kecid ātmānam ātmanā
anye sāńkhyena yogena
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 13.25
Some perceive the Supersoul within themselves through meditation, others through the cultivation of knowledge, and still others through working without fruitive desires.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
The Lord informs Arjuna that the conditioned souls can be divided into two classes as far as man’s search for self-realization is concerned. Those who are atheists, agnostics and skeptics are beyond the sense of spiritual understanding. But there are others, who are faithful in their understanding of spiritual life, and they are called introspective devotees, philosophers, and workers who have renounced fruitive results. Those who always try to establish the doctrine of monism are also counted among the atheists and agnostics. In other words, only the devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are best situated in spiritual understanding, because they understand that beyond this material nature are the spiritual world and the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is expanded as the Paramatma, the Supersoul in everyone, the all-pervading Godhead. Of course there are those who try to understand the Supreme Absolute Truth by cultivation of knowledge, and they can be counted in the class of the faithful. The Sankhya philosophers analyze this material world into twenty-four elements, and they place the individual soul as the twenty-fifth item. When they are able to understand the nature of the individual soul to be transcendental to the material elements, they are able to understand also that above the individual soul there is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is the twenty-sixth element. Thus gradually they also come to the standard of devotional service in Krishna consciousness. Those who work without fruitive results are also perfect in their attitude. They are given a chance to advance to the platform of devotional service in Krishna consciousness. Here it is stated that there are some people who are pure in consciousness and who try to find out the Supersoul by meditation, and when they discover the Supersoul within themselves, they become transcendentally situated. Similarly, there are others who also try to understand the Supreme Soul by cultivation of knowledge, and there are others who cultivate the hatha-yoga system and who try to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead by childish activities.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
Alternative methods are mentioned in two verses. Some devotees, by contemplation of the Lord (dhyanena) in the mind (atmani) without help from any other process, spontaneously (atmana), not by any other process except bhakti, see the paramatma. This is understood from a later verse: bhaktya mam abhijanati (BG 18.55), only by devotion am I known. Others (anye), jnanis, by deliberation on the soul (sankhyena atmana), and others (apare), yogis, by astanga yoga (yogena), and others by niskama karma (karma yogena), see paramatma. In this regard, jnana yoga, astanga yoga and niskama karma yoga are successive causes of each other and not direct causes of seeing paramatma. That is because their nature is sattvika but the nature of paramatma is beyond the gunas. Moreover, it is said by the Lord:
jnanam ca mayi sannyaset
A self-realized person who has cultivated scriptural knowledge up to the point of enlightenment and who is free from impersonal speculation, understanding the material universe to be simply illusion, should surrender unto Me both that knowledge and the means by which he achieved it. SB 11.19.1
bhaktyaham ekaya grahyah
Only by practicing unalloyed devotional service with full faith in Me can one obtain Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. SB 11.14.21
Thus, after giving up jnana, indicated in the first of the verses quoted, becoming free from jnana, one sees paramatma by bhakti alone, indicated in the second verse.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
13.25 The different type of Yogis are described herein: (1) Some with perfect Yoga perceive the self (Atmanam) in the body with the mind (Atmana) by meditation. (2) Others with imperfect Yoga see the self, with mind rendered fit for Yoga, by Sankhya Yoga, namely, Jnana Yoga, (3) Still others, (a) unqualified to practise Jnana Yoga, and (b qualified but preferring an easier method, and (c) also distinguished persons like Janaka — all these perceive the self after being qualified for Yoga by Karma Yoga which contains within itself knowledge (Jnana).
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
In regard to various kinds of discriminative knowledge concerning the perception of paramatma or the supreme soul, alternative angels of vision are being declared by Lord Krishna in this verse and the next beginning dhyanenatmani pasyanti which means personally perceiving the divine revelation of the supreme soul. He explains that some directly perceive paramatma within the atma by meditation. Some by a repetition of mental states see it within the heart. Still others perceive it by the knowledge of discriminating between prakriti or the material substratum pervading all existence and purusa the supreme being. Yet others discern it by yoga or the science of the individual conscioiusness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness as instructed in the yoga system by Pantajali with its eight steps. Others still see it by egoless, selfless actions. The word pasyanti meaning perceive or see is applicable in all the above cases. Meditation is the most perfect and time proven mode of achievement and thus the other methods referred to are to be considered as alternative for realisation of the atma.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Dhyanenatmani means meditation on the atma or the immortal soul. Sankhyena means philosophical discrimination predicated upon knowing the form of the Supreme Lord as elucidated in the Vedic scriptures. The compound word karma- yogena denotes activities of sravanam hearing about, kirtanan chanting the names of and smaranam reflecting on the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His incarnations authorised in Veduc scriptures. This is also considered meditation as confirmed in the Gaupavan scripture as follows: The performers of actions listen to the extraordinary, sublime pastimes of the Supreme Lord and relishing them, meditate upon them constantly and realise Him. One who listens can comprehend. One who comprehends meditates fully on Him. Only beings with spiritual wisdom can realise the Supreme Lord by exclusive meditation upon Him. Otherwise such realisation is not possible to achieve by anybody.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Lord Krishna speaks in this verse of highly qualified persons who have directly witnessed paramatma or the Supreme Soul within the heart. Some have done this by sharp intellect and discrimination between the atma or the immortal soul and prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence. Referring to those having learned the true nature of the atma from the spiritual master He uses the words yogena or the practice of the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness and they are established in meditation. Others achieve it by complete renunciation for results from their actions.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
13.25 Dhyanena, through meditation: Meditation means contemplation (on the Self) after withdrawing into the mind with concentration the organs of hearing etc. from the objects like sound etc., and then withdrawing the mind into the indwelling conscious Self. Thus, from the citation of such illustrations as, ‘the crane meditates, as it were, ‘the earth meditates, as it were; the mountains meditate, as it were’ (Ch. 7.6.1), it follows that meditation is a constant and uninterrupted current of thought like a line of pouring oil. Through that meditation, kecit, some yogis; pasyanti, realize; the indwelling conscious atmanam, Self; atmani, in (their) intellect; atmana, with the help of the internal organ that has been purified by meditation. Anye, others; sankhyena yogena, through Sankhya-yoga: Sankhya means thinking, ‘These qualities, viz sattva, rajas and tamas, are objects of my perception; I am the Self, distinct from them, a witness of their functions, eternal and different from the qualities.’ This Sankhya is Yoga. [By Sankhya is meant that knowledge which arises from the foregoing reflection. This knowledge is itself called Yoga (concentration of mind) inasmuch as it is similar to Yoga in leading to the realization of the Self.] Through that they realize the Self with the help of the internal organ. This is how it is to be construed. And anye, others; karma-yogena, through Karma-yoga-action itself being the Yoga: Action performed with the idea of dedication to God is figuratively called Yoga since it leads to Yoga. (others realize) with the help of that (action), through purification of the mind and rise of Knowledge. [The best among the yogis are competent for meditation (dhyana); the modiocre for reflection (Sankhya); and the lowest for Karma-yoga.]
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
13.25-26 Dhyanena etc., Anye etc. A knowledge of this sort is the main. [For this end] some practise religious meditation of the Self as Self; others [try] by means of the Sankhya (knowledge) mentioned already (Ch. V, 5ff), while still others [strive] through action. Still others, bent upon hearing [from the preceptors etc.] practise the religious meditation as they have heard, even though they do not themselves know, (have) the knowledge of this kind. They too cross over the death, i.e., the cycyle of birth and death. What is conveyed here is this : The category Bhagavat, if mentally reflected upon by one means or the other, does transport across [the ocean of death circle]. Therefore , let one remain in this fashion by all means.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
kecid atmanam atmana
anye sankhyena yogena
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
dhyānena — by meditation; ātmani — within the self; paśyanti — see; kecit — some; ātmānam — the Supersoul; ātmanā — by the mind; anye — others; sāńkhyena — of philosophical discussion; yogena — by the yoga system; karma-yogena — by activities without fruitive desire; ca — also; apare — others.