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, 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]

  • Henry D. Thoreau, leader of the Transcendentalist Movement. In 1831 Emerson read the newly published English translation of Cousin’s Cours de philosophie [Course in the History of Modern Philosophy], which contained two chapters of the Bhagavad Gita (Song of the Lord). The Bhagavad Gita had been translated into English between 1824 and 1827 in the journal of the sister body of the Asiatick Society of Bengal, the Transactions of the

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]

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".[19]

Quotes about the Bhagavad Gita[edit]

File:Gandhi smiling 1942.jpg
When doubts haunt me and disappointments stare me in the face and I see not one ray of hope on the horizon, I turn to the Bhagavad Gita and find a verse to comfort me; I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming sorrow.
Mahatma Gandhi
File:Bhagvad Gita.jpg
In the Bhagavad Gita we have faith, a faith based on spiritual vision. In this vision we have Light. Shall we see? This Song calls us to Love and Life. Shall we hear?
Juan Mascaró
File:Trinity shot color.jpg
We knew the world would not be the same. Few people laughed, 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.
Robert Oppenheimer
File:Shiva in rishikesh.jpg
In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagvat-Geeta, since whose composition years of the gods have elapsed, and in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial... — Henry David Thoreau
File:GitaUpadeshTirumala.jpg
The Bhagavad-Gita is perhaps the most systematic scriptural statement of the Perennial Philosophy. — Aldous Huxley
File:Dada J P Vaswani.jpg
The message of the Gita is the message of courage, heroism and atmashakti. The Gita teaches us that weakness is a sin, while shakti is a spiritual virtue.
J. P. Vaswani
File:Swami-vivekananda.jpg
The Geeta is a bouquet composed of the beautiful flowers of spiritual truths collected from the Upanishads. — Swami Vivekananda
  • 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.
    • Sri Aurobindo, "Sacred Jewels of Yoga: Wisdom from India's Beloved Scriptures, Teachers, Masters, and Monk"
  • The thought of the Gita is not pure Monism although it sees in one unchanging, pure, eternal Self the foundation of all cosmic existence, nor Mayavada although it speaks of the Maya of the three modes of Prakriti omnipresent in the created world; nor is it qualified Monism although it places in the One his eternal supreme Prakriti manifested in the form of the Jiva and lays most stress on dwelling in God rather than dissolution as the supreme state of spiritual consciousness; nor is it Sankhya although it explains the created world by the double principle of Purusha and Prakriti; nor is it Vaishnava Theism although it presents to us Krishna, who is the Avatara of Vishnu according to the Puranas, as the supreme Deity and allows no essential difference nor any actual superiority of the status of the indefinable relationless Brahman over that of this Lord of beings who is the Master of the universe and the Friend of all creatures. Like the earlier spiritual synthesis of the Upanishads this later synthesis at once spiritual and intellectual avoids naturally every such rigid determination as would injure its universal comprehensiveness. Its aim is precisely the opposite to that of the polemist commentators who found this Scripture established as one of the three highest Vedantic authorities and attempted to turn it into a weapon of offence and defence against other schools and systems. The Gita is not a weapon for dialectical warfare; it is a gate opening on the whole world of spiritual truth and experience and the view it gives us embraces all the provinces of that supreme region. It maps out, but it does not cut up or build walls or hedges to confine our vision.
  • 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, "The Bhagavad Gita: The Lord's Song", The Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Preface
  • The subject matter of the Gita ranges from vast universal cosmology to our innermost life. We learn to see the world around us from the perspective of sages who saw the beauty of God reflected in every aspect of nature – the rivers, the mountains, the sky, the ocean, the plants, the animals. And we then learn how to move from appreciation of the reflected beauty of God to contemplation of the original beauty of God Himself. We learn that the journey of life did not begin with birth and will not end with the death of the body—for the soul there is neither birth nor death. We learn how we can become modern yogis, satisfied with the pleasure that comes from within, undisturbed by the turbulence of life in even the fastest lanes of third millenium society.
  • The Gita does not present a system of philosophy. It offers something to every seeker after God, of whatever temperament, by whatever path. The reason for this universal appeal is that it is basically practical: it is a handbook for Self-realization and a guide to action.
  • For, as we have now abundantly seen, the Gītā makes no attempt to be logical or systematic in its philosophy. It is frankly mystical and emotional. What we may, if we like, call its inconsistencies are not due to slovenliness in reasoning; nor do they express a balanced reserve of judgment. This is sufficiently proved in several cases by the fact that the Gītā deliberately brackets two opposing views and asserts the validity of both. It is only in the realm of logic that we must choose between yes and no, or else confess ignorance. The Gītā finds no difficulty in saying both yes and no, at the same time. For its point of view is simply unrelated to logic. Even what it calls "knowledge" is really intuitional perception; it is not, and is not intended to be, based on rational analysis. And, as we have seen, "knowledge" is not the Gītā’s favorite "way of salvation." To the Gītā, as to the Christian mystics, reason is an uncertain and flickering light. The truly "wise" man should abandon it wholly and follow the "kindly Light," the lux benigna, of God’s grace.
  • I owed a magnificent day to the Bhagavad-gita. It was the first of books’ 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 rage and climate had pondered and thus disposed of the same questions which exercise us.
  • When doubts haunt me and disappointments stare me in the face and I see not one ray of hope on the horizon, I turn to the Bhagavad Gita and find a verse to comfort me; I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming sorrow.
    • Mahatma Gandhi, "The Bhagavad Gita: According to Gandhi" (2011), Orient Publishing
  • As a scripture, the Gītā embodies the supreme spiritual mystery and secret. It contains the essence of all the four Vedas. Its style is so simple and elegant that after a little study a man can easily follow the structure of its words; but the thought behind those words, is so deep and abstruse that even a lifelong constant study does not show one the end of it. Everyday the book exhibits a new facet to thought; hence the Gītā remains eternally new.
    • Gita Press, "Śrīmad Bhagavadgītā", code 1658, Glory of the Gītā.
  • The marvel of the Bhagavad-Gita is its truly beautiful revelation of lifes wisdom which enables philosophy to blossom into religion.
  • The Bhagavad-Gita is the most systematic statement of spiritual evolution of endowing value to mankind. It 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.
    • Aldous Huxley, "Sacred Jewels of Yoga: Wisdom from India's Beloved Scriptures, Teachers, Masters, and Monk"
  • The Bhagavad-Gita is perhaps the most systematic scriptural statement of the Perennial Philosophy. To a world at war, a world that, because it lacks the intellectual and spiritual prerequisites to peace, can only hope to patch up some kind of precarious armed truce, it stands pointing, clearly and unmistakably, to the only road of escape from the self-imposed necessity of self-destruction.
  • The Bhagwat Gita Is the most revered religious book in Hinduism. It is a acceptable to people of many different religious denominations. It has been translated into many different languages. It is considered to be a book not only of religion but also of ethics, espousing eternal moral values. … According to Ambedkar, the Bhagwat Gita is neither a book of religion nor a treatise on philosophy. What the Bhagwat Gita does is to defend certain dogmas of religion on philosophic grounds. It is a philosophic defence of the counter-revolution.
  • In a very clear and wonderful way, under the guise of physical warfare, the Gita describes the dual that perpetually goes on in the hearts of each one of us; a fight of dharma, justice, against adharma, evil, injustice. The battle takes place not only on the fields of Kurukshetra but also on the elusive dharmakshetra 'field of dharma', a spiritual field within each of us where all moral struggles are waged.
  • I believe that in all the living languages of the world, there is no book so full of true knowledge, and yet so handy as the Bhagawad Geeta..... It brings to men the highest knowledge, the purest love and the most luminous action. It teaches self-control, the threefold austerity, non-violence, truth, compassion, obedience to the call of duty for the sake of duty and putting up a fight against unrighteousness (Adharma)... To my knowledge, there is no book in the whole range of the world's literature so high above all as the Bhagawad Geeta which is treasure-house of Dharma not only for Hindus but for all mankind.
    • Madan Mohan Malaviya, as quoted in "The Holy Geeta", Commentary by Swami Chinmayananda, Central Chinmaya Mission Trust, 1996, The Geeta as others see it.
  • In the Bhagavad Gita we have faith, a faith based on spiritual vision. In this vision we have Light. Shall we see? This Song calls us to Love and Life. Shall we hear?
  • 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.
  • We knew the world would not be the same. Few people laughed, 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.
    • Robert Oppenheimer, in an interview about the Trinity nuclear explosion, first broadcast as part of the television documentary The Decision to Drop the Bomb (1965), produced by Fred Freed, NBC White Paper; Oppenheimer is quoting from the 1944 Vivekananda-Isherwood translation of the Gita (ch. XI verse 32). The line is spoken to Arjuna by Krishna, who is revered in Hindu traditions as one of the major incarnations of Vishnu; some assert that the passage would be better translated "I am become Time, the destroyer of worlds."
  • The Bhagavad Gita... is the most beautiful philosophical song existing in any known tongue.
    • Robert Oppenheimer, "Sacred Jewels of Yoga: Wisdom from India's Beloved Scriptures, Teachers, Masters, and Monks"
  • Through the centuries, the Gita has remained a relevant text, inspiring militant revolutionaries, non-violent truth-seekers and renouncers of the world. It has enlightened German philosophers such as Schopenhauer and Heidegger; it has inspired Victorian poets such as Sir Edwin Arnold; and it has grounded post-Independence philosophers such as Sarvapelli Radhakrishnan. It has become a literary 'site' which decision-makers turn to to understand their dilemmas, whether they be Indian women and men leading Gandhi's satyagraha, twenty-first-century South Asian-American officers deciding to go to war in the Gulf, or London housewives with their children deciding how to organize their day.
  • The Bhagavadgītā is more a religious classic than a philosophical treatise. It is not an esoteric work designed for and understood by the specially initiated but a popular poem which helps even those 'who wander in the region of the many and variable'.
  • The Bhagavad-Gita professes to give nothing new beyond what has previously been taught by the Upanishads. It contents itself with a synthesis of the older teachings.
  • The Bhagvad-Gita is the fountainhead of Eastern psychology.
    • Swami Rama, as quoted in "Bhagavad Gita"], Charles Johnston, Pilgrims Publishing, 2004 (first published in 1908), Back Cover
  • Time and time again in the Gita, Krishna declares love for the devotee, and seems to long for the devotee's wisdom and love. The Gita is not only a poem, it is a love poem. May fidelity, then, be deep, complex, and lively.
  • In order to approach a creation as sublime as the Bhagavad-gita with full understanding it is necessary to attune our soul to it.
  • In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagvat-Geeta, since whose composition years of the gods have elapsed, and in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial; and I doubt if that philosophy is not to be referred to a previous state of existence, so remote is its sublimity from our conceptions. I lay down the book and go to my well for water, and lo! there I meet the servant of the Bramin, priest of Brahma and Vishnu and Indra, who still sits in his temple on the Ganges reading the Vedas, or dwells at the root of a tree with his crust and water jug. I meet his servant come to draw water for his master, and our buckets as it were grate together in the same well. The pure Walden water is mingled with the sacred water of the Ganges.
  • The Gītā was not preached either as a pastime for persons tired out after living a worldly life in the pursuit of selfish motives nor as a preparatory lesson for living such worldly life; but in order to give philosophical advice as to how one should live his worldly life with an eye to Release (mokṣa) and as to the true duty of human beings in worldly life.
  • It is not a book teaching you how to worship God. Many other texts do the same. It focuses more on the eternal quest to reach Godhead.
  • The Geeta is a bouquet composed of the beautiful flowers of spiritual truths collected from the Upanishads.
  • In summation, the sublime essence of the Bhagavad Gita is that right action, nonattachment to the world and to its sense pleasures, and union with God by the highest yoga of pranayama meditation, learned from an enlightened guru, constitute the royal path to God-attainment.

References[edit]

  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<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Hume, Robert Ernest (1959), The world's living religions, p. 29<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "A Book Referred to by the Greatest Minds". http://www.goodreads.com/. Retrieved 11 April 2012. External link in |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 http://www.telegraphindia.com/1021114/asp/opinion/story_1363040.asp
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 "Famous Reflections on the Bhagavad Gita". http://www.bhagavad-gita.us. Retrieved 11 April 2012. External link in |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Self-Control, the Key to Self-Realisation". http://www.eng.vedanta.ru/. Retrieved 11 April 2012. External link in |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Sushama Londhe. A Tribute to Hinduism: Thoughts and Wisdom Spanning Continents and Time about India and Her Culture. Pragun Publications. p. 191.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. George Anastaplo (2002). But Not Philosophy: Seven Introductions to Non-Western Thought. Lexington. p. 85.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. as cited in "India Discovered" - By John Keay p 25 https://books.google.com/books?id=nekvAQAAIAAJ&focus=searchwithinvolume&q=warren+hastings
  16. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdd_UYpsU_E&t=1m15s
  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" https://books.google.com/books?id=8MF-HrGXZIEC&pg=PT317&dq=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.&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiB_4vD7LrMAhULm5QKHdCECzEQ6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&q=if%20we%20want%20to%20approach%20such%20a%20creation%20as%20sublime%20as%20the%20Bhagavad-gita%20with%20full%20understanding%20it%20is%20necessary%20for%20us%20to%20attune%20our%20souls%20to%20it.&f=false
  19. TIMMONS, HEATHER; RAINA, PAMPOSH. "A Conversation With: E. Sreedharan". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 July 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>