arjuna uvāca –
kiṁ tad-brahma kim adhyātmaṁ kiṁ karma puruṣottama
adhibhūtaṁ ca kiṁ proktam adhidaivaṁ kim ucyate
adhiyajñaḥ kathaṁ ko’tra dehe’smin madhusūdana
prayāṇa-kāle ca kathaṁ jñeyo’si niyatātmabhiḥ
Arjuna said – O Puruṣottama! Brahma, adhyātma, karma, adhibhūta, adhidaiva and adhiyajña – what is the actual meaning of these six words? How can those persons who are self-controlled know You at the time when they depart? Please explain all this clearly.
śrī bhagavān uvāca –
akṣaraṁ brahma paramaṁ svabhāvo’dhyātmam ucyate
bhūta-bhāvodbhava karo visargaḥ karma-saṁjñitaḥ
adhibhūtaṁ kṣaro bhāvaḥ puruṣaś cādhidaivatam
adhiyajño’ham evātra dehe deha-bhṛtāṁ vara
(Śrī Bhagavān said) Parabrahma is akṣara-tattva, in other words, that principle which is eternally devoid of decay which lacks any other altered state. I am to be understood by the word ‘parabrahma’ – the eternal nature of Bhagavān possessing attributes. It should not be understood as the Brahman of the followers of the path of jñāna who is devoid of an intrinsic form, or the Paramātmā of the followers of the path of yoga. By the word adhyātmā one should not understand it to refer to the eternal nature or viśeṣa (attributes) of the transcendental substance (Brahman). By this viśeṣa, it is indicated that the pure jīva is devoid of any relationship with gross matter. From karma, the saṁsāra of a jīva is created which manifests a physical body through the gross elements. That is why karma is known as visarga – the cause of creation of living beings. That nature which is comprised of perishable ingredients is known as kṣaro-bhāva (temporary components) or adhibhūta.
anta-kāle ca mām eva smaran muktvā kalevaram
yaḥ prayāti sa mad-bhāvaṁ yāti nāsty-atra saṁśayaḥ
One who remembers Me at the time of death while giving up his body attains My nature, in other words, due to tattva-jñāna (having philosophical knowledge), he remembers Bhagavān at the time of death. He attains the nature of Bhagavān.
yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ tyajaty-ante kalevaram
taṁ tam evaiti kaunteya sadā tad-bhāva-bhāvitaḥ
One attains that state which he remembers at the time of giving up the body. Being immersed in such thoughts of that state, one achieves that principle.
tasmāt sarveṣu kāleṣu mām anusmara yudhya ca
mayy-arpita-mano buddhir mām evaiṣyasy-asaṁśayaḥ
Thus, remember Me at all times as the Parabrahma and fight, which is your natural prescribed duty. In this way, offer your resolute mind and firm intelligence to Me and you will attain Me.
abhyāsa-yoga-yuktena cetasā nānya-gāminā
paramaṁ puruṣaṁ divyaṁ yāti pārthānucintayan
Constantly contemplating on the Supreme Person with your mind without deviation, absorbed in the practice of yoga, you will attain Him. In other words, there will be no rebirth in this perishable nature.
kaviṁ purāṇam anuśāsitāram
aṇor aṇīyāṁsam anusmared yaḥ
sarvasya dhātāram acintya-rūpam
āditya-varṇaṁ tamasaḥ parastāt
Listen as I speak about meditation on the Supreme Person. His nature is omniscient and eternal. He is the Controller, extremely subtle, the creator of all things and His form is inconceivable to mundane intellect. His form eternally appears as a medium size, is self-effulgent like the sun and He is colourful. Also, He is a tattva which is beyond the material nature.
bhaktyā yukto yoga-balena caiva
bhruvor madhye prāṇam āveśya samyak
sa taṁ paraṁ puruṣam upaiti divyam
At the time of death, with a fixed mind aided by bhakti, situating the life-airs between the eyebrows through one’s prior practice of yoga, one departs and becomes close to that Divine Personality. This yoga is recommended so that one’s consciousness does not become distracted by difficulties at death.
yad akṣaraṁ veda-vido vadanti
viśanti yad yatayo vīta-rāgāḥ
yad icchanto brahmacaryaṁ caranti
tat te padaṁ saṅgraheṇa pravakṣye
Along with this process, I will speak about that principle that scholars who are conversant with the Vedas call akṣara, and those who have renounced aversion and attachment enter into. Desiring that, brahmacārīs undergo celibacy.
sarva-dvārāṇi saṁyamya mano hṛdi-nirudhya ca
mūrdhny-ādhāyātmanaḥ prāṇam āsthito yoga-dhāraṇām
oṁ ity-ekākṣaraṁ brahma vyāharan mām anusmaran
yaḥ prayāti tyajan dehaṁ sa yāti paramāṁ gatim
One who leaves the body while gradually restraining all the senses through yoga-dhāraṇā (fixed in yoga), fixing the mind in the heart, and the life-airs in the forehead – in other words, establishing it between the eyebrows, and chanting oṁ, the foundational syllable of the Vedas, such a person attains the highest goal, in the form of My abode.
ananya-cetāḥ satataṁ yo māṁ smarati nityaśaḥ
tasyāhaṁ sulabhaḥ pārtha nitya-yuktasya yoginaḥ
I have explained to you the nature of karma-mīśra-bhakti, namely karma-pradhānī-bhūta-bhakti (bhakti adulterated with karma) in relation to those in distress, the inquisitive, the desirer of wealth and the jñānī beginning with deliberation up to liberation from old age and death. And from the śloka ‘kaviṁ purāṇam’ up to now, I have explained the nature of yoga-miśra, namely yoga-pradhānī-bhūta-bhakti (bhakti adulterated with yoga). Amongst these I have give some hint in order to give some perception of exclusive bhakti. Now listen as I speak about the nature of exclusive bhakti. Those devotional yogīs who remember Me with unswerving consciousness who are eternally connected to Me, attain Me. In other words, you should know that I am rarely achieved by those who practice adulterated bhakti.
mām upetya punar janma duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam
nāpnuvanti mahātmānaḥ saṁsiddhiṁ paramāṁ gatāḥ
All devotional yogīs do not receive another birth which is temporary and full of misery. This is because they have attained supreme perfection. The characteristic of exclusive bhakti is having an unswerving consciousness. Rejecting their dependence on yoga, jñāna etc., one should take exclusive refuge in Me. Such a person performs pure bhakti.
ābrahma-bhuvanāl lokāḥ punar āvartino’rjuna
mām upetya tu kaunteya punar janma na vidyate
From Brahmaloka, i.e. Satyaloka, all planets are temporary and it is possible that the jīvas of those plants must take birth again. But he who takes refuge in Me as the object of pure bhakti, is never reborn. It has been stated in relation to karma-yogīs, aṣṭāṅga-yogīs and those that take shelter of adulterated bhakti, that they never take birth again. The meaning of this is that pure bhakti is the ultimate result or perfection of all these processes. They gradually achieve pure bhakti and are delivered from taking birth again.
sahasra-yuga-paryantam aharyad brahmaṇo viduḥ
rātriṁ yuga-sahasrāntāṁ te’ho-rātra-vido janāḥ
A thousand (catur) yugas of a human being is one day of Brahmā. And a thousand such yugas are one of his nights. In this way, after living for a hundred years, Brahma comes down. When that Brahma is devoted to Bhagavān, he achieves liberation. When this is the destination of Brahmā, then the state of fearlessness attained by a sannyāsī residing on that planet is not eternal.
avyaktād vyaktayaḥ sarvāḥ prabhavanty-ahar-āgame
rātry-āgame pralīyante tatraivāvyakta-saṁjñake
bhūta-grāmaḥ sa evāyaṁ bhūtvā bhūtvā pralīyate
rātry-āgame’vaśaḥ pārtha prabhavaty-ahar-āgame
The temporary nature amongst the Devas, animals and humans situated in the three worlds is greater because at the end of Brahmā’s night, they all all manifest from an unmanifest state. When night comes again, they merge into that unmanifest reality. All moving and non-moving living beings who are born during the division of Brahmā’s day, attain dissolution during at night.
paras tasmāt tu bhāvo’nyo’vyakto’vyaktāt sanātanaḥ
yaḥ sa sarveṣu bhūteṣu naśyatsu na vinaśyati
From the unmanifest state there is another which is superior and eternal. That state is not destroyed even when all living beings are annihilated.
avyakto’kṣara ity-uktas tam āhuḥ paramāṁ gatim
yaṁ prāpya na nivartante tad dhāma paramaṁ mama
That unmanifest state is called akṣara (imperishable). It is the highest destination for all beings. Amongst that which is unmanifest, you should know this to be My abode, and having achieved it, a jīva never returns.
puruṣaḥ sa paraḥ pārtha bhaktyā labhyas tv-ananyayā
yasyāntaḥ sthāni bhūtāni yena sarvam idaṁ tatam
Situated in that unmanifest state, the Supreme Person is achieved by exclusive bhakti. O Pārtha, all beings exist within that Personality, and as that Personality, I enter into everything in the form of Antaryāmī (the indwelling monitor).
yatra kāle tv-anāvṛttim āvṛttiṁ caiva yoginaḥ
prayātā yānti taṁ kālaṁ vakṣyāmi bharatarṣabha
My exclusive devotees attain Me without difficulty. But for those who have not achieved exclusive bhakti to Me, and rely upon karma, jñāna etc. they attain Me only after undergoing various difficulties. Their time and path of leaving is limited by place and time. Listen as I describe this. I will describe when yogīs do not return at the time of death, and when they do return at the time of death.
agnir-jyotir ahaḥ śuklaḥ ṣaṇ-māsā uttarāyaṇam
tatra prayātā gacchanti brahma brahma-vido janāḥ
Those persons who are knowers of Brahman give up their bodies at the time of fire and light, on an auspicious day during uttarāyaṇa (when the sun travels north) and they attain Brahman. By the words ‘ fire’ (agni) and ‘ light’ (jyoti), the Devatā who presides over light is inferred. The word ‘day’ (ahaḥ) refers to the Devatā who presides over the day. The word ‘white’ (śukla) indicates the Devatā who is in charge of the waxing lunar fortnight. The phrase ‘northern movement’ (uttarāyaṇa) is understood to refer to the Devatā who governs the uttarāyaṇa. In other words, at this time, by satisfying the mind, senses etc. with all these things, a yogī attains Brahman. If they achieve death at this time, yogīs do not take birth again.
dhūmo rātris tathā kṛṣṇaḥ ṣaṇ-māsā dakṣiṇāyanam
tatra cāndramasaṁ jyotir yogī prāpya nivartate
Through the presiding Devatās of smoke, the night, the waning lunar fortnight, during the six months of dakṣiṇāyaṇa (when the sun travels south), by the light of the moon and by the actions of the senses, the karma-yogī attains the path of return.
śukla-kṛṣṇe gatī hy-ete jagataḥ śāśvate mate
ekayā yāty-anāvṛttim anyayāvartate punaḥ
Light and darkness are the two eternal destinations, or paths in this world. Through th epath of light there is no return, and through the path of darkness one must return.
naite sṛtī pārtha jānan yogī muhyati kaścana
tasmāt sarveṣu kāleṣu yoga-yukto bhavārjuna
Being aware of the philosophical differences between these two paths, and taking support from the path of bhakti-yoga which transcends both, a person is never bewildered at any time. In other words, knowing the difficulties of both paths, he takes shelter of exclusive bhakti. O Arjuna, you must take support from this yoga.
vedeṣu yajñeṣu tapaḥsu caiva
dāneṣu yat puṇya-phalaṁ pradiṣṭam
atyeti tat sarvam idaṁ viditvā
yogī paraṁ sthānam upaiti cādyam
By taking support of bhakti-yoga, you will not be cheated of any result. Through bhakti-yoga you will achieve the original, supreme abode and the results of studying the Vedas, performing yajñas, austerities, giving charity etc. as well as surpassing the results of all kinds of karma and jñāna.
Exclusive bhakti is superior to all else – this is determined in this chapter.
Thus ends Chapter Eight entitled Tāraka-Brahma Yoga from the conversation between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna in the Upaniṣad known as Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā, the yoga-śāstra of divine knowledge, from the Bhīṣma-parva of Mahābhārata, the literature revealed by Vyāsa in one hundred thousand verses.
Thus ends the translation and commentary of the eighth chapter