yā niśā sarva-bhūtānāḿ
tasyāḿ jāgarti saḿyamī
yasyāḿ jāgrati bhūtāni
sā niśā paśyato muneḥ
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 2.69
What is night for all beings is the time of awakening for the self-controlled; and the time of awakening for all beings is night for the introspective sage.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
There are two classes of intelligent men. One is intelligent in material activities for sense gratification, and the other is introspective and awake to the cultivation of self-realization. Activities of the introspective sage, or thoughtful man, are night for persons materially absorbed. Materialistic persons remain asleep in such a night due to their ignorance of self-realization. The introspective sage remains alert in the “night” of the materialistic men. The sage feels transcendental pleasure in the gradual advancement of spiritual culture, whereas the man in materialistic activities, being asleep to self-realization, dreams of varieties of sense pleasure, feeling sometimes happy and sometimes distressed in his sleeping condition. The introspective man is always indifferent to materialistic happiness and distress. He goes on with his self-realization activities undisturbed by material reactions.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
The sthita prajna is able to control his senses very naturally. There are two types of intelligence: that directed towards soul and that directed towards matter. The intelligence directed towards the soul is night for all other entities.
Just as in the night, people dreaming do not know what is happening at that time, so all living entities do not know the things which are being perceived by the intelligence directed towards the soul. But during that night, the sthita prajna or samyami, controlling his senses, is awake, not dreaming. In other words he directly realizes the bliss from fixing his intelligence on the soul. When the living entities are awake, with intelligence directed towards material sense objects, they realize directly the happiness, lamentation and bewilderment of those sense objects upon which their intelligence is fixed. They are not dreaming. But that is night for the muni, the sthita prajna, who does not experience fixing his intellect on those objects at all. But he does see. He looks upon (pasyatah) all those sense objects which give happiness and distress to the people bound in samsara with disinterest. This means that he accepts the required sense objects for his survival without being affected.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
2.69 That Buddhi (understanding) which has the self for its object, is night to all beings, i.e., is obscure like night to all. But he, who has subdued the senses and is serene, is awake in respect of the self. The meaning is that he has the vision of the self. All beings are awake, i.e., are actively cognisant in respect of objects of the senses like sound. But such sense objects are like things enshrouded by night to the sage who is awake to the self.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
It could be put forth that who is there in this world so perfectly controlled that they are like in a deep sleep free from all activities of the senses. Therefore explanation given in the previous verses is altogether inapplicable. Anticipating such doubts Lord Krishna states: what is night for all creatures meaning those of uncontrolled senses whose minds are covered by ignorance like the night exist in the darkness of the self. But those of self-controlled senses abiding in the light of the self are wide awake. The condition of beings engrossed in sensual pursuits in which all living beings appear awake is as night to the introspective yogi who is absorbed only in the bliss of the self. This is the meaning here. Just as an owl which is blind by day but sees quite clearly at night, one who has realised the Ultimate Truth through the eye of knowledge factually sees everything as the one, undivided Ultimate Truth within everything and not the objects perceived by the senses. Therefore with this understanding it can be seen that the explanation given here is indeed factually applicable.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Lord Krishna is giving the indications of transcendent meditation in this verse. That which is confidential and difficult of realising is the eternal soul which is verily the form of the Supreme Lord which to one who is asleep is vague and unclear. But those who have their senses under control are aware and awake and experience everything through the perception of the realised soul. This is the meaning Lord Krishna is conveying. To those beings whose enthusiasm for the senses is awake for them as a sleeping person recognises nothing around them, cognition of the soul is unknown. Like one who is crazy can be seen by the way they are walking. So it is understood that the body is verily not ours. One who meditates is known as a muni and the word pasyatah indicates one who perceives.
Now begins the summation.
All with spiritual intelligence cannot perceive the ultimate truth with clarity. One may perceive the ultimate truth during the night while others may not perceive the ultimate truth. The latter are the ones bewildered by the material energy. They see nothing except what they can experience with their senses. This is due to being captivated by their senses and unable to concentrate their mind in meditation. But like the sun shining is perceived by everyone internally all is perceived as well but the external consciousness is oblivious to it focused on the enjoyment of sense objects. Yet and still some advanced living entities are able to fathom it. This has been mentioned in the Brahma Taraka.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
One situated in transcendent meditation has no connections to their senses whatsoever; but such a being cannot be perceived. As the functions of the senses such as seeing, hearing, and tasting of an ordinary person are the exact same to one situated in transcendent meditation, How is it possible to properly understand what this means? Here Lord Krishna indicates that the operation of the senses to one situated in transcendent mediation are completely different from an ordinary being. This is because those whose minds are inclined towards sense objects are unqualified to realise the soul their intellect being likened unto the darkness of night. Whereas the self restrained living entities with their sense organs fully controlled remains awake and realises the essence of the eternal soul and God realisation by the eternal truths of the Vedic scriptures. The tendency of all living entities whose external senses along with the mind are not under control in the darkness of nescience indulge in sensual delights in this night. Contrarily the self controlled one sees the objects of the senses as unfit and reflects on the eternal soul within. Thus these are the indications of one situated in transcendent meditation.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
2.69 ya, that which; sarva-bhutanam, for all creatures; is nisa, night — which being darkness (tamah) by nature, obliterates distinctions among all things; what is that? that is the Reality which is the supreme Goal, accessible to the man of steady wisdom. As that which verily appears as day to the nocturnal creatures is night for others, similarly the Reality wich is the supreme Goal appears to be night, as it were, to all unenlightened beings who are comparable to the nocturnal creatures, because It is beyond the range of vision of those who are devoid of that wisdom. Samyami, the self-restrained man, whose organs are under control, i.e. the yogi [The man of realization.] who has arisen from the sleep of ignorance; jagarti, keeps awake; tasyam, in that (night) characterized as the Reality, the supreme Goal. That night of ignorance, characterized by the distinctions of subjects and objects, yasyam in which; bhutani, the creatures, who are really asleep; are said to be jagrati, keeping awake, in which night they are like dreamers in sleep; sa nisa, it is night; pasyatah, to the seeing; muneh, sage, who perceives the Reality that is the supreme Goal, because that (night) is ignorance by nature. Therefore, rites and duties are enjoined only during the state of ignorance, not in the state of enlightenment. For, when Knowledge dawns, ignorance becomes eradicated like the darkness of night after sun-rise. [It may be argued that even after illumination the phenomenal world, though it is known to be false, will continue to be perceived because of the persistence of past impressions; therefore there is scope for the validity of the scriptural injunctions even in the case of an illumined soul. The answer is that there will be no scope for the injunctions, because the man of realization will then have no ardent leaning towards this differentiated phenomenal world which makes an injunction relevant.] Before the rise of Knowledge, ignorance, accepted as a valid means of knowledge and presenting itself in the different forms of actions, means and results, becomes the cause of all rites and duties. It cannot reasonably become the source of rites and duties (after Realization) when it is understood as an invalid means of knowledge. For an agent becomes engaged in actions when he has the idea, ‘Actions have been enjoined as a duty for me by the Vedas, which are a valid means of knowledge’; but not when he understands that ‘all this is mere ignorance, like the night’. Again, the man to whom has come the Knowledge that all these differences in their totality are mere ignorance like the night, to that man who has realized the Self, there is eligibility only for renouncing all actions, not for engaging in actions. In accordance with this the Lord will show in the verse, ‘Those who have their intellect absorbed in That, whose Self is That’ (5.17) etc., that he has competence only for steadfastness in Knowledge. Objection: May it not be argued that, there will be no reason for being engaged even in that (steadfastness in Knowledge) if there be no valid means of knowledge [Vedic injunctions.] to impel one to that. [Because, without an injunction nobody would engage in a duty, much less in steadfastness to Knowledge.] Answer: No, since ‘knowledge of the Self’ relates to one’s own Self. Indeed, by the very fact that It is the Self, and since the validity of all the means of knowledge culminates in It, [The validity of all the means of knowledge holds good only so long as the knowledge of the Self has not arisen.] therefore the Self does not depend on an injunction to impel It towards Itself. [Does the injunction relate to the knowledge of the Self. or to the Self Itself? The first alternative is untenable because a valid means of knowledge reveals its objects even without an injunction. The second alternative also is untenable because the Self is self-revealing, whereas an injunction is possible in the case of something yet to be achieved. And one’s own Self is not an object of that kind.] Surely, after the realization of the true nature of the Self, there is no scope again for any means to, or end of, knowledge. The last valid means of (Self-) knowledge eradicates the possibility of the Self’s becoming a perceiver. And even as it eradicates, it loses its own authoritativeness, in the same way as the means of knowledge which is valid in dream becomes unauthoritative during the waking state. In the world, too, after the preception of an abject, the valid means of that perception is not seen to be a cause impelling the knower (to any action with regard to that object). Hence, it is established that, for an knower of the Self, there remains no eligibility for rites and duties. The attainment of Liberation is only for the sannyasin [Liberation is attained only by one who, after acquiring an intellectual knowledge of the Self in a general way, is endowed with discrimination and detachment, has arisen above all desires, has become a monk in the primary sense, and has directly realized the Self by going through the process of sravana (understanding of Upanisadic texts about the Self), etc.], the man of enlightenment, who has renounced all desires and is a man of steady wisdom; but not for him who has not renounced and is desirious of the objects (of the senses). Such being the case, with a view to establishing this with the help of an illustration, the Lord says:
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
2.69 Ya nisa etc. Infatuating is the Illusion which is night for all beings. In that , the sage is awake (vigilant) with the thought ‘How It could be avoided’ The stage where the worldly men keep awake i.e., perform multifarious [worldly] activities, that stage is the night for the sage, as he is ignorant regarding the worldly activities. It amounts to this statement : What is well-known as illusion, Its nature is indeed two-ford, viz., to delude and also to wear a deceptive appearance of spinning pleasure. Of them (the two natures), the worldly man, not considering Its former nautre, remains with a memory well teid to the second nature. On the other hand, the man of Yoga, who is contrary to the other, observes Its deluding nature in order to root It out. Thus the man of perfect knowledge, while seeing [properly], pays no attention to Its nature of spinning pleasure. His indifference to Its nature of spinning pleasure is due to the destruction of his false knowledge. That stage is night to him, even while he sees. Hence this is strange. The man of Yoga is awake (or understands) in the field of wisdom, where everyone else is unconscious (or totally perplexed); but in [the field] of ignorance he is not awake (or does not understand), where ordinary man is awake (or understands well). This is also strange. That is why-
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
ya nisa sarva-bhutanam
tasyam jagarti samyami
yasyam jagrati bhutani
sa nisa pasyato muneh
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
yā — what; niśā — is night; sarva — all; bhūtānām — of living entities; tasyām — in that; jāgarti — is wakeful; saḿyamī — the self-controlled; yasyām — in which; jāgrati — are awake; bhūtāni — all beings; sā — that is; niśā — night; paśyataḥ — for the introspective; muneḥ — sage.