I first read the Bhagavat Gita many, many decades ago. It’s a fairly lengthy document, and it’s difficult for an ordinary person like me to remember every word written in this masterpiece. However, one phrase has stayed with me all my life, because it is so powerful:

“Swalpam api asya dharmasya trayte mahto bhayaat”.

Literal Translation

“Even a little bit of this dharma saves us from great fear”.

At first reading it sounds a bit cryptic but when we read it again and again, the verse begins to make more sense. Here is a free translation, based on my personal understanding:

“Even a little bit of spiritual knowledge on the path of dharma can liberate us from our fears”.

Doesn’t that sound amazing? There is so much hope in that statement, and it comes straight from the mouth of Shri Krishna.

Om Swami ji has said something similar. He says that Sadhana is never wasted. Whatever we do bears fruit, eventually.

There was a time when I used to go for a one-hour yoga class every day. I would get up early in the morning, and rush to the yoga class in our neighborhood at 6:00 a.m. I kept up this discipline for a couple of years or so, then life got in the way. The yoga center shifted to another location that was not so convenient. In addition, my own life got very busy, and the routine was broken. I practiced yoga at home, but less diligently. I still do yoga at home but it’s no longer an hour a day. Sometimes, it’s just a few minutes.

When I do this abbreviated yoga, I remember the words from the Gita.

“Swalpam api asya dharmasya trayte mahto bhayaat”.

It’s very true. Even a little bit of yoga in the morning helps me keep my body in running order and I am ready to face the day, with all its problems. There is absolutely no need to beat ourselves up if we cannot do more practice; whatever we do is beneficial.

At any point in life, there are always two paths we can take. We can either go up or go downhill. We can also choose to stay where we are, but that never works, because everything changes all the time. If we choose the upward path, we are moving towards light and even a few steps will bring us closer to the light.

“Swalpam api asya dharmasya says trayte mahto bhayaat”.

If we stumble and fall, as we all do from time to time, it’s not a big deal. We can always pick ourselves up and resume the journey on the upward path. If we keep travelling, we will eventually get to our destination.

I once read a riddle about how to eat an elephant. The solution is very simple: one bite at a time. If we take those small bites, the entire task will eventually be accomplished.

Sometimes, we face huge tasks at the office, or at home. It could be a major project at work or some massive job that needs to be done in the house. How do we face this challenge? Just begin, do just a little and keep going. Have no fear because:

“Swalpam api asya dharmasya  trayte mahto bhayaat”.

As my wife and I go older, we face more health challenges. Apart from medical interventions that do happen from time to time, we have to work on our health ourselves. There is no substitute for daily exercise and self-discipline in making healthy lifestyle choices. Doing even a little makes a difference. When we get discouraged, we remember the words of the Gita.

“Swalpam api asya dharmasya  trayte mahto bhayaat”.

Karma is never wasted. Even a little good karma goes into our account book and bears fruit in the fullness of time. This is true of bad karma, too, but we can overcome that with good karma. Sometimes, there is no boundary between good or bad karma, because it’s all in the mind. If we are not sure, we can just keep on doing random acts of kindness, because they will eventually bear fruit. Just imagine what a lovely place this world would be, if more people did random acts of kindness every day.

“Swalpam api asya dharmasya trayte mahto bhayaat”.

Even a few random acts of kindness everyday will remove a large amount of fear and violence from the world around us.

In one of his discourses, Om Swami ji discusses how we should allocate time for Sadhana. If we have, let us say, set aside 90 minutes a day for this activity, he suggests doing Sadhana for 45 minutes or so. The rest of the time should be set aside for acts of kindness.

In the long run, even a little kindness will pay rich dividends for us and for those around us, because, as the Bhagavat Gita says:

“Swalpam api asya dharmasya  trayte mahto bhayaat”.

Even a small dose of spirituality every day will go a long, long way towards making this world a much better place.