kiḿ tad brahma kim adhyātmaḿ
kiḿ karma puruṣottama
adhibhūtaḿ ca kiḿ proktam
adhidaivaḿ kim ucyate
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 8.1
Arjuna inquired: O my Lord, O Supreme Person, what is Brahman? What is the self? What are fruitive activities? What is this material manifestation? And what are the demigods? Please explain this to me.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
In this chapter Lord Krishna answers different questions from Arjuna, beginning with “What is Brahman?” The Lord also explains karma (fruitive activities), devotional service and yoga principles, and devotional service in its pure form. The Srimad-Bhagavatam explains that the Supreme Absolute Truth is known as Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan. In addition, the living entity, the individual soul, is also called Brahman. Arjuna also inquires about atma, which refers to body, soul and mind. According to the Vedic dictionary, atma refers to the mind, soul, body and senses also.
Arjuna has addressed the Supreme Lord as Purushottama, Supreme Person, which means that he was putting these questions not simply to a friend but to the Supreme Person, knowing Him to be the supreme authority able to give definitive answers.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
Please see text 2 for Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur’s combined commentary to texts 1 and 2.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
8.1– 8.2 Arjuna said — What are that brahman, Adhyatma and Karma which have been mentioned as what should be known by those who aspire for release from old age and death while they take refuge with the Lord? What are Adhibuta and Adhidaiva, which should be known by the aspirants for wealth? Who is Adhiyajna that is to be known by the three groups as their dying hour. In what manner are You to be known by these three groups who are self-controlled?
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
Those whose minds are devoted to and fixed upon the Supreme Lord Krishna alone realise the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence, karma or the reactions to performed actions, adhibhutas or material substratum, etc which were all briefly explained in the previous chapter will be fully delineated in this chapter. Arjuna desired to comprehend the true nature of the brahman, adhidaivas relating to the demigods, adhiyatma relating to the eternal soul within embodied beings, etc. which Lord Krishna mentioned at the end of chapter seven. This is why Arjuna begins with the question kim meaning what is.
The knowledge of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence is attained without effort by the devotees of the Supreme Lord Krishna is clearly elucidated in this the seventh chapter entitled Paramahamsa Vijnana Yoga, Knowledge of the Ultimate Truth.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Hari OM! The previous six chapters known as the section on karma yoga or the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness by selfless actions, the method of acquiring spiritual wisdom was described. Now the next six chapters known as the bhakti yoga section or the yoga of devotion primarily describe the glories and greatness of the Supreme Lord. The words asakta-manah means an extremely attached mental disposition. Utilising this attachment a person takes complete shelter of the Supreme Lord understanding that Lord Krishna is the ultimate controller, the ultimate protector and the ultimate refuge of all living entities. Understanding this reality fully with asamsayam or free from doubt without any reservation is the special meaning here.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
At the conclusion of chapter seven Lord Krishna introduced terms like adhibhuta identifying with the material substratum, adhiyatma identifying with embodied beings and adhidaivas identifying with the demigods. These subjects are essential and must be well comprehended by an aspirant who seeks to become a qualified devotee of the Supreme Lord. They will be further elucidated in detail in this chapter. Since Lord Krishna had introduced these terms only briefly, Arjuna was curious to learn more about theses terms and how they relate to the Supreme Lord as well as to himself and so he raises seven queries in the first two verses. He wanted to know such things like if the term adhidaivam referred specifically to Indra the celestial chief or did it applied equally to all the demigods and also what exactly is included in adhibhutas.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
8.1 See Commentary under 8.2.
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
8.1-2 What has been introduced by the Bhagavat by saying ‘They know that Brahmn etc.,’ [at the end of the last chapter], the same [the Sage] decides by raising nine questions [as follows] : Kim tad Brahman etc. Adhiyajnah etc. Who and how is the adhiyajna ? Who in this body ? : ‘does reside’ may be supplimented.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
kim tad brahma kim adhyatmam
kim karma purusottama
adhibhutam ca kim proktam
adhidaivam kim ucyate
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
arjunaḥ uvāca — Arjuna said; kim — what; tat — that; brahma — Brahman; kim — what; adhyātmam — the self; kim — what; karma — fruitive activities; puruṣa-uttama — O Supreme Person; adhibhūtam — the material manifestation; ca — and; kim — what; proktam — is called; adhidaivam — the demigods; kim — what; ucyate — is called.