The Last Two Verses of the Bhagavad Gita.

N K Srinivasan
The last two verses of the Gita ,verses 65 and 66 of Chapter 18, is the quintessesnce of Bhakti yoga or Yoga of devotion..Lord Krishna tells Arjuna about the path of devotion and surrender…This is His final message. Any one can easily understand these two verses and what it implies. Almost all great religions embody this message too. We shall interpret these two verses in the light of Hindu traditions. Of course, there are countless commentaries on these verses by learned acharyas [preceptors] and philosophers of Hindu faith. I shall mention some of them. [The Lord himself prefaces these two verses by telling Arjuna: “Hear thou again My supreme word, the profoundest of all; because you are beloved of Me; I will speak what is good to thee.”---verse 64] Verse 65 Fix thy heart with me; be thou devoted to Me;do worship Me;bow down to me;Thou shall attain to Me;Truly I promise thee,for thou are dear to me.

Lord Krishna talks to Arjuna as a close friend. He also makes His promise that Arjuna will attain the lotus feet of the Lord. At this stage, the reader should note that Krishna is more than just a friend to Arjuna; Krishna has shown His cosmic form and demonstrated that He is none other than the Supreme Being or Paramatman. Therefore Lord Krishna is the Ishta Devata [beloved personal God] of Arjuna. Krishna’s words have great impact on Arjuna. This verse is for all devotees or bhaktas ---not only of Hindu faith but all religions which include theism or worship of a personal God…Our Ishta devata may be Lord Rama, Goddess Parvati , Lord

Ganesha, Jesus Christ , any saint or even a guru…Krishna’s words apply . A careful reading of this verse will reveal that this summarizes the path of devotion…constant remembrance, practising the presence of God, simple forms of worship like bowing, genuflection, kneeling, prostration---are all mentioned. Simple forms of worship with flower, fruit, leaf or just water is acceptable to the Lord.[verse 9-26] Lord Krishna said the same message in the 9th chapter too—see verse 9-34—in a slightly different context. In that chapter, the lord wanted to tell Arjuna about the various types of sacrifices and so on and established His stature as the Supreme being, not a mere mortal. This verse 18-65 is the essence of bhakti yoga. {Unfortunately many acharyas , philosophers and preceptors with their own sectarian views have tried to distort or twist the meaning and import of this verse of Bhakti or devotion to suit their own brand of yoga. Such interpretations or commentaries may appear logical or intellectually appealing, but distorts the simple, but profound, message of the Lord. Many saints and sages have largely ignored such interpretations or commentaries.} Verse 66
Giving up (abandoning) all dharmas, come to Me alone for refuge. I shall free thee (absolve) from all sins. Grieve not!

This verse is often called the terminal , final message and named ‘Charama sloka” by Sri Ramanuja.This is the quintessence of the path of self-surrender..[Sri Vaishnava sect of Ramanuja is largely based on this approach.]


The word “dharmas” {plural} requires explanation.This word here has also attracted lengthy commentaries and have been interpreted in several ways. It could mean ‘duties and rites ‘ according to Adi Sankara. It could mean duties prescribed according to one’s caste/ashrama in life--as interpreted by Madhusudan Saraswati. It could also mean one’s actions , both good and bad---that is righteous and unrighteous acts. Also ‘swadharma’ mentioned by the Lord elsewhere in the Gita. It could also be taken as ‘rituals’ and ‘formal religions’. My explanation is as follows: According to Hindu sastras/tradition, one passes through three stages/ashramas: first student life [brahmacharya] under some guru/teacher/preceptor; then comes family life of a householder [grihasta];then one enters a retired life, literally enters a forest or secluded place or ashram, lead the life of a hermit, but still working for the society at large, called “vanaprastha” {literal meaning: ‘entering a forest’}.[These three stages are for all people, not just for brahmins or priestly class.] In each stage or ashrama, one has specific duties to perform; as a student one serves the teacher or guru/acharya and his family and the guests received by the guru. As a householder, one supports not only his own family, but also the King, society and the mendicants/monks who need food and clothing and shelter. As a vanaprastha, his duties are that of teacher, counseller and advisor and scholar .In this process one does lot of actions. The fourth stage is that of ‘sannyas” ---the renunciate--completely severing ties with family and members of the society. This verse occurs in the chapter 18, titled: “Moksha-Sanyasa Yoga” [‘liberation –in-renunciation path”. Lord Krishna leads you to sannyasa and defines it finally in this way---give up all actions in whichever ashrama you are in and follow me as a renunciant… that is abandoning all actions and surrendering to the Lord..Did not Christ say the same thing: just follow me.?

While the path of surrender had been mentioned in the earlier chapters, now it takes a definitive meaning . This is the last verse.It is placed after verse 65, which gives the means of devotional path or bhakti…well, bhakti could culminate in surrender. Some acharyas gives another logical explanation. Even the devotional method [fixing the mind on the Lord etc in verse 65] can be difficult for many seekers…why go through all that?..just fall at My feet in total surrender, I will absolve you of all sins--—the Lord says. This seems to be the emphasis here in this verse. Note this verse carefully. The Lord says: “ grieve not”[ma suchah’]--- take heart; what is more, the Lord promises to absolve one of all sins…This is ,indeed , a great promise..unconditional remission or redemption from all sins.! This means that one’s past karmas are annulled. What more you need from the Lord!! It is obvious why this verse had been heavily commented upon and several sects [especially in Vaishnavism] extolling ‘saranagati’ or ‘prapatti ‘ have been built mainly on the basis of this single verse. Some sects believe in repeated chanting of this verse--- to remind oneself of Lord’s exhortation and the promise made. -----------------------------------------------------------------------


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