mayy asakta-manah partha
yogam yunjan mad-asrayah
asamsayam samagram mam
yatha jnasyasi tac chrnu
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Now hear, O son of Pritha, how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt.
Commentary by Srila Prabhupada
In this Seventh Chapter of Bhagavad-gita, the nature of Krishna consciousness is fully described. Krishna is full in all opulences, and how He manifests such opulences is described herein. Also, four kinds of fortunate people who become attached to Krishna and four kinds of unfortunate people who never take to Krishna are described in this chapter.
In the first six chapters of Bhagavad-gita, the living entity has been described as nonmaterial spirit soul capable of elevating himself to self-realization by different types of yogas. At the end of the Sixth Chapter, it has been clearly stated that the steady concentration of the mind upon Krishna, or in other words Krishna consciousness, is the highest form of all yoga. By concentrating one’s mind upon Krishna, one is able to know the Absolute Truth completely, but not otherwise. Impersonal brahmajyoti or localized Paramatma realization is not perfect knowledge of the Absolute Truth, because it is partial. Full and scientific knowledge is Krishna, and everything is revealed to the person in Krishna consciousness. In complete Krishna consciousness one knows that Krishna is ultimate knowledge beyond any doubts. Different types of yoga are only steppingstones on the path of Krishna consciousness. One who takes directly to Krishna consciousness automatically knows about brahmajyoti and Paramatma in full. By practice of Krishna consciousness yoga, one can know everything in full—namely the Absolute Truth, the living entities, the material nature, and their manifestations with paraphernalia.
One should therefore begin yoga practice as directed in the last verse of the Sixth Chapter. Concentration of the mind upon Krishna the Supreme is made possible by prescribed devotional service in nine different forms, of which shravanam is the first and most important. The Lord therefore says to Arjuna, tac chrnu, or “Hear from Me.” No one can be a greater authority than Krishna, and therefore by hearing from Him one receives the greatest opportunity to become a perfectly Krishna conscious person. One has therefore to learn from Krishna directly or from a pure devotee of Krishna—and not from a nondevotee upstart, puffed up with academic education.
In the Srimad-Bhagavatam this process of understanding Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Absolute Truth, is described in the Second Chapter of the First Canto as follows:
shrinvatam sva-kathah krishnah
hrdy antah-stho hy abhadrani
vidhunoti suhrt satam
bhaktir bhavati naisthiki
kama-lobhadayas ca ye
ceta etair anaviddham
sthitam sattve prasidati
ksiyante casya karmani
“To hear about Krishna from Vedic literatures, or to hear from Him directly through the Bhagavad-gita, is itself righteous activity. And for one who hears about Krishna, Lord Krishna, who is dwelling in everyone’s heart, acts as a best-wishing friend and purifies the devotee who constantly engages in hearing of Him. In this way, a devotee naturally develops his dormant transcendental knowledge. As he hears more about Krishna from the Bhagavatam and from the devotees, he becomes fixed in the devotional service of the Lord. By development of devotional service one becomes freed from the modes of passion and ignorance, and thus material lusts and avarice are diminished. When these impurities are wiped away, the candidate remains steady in his position of pure goodness, becomes enlivened by devotional service and understands the science of God perfectly. Thus bhakti-yoga severs the hard knot of material affection and enables one to come at once to the stage of asamsayam-samagram, understanding of the Supreme Absolute Truth Personality of Godhead.” (Bhag. 1.2.17–21)
Therefore only by hearing from Krishna or from His devotee in Krishna consciousness can one understand the science of Krishna.
Commentary by Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur
When will I take shelter of the feet of Mahaprabhu, which are a sweet ocean of mercy, made of eternal bliss? Then somehow or other, I will attain the nectar of prema through the path of bhakti, which shuns liberation.
The seventh chapter describes the powers of Krishna, the powers of the Lord who is most worthy of worship. The four types of persons who worship and do not worship Krishna are also described.
In the first six chapters of the Gita, jnana and astanga yoga which lead to liberation, and depend upon niskama karma yoga which first purifies the heart, have been described. In the middle six chapters, two types of bhakti will be described: that bhakti which yields salokya and other types of liberation by being either without desire or with it, because of mixture of karma, jnana or other elements; and the main type of bhakti, which yields liberation in the form of becoming an associate of the Lord with prema, which is independent of karma, jfiana or other processes, and which, moreover, independently yields all goals such as svarga and moksa without performance of any other process, and which, though easy to perform for all people, is most rare.
yat karmabhir yat tapasa jnana-vairagyatas ca yat
yogena dana-dharmena sreyobhir itarair api
sarvam mad-bhakti-yogena mad-bhakto labhate ‘njasa
svargapavargam mad-dhama kathancid yadi vanchati
Everything that can be achieved by fruitive activities, penance, knowledge, detachment, mystic yoga, charity, religious duties and all other means of perfecting life is easily achieved by My devotee through loving service unto Me. If somehow or other My devotee desires promotion to heaven, liberation, or residence in My abode, he easily achieves such benedictions. SB 11.20.32-33
“But the sruti says tarn eva viditva ati mrtyum eti: knowing it, one surpasses death (Svetasvatara Upanisad 6.15). How can you then say that without knowledge, just by bhakti, one attains liberation?”
It is not so. The meaning of that sruti statement is: knowing-paramatma (tam), having direct realization of paramatma (tat padartham), not knowing the individual soul (tvam padartham), or prakrti or any existing object at all, one surpasses death. Just as the cause of tasting sugar is the tongue, not the eye or ear, so the cause of tasting the para brahman, is bhakti. It is possible to grasp the brahman, which is beyond the gunas only by the process of bhakti which is beyond the gunas, and not by sattvika knowledge of atma being different from the body. This is understood from the Lord’s statement bhaktyaham ekay grahyah: I am obtained only by bhakti. (SB 11.14.11) And I will elaborate on this in the commentary on the verse bhaktya mam abhijanati yavan yas casmi tattvatah: I can be known as I am only by bhakti. (BG 18.55)
And the accomplishment of liberation through jnana and astanga yoga is brought about only through the influence of bhakti, which is a subordinate element in those practices. It is stated in many places in the scriptures that without bhakti, those two processes are insignificant.
Moreover, because of the absence of the word eva (only) after viditva, there is another meaning. This then does not indicate that exclusively by knowing paramatma, one attains liberation: knowing paramatma or not knowing, one attains liberation. Therefore, one can get liberation by knowledge beyond the gunas-knowledge of paramatma, which arises through bhakti; and sometimes also, without paramatma knowledge arising from bhakti-just by bhakti alone, one can attain liberation. It is just like eating sugar candy, which cannot be tasted, due to malfunction of the tongue. But gradually taste is restored. By that, the sickness is destroyed. According to Amara Kosa, matsyandika is a transformation of sugar.
nanv isvaro ‘nubhajato ‘viduso ‘pi saksac
chreyas tanoty agada-raja ivopayuktah
It is true that the Supreme Lord Himself awards His blessings even to an ignorant worshiper, just as the best medicine works even when taken by a person ignorant of its ingredients. SB 10.47.59
In the Moksa Dharma, there is a statement made about Narayana:
yo vai sadhana sampattih purusartha catusthaye
taya vina tad apnoti naro narayanacayah
Even without performing actions for attaining the four purusarthas (artha, dharma, kama and moksa), the person who surrenders to Narayana attains the goal.
As quoted above already, Bhagavatam says:
Everything that can be achieved by fruitive activities, penance, knowledge, detachment, mystic yoga, charity, religbus duties and all other means of perfecting life is easily achieved by My devotee through loving service unto Me. If somehow or other My devotee desires promotion to heaven, liberation, or residence in My abode, he easily achieves such benedictions. SB 11.20.32-33
yan-nama sakrc chravanat pukkaso ‘pi vimucyate samsarat
Not to speak of seeing You personally, merely by hearing the holy name of Your Lordship only once, even candalas, men of the lowest class, are freed from samsara. SB 6.16.44
Thus, according to many such statements in the scriptures, liberation can be attained by bhakti alone.
Now, let us return to the verse.
“In your statement at the end of the last chapter (yoginam api sarvesam), it is understood that you have indicated your own devotee, with the special quality of absorbing his mind in you (mad gatenantaratmana) and having faith in you. But what type of devotee is that? One would expect that he is qualified with knowledge (jnana) and realization (vijnana).” The Lord then answers in two verses.
Realizaton will occur gradually in proportion to the intensity of the worship.
bhaktih paresanubhavo viraktir
anyatra caisa trika eka-kalah
prapadyamanasya yathasnatah syus
tustih pustih ksud-apayo ‘nu-ghasam
Devotion, direct experience of the Supreme Lord, and detachment from other things—these three occur simultaneously for one who has taken shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in the same way that pleasure, nourishment and relief from hunger come simultaneously and increasingly, with each bite, for a person engaged in eating. SB 11.2.42
Just as by eating a handful of food one does not attain satisfaction or nourishment, but by taking a lot of food one does get satisfaction and nourishment, when you have attained the stage of attachment to me (mayy asakta manah) in my form of Syamasundara with yellow cloth, you will know me. Hear how (yatha) you will realize me clearly.
What type of yoga is this? You will gradually attain a relationship with me (samyogam yunjan). You will take shelter of me alone, not karma or jnana (mad asrayah) since you are my ananya bhakta. You will be absolutely without doubt about which is better, my impersonal aspect or my personal aspect, as indicated later in chapter 12 with my words:
kleso ‘dhikataras tesam avyaktasakta-cetasam
avyakta hi gatir duhkham dehavadbhir avapyate
Those who are attached to the impersonal aspect endure great difficulties. The impersonal goal gives difficulties for one a body. BG 12.5
Moreover, that brahman is just an expression of my greatness, as I, in the form of Matsya, say to Satyavrata:
madiyam mahimanam ca param brahmeti sabditam vetsyasy anugrhitam me samprasnair vivrtam hrdi
You will be thoroughly advised and favored by Me, and because of your inquiries, everything about My glories, which are known as param brahma, will be manifest within your heart. SB 8.24.38
In the Gita I will later say, brahmano hi pratisthaham: I am the basis of brahman. Thus in comparison to knowledge about me in my personal form, which is complete (samagram), this knowledge of impersonal brahman is incomplete. Therefore you will know me completely (samagram mam), without doubt.