Bhagavad Gita Quotes for Condolence and Healing

The Immortality of the Soul in Hindu Philosophy

Vishukkani, Kerala
spisharam/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

In the ancient Hindu text, the "Bhagavad Gita," the death of loved ones is an essential part of the struggle that the text describes. The "Gita" is the sacred text describing the tension between dharma (duty) and karma (destiny), between having emotions and conducting your actions based on them. In the story, Arjuna, a prince of the warrior class, faces a moral decision: It is his duty to fight in a battle to resolve a dispute that has no other means for resolution. But Arjuna resists entering the battle because the opponents include members of his own family.

In the "Gita," Lord Krishna tells Arjuna that the wise person knows that even though every human is destined to die, the soul is immortal: "For death is certain to one who is born...thou shalt not grieve for what is unavoidable." Six quotations from the text are particularly profound sources of consolation for the grieving heart in its saddest moments.

The Immortality of the Spirit

In the "Gita," Arjuna has a conversation with Lord Krishna in human form. This seeming "person," who Arjuna thinks is his chariot driver, is in fact, the most powerful incarnation of Vishnu, Lord Krishna. The conversation centers on Arjuna's struggle. He is torn between the social code that says members of his class, the warrior class, must fight, and his family obligations that say that he must refrain from fighting.

In two separate quotes, Krishna reminds him that although the human body is destined to die, the soul is immortal.

na jaayate' mriyate' vaa kadaachin naayam bhuthva bhavithaa na bhooyah: / ajo nithyah saasvato'yam puraano na hanyate' hanyamaane' sareere'
The Spirit is neither born nor does it die at any time. It does not come into being or cease to exist. It is unborn, eternal, permanent, and primeval. The Spirit is not destroyed when the body is destroyed. (2.20)
acche'dyo' yam adhaahyo' yam akle'dhyo' sya eva cha / nithyah sarva-gathah sthaanoor achalo' yam sanaathanah
Weapons do not cut this Spirit, fire does not burn it, water does not make it wet, and the wind does not make it dry. The Spirit cannot be cut, burned, wet, or dried. It is eternal, all-pervading, changeless, immovable, and primeval. Atma is beyond space and time. (2.23-24)

The Acceptance of Dharma (Duty)

Krishna tells Arjuna also that it is his cosmic duty (dharma) to fight when all other methods to settle a dispute have failed; this is especially true because the spirit is actually indestructible.

ved'aavinaasinam nithyam ya e'nam ajam avyayam / katham sa purushah paartha kam ghaathayathi hanthi kam
O Arjuna, how can a person who knows that the Spirit is indestructible, eternal, unborn, and immutable, kill anyone or cause anyone to be killed? (2.21)
vaasaamsi jeernaani yathaa vihaaya navaani gr.hnaathi naro' paraani / thathaa sareeraani vihaaya jeernany-anyaani samyaathi navaani de'hi
Just as a person puts on new garments after discarding the old ones, similarly, the living entity or the individual soul acquires new bodies after casting away the old bodies. (2.22)

Grief and the Mystery of Life

Krishna adds that it is a wise man who accepts the unexplainable. The wise see that the paths of knowledge and action are one. Take either path and tread it to the end, where the followers of action meet the seekers after knowledge in equal freedom.

avyaktho' yam achinthyo' yam avikaaryo' yam uchyate' / thamaad e'vam vidhithvainam naanusochitum-arhasi
The Spirit is said to be unexplainable, incomprehensible, and immutable. Knowing the Spirit as such, you should not grieve for the physical body. (2.25)
jaathasya hi dhruvo mr.thyur dhr.uvam janma mr.thasya cha / thasmaad aparihaarye'rthe' na thvam sochithum-arhasi
All beings are unmanifest, or invisible to our physical eyes, before birth and af­ter death. They manifest between the birth and the death only. What is there to grieve about? (2.28)

Note on the translation: There are many English translations for the Bhagavad Gita available, some more poetic than others. These translations below are taken from a public domain translation. 

Sources and Further Reading