25 Jan 2012

Singing the Song of God: What is your favourite quote from the Bhagavad Gita?





You cannot even begin to conceive
how much I care for you.

I am your eternal refuge. Do not be afraid.
I promise, I will save you.”


This is my favourite quotation from the Bhagavad Gita.

I have it pinned to my bedroom wall. But I don’t know which of the many translations of the Gita this came from. I make it a habit of reading a different translation each year, and when I came across this quotation (in a book called The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hinduism), I quickly jotted it down, desperate to find out which translation it was from. But the book’s author does not say -– so I have been on a hunt for it ever since.

If you know, please tell me!

The quote is from the end of the Gita and forms part of the final words of Krishna (the preceptor, the embodiment of the Lord in the Gita) to Arjuna (the student, the warrior, the embodiment of every human soul). Every translation renders it somewhat differently. The one I am seeking (above) appears to be from an English translation from the latter part of the 20th or early 21st century. I’m guessing that based solely on the ‘feel’ of the language and use of common terms, rather than the use of ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ and similar language, as was common of Victorian translations, for instance. It is obviously a translation meant to reach the masses and touch the heart, not a particularly scholarly text. But other than that, I have no clues.

This is the relevant passage in Sanskrit transliteration:

Sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja,
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo mokshayishyami ma sucah

And this is how the English-American novelist Christopher Isherwood and Swami Prabhavananda, Indian philosopher of the Ramakrishna Order, translated it in The Song of God in 1944:

This is my promise
Who love you dearly,
Lay down all duties
In me, your refuge.
Fear no longer,
For I will save you
From sin and from bondage.

Here’s Swami Dayananda’s translation in The Teaching of the Bhagavad Gita:

Giving up all actions, seek Me as your sole refuge. I will liberate you from all sins; do not grieve.

And Swami Krishnananda, in his Commentary on the Bhagavadgita, provides this explication of what the quotation means:

The power of God is greater than the power of all the people in the world, in all creation. Renounce all the rules and regulations of the temporal world, which are temporary because they require transformation, change, emendation from moment to moment; but stick to the supreme dharma which is devotion to Me. Leave other dharmas which are characteristic of performance of work, etc., in the world of diversity, because all that variety of dharma is subsumed under this greatest of dharmas, that is love of God. There is no dharma equal to that.

There are varieties of dharmas in this world: family dharma, individual dharma, social dharma, political dharma, kshatriya dharma, brahmana dharma, and so on. They are all good in their own way, in their own place, but they are all nothing before the utter surrender of the soul to God. And all these dharmas, these rules, these Smrtis, these law codes – these systems of operation of secular dharma – are all included in that highest of spiritual dharmas, namely, unity with God.

Mamekam saranam vraja: “Surrender yourself to Me, and resort to Me only. I shall destroy all your sins.” This is a great statement indeed...

These and other translations help me to understand this favourite passage and the Gita as a whole in different ways, bringing to light diverse aspects of the text and its meaning. But they don’t surpass, for me, that particular favourite quote. Once something touches you in a certain way, it becomes personal. Your own personal bit of the Gita. So if you can help me out and you know which translation it is from, please share it here. I’d be so grateful.



In the meanwhile, please share your own favourite quote from the Gita. I’d love to know which part of it touches you or means the most to you.


  1. This verse which u quoted is excellent, T.A.H.

    My favourite is ,..
    '' nainam chidanti shastrani, nainam dahti pavakah, nai chainam klaiyadyantyapo, nai soshyati marutah''

    Lord krishna describe soul as:.,
    " who is beyond the piercing power of any weapon, beyond the burning potential of fire, whom water can't soak and whom winds can't dry."

  2. 3:29~

    prakriter guna-sammudhah
    sajjante guna-karmasu
    tan akrtsna-vido mandan
    krtsna-vin na vicalayet

    Those deluded by the gunas
    Of prakriti become attached
    To their actions. Let not the wise
    Upset these of partial knowledge.

    This is one I wrote a private blog speaks of silence, to hold our knowledge when around the unaware. It speaks of a great not unsettle those still sleeping.

  3. Thank you both for sharing those.

    Mahalaya, I'll pop on over to your blog to read your reflections on the quote.

    Priyank Chauhan, did you translate that yourself? or can you tell us what translation the quote is from? it's a very beautiful rendition into English.

  4. I took it off private for a few days, it was very personal but I <3 you...and think you will understand.

  5. What an intimate & brave post, Mahalaya. Thanks for giving us a chance to read it. I wish I had your guts to write such deeply personal and deeply moving accounts on this blog. So far I've been a bit shy and distant. I learn a lot from reading your writing about how to open up... xoxo

  6. I read the relevant book passage in "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Hinduism," and I am thinking that maybe the author didn't give anyone's translation, but a paraphrase - the same way we read sources for a college paper and then write the information in our own words - interpreting Krishna's promise in a simple way that would speak to everyone. I don't know the Sanskrit to say for sure, but that's my guess!

  7. Hello maghavan -- good guess. Yes, it could simply be the author Linda Johnsen's own paraphrase or translation. I had a look to see if there was an email/contact info for her anywhere. I wanted to see if she would be able to answer the question herself, but no luck. Well, regardless, it's still a lovely quotation, no matter where it came from :)

  8. Greetings. This would be my first comment on your wonderful blog. There are many Bhagavad Gita verses that I love, and this is one of them: "If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it." (Chapter 9, verse 27).

  9. Thank you for commenting, SK Chia. And for your kind words on the blog. That's indeed a lovely quotation. You're right, there are so many verses to love in the Gita. I will share this one with my children... I'm trying to get them into the habbit of doing a simple, brief morning puja with me before school. I think teaching them that the Lord will be pleased with the simple beauties of "a leaf, a flower, fruit or water" so long as they give it with love is a wonderful lesson. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Here's mine:

    I am the Self, O Arjuna, seated in the heart of all. I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all beings.

    Inn the next few weeks I'm going to be going through the Bhagavad Gita; not verse by verse, but chapter by chapter, to arrive at a deeper understanding of it, on my blog. All are welcome to join!

  11. Oh, that's a great idea, Aruna -- I will be there, reading along, chapter by chapter. Thanks for letting us know. For those who don't know, Aruna's blog is -- (and, yes, beautiful quote!)

  12. Well I've started the series; though not at the beginning!Just thought I'd start with the gunas, as I had already written part of that.

  13. AS a bhagwat lover myself i must tell you which is the best translation available according to me.

    book name:- Shrimad Bhagwad Geeta (Sadhak Sanjeevani),
    Writer and commentator:- Swami Ramsukhdasji,
    publication:- Geeta Press Gorakhpur

    now let me tell you about the great author

    This Century’s Bhagwat lovers, lifeless and famous among the followers MAHAPURUSH SWAMI RAM SUKH DAS JI MAHARAJ was born in a small village “Madpura”, Dist. Nagoor in Rajasthan in the year 1904 (V.S. 1960) in Phalgun Month. His mother made him a “Sadhu” in his early age of 4 years. In all ; he remained alive on this earth till his age of one hundred two years while performing his sacrificial Sadhu Dharama. He went from village to village, city to city and showered the “Amrut of Satsangh” over the people. The search which he has completed in his life, seems impossible that any other “Sant” can do so. Remaining away from the personal exposure he only spread the Geeta Bhagwadbhav keeping in mind for the boost up and betterment of the people and it remained main aim of his life. And it was the reason that he was not interested in clicking of his photographs, appointing disciples, accepting gifts, accumulating money and goods, making shelters, appointing groups etc. and always remained away from all these things. In this way not attracting the people towards him, he made them attracted towards “Bhagwan”. He not even made himself related with any individual, institution, community or ashram and nor even made any body as his student, followers and nominee. He lived his life on “Bhiksha” and continued his “ Mansa-Vacha-Karma” (duty towards humankind ) till his last days without hoping to get any thing in return.

    Poojya Ramsukhdas ji never allowed himself to be photographed in his life span of 103 years!
    And never took a single piece of money.
    What great sage.
    His commentary of Bhagavad Gita called ‘Sadhak Sanjeevani’
    His commentary is so beautiful and extraordinary
    His handling of each sloka and the explanations simply amazing
    Swami was no ordinary word to word commentator with linguistic or literary brilliance. He was a realized master who lived the Gita and he was giving his own experiences in words. For example his explanation on ‘kriya, karma and karma yoga’ is unique and to be found nowhere.
    The world famous two other commentaries of Gita by Swami Chidbhavananda and Sri Prabhupada not even stand in front of his commentary.

    When you read all three and compare them you will find the truth and beauty

    i don't know if its available in English but recommend a must read.