Mahabharata Bhishma Parva Chapter 28:2

Mahabharata Bhishma Parva (Bhagavat-Gita Parva) Chapter 28:2
Bhagavad Gita Chapter IV

The course of action is incomprehensible. He, who sees inaction in action and action in inaction, is wise among men; he is possessed of devotion; and he is a doer of all actions. The learned call him wise whose efforts are all free from desire (of fruit) and (consequent) will, and whose actions have all been consumed by the fire of knowledge.[1] Whoever, resigning all attachment to the fruit of action, is ever contented and is dependent on none, doth nought, indeed, although engaged in action. He who, without desire, with mind and the senses under control, and casting off all concerns, performeth action only for the preservation of the body, incurreth no sin.[2] He who is contented with what is earned without exertion, who hath risen superior to the pairs of opposites, who is without jealousy, who is equable in success and failure, is not fettered (by action) even though he works. All his actions perish who acts for the sake of sacrifice,[3] who is without affections, who is free (from attachments), and whose mind is fixed upon knowledge. Brahma is the vessel (with which the libation is poured); Brahma is the libation (that is offered); Brahma is the fire on which by Brahma is poured (the libation); Brahma is the goal to which he proceedeth by fixing his mind on Brahma itself which is the action.[4] Some devotees perform sacrifice to the gods. Others, by means of sacrifice, offer up sacrifices to the fire of Brahma.[5] Others offer up (as sacrificial libation) the senses of which hearing is the first to the fire of restraint. Others (again) offer up (as libations) the objects of sense of which sound is the first to the fire of the senses.[6] Others (again) offer up all the functions of the senses and the functions of the vital winds to the fire of devotion by self-restraint kindled by knowledge.[7] Others again perform the sacrifice of wealth, the sacrifice of ascetic austerities, the sacrifice of meditation, the sacrifice of (Vedic) study, the sacrifice of knowledge, and others are ascetics of rigid vows.[8] Some offer up the upward vital wind (Prana) to the downward vital wind (apana); and others, the downward vital wind to the upward vital wind; some, arresting the course of (both) the upward and the downward vital winds, are devoted to the restraint of the vital winds. Others of restricted rations, offer the vital winds to the vital winds.[9] Even all these who are conversant with sacrifice, whose sins have been consumed by sacrifice, and who eat the remnants of sacrifice which are amrita, attain to the eternal Brahma. (Even) this world is not for him who doth not perform sacrifice. Whence then the other, O best of Kuru's race? Thus diverse are the sacrifices occurring in the Vedas. Know that all of them result from action, and knowing this thou wilt be emancipated.



  1. 'Kama-sankalpa vivarjjitas.' i.e., freed from kama (desire of fruit) and sankalpa—the consequent will or determination to do. Thus both Sreedhara and Sankara.
  2. Chitta the mind and atma in this connection is the senses. Thus both Sreedhara and Sankara.
  3. Sacrifice means here the Supreme Soul. What is done for the sake of sacrifice is done for procuring emancipation.
  4. What is meant by this is that in the case of such a person complete identification with Brahma takes place, and when such an identification has taken place, action is destroyed.
  5. I.e., offering up sacrifice itself as a sacrifice to the Brahma fire, they cast off all action.
  6. Offering up the senses to the fire of restraint means restraining the senses for the practice of Yoga. Offering up the objects of the senses means non-attachment to those objects.
  7. Suspending the functions of life for contemplation or Yoga.
  8. In these cases the sacrifices consist in the giving away of wealth, in the ascetic austerities themselves, in meditation, in study, etc. Sreedhara explains the first compound of the second line differently. According to him, it means not study and knowledge, but the knowledge from study.
  9. All these are different kinds of Yoga, or the different stages of Yoga practice.