sukhaḿ tv idānīḿ tri-vidhaḿ
śṛṇu me bharatarṣabha
abhyāsād ramate yatra
duḥkhāntaḿ ca nigacchati

Translation of Bhagavad Gita 18.36

O best of the Bharatas, now please hear from Me about the three kinds of happiness by which the conditioned soul enjoys, and by which he sometimes comes to the end of all distress.

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

A conditioned soul tries to enjoy material happiness again and again. Thus he chews the chewed. But sometimes, in the course of such enjoyment, he becomes relieved from material entanglement by association with a great soul. In other words, a conditioned soul is always engaged in some type of sense gratification, but when he understands by good association that it is only a repetition of the same thing, and he is awakened to his real Krishna consciousness, he is sometimes relieved from such repetitive so-called happiness.

Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:

Please see text 37 for Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur’s combined commentary to texts 36 and 37.

Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:

18.36 Now, hear about the pleasure to which the knowledge, action, agent etc., already mentioned are all subservient and which is threefold according to the Gunas. … That pleasure in which a person, through long practice extending over a long time, gradually attains to incomparable joy and never again is engulfed by the pain of life in Samsara. Sri Krsna explains the same:

Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:

The threefold expressions of sukham or happiness influenced by the three gunas or modes of material nature are now explained by Lord Krishna beginning with sattva guna the mode of goodness. The happiness which is not sudden and direct like sense gratification but is tempered and disciplined due to relishing affection by its devotion and practice by which one rejoices when arriving at the state of cessation of all pain and misery. This happiness which appears in the beginning to be difficult and painful like poison due to establishing its independence from the mundane mind and senses; but in the end it is amrta-upamam just like nectar. Such consciousness is atma-buddhi of the nature of the soul and is serene and sublime. Having relinquished and abandoned the impurities of raja guna the mode of passion and tama guna the mode of ignorance such sukham becomes pristine and pure. This sukham is invariably situated in sattva guna.

Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:

Sri Madhvacharya did not comment on this sloka.

Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:

Thus after presenting how the three gunas or modes of material nature influence knowledge, action, agent, intellect and determination; Lord Krishna elaborates upon the three types of sukham or happiness aspired for by every human being because all of the aforementioned factors are enacted for the sake of receiving happiness. Now the three forms of sukham will be explained to reveal what is to be embraced and what is to be avoided. The sukham by which one experiences unabated pleasure by consistent practice of devotion, meditation and adoration of the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His authorised incarnations as revealed in Vedic scriptures is situated in sattva guna the mode of goodness. Such sukham is unhampered by the pangs of sense gratification and the attraction for sense objects and its temporary illusions of pleasure. Hence that which in the beginning by practice of detachment, restraint, renunciation, austerities, meditation, etc. appear to be like poison but at the end when they have been perfected are just like nectar, extremely delicious. By meditation on the Supreme Lord Krishna and constantly focused internally on the atma r immortal soul one stays established in sattva guna. The serenity and equanimity one derives from such sukham is like an elixir to the purified mind arising from abandonment of desire and cessation of passion, greed and infatuation that are the by products of raja guna the mode of passion and tama guna the mode of ignorance.

Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:

18.36 Idanim, now; srnu, hear; me, from Me i.e. be attentive to what I say; tu, as regards; the trividham, three kinds of; sukham, joy, O scion of the Bharata dynasty. Yatra, that in which; ramate, one delights, derives pleasure; abhyasat, owing to habit, due to frequent repetition; and in the experinece of which joy one nigacchati, certainly attains; duhkhantam, the cessation of sorrow-.

Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:

18.36-39 Sukham etc. upto udahrtam. At its time : at the time of its practice (use). Like poison (1st) : Because it is extremely difficult to give up the attachment for sense-objects cultivated during hundreds of [previous] life-periods. That has been said in the revealed literature as : ‘[The path of sprituality] is the edge of a razor, painful and difficult to cross over etc.’ The serenity of intellect (or mind) results from serenity in the Self, as there exists nothing else to be aspired for. The [Rajasic] happiness springs from the mutual contact between the sense-objects and senses, just as in the case of the eye due to its contact with colur. That happiness which is due to sleep, indolence and heedlessness, explained earlier, is of the Tamas (Strand).

Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:

sukham tv idanim tri-vidham
srnu me bharatarsabha
abhyasad ramate yatra
duhkhantam ca nigacchati

Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:

sukham — happiness; tu — but; idānīm — now; tri-vidham — of three kinds; śṛṇu — hear; me — from Me; bharata-ṛṣabha — O best amongst the Bhāratas; abhyāsāt — by practice; ramate — one enjoys; yatra — where; duḥkha — of distress; antam — the end; ca — also; nigacchati — gains.