yaḥ sa mām eti pāṇḍava
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 11.55
My dear Arjuna, he who engages in My pure devotional service, free from the contaminations of fruitive activities and mental speculation, he who works for Me, who makes Me the supreme goal of his life, and who is friendly to every living being—he certainly comes to Me.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
Anyone who wants to approach the supreme of all the Personalities of Godhead, on the Krishnaloka planet in the spiritual sky, and be intimately connected with the Supreme Personality, Krishna, must take this formula, as stated by the Supreme Himself. Therefore, this verse is considered to be the essence of Bhagavad-gita. The Bhagavad-gita is a book directed to the conditioned souls, who are engaged in the material world with the purpose of lording it over nature and who do not know of the real, spiritual life. The Bhagavad-gita is meant to show how one can understand his spiritual existence and his eternal relationship with the supreme spiritual personality and to teach one how to go back home, back to Godhead. Now here is the verse which clearly explains the process by which one can attain success in his spiritual activity: devotional service.
As far as work is concerned, one should transfer his energy entirely to Krishna conscious activities. As stated in the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (2.255),
yuktam vairagyam ucyate
No work should be done by any man except in relationship to Krishna. This is called krishna-karma. One may be engaged in various activities, but one should not be attached to the result of his work; the result should be done only for Him. For example, one may be engaged in business, but to transform that activity into Krishna consciousness, one has to do business for Krishna. If Krishna is the proprietor of the business, then Krishna should enjoy the profit of the business. If a businessman is in possession of thousands and thousands of dollars, and if he has to offer all this to Krishna, he can do it. This is work for Krishna. Instead of constructing a big building for his sense gratification, he can construct a nice temple for Krishna, and he can install the Deity of Krishna and arrange for the Deity’s service, as is outlined in the authorized books of devotional service. This is all krishna-karma. One should not be attached to the result of his work, but the result should be offered to Krishna, and one should accept as prasadam the remnants of offerings to Krishna. If one constructs a very big building for Krishna and installs the Deity of Krishna, one is not prohibited from living there, but it is understood that the proprietor of the building is Krishna. That is called Krishna consciousness. If, however, one is not able to construct a temple for Krishna, one can engage himself in cleansing the temple of Krishna; that is also krishna-karma. One can cultivate a garden. Anyone who has land—in India, at least, any poor man has a certain amount of land—can utilize that for Krishna by growing flowers to offer Him. One can sow tulasi plants, because tulasi leaves are very important and Krishna has recommended this in Bhagavad-gita. Patram puspam phalam toyam. Krishna desires that one offer Him either a leaf, or a flower, or fruit, or a little water—and by such an offering He is satisfied. This leaf especially refers to the tulasi. So one can sow tulasi and pour water on the plant. Thus, even the poorest man can engage in the service of Krishna. These are some of the examples of how one can engage in working for Krishna.
The word mat-paramah refers to one who considers the association of Krishna in His supreme abode to be the highest perfection of life. Such a person does not wish to be elevated to the higher planets such as the moon or sun or heavenly planets, or even the highest planet of this universe, Brahmaloka. He has no attraction for that. He is only attracted to being transferred to the spiritual sky.
And even in the spiritual sky he is not satisfied with merging into the glowing brahmajyoti effulgence, for he wants to enter the highest spiritual planet, namely Krishnaloka, Goloka Vrindavana. He has full knowledge of that planet, and therefore he is not interested in any other. As indicated by the word mad-bhaktah, he fully engages in devotional service, specifically in the nine processes of devotional engagement: hearing, chanting, remembering, worshiping, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering prayers, carrying out the orders of the Lord, making friends with Him, and surrendering everything to Him. One can engage in all nine devotional processes, or eight, or seven, or at least in one, and that will surely make one perfect.
The term sanga-varjitah is very significant. One should disassociate himself from persons who are against Krishna. Not only are the atheistic persons against Krishna, but so also are those who are attracted to fruitive activities and mental speculation. Therefore the pure form of devotional service is described in Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.1.11) as follows:
silanam bhaktir uttama
In this verse Srila Rupa Gosvami clearly states that if anyone wants to execute unalloyed devotional service, he must be freed from all kinds of material contamination.
He must be freed from the association of persons who are addicted to fruitive activities and mental speculation. When, freed from such unwanted association and from the contamination of material desires, one favorably cultivates knowledge of Krishna, that is called pure devotional service. Anukulyasya sankalpah pratikulyasya varjanam (Hari-bhakti-vilasa 11.676). One should think of Krishna and act for Krishna favorably, not unfavorably. Kamsa was an enemy of Krishna’s. From the very beginning of Krishna’s birth, Kamsa planned in so many ways to kill Him, and because he was always unsuccessful, he was always thinking of Krishna. Thus while working, while eating and while sleeping, he was always Krishna conscious in every respect, but that Krishna consciousness was not favorable, and therefore in spite of his always thinking of Krishna twenty-four hours a day, he was considered a demon, and Krishna at last killed him. Of course anyone who is killed by Krishna attains salvation immediately, but that is not the aim of the pure devotee.
The pure devotee does not even want salvation. He does not want to be transferred even to the highest planet, Goloka Vrindavana. His only objective is to serve Krishna wherever he may be.
A devotee of Krishna is friendly to everyone. Therefore it is said here that he has no enemy (nirvairah). How is this? A devotee situated in Krishna consciousness knows that only devotional service to Krishna can relieve a person from all the problems of life. He has personal experience of this, and therefore he wants to introduce this system, Krishna consciousness, into human society. There are many examples in history of devotees of the Lord who risked their lives for the spreading of God consciousness. The favorite example is Lord Jesus Christ. He was crucified by the nondevotees, but he sacrificed his life for spreading God consciousness. Of course, it would be superficial to understand that he was killed. Similarly, in India also there are many examples, such as Thakura Haridasa and Prahlada Maharaja. Why such risk? Because they wanted to spread Krishna consciousness, and it is difficult. A Krishna conscious person knows that if a man is suffering it is due to his forgetfulness of his eternal relationship with Krishna. Therefore, the highest benefit one can render to human society is relieving one’s neighbor from all material problems. In such a way, a pure devotee is engaged in the service of the Lord. Now, we can imagine how merciful Krishna is to those engaged in His service, risking everything for Him. Therefore it is certain that such persons must reach the supreme planet after leaving the body.
In summary, the universal form of Krishna, which is a temporary manifestation, and the form of time which devours everything, and even the form of Vishnu, four-handed, have all been exhibited by Krishna. Thus Krishna is the origin of all these manifestations. It is not that Krishna is a manifestation of the original vishva-rupa, or Vishnu. Krishna is the origin of all forms. There are hundreds and thousands of Vishnus, but for a devotee no form of Krishna is important but the original form, two-handed Shyamasundara. In the Brahma-samhita it is stated that those who are attached to the Shyamasundara form of Krishna in love and devotion can see Him always within the heart and cannot see anything else. One should understand, therefore, that the purport of this Eleventh Chapter is that the form of Krishna is essential and supreme.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
In order to summarize the subject of bhakti, in this verse the Lord speaks about the general characteristics of different types of devotees which were described starting in the seventh chapter. Sanga varjitah means devoid of material attachment.
Arjuna understood that his victory on the battle field was dependant on the great power of Krishna alone. This is the meaning of this chapter.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
11.55 Whosoever performs all acts like the study of the Vedas described above, considering them as several modes of worship, ‘he works for Me.’ He who ‘looks upon Me as the highest,’ namely, one to whom I alone am the highest purpose in all his enterprises, has Me as ‘the highest end.’ He who is ‘devoted to me,’ i.e., is greatly devoted to me and hence unable to sustain himself without reciting My names, praising Me, meditating upon Me, worshipping Me, saluting Me etc., he who performs these always considering Me as the supreme end — he is My devotee. He is ‘free from attachments,’ as he is attached to me alone, and is therefore unable to have attachment to any other entity. He who is without hatred towards any being, is one who fulfils all the following conditions: his nature is to feel pleasure or pain solely on account of his union or separation from Me; he considers his own sins to be the cause of his sufferings (and not the work of others); he is confirmed in his faith that all beings are dependent on the Parama-purusa. For all these reasons he has no hatred for any one.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
In this verse the Supreme Lord Krishna reveals the ultimate secret which is the essence of the Vedic scripture and all spiritual scriptures. The spiritually motivated being who performs actions for Lord Krishna, who has Lord Krishna as their only goal, who are devoted to Him exclusively, who bears and commits no malice to any living entity such a being is able to attain the Supreme Lord and no other. Thus the Supreme Lord Krishna showed His visvarupa or divine universal form to His devotee which is extremely rarely seen even by the demigods after millions of penances and austerities.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
The conclusion of all Vedic scriptures and goal of all Vedic teachings is now being revealed by Lord Krishna. The words mad-bhaktah mean exclusive loving devotion. The study of the Vedas, performing rituals, giving in charity, practicing austerities etc as given in verse 48 was in reference to seeing the thousand armed visvarupa or divine universal form. The same instructions were given in verse 53 in reference to seeing Lord Krishna’s transcendental saccidananda form of eternal existence, unlimited cognisance and endless bliss. Here Lord Krishna specifies that by bhakti in dedicating all one’s actions to Him, performing devotion to Him, making Him the ultimate goal of one’s life without emnity towards any living entity is the method by which one can ultimately attain Him and all other activities Vedic activities must be accompanied by exclusive loving devotion unto Him.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Thus it has been revealed by Lord Krishna that only His devotee who renders unalloyed bhakti or loving devotion exclusively is qualified to behold Him, know Him, associate with Him and enter into communion with Him and no other. The Supreme Lord has explained what actions one must have with mat- karma-krt or dedicating one’s actions to Him. What goal one must have with mat-paramo or making Him the ultimate attainment and the way one must act with mat-bhaktah or renders loving devotion to Him. One who studies the Vedas to learn about the Supreme Lord and propitiate Him for His sake, depending upon Him only as the sole goal of attainment and not heaven, wives, wealth, descendants and legacy. One who is truly devoted to Lord Krishna spends their time chanting His holy names and reading about and listening to His pastimes with rapt attention and reflecting and contemplating upon His glories.
At this point one may interject but what about my family and dependents? They must be fed and clothed and provided for. This is the duty of a civilised human in any society. The answer again is mat-karma krt dedicate one’s actions to the Supreme Lord. This means that by performing all actions for the Supreme Lord they are done without attachment. So other then His devotees no one is able to be without attachment to actions, which is essential along with being free from malice and enmity towards any living entity.
After explaining all theses things Lord Krishna declares what one will achieve by performing them with mam eti will come to Him and share eternally in association and communion with Him and thus He concludes this chapter.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
11.55 Pandava, O son of Pandu; yah, he who; mat-karma-krt, works for Me: work for Me is mat-karma; one who does it is mat-karma-krt-. Mat-paramah, who accepts Me as the supreme Goal: A servant does work for his master, but does not accept the master as his own supreme Goal to be attained after death; his one, however, who does work for Me, accepts Me alone as the supreme Goal. Thus he is matparamah-one to whom I am the supreme Goal-. So also he who is madbhaktah, devoted to me: He adores Me alone in all ways, with his whole being and full enthusiasm. Thus he is madbhaktah-. Sanga-varjitah, who is devoid of attachment for wealth, sons, friends, wife and relatives, Sanga means fondness, love; devoid of them-. Nirvairah, who is free from enmity; sarva-bhutesu, towards all beings-berefit of the idea of enmity even towards those engaged in doing unmost harm to him-. Sah, he who is such a devotee of Mine; eti, attains; mam, Me. I alone am his supreme Goal; he does not attain any other goal. This is the advice for you, given by Me as desired by you.
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
11.54-55 Bhaktya etc. Mat-karma etc. Those, whose devotion, charming by the absence of any other object in it, bursts forth-to the field of realisation of those persons descends the Vasudea – tattva, the Absolute being, without any effort (on their part) just on account of their appreciation of the advice given earlier as ‘Having the realisation that Vasudeva is all, one takes refuge in Me. etc.’
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
yah sa mam eti pandava
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
mat-karma-kṛt — engaged in doing My work; mat-paramaḥ — considering Me the Supreme; mat-bhaktaḥ — engaged in My devotional service; sańga-varjitaḥ — freed from the contamination of fruitive activities and mental speculation; nirvairaḥ — without an enemy; sarva-bhūteṣu — among all living entities; yaḥ — one who; saḥ — he; mām — unto Me; eti — comes; pāṇḍava — O son of Pāṇḍu.