yas tv ātma-ratir eva syād
ātma-tṛptaś ca mānavaḥ
ātmany eva ca santuṣṭas
tasya kāryaḿ na vidyate
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 3.17
But for one who takes pleasure in the self, whose human life is one of self-realization, and who is satisfied in the self only, fully satiated—for him there is no duty.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
A person who is fully Krishna conscious, and is fully satisfied by his acts in Krishna consciousness, no longer has any duty to perform. Due to his being Krishna conscious, all impiety within is instantly cleansed, an effect of many, many thousands of yajna performances. By such clearing of consciousness, one becomes fully confident of his eternal position in relationship with the Supreme. His duty thus becomes self-illuminated by the grace of the Lord, and therefore he no longer has any obligations to the Vedic injunctions. Such a Krishna conscious person is no longer interested in material activities and no longer takes pleasure in material arrangements like wine, women and similar infatuations.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
It has now been stated that if you cannot be without desires, you can perform actions with desires. But he who reaches the stage of jnana because of purity of heart never does actions out of desire. That is expressed in two verses.
Because he is enjoying in the self, is blissful by realization of the bliss of the atma, he does not engage at all in the pleasure of material objects. Being engaged only in the atma (atmany eva) he does not have any actions related to the external objects (tasya karyam na vidyate).
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
3.17 But for him, who is not in need of the means of Jnana Yoga and Karma Yoga, who finds delight in the self on his own, i.e., who is established in the self, who is satisfied by the self alone and not by food, drink and other things which are other than the self, who rejoices in the self alone and not in pleasure gardens, garlands, sandalpaste, vocal and instrumental music etc., and for whom everything, his subsistence, nourishment and enjoyment, is the self alone — for him nothing remains to be performed for the vision of the self, because the essential nature of the self is perpetually in his unaided vision.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
Having prescribed the path of prescribed actions for attaining purity of mind for the ignorant now Lord Krishna now explains in this verse and the next that actions are not necessary for one who is spiritually developed in attma-tattva or knowledge of the eternal soul. This is because such a person has actually realised their eternality and are enraptured solely by their soul experiencing unlimited bliss in every moment completely free from all external desires for pleasure and enjoyment; such a one on this platform has no more duties to perform. This is the meaning to be understood.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
The word indriyani-ramo in the previous verse indicates one who constantly seeks to revel in the garden of senses objects. It is not possible for such a person to achieve atma-tattva or soul realisation. In this verse trupti means satisfied by how things come on their own accord, and the word santustah means completely content. The delight which arises from being satisfied is complete contentment. In any other thing sufficient delight is derived but the Supreme delight is only found in connection with the Supreme Lord. One who has attained atma-tattva is no longer delighted by external affairs, such a person is self satisfied internally for only the one who finds self realisation within is contented. Nothing else will be the cause of joy for them and their satisfaction and contentment is based solely on their realisation of their eternal soul within and the glories of the Supreme Lord.
Thus for one who has attained atma-tattva the performance of the prescribed injunctions of the Vedic scriptures is not necessary or required. For one who is self realised is also self satisfied and there is no action that needs to be performed as a self realised being is completely transcendent to the dualities and all ego consciousness. But for one who is established in awareness of bodily consciousness it is mandatory that prescribed actions from the Vedic scriptures are duly performed. Such ordained actions are actually for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord and naturally what is to be expected in all circumstances. are purifying and very blissful. This has been explained in the Pancaratra.
Factually in all situations relating to the Supreme Lord eternal delight and rapture occurs. In all other cases where there is sufficiency of satisfaction alone there is no suggestion of eternal delight. Having spoken seperately atmany eva ca santustah meaning completely satisfied solely in the soul Lord Krishna emphasises the paramount importance of atma-tattva. Also it can be seen that performance of actions dictates there must be a concept of time such as when did it take place and how long did the action take etc. Thus only one who is aware of bodily consciousness is the necessity of performing prescribed actions needed.
In this world only human beings have the potential to achieve atma- tattva. Thus only mankind can attain this consciousness and become spiritually liberated. The word manava means mankind from the root word manu. Self satisfied means only satisfied in the Supreme Self. Thus being satisfied in atma-tattva or soul realisation one is also simultaneously satisfied in the Supreme Self residing within every living entity. Thus the statement one who completely delights in the Supreme Lord for that person there is no necessity for performing the prescribed actions of the Vedic scriptures. They have already achieved the goal of human existence.
Thus begins the summation.
Words used like satisfaction and contentment are used as synonyms to emphasise satisfaction and contentment in the Supreme Self within. One who receives the grace of the Supreme Lord Krishna is completely satisfied because of the grace of Lord Krishna and one who being completely satisfied by the grace of Lord Krishna is known to have attained moksa or liberation from the cycle of birth and death in the material existence. This has been given in the Agni Purana.
The word rati means delight and the word ananda means bliss. They are used to illustrate satisfaction and contentment respectively in the performance of prescribed Vedic activities. Priti or love is two-fold, love in friendship while performing actions or love in servitude while performing actions. This is given in the Shabda Nirnaya. The word santosha meaning satisfaction and the word trupti meaning contentment are used alternatively as apoorti or emphasising incompleteness.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
In this way Lord Krishna has explained that those who possess endless desire for the enjoyment of sense objects must offer the food they eat in yagna or worship to purify themselves to to be able to perform prescribed Vedic activities according to one’s qualification for the optimal benefit to themselves and by which actions assist the efficacy of the world, universe and all of creation. Now Lord Krishna is describing that the person who having achieved atma-tattva or soul realisation and is freed from all material desires is faultless even by not performing prescribed Vedic actions. But the particle tu emphasises the huge difference between the person with desires who pursues sense enjoyments delighting in the five senses of touch, taste etc. and the opposite sex; and the person without desires who takes delight only in the bliss of their eternal soul and the Supreme Lord. For such a self realised soul who has already attained the goal of human existence no ordinances of the Vedic scripture are required by them.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
3.17 Tu, but; that manavah, man, the sannyasin, the man of Knowledge, steadfast in the knowledge of the Self; yah, who; atmaratih eva syat, rejoices only in the Self-not in the sense objects; and atma-trptah, who is satisfied only with the Self-not with food and drink; and is santustah, contented; eva, only; atmani, in the Self; tasya, for him; na vidyate, there is no; karyam, duty [Duty with a view to securing Liberation.] to perform. [Rati, trpti and santosa, though synonymous, are used to indicate various types of pleasures. Or, rati means attachment to objects; trpti means happiness arising from contact with some particular object; and santosa means happiness in general, arising from the acquisition of some coveted object only.] All people surely feel contened by acquiring an external thing. But this one, without depending on it, remains contented only with the Self; thta is to say, he remains detached from everything. The idea it that, for a man who is such a knower of the Self, there is no duty to undertake.
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
3.17 See Comment under 3.19
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
yas tv atma-ratir eva syad
atma-trptas ca manavah
atmany eva ca santustas
tasya karyam na vidyate
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
yaḥ — one who; tu — but; ātma-ratiḥ — taking pleasure in the self; eva — certainly; syāt — remains; ātma-tṛptaḥ — self-illuminated; ca — and; mānavaḥ — a man; ātmani — in himself; eva — only; ca — and; santuṣṭaḥ — perfectly satiated; tasya — his; kāryam — duty; na — does not; vidyate — exist.