Chapter 12

Arjuna wishes to learn from Sri Krishna about the two paths: the path that leads to the Unmanifest and the path that leads to the personal God – which is the better of the two? Sri Krishna’s answer is that each path, devotedly and faithfully followed, leads to the Goal. But the path of meditating on the Unmanifested or the Formless aspect of God is more difficult because the physical body binds us to the material world. Then Sri Krishna goes on to say that, ?Those who, laying all their actions on Me, intent on me, worship Me, with unswerving devotion, I straightway deliver from the ocean of death-bound existence. (12.5-7)

Sri Krishna says that the path of meditation is difficult, the path of selfless service is difficult and the path inspired by love and devotion is difficult. But there is one more path, which is extremely easy to follow. In this path, one has merely to renounce the fruit of action; We need only offer the fruits of our work to the Lord.

Sri Krishna then describes who his true devotees are, ?Those who with faith, holding Me as their supreme aim, are ever content, even minded, self-controlled, unshakable in determination, with mind and understanding given up to Me, – those devotees are exceedingly dear to Me.?


(The following English translation is taken from ‘A Sourcebook in Indian Philosophy’ Edited by S. Radhakrishnan and Charles A. Moore. 1957 Princeton University Press)

Chapter 12: Worship of the Personal Lord is Better Than Meditation on the Absolute

Devotion and contemplation

Arjuna said:
1. Those devotees who, thus ever harmonized, worship Thee and those, again, who worship the Imperishable and the Unmanifested-which of these have the greater knowledge of yoga?

The Blessed Lord said:
2. Those who fixing their minds on Me worship Me, ever harmonized and possessed of supreme faith-them do I consider most perfect in yoga.

3. But those who worship the Imperishable, the Undefinable, the Unmanifested, the Omnipresent, the Unthinkable, the Unchanging’ and the Immobile, the Constant,

4. By restraining all the senses, being even-minded in all conditions, rejoicing in the welfare of all creatures-they come to Me indeed [just like the others].

5. The difficulty of those whose thoughts are set on the Unmanifested is greater, for the goal of the Unmanifested is hard to reach by the embodied beings.

Different approaches

6. But those who, laying all their actions on Me, intent on Me, worship, meditating on Me, with unswerving devotion,

7. These whose thoughts are set on Me, I straightway deliver from the ocean of death-bound existence, 0 Partha (Arjuna).

8. On Me alone fix thy mind, let thy understanding dwell in Me; In Me alone shalt thou live thereafter. Of this there is no doubt.

9. If, however, thou art not able to fix thy thought steadily on Me, then seek to reach Me by the practice of concentration, 0 winner of wealth (Arjuna).

10. If thou art unable even to seek by practice, then be as one whose supreme aim is My service; even performing actions for My sake, thou shalt attain perfection.

11. If thou art not able to do even this, then, taking refuge in My disciplined activity, renounce the fruit of all action, with the self subdued.

12. Better indeed is knowledge than the practice of concentration; better than knowledge is meditation; better than meditation is the renunciation of the fruit of action; on renunciation follows immediately peace.

The true devotee

13. He who has no ill will to any being, who is friendly and compassionate, free from egoism and self-sense, even-minded in pain and pleasure, and patient,

14. The yogi who is ever content, self-controlled, unshakable in determination, with mind and understanding given up to Me-he, My devotee, is dear to Me.

15. He from whom the world does not shrink and who does not shrink from the world and who is free from joy and anger, fear and agitation-he too is dear to Me.

16. He who has no expectation, is pure, skilful in action, unconcerned, and untroubled, who has given up all initiative in action-he, My devotee, is dear to Me.

17. He who neither rejoices nor hates, neither grieves nor desires, and who has renounced good and evil-he who is thus devoted is dear to Me.

18. He who [behaves] alike to foe and friend, also to good and evil repute, and who is alike in cold and heat, pleasure and pain, and who is free from attachment,

19. He who hods equal blame and praise, who is silent [restrained in speech], content with anything that comes, who has no fixed abode and is firm in mind-that man who is devoted is dear to Me.

20. But those who with faith, holding Me as their supreme aim, follow this immortal wisdom-those devotees are exceedingly dear to Me.

This is the twelfth chapter, entitled ?The Yoga of Devotion.?