What is the purpose of life according to Srimad Bhagavad Gita: Krishna

Updated On: 25-Feb-2024

The Bhagavad Gita, a sacred Hindu scripture, offers profound insights into the purpose of life. According to the Bhagavad Gita, the ultimate purpose of life is to attain spiritual realization, self-awareness, and union with the divine. Here are some key teachings from the Bhagavad Gita regarding the purpose of life:


The Bhagavad Gita teaches that the ultimate goal of life is to realize the true nature of the self (Atman) and recognize its inherent connection with the supreme reality (Brahman). This self-realization leads to liberation (moksha) from the cycle of birth and death (samsara).

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In the Bhagavad Gita, self-realization is a central theme, deeply intertwined with the concept of dharma (duty) and the path to spiritual enlightenment. Self-realization, as elucidated in the Bhagavad Gita, refers to the understanding and recognition of one's true nature, which is essentially the immortal soul or the Atman.

The Bhagavad Gita teaches that the Atman, the innermost essence of an individual, is eternal, indestructible, and beyond the fluctuations of the material world. Through self-realization, one transcends the identification with the temporary physical body and the ego, and comes to recognize the unity of all beings in the universal consciousness, or Brahman.

Self-realization in the Bhagavad Gita is not merely a theoretical understanding but a practical realization attained through various paths, including the path of knowledge (Jnana Yoga), the path of devotion (Bhakti Yoga), and the path of selfless action (Karma Yoga). Krishna, the divine charioteer and teacher in the Bhagavad Gita, instructs Arjuna to perform his duty (dharma) selflessly, without attachment to the results, as a means to attain self-realization and liberation from the cycle of birth and death (samsara).

Thus, in the Bhagavad Gita, self-realization is not only about understanding one's true nature but also about living in accordance with that realization, embracing one's duty with detachment, and ultimately attaining liberation (moksha) from the cycle of suffering.

Dharma (Righteous Duty):

The Bhagavad Gita emphasizes the importance of fulfilling one's duties and responsibilities (dharma) in life, according to one's innate nature (svadharma) and social role, without attachment to the results of actions. By performing actions selflessly and in accordance with dharma, individuals can purify their minds and progress spiritually.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna defines dharma as one's duty or righteousness, which encompasses both moral and social obligations. Krishna emphasizes the importance of following one's dharma, regardless of the circumstances or personal desires. He teaches that everyone has a specific role and duty to fulfill in life, based on their inherent qualities, talents, and social position.

Krishna instructs Arjuna, the warrior prince, to fulfill his dharma as a warrior and engage in the righteous battle against injustice, even though Arjuna is reluctant to fight. Krishna explains that by performing his duty without attachment to the results, Arjuna can uphold righteousness and maintain the order of the universe.

Krishna also teaches that dharma is not rigid or fixed; it may vary according to different situations and contexts. However, one should discern their dharma through introspection, understanding their nature, and consulting with wise individuals.

Overall, Krishna emphasizes the importance of adhering to one's duty with integrity and devotion, as it leads to personal growth, spiritual evolution, and harmony in society. Through the concept of dharma, Krishna guides individuals towards self-realization and liberation.

Yoga (Union with the Divine):

The Bhagavad Gita teaches various paths to attain spiritual realization and union with the divine, known as yoga. These paths include karma yoga (the yoga of selfless action), bhakti yoga (the yoga of devotion), jnana yoga (the yoga of knowledge), and dhyana yoga (the yoga of meditation). Each path offers a means to transcend the ego and attain union with the divine.

Krishna emphasizes that all these paths ultimately lead to the same goal of self-realization and liberation. He encourages individuals to choose the path that resonates with their nature and to practice it sincerely and diligently. Additionally, Krishna emphasizes the importance of guidance from a qualified teacher (Guru) and the cultivation of virtues such as humility, discipline, and faith on the spiritual journey.

Detachment and Renunciation:

The Bhagavad Gita teaches the importance of detachment from worldly desires and attachments (vairagya) as a means to attain spiritual liberation. By cultivating detachment and renunciation, individuals can overcome the cycle of desire and suffering and attain inner peace and equanimity.

Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 18, Verse 66
Sarva-dharman parityajya, mam ekam sharanam vraja
Aham tvam sarva-papebhyo, mokshayishyami ma shucah.
Meaning of the above sloka:

Abandon all varieties of dharma and just surrender unto Me; I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions; do not fear.

Detachment from the fruits of actions: Krishna advises Arjuna to perform his duty (dharma) without attachment to the outcomes. He explains that individuals have control only over their actions, not over the results. By relinquishing attachment to success or failure, pleasure or pain, individuals can maintain equanimity and inner peace. This attitude of detachment enables them to act selflessly and without ego, leading to spiritual growth.

Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 2, Verse 47
SKarmanye vadhikaraste ma phaleshu kadachana
Ma karma-phala-hetur bhur ma te sango stvakarmani.
Meaning of the above sloka:

You have a right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, nor be attached to inaction."

Renunciation of worldly desires: Krishna also teaches the importance of renouncing worldly desires and attachments that bind individuals to the cycle of birth and death (samsara). He advises Arjuna to cultivate detachment from material possessions, sensual pleasures, and the ego's desires. Renunciation does not necessarily mean abandoning worldly responsibilities but rather letting go of attachment to them and recognizing their transient nature.

Krishna emphasizes that detachment and renunciation do not imply inaction or withdrawal from the world. Instead, they involve performing one's duties with dedication and discipline, while maintaining inner detachment and spiritual awareness. Through detachment and renunciation, individuals can gradually transcend the illusions of the material world and realize their true nature as eternal souls (Atman), leading to liberation (moksha) from the cycle of suffering.

Detachment and renunciation are essential components of the path of Karma Yoga (the yoga of selfless action), as they enable individuals to act with purity of intention, without being swayed by selfish desires or egoistic motives. Ultimately, detachment and renunciation lead to inner freedom, peace, and the realization of oneness with the divine.

Service to Humanity:

The Bhagavad Gita emphasizes the importance of serving humanity (loka-seva) and contributing to the welfare of society without selfish motives. Service to others is seen as a form of devotion (bhakti) and a means to purify the mind and cultivate selflessness.

Selfless Service: Krishna emphasizes the importance of performing one's duties without selfish motives or desires for personal gain. He encourages Arjuna to act for the welfare of others and the greater good, rather than being driven by egoistic desires. By selflessly serving others, individuals contribute to the well-being of society and uphold the order of the universe.

Compassion and Empathy: Krishna teaches the importance of compassion and empathy towards all beings. He emphasizes that true selflessness arises from a deep sense of empathy and identification with the suffering of others. By serving others with compassion, individuals cultivate virtues such as kindness, generosity, and humility, which are essential for spiritual growth.

Equality and Brotherhood: Krishna emphasizes the underlying unity of all beings and the importance of treating everyone with equality and respect. He teaches that the soul (Atman) is the same in all living beings, regardless of external differences such as caste, creed, or social status. Therefore, true service to humanity involves transcending barriers of division and recognizing the inherent divinity within each individual.

Service to humanity, according to the Bhagavad Gita, is not merely an external action but a spiritual practice that leads to self-realization and liberation. By serving others selflessly and with love, individuals purify their minds, overcome egoism, and ultimately attain union with the divine.

Surrender to the Divine:

Ultimately, the Bhagavad Gita teaches the importance of surrendering to the divine will (ishvara-pranidhana) and trusting in the guidance of the supreme reality. By surrendering the ego and aligning one's will with the divine will, individuals can attain inner peace, joy, and liberation.

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Complete Surrender: Krishna encourages Arjuna to surrender himself completely to the divine will. He teaches that true surrender involves relinquishing the ego's sense of control and trusting in the wisdom and guidance of the divine. By surrendering to the divine will, individuals free themselves from the burden of anxiety, doubt, and fear.

Devotional Surrender: Krishna teaches that surrendering to the Divine is an act of deep devotion and love. He encourages Arjuna to develop unwavering faith and devotion towards the divine, recognizing the divine as the ultimate source of love, protection, and support. Through sincere devotion and surrender, individuals can experience the grace and blessings of the divine in their lives.

Trust and Surrender: Krishna assures Arjuna that those who surrender to the divine with unwavering trust and faith are protected and guided by the divine grace. He emphasizes that surrendering to the divine is not a sign of weakness but of strength and wisdom. Through trust and surrender, individuals can overcome obstacles and challenges on the spiritual path and attain union with the divine.

Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 18, Verse 65
Man-mana bhava mad-bhakto, mad-yaji mam namaskuru
Maam evaishyasi satyam te, pratijane priyo ’si me
Meaning of the above sloka:

Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me, and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend.

In summary, according to the Bhagavad Gita, the purpose of life is to realize the true nature of the self, fulfill one's duties selflessly, cultivate devotion and knowledge, attain union with the divine, and ultimately achieve spiritual liberation and eternal bliss.