Bhagavad Gita 12.1

Text 1

arjuna uvaca
evam satata-yukta ye
bhaktas tvam paryupasate
ye capy aksharam avyaktam
tesham ke yoga-vittamah


Arjuna inquired: Which are considered to be more perfect, those who are always properly engaged in Your devotional service or those who worship the impersonal Brahman, the unmanifested?

Commentary by Srila Prabhupada

Krishna has now explained about the personal, the impersonal and the universal and has described all kinds of devotees and yogis. Generally, the transcendentalists can be divided into two classes. One is the impersonalist, and the other is the personalist. The personalist devotee engages himself with all energy in the service of the Supreme Lord. The impersonalist also engages himself, not directly in the service of Krishna but in meditation on the impersonal Brahman, the unmanifested.

We find in this chapter that of the different processes for realization of the Absolute Truth, bhakti-yoga, devotional service, is the highest. If one at all desires to have the association of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then he must take to devotional service.

Those who worship the Supreme Lord directly by devotional service are called personalists. Those who engage themselves in meditation on the impersonal Brahman are called impersonalists. Arjuna is here questioning which position is better. There are different ways to realize the Absolute Truth, but Krishna indicates in this chapter that bhakti-yoga, or devotional service to Him, is the highest of all. It is the most direct, and it is the easiest means for association with the Godhead.

In the Second Chapter of Bhagavad-gita, the Supreme Lord explained that a living entity is not the material body; he is a spiritual spark. And the Absolute Truth is the spiritual whole. In the Seventh Chapter He spoke of the living entity as being part and parcel of the supreme whole and recommended that he transfer his attention fully to the whole. Then again in the Eighth Chapter it was said that anyone who thinks of Krishna at the time of quitting his body is at once transferred to the spiritual sky, to the abode of Krishna. And at the end of the Sixth Chapter the Lord clearly said that of all yogis, one who always thinks of Krishna within himself is considered the most perfect. So in practically every chapter the conclusion has been that one should be attached to the personal form of Krishna, for that is the highest spiritual realization.

Nevertheless, there are those who are not attached to the personal form of Krishna. They are so firmly detached that even in the preparation of commentaries to Bhagavad-gita they want to distract other people from Krishna and transfer all devotion to the impersonal brahmajyoti. They prefer to meditate on the impersonal form of the Absolute Truth, which is beyond the reach of the senses and is not manifest.

And so, factually, there are two classes of transcendentalists. Now Arjuna is trying to settle the question of which process is easier and which of the classes is most perfect. In other words, he is clarifying his own position because he is attached to the personal form of Krishna. He is not attached to the impersonal Brahman.

He wants to know whether his position is secure. The impersonal manifestation, either in this material world or in the spiritual world of the Supreme Lord, is a problem for meditation. Actually, one cannot perfectly conceive of the impersonal feature of the Absolute Truth. Therefore Arjuna wants to say, “What is the use of such a waste of time?” Arjuna experienced in the Eleventh Chapter that to be attached to the personal form of Krishna is best because he could thus understand all other forms at the same time and there was no disturbance to his love for Krishna. This important question asked of Krishna by Arjuna will clarify the distinction between the impersonal and personal conceptions of the Absolute Truth.

Commentary by Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur

In the twelfth chapter, the superiority of all types of devotees to the jnanis is described, and among the devotees those who are endowed with wonderful qualities like lack of hatred are praised. Arjuna heard the great superiority of bhakti at the beginning of the topic of bhakti in the following words:

yoginam api sarvesam mad-gatenantar-atmana sraddhavan bhajate yo mam sa me yuktatamo matah

But I consider he who worships me with faith, with mind attached to me, to be greater than all types of yogis. BG 6.47

Arjuna, desiring to hear about the superiority of bhakti, even if it is in summary, asks a question. Between the devotees described as being constantly engaged, who worship you as Syamasundara, mentioned at the end of the last chapter with – mat-karma krn mat-paramah (BG  11.55),   and   those   who   worship   the impersonal, unqualified aksara brahman described in the srutis with statements such as etad vai tad aksaram gargi brahmana abhivadanty asthulam ananv ahrasvam (Brhad Aranyaka Upanisad 3.8.9) (O Gargi, that aksara, which is not wide, not small and not short, is called brahman), among these two types of persons who know yoga, who are the best knowers of yoga (yoga vittamah)? Who know the best process for attaining you? Or, do they not know? In a comparison of two items usually the form yoga vittara (which of them know yoga better) would be used. The word yoga vittama should be understood to suggest that among the many very good knowers of yoga (yoga vittara), who are the best knowers of yoga (yoga vittama)?

Bhagavad Gita 12.2

Text 2

sri-bhagavan uvaca
mayy avesya mano ye mam
nitya-yukta upasate
shraddhaya parayopetas
te me yuktatama matah 


The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Those who fix their minds on My personal form and are always engaged in worshiping Me with great and transcendental faith are considered by Me to be most perfect.

Commentary by Srila Prabhupada

In answer to Arjuna’s question, Krishna clearly says that he who concentrates upon His personal form and who worships Him with faith and devotion is to be considered most perfect in yoga. For one in such Krishna consciousness there are no material activities, because everything is done for Krishna. A pure devotee is constantly engaged. Sometimes he chants, sometimes he hears or reads books about Krishna, or sometimes he cooks prasadam or goes to the marketplace to purchase something for Krishna, or sometimes he washes the temple or the dishes—whatever he does, he does not let a single moment pass without devoting his activities to Krishna. Such action is in full samadhi.

Commentary by Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur

Among them, my devotees are the best. Those who absorb their minds in me, Syamasundara, those who desire to be constantly united with me (nitya yukta), with faith which is beyond the gunas (paraya sraddhaya), they, my ananya bhaktas, are the best knowers of yoga (yuktatama). Concerning faith it is said:

sattviky adhyatmiki sraddha karma-sraddha tu rajasi tamasy adharme ya sraddha mat-sevayam tu nirguna

Faith directed toward spiritual life is in the mode of goodness, faith rooted in fruitive work is in the mode of passion, faith residing in irreligious activities is in the mode of ignorance, but faith in My devotional service is purely transcendental. SB 11.25.27

From this it should be inferred that inferior to these ananya bhaktas are those having bhakti mixed with jnana, karma or other processes, who are called yoga vittara. Thus, it is shown here that bhakti is better than jnana, and among the types of bhakti, ananya bhakti is the best.

Bhagavad Gita 12.3-4

Text 3-4

ye tv aksharam anirdesyam
avyaktam paryupasate
sarvatra-gam acintyam ca
kuta-stham acalam dhruvam

sarvatra sama-buddhayah
te prapnuvanti mam eva
sarva-bhuta-hite ratah 


But those who fully worship the unmanifested, that which lies beyond the perception of the senses, the all-pervading, inconceivable, unchanging, fixed and immovable—the impersonal conception of the Absolute Truth—by controlling the various senses and being equally disposed to everyone, such persons, engaged in the welfare of all, at last achieve Me.

Commentary by Srila Prabhupada

Those who do not directly worship the Supreme Godhead, Krishna, but who attempt to achieve the same goal by an indirect process, also ultimately achieve the same goal, Sri Krishna. “After many births the man of wisdom seeks refuge in Me, knowing that Vasudeva is all.” When a person comes to full knowledge after many births, he surrenders unto Lord Krishna. If one approaches the Godhead by the method mentioned in this verse, he has to control the senses, render service to everyone and engage in the welfare of all beings. It is inferred that one has to approach Lord Krishna, otherwise there is no perfect realization. Often there is much penance involved before one fully surrenders unto Him.

In order to perceive the Supersoul within the individual soul, one has to cease the sensual activities of seeing, hearing, tasting, working, etc. Then one comes to understand that the Supreme Soul is present everywhere. Realizing this, one envies no living entity—he sees no difference between man and animal because he sees soul only, not the outer covering. But for the common man, this method of impersonal realization is very difficult.

Commentary by Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur

Those who worship my impersonal svarupa brahman are inferior because of their state of suffering. This the Lord states in two verses. Those who worship the brahman (aksaram) which is not possible to designate (anirdesyam), because it is without form or other qualities (avyaktam), which is spread everywhere (sarvatra gam), beyond logic (acintyam) and extending over all time (kutastham), devoid of increase or other change (acalam) and eternal (dhruvam), attain me in the form the impersonal brahman. He says that they attain “me” because the brahman is non-different from the Lord. Amara Kosa says that kutasha means that which pervades time with one form.

Bhagavad Gita 12.5

Text 5

kleso ’dhikataras tesam
avyakta hi gatir duhkham
dehavadbhir avapyate


For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme, advancement is very troublesome. To make progress in that discipline is always difficult for those who are embodied.

Commentary by Srila Prabhupada

The group of transcendentalists who follow the path of the inconceivable, unmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme Lord are called jnana-yogis, and persons who are in full Krishna consciousness, engaged in devotional service to the Lord, are called bhakti-yogis. Now, here the difference between jnana-yoga and bhakti-yoga is definitely expressed. The process of jnana-yoga, although ultimately bringing one to the same goal, is very troublesome, whereas the path of bhakti-yoga, the process of being in direct service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is easier and is natural for the embodied soul. The individual soul is embodied since time immemorial. It is very difficult for him to simply theoretically understand that he is not the body.

Therefore, the bhakti-yogi accepts the Deity of Krishna as worshipable because there is some bodily conception fixed in the mind, which can thus be applied. Of course, worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His form within the temple is not idol worship. There is evidence in the Vedic literature that worship may be saguna and nirguna—of the Supreme possessing or not possessing attributes. Worship of the Deity in the temple is saguna worship, for the Lord is represented by material qualities. But the form of the Lord, though represented by material qualities such as stone, wood or oil paint, is not actually material. That is the absolute nature of the Supreme Lord.

A crude example may be given here. We may find some mailboxes on the street, and if we post our letters in those boxes, they will naturally go to their destination without difficulty. But any old box, or an imitation which we may find somewhere but which is not authorized by the post office, will not do the work. Similarly, God has an authorized representation in the Deity form, which is called arca-vigraha. This arca-vigraha is an incarnation of the Supreme Lord. God will accept service through that form. The Lord is omnipotent, all-powerful; therefore, by His incarnation as arca-vigraha He can accept the services of the devotee, just to make it convenient for the man in conditioned life.

So for a devotee there is no difficulty in approaching the Supreme immediately and directly, but for those who are following the impersonal way to spiritual realization the path is difficult. They have to understand the unmanifested representation of the Supreme through such Vedic literatures as the Upanishads, and they have to learn the language, understand the nonperceptual feelings, and realize all these processes. This is not very easy for a common man. A person in Krishna consciousness, engaged in devotional service, simply by the guidance of the bona fide spiritual master, simply by offering regulative obeisances unto the Deity, simply by hearing the glories of the Lord, and simply by eating the remnants of foodstuffs offered to the Lord, realizes the Supreme Personality of Godhead very easily. There is no doubt that the impersonalists are unnecessarily taking a troublesome path with the risk of not realizing the Absolute Truth at the ultimate end. But the personalist, without any risk, trouble or difficulty, approaches the Supreme Personality directly. A similar passage appears in Srimad-Bhagavatam. It is stated there that if one ultimately has to surrender unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead (this surrendering process is called bhakti), but instead takes the trouble to understand what is Brahman and what is not Brahman and spends his whole life in that way, the result is simply troublesome. Therefore it is advised here that one should not take up this troublesome path of self-realization, because there is uncertainty in the ultimate result.

A living entity is eternally an individual soul, and if he wants to merge into the spiritual whole, he may accomplish the realization of the eternal and knowledgeable aspects of his original nature, but the blissful portion is not realized. By the grace of some devotee, such a transcendentalist, highly learned in the process of jnana-yoga, may come to the point of bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. At that time, long practice in impersonalism also becomes a source of trouble, because he cannot give up the idea. Therefore an embodied soul is always in difficulty with the unmanifest, both at the time of practice and at the time of realization. Every living soul is partially independent, and one should know for certain that this unmanifested realization is against the nature of his spiritual blissful self. One should not take up this process. For every individual living entity the process of Krishna consciousness, which entails full engagement in devotional service, is the best way. If one wants to ignore this devotional service, there is the danger of turning to atheism. Thus the process of centering attention on the unmanifested, the inconceivable, which is beyond the approach of the senses, as already expressed in this verse, should never be encouraged at any time, especially in this age. It is not advised by Lord Krishna.

Commentary by Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur

This verse describes a little of their inferior position. Those who are attracted to only brahman (avyakta asakta cetasam), who desire only realization of brahman, receive excessive difficulties in attaining it, because (hi) by what means at all can something without qualities be made manifest? That goal is attained by the jivas with bodies (dehavadbhih) in such a way that there is suffering (duhkham). The senses have the power for particular knowledge such as sound, nor for something other than particularity. Therefore, stopping of the senses is necessary for those who desire knowledge of the impersonal without particulars (nirvisesa). But stopping senses is like stopping rivers. Stopping the senses is difficult. Sanat Kumara says:

yat-pada-pankaja-palasa-vilasa-bhaktya karmasayam grathitam udgrathayanti santah tadvan na rikta-matayo yatayo’ pi ruddha-sroto-ganas tam aranam bhaja vasudevam

The devotees, who are always engaged in the service of the toes of the lotus feet of the Lord, can very easily overcome hard-knotted desires for fruitive activities. Because this is very difficult, the non-devotees—the jnanis and yogis—although trying to stop the waves of sense gratification, cannot do so. Therefore you are advised to engage in the devotional service of Krishna, the son of Vasudeva. SB 4.22.39

krcchro mahan iha bhavarnavam aplavesam sad-varga-nakram asukhena titirsanti tat tvam harer bhagavato bhajaniyam anghrim krtvodupam vyasanam uttara dustararnam

The ocean of nescience is very difficult to cross because it is infested with many dangerous sharks. Although those who are non-devotees undergo severe austerities and penances to cross that ocean, we recommend that you simply take shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord, which are like boats for crossing the ocean. Although the ocean is difficult to cross, by taking shelter of His lotus feet you will overcome all dangers. SB 4.22.40

Even that goal which is attained by such suffering is attained only by having a mixture with bhakti. Without bhakti to the Lord, the worshippers of the impersonal brahman obtain only suffering, and not brahman. Brahma says:

tesam asau klesala eva sisyate nanyad yatha sthula-tusavaghatinam

As a person who beats an empty husk of wheat cannot get grain, one who simply speculates cannot achieve self-realization. His only gain is trouble. SB 10.14.4

Bhagavad Gita 12.6-7

Text 6-7

ye tu sarvani karmani
mayi sannyasya mat-parah
ananyenaiva yogena
mam dhyayanta upasate

tesam aham samuddharta
bhavami na cirat partha
mayy avesita-cetasam


But those who worship Me, giving up all their activities unto Me and being devoted to Me without deviation, engaged in devotional service and always meditating upon Me, having fixed their minds upon Me, O son of Pritha—for them I am the swift deliverer from the ocean of birth and death.

Commentary by Srila Prabhupada

It is explicitly stated here that the devotees are very fortunate to be delivered very soon from material existence by the Lord. In pure devotional service one comes to the realization that God is great and that the individual soul is subordinate to Him. His duty is to render service to the Lord—and if he does not, then he will render service to maya.

As stated before, the Supreme Lord can be appreciated only by devotional service. Therefore, one should be fully devoted. One should fix his mind fully on Krishna in order to achieve Him. One should work only for Krishna. It does not matter in what kind of work one engages, but that work should be done only for Krishna. That is the standard of devotional service. The devotee does not desire any achievement other than pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead. His life’s mission is to please Krishna, and he can sacrifice everything for Krishna’s satisfaction, just as Arjuna did in the Battle of Kurukshetra. The process is very simple: one can devote himself in his occupation and engage at the same time in chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Such transcendental chanting attracts the devotee to the Personality of Godhead.

The Supreme Lord herein promises that without delay He will deliver a pure devotee thus engaged from the ocean of material existence. Those who are advanced in yoga practice can willfully transfer the soul to whatever planet they like by the yoga process, and others take the opportunity in various ways, but as far as the devotee is concerned, it is clearly stated here that the Lord Himself takes him. The devotee does not need to wait to become very experienced in order to transfer himself to the spiritual sky.

In the Varaha Purana this verse appears:

nayami paramam sthanam
arcir-adi-gatim vina
garuda-skandham aropya
yatheccham anivaritah

The purport of this verse is that a devotee does not need to practice ashtanga-yoga in order to transfer his soul to the spiritual planets. The responsibility is taken by the Supreme Lord Himself. He clearly states here that He Himself becomes the deliverer. A child is completely cared for by his parents, and thus his position is secure. Similarly, a devotee does not need to endeavor to transfer himself by yoga practice to other planets. Rather, the Supreme Lord, by His great mercy, comes at once, riding on His bird carrier Garuda, and at once delivers the devotee from material existence. Although a man who has fallen in the ocean may struggle very hard and may be very expert in swimming, he cannot save himself. But if someone comes and picks him up from the water, then he is easily rescued. Similarly, the Lord picks up the devotee from this material existence. One simply has to practice the easy process of Krishna consciousness and fully engage himself in devotional service. Any intelligent man should always prefer the process of devotional service to all other paths. In the Narayaniya this is confirmed as follows:

ya vai sadhana-sampattih
taya vina tad apnoti
naro narayanasrayah 

The purport of this verse is that one should not engage in the different processes of fruitive activity or cultivate knowledge by the mental speculative process. One who is devoted to the Supreme Personality can attain all the benefits derived from other yogic processes, speculation, rituals, sacrifices, charities, etc. That is the specific benediction of devotional service.

Simply by chanting the holy name of Krishna—Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—a devotee of the Lord can approach the supreme destination easily and happily, but this destination cannot be approached by any other process of religion.

The conclusion of Bhagavad-gita is stated in the Eighteenth Chapter:

sarva-dharman parityajya
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
mokshayisyami ma sucah

[Bg. 18.66]

One should give up all other processes of self-realization and simply execute devotional service in Krishna consciousness. That will enable one to reach the highest perfection of life. There is no need for one to consider the sinful actions of his past life, because the Supreme Lord fully takes charge of him. Therefore one should not futilely try to deliver himself in spiritual realization. Let everyone take shelter of the supreme omnipotent Godhead, Krishna. That is the highest perfection of life.

Commentary by Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur

But the devotees even without jnana, by kevala bhakti alone, comfortably attain liberation from samsara. Having given up (sannyasya means tyaga or renunciation) all other process for the purpose of attaining me (mayi), they worship me by ananya bhakti yoga (ananyena yogena)—which means devoid of karma, jnana, tapas or other elements. It is said:

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

In the Moksa Dharma, Narayaniya portion it also says:

ya vai sadhanam sampattih purusartha catustaye
taya vina tad apnoti naro narayanasrayah

Whatever among the four goals of human life can be achieved by various spiritual practices is automatically achieved without such endeavors by the person who has taken shelter of Lord Narayana, the refuge of all persons.
“Still, what is the method by which they cross samsara?” There is no question about the method by which they cross sarhsara, because without even having a method, I take them over. I quickly become their deliverer from the ocean of sarhsara. Implied here is that the Lord has affection for his devotees, but not for the jnanis.

Bhagavad Gita 12.8

Text 8

mayy eva mana adhatsva
mayi buddhim nivesaya
nivasisyasi mayy eva
ata urdhvam na samsayah


Just fix your mind upon Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and engage all your intelligence in Me. Thus you will live in Me always, without a doubt.

Commentary by Srila Prabhupada

One who is engaged in Lord Krishna’s devotional service lives in a direct relationship with the Supreme Lord, so there is no doubt that his position is transcendental from the very beginning. A devotee does not live on the material plane—he lives in Krishna. The holy name of the Lord and the Lord are nondifferent; therefore when a devotee chants Hare Krishna, Krishna and His internal potency are dancing on the tongue of the devotee. When he offers Krishna food, Krishna directly accepts these eatables, and the devotee becomes Krishna-ized by eating the remnants. One who does not engage in such service cannot understand how this is so, although this is a process recommended in the Bhagavad-gita and in other Vedic literatures.

Commentary by Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur

“Since bhakti is the best, please perform only bhakti.” He teaches this bhakti in three verses.

The word eva excludes the impersonal aspect of the Lord. Concentrate your mind on me only, remember only me (mayy eva mana adhatsva), that form of Syamasundara, with yellow cloth and forest garland, and not the impersonal brahman. And also, fix your intelligence which discriminates in me. This means to continually reflect on the statements of scripture using intelligence which will result in meditation. Such contemplation is called manana. Thus, you will attain residence near me. Nivasisyasi is a poetic form of nivatsyasi (future of nivas) for metrical purpose.

Bhagavad Gita 12.9

Text 9

atha cittam samadhatum
na saknosi mayi sthiram
abhyasa-yogena tato
mam icchaptum dhananjaya


My dear Arjuna, O winner of wealth, if you cannot fix your mind upon Me without deviation, then follow the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga. In this way develop a desire to attain Me.

Commentary by Srila Prabhupada

In this verse, two different processes of bhakti-yoga are indicated. The first applies to one who has actually developed an attachment for Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, by transcendental love. And the other is for one who has not developed an attachment for the Supreme Person by transcendental love. For this second class there are different prescribed rules and regulations one can follow to be ultimately elevated to the stage of attachment to Krishna.

Bhakti-yoga is the purification of the senses. At the present moment in material existence the senses are always impure, being engaged in sense gratification. But by the practice of bhakti-yoga these senses can become purified, and in the purified state they come directly in contact with the Supreme Lord. In this material existence, I may be engaged in some service to some master, but I don’t really lovingly serve my master. I simply serve to get some money. And the master also is not in love; he takes service from me and pays me. So there is no question of love. But for spiritual life, one must be elevated to the pure stage of love. That stage of love can be achieved by practice of devotional service, performed with the present senses.

This love of God is now in a dormant state in everyone’s heart. And, there, love of God is manifested in different ways, but it is contaminated by material association. Now the heart has to be purified of the material association, and that dormant, natural love for Krishna has to be revived. That is the whole process.

To practice the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga one should, under the guidance of an expert spiritual master, follow certain principles: one should rise early in the morning, take bath, enter the temple and offer prayers and chant Hare Krishna, then collect flowers to offer to the Deity, cook foodstuffs to offer to the Deity, take prasadam, and so on. There are various rules and regulations which one should follow. And one should constantly hear Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam from pure devotees. This practice can help anyone rise to the level of love of God, and then he is sure of his progress into the spiritual kingdom of God. This practice of bhakti-yoga, under the rules and regulations, with the direction of a spiritual master, will surely bring one to the stage of love of God.

Commentary by Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur

The Lord then speaks of a method to attain the state of remembrance mentioned above, if one is unable to remember the Lord immediately. Repeatedly withdrawing the mind when it goes here and there, fix (abhyasa) the mind on me. This is the method (yoga).

Bhagavad Gita 12.10

Text 10 

abhyase ’py asamartho ’si
mat-karma-paramo bhava
mad-artham api karmani
kurvan siddhim avapsyasi


If you cannot practice the regulations of bhakti-yoga, then just try to work for Me, because by working for Me you will come to the perfect stage.

Commentary by Srila Prabhupada

One who is not able even to practice the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga, under the guidance of a spiritual master, can still be drawn to this perfectional stage by working for the Supreme Lord. How to do this work has already been explained in the fifty-fifth verse of the Eleventh Chapter. One should be sympathetic to the propagation of Krishna consciousness. There are many devotees who are engaged in the propagation of Krishna consciousness, and they require help. So, even if one cannot directly practice the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga, he can try to help such work. Every endeavor requires land, capital, organization and labor. Just as in business one requires a place to stay, some capital to use, some labor and some organization to expand, so the same is required in the service of Krishna.

The only difference is that in materialism one works for sense gratification. The same work, however, can be performed for the satisfaction of Krishna, and that is spiritual activity. If one has sufficient money, he can help in building an office or temple for propagating Krishna consciousness. Or he can help with publications. There are various fields of activity, and one should be interested in such activities. If one cannot sacrifice the results of his activities, the same person can still sacrifice some percentage to propagate Krishna consciousness. This voluntary service to the cause of Krishna consciousness will help one to rise to a higher state of love for God, whereupon one becomes perfect.

Commentary by Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur

“As the tongue contaminated by jaundice does not like sugar candy, so the mind contaminated by ignorance does not accept your form, though it is sweet. Therefore, it is not possible for me to fight with this very strong, uncontrollable mind.”

“If you should think in this way, then I answer with these words.”

mat-karma-paramah means “my supreme activities, beyond the modes of nature.” Be a person who engages in my supreme activities. Doing services such as hearing and singing about me, bowing to me, worshiping me, sweeping and washing my temple, picking flowers, even without remembrance of me previously described, you will attain perfection (siddhim), characterized by being one of my associates in prema.

Bhagavad Gita 12.11

Text 11

athaitad apy asakto ’si
kartum mad-yogam asritah
tatah kuru yatatmavan


If, however, you are unable to work in this consciousness of Me, then try to act giving up all results of your work and try to be self-situated.

Commentary by Srila Prabhupada

It may be that one is unable even to sympathize with the activities of Krishna consciousness because of social, familial or religious considerations or because of some other impediments. If one attaches himself directly to the activities of Krishna consciousness, there may be objections from family members, or so many other difficulties. For one who has such a problem, it is advised that he sacrifice the accumulated result of his activities to some good cause. Such procedures are described in the Vedic rules. There are many descriptions of sacrifices and special functions of punya, or special work in which the result of one’s previous action may be applied. Thus one may gradually become elevated to the state of knowledge. It is also found that when one who is not even interested in the activities of Krishna consciousness gives charity to some hospital or some other social institution, he gives up the hard-earned results of his activities. That is also recommended here because by the practice of giving up the fruits of one’s activities one is sure to purify his mind gradually, and in that purified stage of mind one becomes able to understand Krishna consciousness. Of course Krishna consciousness is not dependent on any other experience, because Krishna consciousness itself can purify one’s mind, but if there are impediments to accepting Krishna consciousness, one may try to give up the results of his actions. In that respect, social service, community service, national service, sacrifice for one’s country, etc., may be accepted so that some day one may come to the stage of pure devotional service to the Supreme Lord. In Bhagavad-gita (18.46) we find it is stated, yatah pravrttir bhutanam: if one decides to sacrifice for the supreme cause, even if he does not know that the supreme cause is Krishna, he will come gradually to understand that Krishna is the supreme cause by the sacrificial method.

Commentary by Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur

If you are unable to do this, then taking shelter of the process of offering all your actions to me (mad yogam asritah), give up all the results of your actions as described in the first six chapters.

The meaning is this. In the first six chapters, the Lord spoke of niskama karma yoga offered to the Lord, a method to attain liberation. In the second six chapters the Lord spoke of bhakti yoga, the method of gaining the Lord himself. Bhakti yoga has two types: being fixed in bhakti through internal means, and being fixed in bhakti through external means.

The first type of bhakti, using internal means, has three sub categories: smarana atmika and manana atmika (mentioned in verse 8, using mind and intellect), and for those who desire, but cannot do continual remembrance, practice of the above, abhyasa rupa (verse 9). These three are difficult for a person with poor intelligence, and easy for one with good intellect and no offenses.

The second type, relying on external means, is composed of hearing and chanting (verse 10). It is easy to perform for everyone. Those who are qualified for performing both methods are most outstanding. This was stated in the second six chapters. Those who cannot do this, who do not have faith in fixing the senses on the Lord, those who are qualified for niskama karma offered to the Lord, are in an inferior position to the devotees (verse 11).

Bhagavad Gita 12.12

Text 12

sreyo hi jnanam abhyasaj
jnanad dhyanam visisyate
dhyanat karma-phala-tyagas
tyagac chantir anantaram


If you cannot take to this practice, then engage yourself in the cultivation of knowledge. Better than knowledge, however, is meditation, and better than meditation is renunciation of the fruits of action, for by such renunciation one can attain peace of mind.

Commentary by Srila Prabhupada

As mentioned in the previous verses, there are two kinds of devotional service: the way of regulative principles and the way of full attachment in love to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. For those who are actually not able to follow the principles of Krishna consciousness it is better to cultivate knowledge, because by knowledge one can be able to understand his real position. Gradually knowledge will develop to the point of meditation. By meditation one can be able to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead by a gradual process. There are processes which make one understand that one himself is the Supreme, and that sort of meditation is preferred if one is unable to engage in devotional service. If one is not able to meditate in such a way, then there are prescribed duties, as enjoined in the Vedic literature, for the brahmanas, kshatriyas, vaishyas and shudras, which we shall find in the last chapter of Bhagavad-gita. But in all cases, one should give up the result or fruits of labor; this means to employ the result of karma for some good cause.

In summary, to reach the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the highest goal, there are two processes: one process is by gradual development, and the other process is direct. Devotional service in Krishna consciousness is the direct method, and the other method involves renouncing the fruits of one’s activities. Then one can come to the stage of knowledge, then to the stage of meditation, then to the stage of understanding the Supersoul, and then to the stage of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One may take either the step-by-step process or the direct path. The direct process is not possible for everyone; therefore the indirect process is also good. It is, however, to be understood that the indirect process is not recommended for Arjuna, because he is already at the stage of loving devotional service to the Supreme Lord. It is for others, who are not at this stage; for them the gradual process of renunciation, knowledge, meditation and realization of the Supersoul and Brahman should be followed. But as far as Bhagavad-gita is concerned, it is the direct method that is stressed. Everyone is advised to take to the direct method and surrender unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna.

Commentary by Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur

In this verse, the Lord makes clear the successive superiority of abhyasa, manana and smarana spoken of previously.

Better than practice is fixing the intelligence in me (jnanam or mananam). By performing practice alone it is difficult to achieve meditation. By performing manana, easily one can come to meditation. But meditation (mayi mana adhatsva, or smarana) is better than jnana or manana. Why? From meditation one becomes devoid of desire for fruits of sakama karma in the form of svarga, and the fruits of niskama karma in the form of liberation. Even though these are attained without his endeavor, the devotee is indifferent to them. Before the devotee reaches steady meditation, when he has not yet attained rati (bhava), he has just a desire to give up liberation. But one who is fixed in meditation (at bhava stage) is repelled by moksa. He takes liberation as insignificant. That meditation is the cause for indifference to moksa. This is stated in Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu, where bhakti is glorified with six qualities:

klesa-ghni subhada moksa-laghutakrt sudurlabha
sandrananda-visesatma sri-krsnakarsani ca sa

Bhakti is characterized by destruction of suffering, bestowal of good qualities, disregard for liberation, rarity, intense spiritual bliss and attracting even Krishna. Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu 1.1.17

na paramesthyam na mahendra-dhisnyam
na sarvabhaumam na rasadhipatyam
na yoga-siddhir apunar-bhavam va
mayy arpitatmecchati mad vinanyat

The devotee who has offered his soul to Me does not want anything if it is separate from Me – not the position of the supreme demigod of the universe, Brahma, nor that of Lord Indra, nor kingship over the entire earth or over the lower planetary systems, nor the mystic perfections of yoga, nor even freedom from the cycle of rebirth. SB 11.14.14

In that verse, the phrase mayy arpita atma means “fixed in meditation on me.”

After developing distaste for the fruits of action, one then attains peace in the form of stopping the senses from dwelling on all objects except my form and qualities. This explanation directly links the succession of stages from the two words sreyah and visisyate in the first line to anantaram in the second line. No other explanation can be considered.