yad akṣaraḿ veda-vido vadanti
viśanti yad yatayo vīta-rāgāḥ
yad icchanto brahma-caryaḿ caranti
tat te padaḿ sańgraheṇa pravakṣye
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 8.11
Persons who are learned in the Vedas, who utter omkara and who are great sages in the renounced order enter into Brahman. Desiring such perfection, one practices celibacy. I shall now briefly explain to you this process by which one may attain salvation.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
Lord Sri Krishna has recommended to Arjuna the practice of shat-cakra-yoga, in which one places the air of life between the eyebrows. Taking it for granted that Arjuna might not know how to practice shat-cakra-yoga, the Lord explains the process in the following verses. The Lord says that Brahman, although one without a second, has various manifestations and features. Especially for the impersonalists, the akshara, or omkara—the syllable om—is identical with Brahman. Krishna here explains the impersonal Brahman, in which the renounced order of sages enter.
In the Vedic system of knowledge, students, from the very beginning, are taught to vibrate om and learn of the ultimate impersonal Brahman by living with the spiritual master in complete celibacy. In this way they realize two of Brahman’s features. This practice is very essential for the student’s advancement in spiritual life, but at the moment such brahmacari (unmarried celibate) life is not at all possible. The social construction of the world has changed so much that there is no possibility of one’s practicing celibacy from the beginning of student life. Throughout the world there are many institutions for different departments of knowledge, but there is no recognized institution where students can be educated in the brahmacari principles. Unless one practices celibacy, advancement in spiritual life is very difficult. Therefore Lord Caitanya has announced, according to the scriptural injunctions for this Age of Kali, that in this age no process of realizing the Supreme is possible except the chanting of the holy names of Lord Krishna: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
“Just by your mentioning that the yogi should concentrate the prana at the ajna cakra, I cannot understand this yoga. What is the manner of doing this yoga? What should be chanted? Upon what should one meditate? What is to be obtained by this yoga? Briefly you should tell me.” Krishna speaks three verses to answer him.
Please listen as I describe what will be factually attained (padam) along with the method of attainment (sangrahena), that brahman which the knowers of the Veda call om (aksara), which the sannaysis attain.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
8.11 I shall show you briefly that goal which the knowers of the Veda call ‘the imperishable,’ i.e., as endowed with attributes like non-grossness etc., — that imperishable which ‘the ascetics freed from passion enter’; that imperishable ‘desiring to attain which men practise continence’. What is attained by the mind as its goal is called ‘pada’. I shall tell you briefly My essential nature which is beyond all description and which is explained in the whole of Vedanta and which is to be meditated upon. Such is the meaning.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
Lord Krishna speaks this verse with a view to instruct how the preceding practice is based on the sacred syllable OM which is the personal, transcendental sound vibration of the Supreme Lord. The utilisation of the sacred OM mantra is a more direct means than the mere practice of directing the life force to the proper place in the physical body. The word aksaram means imperishable. The imperishable condition that adepts of Vedic scriptures describe as in the Brihadaranya Upanisad III.VIII.IX which states: Under the mighty control of this imperishable the sun and the moon are held coursing in their positions. Which aspirants is Lord Krishna referring to? Those aspirants who are striving, who have eradicated all desires, who have dedicated themselves to celibacy and the abstinent life with their spiritual preceptor. These aspirants are qualified to attain the ultimate goal. Lord Krishna speaks the word sangrahena or in summary meaning He will explain these things in brief revealing how to attain them.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
The ultimate goal to be attained is explained by Lord Krishna in this verse. Since the aspirants attain that consciousness it is known as padam or state and once that state is reached it is designated by the word visanti meaning to enter. The Narada Purana states: That the ultimate goal to be attained is Lord Krishna is confirmed in the Vedic scriptures. Since that consciousness is achieved by the ascetics, it is known as padam.
Now begins the summation.
Brahmacarya or voluntary celibacy for spiritual purposes denotes attuning one’s consciousness in full devotion to the Supreme Lord excluding everything else.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
After presenting the normal practice of meditation Lord Krishna introduces the topmost method designated by the word aksaram meaning imperishable which He promises to reveal in summary how to attain this imperishable, ultimate goal and that once it is attained the Supreme Lord who is saccidananda or the embodiment of eternal truth, knowledge and bliss which the Vaisnavas and Brahmins who are knowers of the Vedic scriptures describe as imperishable and indestructible. The Brhadaranyaka III.IX.VIII states:To this state the Brahmins attribute the term indestructible to that which is not material and that which is not subtle, etc. This state is where determined ascetics free from passion and desire for sense objects strive to enter. This is the state where the enlightened ascetics perceive the experience of the atma or soul as omnipresent and omniscient. Their consciousness resides in the highest substratum and they become totally detached from contact with three dimensional material nature and are incapable as such of performing any action that is in separation from the Supreme Lord. They becoming His own, remain in this state adhering to Him, taking full shelter in Him, desiring to know that for which the brahmacarya’s or voluntary celibates remain firm in their vow.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
8.11 Pravaksye, I shall speak; te, to you; samgrahena, briefly; tat, of that; which is called the aksaram, immutable-that whch does not get exhausted, which is indestructible; padam, Goal to be reached; yat, which; veda-vidah, the knowers of the Vedas, the knowers of the purport of the Vedas; vedanti, declare, speak of It as opposed to all qualifications-‘It is neither gross nor minute’ (Br. 3.8.8) etc.-, in accordance with the Upanisadic text, ‘O Gargi, the knowers of Brahman say this Immutable (Brahman) is that’ (ibid); and further, yat, into which, after the attainment of complete realization; visanti, enter; yatayah, the diligent ones, the monks; who have become vita-ragah, free from attachment; and icchantah, aspiring to know (-to know being supplied to complete the sense-); yat, which Immutable; people caranti, practise; brahmacaryam, celibacy-at the teacher’s house. Commencing with, ‘”O venerable sir, which world does he really win thereby who, among men, intently meditates on Om in that wonerful way till death?” To him he said, “O Satyakama, this very Brahman that is (known as) the inferior and superior is but this Om”‘ (pr.5.1-2), it has been stated, ‘Again, anyone who meditates on the supreme Purusa with the help of this very syllable Om, as possessed of three letters,…he is lifted up to the world of Brahma (Hiranyagarbha) by the Sama-mantras,’ (op.cit.5) etc. Again, beginning with ‘(Tell me of that thing which you see as) different from virtue, different from vice,’ it has been stated, ‘I tell you briefly of that goal which all the Vedas with one voice propound, which all the austerities speak of, and wishing for which people practise Brahmacarya: it is this, viz Om’ (Ka.1.2.14-15), etc. In the above quotations, Om which is going to be spoken of is presented as a name of this supreme Brahman, and also as Its symbol like an image. This has been done as a means to meditation on it (Om) for the attainment of the supreme Brahman by poeple of low and mediocre intellect, in as much as this leads to Liberation in course of time. Here also that very meditation on Om in the manner stated above-which is the means of attaining the supreme Brahman introduced in, ‘(He who meditates on) the Omniscient, the Ancient,’ and in, ‘(I shall speak to you birefly of that immutable Goal) which the knowers of the Vedas declare,’ and which (meditation) leads to Liberation in due course [Realization of Brahman leads to immediate Liberation (sadyomukti, whereas meditation (contemplation, upasana) leads to gradual Liberation (krama-mukti).-Tr.]-has to be spoken of along with ‘adherence to yoga’ as also whatever is connected directly or indirectly with it. For this purpose the following text is begun:
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
8.11 Yad aksaram etc. A means is called sangraha because by using this, the end is grasped i.e., determined. That Goal, together with means I shall tell you : Let me tell you now the means for [your] constant practice.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
yad aksaram veda-vido vadanti
visanti yad yatayo vita-ragah
yad icchanto brahma-caryam caranti
tat te padam sangrahena pravaksye
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
yat — that which; akṣaram — syllable oḿ; veda-vidaḥ — persons conversant with the Vedas; vadanti — say; viśanti — enter; yat — in which; yatayaḥ — great sages; vīta-rāgāḥ — in the renounced order of life; yat — that which; icchantaḥ — desiring; brahma-caryam — celibacy; caranti — practice; tat — that; te — unto you; padam — situation; sańgraheṇa — in summary; pravakṣye — I shall explain.