Publisher’s Note: The translation of the Gita presented here was compiled mainly from Sri Aurobindo’s “Essays on the Gita”. It first appeared in “The Message of the Gita”, edited by Anilbaran Roy, in 1938. Sri Aurobindo approved this book for publication; however, he made it clear in one of his letters that the translations in the Essays were “more explanatory than textually precise or cast in a literary style”. Many of them are paraphrases rather than strict translations.
Sri Aurobindo also wrote that he did not wish extracts from the Essays “to go out as my translation of the Gita”. This should be borne in mind by the reader as he makes use of this translation, which has been provided as a bridge between the Gita and Sri Aurobindo’s Essays.
1. The Blessed Lord said: Hear, O Partha, how by practising Yoga with a mind attached to me and with me as ashraya (the whole basis, lodgement, point of resort of the conscious being and action) thou shalt know me without any remainder of doubt, integrally.
2. I will speak to thee without omission or remainder the essential knowledge, attended with all the comprehensive knowledge, by knowing which there shall be no other thing here left to be known.
3. Among thousands of men one here and there strives after perfection, and of those who strive and attain to perfection one here and there knows me in all the principles of my existence.
4. The five elements (conditions of material being), mind (with its various senses and organs), reason, ego, this is my eightfold divided Nature.
5. This the lower. But know my other Nature different from this, O mighty-armed, the supreme which becomes the Jiva and by which this world is upheld.
6. Know this to be the womb of all beings. I am the birth of the whole world and so too its dissolution.
7. There is nothing else supreme beyond Me, O Dhananjaya. On Me all that is here is strung like pearls upon a thread.
8. I am taste in the waters, O son of Kunti, I am the light of sun and moon, I am pranava (the syllable OM) in all the Vedas, sound in ether and manhood in men.
9. I am pure scent in earth and energy of light in fire; I am life in all existences, I am the ascetic force of those who do askesis.
10. Know me to be the eternal seed of all existences, O son of Pritha. I am the intelligence of the intelligent, the energy of the energetic.
11. I am the strength of the strong devoid of desire and liking. I am in beings the desire which is not contrary to dharma, O Lord of the Bharatas.
12. And as for the secondary subjective becomings of Nature, bhavah (states of mind, affections of desire, movements of passion, the reactions of the senses, the limited and dual play of reason, the turns of the feeling and moral sense), which are sattwic, rajasic and tamasic, they are verily from me, but I am not in them, it is they that are in me.
13. By these three kinds of becoming which are of the nature of the gunas, this whole world is bewildered and does not recognise Me supreme beyond them and imperishable.
14. This is my divine Maya of the gunas and it is hard to overcome; those cross beyond it who approach Me.
15. The evil-doers attain not to Me, souls bewildered, low in the human scale; for their knowledge is left away from them by Maya and they resort to the nature of being of the Asura.
16. Among the virtuous ones who turn towards Me (the Divine) with devotion, O Arjuna, there are four kinds of bhaktas, the suffering, the seeker for good in the world, the seeker for knowledge, and those who adore Me with knowledge, O Lord of the Bharatas.
17. Of those the knower, who is ever in constant union with the Divine, whose bhakti is all concentrated on Him, is the best, he loves Me perfectly and is My beloved.
18. Noble are all these without exception, but the knower is verily my self: for as his highest goal
he accepts Me, the Purushottama with whom he is in union.
19. At the end of many births the man of knowledge attains to Me. Very rare is the great soul who knows that Vasudeva, the omnipresent Being, is all that is.
20. Men are led away by various outer desires which take from them the working of the inner knowledge, they resort to other godheads and they set up this or that rule, which satisfies the need of their nature.
21. Whatever form of Me any devotee with faith desires to worship, I make that faith of his firm and undeviating.
22. He endowed with that faith worships that form; and when by the force of that faith in his cult and worship he gets his desires, it is I myself who (in that form) give these fruits.
23. But these fruits are temporary, sought after by those who are of petty intelligence and unformed reason. To the gods go the worshippers of the gods, but my devotees come to Me.
24. Petty minds think of Me, the unmanifest, as being limited by manifestation, because they know not my supreme nature of being, imperishable, most perfect.
25. Nor am I revealed to all, enveloped in My Yoga-maya; this bewildered world knows Me not, the unborn, the imperishable.
26. I know all past and all present and future existences, O Arjuna, but Me none yet knows.
27. By the delusion of the dualities which arises from wish and disliking, O Bharata, all existences in the creation are led into bewilderment.
28. But those men of virtuous deeds, in whom sin is come to an end, they, freed from the
delusion of the dualities, worship Me, steadfast in the vow of self-consecration.
29. Those who have resort to Me as their refuge, those who turn to Me in their spiritual effort towards release from age and death (from the mortal being and its limitations), come to know that Brahman and all the integrality of the spiritual nature and the entirety of Karma.
30. Because they know Me and know at the same time the material and the divine nature of being and the truth of the Master of sacrifice, they keep knowledge of Me also in the critical moment of their departure from physical existence and have at that moment their whole consciousness in union with Me (the Purushottama).
as translated by
in: SABCL, volume 13 “Essays on the Gita, with Sanskrit Text and Translation of the Gita”
pages 648- 655
published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram – Pondicherry