The Bhagavad Gita and the Environment


(translation of Juan Mascaro, Penguin Classics, 1964)

All the religions teach respect for nature
and the necessary balance of nature and spirit.
The higher purpose of life is detachment from the world of nature
and acquiring the qualities of the spiritual world.


Food is the life of all beings, and all food comes from rain above. Sacrifice brings the rain from heaven, and sacrifice is sacred action.

Forces of Nature

All actions take place in time by the interweaving of the forces of Nature; but the man lost in selfish delusion thinks that he himself is the actor.

But the man who knows the relation between the forces of Nature and actions, sees how some forces of Nature work on other forces of Nature, and becomes not their slave.

Those who are under the delusion of the forces of Nature bind themselves to the work of these forces. Let not the wise man who sees the All disturb the unwise who sees not the All.

Supreme Spirit in Nature

The visible forms of my nature are eight: earth, water, fire, air, ether; the mind, reason, and the sense of 'I'.

But beyond my visible nature is my invisible Spirit. This is the fountain of life whereby this universe has its being.

All things have their life in this Life, and I am their beginning and end.

In this whole vast universe there is nothing higher than I. All the worlds have their rest in me, as many pearls upon a string.

I am the taste of living waters and the light of the sun and the moon. I am OM, the sacred word of the Vedas, sound in silence, heroism in men.

I am the pure fragrance that comes from the earth and the brightness of fire I am. I am the life of all living beings, and the austere life of those who train their souls.

And I am from everlasting the seed of eternal life. I am the intelligence of the intelligent. I am the beauty of the beautiful.

The Creation

All this visible universe comes from my invisible Being. All beings have their rest in me, but I have not my rest in them.

And in truth they rest not in me: consider my sacred mystery. I am the source of all beings, I support them all, but I rest not in them.

Even as the mighty winds rest in the vastness of the ethereal space, all beings have their rest in me. Know thou this truth.

At the end of the night of time all things return to my nature; and when the new day of time begins I bring them again into light.

Thus through my nature I bring forth all creation, and this rolls round in the circles of time.

But I am not bound by this vast work of creation. I am and I watch the drama of works.

I watch and in its work of creation nature brings forth all that moves and moves not: and thus the revolutions of the world go round.

Nature and Spirit

Know that Prakriti, Nature, and Purusha, Spirit, are both without beginning, and that temporal changes and Gunas, conditions, come all from nature.

Nature is the source of all material things: the maker, the means of making, and the things made. Spirit is the source of all consciousness which feels pleasure and feels pain.

The spirit of man when in nature feels the ever-changing conditions of nature. When he binds himself to things ever-changing, a good or evil fate whirls him round through life-in-death.

But the Spirit Supreme in man is beyond fate. He watches, gives blessing, bears all, feels all. He is called the Lord Supreme and the Supreme Soul.

He who knows in truth this Spirit and knows nature with its changing conditions, wherever this man may be he is no more whirled round by fate.

Return to Resources page
Last updated 4 July 2010