teṣām evānukampārtham
aham ajñāna-jaṁ tamaḥ
nāśayāmy ātma-bhāva-stho
jñāna-dīpena bhāsvatā

Translation of Bhagavad Gita 10.11

To show them special mercy, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.

Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:

When Lord Caitanya was in Benares promulgating the chanting of Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, thousands of people were following Him. Prakasananda Sarasvati, a very influential and learned scholar in Benares at that time, derided Lord Caitanya for being a sentimentalist. Sometimes philosophers criticize the devotees because they think that most of the devotees are in the darkness of ignorance and are philosophically naive sentimentalists. Actually that is not the fact. There are very, very learned scholars who have put forward the philosophy of devotion. But even if a devotee does not take advantage of their literatures or of his spiritual master, if he is sincere in his devotional service he is helped by Krishna Himself within his heart. So the sincere devotee engaged in Krishna consciousness cannot be without knowledge. The only qualification is that one carry out devotional service in full Krishna consciousness.

The modern philosophers think that without discriminating one cannot have pure knowledge. For them this answer is given by the Supreme Lord: those who are engaged in pure devotional service, even though they be without sufficient education and even without sufficient knowledge of the Vedic principles, are still helped by the Supreme God, as stated in this verse.

The Lord tells Arjuna that basically there is no possibility of understanding the Supreme Truth, the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, simply by speculating, for the Supreme Truth is so great that it is not possible to understand Him or to achieve Him simply by making a mental effort. Man can go on speculating for several millions of years, and if he is not devoted, if he is not a lover of the Supreme Truth, he will never understand Krishna, or the Supreme Truth. Only by devotional service is the Supreme Truth, Krishna, pleased, and by His inconceivable energy He can reveal Himself to the heart of the pure devotee. The pure devotee always has Krishna within his heart; and with the presence of Krishna, who is just like the sun, the darkness of ignorance is at once dissipated. This is the special mercy rendered to the pure devotee by Krishna.

Due to the contamination of material association, through many, many millions of births, one’s heart is always covered with the dust of materialism, but when one engages in devotional service and constantly chants Hare Krishna, the dust quickly clears, and one is elevated to the platform of pure knowledge. The ultimate goal, Vishnu, can be attained only by this chant and by devotional service, and not by mental speculation or argument. The pure devotee does not have to worry about the material necessities of life; he need not be anxious, because when he removes the darkness from his heart, everything is provided automatically by the Supreme Lord, who is pleased by the loving devotional service of the devotee. This is the essence of the teachings of Bhagavad-gita. By studying Bhagavad-gita, one can become a soul completely surrendered to the Supreme Lord and engage himself in pure devotional service. As the Lord takes charge, one becomes completely free from all kinds of materialistic endeavors.

Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:

“Without the functioning of knowledge and other such elements, how can they attain you and how can they even strive for that goal?”

This is not at all necessary. Having the intention of giving them mercy by all means, even without them having to worry about attaining my mercy, since I make the endeavor to give them mercy (tesam eva anukampartham), I, being situated within the functioning of their intellects (atma-bhavasthah), by the lamp of knowledge, knowledge arising from bhakti which is beyond the gunas, not sattvika knowledge, since bhakti alone can reveal me, destroy the darkness born of ignorance in them alone, but not in others like the yogis. I alone (aham eva) do this, all on my own. Why should they strive for this purpose? I have already said that I carry the responsibility of their spiritual and material welfare (yoga ksema vahamy aham). I accept responsibility to supply all their material and spiritual requirements.

These four verses of the Gita stated by the Lord, the essence of the Gita for preventing the degradation of the jivas, I have explained to give happiness to all.

Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:

10.11 To show favour to them alone, abiding in their mental activity, i.e., established as the object of thought in their mind, and manifesting the host of My auspicious attributes by the brillinat lamp called knowledge relating to Me, — I dispel the darkness incompatible with knowledge. This darkness is born of ignorance in the form of old Karma consisting of attachment to objects other than Myself, to which they were previously habituated. Thus having heard of the Lord as having a host of auspicious attributes, and of the extent of His sovereign glories which are unique and different from all others and which generate unsurpassed bliss in listeners, — Arjuna desired to listen to the details about them and said:

Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:

After bestowing the divine spark of spiritual intelligence the Supreme Lord Krishna residing within as paramatma the Supreme Soul makes sure it remains steady until His exclusive devotee eradicates all nescience and achieves atma tattva or realisation of their eternal soul and subsequent moksa or liberation from the material existence and samsara being the perpetual cycle of birth and death. This is what is meant by the words anukampa- artham which means He shows them special mercy out of great compassion for their devotion, the Supreme Lord blesses them and by His Grace all the darkness of material existence is illuminated. By what means is this accomplished and how is this done? Lord Krishna anticipating such a query speaks the words atma-bhava-stho meaning situated within their etheric heart as paratmatma, He illuminates their consciousness with the glowing radiance of spiritual knowledge.

Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:

Sri Madhvacharya did not comment on this sloka.

Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:

Nevertheless in order to shower His grace exclusively upon those who worship Him in bhakti or exclusive loving devotion, He atma-bhava-stho meaning manifests within their hearts jnana-dipena the radiant knowledge of enlightenment which completely dispels all tamah or darkness of ignorance due to unlimited karma or multitudinous reactions from actions since time immemorial.

Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:

10.11 Anukampartham, out of compassion; tesam eva, for them alone, anxious as to how they may have bliss; aham, I; atmabhavasthah, residing in their hearts-atmabhavah means the seat that is the heart; being seated there itself; nasayami, destroy; tamah, the darkness; ajnanajam, born of ignorance, originating from non-discrimination, the darkness of delusion known as false comprehension; jnana-dipena, with the lamp of Knowledge, in the form of discriminating comprehension; i.e. bhasvata, with the luminous lamp of Knowledge-fed by the oil of divine grace resulting from devotion, fanned by the wind of intensity of meditation on Me, having the wick of the intellect imbued with the impressions arising from such disciplines as celibacy etc., in the receptacle of the detached mind, placed in the windless shelter of the mind withdrawn from objects and untainted by likes and dislikes, and made luminous by full Illumination resulting from the practice of constant concentration and meditation. After hearing the above-described majesty and yoga of the Lord,

Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:

10.9-11 Maharsaya etc., upto bhasvata. Through the process of mutual enlightening, the wisdom-shock is transmitted to each other. On account of that, they get the all-inclusive [knowledge] ‘Indeed all sentient subjects are only a single Absolute Lord’. By means of this extensive pervasion, they easily come to realise their own Self as Omnipotent and omnipresent and by that they attain the Absolute Lordship. This is the idea here.

Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:

tesam evanukampartham
aham ajñana-jam tamah
nasayamy atma-bhava-stho
jñana-dipena bhasvata

Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:

teṣām — for them; eva — certainly; anukampā-artham — to show special mercy; aham — I; ajñāna-jam — due to ignorance; tamaḥ — darkness; nāśayāmi — dispel; ātma-bhāva — within their hearts; sthaḥ — situated; jñāna — of knowledge; dīpena — with the lamp; bhāsvatā — glowing.