bahir antaś ca bhūtānām
acaraḿ caram eva ca
sūkṣmatvāt tad avijñeyaḿ
dūra-sthaḿ cāntike ca tat
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 13.8-16
The Supreme Truth exists outside and inside of all living beings, the moving and the nonmoving. Because He is subtle, He is beyond the power of the material senses to see or to know. Although far, far away, He is also near to all.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
In Vedic literature we understand that Narayana, the Supreme Person, is residing both outside and inside of every living entity. He is present in both the spiritual and material worlds. Although He is far, far away, still He is near to us. These are the statements of Vedic literature.
Asino duram vrajati sayano yati sarvatah (Katha Upanishad 1.2.21). And because He is always engaged in transcendental bliss, we cannot understand how He is enjoying His full opulence. We cannot see or understand with these material senses. Therefore in the Vedic language it is said that to understand Him our material mind and senses cannot act. But one who has purified his mind and senses by practicing Krishna consciousness in devotional service can see Him constantly. It is confirmed in Brahma-samhita that the devotee who has developed love for the Supreme God can see Him always, without cessation. And it is confirmed in Bhagavad-gita (11.54) that He can be seen and understood only by devotional service. Bhaktya tv ananyaya sakyah.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
He exists within and outside of all living entities, who are his products (bhutanam means arising from him), just as ether and other elements exists within and outside all bodies of which they are the cause. All non-moving and moving beings are only the Lord, since he is the cause and they are the effect. He cannot be clearly known (tad avijneyam). In other words, for the ignorant he is situated far away at millions of yojanas distance and for the wise he is near, as if living in his own house, since he is situated as the antaryami within the person. The sruti says:
durat sudure tad ihantike ca pasyatsv ihaiva nihitam guhayam
It is further than far, and very close. In the body it is situated in the heart, in those who see. Mundaka Upanisad 3.1.7
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
13.16 Abandoning the elements like earth etc., It can exist outside the body. It can exist within them while performing spontaneous activities as established in the Srutis: ‘Eating, playing, enjoying with partners or with vehicles’ (Cha. U., 8.12.3). ‘It is unmoving and yet moving’ — it is by nature, unmoving, It is moving when It has a body. It is so subtle that none can comprehend It. Although existing in a body, this principle, possessed of all powers and omniscient, cannot be comprehended by bound ones because of Its subtlety and Its distinctiveness from the body. It is far away and yet It is very near — though present in one’s own body, It is far away from those who are devoid of modesty and other qualities (mentioned above) as also to those who possess contrary qualities. To those who possess modesty and such other qualities, the same self is very near.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
Furthermore Lord Krishna explains that His manifestation as Parabrahma is the source of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence and is within and without all living entities both moving and stationary and all that is animate as well as inanimate. This is so even as gold is exists in a bracelet, a necklace and a ring equally or that water exists within unlimited waves and countless drops of rain. Parabrahma alone is the sole cause of everything, all effects in inumerable and variegated forms; yet so subtle that it has no material form or qualities. It is incomprehensible and inconceivable being incapable to be understood by the mind as well imperceptible to the senses. Therefore to the ignorant Parabrahma is very far as millions of miles away being transcendental and far beyond prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence. Yet to the spiritually intelligent it very close and near as within one’s own heart in its manifestation as the atma or immortal soul. The Iso Upanisad V beginning tad ejati tan naijati tad dure tadvantike means: The Supreme Lord moves and moves not; He is far away and very near; He is within and without. Ejati means move, naijati means moves not. The words tadvantike should be divided as tat meaning He the Supreme Lord, v meaning also and antike meaning very near. Thus it is clearly confirmed that Supreme Lord is always present.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Sri Madhvacharya did not comment on this sloka.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
The Supreme Lord Krishna who is known as Parabrahma is the source of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence which is without and within the elements such as earth, water, fire, air, ether, etc.; yet He is outside of them and distinctly different and separate from them because He is their cause and they are His products. At the same time He is within all as well constituted as physical bodies constituted by the five elements in the inanimate immovable and the animate movable. In every aspect of creation He is existing in a subatomic manifestation in all jivas or embodied beings of every living entity as the atma or immortal soul. Because He exists in an extremely subtle subatomic state it is impossible to perceive Him by the senses or understand Him by the mind. So He is acutely incomprehensible and it is very difficult for transmigrating jivas to realise that He is different and separate from the physical body although He resides within the etheric heart of all jivas as the atma. For those jivas who are bereft of the 20 virtues given by Lord Krishna in verses 8 to 12 the atma is very far away indeed meaning the consciousness required for self-realisation in order to realise the atma is very far away. Those jivas who are endowed with these 20 virtues such as humility, non-violence, serving the Vaisnava spiritual master, etc.; the atma is very near indeed meaning that the consciousness required for self-realisation in order to to realise the atma is very near.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
13.16 Existing, bahih, outside- the word bahih is used with reference to the body including the skin, which is misconceived through ignorance to be the Self, and which is itself taken as the boundary. Similarly, the word antah, inside, is used with reference to the indwelling Self, making the body itself as the boundary. When ‘outside’ and ‘inside’ are used, there may arise the contingency of the nonexistence of That in the middle. Hence this is said: acaram caram eva ca, moving as well as not moving-even that which appears as the body, moving or not moving, is nothing but the Knowable, in the same way as the appearance of a snake on a rope (is nothing but the rope). In all empirical things, moving as also non-moving, be the Knowable, why should It not be known by all as such? In answer it is said: It is true that It shines through everything; still it is subtle like space. Therefore, although It is the Knowable, tat, It; is avijneyam, incomprehensible to the ignorant people; suksmatvat, due to Its intrinsic subtleness. But to the enlightened It is ever known from the valid means of knowledge such as (the texts), ‘All this is verily the Self’ (Ch. 7.25.2), ‘Brahman alone is all this’ (Nr. Ut.7), etc. It is durastham, far away, since, to the unenlightened, It is unattainable even in millions of years. And tat, That; is antike, near, since It is the Self of the enlightened.
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
13.13-18 Jneyam etc. upto visthitam. Beginningless is the Supreme Brahman : by means of the attributes (descriptions) like these, [the Bhagavat] describes the Brahman as being not separate from the Supreme Consciousness (or action) expressed in every utterance and [thus] gracing [the seeker] to infer his [or Its] own nature. These attributes however have already been explained. Hence what is the use of a fruitless repetition ?
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
bahir antas ca bhutanam
acaram caram eva ca
suksmatvat tad avijñeyam
dura-stham cantike ca tat
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
bahiḥ — outside; antaḥ — inside; ca — also; bhūtānām — of all living entities; acaram — not moving; caram — moving; eva — also; ca — and; sūkṣmatvāt — on account of being subtle; tat — that; avijñeyam — unknowable; dūra-stham — far away; ca — also; antike — near; ca — and; tat — that.