ye yathā māḿ prapadyante
tāḿs tathaiva bhajāmy aham
manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 4.11
As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Pritha.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
Everyone is searching for Krishna in the different aspects of His manifestations. Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is partially realized in His impersonal brahmajyoti effulgence and as the all-pervading Supersoul dwelling within everything, including the particles of atoms. But Krishna is fully realized only by His pure devotees. Consequently, Krishna is the object of everyone’s realization, and thus anyone and everyone is satisfied according to one’s desire to have Him. In the transcendental world also, Krishna reciprocates with His pure devotees in the transcendental attitude, just as the devotee wants Him. One devotee may want Krishna as supreme master, another as his personal friend, another as his son, and still another as his lover. Krishna rewards all the devotees equally, according to their different intensities of love for Him. In the material world, the same reciprocations of feelings are there, and they are equally exchanged by the Lord with the different types of worshipers. The pure devotees both here and in the transcendental abode associate with Him in person and are able to render personal service to the Lord and thus derive transcendental bliss in His loving service. As for those who are impersonalists and who want to commit spiritual suicide by annihilating the individual existence of the living entity, Krishna helps also by absorbing them into His effulgence. Such impersonalists do not agree to accept the eternal, blissful Personality of Godhead; consequently they cannot relish the bliss of transcendental personal service to the Lord, having extinguished their individuality. Some of them, who are not firmly situated even in the impersonal existence, return to this material field to exhibit their dormant desires for activities. They are not admitted into the spiritual planets, but they are again given a chance to act on the material planets. For those who are fruitive workers, the Lord awards the desired results of their prescribed duties, as the yajnesvara; and those who are yogis seeking mystic powers are awarded such powers. In other words, everyone is dependent for success upon His mercy alone, and all kinds of spiritual processes are but different degrees of success on the same path. Unless, therefore, one comes to the highest perfection of Krishna consciousness, all attempts remain imperfect, as is stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (2.3.10):
akamah sarva-kamo va
yajeta purusham param
“Whether one is without desire [the condition of the devotees], or is desirous of all fruitive results, or is after liberation, one should with all efforts try to worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead for complete perfection, culminating in Krishna consciousness.”
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
“Your dedicated devotees consider your birth and activities to be eternal, but others such as jnanis, surrendering to you for the purpose of perfecting jnana or other goals, do not consider your birth and activities to be eternal.”
“In whatever way they worship me (prapadyante), also give them the fruits of their worship (bhajami) in a similar manner.”
The meaning is this. Those who think that my birth and activities are eternal and, having a particular desire for my respective pastimes, worship me, attain happiness. And I, because I am the Lord, can do, or not do, or do anything. But making them my associates, with them I appear and disappear in this world at the appropriate time, in order to give my birth and pastimes an eternal nature, favoring them at every moment, bestowing upon them the fruit of their worship, prema.
The jnanis and others who surrender unto me thinking of my birth and activities as temporary, and thinking of my deity forms as material – I throw those jnanis again and again into the noose of maya with its temporary births and deaths, and bestow upon them the sorrow of birth and death, the fruit of their worship.
But those jnanis who accept the eternal nature of my birth activities and consider my deity form to be sac cid ananda, an surrender to me for perfection of their jnana, I liberate thos jnanis, since they desire the destruction of their gross and subt bodies, and I give them the bliss of brahman. I bestow up them the desired result of their worship: the destruction of birth and death born from ignorance.
Therefore, not only devotees surrender to me, but rather everyone (sarvasah), all men, jnanis, karmis, yogis, and worshippers other than the devatas, follow my path. Jnana, karma and other processes are all my path, since I am the essence of all those paths.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
4.11 Whoever desirous of resorting to Me, in whatever manner they think of Me according to their inclinations and take refuge in Me, i.e., resort to Me — I favour them in the same manner as desired by them; I reveal Myself to them. Why say much here! All men who are intent on following Me do experience, with their own eyes and other organs of sense in all ways, i.e., in every way wished by them, My form (including images), however inaccessible it might be to speech and thought of the Yogins. Now, after completing the incidental topic (with regard to divine incarnations), in order to teach the mode in which Karma Yoga itself acquires the form of Jnana, He begins to speak of the difficulty in finding persons who are qualified for Karma Yoga of this kind.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
There may arise the opinion that Lord Krishna is partial to those who take refuge in Him and disregards those who are more partial to fulfilling their desires with sense objects. To clarify this false assumption the Supreme Lord stated this verse confirming that by whatever mode or method a person worships Him, direct or indirect, full of desires or free from desires He rewards them proportionately. It should not be falsely speculated that the Supreme Lord Krishna ignores those who due to ignorance neglect Him and instead offer others worship in various religions and denominations. It is impossible for Lord Krishna to ignore or exclude anyone because all living beings are factually following His path in every respect. Thus He is worshipped directly by those who are knowledgeable and indirectly by those who are unknowledgeable and correspondingly to their worship He reciprocates to each.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Not by propitiation to Lord Krishna by itself will moksa or liberation from material existence be granted. Nor will it be granted to other paths of religiosity that are not Vedic; but to all, in the manner which as well as how much they surrender unto the Supreme Lord, He rewards proportionately, granting the rewards to each accordingly. Here the word bhajami means reciprocation indicating that the most beneficial is directly propitiating Him as direct service returns direct reciprocation from the Lord. Those who propitiate others are indirectly also propitiating Lord Krishna as well but without being aware. This is because Lord Krishna is the maintainer and energiser of all creation. Lord Krishna and His authorised avatars or incarnations are what is revealed in the Vedic scriptures to be the ultimate reality and the ultimate goal of human existence.
Now begins the summation.
Tathaiva bhajamy means Lord Krishna reciprocates rewards to all in proportion accordingly to how one propitiates Him. Even those who follow other religions and denominations and propitiate others and are not following the Vedic culture in any way; for them also an allotment of materialistic rewards are made available but in an indirect way because the propitiation to Lord Krishna was made in an indirect way through the worship of other religions and denominations not connected to the eternal Vedic culture. So although it is true that even the worship of our religions and denominations eventually reaches Lord Krishna finally; the Agni Purana advises: Since sanction and entrance to the immortal and eternal regions comes from Him alone and no other; therefore by all means possible one should propitiate the Supreme Lord alone.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
So if Lord Krishna only bestows His benedictions upon those who are devoted to Him but not to those who are devoted to sense gratification and worldly attachment then there would appear to be some injustice in this. To correct this idea Lord Krishna states this verse. However one approaches Him, with desires or without desires, direct or indirect He rewards them accordingly and this is not only for His devotees who worship Him exclusively; but this also applies to all those who worship others in various religions and denominations. For it is a fact that all living beings in all ways follow in all respects Lord Krishna’s path as He resides as the supreme soul within all living beings. So in conclusion the Supreme Lord Krishna is the ultimate dispenser of all rewards to everyone regardless to whom one offers their homage to; but although the rewards are in equal proportion to the worship which was offered to Him; it should not be assumed that worship of others in various religions and denominations will be equal in quality or quantity to the results of the worship that was offered to Him direct without any intermediary accept the bonafide spiritual master.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
4.11 Yatha, according to the manner in which, the purpose for which, seeking, whatever fruit; prapadyante, they approach; mam, Me; aham, I; bhajami, favour; tan, them; tatha eva, in that very manner, by granting that fruit. This is the idea. For they are not seekers of Liberation. It is certainly impossible for the same person to be a seeker of Liberation and, at the same time, a seeker of rewards (of actions). Therefore, by granting fruits to those who hanker after fruits; by granting Knowledge to those who follow what has been stated (in the scriptures) and are seekers of Liberation, but do not hanker after rewards; and by granting Liberation to those who are men of wisdom and are monks aspiring for Liberation; and so also by removing the miseries of those who suffer- in these ways I favour them just according to the manner, in which they approach Me. This is the meaning. On the other hand, I do not favour anybody out of love or aversion, or out of delusion. Under all circumstances, O son of Prtha, manusyah, human beings; anuvartante, follow; sarvasah, in every way; mama, My; vartma, path, [The paths characterized by Knowledge and by action (rites and duties).] the path of God who am omnipresent. By ‘human beings’ are meant those people who become engaged in their respective duties to which they are qualified according to the results they seek. ‘If Your wish to be favourable is the same towards all creatures on account of the absence of the defects of love and aversion in You who are God, and You are there with Your capacity to grant all rewards, why then do not all, becoming desirous of Liberation, take refuge in You alone with the very knowledge that Vasudeva is everything?’ As to that, hear the reason for this:
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
4.11-12 Ye yatha etc. and Kanksantah etc. Different persons with differents forms in their mind take refuge in Me. Assuming the same [respective] forms for them I favour the. Only in this manner, those who are full of Me and those who are not so-all just follow my Path. For [even the performance of sacrifices] Jyotistoma and so on, is not a different path; that is also My own will of that nature. Indeed it is going to be declared [by the Lord] as ‘the four-fold caste-structure has been created by Me’. Some one says : The Present Tense (anuvarttante) is in the sense of Potential. Just as in the sentence ‘They take hold of the group of sixteen in the Atiratra [sacrifce]’, the expression ‘They take hold of’ means ‘They should take hold of’ in the same way in the present sentence too ‘they follow’, means ‘they should follow’. The success [of the action] viz., the enjoyment and emancipation is [achieved] here alone in this word of men and not anywhere else.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
ye yatha mam prapadyante
tams tathaiva bhajamy aham
manusyah partha sarvasah
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
ye — all who; yathā — as; mām — unto Me; prapadyante — surrender; tān — them; tathā — so; eva — certainly; bhajāmi — reward; aham — I; mama — My; vartma — path; anuvartante — follow; manuṣyāḥ — all men; pārtha — O son of Pṛthā; sarvaśaḥ — in all respects.