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


The human mind
is battle ground
for two rival forces: good and evil.
The forces of good
are fearless,
believers in truth
and non-violence,
devoted to knowledge
and selfless action,
pure at heart
and clean in body,
peaceful, generous,
valiant, courageous,
soft, non-covetous,
kind, unmalicious,
sacrificing, self-denying,
austere, self-controlled,
serene, disciplined,
forgiving, stable,
studious and simple,
filled with humility
and without enmity.
When the good is victorious,
the soul becomes free
to come and join me.


The forces of evil
are ignorant and arrogant,
filled with pretence
and deceit,
pride and conceit,
cruelty and anger,
and greed and desire.
When evil takes over
the mind does not know
what to do; what not to do;
what is true and what is untrue.
With hearts impure,
their conduct unsure,
the evil lust for
wealth, pleasure, and power.
They foolishly
indulge in rituals and rejoice in vain.
In ignorance they say:
“I am victorious and wealthy
and soon I shall be
A millionaire;
I have excelled foes
and I shall crush those
who cause me woes;
I am noble and powerful,
I pay taxes and donate,
I am paymaster
to church and state,
and everywhere I call the tune.”
Filled with delusions
and ensnared by lust,
such evil persons
will reincarnate
again and again, into misery.
They enter the three gates of hell:
lust, greed, and anger
and become enslaved forever.


Human faith emanates
from the light of truth,
or the fires of desires,
or the darkness of ignorance;
and character
comes from faith.
The true offer
prayers to me,
the greedy bow to the wealthy,
and the foolish beseech
ghosts, spirits and witches.


The true enjoy food
which is clean and fresh,
energizing and nourishing,
digestible, health giving,
tasty and juicy;
food which produces
joy and contentment,
and longevity.
The greedy yearn for
food which is sour,
saline, pungent,
bitter and hot,
burning, peppery
and unsavoury;
food which produces stress,
discomfort and sickness.
The foolish feed on food
which is stale and rancid,
rotten and polluted.


The true offer sacrifice
out of mere duty,
and with no expectancy,
yearning only for the truth.
The greedy do so
out of vanity,
hoping for reward.
The foolish offer sacrifice
out of obsession, without faith,
without self-denial,
and without method,
thereby causing pain
to self and others.


A gift given
with the right person,
place and time in mind,
and without wish
for reward or result,
is a true gift;
a gift given
with hesitation
and expectation,
is a selfish gift;
and a gift given
without care,
out of contempt
and without honour,
is a false gift.


The true exercise the body
through selfless activity,
non-violence and chastity,
purity and simplicity;
they exercise speech
with love and truth
and tenderness;
and exercise the mind
through self-control, gentleness,
serenity and silence,
and through meditation.


The stable-minded
who exercise
body, speech, and mind
without selfishness
and with faith
will learn the truth.
The wise know
that truth is god,
I am that god,
the god of truth.