Mercury Day Poetry: The Bhagavad Gita

This week’s poem was an easy choice. I’ve been busy preparing to teach a new, revised version of my writing class this fall, and I’ve decided to use Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the Bhagavad Gita as my main text. Although there are many English translations of the Gita, I chose Mitchell’s because, well, because he keeps it in verse form (trimeter quatrains, actually). Also, I’ll be teaching college freshmen–new writers–and Mitchell takes care not to burden his text with commentary and notes. It’s user-friendly.

For me, the most awesome parts of the Gita are the moments when God describes His own nature to Arjuna. This passage (somewhere around 7.7-12) is one of my favorites.


There is nothing more fundamental

than I, Arjuna; all worlds,

all beings, are strung upon me

like pearls on a single thread.


I am the taste in the water,

the light in the moon and sun,

the sacred syllable Om

in the Vedas, the sound in air.


I am the fragrance of the earth,

the manliness in men, the brilliance

in fire, the life in the living,

and the abstinence in ascetics.


I am the primal seed

within all beings, Arjuna:

the wisdom of those who know,

the splendor of the high and mighty.


I am the strength of the strong man

who is free of desire and attachment;

I am desire itself

when desire is consistent with duty.


All states of being, whether

marked by sattva or rajas

or tamas, proceed from me;

they are in me, not I in them.


Posted by Bobbie

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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