abhyāse ’py asamartho ’si
mad-artham api karmāṇi
kurvan siddhim avāpsyasi
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 12.10
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 Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
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 Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
“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.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
12.10 If you are incapable of practising remembrance in the above manner, then devote yourself to ‘My deeds.’ Such devotional acts consist in the construction of temples, laying out temple gardens, lighting up lamps therein, sweeping, sprinkling water and plastering the floor of holy shrines, gathering flowers, engaging in My worship, chanting My names, circumambulating My temples, praising Me, prostrating before Me etc. Do these with great affection. Even performing such works which are exceedingly dear to Me, you will, before long, get your mind steadily focused on Me as through the practice of repetitions, and will gain perfection through attaining Me.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
If one is not able to perform steady practice in attempting to remember Him with regularity then one should be solely dedicated to rituals and ceremonies that please the Supreme Lord Krishna such as fasting from all grains on ekadasi which is the 11th day of the waxing moon and the 11th day of the waning moon. Celebrating on His appearance day of Janmastami in the month of Kanya or Augest -September with pomp and splendour and celebrating the appearance days of all of His avat?rs or authorised incarnations and expansions such as Rama or Narasimhadeva or Vamana which occur throughout the year. By going on pilgrimage to the holy places in India where the Supreme Lord and His avat?rs exclusively performed Their pastimes on Earth. Also by performing sankirtana or the congregational chanting of Lord Krishna’s holy names. All these activities please the Supreme Lord very much and by performing them for His satisfaction will award liberation to the sincere aspirant if they have accepted a spiritual master in disciplic succession from one of the four authorised samprad?ya’s as revealed in Vedic scriptures.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Sri Madhvacharya did not comment on this sloka.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
If one is unable to even consistently endeavour to remember Lord Krishna while restraining the mind from pursuing the objects of the senses then He offers an easier method which is to perform activities dedicated to Him such as chanting His holy names, singing hymns of praise to Him alone and with others, constructing temples for His deity forms, cultivating Tulasi gardens for His worship, growing flowers and vegetables for His service, cow protection, offering dhupa or incense, dhipa or ghee lamps, puspa or flowers, circumambulation of His holy pastime places and dhama’s or abodes, etc. By perfoming such actions for the exclusive satisfaction of the Supreme Lord Krishna one’s mind will become steady and soon be able to fix its focus exclusively upon the Supreme Lord and subsequent realisation of Him will manifest within the heart.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
12.10 If asamarthah asi, you are unable; api, even; abhyase, to practise; then, bhava, be; mat-karma-paramah, intent on works for Me-works (karma) meant for Me (mat) are mat-karma-i.e., you be such that works meant for Me become most important to you. In the absence of Practice, api, even; kurvan, by undertaking; karmani, works alone; madartham, for Me; avapsyasi, you will attain; siddhim, perfection-by gradually acquiring purification of mind, concentration and Knowledge.
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
12.10 Abhyase’pi etc. The constant practice too becomes impossible due to the predominance of the obstacles etc. In that case, in order to eradicate them, you should perform actions like worship, repetition [of the Lord’s name etc.], recitation [of scriptures], offering oblations, etc.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
abhyase ’py asamartho ’si
mad-artham api karmani
kurvan siddhim avapsyasi
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
abhyāse — in practice; api — even if; asamarthaḥ — unable; asi — you are; mat-karma — My work; paramaḥ — dedicated to; bhava — become; mat-artham — for My sake; api — even; karmāṇi — work; kurvan — performing; siddhim — perfection; avāpsyasi — you will achieve.