karma-jaḿ buddhi-yuktā hi
phalaḿ tyaktvā manīṣiṇaḥ
padaḿ gacchanty anāmayam
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 2.51
By thus engaging in devotional service to the Lord, great sages or devotees free themselves from the results of work in the material world. In this way they become free from the cycle of birth and death and attain the state beyond all miseries [by going back to Godhead].
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
The liberated living entities belong to that place where there are no material miseries. The Bhagavatam (10.14.58) says:
samasrita ye pada-pallava-plavam
mahat-padam punya-yaso murareh
bhavambudhir vatsa-padam param padam
padam padam yad vipadam na tesam
“For one who has accepted the boat of the lotus feet of the Lord, who is the shelter of the cosmic manifestation and is famous as Mukunda, or the giver of mukti, the ocean of the material world is like the water contained in a calf’s footprint. param padam, or the place where there are no material miseries, or Vaikuntha, is his goal, not the place where there is danger in every step of life.”
Owing to ignorance, one does not know that this material world is a miserable place where there are dangers at every step. Out of ignorance only, less intelligent persons try to adjust to the situation by fruitive activities, thinking that the resultant actions will make them happy. They do not know that no kind of material body anywhere within the universe can give life without miseries. The miseries of life, namely birth, death, old age and diseases, are present everywhere within the material world. But one who understands his real constitutional position as the eternal servitor of the Lord, and thus knows the position of the Personality of Godhead, engages himself in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. Consequently he becomes qualified to enter into the Vaikuntha planets, where there is neither material, miserable life nor the influence of time and death. To know one’s constitutional position means to know also the sublime position of the Lord. One who wrongly thinks that the living entity’s position and the Lord’s position are on the same level is to be understood to be in darkness and therefore unable to engage himself in the devotional service of the Lord. He becomes a lord himself and thus paves the way for the repetition of birth and death. But one who, understanding that his position is to serve, transfers himself to the service of the Lord, at once becomes eligible for Vaikunthaloka. Service for the cause of the Lord is called karma-yoga or buddhi-yoga, or in plain words, devotional service to the Lord.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
No commentary by Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
2.51 Those who possess this evenness of mind while performing actions and relinquish their fruits, are freed from the bondage of rebirth, and go to the region beyond all ills. ‘Hi’ means that this dictum or teaching is well known in all the Upanisads.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
How actions are able to turn out to be the means of liberation are being now given. Those with spiritual intelligence who relinquish all fruitive desires for the results of all actions, perform in righteousness activities as an offering unto the Supreme Lord are blessed with self-realisation, and being released from the bondage of birth and death they being liberated attain the eternal and everlasting spiritual worlds of the Supreme Lord Krishna.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Lord Krishna instructs the solution in this verse. That is to perform all actions free from fruitive craving. Offer all actions to the Supreme Lord without desiring rewards. Endowed with spiritual intelligence and comprehension of reality one attains the supreme stage. To get there the performance of actions with equanimity is the way to wisdom and is the means for assured liberation.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
An objection might be made that although it is definitely beneficial to avoid evil activities; but why should one abandon good actions. Lord Krishna responds that the wise who consider the true nature of things and have contemplated the cause of birth and death realised that while evil deeds give rise to horrible reactions also reactions to good deeds propels one to be born in noble and wealthy families while still remaining in the material existence are still subject to pleasure and pain and subject to old age, disease and death and thus should also be avoided. Liberation from the material existence is the direction to strive for and attaining the blissful state of the spiritual worlds described in the Upanisads as Vaikuntha which free from all misery and is eternally beyond the illusion of maya which is a product of the material nature. The conclusion is that in order to attain the unlimited bliss of boundless joy in the spiritual worlds one must abandon meritorious deeds also or else they will bestow trivial material rewards.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
2.51 The words ‘phalam tyaktva, by giving up the fruits’ are connected with the remote word ‘karmajam, produced by actions’. Hi, because; [Because, when actions are performed with an attitude of equanimity, it leads to becoming freed from sin etc. Therefore, by stages, it becomes the cause of Liberation as well.] buddhi-yuktah, those who are devoted to wisdom, who are imbued with the wisdom of equanimity; (they) becoming manisinah, men of Enlightenment; tyaktva, by giving up; phalam, the fruit, the acquisition of desirable and undesriable bodies; [Desirable: the bodies of gods and others; undesirable: the bodies of animals etc.] karmajam, produced by actions; gacchanti, reach; padam, the state, the supreme state of Visnu, called Liberation; anamayam, beyond evils, i.e. beyond all evils; by having become janma-bandha-vinirmuktah, freed from the bondage of birth — birth (janma) itself is a bondage (bandha); becoming freed from that –, even while living. Or: — Since it (buddhi) has been mentioned as the direct cause of the elimination of righteousness and unrighteousness, and so on, therefore what has been presented (in the three verses) beginning with, ‘O Dhananjaya,…to the yoga of wisdom’ (49), is enlightenment itself, which consists in the realization of the supreme Goal, which is comparable to a flood all around, and which arises from the purification of the mind as a result of Karma-yoga. [In the first portion of the Commentary buddhi has been taken to mean samattva buddhi (wisdom of equanimity); the alternative meaning of buddhi has been taken as ‘enlightenment’. So, action is to be performed by taking the help of the ‘wisdom about the supreme Reality’ which has been chosen as one’s Goal.]
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
2.51 Karmajam etc. The persons who are endowed with the determining faculty with regard to the Yoga, renounce the birth-bondage, by renouncing the fruit of actions; and they attain the Brahman-existence.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
karma-jam buddhi-yukta hi
phalam tyaktva manisinah
padam gacchanty anamayam
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
karma-jam — due to fruitive activities; buddhi-yuktāḥ — being engaged in devotional service; hi — certainly; phalam — results; tyaktvā — giving up; manīṣiṇaḥ — great sages or devotees; janma-bandha — from the bondage of birth and death; vinirmuktāḥ — liberated; padam — position; gacchanti — they reach; anāmayam — without miseries.