाक्षरं ब्रह्म व्याहरन्मामनुस्मरन् ।
यः प्रयाति त्यजन्देहं स याति परमां गतिम् ॥८- १३॥
om ity ekākṣaraṁ brahma vyāharan
om1 iti2 eka-akṣaram3 brahma4 vyāharan5 mām6 anusmaran7
yaḥ8 = He who; prayāti9 = dies; tyajan10 = by leaving; deham11 = the body; vyāharan5 = uttering; eka-akṣaram3 = one syllable; om1 = Om; [which is] iti2 = thus; brahma4 = Brahman; [and] anusmaran7 = remembering; mām6 = Me; saḥ12 = he; yāti13 = attains; paramām14 = the supreme; gatim15 = goal. 8.13
(8.13) He who utters the single syllable Aum (which is) Brahman, remembering Me as he departs, giving up his body, he goes to the highest goal.
■ Aum stands for the inexpressible Absolute.
■ mām6 anusmaran7: remembering Me. The highest state can be obtained through the worship of God, according to the Yoga Sutra.1
अनन्यचेताः सततं यो मां स्मरति नित्यशः ।
तस्याहं सुलभः पार्थ नित्ययुक्तस्य योगिनः ॥८- १४॥
ananyacetāḥ satataṁ yo
māṁ smarati nityaśaḥ
ananya-cetāḥ1 satatam2 yaḥ3 mām4 smarati5 nityaśaḥ6
yaḥ3 = He who; smarati5 = remembers; mām4 = Me; satatam2 = constantly; [and] nityaśaḥ6 = regularly; ananya-cetāḥ1 = without extraneous thoughts; aham8 = I; [am] sulabhaḥ9 = easy of access; tasya7 yoginaḥ12 = to that Yogi; nitya-yuktasya11 = with perpetual concentration; pārtha10 = O Partha. 8.14
(18.14) He who constantly meditates on Me, thinking of none else, by him who is a yogin ever disciplined (or united with the Supreme), I am easily reached.
मामुपेत्य पुनर्जन्म दुःखालयमशाश्वतम् ।
नाप्नुवन्ति महात्मानः संसिद्धिं परमां गताः ॥८- १५॥
mām upetya punarjanma duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam
mām1 upetya2 punaḥ3
janma4 duḥkha-ālayam5 aśāśvatam6
mahā-ātmānaḥ10 = The Great Souls; upetya2 = after reaching; mām1 = Me; gatāḥ13 = attain; paramām12 = Supreme; saṁsiddhim11 = Perfection; [and] na8 = do not; āpnuvanti9 = get; punaḥ3 janma4 = rebirth; [which is] duḥkha-ālayam5 = an abode of miseries; [and] aśāśvatam6 = impermanent; 8.15
(18.15) Having come to Me, these great souls do not get back to rebirth, the place of sorrow, impermanent, for they have reached the highest perfection.
See note on IX, 33.
आब्रह्मभुवनाल्लोकाः पुनरावर्तिनोऽर्जुन ।
मामुपेत्य तु कौन्तेय पुनर्जन्म न विद्यते ॥८- १६॥
ā brahmabhuvanāl lokāḥ
arjuna5 = O Arjuna; ābrahma-bhuvanāt1 = from the world of Brahma down; lokāḥ2 = the worlds; punaḥ3 āvartinaḥ4 = are subject to return4 again3; tu8 = but; [for the one] upetya7 = after coming; mām6 = to Me; kaunteya9 = O son of Kunti; punarjanma10 = rebirth; [in the world of miseries] na vidyate11 = does not exist. 8.16
(8.16) From the realm of Brahma downwards, all worlds are subject to return to rebirth, but on reaching Me, O Son Kunti (Arjuna), there is no return to birth again.
All the worlds are subject to change.1
1punarāvartinaḥ, kālaparicchinnatvāt. S.
सहस्रयुगपर्यन्तमहर्यद्ब्रह्मणो विदुः ।
रात्रिं युगसहस्रान्तां तेऽहोरात्रविदो जनाः ॥८- १७॥
sahasrayugaparyantam ahar yad brahmaṇo viduḥ
yuga2 paryantam3 ahaḥ4 yat5 brahmaṇaḥ6 viduḥ7
viduḥ7= They know; ahaḥ4 = day; brahmaṇaḥ6 = of Brahma; yat5 = which; paryantam3 = ends; [in] sahasra1 = a thousand; yuga2 = Yugas; rātrim8 = night; [is] yuga sahasra-antām9 = Yuga ending after a 1000 yugas; te10 = these ; janāḥ13 = people; [are] vidaḥ12 = knowers; [of] ahaḥ-rātra11 = day and night. 8.17
(8.17) Those who know that the day of Brahma is of the duration of a thousand ages and that the night (of Brahma) is a thousand ages long, they are the knowers of day and night.
■ Day is the period of cosmic manifestation and night of non-manifestation. These are of equal length of time and alternate.
अव्यक्ताद्व्यक्तयः सर्वाः प्रभवन्त्यहरागमे ।
रात्र्यागमे प्रलीयन्ते तत्रैवाव्यक्तसंज्ञके ॥८- १८॥
avyaktād vyaktayaḥ sarvāḥ
avyaktāt1 vyaktayaḥ2 sarvāḥ3 prabhavanti4 ahaḥ-āgame5
avyaktāt1 = From the unmanifest; sarvāḥ3 = all; vyaktayaḥ2 = manifested beings; prabhavanti4 = become manifest; ahaḥ-āgame5 = as the day begins. rātri-āgame6 = As the night arrives; [they] pralīyante7 = undergo dissolution; tatra8 = in it; saṅjñake11 = which is called; eva9 = indeed; avyakta10 = the unmanifest; 8.18
(8.18) At the coming of day, all manifested things come forth from the unmanifested and at the coming of night they merge in that same, called the unmanifested.
■ Here the unmanifested is prakṛti.
भूतग्रामः स एवायं भूत्वा भूत्वा प्रलीयते ।
रात्र्यागमेऽवशः पार्थ प्रभवत्यहरागमे ॥८- १९॥
bhūtagrāmaḥ sa evāyaṁ
bhūtagrāmaḥ1 saḥ eva2
ayam3 bhūtvā bhūtvā4
saḥ eva2 = These very; bhūtagrāmaḥ1 = host pf beings; bhūtvā bhūtvā4 = taking birth again and again; pralīyate5 = undergoes dissolution again and again; [which is] avaśaḥ7 = beyond their control; rātri-āgame6 = on the arrival of night; pārtha8 = O Partha. ayam3 = This; prabhavati9 = comes into being; ahar-āgame10 = on arrival of day. 8.19
(8.19) This very same multitude of existences arising again and again merges helplessly at the coming of night, O Pārtha (Arjuna), and streams forth into being at the coming of day.
■ This periodic emergence and dissolution of all existences does not affect the Lord of all existences.
परस्तस्मात्तु भावोऽन्योऽव्यक्तोऽव्यक्तात्सनातनः ।
यः स सर्वेषु भूतेषु नश्यत्सु न विनश्यति ॥८- २०॥
paras tasmāt tu bhāvonyovyaktovyaktāt
paraḥ1 tasmāt2 tu3 bhāvaḥ4 anyaḥ5 avyakta6 avyaktāt7 sanātanaḥ8
tu3 - But; paraḥ1 = higher; tasmāt2 = than [the unmanifest]; bhāvaḥ4 = nature; [there is] anyaḥ5 = the other; avyakta6 = unmanifest; sanātanaḥ8 = eternal; [Being]; yaḥ saḥ9 = who as such; na vinaśyati13 = is not destroyed. sarveṣu10 = All; bhūteṣu11 = beings [from Brahma down to a blade of grass]; naśyatsu12 = succumb to dissolution. 8.20
(8.20) But beyond this unmanifested, there is yet another Unmanifested Eternal Being who does not perish even when all existences perish.
■ It is the Supracosmic Unmanifested which is changeless and eternal, in the midst of all changes. Two types of unmanifested are sometimes distinguished, an unmanifested (avyakta), into which all unredeemed beings enter, and the supercosmic avyakta, called also suddhatattva which is imperceptible to the ordinary mind into which the redeemed souls enter. The perpetual rhythm of day and night is on all cosmic beings which cannot last forever. Beyond the cosmic process is the Supreme Unmanifested Brahman, the highest goal. Those who attain It pass beyond day and night.
अव्यक्तोऽक्षर इत्युक्तस्तमाहुः परमां गतिम् ।
यं प्राप्य न निवर्तन्ते तद्धाम परमं मम ॥८- २१॥
avyaktokṣara ity uktas tam āhuḥ
iti3 uktaḥ4 tam5 āhuḥ6 paramām7
avyaktaḥ1 = The unmanifest; iti3 = thus; uktaḥ4 = is called; akṣaraḥ2 = imperishable. tam5 = That [aksram]; āhuḥ6 = is called; paramām7 = Supreme; gatim8= Goal; prāpya10 = after attaining; yam9 = which; [people] na11 = do not; nivartante12 = come back. tat13 = That; [is] mama16 = My; paramam15 = supreme; dhāma14 = abode. 8.21
(8.21) This Unmanifested is called the Imperishable. Him they speak of as the Supreme Status. Those who attain to Him return not. That is My supreme abode.
■ We escape from the cycle of birth and death or cosmic manifestation (Prabhava) and non-manifestation (Pralaya). Even to reach the status of the Indefinable Absolute whose status goes beyond the cosmic manifestation, we have to offer our whole personality to the Supreme. Even the supracosmic condition of the Eternally Unmanifest can be won through bhakti or devotion. By union with Him of our whole conscious being, we reach the perfect consummation. The supreme abode of the personal God, Īśvara, is Parabrahma, the Absolute: see also VIII, 2.
पुरुषः स परः पार्थ भक्त्या लभ्यस्त्वनन्यया ।
यस्यान्तःस्थानि भूतानि येन सर्वमिदं ततम् ॥८- २२॥
puruṣaḥ sa paraḥ pārtha
bhaktyā labhyas tv ananyayā
puruṣaḥ1 saḥ2 paraḥ3 pārtha4 bhaktyā5 labhyaḥ6 tu7 ananyayā8
saḥ2 = He; paraḥ3 = the Supreme; puruṣaḥ1 = Person; pārtha4 = O partha; labhyaḥ6 = can be gained or attained; ananyayā8 = by exclusive one-pointed; bhaktyā5 = devotion; [to Me]; yasya9 = in whom; bhūtāni11 = beings; antaḥsthāni10 = abide inside; tu7 = but; yena12 = by whom; sarvam13 = all; idam14 = this; tatam15 = is pervaded. 8.22
(18.22) This is the Supreme Person, O Partha (Arjuna), in whom all existences abide and by whom all this is pervaded (who) can, however, be gained by unswerving devotion.
यत्र काले त्वनावृत्तिमावृत्तिं चैव योगिनः ।
प्रयाता यान्ति तं कालं वक्ष्यामि भरतर्षभ ॥८- २३॥
yatra kāle tv anāvṛttim āvṛttiṁ caiva yoginaḥ
yatra kāle1 tu2 anāvṛttim3 āvṛttim4 ca eva5 yoginaḥ6
bharatarṣabha12 = O the Best among Bharatas; vakṣyāmi11 = I will tell; [you] tu2 = now; yatra kāle1 = at which time; prayātāḥ7 = the departing; yoginaḥ6 = Yogis; yānti8 = attain; anāvṛttim3 = no return, no rebirth; ca eva5 = and also; tam9 = that; kālam10 = time; [when they make] āvṛttim4 = a return or take a rebirth. 8.23
(18.23) Now I shall declare to thee, O Best of Bharatas (Arjuna), the time in which yogins departing, never return and also that wherein departing they return.
अग्निर्ज्योतिरहः शुक्लः षण्मासा उत्तरायणम् ।
तत्र प्रयाता गच्छन्ति ब्रह्म ब्रह्मविदो जनाः ॥८- २४॥
agnir jotir ahaḥ śuklaḥ ṣaṇmāsā uttarāyaṇam
agniḥ1 jotiḥ2 ahaḥ3 śuklaḥ4 ṣaṇmāsā5 uttarāyaṇam6
tatra7 = That path; prayātāḥ8 = of the departing souls, [of] brahma-vidaḥ11 = the Brahman Knowers; [is] agniḥ1 = fire; jotiḥ2 = light; ahaḥ3 = day; śuklaḥ4 = bright fortnight; [and] ṣaṇmāsā5 = six months; [of] uttarāyaṇam6 = Northern Solstice. [These] janāḥ12 = people; gacchanti9 = attain; brahma10 = Brahman. 8.24
(8.24) Fire, light, day, the bright (half of the month), the six months of the northern path (of the Sun), then going forth the men who know the Absolute go to the Absolute.
धूमो रात्रिस्तथा कृष्णः षण्मासा दक्षिणायनम् ।
तत्र चान्द्रमसं ज्योतिर्योगी प्राप्य निवर्तते ॥८- २५॥
dhūmaḥ1 rātriḥ2 tathā3 kṛṣṇaḥ4 ṣaṇmāsā5 dakṣiṇāyanam6
dhūmaḥ1 = Smoke; rātriḥ2 = night; kṛṣṇaḥ4 = the dark fortnight; tathā3 = also; ṣaṇmāsā5 = six months; [of] dakṣiṇāyanam6 = Southern Solstice; [following] tatra7 = that path; yogī10 = [the departing] Yogi; prāpya11 = attains; cāndramasam8 = the moon; jyotiḥ9 = light; [and] nivartate12 = returns [takes rebirth]. 8.25
(8.25) Smoke, night, so also the dark (half of the month), the six months of the southern part (of the Sun), then going forth, the yogi obtains the lunar light and returns.
Our dead ancestors (pitṛis) are said to live in the world of the moon and remain there till the time of their return to earth.
शुक्लकृष्णे गती ह्येते जगतः शाश्वते मते ।
एकया यात्यनावृत्तिमन्ययावर्तते पुनः ॥८- २६॥
śuklakṛṣṇe gatī hy ete jagataḥ
śukla1 kṛṣṇe2 gatī3 hi4 ete5 jagataḥ6 śāśvate7 mate8
śukla1 = White [knowledge]; kṛṣṇe2 = black [ignorance]; mate8 = are considered; hi4 = indeed; ete5 = the two; śāśvate7 = eternal; gatī3 = paths; jagataḥ6 = of the world; ekayā9 = by one [path]; [he] yāti10 = reaches, goes to; anāvṛttim11 = Realm of no return; anyayā12 = by the other; āvartate13 = he treads back; punaḥ14 = again [into the material world]. 8.26
(8.26) Light and darkness, these paths are thought to be the world's everlasting (paths). By the one he goes not to return, by the other he returns again.
■ Life is a conflict between light and darkness. The former makes for release and the latter for rebirth. The author here uses an old eschatological belief to illustrate a great spiritual truth, that those who are lost in the night of ignorance go by the path of ancestors and are subject to rebirth and those who live in the day of illumination and tread the path of knowledge obtain release from rebirth.
नैते सृती पार्थ जानन्योगी मुह्यति कश्चन ।
तस्मात्सर्वेषु कालेषु योगयुक्तो भवार्जुन ॥८- २७॥
pārtha jānan yogī muhyati kaścana
na1 ete2 sṛtī3 pārtha4 jānan5 yogī6 muhyati7 kaścana8
kaścana8 = Whoever; yogī6 = Yogi; jānan5 = knowing; ete2 = the two; sṛtī3 = paths; na1 = is not; muhyati7 = deluded; tasmāt9 = therefore; pārtha4 = O Partha; sarveṣu10 kāleṣu11 = at all times; bhava13 = be; yogayuktaḥ12 = steady in Yoga; arjuna14 = O Arjuna. 8.27
(8.27) The yogin who knows these paths, O Pārtha (Arjuna), is never deluded. Therefore, at all times, O Arjuna, be thou firm in yoga.
■ Whatever work you undertake, do not lose the thought of the Eternal.
वेदेषु यज्ञेषु तपःसु चैव : दानेषु यत् पुण्यफलं प्रदिष्टम् ।
अत्येति तत्सर्वमिदं विदित्वा : योगी परं स्थानमुपैति चाद्यम् ॥८- २८॥
tapaḥsu caiva dāneṣu yat puṇyaphalaṁ pradiṣṭam
tapaḥsu3 ca4 eva5 dāneṣu6
yat7 puṇya-phalam8 pradiṣṭam9
viditvā14 = Knowing; sarvam12 = all; idam13 = this; atyeti10 = going beyond; tat11 = that; vedeṣu1 = the study of Vedas; yajñeṣu2 = the performance of Yagnas; tapaḥsu3 = the observance of austerities; ca4 = and; eva5 = indeed; dāneṣu6 = the giving of charity; yat7 = which; [result in] puṇya-phalam8 = merit and demerit; pradiṣṭam9 = enunciated by sacred texts; yogī15 = Yogi; upaiti18 = attains; param16 = Supreme; sthānam17 = abode; ca19 = also; [which is] ādyam20 = the primordial. 8.28
(8.28) The yogin having known all this, goes beyond the fruits of meritorious deeds assigned to the study of the Vedas, sacrifices, austerities and gifts and attains to the supreme and primal status.
■ The states which result from the study of the Vedas, sacrifices, austerities and gifts are all lower stages to be passed over by the Yogi who soars beyond them to the final goal.
ity . . . akṣarabrahmayogo nāmā 'ṣṭamo 'dhyāyaḥ
■ This is the eighth chapter entitled The Yoga of the Imperishable Absolute.