Reflections on the Bhagwat Geeta – Chapter XVIII – Section 1


Chapter 18 is the final chapter of the Bhagwat Geeta.  As such, it first summarizes the discussion of the prior chapters. This we consider as Section 1 of Chapter 18. Rather than revisiting the entire summary, we shall highlight a few Verses that illustrate central concepts of the Bhagwat Geeta.

We all understand the feeling of remorse. We feel remorseful after a deed or an Action that we think was wrong. This was a major dilemma of Arjun. He understood the need to kill his cousins, uncles, grandfathers and teachers in war. But he worried about remorse and the consequences of his actions clinging to him forever.

The Bhagwat Geeta (& the Isha-UpaNisad) lay out the concept of Karma not getting attached to the performer of Karma. This was first introduced in Verse 14 of Chapter 4 and the theme underlies the central concept of निष्काम कर्म (Nishkaam Karma) or Action without any attachment to the fruits of Action.



  • Chapter 18, Verse 17 Who understands He is Not the Doer (यस्य न अहम्कृतो भावो), Whose Buddhi is not attached (to desire) (बुद्धि यस्य न लिप्यते), even when He kills people (हत्वा अपि इमां  लोकान), He has Not killed  (न हन्ति) and the Action does not bind to Him (न निबध्यते).

This is a simple yet profound statement. We refer you to our detailed discussion of Atman and Aham-Kaar in our article Reflections on the Bhagwat Geeta – Chapter XIII – The Basis of Yog.

This concept is then linked up with the concept of Sva-Dharma first introduced in the famous Verse 35 of Chapter III, the Verse being स्व-धर्मे निधनं श्रेयः पर-धर्मो भयावहः (It is better to die performing your own Dharma; Succumbing to another’s Dharma is frightening).

With this context, read the next Verse.


  • Chapter 18, Verse 35Even if another’s Dharma is easier to adopt (पर-धर्मात स्व-अनुष्ठितात), It is better (more appropriate) to stay in your own Dharma despite its faults (श्रेयान स्व-धर्मो वि-गुणः); Performing Karma determined by your Sva-Bhaav (स्व-भाव नियतं कर्म कुर्वन), does not create a blemish (fault, sin) (न आप्नोति किल्मिषम).
In a sense, this Verse is self-explanatory. It not only applies to Arjun but to all people who waged war to defend their country’s freedom. Just think of the brave freedom fighters against the British. It would have been so easy to just to fold and accept the British Dharma. In their fight, they committed certain Actions. But these Actions did not create any blemish on them or their reputation.

So far, Shree Krishna has discussed philosophy. As the time comes to end the Bhagwat Geeta, Shree Krishna becomes more direct and issues simple instructions that every person can follow.


  • Chapter 18, Verse 65Dedicate your mind to me (मन्मना भव); Become my Bhakt (भव मत भक्तो); Worship Me (मत अद्याजी); Do Namaskaar to Me (माम नमस्कुरु). (then) You will Reach Me (माम अवैश्यसी). That is the Truth, I assure you (सत्यम ते प्रतिजाने) . You are dear to Me (प्रियः असि मे) .

Note that the first line above is a repetition of the last Verse of Chapter 9.

Then comes the final instruction, the instruction from God to his Bhakt.


  • Chapter 18, Verse 66Renounce all religions (सर्व-धर्मान परित्यज), Surrender to Me alone (माम एकं शरणम व्रज). I shall grant you Moksha from all sins (अहम् त्वां सर्व-पापेभ्यो मोक्ष अयिश्यामी). Do not be grieve (मा शुचः).

We shall see in the next and final section that Arjun was satisfied and his doubts were resolved.



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