akṣarāṇām a-kāro ’smi
dvandvaḥ sāmāsikasya ca
aham evākṣayaḥ kālo
dhātāhaḿ viśvato-mukhaḥ

Translation of Bhagavad Gita 10.33

Of letters I am the letter A, and among compound words I am the dual compound. I am also inexhaustible time, and of creators I am Brahma.

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

A-kara, the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet, is the beginning of the Vedic literature. Without a-kara, nothing can be sounded; therefore it is the beginning of sound. In Sanskrit there are also many compound words, of which the dual word, like rama-krishna, is called dvandva. In this compound, the words rama and krishna have the same form, and therefore the compound is called dual.

Among all kinds of killers, time is the ultimate because time kills everything. Time is the representative of Krishna because in due course of time there will be a great fire and everything will be annihilated.

Among the living entities who are creators, Brahma, who has four heads, is the chief. Therefore he is a representative of the Supreme Lord, Krishna.

Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:

The dvandva compound is superior among compounds since its elements are equal. Among destroyers I am indestructible time. This refers to Mahakala, Rudra, famous as the destroyer. Among the creators I am Brahma (dhata), with four faces (visvato mukhah).

Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:

10.33 Of letters I am the alphabet ‘a’, which is the base of all letters as established in the Sruti: ‘The letter ‘a’ itself is all speech’ (Ai. Ai., 3.2.3). Samasika means collection of compound words. In it, I am the Dvandva compound; it is eminent because the meanings of both constituent terms are important. I am Myself imperishable Time composed of (divisions like) Kala, Muhurta etc. I am the four-faced Hiranyagarbha who is the creator of all.

Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:

Of letters of the alphabet, Lord Krishna’s vibhuti or divine, transcendental opulence is the letter A for it representing all speech is the foremost. The Vedic scriptures declare that the letter A is all speech and takes many various forms when manifested from different parts of the body such as throat, nose, palate, abdomen etc. Of compound words His vibhuti is the dual compound such as Rama-Krishna which exemplifies the prominence of both. Before in verse 30 He stated that His vibhuti was time in terms of controller regarding the longevity of all created beings lifespan, in the finite sense; but here He reveals another aspect of time being His vibhuti in the infinite sense as an eternal ever flowing constancy. That time determined the duration of a life and is terminated when the jiva or embodied being’s life is terminated. While this time flows uninterrupted as infinite time. Of creators His vibhuti is dhataham visvato- mukhah meaning the four faced Brahma who faces can see on all sides.

Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:

Sri Madhvacharya did not comment on this sloka.

Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:

Among the sounds of speech from the various letters of all languages Lord Krishna’s vibhuti or divine, transcendental opulence is the sound represented by the first letter of the alphabet known as A. Among different types of compounds in grammar His vibhuti is the dual compound whose both parts are complimentary yet independent. Among subjugators His vibhuti is all subjugating time terminating all existence in the form of Shiva at the time of universal destruction and of creators His vibhuti is visvato-mukhah the four- headed Brahma. The Svetara Upanisad VI.XVI states: He who is the knower and devourer of time the omniscient one possessing all auspicious attributes etc. In the Udyoga Parva of Mahabharta it states: Lord Krishna incessantly revolves the wheel of time, the wheel of the worlds and the wheel of all dimensions by His vibhuti. The Supreme Lord Krishna rules over all time, all death and all that is moving and non-moving. This is eternal truth.

Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:

10.33 Aksaranam, of the letters; I am the akarah, letter a. Samasikasya, of the group of compound words, I am the compund (called) Dvandva. Besieds, aham eva, I Myself; am the aksayah, infinite, endless; kalah, time, well known as ‘moment’ etc.; or, I am the supreme God who is Kala (Time, the measurer) even of time. I am the dhata, Dispenser, the dispenser of the fruits of actions of the whole world; visvatomukhah, with faces everwhere.

Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:

10.19-42 Hanta te etc. upto jagat sthitah. I am the Soul etc. (verse 20) : By this [the Bhagavat] wards off the exclusion [of any being as different form Him]. Otherwise the sentences like ‘Of the immovable [I am] the the Himalayas’ (verse 25) etc., would amount to the exclusive statement that the Himalayan range is the Bhagavat and not any other one. In that case, the indiscriminateness of the Brahman is not established and hence the realisation of the Brahman would be a partial (or conditioned) one. For, the [present] text of exposition is intended for that seeker whose mind cannot contemplate on the all-pervasiveness [of the Brahman], but who [at the same time] is desirous of realising that [all-pervasiveness]. Hence, while concluding, [the Bhagavat] teaches the theory of duality-cumunity by saying ‘whatsoever being exists with the manifesting power’ etc., and then concludes the topic with the theory of absolute unity, as ‘Or what is the use of this elaboration;…..I remain pervading this [universe] by a single fraction [of Myself] This has been declared indeed [in the scriptures] as : ‘All beings constitute [only] His one-fourth; His [other] immortal three-forths are in the heaven.’ (Rgveda, X, xc, 3). Thus, all this and the prime cause of creatures, are nothing but the Bhagavat (Absolute). And hence, He Himself becomes the object of knowledge of all, but being comprehended with the different strange qualities.

Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:

aksaranam a-karo ’smi
dvandvah samasikasya ca
aham evaksayah kalo
dhataham visvato-mukhah

Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:

akṣarāṇām — of letters; a-kāraḥ — the first letter; asmi — I am; dvandvaḥ — the dual; sāmāsikasya — of compounds; ca — and; aham — I am; eva — certainly; akṣayaḥ — eternal; kālaḥ — time; dhātā — the creator; aham — I am; viśvataḥ-mukhaḥ — Brahmā.