Welcome to our exploration of Mahatma Gandhi’s wisdom as it relates to the Bhagavad Gita. Gandhi, a revered leader and proponent of non-violence, found profound inspiration in this sacred Hindu scripture. In this blog, we’ll delve into some insightful quotes on the Bhagavad Gita said by Mahatma Gandhi, shedding light on his interpretation and how it influenced his life and principles. Join us on this journey as we uncover the teachings that guided Gandhi’s path to peace and justice.
Mahatma Gandhi Quotes on Bhagavad Gita
1. The Gita is not for those who have no faith.
Mahatma Gandhi recognized that the Bhagavad Gita is a deeply spiritual and philosophical text. This quote suggests that to truly understand and benefit from Gita’s teachings, one must approach it with faith and an open heart. Without faith in its underlying principles, the profound wisdom contained within may be lost on the reader.
2. The Gita distinguishes between the powers of light and darkness and demonstrates their incompatibility.
In this quote, Gandhi emphasizes that the Bhagavad Gita serves as a guide to understanding the fundamental conflict between good and evil, righteousness and unrighteousness. It highlights the Gita’s teachings on the incompatibility of these opposing forces and the moral choices individuals must make.
3. The Gita is not an aphoristic work, it is a great religious poem.
Gandhi here contrasts the Bhagavad Gita with a dry, concise collection of aphorisms. He sees the Gita as something more profound—a religious poem. It’s not just a set of detached maxims but a poetic narrative that conveys spiritual and moral lessons in a more vivid and meaningful way.
4. The salvation of the Gita is perfect peace.
Gandhi’s interpretation of the Gita centers on the attainment of inner peace as the ultimate goal. He believes that the teachings of the Gita lead individuals toward a state of perfect tranquility and harmony, both within themselves and with the world around them.
5. A literal interpretation of the Gita lands one in a sea of contradictions.
Gandhi warns against a purely literal reading of the Bhagavad Gita. He suggests that taking every word at face value can lead to confusion and apparent contradictions within the text. Instead, he advocates for a deeper, more nuanced understanding that considers the broader context and spirit of the Gita.
6. The renunciation of the Gita is the acid test of faith.
According to Gandhi, renunciation, or letting go of worldly desires and attachments, as advocated in the Bhagavad Gita, is a true test of one’s faith. It requires a strong and unwavering belief in the Gita’s teachings to embrace a life of renunciation.
7. The sannyasa of the Gita is all work and yet no work.
Gandhi describes the concept of sannyasa (renunciation) in the Gita as paradoxical. While it involves giving up worldly attachments, it does not mean complete inaction. Instead, it implies a state of selfless action, where one works without attachment to the results of their actions.
8. The sannyasa of the Gita will not tolerate complete cessation of activity.
Building on the previous point, Gandhi emphasizes that the Gita’s sannyasa is not about withdrawing from the world entirely. It encourages active participation in life and the fulfillment of one’s duties, but with a sense of detachment and selflessness.
9. Devotion required by the Gita is no soft-hearted effusiveness.
Gandhi underscores the idea that devotion, as advocated in the Bhagavad Gita, is not merely emotional sentimentality. It requires a deep and unwavering commitment to the path of righteousness and self-realization, even in the face of challenges and hardships.
10. The Bible is as much a book of religion with me as the Gita and the Koran.
Gandhi expresses his universal approach to spirituality, suggesting that he values and draws wisdom from various religious texts, including the Bhagavad Gita, the Bible, and the Quran. He sees common threads of truth and spirituality running through them.
11. Self-realization is the object of the Gita, as it is of all scriptures.
Gandhi emphasizes that the ultimate aim of the Bhagavad Gita, like other sacred texts, is to guide individuals towards self-realization—an understanding of their true nature and a deeper connection with the divine.
12. The object of the Gita appears to me to be that of showing the most excellent way to attain self-realization.
In this quote, Gandhi succinctly summarizes his interpretation of the Gita’s purpose. He sees it as a guidebook for achieving self-realization, offering a path that is characterized by moral excellence and spiritual growth.
13. “The message of the Gita is to be found in the second chapter of the Gita where Lord Krishna speaks of the balanced state of mind, of mental equipoise.”
Gandhi highlights the essence of the Bhagavad Gita by pointing to Chapter 2. In this chapter, Lord Krishna teaches Arjuna about maintaining mental equilibrium in the face of challenges. Gandhi underscores the importance of inner peace and balanced thinking as a central message of the Gita.
13. “Time is wealth, and the Gita says the Great Annihilator annihilates those who waste time.”
Gandhi draws attention to the Gita’s teachings on the value of time. The reference to the “Great Annihilator” implies that time is a precious resource, and the Gita emphasizes that those who squander it may face negative consequences.
14. “According to the letter of the Gita, it is possible to say that warfare is consistent with the renunciation of fruit.”
Gandhi discusses a key philosophical point in the Gita, which is the idea that one can engage in actions, such as warfare, without attachment to the outcomes or “fruits” of those actions. This concept allows individuals to fulfill their duties without selfish motives.
15. “The path of bhakti, karma, and love as expounded in the Gita leaves no room for the despising of man by man.”
Gandhi emphasizes the inclusivity and tolerance advocated in the Bhagavad Gita. The paths of devotion (bhakti), selfless action (karma), and love promote a sense of unity and harmony among all people, discouraging any form of discrimination or prejudice.
16. “I have felt that the Gita teaches us that what cannot be followed in day-to-day practice cannot be called religion.”
Gandhi underscores the practical nature of the Gita’s teachings. He suggests that true spirituality and religion must be applicable to everyday life. If a concept or practice cannot be integrated into one’s daily conduct, it may not align with the essence of genuine religious principles.
17. “My Gita tells me that evil can never result from good action.”
Gandhi’s interpretation of the Gita emphasizes the belief that good actions can only lead to positive outcomes. This aligns with his commitment to non-violence and the idea that righteous actions will never produce evil results.
18. “The Gita is not only my Bible and my Koran, it is more than that, it is my mother.”
Gandhi expresses profound reverence for the Bhagavad Gita, suggesting that it holds a special place in his life and heart. He views it as a source of guidance and wisdom that goes beyond mere religious texts, comparing it to a nurturing mother.
19. “I find solace in the Bhagavadgita and Upanishads that I miss even in the Sermon on the Mount.”
Gandhi, who drew inspiration from various religious texts, here acknowledges that the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads provide him with a unique sense of comfort and guidance, even surpassing the Sermon on the Mount from the Bible.
20. “The Gita has become for me the key to the scriptures of the world.”
Gandhi expresses how the Bhagavad Gita has become a central reference point for him in understanding and interpreting the teachings of various scriptures from around the world. It serves as a guiding framework for his spiritual and ethical beliefs.
21. “Let the Gita be to you a mine of diamonds, as it has been to me; let it be your constant guide and friend on life’s way.”
Gandhi encourages others to value the Bhagavad Gita as a source of invaluable wisdom, likening it to a precious mine of diamonds. He suggests that it can be a lifelong companion and guide in one’s journey through life.
22. “My life has been full of external tragedies and if they have not left any visible effect on me, I owe it to the teaching of the Bhagavadgita.”
Gandhi credits the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita for helping him maintain inner strength and resilience in the face of external hardships and tragedies. It underscores the transformative impact of the Gita on his life.
23. “In the characteristics of the perfected man of the Gita, I do not see any to correspond to physical warfare.”
Gandhi highlights that the Gita’s ideal of the “perfected man” does not align with the concept of engaging in physical warfare. He emphasizes the Gita’s teachings on non-violence and the importance of seeking solutions through peaceful means.
24. “I still somehow or another fancy that ‘my philosophy’ represents the true meaning of the teaching of the Gita.”
Gandhi acknowledges that he sees a deep resonance between his personal philosophy, particularly his commitment to non-violence and self-realization, and the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita. He believes that his interpretation of the Gita aligns with its core essence.
25. “Untouchability, I hold, is a sin, if Bhagavadgita is one of our Divine Books.”
Gandhi asserts that untouchability, a discriminatory practice in India, goes against the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita. He emphasizes that if the Gita is considered a divine scripture, then discrimination and the social ill of untouchability must be seen as sinful.
26. “In order that knowledge may not run riot, the author of the Gita has insisted on devotion accompanying it and has given it the first place.”
Gandhi highlights the importance of the combination of knowledge (Jnana) and devotion (Bhakti) in the Bhagavad Gita. He notes that the Gita places devotion first to ensure that knowledge is balanced by a sense of humility, compassion, and moral responsibility.
27. “The lives of Zoroaster, Jesus, and Mohammed, as I have understood them, have illumined many a passage in the Gita.”
Gandhi suggests that his understanding of the lives and teachings of various religious figures, including Zoroaster, Jesus, and Mohammed, has enriched his interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita. He finds parallels and insights that shed light on the Gita’s verses.
28. “The Krishna of the Gita is perfection and the right knowledge personified, but the picture is imaginary.”
Gandhi acknowledges that the character of Krishna in the Gita represents perfection and divine knowledge. However, he also notes that the portrayal of Krishna in the Gita is symbolic and not a literal depiction. It serves as a metaphorical representation of spiritual ideals.
29. “A devotee of Rama may be said to be the same as the steadfast one (sthitaprajnya) of the Gita.”
Gandhi draws a parallel between a devotee of Lord Rama and the concept of the “steadfast one” (sthitaprajnya) in the Gita. He implies that devotion to Rama can lead to the same level of inner stability and wisdom advocated in the Gita.
30. “The seeker is at liberty to extract from this treasure any meaning he likes, so as to enable him to enforce in his life the central teaching.”
Gandhi suggests that the Bhagavad Gita offers a wealth of spiritual insights, and each seeker has the freedom to interpret it in a way that helps them apply its central teachings to their own life. It underscores the Gita’s adaptability to individual spiritual journeys.
31. “To one who reads the spirit of the Gita, it teaches the secret of nonviolence, the secret of realizing self through the physical body.”
Gandhi asserts that for those who understand the deeper essence of the Gita, it imparts the knowledge of non-violence and the path to self-realization through the physical body. He sees these as key teachings that resonate with his philosophy of non-violence and self-discipline.
32. “What the Sermon describes in a graphic manner, the Bhagavadgita reduces to a scientific formula.”
Gandhi compares the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount, a key message in the Bible, to the Bhagavad Gita. He suggests that the Gita offers a more systematic and methodical approach to the spiritual principles described in the Sermon, reducing them to a structured “scientific formula” for practice and understanding.