athaitad apy aśakto ’si
kartuḿ mad-yogam āśritaḥ
tataḥ kuru yatātmavān
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 12.11
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 Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
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 Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
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).
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
12.11 If you are unable to do even this ‘taking refuge in My Yoga,’ i.e., if you are unable even to do actions for My sake, which forms the sprout of Bhakti Yoga, wherein through meditation I am made the exclusive and sole object of love — then you should resort to Aksara Yoga described in the first six chapters. It consists in contemplation on the nature of the individual self. This engenders devotion to the Lord. As a means for practice of this (Aksara Yoga), renounce the fruit of every action. The state of mind that holds Me as the only worthy object of attainment and love arises only when all the sins of an aspirant are destroyed without exception. ‘One with a controlled mind’ means one with the mind subdued. When the individual self is visualised to be of the nature of a Sesa (subsidiary) to the Lord, and when the veil of nescience consisting in identifying the self with the body is removed by contemplation on the self generated through the performance of works without attachment to the fruits and with My propitiation as the sole objective — then supreme Bhakti to Me will originate by itself. [The point driven home is this: It is nescience that stands between the Jiva and the Lord. This nescience consists in identification of the self with the body. It is through works done without an eye on their fruits but exclusively as an offering to the Lord, that this nescience is removed. Thus Karma Yoga is the sprout of self-realisation, and of Bhakti. On the nescience being removed, the knowledge that one (i.e., the Jiva) is a Sesa (an absolutely dependent liege) of the Lord, dawns on the Jiva. Such knowledge generates exclusive devotion or Bhakti accompanied by Prapatti. Or if the Jiva gets immersed in Its own bliss, It will attain Kaivalya.] In the same manner, Sri Krsna will further show in the text beginning with ‘By worshipping Him with his work will a man reach perfection’ (18.46) and ending with ‘Forsaking the feeling of “I” and with no feeling of “mine” and tranquil, one becomes worthy of the state of Brahman. Having realised the state of Brahman, tranquil, he neither grieves nor craves. Regarding all beings alike, he attains supreme devotion to Me’ (18.53-54).
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
If one is still unable to fulfil the practices of steadfast devotion to Lord Krishna, or succeed in repeated training of a distracted mind to remember the Supreme Lord with regularity or are even not able to perform occasional rituals and ceremonies propitiation to Him then Lord Krishna gives the sagacious advice to take complete refuge in Him alone with controlled senses, performing one’s Vedically authorised activities according to time and circumstances solely as an offering to Him without desire for rewards. If one desires even the slightest reward either subtle such as prestige and recognition or gross such as wealth and position, one’s actions can never manifest as bhakti or exclusive loving devotion to Lord Krishna and without bhakti there will be for certain a reaction and the need for a subsequent attempt to neutralise it by obligatory rites such as Agnihotra. The following is what is meant by surrender: All I can do is to perform all activities under the command of the Supreme Lord according to my ability with the guidance of guru, Vaisnavas and sastra or Vedic scriptures; but the results whether visible or invisible are all in the hands of the Supreme Lord. If one who is Lord Krishna’s devotee, renounces the desire for rewards and lives their life fully surrendered to Him, leaving all responsibility for even their daily maintenance unto Him, He will protect them and they by His grace will attain eternal communion with Him.
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 finds themselves unable to even perfom activities of propitaion to Lord Krishna in a regular manner then there is an easier method to approach Him for His devotees and that is with a controlled mind renounce the results of one actions and not desire for rewards for what one does. This infers not hankering for the results of performing obligatory rites like fasting from all grains on Ekadasi which is the 11th day of the waxing and waning or the performance of occasional rites such as celebrating festival days of the Supreme Lord with pomp and splendour. The purport is to perform all one’s activities without desiring any rewards for the actions. By doing this the mind becomes pure because it is not contaminated by fruitive desires. This will bestow spiritual knowledge and then bhakti or exclusive loving devotion and Lord Krishna’s direct realisation in due course of time.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
12.11 Atha, if, again; asaktah asi, you are unable; kartum, to do; etat api, even this-what was stated as being ‘intent on doing works for Me’; in that case, mad-yogam-asritah, having resorted to the Yoga for Me-the performance of those works that are being done by dedicating them to Me is madyogah; by resorting to that Yoga for Me; tatah, thereafter; sarva-karma-phala-tyagam kuru, renounce, give up, the results of all works; by becoming yata-atmavan, controlled in mind. [In the earlier verse it was enjoined that all works, be they Vedic or secular, are to be considered as belonging to God and should be done for Him-not for oneself-, as a soldier would do for his king. In the present verse it is stated that the attitude should be, ‘May this work of mine please God.’ This very attitude involves dedicating of results to God. See S. According to M.S., mat-karma in the earlier verse means bhagavata-dharma, i.e. hearing, singing, etc. about God. In the present verse, sarva-karma means all works in general.-Tr.] Now the Lord praises the renunciation of the results of all works:
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
12.11 Atha etc. In case due to ignorance, you do not know the method, enjoined in the scriptures and hence you are not able to perform actions for the Lord, then renounce (dedicate) all that to Me, through offering your own self [to Me]. This is the intention [here]. Holding the same intention, I have myself declared in the Laghuprakriya as : ‘Whatever action I have done, whether it is incomplete or superfluous, not properly understood, bereft of a proper order of precedence, devoid of [good] care, and full of slip of intellect; O Lord of All ! Please, with mercy forgive all these of me, the afflicted and foolish devotee of Yours; for you are compassionate; With this prayer-Yoga, I offer myself to You [so that] I do not become a receptacle of miseries again unnecessarily.’ the same idea may be observed in the scriptural texts of the Siddhanta [system] – that have the Supreme Lord as their subject matter – while they speak of offering oneself [to the Lord]. The same purport is summed up –
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
athaitad apy asakto ’si
kartum mad-yogam asritah
tatah kuru yatatmavan
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
atha — even though; etat — this; api — also; aśaktaḥ — unable; asi — you are; kartum — to perform; mat — unto Me; yogam — in devotional service; āśritaḥ — taking refuge; sarva-karma — of all activities; phala — of the results; tyāgam — renunciation; tataḥ — then; kuru — do; yata-ātma-vān — self-situated.