Dialogues of Krishna and Arjuna
TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL
IN THE ANCIENT LANGUAGE OF THE BRAHMAN
By CHARLES WILKINS 1785
L E C T U R E. 4.
OF THE FORSAKING OF WORK.
(The Way of Knowledge)
L E C T U R E IV.
OF THE FORSAKING OF WORKS.
THIS never-failing discipline I formerly taught unto Vivasvān, and Vivasvān communicated it to Manu, and Manu made it known to Ikṣvāku; being delivered down from one unto another, it was studied by the RajaRṛṣis; until at length, in the course of time, the mighty art was lost: It is even the same discipline which I have this day communicated unto thee, because thou art my servant and my friend. It is an ancient and a supreme mystery.
Seeing thy birth is posterior to the life of Ikṣvāku, how am I to understand that thou hadst been formerly the teacher of this doctrine?
Both I and thou have passed many births. Mine are known unto me; but thou knowest not of thine. Although I am not in my nature subject to birth or decay, and am the lord of all created beings; yet, having
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command over my own nature, I am made evident by my own power; and as often as there is a decline of virtue, and an insurrection of vice and injustice, in the world, I make myself evident ; and thus I appear, from age to age, for the preservation of the just, the destruction of the wicked, and the establishment of virtue.
He, O Arjuna, who, from conviction, acknowledgeth my divine birth and actions to be even so, doth not, upon his quitting his mortal frame, enter into another, for he entereth into me. Many who were free from affection, fear, and anger, and, filled with my spirit, depended upon me, having been purified by the power of wisdom, have entered into me.· I assist those men who in all things walk in my path, even as they serve me.
Those who wish for success to their works in this life, worship the Devatās. That which is achieved in this life, from works, speedily cometh to pass.
Mankind was created by me of four kinds, distinct in their principles, and in their duties. Know me then to be the creator of mankind, uncreated, and without decay. Works affect not me, nor have I any expectations from the fruits of works. He who believeth me to be even so is not bound by works. The ancients, who longed for
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eternal salvation, having discovered this, still performed works. Wherefore perform thou works, even as they were performed by the ancients in former times. The learned even are puzzled to determine what is work, and what is not. I will tell thee what that work is, by knowing which thou wilt be delivered from misfortune.. It may be defined--action, improper action, and inaction. The path of action is full of darkness.
He who may behold, as it were, inaction in action, and action in inaction, is wise amongst mankind. He is a perfect performer of all duty.
Wise men call him a Pundit, whose every undertaking is free from the idea of desire, and whole actions are consumed by the fire of wisdom. He abandoneth the desire of a reward of his actions; he is always contented and independent; and although he may be engaged in a work, he, as it were, doeth nothing. He is unsolicitous, of a subdued mind and spirit, and exempt from every perception; and as he doeth only the offices of the body, he committeth no offence. He is pleased with whatever he may by chance obtain; he hath gotten the better of duplicity, and he is free from envy. He' is the same in prosperity and adversity;· and although he acteth, he is not confined in the action. The work of him, who hath
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lost all anxiety for the event who is freed from the bonds of action, and standeth with his mind subdued by spiritual wisdom, and who performeth it for the sake of worship, cometh altogether unto nothing. God is the gift of charity ; God is the offering; God is in the fire of the altar ; by God is the sacrifice performed; and God is to be obtained by him who maketh God alone the object of his works.
Some of the devout attend to the worship of the Devatās, or angels ; others, with offerings, direct their worship unto God in the fire; others sacrifice their ears, and other organs, in the fire of constraint; whilst some sacrifice found, and the like, in the fire of their organs. Some again sacrifice the actions of all their organs and faculties in the fire of self-constraint, lighted up by the spark of inspired wisdom. There are also the worshippers with offerings, and the worshippers with mortifications; and again the worshippers with enthusiastic devotion; so there are those, the wisdom of whose reading is their worship, men of subdued passions and severe manners. Some there are who sacrifice their breathing spirit, and force it downwards from its natural course; others force the spirit which is below back with the breath; and while a few, with whom these two faculties are held in great
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esteem, close up the door of each ; and there are some, who eat but by rule, who sacrifice their lives in their lives. All their different kinds of Worshippers are, by their particular modes of worship, purified from their offences. He who enjoyeth but the Amrta which is left of his offerings, obtaineth the eternal spirit -Of Brahman the supreme. This world is not for him who doth not worship; and where, o Arjuna, is there another?
A great variety of modes of worship like these are displayed in the mouth of God. Learn that they are all the offsprings of action. Being convinced of this, thou shalt obtain an eternal release; for know that the worship of spiritual wisdom is far better than the worship with offerings of thin In wisdom is to be found every work without exception. Seek then this wisdom with prostrations·, with questions, and with attention, that those learned men who see its principles may instruct: thee in its rules; which having learnt, thou shalt not again, O Son of Pāndū, fall into folly; by which thou shalt behold all nature in the spirit; that is, in me. Although thou wert the greatest of all offenders, thou shalt be able to cross the gulf of sin with the bark (boat) of wisdom. As the natural fire, O Arjuna, reduceth the wood to ashes, so may the fire of wisdom reduce all moral actions to ashes.
There is not anything in this world to be compared with wisdom for purity. He who is perfected by practice, in due time findeth it in his own soul. He who hath faith findeth wisdom; and, above all, he who hath gotten the better of his passions; and having obtained this spiritual wisdom, he shortly enjoyeth superior happiness; whilst the ignorant, and the man without faith, whose spirit is full of doubt, is loft. Neither this world, nor that which is above, nor happiness, can be enjoyed by the man of a doubting mind.. The human actions have no power to confine the spiritual mind, which; by study; hath forsaken works, and which, by wisdom, hath cut asunder the bonds of doubt. Wherefore, O Son of Bharat, resolve _to cut asunder this doubt, offspring of ignorance, which hath taken possession of thy mind, with the edge of the wisdom of thy own soul, and arise and attach thyself to the discipline.