avibhaktaḿ ca bhūteṣu
vibhaktam iva ca sthitam
bhūta-bhartṛ ca taj jñeyaḿ
grasiṣṇu prabhaviṣṇu ca
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 13.8-17
Although the Supersoul appears to be divided among all beings, He is never divided. He is situated as one. Although He is the maintainer of every living entity, it is to be understood that He devours and develops all.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
The Lord is situated in everyone’s heart as the Supersoul. Does this mean that He has become divided? No. Actually, He is one. The example is given of the sun: The sun, at the meridian, is situated in its place. But if one goes for five thousand miles in all directions and asks, “Where is the sun?” everyone will say that it is shining on his head. In the Vedic literature this example is given to show that although He is undivided, He is situated as if divided. Also it is said in Vedic literature that one Vishnu is present everywhere by His omnipotence, just as the sun appears in many places to many persons. And the Supreme Lord, although the maintainer of every living entity, devours everything at the time of annihilation. This was confirmed in the Eleventh Chapter when the Lord said that He had come to devour all the warriors assembled at Kurukshetra. He also mentioned that in the form of time He devours also. He is the annihilator, the killer of all. When there is creation, He develops all from their original state, and at the time of annihilation He devours them. The Vedic hymns confirm the fact that He is the origin of all living entities and the rest of all. After creation, everything rests in His omnipotence, and after annihilation everything again returns to rest in Him. These are the confirmations of Vedic hymns. Yato va imani bhutani jayante yena jatani jivanti yat prayanty abhisam-vishanti tad brahma tad vijijnasasva (Taittiriya Upanishad 3.1).
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
As the cause, he is situated in all the moving and non-moving entities undivided, and as the effect or product, he is situated separately as each one. As the form of Narayana, he is the protector of the living entities (bhuta bhartr) at the time of maintenance, the destroyer (grahisnu) at the time of pralaya, and the creator (prabhavisnu) at the time of creation. The word prabhavisnu which usually means lord is taken here as meaning creator since the word can also mean “he who is the product (prabhavana) because the cause is manifest in the effects.”
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
13.17 Though the entity called the self is present everywhere in the bodies of divinities, men etc., It is ‘undivided’ because of Its form being that of the knower. However, to those who are ignorant, It appears divided, by such forms as those of divinities etc. — ‘I am a divinity,’ ‘man’ etc. Though the self can be contemplated by way of co-ordinate predication as one with the body in such significations as, ‘I am divinity, I am a man,’ It can be known as being different from the body, because of Its being a knower. That is why it has already been pointed out at the beginning: ‘He who knows It? (13.1). Now Sri Krsna says that It can be known as different also on other grounds — as the ‘supporter of elements’ etc. Because It supports the earth and other elements combined in the shape of the body, the self can be known as being different from the elements supported. The sense is that It can be known as a separate entity. Likewise, It is that which ‘devours’, namely, the consumer of physical food etc. Because, It ‘devours’ the food, It can be known as an entity different from the elements. It causes ‘generation’ — It is the cause of transformation of consumed food etc., into other forms like blood etc. As eating, generating etc., are not seen in a corpse, it is settled that the body, an aggregate of elements, cannot be the cause of devouring food, generating of species and supporting them.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
Although the Supreme Lord Krishna known as Parabrahma, is the source of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence and appears to be divided in all beings and things animate and inanimate. He is actually avibhaktam or undivided by His being both the cause and the effect of all living entities and all creation although it gives the illusion of being manifold. He is the creator, sustainer and annihilator of all living entities in the entire cosmic manifestation and all of creation.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Sri Madhvacharya did not comment on this sloka.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Although appearing to be vibhaktam or divided it is factually avibhaktam undivided but very difficult to discern and be recognised. It is the sole object worthy of knowing and appears as unlimited forms as if it were divided. Yet for those who are spiritually enlightened and have realised atma-tattva knowledge of the immortal soul they can comprehend this mystery of Lord Krishna known as Parabrahma who is the source of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence and which is the sustainer and nourisher of all living beings and is known as the ksetra-jna the knower of all fields of activity. The Chandogya Upanisad VII.XXVI.II beginning tasta ha va etasyaivam pashyata states: One who perceives, comprehends and realises the ontology of the Supreme Lord Krishna knows very well the atma.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
13.17 And further, tat, that; jneyam, Knowable; though avibhaktam, undivided, remaining the same in all beings like space; iva sthitam, appears to be existing; as vibhaktam, divided; bhutesu, in all beings, because It is perceived as existing in the bodies themselves. And just as a rope etc. are with regard to a snake etc. That are falsely imagined, similarly that Knowable is bhutabhartr, the sustainer of all beings, sinced It sustains all during the period of their existence; grasisnu, the devourer, at the time of dissolution; and prabhavisnu, the originator, at the time of creation. Further, it the Knowable is not perceived though existing everywhere, then It is darkness? Not! What then?
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:
avibhaktam ca bhutesu
vibhaktam iva ca sthitam
bhuta-bhartr ca taj jñeyam
grasisnu prabhavisnu ca
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
avibhaktam — without division; ca — also; bhūteṣu — in all living beings; vibhaktam — divided; iva — as if; ca — also; sthitam — situated; bhūta-bhartṛ — the maintainer of all living entities; ca — also; tat — that; jñeyam — to be understood; grasiṣṇu — devouring; prabhaviṣṇu — developing; ca — also.