yām imāḿ puṣpitāḿ vācaḿ
nānyad astīti vādinaḥ
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 2.42-43
Men of small knowledge are very much attached to the flowery words of the Vedas, which recommend various fruitive activities for elevation to heavenly planets, resultant good birth, power, and so forth. Being desirous of sense gratification and opulent life, they say that there is nothing more than this.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
People in general are not very intelligent, and due to their ignorance they are most attached to the fruitive activities recommended in the karma-kanda portions of the Vedas. They do not want anything more than sense gratificatory proposals for enjoying life in heaven, where wine and women are available and material opulence is very common. In the Vedas many sacrifices are recommended for elevation to the heavenly planets, especially the jyotistoma sacrifices. In fact, it is stated that anyone desiring elevation to heavenly planets must perform these sacrifices, and men with a poor fund of knowledge think that this is the whole purpose of Vedic wisdom. It is very difficult for such inexperienced persons to be situated in the determined action of Krishna consciousness. As fools are attached to the flowers of poisonous trees without knowing the results of such attractions, unenlightened men are similarly attracted by such heavenly opulence and the sense enjoyment thereof.
In the karma-kanda section of the Vedas it is said, apama somam amrita abhuma and akshayyam ha vai caturmasya-yajinah sukritam bhavati. In other words, those who perform the four-month penances become eligible to drink the soma-rasa beverages to become immortal and happy forever. Even on this earth some are very eager to have soma-rasa to become strong and fit to enjoy sense gratifications. Such persons have no faith in liberation from material bondage, and they are very much attached to the pompous ceremonies of Vedic sacrifices. They are generally sensual, and they do not want anything other than the heavenly pleasures of life. It is understood that there are gardens called Nandana-kanana in which there is good opportunity for association with angelic, beautiful women and having a profuse supply of soma-rasa wine. Such bodily happiness is certainly sensual; therefore there are those who are purely attached to such material, temporary happiness, as lords of the material world.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
Text 42: This verse speaks of the persons with wavering intelligence, involved in sakama karma, who are very dull witted. They speak excellently (pra vadanti)16 pleasant words of the Vedas which are like a poisonous flowering plant. Since their consciousness has been deluded by those words, they are not endowed with fixed intelligence, (taya apahrta cetasam vyavasayatmika buddhih samadhau na vidhiyate). The sentence continues in verse 44. Because of the impossibility for them to accept, it is not taught to them. They speak in this way because they are fools (avipascitah), because they interpret the words of the Vedas (veda vada ratah) such as the following:
aksayyam ha vai caturmasya-yajinah sukrtam bhavati
One who has worshiped by means of the vows of caturmasya attains pious credits which never become depleted. Apastambha Srauta Sutra, Krishna Yajur Veda 8.1.1
apama somam amrta abhuma
We drank soma and became immortal. Rg Veda 8.48.3
They say that there is no God other than this (na anyat asti).
Text 43: What type of words do they speak? They speak words about various rites giving many results in terms of power and enjoyment, words which give good results of action in terms of birth.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
2.42 – 2.44 The ignorant, whose knowledge is little, and who have as their sole aim the attainment of enjoyment and power, speak the flowery language i.e., having its flowers (show) only as fruits, which look apparently beautiful at first sight. They rejoice in the letter of the Vedas i.e., they are attached to heaven and such other results (promised in the Karma-kanda of the Vedas). They say that there is nothing else, owing to their intense attachment to these results. They say that there is no fruit superior to heaven etc. They are full of worldly desires and their minds are highly attached to secular desires. They hanker for heaven, i.e. think of the enjoyment of the felicities of heaven, after which one can again have rebirth which offers again the opportunity to perform varied rites devoid of true knowledge and leads towards the attainment of enjoyments and power once again. With regard to those who cling to pleasure and power and whose understanding is contaminated by that flowery speech relating to pleasure and lordly powers, the aforesaid mental disposition characterised by resolution, will not arise in their Samadhi. Samadhi here means the mind. The knowledge of the self will not arise in such minds. In the minds of these persons, there cannot arise the mental disposition that looks on all Vedic rituals as means for liberation based on the determined conviction about the real form of the self. Hence, in an aspirant for liberation, there should be no attachment to rituals out of the conviction that they are meant for the acquisition of objects of desire only. It may be questioned why the Vedas, which have more of love for Jivas than thousands of parents, and which are endeavouring to save the Jivas, should prescribe in this way rites whose fruits are infinitesimal and which produce only new births. It can also be asked if it is proper to abandon what is given in the Vedas. Sri Krsna replies to these questions.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
One may wonder why is it that living entities filled with desire fail to relinquish even desires which are very difficult to fulfil and adhere in fixed determination to surrendering their actions to the Supreme Lord? This is now being answered that they are dull witted of limited understanding who consider heaven as the highest attainment. Why do they talk such nonsense? Because they are of dull wits and limited understanding. The reason for their dull wits is that they are enamoured by the panegyric euphemisms of the scriptures. Words like everlasting happiness, eternal life, resurrection and immortality are very appealing to those of limited understanding. With these thoughts motivating them they perform every actions for the attainment of these goals believing they can be attained independent of the mercy of the Supreme Lord.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Sri Madhvacharya did not comment on this sloka.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Why is it that the scholars who have studied the Vedas so fastidiously fail to possess the resolute intelligence? It is because they could not comprehend the essence of the Vedic scriptures and subsequently they missed understanding the true purport of the Vedas. This Lord Krishna emphasises with the word avipascitah meaning the ignorant who are not knowledgeable are attracted to flowery descriptions in the Vedas even as a beautiful flowery creeper may be attractive although it is poisonous. But these living entities are ignorant and not actual scholars of Vedanta because they are only devoted to those parts of the Vedas which help them secure material opulence in this life and the next. Such statements like by performing some ritual one can obtain imperishable merit or by drinking Soma nectar one can become immortal, etc. Their conception of devotion is being devoted to pursuing heavenly delights and they even foolishly argue that there is nothing more beyond the rewards of heavenly pleasures to attain. Why is this so for them? It is because their minds are obsessed by desires due to addiction to material pleasures experienced by contact with the senses of taste, touch, seeing, hearing and smelling. So they look upon heaven although heaven is still in the material existence as being the supreme goal. This is because in heaven there is neither old age or sickness, everything is beautiful and a wonder to behold and the facility to enjoy fully is increased a thousand fold. So all their activities in this life are enacted solely for the sake of accuring benefits in order to reside in the heavenly spheres where they can enjoy and enjoy for a seemingly unlimited time span. But when their merit has expired after enjoying the delights of heaven in various wonderful ways to their hearts content they will again take birth on earth in a rich and learned family who also are following the flowery phrases of the Vedas and they will again follow this path and at lifes end transmigrate to the heavenly planets once again to enact the process. By being born into situations of opulence and prosperity allows one ample means and facility to perform very extravagantly the various prescribed rituals such as astrologically performing activities on the auspicious days each month such as purnima to obtain the maximum result. Thus again and again from body to body they are continuously revolving like a waterwheel. In special situations Indra, the ruler of the demi-gods sometimes appoints one of them as a gandharva celestial musician or as an aspara celestial damsel among the demigods for the duration of time their merit warrants.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
2.42 Partha, O son of Prtha; those devoid of one-pointed conviction, who pravadanti, utter; imam, this; yam puspitam vacam, flowery talk, which is going to be stated, which is beautiful like a tree in bloom, pleasant to hear, and appears to be (meaningful) sentences [Sentences that can be called really meaningful are only those that reveal the self.-Tr.]; — who are they? they are — avipascitah, people who are undiscerning, of poor intellect, i.e. non-discriminating; veda-vada-ratah, who remain engrossed in the utterances of the Vedas, in the Vedic sentences which reveal many panegyrics, fruits of action and their means; and vadinah, who declare, are apt tosay; iti, that; na anyat, nothing else [God, Liberation, etc.]; asti, exists, apart from the rites and duties conducive to such results as attainment of heaven etc. And they are kamatmanah, have their minds full of desires, i.e. they are swayed by desires, they are, by nature, full of desires; (and) svarga-parah, have heaven as the goal. Those who accept heaven (svarga) as the supreme (para) human goal, to whom heaven is the highest, are svarga-parah. They utter that speech (– this is supplied to construct the sentence –) which janma-karma-phala-pradam, promises birth as a result of rites and duties. The result (phala) of rites and duties (karma) is karma-phala. Birth (janma) itself is the karma-phala. That (speech) which promises this is janma-karma-phala-prada. (This speech) is kriya-visesa-bahulam, full of various special rites; bhoga-aisvarya-gatim-prati, for the attainment of enjoyment and affluence. Special (visesa) rites (kriya) are kriya-visesah. The speech that is full (bahula) of these, the speech by which that is full (bahula) of these, the speech by which these, viz objects such as heaven, animals and sons, are revealed plentifully, is kriya-visesa-bahula. Bhoga, enjoyment, and aisvarya, affluence, are bhoga-aisvarya. Their attainment (gatih) is bhoga-aisvarya-gatih. (They utter a speech) that is full of the specialized rites, prati, meant for that (attainment). The fools who utter that speech move in the cycle of transmigration. This is the idea.
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
2.42 See Comment under 2.44
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
yam imam puspitam vacam
nanyad astiti vadinah
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
yām imām — all these; puṣpitām — flowery; vācam — words; pravadanti — say; avipaścitaḥ — men with a poor fund of knowledge; veda-vāda-ratāḥ — supposed followers of the Vedas; pārtha — O son of Pṛthā; na — never; anyat — anything else; asti — there is; iti — thus; vādinaḥ — the advocates; kāma-ātmānaḥ — desirous of sense gratification; svarga-parāḥ — aiming to achieve heavenly planets; janma-karma-phala-pradām — resulting in good birth and other fruitive reactions; kriyā-viśeṣa — pompous ceremonies; bahulām — various; bhoga — in sense enjoyment; aiśvarya — and opulence; gatim — progress; prati — towards.