īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāḿ
hṛd-deśe ’rjuna tiṣṭhati
bhrāmayan sarva-bhūtāni
yantrārūḍhāni māyayā

Translation of Bhagavad Gita 18.61

The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.

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

Arjuna was not the supreme knower, and his decision to fight or not to fight was confined to his limited discretion. Lord Krishna instructed that the individual is not all in all. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, or He Himself, Krishna, as the localized Supersoul, sits in the heart directing the living being. After changing bodies, the living entity forgets his past deeds, but the Supersoul, as the knower of the past, present and future, remains the witness of all his activities. Therefore all the activities of living entities are directed by this Supersoul. The living entity gets what he deserves and is carried by the material body, which is created in the material energy under the direction of the Supersoul. As soon as a living entity is placed in a particular type of body, he has to work under the spell of that bodily situation. A person seated in a high-speed motorcar goes faster than one seated in a slower car, though the living entities, the drivers, may be the same. Similarly, by the order of the Supreme Soul, material nature fashions a particular type of body to a particular type of living entity so that he may work according to his past desires. The living entity is not independent. One should not think himself independent of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The individual is always under the Lord’s control. Therefore one’s duty is to surrender, and that is the injunction of the next verse.

Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:

Having stated the views of the propounders of innate nature (svabhava) in two verses, the Lord now states his own view. The Lord, Narayana, is the antaryami.

yah prthivyam tisthan prthivya antaro, yam prthivi na veda, yasya prthivi sariram, yah prthivim antaro yamayati

He is situated within the earth. The earth does not know him. The earth is his body. He controls the earth from within. Brhad Aranyaka Upanisad 3.6.3

yac ca kincij jagaty asmin drsyate sruyate ‘pi va antar-bahis ca tat sarvam vyapya narayanah sthitah

Narayana is spread everywhere inside and outside of everything seen or heard of in the universe. Mahanarayana Upanisad 13.5

As is stated in these srutis, the Lord is situated in the heart. What does he do? By his own sakti (mayaya) he makes all living entities engage in their respective actions (bhramayan). The living entities, like artificial dolls attached to a device with strings, are made to move by maya. Or another meaning is: all living entities mounted in their bodies are made to move by maya.

Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:

18.61 Lord Vasudeva, who is the ruler over all, lives in ‘the heart of all beings,’ i.e., in the region from which arises all knowledge which is at the root of all secular and spiritual activities. How and doing what does He exist? He exists enabling, by His Maya (power), ‘all beings who are mounted, as it were, on the machine Prakrti’ in the form of body and senses created by Himself, to act in accordance with their Gunas of Sattva and others. It was already expressed in ‘And I am seated in the hearts of all. From Me are memory, knowledge and their removal also’ (15.15) and in ‘From Me proceed everything’ (10.8). The Srutis also proclaim ‘He who, dwelling in the self’ (Br. U. Madh., 3.7.22). He now explains the way to get rid of the Maya:

Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:

In the two preceding verses the subservience of all jivas or embodied beings to prakriti or the material substratum pervading all existence have been given according to the viewpoint of sankhya or analytical reasoning. Now Lord Krishna declares the conclusion in this verse and the next. As has been confirmed in many of the Vedic scriptures, within the etheric heart of all jivas abides the Supreme Lord as paramatma the Supreme Soul who monitors the thoughts and activities of all living entities. The Svetasvatara Upanisad VI.XI beginning eko devah sarva bhutesu states: The Supreme Lord who is one without a second abides in the core of the heart in all created beings as the indwelling monitor. The Briharanyaka Upanisad III.VII.XIII beginning yah sarvesu bhutesu tisthan states: The Supreme Soul abides within all beings yet He is different from all beings. Whom beings do not know. Whose creations all beings are: Who controls all beings. Who is the inner ruler of all beings as well as the inner controller of all beings. How this is to be understood is inconceivable but by His illusory energy known as maya all beings are revolving in samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death engaged in a myriad of activities. The jivas who identify with the physical body are kept revolving life after life in material existence. The jivas who identify with the Supreme Lord have the chance to transcend this by His grace.

Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:

Sri Madhvacharya did not comment on this sloka.

Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:

Before Lord Krishna spoke of doership as dependent upon material nature and the three gunas or modes of material nature that one is endowed with. This was in line with the samkhya philosophy of analytical reasoning. Now He confirms that all jivas or embodied beings are under the total control of the Supreme Lord based upon the Vedic scriptures. The Taittiriya Upanisad III.IX.II beginning sa yascayam purushe states: The Supreme Lord residing on that plane ot transcendent eternity is the same Supreme Lord that resides within the core of the etheric heart of all jivas o embiodied beings. The Brihadaranyaka Upanisad III.VIII.IX beginning etasya va aksharasya states: Verily by the Supreme Lords command the sun and moon maintain their fixed positions, the heavens and Earth keep ther respective position, the seconds, minutes, hours, days, nights, weeks, months and years all maintain their relative posions. The Supreme Lord is the ultimate controller of everything animate and inanimate which are acting under His external energy prakriti the material substratum pervading physical existence from whence arise three gunas or modes of material nature which determines all actions based upon the karma or reactions to previous good and evil actions enacted in a physical body and five senses which is likened unto a machine. The purport is that just as a puppet master controls his puppets so does the Supreme Lord control the jivas.

Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:

18.61 Arjuna, O Arjuna-one whose self is naturally white (pure), i.e. one possessing a pure internal organ. This follows from the Vedic text, ‘The day is dark and the day is arjuna (white) (Rg. 6.9.1). Isvarah, the Lord , Narayana the Ruler; tisthati, resides, remains seated; hrd-dese, in the region of the heart; sarva-bhutanam, of all creatures, of all living beings. How does He reside? In answer the Lord says: bhramayan, revolving; mayaya, through Maya, through delusion; sarva-bhutani, all the creatures; as though yantra-arudhani, mounted on a machine-like man’ etc., made of wood, mounted on a machine. The word iva (as though) has to be thus understood here. Bhramayan, revolving, is to be connected with tisthati, resides (conveying the idea, ‘resides…while revolving’).

Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:

18.61-62 Isvarah etc. Tam eva etc. This Lord, the Supreme Self, must be taken hold of as refuge. When that Supreme Ruler, the [real] Agent-of-all-actions, the [real] Knower, the very Self of your own, is reflected upon, there (in the heart) the [effects of] actions do not enjoy any locus standi. Indeed, the deer-calves which are of wavering mind [by nature] and are noted only for their power of running away to escape, do not take recourse to their skill in pursuing freely their [usual] activities while there dwells in the [nearby] cave a loin-calf, the glory of whose valour has been made evident by the accessories in the form of the heaps of pearls scattered from the elephants’ temples broken upon with the very sharp edges of his (lion-calf’s) excellent claws. By the cocluding statement that commences ‘To Him alone you must go for refuge’ and [runs] as ‘Through My Grace etc.’, the Bhagavat indicates the Lord Supreme Self, and Vasudeva krsna to be identical.

Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:

īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāḿ
hṛd-deśe ’rjuna tiṣṭhati
bhrāmayan sarva-bhūtāni
yantrārūḍhāni māyayā

Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:

īśvaraḥ — the Supreme Lord; sarva-bhūtānām — of all living entities; hṛt-deśe — in the location of the heart; arjuna — O Arjuna; tiṣṭhati — resides; bhrāmayan — causing to travel; sarva-bhūtāni — all living entities; yantra — on a machine; ārūḍhani — being placed; māyayā — under the spell of material energy.