The Bhagavad Gita

Often translated as “discipline” or “spiritual path,” yoga is a practice of deliberate, intense devotional engagement that usually involves meditation. (This sense of yoga far exceeds yoga’s usual connotations in the West as a form of exercise). In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna discusses the yoga of action (karma yoga), in which people learn to rein in their senses and desires so that they can act for the sake of dharma rather than clinging to the fruits of action. Krishna also discusses the yoga of insight or knowledge (samkhya), in which people meditate on the truth of their eternal self’s identity with the formlessness of Brahman in order to banish their ignorance and transcend the cycle of reincarnation upon death.

Yoga Quotes in The Bhagavad Gita

The The Bhagavad Gita quotes below are all either spoken by Yoga or refer to Yoga. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Detachment and Dharma Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of The Bhagavad Gita published in 2008.
Discourse 2 Quotes

Your authority is
in action alone,
and never
in its fruits;
motive should never be
in the fruits of action,
nor should you cling
to inaction.

Abiding in yoga,
engage in actions!
Let go of clinging,
and let fulfilment
and frustration
be the same;
for it is said
yoga is equanimity.

Related Characters: Krishna (speaker), Arjuna
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:
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Discourse 11 Quotes

Your Majesty,
when he said this,
Hari, the great lord
of yoga,
showed to Arjuna
the Son of Pritha
his highest,
most powerful, form.

Related Characters: Sanjaya (speaker), Arjuna, Krishna, Dhritarashtra
Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:
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Discourse 18 Quotes

The poets know
that the leaving aside
of action based on desire
is renunciation;
and the clear-sighted see
that the giving up
of all fruit of such action
is called letting go.

Related Characters: Krishna (speaker), Arjuna
Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:
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Yoga Term Timeline in The Bhagavad Gita

The timeline below shows where the term Yoga appears in The Bhagavad Gita. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Discourse 2
Forms of Worship Theme Icon
...Arjuna his insights in terms of samkhya and will now explain them in terms of yoga (the practice of deliberate, intense devotional engagement that often involves meditation). This yoga wastes neither... (full context)
Detachment and Dharma Theme Icon
Reincarnation and the Self Theme Icon
...cling to inaction. Krishna tells Arjuna to act, without regard to success or frustration, for “yoga is equanimity.” (full context)
Detachment and Dharma Theme Icon
Forms of Worship Theme Icon
Action, Krishna continues, “is far inferior / to the yoga of insight.” People motivated by the fruits of action should be pitied, for the insightful... (full context)
Detachment and Dharma Theme Icon
Forms of Worship Theme Icon
...taste. The senses violently distract the mind from its focus, but one who has practiced yoga and learns to control their senses remains firm in their wisdom. (full context)
Detachment and Dharma Theme Icon
Reincarnation and the Self Theme Icon
Forms of Worship Theme Icon
...and “attains peace,” losing the ability to feel pain and gaining a steady insight. But yoga and the concentration it teaches are the only means to this peace, and one cannot... (full context)
Discourse 3
Detachment and Dharma Theme Icon
Forms of Worship Theme Icon
Krishna explains that he has always taught a “double foundation”: the yoga of knowledge and the yoga of action. One cannot surpass action without acting, nor can... (full context)
Discourse 4
Krishna, the Absolute, and Human Knowledge Theme Icon
Krishna says that he explained yoga to the sun-god, who then told the first human, Manu, who told his son and... (full context)
Krishna, the Absolute, and Human Knowledge Theme Icon
Reincarnation and the Self Theme Icon
...Brahman. While some sacrifice to specific gods, others sacrifice in this way, to Brahman. In yoga, some people sacrifice their senses to the “fires / of restraint” and others indulge in... (full context)
Reincarnation and the Self Theme Icon
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...a knife, wisdom severs doubt. Krishna tells Arjuna to “stand up, / and dwell in yoga!” (full context)
Discourse 5
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Arjuna notes that Krishna praises both renouncing action and yoga, which seem to be opposites. He asks which is better. Krishna says that, while both... (full context)
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Reincarnation and the Self Theme Icon
When acting through yoga, one conquers the senses and attains “the self of all beings,” knowing the truths that... (full context)
Detachment and Dharma Theme Icon
Reincarnation and the Self Theme Icon
...not timeless, but those who endure them in order to release themselves from them through yoga achieve “cessation / in Brahman, / of one being / with Brahman.” (full context)
Discourse 6
Detachment and Dharma Theme Icon
Reincarnation and the Self Theme Icon
Forms of Worship Theme Icon
...repeats that a person who acts properly without caring about “the fruit of action” practices yoga, which is inextricably tied to renunciation. After achieving yoga through action, one can adopt quietude.... (full context)
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Krishna, the Absolute, and Human Knowledge Theme Icon
Reincarnation and the Self Theme Icon
Forms of Worship Theme Icon
Yoga is not about pursuing the extremes of indulgence or asceticism; it destroys all pain by... (full context)
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Arjuna asks how anyone can find a “stable foundation” for yoga since the mind always wanders. Krishna explains that, while this is difficult, practice, restraint, and... (full context)
Reincarnation and the Self Theme Icon
Arjuna asks what happens to one who fails to fulfill yoga, for they must be lost, and implores Krishna to eradicate all his doubt, for no... (full context)
Discourse 7
Krishna, the Absolute, and Human Knowledge Theme Icon
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Krishna again implores Arjuna to follow yoga and take refuge in him, which will lead Arjuna to know him completely. Krishna then... (full context)
Reincarnation and the Self Theme Icon
...the waters’ taste and the sound of “Om,” the Earth’s smell and the discipline of yoga practitioners. He is the “ancient seed of all beings,” and beings’ desire to follow dharma.... (full context)
Discourse 8
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Reincarnation and the Self Theme Icon
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...moment, so by always remembering Krishna, even during battle, Arjuna can join him. By practicing yoga and meditating on the formless “ancient one” who supports everything, one can ensure ascension to... (full context)
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...but by following the way of dark, one is reborn. But one who properly practices yoga, rather than merely offering sacrifices and gifts, bypasses rebirth and “goes to the ancient /... (full context)
Discourse 9
Krishna, the Absolute, and Human Knowledge Theme Icon
...“as the imperishable one, / the beginning of all beings” with continual praise, devotion, and yoga. Others sacrifice to him by gaining the wisdom to recognize his multifaceted oneness. Krishna declares... (full context)
Reincarnation and the Self Theme Icon
...“mortal realm” and, following dharma, participate in the world of desire and things. Krishna brings yoga’s “secure peace” to those who honor and think of him, and those who sacrifice to... (full context)
Discourse 10
Krishna, the Absolute, and Human Knowledge Theme Icon
...humans’ ancestors and recognizing his originary power can lead people to join him through the yoga of insight, which destroys the darkness of ignorance. (full context)
Discourse 11
Krishna, the Absolute, and Human Knowledge Theme Icon
Reincarnation and the Self Theme Icon
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...world and anything else that Arjuna wants to see. However, Arjuna cannot see Krishna’s “powerful yoga” with his human eyes, so Krishna gifts him “the divine eye.” (full context)
Discourse 12
Krishna, the Absolute, and Human Knowledge Theme Icon
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Arjuna asks who is wiser: those who always practice yoga and devote themselves to the personal form of Krishna or those who honor his formless,... (full context)
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...uplifted beyond the whims of death and reincarnation. Those who cannot do this should undertake yoga to reach God. Those who cannot practice yoga should focus on Krishna’s work, because acting... (full context)
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...distinction between pain and pleasure is dear to Krishna; so is the controlled and insightful yoga practitioner who devotes themselves to him, as is the one who does not tremble before... (full context)
Discourse 13
Krishna, the Absolute, and Human Knowledge Theme Icon
Reincarnation and the Self Theme Icon
...a lack of clinging to worldly desires and outcomes; and endless devotion to Krishna in yoga: all these qualities comprise the true wisdom of the “supreme self.” (full context)
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...the self / in the self, / through the self,” in meditation; others use the yoga of samkhya and others the yoga of action. Others still pass “beyond death” through devotion,... (full context)
Discourse 15
Krishna, the Absolute, and Human Knowledge Theme Icon
Reincarnation and the Self Theme Icon
...their objects, but only the wise can see this, and even many dedicated practitioners of yoga cannot despite their effort. (full context)
Discourse 18
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...and tamasic action inverts them, leading people to perform the opposite of dharma. Steadiness in yoga, actions, and breath are sattvic; steadiness in wealth, desire, and dharma for the sake of... (full context)
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Reincarnation and the Self Theme Icon
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...highest state / of wisdom.” One must cast off sense objects and passions, prioritizing the yoga of meditation and accepting “a state without passion” to overcome one’s sense of pride, ownership... (full context)
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Krishna, the Absolute, and Human Knowledge Theme Icon
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...end.” He explains that, by Vyasa’s grace, he has heard the greatest and most secret yoga before his very eyes; he continues to rejoice as he continually remembers the dialogue between... (full context)