man-mayā mām upāśritāḥ
bahavo jñāna-tapasā
pūtā mad-bhāvam āgatāḥ

Translation of Bhagavad Gita 4.10

Being freed from attachment, fear and anger, being fully absorbed in Me and taking refuge in Me, many, many persons in the past became purified by knowledge of Me—and thus they all attained transcendental love for Me.

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

As described above, it is very difficult for a person who is too materially affected to understand the personal nature of the Supreme Absolute Truth. Generally, people who are attached to the bodily conception of life are so absorbed in materialism that it is almost impossible for them to understand how the Supreme can be a person. Such materialists cannot even imagine that there is a transcendental body which is imperishable, full of knowledge and eternally blissful. In the materialistic concept, the body is perishable, full of ignorance and completely miserable. Therefore, people in general keep this same bodily idea in mind when they are informed of the personal form of the Lord. For such materialistic men, the form of the gigantic material manifestation is supreme. Consequently they consider the Supreme to be impersonal. And because they are too materially absorbed, the conception of retaining the personality after liberation from matter frightens them. When they are informed that spiritual life is also individual and personal, they become afraid of becoming persons again, and so they naturally prefer a kind of merging into the impersonal void. Generally, they compare the living entities to the bubbles of the ocean, which merge into the ocean. That is the highest perfection of spiritual existence attainable without individual personality. This is a kind of fearful stage of life, devoid of perfect knowledge of spiritual existence. Furthermore there are many persons who cannot understand spiritual existence at all. Being embarrassed by so many theories and by contradictions of various types of philosophical speculation, they become disgusted or angry and foolishly conclude that there is no supreme cause and that everything is ultimately void. Such people are in a diseased condition of life. Some people are too materially attached and therefore do not give attention to spiritual life, some of them want to merge into the supreme spiritual cause, and some of them disbelieve in everything, being angry at all sorts of spiritual speculation out of hopelessness. This last class of men take to the shelter of some kind of intoxication, and their affective hallucinations are sometimes accepted as spiritual vision. One has to get rid of all three stages of attachment to the material world: negligence of spiritual life, fear of a spiritual personal identity, and the conception of void that arises from frustration in life. To get free from these three stages of the material concept of life, one has to take complete shelter of the Lord, guided by the bona fide spiritual master, and follow the disciplines and regulative principles of devotional life. The last stage of the devotional life is called bhava, or transcendental love of Godhead.

According to Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.4.15–16), the science of devotional service:

adau shraddha tatah sadhu-
sango ’tha bhajana-kriya
tato ’nartha-nivrttih syat
tato nistha rucis tatah
athashaktis tato bhavas
tatah premabhyudancati
sadhakanam ayam premnah
pradurbhave bhavet kramah

“In the beginning one must have a preliminary desire for self-realization. This will bring one to the stage of trying to associate with persons who are spiritually elevated. In the next stage one becomes initiated by an elevated spiritual master, and under his instruction the neophyte devotee begins the process of devotional service. By execution of devotional service under the guidance of the spiritual master, one becomes free from all material attachment, attains steadiness in self-realization, and acquires a taste for hearing about the Absolute Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna. This taste leads one further forward to attachment for Krishna consciousness, which is matured in bhava, or the preliminary stage of transcendental love of God. Real love for God is called prema, the highest perfectional stage of life.” In the prema stage there is constant engagement in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. So, by the slow process of devotional service, under the guidance of the bona fide spiritual master, one can attain the highest stage, being freed from all material attachment, from the fearfulness of one’s individual spiritual personality, and from the frustrations that result in void philosophy. Then one can ultimately attain to the abode of the Supreme Lord.

Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:

Not only at the present time can one attain me just by knowing about the nature of my present birth and activities, but in ancient times also in previous kalpas when I appeared, people attained me by knowing the nature of my birth and activities. That is the purport of this verse.

Regarding the meaning of jnana tapasa, Ramanujacarya says, “They became purified by the austerity of realization about the nature of my birth and activities as previously stated.”

Or the meaning can be: “They, having attained realization of the eternal nature of my birth and activities, became purified by austerity in the form of tolerating the burning poison of wrong ideas, wrong logic and wrong arguments.”

Ramanujacarya quotes the following sruti in this regard.

tasya dhirah parijananti yonim

The wise men know about the Lord’s method of birth. Taittiriya Aranyaka 3.13.1

Such wise persons have given up attachment to or affection for persons who speak nonsense ideas (vita ragah). My devotees have no fear of them, nor anger towards them. Why? Because they are preoccupied with meditating on, thinking of, hearing and singing about my birth and activities (man maya). They attained prema for me (mad bhavam).

Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:

4.10 Purified by the austerity called knowledge of the truth of My life and deeds, many have become transformed in this manner. The Sruti says to the same effect: ‘The wise know well the manner in which He is born’ (Tai. A., 3.13.1). ‘Dhiras’ means the foremost among the wise. The meaning is the wise know the manner of His birth thus. It is not that I protect only those who resort to Me in incarnations in the shapes of gods, men etc.

Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:

It may be enquired how may one be elevated to attaining Lord Krishna merely by knowledge of His appearances and pastimes? This is answered by the instruction: being completely freed from passion, fear and anger then if those persons understand that due to Lord Krishna’s magnanimous compassion He incarnates into His material creation through pure sattva or goodness to protect the principles of sanatan dharma or eternal righteousness and having no attachments and desires thus with no distractions focus their attentions to meditating on Him, fixed in Him, taking sole refuge in Him alone. These rare beings are naturally purified from the dross of ignorance and its products in prakriti or material nature by their own wisdom and penance consisting of performing prescribed Vedic activities according to one’s order and station in life. This by the divine grace of the Supreme Lord through the medium of the bonafide guru exclusively the development of spiritual knowledge commences. The compound word jnana-tapasya means by knowledge and austerities. This knowledge and austerity is taught by the bonafide spititual master and is the procedure for one to receive the divine grace of the Supreme Lord. As all activities of the Supreme Lord are sublimely eternal the bestowal of this grace whenever it is received indicates that it is not newly inculcated but is given eternally as well. The Vedic dictum of that and thou referring to the Supreme Lord and the living entity are spoken of only in the context of the individual consciousness as being distinct from the ultimate consciousness. The individual consciousness as the living entity having numerous limitations and the ultimate consciousness as the Supreme Lord having no limitations. The Supreme Lord being free from ignorance and ever pure while the living entity is purified by degrees by renouncing ignorance through knowledge gained by the divine grace of the Supreme Lord through the mercy of the spiritual master in disciplic succession from one of the four Vedic sampradayas or authorised Vedic channel of disciplic succession.

Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:

By completely renouncing passion, fear and anger and subsequently adoring the Supreme Lord many attained moksa or liberation. Man-maya means complete abidance and refuge in the Lord in all situations.

Now begins the summation.

Mayam means making the Lord the central focus of one’s life as the primary objective. One who knows the Supreme Primacy of the Lord’s position becomes eventually aware of His transcendental integral form. Only those who know the Supreme Resplendent Lord thus are qualified for liberation and no others. Being aware of His integral form indicates attaining their eternal spiritual form similar to His in quality but not quantity.

Now begins the summation.

Only by learning and comprehending the knowledge revealed in the Vedic scriptures is moksa or liberation possible. By knowing and furthermore correlating this knowledge from different Vedic texts and applying it to one’s everyday life will the ultimate attainment be gained and no other way. It should be clearly understood that the mere knowledge of the facts and details of the Supreme Lords appearance and divine pastimes will not enable one to attain liberation from the material existence without having first applied this learning through the medium of the Vedic scriptures fully into one’s life and all that one’s life encompasses.

Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:

In the previous verse Lord Krishna declares that those that truly know Him attain Him. Now the question may be raised is there any requirements necessary for attaining Him or does it mean that oneness with Him in His abode transpires automatically with knowledge of Him. To clear this up Lord Krishna states: vita-raga-bhaya-krodha meaning completely freed from passion, fear and anger. Passion is attachment to the opposite sex and children and family life. Fear is abhorrence of frightening situations due to lack of faith in God. Anger is a state of mind that blows up when one’s ardent desires are frustrated by obstacles. This clearly indicates that jnana yoga or the cultivation of knowledge is essential for the mind to control the senses. In the Visnusahasra 136 it is given that: the physical body, the senses, the mind, the intellect, the vitality, splendour, potency, patience, and the atma or soul all are the possessions of the Supreme Lord. The very knowledge of the Supreme Lords transcendental nama or names, rupa or forms, guna or attributes, lila or pastimes and dhama or abode is the tapasya or penance which dissolves all karmas or reactions to previous actions. Thus wholly absorbed internally and externally in the wonderful and phenomenal Supreme Lord one naturally attains moksa or liberation with Him. Although there are different forms accepted when one attains the state of moksa these elevated beings attain oneness with differences or union with separateness. They are united because they all have attributes like omniscience and ananda or bliss. Yet they are separate due to differences in qualities having their own unique, individual spiritual characteristics. The great sage Pantajali of the hatha yoga system defines oneness as union with differences. In this way the statement of oneness of similar qualities in the state of moksa has been explained. There are two realities: one is the reality of oneness in form and the other is the reality of difference in forms. The absence of difference of the individual atma or soul from the paramatma or the supreme soul has already been refuted in chapter II.XIII by the plural usage of souls and concludes with the words dhiras tatra na muhyati meaning the intelligent are not deluded by this.

Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:

4.10 Bahavah, many; vita-raga-bhaya-krodhah, who were devoid of attachment, fear and anger; manmayah, who were absorbed in Me, who were knowers of Brahman, who were seers of (their) identity with God; mam upasrithah, who had taken refuge only in Me, the supreme God, i.e. who were steadfast in Knowledge alone; and were putah, purified, who had become supremely sanctified; jnana-tapasa, by the austerity of Knowledge-Knowledge itself, about the supreme Reality, being the austerity; becoming sanctified by that austerity of Knowledge-; agatah, have attained; madbhavam, My state, Goodhood, Liberation. The particular mention of ‘the austerity of Knowledge’ is to indicate that steadfastness in Knowledge does not depend on any other austerity. ‘In that case, You have love and aversion, because of which You grant the state of identity with Yourself only to a few but not to others?’ The answer is:

Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:

4.10 Vita-etc. Therefore many persons, who realise in this manner are free anger etc., because they have [all] their desires completely fulfilled, due to their being full of Me; and who perform actions which are to be performed and which do not yield any fruit [for them] – they have attained My own nature. For-

Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:

man-maya mam upasritah
bahavo jnana-tapasa
puta mad-bhavam agatah

Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:

vīta — freed from; rāga — attachment; bhaya — fear; krodhāḥ — and anger; mat-mayā — fully in Me; mām — in Me; upāśritāḥ — being fully situated; bahavaḥ — many; jñāna — of knowledge; tapasā — by the penance; pūtāḥ — being purified; mat-bhāvam — transcendental love for Me; āgatāḥ — attained.