Bhagavad Gita in a Nutshell: Big Ideas & Best Quotations.

It’s really quite enlightening (so to speak) to read the Bhagavad Gita by major theme instead of in the order it’s written.  I’ve made that easier for you by matching up the big ideas of the Gita with the best quotations and the related Gita Talks.

Whatever aspect of the Gita you want to explore or review, you can look for the topic below and click to find the most powerful passages on that topic.  (My own favorite stanzas for each theme are in bold italics.)

Or you may prefer to open up your Mitchell Gita (or any other version of the Gita), and see where the stanzas appear in context.

(Gita in a Nutshell was originally the concluding blog in the first run of the popular Gita Talk discussion series, which is still available in its entirety as a self-paced online seminar.  I worked on this challenging project throughout Gita Talk. Spurred on by our provocative Gita Talk discussions, I read the Gita over and over again, experiencing, thinking, absorbing, sifting, experiencing again, sifting again, etc.  It has truly been its own reward—the Gita helps me lead a better life every day.  If my work here helps you “get” the Gita, so much the better.)

Gita in a Nutshell: Big Ideas and Best Quotations


The Main Message

2.48, 2.50, 3.7, 3.19, 3.25, 3.30, 4.18-24, 5.23-25, 6.1-4, 7.28, 11.55, 12.13-14, 18.53

6.29-32, 9.4-6, 10.7-8, 10.41-2, 11.5-7, 11.11-13, 11.16, 11.37-40, 18.77-78

5.26-28, 6.10, 6.12,  6.15, 6.35, 8.9, 9.22, 9.34, 12.2, 12.8, 12.14, 18.57



Each of us is already infinitely wondrous—
miraculous, awe-inspiring, unfathomable
(divine if you prefer).

Our wondrous nature is the same as the infinite wonder of the universe.
We experience this infinite wonder by waking up to reality.

6.29-32, 7.2, 7.6-7, 7.10, 7.28, 8.3, 9.2, 10.4-5, 10.7-8, 10.20, 10.39, 11.40


Overcoming Obstacles

Initial Turn-offs
Why Is the Gita So Upsetting At First? (GN #5)

The Battlefield Setting
Gandhi’s Bible or a Call to War? (GN #6)

Is the Gita Asking Us to Repress Our Emotions? (GN #7)
“Witness Consciousness”
13.0-2, 13.22, 13.24-30, 13.33-34

Where Do We Fit In?
Does the Infinitely Wondrous Universe
Give a Damn About You and Me? (GN #8)


Different Yoga Strokes for Different Yoga Folks (GN #9)

Yoga of Understanding (GN #10)
4.33, 4.37-39, 4.42, 5.4-5, 6.29-32, 7.2, 9.2, 9.15, 10.7-8, 10.10-11, 18.55, 18.70

Yoga of Meditation (GN #11)
6.10-12, 6.15, 6.18-22, 6.35, 8.9, 9.22, 9.34, 12.2, 12.8, 18.57

Yoga of Love (GN #12)
8.22, 9.13-14, 9.29, 10.7-8, 10.10, 11.54-55, 12.2, 12.17-20

Yoga of Action (GN #13)
3.7, 3.9, 3.25, 3.30, 4.19-24, 4.42, 6.1-3, 11.55, 12.10, 18.56-7


Yoga is Universal, Loving, and Direct

Yoga is Universal Truth,
Embracing All Gods and All Paths (GN #14)

, 4.32, 7.21, 9.15, 9.23, 9.29-32, 10.2

Is Love Itself the Overriding Theme of the Bhagavad Gita? (GN #15)
4.11, 8.14, 9.13-14, 9.18, 10.7, 11.55, 12.2, 12.17-20, 18.65

Yoga calls for direct experience & straight-forward wisdom
(over scripture, dogma, and ritual) (GN # 16)

2.40, 2.44-46, 2.52-53, 4.33, 4.38, 6.46, 7.2, 8.14, 9.2, 11.53, 18.55


See also:

Yoga Demystified: The Six Big Ideas

Yoga Demystified: Poems and Articles

Gita Talk: Self-Paced Online Seminar
on the Bhagavad Gita. (Round 2)

The Original Sixteen Session Gita Talk
(Self-Paced Online Seminar)


Top 10 Reasons to Read the Bhagavad Gita
(#1 You were supposed to read it during teacher training, but you
only got through 20 pages, and have felt guilty ever since.)


What a wonderful road this has been.  What started as a small experiment turned into the thriving online Gita Talk forum, which has in turn, led to this Gita in a Nutshell.  Thanks to all of you who have participated by reading, commenting and supporting.  I am always here anxious to talk Gita with anyone who’s interested.

50 replies on “Bhagavad Gita in a Nutshell: Big Ideas & Best Quotations.”

I look forward to digging in some more, Bob. Again, I love what you've done with GitaTalks! I also appreciate all the contributors.

Matt's the best, hey. Always great, incisive, yet patient comments.

Bob, as I have said in several other places on EJ today: With your Gita post you have shown that the lest sexy of subjects can be the most interesting and rewarding to read and comment upon. Thousands of years after Krishna, the Gita is still alive and well–in America! Thanks for all your hard work of love, Bob!

Thanks, Ramesh. Your warm appreciation means a lot to me, especially coming from someone as experienced as yourself. I love the way you and I come at Yoga from completely different angles and backgrounds (i.e. you have a background and I don't!), and yet we find so much commonality in our core philosophical viewpoints. To me that just again proves how universal Yoga can be.

Bob W.

Thank you so much for this guide/overview. I really appreciate the thematic approach and will refer to this often and share widely – I'm booking marking it now. Bob, you are ever inspiring. Thank you does not express adequately my appreciation and respect for all you do.

Bob, thanks for your tweet, I know I said I was in at the beginning of your Gita talks and then disappeared, sorry about that been dealing with big life issues like death of my dad etc… But have to admit your posts inspired me to get more into it, so thank you.

Since you said you wanted me to share with you, i will say that to me the big message of the Gita is that that we need to live every moment dedicating it to the Divine, in hopes of feeling what real love is, because love or devotion is what Krishna tells Arjuna in chapter 11 is the only way to “get” what he showed Him… Arjuna got really scarce when Krishna showed him how things are… And I suppose so would we, so there, living every moment as a dedeication to the divine.

Oh, and another really good one is that we must live our own dharma, not somebody elses, so if we are into yoga then that is our path, lucky us

This is great, thank you for posting! I have always been intimidated by The Gita and have never found a study group or workshop on it that could help break the ice for me. I'm excited to follow the discussions!

As always….Bob, you are an excellent guide and a resourceful teacher. For me, I am completely new to Gita and foreign to it. I shall be a part as much as I can. Looking forward to it.

Thanks, Paloma. Please let me know if this works for you as we get into it. I appreciate any feedback I can get, especially from the new readers out there like yourself. Does this help? What else would be useful? Let me know how it goes, and I hope you'll always feel free to ask new reader questions.

I'll be posting a notice for each new blog on Yoga Journal Community.

Bob W.

Posting also on YJ each new Gita blog would be great, thank you for doing that. Off to Amazon I go to order the suggested text.

Hi Bob, It's nice that you have seen all the good things in the Gita. But it is not complete without discussing the full aspects of Krishna and Gita……. The Gita itself is told during a war, where Krishna forced Arjuna to kill his own kith and kin……. Krishna himself killed so many kings and women since his childhood (Hindu fanatics justify this by their own fancy explanations)…….Krishna had 16,000 girlfriends ………… He advocated Caste system which is still existent in modern India………. People still kill because of Caste conflicts in India in 2012 !……….. There is still untouchability in Hindu religion ………. They deny drinking water, deny education to children, deny entry into temples ……….. I would suggest this video for insight on Hindu religion ….

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