From Mortal Nature to Immortal Being

Many translations of the Bhagavad Gita into English stumble over the subtlety and power of the descriptions found in the 13th chapter. They get bogged down in obscure philosophical statements when they are really very direct and clear. Sri Aurobindo’s translation of certain key verses appears in Essays on the Gita at this point and can be used as a touchstone for comparing Gita translations.

The section relates to the Reality of the Eternal Being as the sole existent and actor in the universe: “He becomes all that is in the universe; that which is in us is he and all that we experience outside ourselves is he. The inward and the outward, the far and the near, the moving and the unmoving, all this he is at once. He is the subtlety of the subtle which is beyond our knowledge, even as he is the density of force and substance which offers itself to the grasp of our minds. He is indivisible and the One, but seems to divide himself in forms and creatures and appears as all these separate existences. All things can get back in him, can return in the Spirit to the indivisible unity of their self-existence. All is eternally born from him, upborne in his eternity, taken eternally back into his oneness. He is the light of all lights and luminous beyond all the darkness of our ignorance. he is knowledge and the object of knowledge….This eternal Light is in the heart of every being; it is he who is the secret knower of the field…, and presides as the Lord in the heart of things over this province and over all these kingdoms of his manifested becoming and action.”

“When man sees this eternal and universal Godhead within himself, when he becomes aware of the soul in all things and discovers the spirit in Nature, when he feels all the universe as a wave mounting in this Eternity and all that is as the one existence, he puts on the light of Godhead and stands free in the midst of the worlds of Nature. A divine knowledge and a perfect turning with adoration to this Divine is the secret of the great spiritual liberation. Freedom, love and spiritual knowledge raise us from mortal nature to immortal being.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part II, Chapter 13, The Field and Its Knower, pp. 402-403

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