nāhaḿ prakāśaḥ sarvasya
mūḍho ’yaḿ nābhijānāti
loko mām ajam avyayam
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 7.25
I am never manifest to the foolish and unintelligent. For them I am covered by My internal potency, and therefore they do not know that I am unborn and infallible.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
It may be argued that since Krishna was present on this earth and was visible to everyone, then why isn’t He manifest to everyone now? But actually He was not manifest to everyone. When Krishna was present there were only a few people who could understand Him to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the assembly of Kurus, when Sisupala spoke against Krishna’s being elected president of the assembly, Bhishma supported Him and proclaimed Him to be the Supreme God. Similarly, the Pandavas and a few others knew that He was the Supreme, but not everyone. He was not revealed to the nondevotees and the common man. Therefore in the Bhagavad-gita Krishna says that but for His pure devotees, all men consider Him to be like themselves. He was manifest only to His devotees as the reservoir of all pleasure. But to others, to unintelligent nondevotees, He was covered by His internal potency.
In the prayers of Kunti in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.8.19) it is said that the Lord is covered by the curtain of yoga-maya and thus ordinary people cannot understand Him. This yoga-maya curtain is also confirmed in the Isopanishad (mantra 15), in which the devotee prays:
tat tvam pusann apavrnu
“O my Lord, You are the maintainer of the entire universe, and devotional service to You is the highest religious principle. Therefore, I pray that You will also maintain me. Your transcendental form is covered by the yoga-maya. The brahmajyoti is the covering of the internal potency. May You kindly remove this glowing effulgence that impedes my seeing Your sac-cid-ananda-vigraha [Bs. 5.1], Your eternal form of bliss and knowledge.” The Supreme Personality of Godhead in His transcendental form of bliss and knowledge is covered by the internal potency of the brahmajyoti, and the less intelligent impersonalists cannot see the Supreme on this account.
Also in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.14.7) there is this prayer by Brahma: “O Supreme Personality of Godhead, O Supersoul, O master of all mystery, who can calculate Your potency and pastimes in this world? You are always expanding Your internal potency, and therefore no one can understand You. Learned scientists and learned scholars can examine the atomic constitution of the material world or even the planets, but still they are unable to calculate Your energy and potency, although You are present before them.” The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna, is not only unborn but also avyaya, inexhaustible. His eternal form is bliss and knowledge, and His energies are all inexhaustible.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
“If you have eternal form, qualities and pastimes, then why do we not see these things at all times?”
I am not manifest to all people living at all times and places. I am always present with my associates, qualities and pastimes in some universe, at some time, but just as the sun is not visible to all people at all times, but only sometimes, being covered by Mount Meru, I also am sometimes not visible, being covered by yogamaya.”
“So you say that though the sun is situated within the zodiac and is always present there for all the living beings there, is not visible to a particular person at all times and places. It is visible at some times, in some places such as Bharata, to the people present there. You say that you are similar to that. But as the sun is always visible in its own abode, why is Krishna not always visible to all the people presently dwelling in his abodes like Mathura and Dvaraka?”
“If Meru were present in the middle of the effulgent zodiac, then the sun, being covered, would not be visible. In the same way, within Krishna’s effulgent abodes, yogamaya is always present like Meru. Krishna, like the sun, covered by that Meru in the form of yogamaya, is not visible constantly, but only sometimes. This is all without fault.
“And the foolish people do not understand me at all in my form as Syamasundara (mam), being unborn though appearing as Vasudeva’s son (ajam), and free from material birth (avyayam). Thus, finally rejecting me, the ocean of auspicious qualities, they worship my impersonal aspect, brahman.”
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
7.25 Concealed by the Maya called Yogamaya, I am associated with a human form and other generic structures which are special to individual selves. Because of this I am not manifest to all. The foolish, by seeing in Me merely the human or the other generic structures, do not know that My powers are greater than those of Vayu and Indra, that My lustre is more brilliant than that of sun and fire, that though visible to all, I am unborn, immutable, the cause of all the worlds, the Lord of all, and that I have assumed a human form, so that all who want can take refuge in Me.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
Now Lord Krishna explains the cause of their ignorance about Himself. It is because He only manifests Himself in and through the consciousness of His devotees exclusively and not to others. For others He is imperceptibly veiled by His mysterious and intrepid, internal energy known as yogamaya. Yoga means uniting with, maya is illusory impressions superimposed upon the consciousness, by this combination a mysterious power arises which is transcendant to material nature and has the potency at any time to make the impossible, possible or the possible, impossible or even have them both manifesting simultaneously. The ignorant are covered by this maya and hence unaware of Lord Krishna’s supreme position. Thus being oblivious to His powers, glories, qualities and attributes the ignorant are unable to have communion with Him and receive His grace.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
The state of being oblivious and lacking awareness of the Supreme Lord is caused by Lord Krishna Himself. He explains this by the words maya- samavrtah meaning concealed by illusory impressions superimposed upon the mind. All this is done according to His will so the unqualified are never able to perceive Him. Such foolish mortals cannot fathom that everything in their lives and in the total material creation manifests from the Supreme Lord alone. In the Padma Purana it states that: The Supreme Lord by His own internal potency makes Himself concealed from the minds and hearts of the unqualified through the illusion of His external potency known as the demi- goddess Durga-devi also known as Maya-devi.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Why are not all beings able to acquire knowledge about the Supreme Lord Krishna? He who is manifest in a wondrous, transcendental human-like form so illustrious, performing His lilas or magnificent, phenomenal pastimes, decked with peacock feather, flower garland down to His knees, and glorious flute in His forest pastimes and in His royal pastimes possessing such transcendental items as Srivatsa the golden line on His chest, Kaustabha His resplendent transcendental gemstone, Pancajanya the conch, Saranga the bow, Kaumadi the mace and others. Who is the subjugator of both Brahma the demigod in charge of creation and Shiva the demigod in charge of destruction. Who is the chastiser of Indra the chief of all the demigods as well as the reprimander of Kamadeva the demigod of love. Who to protect dharma or eternal righteousness was the destroyer of countless demons in His forest pastimes such as Putana, Trnavarta, Kesi and Aghasura among others and in His royal pastimes He destroyed even more demons such as Narakasura, Jaradandha, Paudraka, Sisupala and many more. The Supreme Lord Krishna whose potencies are beyond the realm of the mind and the senses and who is the sole objective of meditation by the enlightened yogis. Why are not all beings able to acquire knowledge about Him?
Lord Krishna speaks naham prakasah sarvasya meaning He is not revealed to everyone. He is samavrtah or concealed. He allows the ignorant who are bereft of faith be oblivious of His divine glory and His purely spiritual form which is endowed with qualities and attributes that are completely transcendental to prakriti or the material substatum pervading all worldly objects in the physical existence. His supernatural powers and lilas or phenomenal pastimes are not known, heard or witnessed by all. Only those who are exclusively devoted to Lord Krishna are aware of His power and majesty. As the Supreme Lord Himself spoke to Narada Muni that: One by one, then two by two, then in a group of three, great sages desired to see the form of the Supreme Lord Krishna; but they were unable to, nor will they ever be able too until they have developed exclusive devotion for Him. Only by bhakti or exclusive loving devotion can the Supreme Lord Krishna be known. Hence the ignorant, all who are not Lord Krishna’s devotees fail to recognise Him as the Supreme Being. For He is not born as an embodied soul forced to accept a physical body like all embodied beings by the dictates of karma or reactions from previous actions. Lord Krishna manifests Himself by His own sweet will to perform His divine lilas or phenomenal pastimes for sport; but the people of the world merely view Him as another human being only blest to have amazing and extraordinary qualities and characteristics.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
7.25 Yoga-maya-samavrtah, being enveloped by yoga-maya-Yoga means the combination, the coming together, of the (three) gunas; that (combination) is itself maya, yoga-maya; being enveloped, i.e. veiled, by that yoga-maya; aham, I; na prakasah, do not become manifest; sarvasya, to all, to the world. The idea is that I become manifest only to some devotees of Mine. For this very reason, ayam, this; mudhah, deluded; lokah, world; na abhijanati, does not know; mam, Me; who am ajam, birthless; and avyayam, undecaying. [In verse 13 the reason for the non-realization of the supreme, unqualified Brahman was stated. The present verse states the reason for the non-realization of the qualified Brahman.] ‘That yoga-maya, because of My being covered by which the world does not know Me- that yoga-maya, since it belongs to Me, does not obstruct the knowlege of Me who am God, the possessor of maya, just as the magic of any other magician does not cover his knowledge.’ Since this is so, therefore-
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
7.25-26 Naham etc. Vadaham etc. I am not perceivable to all. But the actions themselves, if performed, would beget emancipation at the time of dissolution [of the world]. otherwise, how does the total dissolution come to be there ? When this doubt arises, [the Bhagavat] commences [to answer] as :
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
naham prakasah sarvasya
mudho ’yam nabhijanati
loko mam ajam avyayam
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
na — nor; aham — I; prakāśaḥ — manifest; sarvasya — to everyone; yoga-māyā — by internal potency; samāvṛtaḥ — covered; mūḍhaḥ — foolish; ayam — these; na — not; abhijānāti — can understand; lokaḥ — persons; mām — Me; ajam — unborn; avyayam — inexhaustible.