Influence of Bhagavad Gita

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This article is on the influence of Bhagavad Gita, see main article Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagavad Gita has been highly praised numerous times not only by Indians but also people like Aldous Huxley, Henry David Thoreau, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Carl Jung, Bulent Ecevit, Hermann Hesse, and others.[1][2][3] The main source of the doctrine of Karma Yoga is obviously Bhagavad Gita. Albert Schweitzer found in Gita "a profound influence on the spirit of mankind by its devotion to God which is manifested by actions."[4][5]

Famous reflections[edit]

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

The Bhagavad Gita's emphasis on selfless service was a prime source of inspiration for Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Gandhi told-"When doubts haunt me, when disappointments stare me in the face, and I see not one ray of hope on the horizon, I turn to Bhagavad-Gita and find a verse to comfort me; and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming sorrow. Those who meditate on the Gita will derive fresh joy and new meanings from it every day".[6]

Sri Aurobindo

According to Sri Aurobindo, the "Bhagavad-Gita is a true scripture of the human race a living creation rather than a book, with a new message for every age and a new meaning for every civilization."[6]

Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda evinced much interest in Bhagavad Gita. It is said, Bhagavad Gita was one of his two most favourite books (another one was The Imitation of Christ). In 1888-1893 when Vivekananda was travelling all over India as a wandering monk, he kept only two books with him — Gita and Imitation of Christ.[7]

Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley, the English writer found Gita "the most systematic statement of spiritual evolution of endowing value to mankind.", He also felt, Gita is "one of the most clear and comprehensive summaries of perennial philosophy ever revealed; hence its enduring value is subject not only to India but to all of humanity."[6]

Jawaharlal Nehru

Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India found that "The Bhagavad Gita deals essentially with the spiritual foundation of human existence. It is a call of action to meet the obligations and duties of life; yet keeping in view the spiritual nature and grander purpose of the universe."[8]

J. Robert Oppenheimer

J. Robert Oppenheimer, American physicist and director of the Manhattan Project, learned Sanskrit in 1933 and read the Bhagavad Gita in the original, citing it later as one of the most influential books to shape his philosophy of life. Upon witnessing the world's first nuclear test in 1945, he later said he had thought of the quotation "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds", verse 32 from Chapter 11 of the Bhagavad Gita.[9][10]

Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau wrote "In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial."[11]

Hermann Graf Keyserling

Hermann Graf Keyserling, German Philosopher regarded Bhagavad-Gita as "Perhaps the most beautiful work of the literature of the world."[12]

Hermann Hesse

Hermann Hesse felt that "the marvel of the Bhagavad-Gita is its truly beautiful revelation of life's wisdom which enables philosophy to blossom into religion."[6]

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson said this about the Bhagavad Gita: "I owed a magnificent day to the Bhagavad-Gita. It was as if an empire spoke to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large, serene, consistent,the voice of an old intelligence which in another age and climate had pondered and thus disposed of the same questions which exercise us."[13]

Wilhelm von Humboldt

Wilhelm von Humboldt pronounced the Gita as: "The most beautiful, perhaps the only true philosophical song existing in any known tongue ... perhaps the deepest and loftiest thing the world has to show."[14]

Bulent Ecevit

Turkish Ex prime minister Bulent Ecevit, when asked what had given him the courage to send Turkish troops to Cyprus . His answer was "He was fortified by the Bhagavad Gita which taught that if one were morally right, one need not hesitate to fight injustice".[5]

Lord Warren Hastings

The first governor general of British India wrote: "I hesitate not to pronounce the Gita a performance of great originality, of sublimity of conception, reasoning and diction almost unequalled; and a single exception, amongst all the known religions of mankind."[15]

Sunita Williams

Sunita Williams, an American astronaut who holds the record for longest single space flight by a woman carried a copy of Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads with her to space, said "Those are spiritual things to reflect upon yourself,life, world around you and see things other way, I thought it was quite appropriate" while talking about her time in space.[16]

Annie Besant

"That the spiritual man need not be a recluse, that union with the divine Life may be achieved and maintained in the midst of worldly affairs, that the obstacles to that union lie not outside us but within us—such is the central lesson of the Bhagavad-Gītā."-Annie Besant[17]

Rudolf Steiner

"If we want to approach such a creation as sublime as the Bhagavad-gita with full understanding it is necessary for us to attune our souls to it. "- Rudolf Steiner[18]


  1. ^ [1] "The Gita of J. Robert Oppenheimer" by JAMES A. HIJIYA, Professor of History, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (PDF file)
  2. ^ Pandit, Bansi, Explore Hinduism, p. 27 
  3. ^ Hume, Robert Ernest (1959), The world's living religions, p. 29 
  4. ^ "A Book Referred to by the Greatest Minds". Retrieved 11 April 2012.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ a b c d "Famous Reflections on the Bhagavad Gita". Retrieved 11 April 2012.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  7. ^ "Self-Control, the Key to Self-Realisation". Retrieved 11 April 2012.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  8. ^ Sushama Londhe. A Tribute to Hinduism: Thoughts and Wisdom Spanning Continents and Time about India and Her Culture. Pragun Publications. p. 191. 
  9. ^ James A. Hijiya, "The Gita of Robert Oppenheimer" Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 144, no. 2 (Retrieved on 27 February 2011). [2]
  10. ^ See Robert Oppenheimer#Trinity for other refs
  11. ^ "The Bhagavad Gita and the West: The Esoteric Significance of the Bhagavad Gita and Its Relation to the Epistles of Paul", by Rudolf Steiner, p. 43
  12. ^ "The Huston Smith Reader", p. 122
  13. ^ Vijay Mishra (1994). The Gothic Sublime. SUNY Press. p. 249. 
  14. ^ George Anastaplo (2002). But Not Philosophy: Seven Introductions to Non-Western Thought. Lexington. p. 85. 
  15. ^ as cited in "India Discovered" - By John Keay p 25
  16. ^
  17. ^ "The Bhagavad Gita: The Lord's Song", The Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Preface
  18. ^ From his Lectures-"Gita And the West, Lecture 8: Helsinki, May 30 1913"