Mahabharata Bhishma Parva Chapter 26:3

Mahabharata Bhishma Parva (Bhagavat-Gita Parva) Chapter 26:3
Bhagavad Gita Chapter II

Thy enemies, decrying thy prowess, will say many words which should not be said. What can be more painful than that? Slain, thou wilt attain to heaven; or victorious, thou wilt enjoy the Earth. Therefore, arise, O son of Kunti, resolved for battle. Regarding pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat, as equal, do battle for battle's sake and sin will not be thine.[1] This knowledge, that hath been communicated to thee is (taught) in the Sankhya (system). Listen now to that (inculcated) in Yoga (system). Possessed of that knowledge, thou, O Partha, wilt cast off the bonds of action. In this (the Yoga system) there is no waste of even the first attempt. There are no impediments. Even a little of this (form of) piety delivers from great fear.[2] Here in this path, O son of Kuru, there is only one state of mind, consisting in firm devotion (to one object, viz., securing emancipation). The minds of those, however, that are not firmly devoted (to this), are many-branched (un-settled) and attached to endless pursuits.

That flowery talk which, they that are ignorant, they that delight in the words of the Vedas, they, O Partha, that say that there is nothing else, they whose minds are attached to worldly pleasures, they that regard (a) heaven (of pleasures and enjoyments) as the highest object of acquisition,—utter and promises birth as the fruit of action and concerns itself with multifarious rites of specific characters for the attainment of pleasures and power,—delude their hearts and the minds of these men who are attached to pleasures and power cannot be directed to contemplation (of the divine being) regarding it as the sole means of emancipation.[3] The Vedas are concerned with three qualities, (viz., religion, profit, and pleasure). Be thou, O Arjuna, free from them, unaffected by pairs of contraries (such as pleasure and pain, heat and cold, etc.), ever adhering to patience without anxiety for new acquisitions or protection of those already acquired, and self-possessed, whatever objects are served by a tank or well, may all be served by a vast sheet of water extending all around; so whatever objects may be served by all the Vedas, may all be had by a Brahmana having knowledge (of self or Brahma).[4] Thy concern is with work only, but not with the fruit (of work). Let not the fruit be thy motive for work; nor let thy inclination be for inaction. Staying in devotion, apply thyself to work, casting off attachment (to it), O Dhananjaya, and being the same in success or unsuccess. This equanimity is called Yoga (devotion). Work (with desire of fruit) is far inferior to devotion, O Dhananjaya. Seek thou the protection of devotion. They that work for the sake of fruit are miserable. He also that hath devotion throws off, even in this world, both good actions and bad actions. Therefore, apply thyself to devotion. Devotion is only cleverness in action.



  1. Most texts read Yudhaya Yujyaswa. A manuscript belonging to a friend of mine has the correction in red-ink, Yudhaya Yudhaya Yudhaywa. It accords so well with the spirit of the lesson sought to be inculcated here that I make no scruple to adopt it.
  2. A life in this world that is subject to decay and death. So say all the commentators.
  3. What Krishna seeks to inculcate here is the simple truth that persons who believe in the Vedas and their ordinances laying down specific acts for the attainment of a heaven of pleasure and power, cannot have the devotion without which there cannot be final emancipation which only is the highest bliss. The performance of Vedic rites may lead to heaven of pleasure and power, but what is that heaven worth? True emancipation is something else which must be obtained by devotion, by pure contemplation. In rendering Janma-Karma-phalapradam I have followed Sankara. Sreedhara and other commentators explain it differently.
  4. This sloka has been variously rendered by various translators. It is the same that occurs in the Sanat-Sujata Parva of the Udyoga. (Vide Udyoga Parva, Section XLV). Both Sreedhara and Sankara (and I may mention Anandagiri also) explain it in this way. Shortly stated, the meaning is that to an instructed Brahmana (Brahma-knowing person and not a Brahmana by birth), his knowledge (of self or Brahma) teaches him that which is obtainable from all the Vedas, just as a man wanting to bathe or drink may find a tank or well as useful to him as a large reservoir of water occupying an extensive area. Nilakantha explains it in a different way.