Influence of Bhagavad Gita

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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, Heinrich Himmler 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
The Trinity test of the Manhattan Project was the first detonation of a nuclear weapon, which lead Oppenheimer to recall verses from the Bhagavad Gita, notably being: "I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds".

J. Robert Oppenheimer, American physicist and director of the Manhattan Project, learned Sanskrit in 1933 and read the Bhagavad Gita in the original form, citing it later as one of the most influential books to shape his philosophy of life. Oppenheimer later recalled that, while witnessing the explosion of the Trinity nuclear test, he thought of verses from the Bhagavad Gita (XI,12):

कालोऽस्मि लोकक्षयकृत्प्रवृद्धो लोकान्समाहर्तुमिह प्रवृत्तः। ऋतेऽपि त्वां न भविष्यन्ति सर्वे येऽवस्थिताः प्रत्यनीकेषु योधाः॥११- ३२॥

If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one ...[9][10]

Years later he would explain that another verse had also entered his head at that time:

We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and, to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, 'Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.' I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.[11][a]

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."[15]

Hermann Graf Keyserling

Hermann Graf Keyserling, German Philosopher regarded Bhagavad-Gita as "Perhaps the most beautiful work of the literature of the world."[16]

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."[17]

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."[18]

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

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."[19]

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.[20]

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[21]

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[22]

E. Sreedharan

"You see, spirituality has no religious overtones. The essence of spirituality is to make a person pure in his mind and his thoughts. When I started reading our old scriptures, like the “Baghavad Gita,” I found it was useful for day-to-day life, so I started practicing it. I consider it an administrative gospel, one that will help you in doing things like running an organization".[23]

Shri Narendra D Modi

Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi has strongly pitched the Bhagavad Gita as "India's biggest gift to the world"[24]. Shri Modi gifted The Bhagavad Gita according to Gandhi to the then President of the United States of America, Mr Barack Obama in 2014 during his US visit[25]. As Shri Modi presents Gita to the leaders of the world, over a billion people find peace and purpose in these words of Krishna through Gandhi[26].


  1. ^ Oppenheimer spoke these words in the television documentary The Decision to Drop the Bomb (1965).[11] Oppenheimer read the original text in Sanskrit, "kālo'smi lokakṣayakṛtpravṛddho lokānsamāhartumiha pravṛttaḥ" (XI,32),[12] which he translated as "I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds". In the literature, the quote usually appears in the form shatterer of worlds, because this was the form in which it first appeared in print, in Time magazine on November 8, 1948.[13] It later appeared in Robert Jungk's Brighter than a Thousand Suns: A Personal History of the Atomic Scientists (1958),[9] which was based on an interview with Oppenheimer. See Hijiya, The Gita of Robert Oppenheimer[14]


  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-05-15. Retrieved 2013-12-16. "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.[better source needed]
  5. ^ a b "The Telegraph - Calcutta : Opinion". Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d "Famous Reflections on the Bhagavad Gita". Retrieved 11 April 2012.
  7. ^ "Self-Control, the Key to Self-Realisation". Retrieved 11 April 2012.
  8. ^ Sushama Londhe. A Tribute to Hinduism: Thoughts and Wisdom Spanning Continents and Time about India and Her Culture. Pragun Publications. p. 191.
  9. ^ a b Jungk 1958, p. 201.
  10. ^ "Bhagavad Gita As It Is, 11: The Universal Form, Text 12". A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
  11. ^ a b "J. Robert Oppenheimer on the Trinity test (1965)". Atomic Archive. Retrieved May 23, 2008.
  12. ^ "Chapter 11. The Universal Form, text 32". Bhagavad As It Is. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  13. ^ "The Eternal Apprentice". Time. November 8, 1948. Retrieved March 6, 2011.
  14. ^ Hijiya 2000, pp. 123–124.
  15. ^ "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
  16. ^ "The Huston Smith Reader", p. 122
  17. ^ Vijay Mishra (1994). The Gothic Sublime. SUNY Press. p. 249.
  18. ^ George Anastaplo (2002). But Not Philosophy: Seven Introductions to Non-Western Thought. Lexington. p. 85.
  19. ^ as cited in Keay, John (1988). India discovered. Collins. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-00-217859-4.
  20. ^ "I had samosas in space with me, says astronaut Sunita Williams". 2 April 2013. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  21. ^ "The Bhagavad Gita: The Lord's Song", The Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Preface
  22. ^ From his Lectures: Steiner, Rudolf (September 2009). The Bhagavad Gita and the West: The Esoteric Significance of the Bhagavad Gita and Its Relation to the Epistles of Paul. SteinerBooks. pp. 317–. ISBN 978-0-88010-961-1.
  23. ^ TIMMONS, HEATHER; RAINA, PAMPOSH. "A Conversation With: E. Sreedharan". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  24. ^ "Gita is India's biggest gift to the world: Modi".
  25. ^ "Bhagavad Gita According to Gandhi".
  26. ^ "Narendra Modi gifts Bhagavad Gita to Obama".