The Bhagavad Gita Pocket Edition (Transliteration, Text and Commentary)

by Swami Sivananda

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Book Code: ES90
Paperback: viii+211 pages
Book Dimensions: 6.3 x 4.5 x 0.40 inches
Shipping Weight: 140 grams

Abandoning all duties, take refuge in Me alone;
I will liberate thee from all sins; grieve not. —Lord Krishna

Table of Contents

About This Book (Back Cover)  
Foreword vii
Preface 1
Introduction 3
Gita Mahatmya 7
Gita Dhyanam 12
1 The Yoga of the Despondency of Arjuna 17
2 Sankhya Yoga 29
3 The Yoga of Action 48
4 The Yoga of Wisdom 61
5 The Yoga of Renunciation of Action 72
6 The Yoga of Meditation 81
7 The Yoga of Wisdom and Realisation 93
8 The Yoga of the Imperishable Brahman 101
9 The Yoga of the Kingly Science and Kingly Secret 110
10 The Yoga of Divine Glories 118
11 The Yoga of the Vision of the Cosmic Form 128
12 The Yoga of Devotion 144
13 The Yoga of Distinction Between the Field and the Knower of the Field 151
14 The Yoga of the Division of the Three Gunas 161
15 The Yoga of the Supreme Secret 169
16 The Yoga of the Division Between the Divine and the Demoniacal 176
17 The Yoga of the Division of the Threefold Faith 182
18 The Yoga of Liberation by Renunciation 190
Study or the Gita 205
Mantras for Japa 210

About This Book

The Bhagavad Gita is one of the world-scriptures today. It guides the lives of people all over the world. Mahatma Gandhi regarded it as the “Mother”, to whom the children (humanity) turned when in distress. Sri Swami Sivananda wants us to study daily at least one discourse of the scripture, so that its great lessons are ever fresh in our memory.

Each discourse has been preceded by a short summary giving the substance of that discourse in a nutshell.


Dedicated to
Bhagavan Vyasa
Lord Krishna
Avatara of Lord Vishnu
Flute-Bearer of Brindavan
Joy of Devaki, Beloved of Radha
Redeemer of the Fallen
Friend of Arjuna
The Lakshya of the Devotees


The modern man in this present decade of the second half of the 20th century is greatly in need of an effective guide to light. He is groping. He sees only problems everywhere and no solutions are to be found anywhere. He does not know which way to turn, what course to adopt and how to move towards a better state of things. Therefore his life is filled with restlessness, unhappiness and complication. The Bhagavad Gita contains words of wisdom and practical teachings that contain the answers to the abovementioned condition of the present-day human individual.

The Bhagavad Gita is a message addressed to each and every human individual to help him or her to solve the vexing problem of overcoming the present and progressing towards a bright future. This holy scripture is not just an “old scripture”, nor is it just a book of “religious teachings”, nor even a Hindu holy book. It transcends the bounds of any particular religion or race, and is actually divine wisdom addressed to mankind for all times, in order to help human beings face and solve the ever-present problems of birth and death, of pain, suffering, fear, bondage, love and hate. It enables man to liberate himself from all limiting factors and reach the state of perfect inner balance, inner stability and mental peace, complete freedom from grief, fear and anxiety. Within its eighteen chapters is revealed a human drama. This is the experience of everyone in this world, the drama of the ascent of man from a state of utter dejection, sorrow and total breakdown and hopelessness to a state of perfect clarity, understanding, renewed strength and triumph.

Each discourse holds for you an invaluable new lesson and imparts a new understanding of yourself in a marvellous way. The mystery of man, this world and God is explained as perhaps nowhere else. The workings of your mind—the real problem to your welfare and happiness—how to overcome it, what the path to blessedness is, as also the path to perdition, the secret of self-mastery and the way to peace amidst your duties and activities—all these and more you will find in this great treasure. It is yours by which to enrich your life.

To the Western reader I would suggest that he carefully reads through the entire book once. Then he should commence it a second time. Upon the second reading he should adopt the method of selectivity, not in reading but in what he takes from it. Such things as seem to be particularly Hindu and therefore, perhaps, not acceptable to him as a person of another faith, he can just pass by without being perturbed. But everything else that is of a purely philosophical, psychological, ethical and psychical nature,—all these he can grasp and assimilate fully. He will be wonderfully enriched and supremely blessed. His life will become new from that moment. All the clouds will vanish. Light will fill the heart and mind. I assure him of this. This is the Gita.

I commend this wonderful gift of God unto every man and woman, towards his or her supreme blessedness and highest welfare.

Swami Chidananda
2nd OCTOBER 1981


In the whole world-literature there is no book so elevating and inspiring as the Gita. It expounds very lucidly the cardinal principles or the fundamentals of the Hindu religion and Hindu Dharma. It is the source of all wisdom. It is your great guide. It is your supreme teacher. It is an inexhaustible spiritual treasure. It is an ocean of knowledge. It is a fountain of bliss. It is full of divine splendour and grandeur.

The Gita is the cream of the Vedas. It is the very essence of the Upanishads. It is a universal scripture for people of all temperaments and for all times.

Man is a composite of three fundamental factors—feeling, cognition and will. People have three different kinds of temperaments—the active temperament, the emotional and the rational. So there are three Yogas—Jnana Yoga for the man of enquiry and self-analysis or rational temperament, Bhakti Yoga for the man of emotional temperament, and Karma Yoga for the man of active temperament. One Yoga is as efficacious as the other. The Gita formulates the theory of the three paths: that of Jnana, Bhakti and Karma. According to its teachings, there are no conflicts among the three. It harmonises the philosophy of action, devotion and knowledge. All three must be blended harmoniously if you wish to attain perfection. You should have the head of Sri Sankara, the heart of Lord Buddha and the hand of Janaka.

The central teaching of the Gita is the attainment of the final beatitude of life or perfection or freedom by doing the duties of life. This can be achieved through non-attachment to the fruits of actions.

The eighteen chapters of the Gita are not woven in a disconnected or discordant manner. There is intimate relationship or vital connection between one chapter and another. Arjuna was very despondent, and the teachings of the second chapter, which bespeak of the immortality of the soul, opened his eyes and gave him strength and courage. Arjuna then understood the technique of Karma Yoga and renunciation of the fruits of actions. Then he learnt the methods to control the senses and the mind and to practise concentration and meditation. Then the Lord gave a description of His various manifestations in order to prepare him for the vision of the Cosmic Form. After Arjuna experienced the magnificent Cosmic Vision, he understood the nature of a Jivanmukta or Bhagavata. Then he had knowledge of the Field and the Knower of the Field, of the three Gunas and the Purushottama. Then he had knowledge of the divine attributes and the three kinds of faith, and the essence of Sannyasa Yoga in the end. Finally, Arjuna exclaimed: “O my Lord! my delusion has been destroyed. I have attained knowledge through Thy Grace. I am now firm. All my doubts have vanished completely. I shall act according to Thy word.”

Attachment is due to Moha (infatuation). Attachment is the offspring of the quality of Rajas (passion). Attachment is born of ignorance, selfishness and passion. Attachment brings death while non-attachment brings wisdom. Attachment to God or the Atman is a potent antidote to annihilate all worldly attachments. He who has no attachment can really love others. He has pure love in action. Thus he will reach the Self.

Swami Sivananda


Dhritarashtra and Pandu were brothers. Dhritarashtra married Gandhari, and Pandu was married to Kunti and Madri. King Pandu was cursed for a sin while hunting, due to which he was not permitted to unite with his wife. Kunti got a boon through her sincere service of a wise sage in her younger age, and she begot three children, namely, Yudhisthira, Bhima and Arjuna from Yama, Vayu and Indra respectively. Madri had twins, Nakula and Sahadeva, through the celestial physicians called Asvini-Devatas. Dhritarashtra had a hundred and one children by his wife Gandhari. Pandu passed away and his sons, the Pandavas, were all brought up by Dhritarashtra along with his sons known as Kauravas. The Pandavas and Kauravas grew up together, but due to the braveness and intelligence of the former, the Kauravas were unable to tolerate them. Hence the Pandavas decided to live separately, sharing half of their kingdom.

The Pandavas’ pomp, wealth and glory displayed during the Rajasuya Yajna aroused deep jealousy and greed in the mind of Duryodhana, the chief of the Kauravas, who, with the cunning advice of his uncle, Sakuni, invited Yudhisthira to a game of dice and fraudulently defeated him, whereby all his wealth and possessions, including Draupadi, were lost. Finally, it was settled that the Pandavas, including Draupadi, should repair to the forest for twelve years in exile, after which they had to live incognito for another year, untraced by the Kauravas. During this period the kingdom was to be ruled by the wicked Duryodhana.

Having successfully completed these thirteen years of exile, facing many obstacles and dangers instigated by the Kauravas, the Pandavas, as per the terms of the agreement, approached the Kauravas for their share of the kingdom. Duryodhana, however, flatly refused to part with as much land as could be covered by the point of a needle. According to the advice of Mother Kunti and with the inspiration of Lord Krishna, the Pandavas decided upon war and tried to establish their rightful claim on the kingdom by overcoming the Kauravas.

Duryodhana and Arjuna, from the side of the Kauravas and Pandavas respectively, were sent to Dwaraka to seek the help of the Yadava hero, Lord Krishna, in the battle. They both found Krishna resting on a couch in His palace. Duryodhana went in and occupied a seat at the head of the couch while Arjuna stood near the feet of the Lord. The moment Sri Krishna opened His eyes, He naturally saw Arjuna first, and then Duryodhana sitting on a chair. After enquiry of their welfare and the purpose of their visit, Sri Krishna, according to the prevailing custom, gave the first choice to Arjuna, because of his age, and also because of His sight of Arjuna first. Krishna asked Arjuna to fulfil his desire by selecting Him unarmed or His powerful army called Narayani Sena. Arjuna, who was a devotee of Sri Krishna, expressed his desire to have the Lord with him, neglecting the powerful Narayani Sena, even though Krishna warned that He would remain a witness, bound by the vow of not participating in battle and not taking up arms. Duryodhana, with great delight, thinking that Arjuna was foolish, expressed his wish for the powerful army to help his side in the battle.

When Krishna asked Arjuna why he chose Him when He was not for taking up arms, Arjuna said, “O Lord! You have the power to destroy all the forces by a mere sight. Why then should I prefer that worthless army? I have for a long time been cherishing a desire in my heart that you should act as my charioteer. Kindly fulfil my desire in this war.”

The Lord, who is ever the most devoted lover of His devotees, accepted his request with pleasure; and thus Krishna became the charioteer of Arjuna in the battle of the Mahabharata.

After the return of Duryodhana and Arjuna from Dwaraka, Lord Krishna Himself went once to Hastinapura as the emissary of the Pandavas and tried to prevent the war. But then, under the guidance of Sakuni, the egoistic Duryodhana refused to agree to the peace mission and tried to imprison Lord Krishna, at which Krishna showed His Supreme Form (Viswarupa). Even the blind Dhritarashtra saw it by the Lord’s Grace. King Dhritarashtra, due to his attachment to his sons, failed to control them, and the Kaurava chief, Duryodhana, with vain hope, decided to meet the powerful Pandavas in war.

When both sides were prepared to commence the battle, the sage Veda Vyasa approached blind Dhritarashtra and said, “If you wish to see this terrible carnage with your own eyes I can give you the gift of vision.” The Kaurava king replied, “O Chief of the Brahmarishis! I have no desire to see with my own eyes this slaughter of my family, but I should like to hear all the details of the battle.”

Then the sage conferred the gift of divine vision on Sanjaya, the trusty counsellor of the king, and told the king, “Sanjaya will describe to you all the incidents of the war. Whatever happens in the course of the war, he will directly see, hear or otherwise come to know. Whether an incident takes place before his eyes or behind his back, during the day or during the night, privately or in public, and whether it is reduced to actual action or appears only in thought, it will not remain hidden from his view. He will come to know everything, exactly as it happens. No weapon will touch his body nor will he feel tired.”

After the ten days of continued war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, when the great warrior Bhishma was thrown down from his chariot by Arjuna, Sanjaya announces the news to Dhritarashtra. In agony the king asks Sanjaya to narrate the full details of the previous ten days war, from the very beginning, in all detail as it happened. Here commences the Bhagavad Gita.

Gita Mahatmya
Glory of the Gita

Sri Ganeshaaya Namah!
Sri Gopaalakrishnaaya Namah!

Prostrations to Sri Ganesha!
Prostrations to Sri Krishna, the lover of Radha!


Bhagavan paramesaana bhaktiravyabhichaarinee;
Praarabdham bhujyamaanasya katham bhavati he prabho.

The Earth said:

1. O Bhagavan, the Supreme Lord! How can unflinching devotion arise in him who is immersed in his Prarabdha Karmas (worldly life), O Lord?

Sri Vishnuruvaacha:

Praarabdham bhujyamaano hi geetaabhyaasaratah sadaa;
Sa muktah sa sukhee loke karmanaa nopalipyate

Lord Vishnu said:

2. Though engaged in the performance of worldly duties, one who is regular in the study of the Gita, becomes free. He is the happy man in this world. He is not bound by Karma.

Mahaapaapaadipaapaani geetadhyaanam karoti chet;
Kwachit sparsam na kurvanti nalineedalam ambuvat.

3. Just as the water stains not the lotus leaf, even so sins do not taint him who is regular in the recitation of the Gita.

Geetayaah pustakam yatra yatra paathah pravartate;
Tatra sarvaani teerthaani prayaagaadeeni tatra vai.

4. All the sacred places of pilgrimage, like Prayag, etc., dwell in that place where the book, the Gita is kept, and where the Gita is read.

Sarve devaascha rishayo yoginah pannagaascha ye;
Gopaalaa gopikaa vaapi naaradoddhavapaarshadaih.

5. All the gods, sages, Yogins, divine serpents, Gopalas, Gopikas (friends and devotees of Lord Krishna), Narada, Uddhava and others (dwell here).

Sahaayo jaayate seeghram yatra geetaa pravartate;
Yatra geetaavichaarascha pathanam paathanam srutam;
Tatraaham nischitam prithvi nivasaami sadaiva hi.

6. Help comes quickly where the Gita is recited and, O Earth! I dwell at all times where the Gita is read, heard, taught and contemplated upon.

Geetaasraye’ham tishthaami geetaa me chottamam griham;
Geetaajnaanam upaasritya treen lokaan paalayaamyaham.

7. I take refuge in the Gita, and the Gita is My best abode. I protect the three worlds with the knowledge of the Gita.

Geetaa me paramaa vidyaa brahmaroopaa na samsayah;
Ardhamaatraaksharaa nityaa swaanirvaachyapadaatmikaa.

8. The Gita is My highest science, which is doubtless of the form of Brahman, the Eternal, the Ardhamatra (of the Pranava Om), the ineffable splendour of the Self.

Chidaanandena krishnena proktaa swamukhato’rjuna;
Vedatrayee paraanandaa tawaarthajnaanasamyutaa.

9. It was spoken by the blessed Krishna, the all-knowing, through His own mouth, to Arjuna. It contains the essence of the three Vedas, the knowledge of the Reality. It is full of supreme bliss.

Yoashtaadasam japet nityam naro nischalamaanasah;
Jnaanasiddhim sa labhate tato yaati param padam.

10. He who recites the eighteen chapters of the Gita daily, with a pure, unshaken mind, attains perfection in knowledge, and reaches the highest state or supreme goal.

Paathe’asamarthah sampoorne tato’rdham paathamaacharet;
Tadaa godaanajam punyam labhate naatra samsayah.

11. If a complete reading is not possible, even if only half of it is read, he attains the benefit of giving a cow as a gift. There is no doubt about this.

Tribhaagam pathamaanastu gangaasnaanaphalam labhet;
Shadamsam japamaanastu somayaagaphalam labhet.

12. He who recites one-third part of it achieves the merit of a bath in the sacred Ganges; and who recites one-sixth of it attains the merit of performing a Soma sacrifice (a ritual).

Ekaadhyaayam tu yo nityam pathate bhatkisamyutah; Rudralokam avaapnoti gano bhootwaa vaset chiram.

13. That person who reads one chapter with great devotion attains to the world of Rudra and, having become a Gana (attendant of Lord Shiva), lives there for many years.

Adhyaayam slokapaadam vaa nityam yah pathate narah;
Sa yaati narataam yaavanmanwantaram vasundhare.

14. If one reads a chapter or even a part of a verse daily he, O Earth! retains a human body till the end of a Manvantara (71 Mahayugas or 308,448,000 years).

Geetaayaah slokadasakam sapta pancha chatushtayam;
Dwau treen ekam tadardham vaa slokaanaam yah pathennarah.
Chandralokam avaapnoti varshaanaam ayutam dhruvam;
Geetapaathasamaayukto mrito maanushataam vrajet.

15, 16. He who repeats ten, seven, five, four, three, two verses or even one or half of it, attains the region of the moon and lives there for ten thousand years. Accustomed to the daily study of the Gita, the man who is dying comes back to life again as a human being.

Geetaabhyaasam punah kritwaa labhate muktim uttamaam;
Geetetyucchaarasamyukto mriyamaano gatim labhet.

17. By repeated study of the Gita, he attains liberation. Uttering ‘Gita’ at the time of death, one attains liberation.

Geetaarthasravanaasakto mahaapaapayutopi vaa;
Vaikuntham samavaapnoti vishnunaa saha modate.

18. Though full of sins, one who is ever intent on hearing the meaning of theGita, goes to the kingdom of God and rejoices with Lord Vishnu.

Geetaartham dhyaayate nityam kritwaa karmaani bhoorisah;
Jeevanmuktah sa vijneyo dehaante paramam padam.

I9. He who meditates on the meaning of the Gita, having performed many good actions, attains the supreme goal after death. Such a man should be known as a Jivanmukta (person liberated while living).

Geetaam aasritya bahavo bhubhujo janakaadayah;
Nirdhootakalmashaa loke geetaa yaataah param padam.

20. In this world, taking refuge in the Gita, many kings like Janaka and others had reached the highest state or goal, purified of all sins.

Geetaayahpathanam kritwaa maahaatmyam naiva yah pathet; Vrithaa paatho bhavet tasya srama eva hyudaahritah.

21. He who fails to read this Glory of the Gita (the Gita Mahatmya),after having read the Gita, loses the benefit thereby, and the effort alone remains.

Etanmaahaatmyasamyuktam geetaabhyaasam karoti yah;
Sa tatphalamavaapnoti durlabhaam gatim aapnuyaat.

22. One who studies the Gita, together with this Glory of the Gita,attains the fruit mentioned above, and reaches the state which is otherwise very difficult to be attained.

Suta Uvaacha:

Maahaatmyam etat geetaayaa mayaa proktam sanaatanam;
Gitaante cha pathedyastu yaduktam tatphalam labhet.

Suta said:

23. This greatness or Glory of the Gita, which is eternal, as narrated by me, should be read at the end of the study of the Gita, and the fruits mentioned therein will be obtained.

Thus ends the Glory of the Gita contained in the Varaha Purana.

Gita Dhyanam

Om paarthaaya pratibodhitaam bhagavataa naaraayanena swayam,
Vyaasena grathitaam puraanamuninaa madhyemahaa-bhaaratam;
Advaitaamritavarshineem bhagavateem ashtaadasaadhyaayineem,
Amba twaam anusandadhaami bhagavadgeete bhavadweshineem.

1. Om. O Bhagavad Gita, with which Partha (Arjuna) was illumined by Lord Narayana Himself, and which was composed within the Mahabharata by the ancient sage, Vyasa, O Divine Mother, the destroyer of rebirth, the showerer of the nectar of Advaita (oneness), and consisting of eighteen chapters—upon Thee O Bhagavad Gita, O affectionate Mother, I meditate!

Namostu te vyaasa visaalabuddhe phullaravindaayatapatranetra,
Yena twayaa bhaaratatailapoornah prajwaalito jnaanamayah pradeepah.

2. Salutations unto thee, O Vyasa, of broad intellect and with eyes like the petals of full-blown lotuses, by whom the lamp of knowledge, filled with the oil of the Mahabharata, has been lighted!

Prapannaparijaataaya totravetraikapaanaye;
Jnaanamudraaya krishnaaya geetamritaduhe namah.

3. Salutations to Krishna, the Parijata or the Kalpataru or the bestower of all desires for those who take refuge in Him, the holder of the whip in one hand, the holder of the symbol of knowledge and the milker of the nectar of theBhagavad Gita!

Sarvopanishado gaavo dogdhaa gopaalanandanah;
Paartho vatsah sudheer bhoktaa dugdham geetaamritam mahat.

4. All the Upanishads are the cows, the Milker is Krishna, the cowherd boy, Partha (Arjuna), is the calf, men of purified intellect are drinkers; the milk is the great nectar of the Gita.

Vasudevasutam devam kamsachaanooramardanam; Devakeeparamaanandam krishnam vande jagadgurum.

5. I salute Lord Krishna, the World Teacher, the son of Vasudeva, the destroyer of Kamsa and Chanura, the supreme bliss of Devaki.

Bheeshmadronatataa jayadrathajalaa gaandhaaraneelotpalaa;
Salyagraahavatee kripena vahani karnena velaakulaa;
Asvathaama-vikarna-ghora-makaraa duryodhanaavartini,
Sotteernaa khalu paandavai rananadee kaivartakah kesavah.

6. With Kesava as the helmsman, verily was crossed by the Pandavas the battle-river whose banks were Bhishma and Drona, whose water was Jayadratha, whose blue lotus was the king of Gandhara, whose crocodile was Salya, whose current was Kripa, whose billow was Karna, whose terrible alligators were Asvatthama and Vikarna, whose whirlpool was Duryodhana.

Paaraasarya vachah sarojamamalam geetaarthagandhotkatam;
Naanaakhyaanakakesaram harikatha sambodhanaabodhitam;
Loke sajjanashatpadair aharahah pepeeyamaanam mudaa;
Bhooyad bhaaratapankajam kalimala pradhwamsi nah sreyase.

7. May this lotus of the Mahabharata, born in the lake of the words of Vyasa, sweet with the fragrance of the meaning of the Gita, with many stories as its stamens, fully opened by the discourses of Hari, the destroyer of the sins of Kali, and drunk joyously by the bees of good men in the world, day by day, become the bestower of good to us!

Mookam karoti vaachaalam pangum langhayate girim;
Yatkripaa tamaham vande paramaanandamaadhavam.

8. I salute that Madhava, the source of supreme bliss, whose Grace makes the dumb man eloquent and the cripple cross mountains!

Yam brahmaa varunendrarudramarutah stunwanti divyaihstavaih;
Vedaih saangapadakramopanishadair gaayanti yam saamagaah;
Dhyaanaavasthitatadgatena manasaa pasyanti yam yogino;
Yasyaantam na viduh suraasuraganaa devaaya tasmai Namah.

9. Salutations to that God whom Brahma, Indra, Varuna, Rudra and the Maruts praise with divine hymns, of whom the Sama-chanters sing in the Vedas and their Angas in the Pada and Krama methods, and in the Upanishads; whom the Yogis see with their minds absorbed in Him through meditation, and whose ends the hosts of Devas and Asuras know not!

Summary of First Discourse

The great Mahabharata war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas took place on the holy plain of Kurukshetra. After the failure of Lord Krishna’s peace mission, when He Himself went to Hastinapura as the emissary of the Pandavas, there was no other alternative for the Pandavas but to engage in war for their rightful share of the kingdom.

All the famous warriors from both sides had assembled on the battlefield. Tents and wagons, weapons and machines, chariots and animals covered the vast plain.

Lord Krishna arrived on the scene in a magnificent chariot yoked by white horses. He was to act as the charioteer of Arjuna, one of the Pandava princes.

The din of hundreds of conches, blaring forth suddenly, announced the commencement of the battle. Arjuna blew his conch “Devadatta”, while Bhima, his brother, sounded the “Paundra”. All the others blew their respective conches.

As the two armies were arrayed, ready for battle, Arjuna requested Krishna to place his chariot between them so that he might survey his opponents. He was bewildered by the scene before him, for he beheld on both sides, fathers and grandfathers, teachers and uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, relatives and comrades.

Confusion reigned in Arjuna’s mind. Should he participate in this terrible carnage? Was it proper to destroy one’s relatives for the sake of a kingdom and some pleasures? Would it not be much better for him to surrender everything in favour of his enemies and retire in peace? As these thoughts rushed into his mind, a feeling of despondency overtook Arjuna. He had no more enthusiasm to engage in this battle. Letting his bow slip from his hands, Arjuna could do nothing but turn to Lord Krishna for enlightenment and guidance.

Summary of Eighteenth Discourse

The eighteenth discourse, which is the conclusion of the divine discourse of Lord Krishna, is in many ways a summary of the foregoing portions of the Gita. It covers in brief numerous important points dealt with in the previous discourses. Here you behold the ultimate result or effect of the Lord’s discourse to Arjuna. The drama of Arjuna’s utter despondency and breakdown is finally resolved in triumphant self-mastery, strength and bold resoluteness. Its central message emerges as an assurance that in and through the performance of one’s respective duties in life one can qualify for the highest liberation, if one performs actions by renouncing egoism and attachment and surrendering all desire for selfish, personal gain. By regarding the performance of your duties as a worship offered to God, you obtain the Grace of the Lord and attain the eternal One.

Significantly, this discourse opens with a question by Arjuna asking what is true Sannyasa and true Tyaga (renunciation). In reply to this important and crucial query, the blessed Lord Krishna makes it clear to us that real Sannyasa or renunciation lies in renunciation of selfish and impure actions, and even more in the renunciation of the desire or greed for the fruits of any action. Very clearly we are told that selfless and virtuous actions and actions conducive to the welfare of others should not be abandoned. You must engage yourself in performing such action but renouncing attachment and greed. The true and proper renunciation is giving up of selfishness and attachment while performing one’s legitimate duties. This is called Sattwic Tyaga. We neither hate unpleasant action nor are we attached to pleasurable action. As it is not possible for you to renounce all action, the renunciation of egoism, selfishness and attachment in your activity is declared as true renunciation. Karma does not accumulate and bind one who is thus established in such inner renunciation.

The divine injunction is that God must be made the sole object of one’s life. This is the heart of the Gita gospel. This is the central message in its teaching. This is the one way to your welfare here.

Now Sanjaya concludes his narrative by declaring that where there is such obedience as that of Arjuna, and such willing readiness to carry out the divine teachings, there surely prosperity, victory, glory and all blessedness will prevail.

Selected Verses From Chapter 18

Brahmabhootah prasannaatmaa na shochati na kaankshati;
Samas sarveshu bhooteshu madbhaktim labhate paraam.

54. Becoming Brahman, serene in the Self, he neither grieves nor desires; the same to all beings, he obtains supreme devotion unto Me.

Bhaktyaa maamabhijaanaati yaavaanyaschaasmi tattwatah;
Tato maam tattwato jnaatwaa vishate tadanantaram.

55. By devotion he knows Me in truth, what and who I am; then, having known Me in truth, he forthwith enters into the Supreme.

Sarvakarmaanyapi sadaa kurvaano madvyapaashrayah;
Matprasaadaadavapnoti shaashwatam padamavyayam.

56. Doing all actions and always taking refuge in Me, by My Grace he obtains the eternal, indestructible state or abode.

Chetasaa sarvakarmaani mayi sannyasya matparah;
Buddhiyogamupaashritya macchittas satatam bhava.

57. Mentally renouncing all actions in Me, having Me as the highest goal, resorting to the Yoga of discrimination, do thou ever fix thy mind on Me.

Macchittas sarvadurgaani matprasaadaat tarishyasi;
Atha chet twamahankaaraanna shroshyasi vinankshyasi.

58. Fixing thy mind on Me, thou shalt by My Grace overcome all obstacles; but if from egoism thou wilt not hear me, thou shalt perish.

Yadahankaaramaashritya na yotsya iti manyse;
Mithyaisha vyavasaayaste prakritistwaam niyokshyati.

59. If, filled with egoism, thou thinkest, “I will not fight”, vain is this, thy resolve; Nature will compel thee.

Swabhaavajena kaunteya nibaddhas swena karmanaa;
Kartum necchasi yanmohaat karishyasyavashopi tat.

60. O Arjuna! bound by thy own Karma (action) born of thy own nature, that which from delusion thou wishest not to do, even that thou shalt do helplessly.

Ishwaras sarvabhootaanaam hriddeshe’arjuna tishthati;
Bhraamayan sarvabhootaani yantraaroodhaani maayayaa.

61. The Lord dwells in the hearts of all beings, O Arjuna! causing all beings, by His illusive power, to revolve, as if mounted on a machine.

Tameva sharanam gaccha sarvabhaavena bhaarata;
Tatprasaadaat paraam shaantim sthaanam praapsyasi shaashwatam.

62. Fly unto Him for refuge with all thy being, O Arjuna! By His Grace thou shalt obtain supreme peace (and) the eternal abode.

Iti te jnaanamaakhyaatam guhyaadguhyataram mayaa;
Vimrishyaitadasheshena yathecchasi tathaa kuru.

63. Thus has wisdom more secret than secrecy itself been declared unto thee by Me; having reflected over it fully, act thou as thou wishest.

Sarvaguhyatamam bhooyas shrunu me paramam vachah;
Ishtosi me dridhamiti tato vakshyaami te hitam.

64. Hear thou again My supreme word, most secret of all; because thou art dearly beloved of Me, I shall tell thee what is good.

Manmanaa bhava madbhakto madyaajee maam namaskuru;
Mamevaishyasi satyam to pratijaane priyo’si me.

65. Fix thy mind on Me, be devoted to Me, sacrifice to Me, bow down to Me. Thou shalt come even to Me; truly do I promise unto thee, (for) thou art dear to Me.

Sarvadharmaan parityajya maamekam sharanam vraja;
Aham twaa sarvapaapebhyo mokshayishyaami maa shuchah.

66. Abandoning all duties, take refuge in Me alone: I will liberate thee from all sins; grieve not.

Idam te naatapaskaaya naabhaktaaya kadaachana;
Na chaashushrooshave vaachyam na cha maam yobhyasooyati.

67. This is never to be spoken by thee to one who is devoid of austerities or devotion, or to one who does not render service, who does not desire to listen, or to one who cavils at Me.

Ya imam paramam guhyam madbhakteshvabhidhaasyati;
Bhaktim mayi paraam kritwaa maamevaishyatyasamshayah.

68. He who with supreme devotion to Me will teach this supreme secret to My devotees, he shall doubtless come to Me.

Na cha tasmaanmanushyeshu kaschinme priyakrittamah;
Bhavitaa na cha me tasmaadanyah priyataro bhuvi.

69. Nor is there any among men who does dearer service to Me, nor shall there be another on earth dearer to Me than he.

Adhyeshyate cha ya imam dharmyam sammadamaavayoh;
Jnaanayajnena tenaahamishtas syaamiti me matih.

70. And he who will study this sacred dialogue of ours, by him shall I have been worshipped by the sacrifice of wisdom,—such is My conviction.

Shraddhaavaananasooyascha srunuyaadapi yo narah;
Sopi muktas shubhaan lokaan praapnuyaat punyakarmanaam.

71. The man also who hears this, full of faith and free from malice, he, too, liberated, shall attain to the happy worlds of those of righteous deeds.

Kacchidetatshrutam paartha twayaikaagrena chetasaa;
Kacchidajnaanasammohah pranashtaste dhananjaya.

72. Has this been heard, O Arjuna! with one-pointed mind? Has the delusion of thy ignorance been destroyed, O Dhananjaya?

Arjuna Uvaacha:

Nashto mohas smritirlabdhaa twatprasaadaanmayaachyuta;
Sthitosmi gatasandehah karishye vachanam tava.

Arjuna said.

73. Destroyed is my delusion, as I have gained my memory (knowledge) through Thy Grace, O Krishna! I am firm; my doubts are gone. I will act according to Thy word.

Sanjaya Uvaacha:

Ityaham vaasudevasya paarthasya cha mahaatmanah;
Samvaadamimamashrausham adbhutam romaharshanam.

Sanjaya said:

74. Thus have I heard this wonderful dialogue between Krishna and the high-souled Arjuna, which causes the hair to stand on end.

Vyaasaprasaadaacchrutavaan etadguhyamaham param;
Yogam yogeshwaraat krishnaat saakshaat kathayatas swayam.

75. Through the Grace of Vyasa I have heard this supreme and most secret Yoga direct from Krishna, the Lord of Yoga, Himself declaring it.

Raajan samsmritya samsmritya samvaadamimamadbhutam;
Keshavarjunayoh punyam hrishyaami cha muhurmuhuh.

76. O King! remembering this wonderful and holy dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna, I rejoice again and again.

Taccha samsmritya samsmritya roopamatyadbhutam hareh;
Vismayo me mahaan raajan hrishyaami cha punah punah.

77. And remembering again and again also that most wonderful form of Hari, great is my wonder, O King! and I rejoice again and again.

Yatra yogeshwarah krishno yatra paartho dhanurdharah;
Tatra shreervijayo bhootirdhruvaa neetirmatirmama.

78. Wherever there is Krishna, the Lord of Yoga, wherever there is Arjuna, the archer, there are prosperity, victory, happiness and firm policy; such is my conviction.

Thus in the Upanishads of the glorious Bhagavad Gita, the science of the Eternal, the scripture of Yoga, the dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjuna, ends the eighteenth discourse entitled:

The Yoga of Liberation by Renunciation

Study of the Gita

Study of the Gita alone is sufficient for the purpose of daily scriptural study. You will find a solution here for all your doubts. The more you study with devotion and faith, the more will you get deeper knowledge, penetrative insight and clear, right thinking. Even if you live in the spirit of one verse of the Gita, all your miseries will come to an end and you will attain the goal of life—immortality and eternal peace.

The Gita is a gospel for the whole world. It is meant for the generality of mankind. It was given over five thousand years ago on the battlefield of Kurukshetra by Lord Krishna to Arjuna.

None but the Lord can bring out such an unprecedented and marvellous book, which gives peace to the readers, which helps and guides them in the attainment of supreme bliss. This itself proves clearly that God exists, that He is an embodiment of knowledge and that one can attain perfection or liberation by realising Him alone.

The whole world is a big battlefield. The real Kurukshetra is within you. The battle of Mahabharata is still raging within you. Ignorance is Dhritarashtra. The individual soul is Arjuna. The Indweller in your heart is Lord Krishna, the charioteer. The body is your chariot. The senses are the horses. Mind, egoism, senses, mental impressions, latent tendencies, cravings, likes and dislikes, lust, jealousy, greed, pride and hypocrisy are your dire enemies.

As the Gita contains subtle and profound teachings, you should study it under a qualified teacher—a preceptor who is established in the Absolute—with great and intense faith, single-minded devotion and purity. Only then will the truths of the Gita be revealed unto you like a fruit on the palm of your hand.

Good commentaries like those of Swami Sankarananda, Sri Sankara and Swami Madhusudana, written by sages of Self-realisation, will be of immense help to you.

Worldly-minded people, however intellectual they may be, cannot grasp the essential teachings of the Gita. They will enter into unnecessary discussions and useless debates. They will cavil at and carp on the teachings. They say, “There is no intimate connection between the verses. They are thrown in a disorderly manner. There is a great deal of repetition.” If they study theGita with reverence and faith under a qualified teacher, all their doubts will vanish. They will realise that there is a close connection between one verse and another in all the chapters. Repetitions in the Gita and the Upanishads are useful repetitions.

Lord Krishna speaks from different levels of consciousness. In the Gita, the term “Avyaktam” sometimes refers to Mula-prakriti (primordial nature) and sometimes to Para Brahman also. Therefore, the help of a teacher is necessary if you wish to know the right significance of the verses. In the Kathopanishad, the term “brick” is used to denote a Devata (god). In Hatha Yoga it is said: “At the junction of the rivers Yamuna and the Ganga there is a young virgin.” The esoteric meaning is: “There is the Sushumna Nadi between the Ida and the Pingala.”

You cannot understand the real meaning of these terms without the help of a Master. Even so, you cannot rightly comprehend the meaning of the verses of theGita without the help of a teacher.

The three horses of this body-chariot—action, emotion and intellect—should work in perfect harmony. Only then will this body-chariot move smoothly and you can reach the destination safely and quickly. Only then can you rejoice in the Self within. Only then can you sing the song of “Soham” (I am He). Only then can you be in tune with the Infinite. Only then can you hear the soundless voice of the Soul and enjoy the sweet internal music of the Self.

The Gita is divided into three sections, illustrative of the three terms of the Mahavakya of the Sama Veda—”Tat Twam Asi” (That Thou Art). In accordance with this view, the first six chapters deal with the path of action or Karma Yoga and the nature of “Thou” or the Twam-pada. The next six chapters explain the path of devotion or Bhakti Yoga and the nature of “That” or Tat-pada. The last six chapters treat of the path of knowledge of Jnana Yoga and the nature of the term “Art” or Asi-pada, which establishes the identity of the individual and the Supreme Soul.

You can become a liberated sage by annihilating the ego and the two currents of likes and dislikes. You can become a sage by annihilating desires and cravings, and by destroying the Samskaras and Sankalpas. You can thus rest in your own essential nature and still you can be active in the affairs of the world. You will not be bound by Karmas. You will not be tainted by actions, because the idea of doership would have been destroyed by the attainment of knowledge of the Self. This is the keynote of the Gita.

In the Vishnu Purana, Bhagavan Vishnu is highly eulogised and a secondary place is given to Lord Shiva. In the Shiva Purana it is Lord Shiva who is praised and a secondary place is given to Lord Vishnu. In the Devi Bhagawatam, Devi is highly eulogised and a secondary place is given to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. This is done in order to create intense and unswerving faith in the aspirant for his favourite Deity. Shiva, Vishnu and Devi are one. They are different aspects of the Lord. It is simply absurd if you believe that Shiva is inferior to Vishnu or that Vishnu is inferior to Shiva.

So also, in one place Lord Krishna praises Karma Yoga. He says: “The Yoga of action is verily better than renunciation of action.” In another place He praises Jnana Yoga. In the third place the Lord praises Bhakti Yoga.

A neophyte will be confused when he comes across these verses. But there is no room for any confusion if you think deeply. Lord Krishna praises each Yoga in order to create interest in the aspirant in his particular path or Yoga. You must remember that the Gita is a book for the people of the world at large. It was not meant for Arjuna alone. Each Yoga is as efficacious and potent as the others.

India is held in high esteem by the Westerners on account of the Gita. Mahatma Gandhi once visited one of the largest libraries in London and asked the librarian, “What spiritual book is issued most frequently?” The librarian replied, “The Gita.”

The Gita is very popular throughout the world. All aspirants should try to get the whole of the eighteen chapters by heart. This can be done through daily study in about two years, by getting two verses by heart daily.

Study of the Gita should be made compulsory in all schools and colleges of India. It should become a textbook for schools and colleges. It should be introduced in the curriculum. It should find a very important place in every scheme of education. Only that system of education wherein moral and spiritual training are imparted along with secular knowledge, can be deemed as sound, practical, sensible and perfect.

Hold the magnificent torch of faith. Float high the unique banner of peace. Wear the magnificent shield of dispassion. Put on the marvellous coat-of-arms of discrimination. Sing the immortal song of Soham or Sivoham or Sitaram. March boldly with the band of Pranava. Blow the conch of courage. Kill the enemies of doubt, ignorance, passion and egoism. Enter the illimitable kingdom of Atma. Taste the divine immortal essence.

May the blessings of Lord Krishna be upon you all! May the Gita be your centre, ideal and goal! Blessed is the man who studies the Gita daily! Twice blessed is he who lives in the spirit of the Gita! Thrice blessed is he who has realised the knowledge of the Gita—Atmajnana or Self-knowledge!


Mantras for Japa

The following verses can be taken up for repetition as Mantras:

Verse Purpose
II.7 Fitness for self-surrender.
III.43 Destruction of enemies, like desire, etc.
IV.5 Steadfastness in devotion.
V.29 Destruction of obstacles in Yoga.
VI.25 Victory over the mind.
VI.26 Fitness for meditation.
VI.30 Ripening of devotion.
VI.31 Ripening of wisdom.
VII.7 Fitness for beholding God everywhere.
VIII.8 Destruction of enemies, like lust, desire, etc.
IX.26 Fitness for the vision of God.
IX.27 Acquirement of Divine Grace.
IX.32 Fitness for self-surrender.
IX.34 Fitness for self-surrender.
XI.38 Growth of devotion.
XI.39 Control of mind.
XI.40 Destruction of delusion.
XI.43 Ability to please the Lord.
XII.7 Fitness for God-realisation.
XIII.12 Devotion to God.
XIII.13 Purification of the heart.
XV.14 Knowledge born of discrimination.
XV.15 Cessation of anger.
XV.19 Devotion.
XVIII.58 Destruction of obstacles.
XVIII.66 Fitness for God-realisation.
XVIII.78 The Grace of God.

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