atha cittaḿ samādhātuḿ
na śaknoṣi mayi sthiram
abhyāsa-yogena tato
mām icchāptuḿ dhanañ-jaya

Translation of Bhagavad Gita 12.9

My dear Arjuna, O winner of wealth, if you cannot fix your mind upon Me without deviation, then follow the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga. In this way develop a desire to attain Me.

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

In this verse, two different processes of bhakti-yoga are indicated. The first applies to one who has actually developed an attachment for Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, by transcendental love. And the other is for one who has not developed an attachment for the Supreme Person by transcendental love. For this second class there are different prescribed rules and regulations one can follow to be ultimately elevated to the stage of attachment to Krishna.

Bhakti-yoga is the purification of the senses. At the present moment in material existence the senses are always impure, being engaged in sense gratification. But by the practice of bhakti-yoga these senses can become purified, and in the purified state they come directly in contact with the Supreme Lord. In this material existence, I may be engaged in some service to some master, but I don’t really lovingly serve my master. I simply serve to get some money. And the master also is not in love; he takes service from me and pays me. So there is no question of love. But for spiritual life, one must be elevated to the pure stage of love. That stage of love can be achieved by practice of devotional service, performed with the present senses.

This love of God is now in a dormant state in everyone’s heart. And, there, love of God is manifested in different ways, but it is contaminated by material association. Now the heart has to be purified of the material association, and that dormant, natural love for Krishna has to be revived. That is the whole process.

To practice the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga one should, under the guidance of an expert spiritual master, follow certain principles: one should rise early in the morning, take bath, enter the temple and offer prayers and chant Hare Krishna, then collect flowers to offer to the Deity, cook foodstuffs to offer to the Deity, take prasadam, and so on. There are various rules and regulations which one should follow. And one should constantly hear Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam from pure devotees. This practice can help anyone rise to the level of love of God, and then he is sure of his progress into the spiritual kingdom of God. This practice of bhakti-yoga, under the rules and regulations, with the direction of a spiritual master, will surely bring one to the stage of love of God.

Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:

The Lord then speaks of a method to attain the state of remembrance mentioned above, if one is unable to remember the Lord immediately. Repeatedly withdrawing the mind when it goes here and there, fix (abhyasa) the mind on me. This is the method (yoga).

Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:

12.9 Now, if you are unable to focus your mind immediately on Me in deep meditation, then seek to reach Me by the ‘practice of repetition (Abhyasa Yoga)’. By the repeated practice of remembrance full of immense love, concentrate your mind on Me the ocean of manifold attributes innate to Me like, beauty, affability, friendliness, affection, compassion, sweetness, majesty, magnanimity, heroism, valour, might, omniscience, freedom from wants, unfailing resolves, sovereignty over all, being the cause of all etc., and being antagonistic to all that is evil. All these attributes are of unlimited excellence in the Supreme Person.

Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:

If one is however unable to focus their consciousness on the Supreme Lord Krishna in unmotivated devotion in a steady manner then there is an easier method to reach Him and that is to gently bring the distracted mind back to focus on Lord Krishna everytime it seeks to wander and roam towards other objects and ideas. Again and again continuously one must seek and strive to attain Him through this yoga or the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the utlimate consciousness by constantly attempting to remember of the Supreme Lord.

Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:

Sri Madhvacharya did not comment on this sloka.

Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:

Now Lord Krishna presents an alternative method for those who have not the equanimity of mind to continuously think of Him without distraction. He instructs to strive to remember Him while restraining the mind from pursuing worldly affairs through repeated practice of meditating on His divine glories such as His infinite beauty, sweetness, power, compassion etc. or by chanting His holy names with affection and blissfully singing hymns to His glories. The particle atha meaning and if emphasises there is another option.

Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:

12.9 Atha, if, however; na saknosi, you are unable; samadhatum, to establish, in this way as I have described; cittam, the mind; sthiram, steadily, unwaveringly; mayi, on Me; tatah, then; O Dhananjaya, iccha, seek, pray; aptum, to attain; mam, Me, as the Cosmic person; abhyasa-yogena, through the Yoga of Practice. Practice consists in repeatedly fixing the mind on a single object by withdrawing it from everything else. The yoga following from this, and consisting in concentration of the mind, is abhyasa-yoga.

Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:

12.9 Atha etc. to cause the mind [to enter into the Lord] is hard to achieve without the descent of the Lord’s Grace with greater force, and without the favour of the revered preceptors, pleased [by services etc.] for a considerable period of time. Hence, practice [is prescribed].

Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:

atha cittam samadhatum
na saknosi mayi sthiram
abhyasa-yogena tato
mam icchaptum dhanañ-jaya

Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:

atha — if, therefore; cittam — mind; samādhātum — to fix; na — not; śaknoṣi — you are able; mayi — upon Me; sthiram — steadily; abhyāsa-yogena — by the practice of devotional service; tataḥ — then; mām — Me; icchā — desire; āptum — to get; dhanam-jaya — O winner of wealth, Arjuna.