Gita Jayanti Special: Ten quotes on ‘Dharma’ from Bhagavad Gita

By Nithin Sridhar

The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most important spiritual and religious texts of Hinduism. Its significance lies in the fact that it contains the direct teachings of Lord Krishna, who is considered as the Poorna-Avatara (Complete Incarnation) of Brahman (God). From ancient Hindu masters like Adi Shankaracharya to modern Hindu mystics like Sri Aurobindo, all of them have written detailed commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita.

Hindus believe that it was on the Sukla Ekadashi (11th day in the bright fortnight) of Margashira month that Lord Krishna imparted the teachings about Dharma and Moksha to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra and the day is celebrated as ‘Gita Jayanti. This year, ‘Gita Jayanti’ has fallen on December 21, i.e. today.

Here are the ten quotes from Bhagavad Gita on ‘Dharma’ (righteousness/duty) and human actions:

  1. सुखदुःखे समे कृत्वा लाभालाभौ जयाजयौ। ततो युद्धाय युज्यस्व नैवं पापमवाप्स्यसि ।।2.38।।

Treating happiness and sorrow, gain and loss, and victory and defeat with equanimity, engage in battle. Thus, you will not incur sin.

(‘Sin’ here refers to the abandonment of duties as well as bondage to actions)

  1. नेहाभिक्रमनाशोऽस्ति प्रत्यवायो न विद्यते। स्वल्पमप्यस्य धर्मस्य त्रायते महतो भयात्।।2.40।।

Here (in the path of Karma-Yoga i.e. Yoga of actions) there is no waste of an attempt; nor is there (any) harm. Even a little of this righteousness/duties saves (one) from great fear.

(One should strive to adhere to Dharma to the best of one’s abilities, for even a little performance of Dharma gives great merits.)

  1. कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन। मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि।।2.47।।

Your entitlement is only towards the actions (you perform) and never towards the fruits (of those actions). Do not become an agent for the fruits of action (i.e. Do not perform actions with attachment to the fruits as it results in sorrow and bondage). May you not have any inclination towards inaction.

(One must neither perform actions with hankering for results, nor incline towards inaction because he has no entitlement towards the result. Instead, one should perform actions with a sense of duty and surrendering the fruits to the will of God)

  1. श्रेयान्स्वधर्मो विगुणः परधर्मात्स्वनुष्ठितात्। स्वधर्म निधनं श्रेयः परधर्मो भयावह: ।।3.35।।

One’s own (material and spiritual) duty (as stipulated in the Hindu Scriptures according to one’s temperament and station in life), though defectively performed is superior to the good performance of another person’s duty. Death is better while engaged in one’s own duty; another’s duty is fraught with fear (because abandoning one’s responsibilities due to the desire for another’s privilege is Adharma).

  1. यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत। अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदाऽऽत्मानं सृजाम्यहम्।। परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम्। धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय संभवामि युगे युगे।।4.7-8।।

O scion of the Bharata dynasty, whenever there is a decline of righteousness (Dharma) and an increase of vice (Adharma), then do I manifest Myself. For the protection of the pious, the destruction of the evildoers, and establishing Dharma, I manifest Myself in every age (i.e. Brahman itself will manifest in every age to uphold Dharma and destroy Adharma).

  1. अपि चेत्सुदुराचारो भजते मामनन्यभाक्। साधुरेव स मन्तव्यः सम्यग्व्यवसितो हि सः।। क्षिप्रं भवति धर्मात्मा शश्वच्छान्तिं निगच्छति।कौन्तेय प्रतिजानीहि न मे भक्तः प्रणश्यति ।।9.30-31।।

Even if a man of very bad conduct worships Me (i.e. Brahman/God) with one-pointed devotion, he is to be considered verily good; for he has resolved rightly. He soon becomes possessed of a virtuous mind; he attains everlasting peace. O Arjuna, proclaim thou for certain that My devotee never gets ruined.

(Even a great sinner or person of bad conduct can rectify his mistakes by practicing the devotion and righteous actions)

  1. त्रिविधं नरकस्येदं द्वारं नाशनमात्मनः। कामः क्रोधस्तथा लोभस्तस्मादेतत्त्रयं त्यजेत्।।16.21।।

This door of hell, which is the destroyer of the soul, is of three kinds-passion/lust, anger, and greed. Therefore, one should forsake these three.

(Passion, anger, and greed delude people’s mind and impel them to commit Adharmic/unrighteous actions that result in sorrow.)

  1. तस्माच्छास्त्रं प्रमाणं ते कार्याकार्यव्यवस्थितौ। ज्ञात्वा शास्त्रविधानोक्तं कर्म कर्तुमिहार्हसि।।16.24।।

Therefore, the (Hindu/Vedic) scripture is your authority as regards the determination of what is to be done and what is not to be done. After understanding (your) duty as presented by scriptural injunction, you ought to perform (your duty) here.

(One must determine one’s personal duties/Svadharma by using the general principles of common and special duties prescribed in various Dharmic scriptures like Vedas, Dharmasutras, Smritis, etc.)

  1. मन्मना भव मद्भक्तो मद्याजी मां नमस्कुरु। मामेवैष्यसि सत्यं ते प्रतिजाने प्रियोऽसि मे।।18.65।।

Fix your mind on Me (i.e. Brahman/God), practice Bhakti towards Me, be engaged in sacrifices (Yajnas) to Me and worship Me (Brahman/God) by salutations. (Thus) you will come to Me alone (i.e. you will attain Moksha/liberation). (This) truth do I promise to you. (For) You are dear to Me.

(One can attain Brahman by being completely devoted to Brahman)

  1. सर्वधर्मान्परित्यज्य मामेकं शरणं व्रज। अहं त्वा सर्वपापेभ्यो मोक्षयिष्यामि मा शुचः।।18.66।।

Abandoning all forms of rites and duties, take refuge in Me (Brahman/God) alone. I shall free you from all sins. (Therefore) do not grieve.

(One should overcome all desires and renounce all worldly duties and dedicate themselves completely to Brahman, thus attaining oneness with Brahman and becoming free from sins.)

(With inputs from English Translation of Bhagavad Gita by Swami Gambirananda)