Business Lessons from the Bhagavad Gita: 10 Quotes Every Entrepreneur Should Know
Written by Sanjay Kumar
Be action-oriented, not results-oriented.
The Bhagavad Gita, a sacred scripture of Hinduism, is an epic conversation between Lord Krishna and the warrior prince Arjuna, taking place on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Although it was written thousands of years ago, its teachings transcend time and are highly relevant to various aspects of life, including entrepreneurship.
The Bhagavad Gita imparts profound wisdom and timeless principles that can guide entrepreneurs in their pursuit of success and fulfillment. In this blog, we will explore the Bhagavad Gita quotes that are particularly beneficial for entrepreneurs, delving into their Sanskrit origins and explaining their beautiful essence.
Bhagavad Gita Quotes for Entrepreneurs
01 – You Have the Right to Work Alone, Not to the Fruit
Quote: कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।
Translation: “You have the right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions.” (Bhagavad Gita, 2.47)
This profound verse emphasizes the importance of focusing on the process rather than the outcome. Entrepreneurs often face uncertainty and challenges, but by embracing the principle of detached action, they can find inner peace and stay undeterred by success or failure. When we act without attachment to the results, we can perform our duties with greater dedication and creativity, leading to better outcomes in the long run.
02 – Perform Actions with Detachment
Quote: योगस्थः कुरु कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा धनञ्जय।
Translation: “Be steadfast in the performance of your duty, O Arjuna, abandoning attachment to success and failure. Such equanimity is called Yoga.” (Bhagavad Gita, 2.48)
Here, Lord Krishna urges Arjuna to embrace the path of Yoga, which denotes skillful and selfless action. For entrepreneurs, this means staying focused and diligent in their efforts, while remaining unaffected by the ups and downs of the business journey. Yoga is not just physical exercises; it is a state of mind where one finds inner balance amidst the chaos of the external world. By practicing this equanimity, entrepreneurs can make wiser decisions and navigate challenges with resilience.
03 – Give Priority to Your Duty Above Others
Quote: श्रेयान्स्वधर्मो विगुणः परधर्मात्स्वनुष्ठितात्।
Translation: “It is better to perform one’s own duty imperfectly than to perform another’s duty perfectly.” (Bhagavad Gita, 3.35)
In this verse, Lord Krishna advises Arjuna to focus on his dharma, or duty, rather than attempting to emulate others. For entrepreneurs, this is a crucial lesson. Each individual has unique strengths, skills, and passions. By staying true to their authentic selves and embracing their own calling, entrepreneurs can harness their full potential and contribute meaningfully to their ventures and society as a whole. Comparing oneself to others can lead to frustration and a lack of fulfillment, while acknowledging and pursuing one’s own path brings contentment and success.
04 – Where Krishna and Arjuna Unite, There Triumph Resides
Quote: यत्र योगेश्वरः कृष्णो यत्र पार्थो धनुर्धरः।
तत्र श्रीर्विजयो भूतिर्ध्रुवा नीतिर्मतिर्मम।।
Translation: “Wherever there is Lord Krishna, the master of yoga, and wherever there is Arjuna, the supreme archer, there also will surely be brilliance, victory, prosperity, and sound morality. This is my opinion.” (Bhagavad Gita, 18.78)
This powerful verse highlights the significance of teamwork and synergy between a skilled leader (Krishna) and a talented disciple (Arjuna). In the context of entrepreneurship, it emphasizes the value of mentorship and collaboration. Entrepreneurs can benefit greatly by seeking guidance from experienced mentors or role models. The combination of wisdom and action paves the way for success, not just in business but in all endeavors.
05 – Lift Yourself, Don’t Put Yourself Down
Quote: उद्धरेदात्मनात्मानं नात्मानमवसादयेत्।
Translation: “Elevate yourself through the power of your mind, and not degrade yourself, for the mind can be the friend and also the enemy of the self.” (Bhagavad Gita, 6.5)
This verse underscores the significance of self-mastery and the power of the mind. Entrepreneurial journeys are often filled with challenges that can evoke self-doubt and negativity. By cultivating a positive and resilient mindset, entrepreneurs can overcome obstacles and reach new heights of success. The mind is a potent tool, and when harnessed correctly, it can serve as a friend, guiding one towards progress, or as an enemy, leading to self-sabotage. Entrepreneurs must learn to control their thoughts and emotions, fostering a sense of inner strength and self-belief.
06 – See Action in Inaction, and Inaction in Action
Quote: कर्मण्यकर्म यः पश्येदकर्मणि च कर्म यः।
Translation: “One who sees inaction in action and action in inaction is intelligent among men.” (Bhagavad Gita, 4.18)
This profound verse emphasizes the concept of detached action and the art of decision-making. Sometimes, not taking action can be as consequential as taking action. Entrepreneurs must be perceptive enough to discern when to act and when to let things unfold naturally. It highlights the importance of discernment and the ability to recognize the hidden dynamics of a situation. This intelligence allows entrepreneurs to make informed choices and respond effectively to different business scenarios.
07 – Whenever Dharma Declines, I Manifest Myself
Quote: यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत।
अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदात्मानं सृजाम्यहम्।।
Translation: “Whenever there is a decline in righteousness and an increase in unrighteousness, O Arjuna, at that time I manifest myself on earth.” (Bhagavad Gita, 4.7)
This verse emphasizes the cyclical nature of life and the emergence of leaders when righteousness is challenged. For entrepreneurs, it serves as a reminder of their responsibility to uphold ethical practices in their business dealings. As societal norms and values evolve, entrepreneurs must be conscious of their actions and strive to maintain moral integrity. By doing so, they contribute to the well-being of society and the world as a whole.
08 – In the Learned and Humble Brahmin, in the Cow, Elephant, and Dog, the Wise See Equally
Quote: विद्याविनयसम्पन्ने ब्राह्मणे गवि हस्तिनि।
शुनि चैव श्वपाके च पण्डिताः समदर्शिनः।।
Translation: “The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog, and even an outcaste.” (Bhagavad Gita, 5.18)
This verse teaches the virtue of equanimity and treating all beings with equal respect. For entrepreneurs, it reminds them to embrace diversity and inclusivity within their organization and dealings. Treating employees, partners, clients, and competitors with fairness and respect fosters a harmonious and productive work environment. By practicing samadrishti, or equal vision, entrepreneurs can cultivate strong relationships and build a compassionate and cohesive business culture.
09 – This Divine Illusion of Mine is Hard to Overcome, Only Those Who Surrender to Me Transcend It
Quote: दैवी ह्येषा गुणमयी मम माया दुरत्यया।
मामेव ये प्रपद्यन्ते मायामेतां तरन्ति ते।।
Translation: “This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.” (Bhagavad Gita, 7.14)
Entrepreneurship is often accompanied by various challenges arising from the material world. This verse reminds entrepreneurs that surrendering to a higher power or greater purpose can provide the strength and resilience needed to overcome obstacles. It encourages entrepreneurs to have faith in their abilities while acknowledging the role of a higher force guiding their journey. By cultivating a sense of dedication, entrepreneurs can find solace and courage in difficult times.
10 – Abandon All Duties and Take Refuge in Me Alone
Quote: सर्वधर्मान्परित्यज्य मामेकं शरणं व्रज।
Translation: “Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.” (Bhagavad Gita, 18.66)
In this concluding verse of the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna calls for complete surrender to the divine. For entrepreneurs, this verse emphasizes the importance of relinquishing the need for control over every aspect of their business. While dedication, hard work, and strategic planning are essential, there are factors beyond an entrepreneur’s control. Surrendering to a higher power or purpose provides entrepreneurs with inner peace, reducing fear and anxiety, and allowing them to focus on their endeavors with a clear and calm mind.
The Bhagavad Gita holds timeless wisdom that can guide entrepreneurs on their path to success and fulfillment. These ten quotes are just a glimpse of the profound teachings the scripture offers. By embracing the principles of detached action, equanimity, authenticity, collaboration, and self-mastery, entrepreneurs can find the inner strength and clarity to navigate challenges and achieve greatness in their ventures. The Bhagavad Gita’s timeless guidance serves as a beacon of light, illuminating the entrepreneurial journey, inspiring leaders to rise above and create a positive impact on the world.
01. Who first wrote Bhagavad Gita?
The Bhagavad Gita is a sacred Hindu scripture, and its exact authorship remains a subject of debate among scholars. Traditionally, it is attributed to the sage Vyasa or Vedavyasa, who is also credited with composing the epic Mahabharata, of which the Bhagavad Gita is a part. The Gita is considered to have been written down around 3000-5000 years ago, but its origins likely date back even further, with its teachings being passed down through an oral tradition.
02. What is the main message of the Bhagavad Gita?
The main message of the Bhagavad Gita can be summarized as follows: It emphasizes the importance of fulfilling one’s duties and responsibilities without attachment to the outcomes and surrendering the results to the divine. It also teaches the path of self-realization, devotion, and understanding one’s true nature beyond the physical body.
03. Did Oppenheimer read Bhagavad Gita?
Oppenheimer, a theoretical physicist, had been introduced to Sanskrit, the ancient Indian language, and subsequently the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Indian scripture, while working as a teacher in Berkeley years before. He famously quoted a verse from the Bhagavad Gita while describing the first detonation of a nuclear weapon – “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
04. What did Einstein say about the Bhagavad Gita?
Albert Einstein, the renowned physicist, once expressed his admiration for the Bhagavad Gita. He reportedly said, “When I read the Bhagavad Gita and reflect about how God created this universe, everything else seems so superfluous.” Einstein found inspiration in Gita’s spiritual and philosophical depth, which resonated with his own pursuit of understanding the laws of the universe.
05. What does Bhagavad Gita tell us?
The Bhagavad Gita provides profound philosophical and spiritual teachings. It addresses the moral and ethical dilemmas faced by Arjuna, the warrior prince, on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. The Gita’s teachings encompass various paths to spiritual realization, such as the paths of devotion, knowledge, and selfless action. It encourages individuals to act with righteousness, to perform their duties diligently, and to cultivate a deeper understanding of life’s purpose and their relationship with the divine.
06. How many characters are there in Gita?
The Bhagavad Gita primarily revolves around two main characters, namely:
- Arjuna: The skilled warrior prince and a key figure in the epic Mahabharata. He faces a moral and existential crisis on the battlefield, seeking guidance from Lord Krishna.
- Lord Krishna: The charioteer and Arjuna’s divine guide. Krishna imparts spiritual wisdom and counsel to Arjuna during his moment of doubt and confusion.
07. What does Bhagavad Gita say about business?
The Bhagavad Gita doesn’t explicitly discuss business practices as it is set in the context of a battlefield and focuses on spiritual and moral dilemmas. However, the principles and teachings in the Gita can be applied to various aspects of life, including business.
08. How does Bhagavad Gita help in business?
The Bhagavad Gita offers several lessons that can be valuable in the context of business:
- Duty and Responsibility: The Gita emphasizes the importance of performing one’s duty diligently and without attachment to the outcomes. In business, this can translate to making ethical decisions and taking responsibility for one’s actions.
- Detachment: The concept of non-attachment taught in the Gita can help business leaders to make rational and objective decisions without being overly influenced by emotions.
- Leadership and Guidance: Lord Krishna’s role as a charioteer and guide to Arjuna showcases the significance of wise leadership and mentorship in business.
- Ethical Conduct: The Gita emphasizes righteous conduct and moral behavior, which can be applied in business dealings to build trust and reputation.
09. What are the four principles of the Bhagavad Gita for business ethics?
While the Bhagavad Gita doesn’t explicitly provide a list of business ethics principles, its teachings can be interpreted to support the following ethical guidelines in business:
- Integrity and Honesty: Uphold truthfulness and honesty in all business dealings.
- Fairness and Equity: Treat all stakeholders with fairness, respect, and impartiality.
- Non-Attachment to Results: Focus on performing one’s duties diligently without being overly concerned about the outcomes.
- Selfless Action: Cultivate a sense of service and selflessness in business practices, aiming to benefit others along with oneself.