Over the year 2021, YOGA magazine will publish the poem Light Fire and Darkness, written by Dhiru Desai (1932– 1991)

Light Fire and Darkness

A modernized version of the Bhagavad Gita, by Dhiru Desai

A Word from the Author

In the ancient Hindu epic called the Mahabharata, the Pandavas, five brothers who epitomize good, go to battle against their one hundred cousins, the Kauravas, the forces of evil. Before the battle Arjuna, one of the Pandavas, hesitates to fight against friends and relations. Sri Krishna then expounds his philosophy, which came to be known as the Bhagavad Gita. In Light Fire and Darkness, Arjuna becomes the devotee and Sri Krishna becomes the divine voice. Chapters 1 and 11 are spoken by the devotee and the rest of the text is the divine message.

This is not a translation of the Bhagavad Gita. This is a modernized version. I am not a scholar of Sanskrit and in this work I have not used any Sanskrit words, nor have I linked it in any way to Hindu philosophy. I have tried to write in a way that is likely to appeal to one not familiar with vedic culture.

Dhiru Desai, May 14 1987, Memphis, USA



You are not the body,
you are the soul.
The body is your home
for the time being
but god is your goal;
and the bridge between the two,
your soul and your goal,
is knowledge.


The body is a mix
of ego, intellect,
mind, conscience, and
five elements:
air, space, and fire,
earth and water;
and five senses:
sight and smell,
touch and taste
and hearing;
and the organs of
and digestion;
and seven feelings:
hatred, desire,
pain, and pleasure,
cohesion, courage
and vitality.


The soul has
no beginning
and no end.
Even though it resides
in the body,
it is apart from it,
and not tainted by it.
The soul remains pure
like the clear blue sky.
As the sun gives light
to earth,
so does the soul
to the body.
At death the body
lies smouldering, but
the soul marches on.


Now I will speak to you
about knowledge.
It has as its foundations
love and truth,
humility, simplicity, service,
purity, stability, selflessness.
It is the know-how
to control the senses.
It is the suppression
of the ego.
It is the withdrawal
from thoughts about
home and family,
birth, old age, and death,
of sickness and pain,
and above all fear.


The tiger has more enemies than man
but sleeps without fear,
no gun by its side,
and so do lesser animals,
and so does an innocent little child,
then why not you?
This is knowledge,
the rest mere illusion.
One who seeks knowledge
must find truth,
and the vision of the divine;
through meditation,
in still seclusion;
must observe devotion,
and avoid distraction.


And now about god.
I am not born,
I do not die.
I have no beginning, I have no end.
I am everywhere,
I see everything.
I hear all,
sustain all,
am above all.
I am in one and all,
I am all in one.
I am the kind light
in the overcast gloom;
behind draperies
darkness shrouds the room;
draw the cords
and the sun sweeps out the dark;
so when you are down,
let me lift your heart.


And now about nature.
It is my outward
It sustains life,
all actions flow from it.
It creates illusions
of well-being.
It can free the soul
or can shackle it.
Any soul that does not
resist nature,
but yields to the senses,
will in accordance
with its actions
be reborn,
again and again.
But even such souls
will be one with god,
if all they enjoy
is offered to god.


Some reach god
through selfless actions;
some by way of meditation;
some through pursuit
of knowledge;
and some
by giving away all.


Light, fire and darkness
are the three forces
that govern nature.
Knowledge, action, inertia
are the forces that
rule human nature.
Knowledge brings yearning
for truth and happiness
and is uplifting
if not centred on
material reward
or tinged with conceit.
From action comes greed
and desire, leading to
lust, hyperaction,
deviation from duty
and mental confusion.
But action focused
on selfless duty
elevates the soul.
Inertia is not sleep,
for sleep is well-earned rest
after the day’s hard work.
From inertia
comes dawdling idleness,
sloth and delusion,
loss of memory,
neglect of duty,
and self-destruction.
One who sleeps when awake,
Keeps awake when asleep.


Where knowledge is missing,
and there is no action,
inertia takes over.
Where there is no knowledge,
nor any inertia,
action always abounds.
Where there is no action,
Yet no inertia,
Knowledge triumphs and persists.
One who dies
in a state of knowledge
is reborn among the wise.
One who dies
in a state of action
is reborn among the greedy.
And one who dies
in a state of inertia
is reborn among fools.


The fruit of knowledge
is truth and good sense,
but that of action
is unhappiness,
and that of inertia
is ignorance.
True knowledge uplifts your soul
and brings calm and peace.
Hyperaction unsettles the mind
and causes anguish.