“You cannot even begin to conceive
how much I care for you.
I am your eternal refuge. Do not be afraid.
I promise, I will save you.”
This is my favourite quotation from the Bhagavad Gita.
I have it pinned to my bedroom wall. But I don’t know which of the many translations of the Gita this came from. I make it a habit of reading a different translation each year, and when I came across this quotation (in a book called The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hinduism), I quickly jotted it down, desperate to find out which translation it was from. But the book’s author does not say -– so I have been on a hunt for it ever since.
If you know, please tell me!
The quote is from the end of the Gita and forms part of the final words of Krishna (the preceptor, the embodiment of the Lord in the Gita) to Arjuna (the student, the warrior, the embodiment of every human soul). Every translation renders it somewhat differently. The one I am seeking (above) appears to be from an English translation from the latter part of the 20th or early 21st century. I’m guessing that based solely on the ‘feel’ of the language and use of common terms, rather than the use of ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ and similar language, as was common of Victorian translations, for instance. It is obviously a translation meant to reach the masses and touch the heart, not a particularly scholarly text. But other than that, I have no clues.
This is the relevant passage in Sanskrit transliteration:
Sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja,
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo mokshayishyami ma sucah (18.66).
And this is how the English-American novelist Christopher Isherwood and Swami Prabhavananda, Indian philosopher of the Ramakrishna Order, translated it in The Song of God in 1944:
This is my promise
Who love you dearly,
Lay down all duties
In me, your refuge.
Fear no longer,
For I will save you
From sin and from bondage.
Here’s Swami Dayananda’s translation in The Teaching of the Bhagavad Gita:
Giving up all actions, seek Me as your sole refuge. I will liberate you from all sins; do not grieve.
And Swami Krishnananda, in his Commentary on the Bhagavadgita, provides this explication of what the quotation means:
The power of God is greater than the power of all the people in the world, in all creation. Renounce all the rules and regulations of the temporal world, which are temporary because they require transformation, change, emendation from moment to moment; but stick to the supreme dharma which is devotion to Me. Leave other dharmas which are characteristic of performance of work, etc., in the world of diversity, because all that variety of dharma is subsumed under this greatest of dharmas, that is love of God. There is no dharma equal to that.
There are varieties of dharmas in this world: family dharma, individual dharma, social dharma, political dharma, kshatriya dharma, brahmana dharma, and so on. They are all good in their own way, in their own place, but they are all nothing before the utter surrender of the soul to God. And all these dharmas, these rules, these Smrtis, these law codes – these systems of operation of secular dharma – are all included in that highest of spiritual dharmas, namely, unity with God.
Mamekam saranam vraja: “Surrender yourself to Me, and resort to Me only. I shall destroy all your sins.” This is a great statement indeed...
These and other translations help me to understand this favourite passage and the Gita as a whole in different ways, bringing to light diverse aspects of the text and its meaning. But they don’t surpass, for me, that particular favourite quote. Once something touches you in a certain way, it becomes personal. Your own personal bit of the Gita. So if you can help me out and you know which translation it is from, please share it here. I’d be so grateful.
In the meanwhile, please share your own favourite quote from the Gita. I’d love to know which part of it touches you or means the most to you.