Chapter 8

Akshara Brahma Yoga

(The Philosophy of the Imperishable Brahman)

1. Arjuna said: "O Purushottama, what is that Brahman? What is Adhyatma? What is Karma? What is called Adhibhuta? And, what is Adhidaiva?

2. "O Madhusudana, who is Adhiyajna, and how does He dwell here in the body? And how, at the time of death, art Thou to be known by the self-controlled?"

3. The Blessed Lord said: "The Supreme and the Imperishable is Brahman; Its manifestation in the individual body is Adhyatma; and the creative process whereby beings are created is Karma.

4. "Adhibhuta is My perishable form; Adhidaiva is the Supreme Divine Agent 39; and here in this body, I am Adhiyajna40 - I am all in all.

5. "Whosoever remembers Me at the time of death, merges in Me; of that there is no doubt.

6. "O Kaunteya, whatever state of being a man is immersed in at the time of death, that very state he attains.

7. "Therefore, at all times remember Me and fight. With mind and intelligence thus fixed on Me, thou shalt surely come to Me.

8. "With thoughts steadied by constant practice and mind not wandering aimlessly, he who meditates on the Supreme Being goes to Him.

9. "He who contemplates the Omniscient One, the Ancient One, the Supreme Ruler, the One minuter than an atom, the Ordainer of all, in form unthinkable, effulgent like the Sun and beyond all darkness;

10. "And, [he who], with a steadfast mind, meditates on this Resplendent and Supreme One at the time of his death, verily reaches that Divine Being.

11. "That which those who know the Vedas call the Imperishable and into which ascetics freed from desires and steeped in self-control enter - that I shall now briefly describe.

12-13. "All the gates of the body closed, mind locked in the heart 41 , vital energy confined to the head and rapt in Yogic meditation, Chanting AUM and thinking of Me - he who so departs, leaving the body, attains the Supreme Destination.

14. "I am easily attainable, O Partha, by that ever-steadfast Yogi who constantly remembers Me with undivided mind.

15. "These great souls that have reached the highest perfection come to Me and are no more subject to rebirth in this world, which is transitory and the abode of misery.

16. "The dwellers in all the worlds, from the realm of Brahma downward, are subject to rebirth, O Arjuna; but for those who reach Me, O son of Kunti, there is no further return to embodiment [for I am beyond TIME].

17. "Those who comprehend that the Cosmic day and the Cosmic night42 last a thousand cycles of Yugas, they truly know what is Day and what is Night.

18. "From the Unmanifest issue forth at the dawn of each Day all the manifested beings and at Night dissolve back into It43.

19. "O Partha, the same multitude of beings come to birth again and again; and, at the coming of Night, whether they will or not, they are dissolved only to remanifest again next [Cosmic] daybreak.

20. "But higher than this Unmanifest [into which all beings dissolve at Night], is yet another Unmanifest Being, everlasting, and which perisheth not even when all creatures are destroyed.

21. "Called the Imperishable, this Superior Unmanifest is the Ultimate Goal. For those who reach It, there is no return 44 . That [Imperishable, Superior Unmanifest] is My Supreme Abode.

22. "That Supreme Being can be attained by unswerving devotion to Him. In Him dwell all beings and by Him is all pervaded.

23. "Now I will tell thee, O Bharatanshabha, of the time at which, passing away from this world the yogis depart never to return, and also of the time at which they depart to return..

24. "The knowers of Brahman depart during the six months when the Sun blazes through the northern sky; and to Brahman they go.

25. "The lesser mortals who necessarily have to take rebirth die during the six months of the southern passage of the Sun.

26. "Thee two paths - the bright and the dark - are deemed to be the eternal paths of the world; by the one man goes never to return, and by the other he goes only to return.

27. "Knowing these two paths, O Partha, no Yogi is deluded. Therefore, O Arjuna, be steadfast in Yoga at all times.

28. "The Wise One who knows this transcends all merits accruing, for example, from the study of the scriptures, from the performance of prescribed rituals and from the offering of charity, and finally reaches the Supreme Primal Abode."

Thus in the Bhagavad Gita, the Essence of the Upanishads, the Science of Brahman, the Scripture of Yoga, the Dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjuna, ends the eighth chapter, entitled:



40The spirit of sacrifice.
42i.e., the day and the night of Brahma, the Creator.
43The Unmanifest.
44To the manifested Universe.