ye tu dharmāmṛtam idaḿ
bhaktās te ’tīva me priyāḥ
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 12.20
Those who follow this imperishable path of devotional service and who completely engage themselves with faith, making Me the supreme goal, are very, very dear to Me.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
In this chapter, from verse 2 through the end—from mayy avesya mano ye mam (“fixing the mind on Me”) through ye tu dharmamritam idam (“this religion of eternal engagement”)—the Supreme Lord has explained the processes of transcendental service for approaching Him. Such processes are very dear to the Lord, and He accepts a person engaged in them. The question of who is better—one who is engaged in the path of impersonal Brahman or one who is engaged in the personal service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead—was raised by Arjuna, and the Lord replied to him so explicitly that there is no doubt that devotional service to the Personality of Godhead is the best of all processes of spiritual realization. In other words, in this chapter it is decided that through good association one develops attachment for pure devotional service and thereby accepts a bona fide spiritual master and from him begins to hear and chant and observe the regulative principles of devotional service with faith, attachment and devotion and thus becomes engaged in the transcendental service of the Lord. This path is recommended in this chapter; therefore there is no doubt that devotional service is the only absolute path for self-realization, for the attainment of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The impersonal conception of the Supreme Absolute Truth, as described in this chapter, is recommended only up to the time one surrenders himself for self-realization. In other words, as long as one does not have the chance to associate with a pure devotee, the impersonal conception may be beneficial. In the impersonal conception of the Absolute Truth one works without fruitive result, meditates and cultivates knowledge to understand spirit and matter. This is necessary as long as one is not in the association of a pure devotee. Fortunately, if one develops directly a desire to engage in Krishna consciousness in pure devotional service, he does not need to undergo step-by-step improvements in spiritual realization. Devotional service, as described in the middle six chapters of Bhagavad-gita, is more congenial. One need not bother about materials to keep body and soul together, because by the grace of the Lord everything is carried out automatically.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
Summarizing the qualities fixed in various types of his devotees which he has just mentioned, the Lord now describes the result of hearing and considering these qualities by persons desirous of completely obtaining all those qualities. These qualities, which arise from sense control (santi, mentioned in verse 12), which in turn arises from bhakti, are not material qualities. Krishna is pleased by bhakti, not by good qualities. Such statements are innumerable in the scriptures.
Tu here indicates differentiation. The various devotees previously mentioned were fixed in their individual natures with certain qualities. But those practitioners who desire all of the qualities of all the types of devotees are superior to those mentioned, who have attained some of the qualities. Therefore, the word atlva (surpassingly) is used. Such devotees, who take up all the qualities, are even dearer to me.
The astonishing qualities of bhakti, which is supreme and blissful, which can be practiced by all, and is easy to perform, have been explained in this chapter. Though it has been shown that jnana is bitter like nima fruit and bhakti is sweet like grape juice, still, these two processes are taken up their respective followers who crave that particular taste.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
12.20 But those who follow Bhakti Yoga — ‘which is a nectar of virtuous duty,’ i.e., which is at once virtuous duty and nectar, and which even as a menas, is equal to its end in conferring bliss on those who follow is as stated above, i.e., in the manner taught in the stanza beginning with ‘Those who, focusing their minds on Me’ (12.2) — such devotees are exceedingly dear to Me.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
Dharma or eternal righteousness is amrtam or nectarian, together with their derivatives are being now concluded. They are called nectarian because they lead to immortality. Those devotees of the Supreme Lord Krishna who follow and practice the spiritual principles of eternal righteousness with faith and determination while taking full refuge in Him as the ultimate goal of attainment are very dear to Lord Krishna.
In conclusion the worship of the abstract, unmanifest, impersonal aspect of the Supreme Lord is extremely difficult to succeed and is only finally achieved after the greatest of efforts. A person blessed with spiritual intelligence should embark upon the easier and noble path of bhakti or exclusive loving devotion unto the Supreme Lord Krishna.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Collating all the previous recommendations Lord Krishna concludes this chapter. Dharma is eternal righteousness and is infused by the Supreme Lord Krishna and anything pertaining to Him is also dharma. Reflection upon Him is dharma, worship of Him is dharma, glorification of Him is dharma. Also study of the Vedic scriptures which originate from Him is dharma. Dharma is conducive to meditation upon the Supreme Lord which has the power to terminate samsara or the perpetual cycle of birth and death and therefore dharma is known to be immortal. The word sraddadhanah means endowed with faith. The root of sraddha or faith is srad which means being receptive. Those who are receptive to the revelations of the Vedic scriptures are sraddadhanah.
Now begins the summation.
Casting away all things undesirable which do not lead to bhakti or exclusive loving devotion to the Supreme Lord Krishna, such a devotee becomes very dear to Him. Collating and applying all of the recommendations given in these past seven verses His devotee becomes especially dear to Lord Krishna. Bhakti is completely independent and alone is considered the goal. Dharma is considered the means and primary path leading to bhakti.. That which is an instrument of bhakti is also a part of bhakti. Thus the means dharma guides one to the goal of bhakti. Thus the path of immortal bhakti can be approached by following dharma.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Lord Krishna has categorically presented the essential virtues to be cultivated for His devotee desiring to serve Him with bhakti or exclusive loving devotion. Now He concludes this chapter with the affirmation that bhakti is the paramount path of dharma or eternal righteousness and immortality. Amrtam infers nectar of the gods which leads to immortality. Those devotees with firm faith whose sins have been eradicated by performing renounced activities for thousands of previous births and who are imbued with the virtues given in the previous seven verses take to the path of bhakti with their minds completely focused upon Lord Krishna as the be all of their existence. This was alluded to in verse two of this chapter with mayy-avesya mano meaning absorb themselves fully in thoughts of Him and in verse seven mat-parah meaning take full refuge in Him alone. In ye tu meaning and of all those persons the particle tu denotes that this last instruction takes precedence and is superior to all the individual virtues described in the previous seven verses. Such devotees of His who resolutely follow the righteous and noble path of bhakti are without a doubt the most dear to Him of all.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
12.20 Tu, but; ye bhaktah, those devotees of Mine, the monks who have resorted to the highest devotion consisting in the knowledge of the supreme Reality; mat-paramah, who accept Me as the supreme Goal, to whom I, as mentioned above, who am identical with the Immutable, am the highest (parama), unsurpassable Goal; and sraddadhanah, with faith; paryupasate, seek for, practise; idam, this; dharmyamrtam, ambrosia that is indistinguishable from the virtues-that which is indistinguishable from dharma (virtue) is dharmya, and this is called amrta (ambrosia) since it leads to Immortality-; yatha-uktam, as stated above in, ‘He who is not hateful towards any creature,’ etc.; te, they; are ativa, very; priyah, dear; me, to Me. After having explained what was hinted in, ‘For I am very much dear to the man of Knowledge…'(7.17), that has been concluded here in, ‘Those devotees are very dear to Me.’ Since by seeking for this ambrosia which is indistinguishable from the virtues as stated above one becomes very dear to Me, who am theLord Vishnu, the supreme God, therefore this nectar which is indistinguishable from the virtues has to be diligently sought for by one who is a seeker of Liberation, who wants to attain the coveted Abode of Visnu. This is the purport of the sentence. [Thus, after the consummation of meditation on the qualified Brahman, one who aspires after the unqualified Brahman, who has the qualifications mentioned in, ‘He who is not hateful towards any creature,’ etc., who is pre-eminently fit for this purpose, and who practises sravana etc. has the possibility of realizing the Truth from which his Liberation logically follows. Hence, the conclusion is that the meaning of the word tat (in the sentence tattvamasi) has to be sought for, since his has the power to arouse the comprehension of the meaning of that sentence, which is the means to Liberation.]
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
12.15-20 Yasmat etc. upto Me priyah. One who has no fixed thought : One who has no resolution, [in his mundane life] like ‘This alone must be done by me’. He, who enjoys, with contentment, both pleasure and pain as they come, and has his mind completely absorbed in Supreme Lord – that person happily (or easily) attains the Supreme Isolation (Emancipation)
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
ye tu dharmamrtam idam
bhaktas te ’tiva me priyah
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
ye — those who; tu — but; dharma — of religion; amṛtam — nectar; idam — this; yathā — as; uktam — said; paryupāsate — completely engage; śraddadhānāḥ — with faith; mat-paramāḥ — taking Me, the Supreme Lord, as everything; bhaktāḥ — devotees; te — they; atīva — very, very; me — to Me; priyāḥ — dear.