(An edited version of this article was published in the November 2018 issue of Vedanta Kesari, the monthly magazine published from Ramakrishna Math, Chennai.)
Bhagavad Gita provides a philosophy and a way of life based on the philosophy. It summarizes the wisdom of the Vedas. Here are four essential verses from the Bhagavad Gita, that covers the basic topics. The verse 10.20 tells the nature of God, living beings and the world, and their relationship. The verse 6.5 tells the nature of the individual. The verses 12.13 and 12.14 give four practical principles to live by, based on the theory mentioned in the verses 10.20 and 6.5. It will be beneficial to memorize these four verses, know the word-by-word meaning, detailed explanation and chant them every day while remembering their meaning.
अहमात्मा गुडाकेश सर्वभूताशयस्थितः ।
अहमादिश्च मध्यं च भूतानामन्त एव च ॥ १०-२०॥
उद्धरेदात्मनात्मानं नात्मानमवसादयेत् ।
आत्मैव ह्यात्मनो बन्धुरात्मैव रिपुरात्मनः ॥ ६-५॥
अद्वेष्टा सर्वभूतानां मैत्रः करुण एव च ।
निर्ममो निरहङ्कारः समदुःखसुखः क्षमी ॥ १२-१३॥
सन्तुष्टः सततं योगी यतात्मा दृढनिश्चयः ।
मय्यर्पितमनोबुद्धिर्यो मद्भक्तः स मे प्रियः ॥ १२-१४॥
ahamātmā guḍākeśa sarvabhūtāśayasthitaḥ ।
ahamādiśca madhyaṃ ca bhūtānāmanta eva ca ॥ 10-20॥
uddharedātmanātmānaṃ nātmānamavasādayet ।
ātmaiva hyātmano bandhurātmaiva ripurātmanaḥ ॥ 6-5॥
adveṣṭā sarvabhūtānāṃ maitraḥ karuṇa eva ca ।
nirmamo nirahaṅkāraḥ samaduḥkhasukhaḥ kṣamī ॥ 12-13॥
santuṣṭaḥ satataṃ yogī yatātmā dṛḍhaniścayaḥ ।
mayyarpitamanobuddhiryo madbhaktaḥ sa me priyaḥ ॥ 12-14॥
श्रीभगवानुवाच śrībhagavānuvāca – God said:
Bhagavad Gita is God’s message to you. Here is what God says to you.
God is the Consciousness residing in the heart of all beings.
अहम् aham – I (God)
आत्मा ātmā – (am/is the) Consciousness
गुडाका-ईश guḍākā-īśa – Arjuna
सर्व-भूत sarva-bhūta – (of) all beings
आशय āśaya – in the heart
स्थितः sthitaḥ – residing
God is the Consciousness (Life) principle in all living beings. It is because of the Consciousness that living beings are self-aware. It is because of this awareness that living beings experience the world and express in the world. Just as one Sun illumines the various objects in the world, the One Consciousness shines through all the self-conscious living beings in the Universe. Thus, all Conscious living beings are manifestations of God only.
God is the Cause of everything.
अहम् aham – I (God)
आदिः च ādiḥ ca – (am/is) the beginning
मध्यम् च madhyam ca – the middle
भूतानाम् bhūtānām – of all beings
अन्तः एव च antaḥ eva ca – and end
God is the material (sat), instrumental (cit) and final (ananda) cause of the world. Just as various ornaments are made of gold, everything that exists is made of God only. Just as ornaments arise out of gold, exist in gold and dissolve into gold, all things arise, exist and dissolve in God only. Also, God is the intelligent principle because of which everything arises, exists and dissolves. So, everything belongs to God only. God is also the ultimate purpose of the whole of existence. Thus, the whole Universe is a manifestation of God only. There is nothing that exists other than God. Knowing this leads to fulfilment of human life.
You are the maker of your destiny.
उद्धरेत् uddharet – raise up
आत्मना ātmanā – by your will
आत्मानम् ātmānam – the mind;
न na – don’t
आत्मानम् ātmānam – the mind
अवसादयेत् avasādayet – lower down
You are the one who decides your actions – mental, verbal and physical. You are fully responsible for your actions. Right actions will result in peace and progress. Wrong actions will cause future regrets. The quality of your life depends on the quality of your mind. Raise up your mind by your actions. Don’t lower down the quality of your mind.
The mind and senses are your instruments.
आत्मा ātmā – mind
एव हि eva hi – itself is
आत्मनः बन्धुः ātmanaḥ bandhuḥ – one’s friend
आत्मा ātmā – mind
एव eva – itself is
रिपुः आत्मनः ripuḥ ātmanaḥ – one’s enemy
You are different from your mind, senses and body. They are all your instruments. Just like any instrument, if they are under your control, they are your friends, and they will help you to achieve your goals. If they are not under your control, they are your enemies, and they will lead you astray.
Seek the welfare of all living beings.
अद्वेष्टा adveṣṭā – non-hater
सर्व-भूतानां sarva-bhūtānāṃ – (of) all living beings
मैत्रः maitraḥ – friend
करुणः एव च karuṇaḥ eva ca – compassionate person
There will be three types of living beings with whom you will interact. Have the right attitude towards each of them. Do not hate those who consider you as a competitor or enemy. Defend yourself, but do not have any hatred. Wish good for them. Be friendly with the successful, without any feeling of jealousy. Be compassionate towards the suffering and try to help them as much as you can. In short, genuinely wish the welfare of all living beings. This can be easily done by seeing God as the ultimate inner recipient of the service done to every living being.
Face all situations with equanimity.
निर्ममः nirmamaḥ – free from possessiveness
निरहङ्कारः nirahaṅkāraḥ – free from self-centeredness
सम-दुःख-सुखः sama-duḥkha-sukhaḥ – treating pleasure and pain equally
क्षमी kṣamī – forbearing person
Do not be possessive of anything. Everything belongs to God. Do not be self-centered. The world is a fair place. Do your duties. You need not be anxious about the results. You will get what you deserve. Be ready to face the dualities of life like pleasure and pain, success and failure, fame and censure, gain and loss, etc. Bear all situations in life with patience, without complaining. This can be easily done by doing all actions as offerings to God and accepting all results as gifts from God.
Lead a self-controlled life.
सन्तुष्टः santuṣṭaḥ – content
सततम् satatam – always
योगी yogī – calm
यत-आत्मा yata-ātmā – self-controlled
दृढ-निश्चयः dṛḍha-niścayaḥ – determined
Be contented with the fair rewards of your work, without feeling greedy or jealous. Be calm always without any regrets of the past or anxiety about the future. Be the master of your mind and the senses. You should be the one who decides when to sleep, when to wake up, when to eat, what to eat, how much to eat, how much entertainment to indulge in, etc. Lead a moderated and regulated life. Be self-disciplined in all activities in your life. This can be easily done by having a daily routine that involves spiritual activities like reading, prayer, singing, etc. at fixed times. Reading the lives of saints and great people will show us how to lead our own lives.
Offer everything to God.
मयि mayi – To Me (God)
अर्पित arpita – offered
मनः manaḥ – experiencing faculty
बुद्धिः buddhiḥ – expressing faculty
यः yaḥ – who
मत्-भक्तः – is devoted to Me (God)
सः saḥ – he
मे प्रियः me priyaḥ – is dear to Me (God).
As everything in the Universe is God only, there is none other than God. Knowing this inseparable relationship with God, always remember God. Whatever you do, offer it as a gift to God. Whatever you experience, accept it as a gift from God. Such a person is dear to God. This does not mean God is partial. The knowledge and grace of God is available to everyone like the light of the Sun. The wise person uses the grace by following the instructions given here by God.
By knowing and following these, a person can develop the maturity to understand that the individual is not separate from the Universal. The limited individual identity is a wrong assumption. When this wrong assumption is given up, that is freedom (Moksha).
Here are the four slokas in more scripts:
அஹமாத்மா கு³டா³கேஶ ஸர்வபூ⁴தாஶயஸ்தி²த: ।
அஹமாதி³ஶ்ச மத்⁴யம் ச பூ⁴தாநாமந்த ஏவ ச ॥ 10-20॥
உத்³த⁴ரேதா³த்மநாத்மாநம் நாத்மாநமவஸாத³யேத் ।
ஆத்மைவ ஹ்யாத்மநோ ப³ந்து⁴ராத்மைவ ரிபுராத்மந: ॥ 6-5॥
அத்³வேஷ்டா ஸர்வபூ⁴தாநாம் மைத்ர: கருண ஏவ ச ।
நிர்மமோ நிரஹங்கார: ஸமது:³க²ஸுக:² க்ஷமீ ॥ 12-13॥
ஸந்துஷ்ட: ஸததம் யோகீ³ யதாத்மா த்³ருʼட⁴நிஶ்சய: ।
மய்யர்பிதமநோபு³த்³தி⁴ர்யோ மத்³ப⁴க்த: ஸ மே ப்ரிய: ॥ 12-14॥
ಅಹಮಾತ್ಮಾ ಗುಡಾಕೇಶ ಸರ್ವಭೂತಾಶಯಸ್ಥಿತಃ ।
ಅಹಮಾದಿಶ್ಚ ಮಧ್ಯಂ ಚ ಭೂತಾನಾಮಂತ ಏವ ಚ ॥ 10-20॥
ಉದ್ಧರೇದಾತ್ಮನಾತ್ಮಾನಂ ನಾತ್ಮಾನಮವಸಾದಯೇತ್ ।
ಆತ್ಮೈವ ಹ್ಯಾತ್ಮನೋ ಬಂಧುರಾತ್ಮೈವ ರಿಪುರಾತ್ಮನಃ ॥ 6-5॥
ಅದ್ವೇಷ್ಟಾ ಸರ್ವಭೂತಾನಾಂ ಮೈತ್ರಃ ಕರುಣ ಏವ ಚ ।
ನಿರ್ಮಮೋ ನಿರಹಂಕಾರಃ ಸಮದುಃಖಸುಖಃ ಕ್ಷಮೀ ॥ 12-13॥
ಸಂತುಷ್ಟಃ ಸತತಂ ಯೋಗೀ ಯತಾತ್ಮಾ ದೃಢನಿಶ್ಚಯಃ ।
ಮಯ್ಯರ್ಪಿತಮನೋಬುದ್ಧಿರ್ಯೋ ಮದ್ಭಕ್ತಃ ಸ ಮೇ ಪ್ರಿಯಃ ॥ 12-14॥
അഹമാത്മാ ഗുഡാകേശ സര്വഭൂതാശയസ്ഥിതഃ ।
അഹമാദിശ്ച മധ്യം ച ഭൂതാനാമന്ത ഏവ ച ॥ 10-20॥
ഉദ്ധരേദാത്മനാത്മാനം നാത്മാനമവസാദയേത് ।
ആത്മൈവ ഹ്യാത്മനോ ബന്ധുരാത്മൈവ രിപുരാത്മനഃ ॥ 6-5॥
അദ്വേഷ്ടാ സര്വഭൂതാനാം മൈത്രഃ കരുണ ഏവ ച ।
നിര്മമോ നിരഹങ്കാരഃ സമദുഃഖസുഖഃ ക്ഷമീ ॥ 12-13॥
സന്തുഷ്ടഃ സതതം യോഗീ യതാത്മാ ദൃഢനിശ്ചയഃ ।
മയ്യര്പിതമനോബുദ്ധിര്യോ മദ്ഭക്തഃ സ മേ പ്രിയഃ ॥ 12-14॥
অহমাত্মা গুডাকেশ সর্বভূতাশয়স্থিতঃ ।
অহমাদিশ্চ মধ্যং চ ভূতানামন্ত এব চ ॥ ১০-২০॥
উদ্ধরেদাত্মনাত্মানং নাত্মানমবসাদয়েত্ ।
আত্মৈব হ্যাত্মনো বন্ধুরাত্মৈব রিপুরাত্মনঃ ॥ ৬-৫॥
অদ্বেষ্টা সর্বভূতানাং মৈত্রঃ করুণ এব চ ।
নির্মমো নিরহঙ্কারঃ সমদুঃখসুখঃ ক্ষমী ॥ ১২-১৩॥
সন্তুষ্টঃ সততং য়োগী য়তাত্মা দৃঢনিশ্চয়ঃ ।
ময়্যর্পিতমনোবুদ্ধির্যো মদ্ভক্তঃ স মে প্রিয়ঃ ॥ ১২-১৪॥
અહમાત્મા ગુડાકેશ સર્વભૂતાશયસ્થિતઃ ।
અહમાદિશ્ચ મધ્યં ચ ભૂતાનામન્ત એવ ચ ॥ ૧૦-૨૦॥
ઉદ્ધરેદાત્મનાત્માનં નાત્માનમવસાદયેત્ ।
આત્મૈવ હ્યાત્મનો બન્ધુરાત્મૈવ રિપુરાત્મનઃ ॥ ૬-૫॥
અદ્વેષ્ટા સર્વભૂતાનાં મૈત્રઃ કરુણ એવ ચ ।
નિર્મમો નિરહઙ્કારઃ સમદુઃખસુખઃ ક્ષમી ॥ ૧૨-૧૩॥
સન્તુષ્ટઃ સતતં યોગી યતાત્મા દૃઢનિશ્ચયઃ ।
મય્યર્પિતમનોબુદ્ધિર્યો મદ્ભક્તઃ સ મે પ્રિયઃ ॥ ૧૨-૧૪॥
ਅਹਮਾਤ੍ਮਾ ਗੁਡਾਕੇਸ਼ ਸਰ੍ਵਭੂਤਾਸ਼ਯਸ੍ਥਿਤਃ ।
ਅਹਮਾਦਿਸ਼੍ਚ ਮਧ੍ਯਂ ਚ ਭੂਤਾਨਾਮਨ੍ਤ ਏਵ ਚ ॥ ੧੦-੨੦॥
ਉਦ੍ਧਰੇਦਾਤ੍ਮਨਾਤ੍ਮਾਨਂ ਨਾਤ੍ਮਾਨਮਵਸਾਦਯੇਤ੍ ।
ਆਤ੍ਮੈਵ ਹ੍ਯਾਤ੍ਮਨੋ ਬਨ੍ਧੁਰਾਤ੍ਮੈਵ ਰਿਪੁਰਾਤ੍ਮਨਃ ॥ ੬-੫॥
ਅਦ੍ਵੇਸ਼੍ਟਾ ਸਰ੍ਵਭੂਤਾਨਾਂ ਮੈਤ੍ਰਃ ਕਰੁਣ ਏਵ ਚ ।
ਨਿਰ੍ਮਮੋ ਨਿਰਹਙ੍ਕਾਰਃ ਸਮਦੁਃਖਸੁਖਃ ਕ੍ਸ਼ਮੀ ॥ ੧੨-੧੩॥
ਸਨ੍ਤੁਸ਼੍ਟਃ ਸਤਤਂ ਯੋਗੀ ਯਤਾਤ੍ਮਾ ਦਢਨਿਸ਼੍ਚਯਃ ।
ਮਯ੍ਯਰ੍ਪਿਤਮਨੋਬੁਦ੍ਧਿਰ੍ਯੋ ਮਦ੍ਭਕ੍ਤਃ ਸ ਮੇ ਪ੍ਰਿਯਃ ॥ ੧੨-੧੪॥
ଅହମାତ୍ମା ଗୁଡାକେଶ ସର୍ଵଭୂତାଶୟସ୍ଥିତଃ ।
ଅହମାଦିଶ୍ଚ ମଧ୍ୟଂ ଚ ଭୂତାନାମନ୍ତ ଏଵ ଚ ॥ ୧୦-୨୦॥
ଉଦ୍ଧରେଦାତ୍ମନାତ୍ମାନଂ ନାତ୍ମାନମଵସାଦୟେତ୍ ।
ଆତ୍ମୈଵ ହ୍ୟାତ୍ମନୋ ବନ୍ଧୁରାତ୍ମୈଵ ରିପୁରାତ୍ମନଃ ॥ ୬-୫॥
ଅଦ୍ଵେଷ୍ଟା ସର୍ଵଭୂତାନାଂ ମୈତ୍ରଃ କରୁଣ ଏଵ ଚ ।
ନିର୍ମମୋ ନିରହଙ୍କାରଃ ସମଦୁଃଖସୁଖଃ କ୍ଷମୀ ॥ ୧୨-୧୩॥
ସନ୍ତୁଷ୍ଟଃ ସତତଂ ୟୋଗୀ ୟତାତ୍ମା ଦୃଢନିଶ୍ଚୟଃ ।
ମୟ୍ୟର୍ପିତମନୋବୁଦ୍ଧିର୍ୟୋ ମଦ୍ଭକ୍ତଃ ସ ମେ ପ୍ରିୟଃ ॥ ୧୨-୧୪॥
అహమాత్మా గుడాకేశ సర్వభూతాశయస్థితః ।
అహమాదిశ్చ మధ్యం చ భూతానామన్త ఏవ చ ॥ ౧౦-౨౦॥
ఉద్ధరేదాత్మనాత్మానం నాత్మానమవసాదయేత్ ।
ఆత్మైవ హ్యాత్మనో బన్ధురాత్మైవ రిపురాత్మనః ॥ ౬-౫॥
అద్వేష్టా సర్వభూతానాం మైత్రః కరుణ ఏవ చ ।
నిర్మమో నిరహఙ్కారః సమదుఃఖసుఖః క్షమీ ॥ ౧౨-౧౩॥
సన్తుష్టః సతతం యోగీ యతాత్మా దృఢనిశ్చయః ।
మయ్యర్పితమనోబుద్ధిర్యో మద్భక్తః స మే ప్రియః ॥ ౧౨-౧౪॥
Gita text are all from https://sanskritdocuments.org/doc_giitaa/bhagvadnew.html