The Bhagavad-gita in a Nutshell

by American/International Gita Society

The following is a compilation of 40 most important verses from the Bhagavadgita, which sum up its philosophy and important concepts.


King inquired: Sanjaya, please tell me, in detail, what did my people and the Pandavas do in the battlefield before the war started? (1.01)

Sanjaya said: O King, Lord Krishna spoke these words to Arjuna whose eyes were tearful and downcast, and who was overwhelmed with compassion and despair. (2.01)

Lord Krishna said: You grieve for those who are not worthy of grief, and yet speak words of wisdom. The wise grieves neither for the living nor for the dead. (2.11)

Just as the soul acquires a childhood body, a youth body, and an old age body during this life; similarly, the soul acquires another body after death. This should not delude the wise. (2.13)

Just as a person puts on new garments after discarding the old ones; similarly, the living entity or the individual soul acquires new bodies after casting away the old bodies. (2.22)

Treating pleasure and pain, gain and loss, and victory and defeat alike, engage yourself in your duty. By doing your duty this way you will not incur sin. (2.38)

You have control over doing your respective duty only, but no control or claim over the results. The fruits of work should not be your motive, and you should never be inactive. (2.47)

A Karma-yogi or the selfless person becomes free from both vice and virtue in this life itself. Therefore, strive for selfless service. Working to the best of one’s abilities without becoming selfishly attached to the fruits of work is called Karma-yoga or Seva. (2.50)

Because the mind, when controlled by the roving senses, steals away the intellect as a storm takes away a boat on the sea from its destination ¾ the spiritual shore of peace and happiness. (2.67)

The forces of Nature do all works. But due to delusion of ignorance people assume themselves to be the doer. (3.27)

Thus, knowing the Self to be superior to the intellect, and controlling the mind by the intellect that is purified by spiritual practices, one must kill this mighty enemy, lust, O Arjuna. (3.43)

Whenever there is a decline of Dharma Righteousness) and a predominance of Adharma Unrighteousness), O Arjuna, then I manifest Myself. I appear from time to time for protecting the good, for transforming the wicked, and for establishing world order Dharma). (4.07-08)

I created the four divisions of human society based on aptitude and vocation. Though I am the author of this system of the division of labor, one should know that I do nothing directly and I am eternal. (4.13)

The one who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, is a wise person. Such a person is a yogi and has accomplished everything. (4.18)

Spirit shall be realized by the one who considers everything as a manifestation or an act of the Spirit. (4.24)

Verily, there is no purifier in this world like the true knowledge of the Supreme Being. One discovers this knowledge within, naturally, in course of time when one's mind is cleansed of selfishness by Karma-yoga. (4.38)

But, true renunciation, O Arjuna, is difficult to attain without Karma-yoga. A sage equipped with Karma-yoga quickly attains Nirvana. (5.06)

One who does all work as an offering to God — abandoning selfish attachment to the results — remains untouched by Karmic reaction or sin as a lotus leaf never gets wet by water. (5.10)

Those who perceive Me in everything and behold everything in Me, are not separated from Me, and I am not separated from them. (6.30)

Four types of virtuous ones worship or seek Me, O Arjuna. They are: The distressed, the seeker of Self-knowledge, the seeker of wealth, and the enlightened one who has experienced the Supreme. (7.16)

After many births the enlightened one resorts to Me by realizing that everything is, indeed, My or Supreme Being’s) manifestation. Such a great soul is very rare. (7.19)

The ignorant ones — unable to understand My immutable, incomparable, incomprehensible, and transcendental form — assume that I, the Supreme Being, am formless and take forms or incarnate. (7.24)

Remembering whatever object one leaves the body at the end of life, one attains that object. Thought of whatever object prevails during one's lifetime, one remembers only that object at the end of life and achieves it. (8.06)

Therefore, always remember Me and do your duty. You shall certainly attain Me if your mind and intellect are ever focused on Me. (8.07)

I am easily attainable, O Arjuna, by that ever steadfast devotee who always thinks of Me and whose mind does not go elsewhere. (8.14)

I personally take care of both spiritual and material welfare of those ever-steadfast devotees who always remember and adore Me with single-minded contemplation. (9.22)

Whosoever offers Me a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or water with devotion; I accept and eat the offering of devotion by the pure-hearted. (9.26)

Engage your mind in always thinking of Me, be devoted to Me, worship Me, and bow down to Me. Thus uniting yourself with Me by setting Me as the supreme goal and the sole refuge, you shall certainly come to Me. (9.34)

I am the origin of all. Everything emanates from Me. The wise ones who understand this adore Me with love and devotion. (10.08)

The one who does all works for Me, and to whom I am the supreme goal; who is my devotee, who has no attachment, and is free from enmity towards any being; attains Me, O Arjuna. (11.55)

Therefore, focus your mind on Me, and let your intellect dwell upon Me alone through meditation and contemplation. Thereafter you shall certainly attain Me. (12.08)

The one who sees the same eternal Supreme Lord dwelling as Spirit equally within all mortal beings truly sees. (13.27)

The one who offers service to Me with love and unswerving devotion transcends three modes of material Nature, and becomes fit for Nirvana, or salvation. (14.26)

I am seated in the inner psyche of all beings. The memory, Self-knowledge, and the removal of doubts and wrong notions about God come from Me. I am verily that which is to be known by the study of all the Vedas. I am, indeed, the author as well as the student of the Vedas. (15.15)

Lust, anger, and greed are the three gates of hell leading to the downfall or bondage) of the individual. Therefore, one must learn to give up these three. (16.21)

Speech that is non-offensive, truthful, pleasant, beneficial, and is used for the regular study of scriptures is called the austerity of word. (17.15)

By devotion one truly understands what and who I am in essence. Having known Me in essence, one immediately merges with Me. (18.55)

The Supreme Lord — as the controller abiding in the inner psyche of all beings — causes them to work out their Karma like a puppet of Karma created by the free will) mounted on a machine. (18.61)

Set aside all meritorious deeds and religious rituals, and just surrender completely to My will with firm faith and loving devotion. I shall liberate you from all sins, the bonds of Karma. Do not grieve. (18.66)

The one who shall propagate this supreme secret philosophy or the transcendental knowledge of the Gita) amongst My devotees, shall be performing the highest devotional service to Me, and shall certainly come to Me. No other person shall do a more pleasing service to Me, and no one on the earth shall be more dear to Me. (18.68-69)

Wherever there will be both Krishna, the Lord of yoga, or Dharma in the form of the scriptures, and Arjuna with the weapons of duty and protection; there will be everlasting prosperity, victory, happiness, and morality. This is my conviction. (18.78)

"May the Lord bless all with Goodness, Prosperity, and Peace."

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