oḿ ity ekākṣaraḿ brahma
vyāharan mām anusmaran
yaḥ prayāti tyajan dehaḿ
sa yāti paramāḿ gatim
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 8.13
After being situated in this yoga practice and vibrating the sacred syllable om, the supreme combination of letters, if one thinks of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and quits his body, he will certainly reach the spiritual planets.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
It is clearly stated here that om, Brahman and Lord Krishna are not different. The impersonal sound of Krishna is om, but the sound Hare Krishna contains om. The chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra is clearly recommended for this age. So if one quits his body at the end of life chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, he certainly reaches one of the spiritual planets, according to the mode of his practice. The devotees of Krishna enter the Krishna planet, Goloka Vrindavana. For the personalists there are also innumerable other planets, known as Vaikuntha planets, in the spiritual sky, whereas the impersonalists remain in the brahmajyoti.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
(combined commentary for verses 12 and 13)
Explaining what was previous said, the Lord describes the method of yoga. Withdrawing the openings of all the senses (sarva dvarani) from the external objects and confining the mind to the heart, not desiring other objects, fixing the prana between the brows (murdhni), and taking shelter of me from head to foot (yoga dharanam); uttering just one syllable, om, the form of brahman, and meditating continuously upon me represented by om, giving up his body, he attains salokyam, (paramam gatim).
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
8.12 – 8.13 Subduing all the senses like ear etc., which constitute the ‘doorways’ for sense impressions, i.e., withdrawing them from their natural functions; holding the mind in Me, the imperishable ‘seated within the lotus of the heart’; practising ‘steady abstraction of mind (Dharana) which is called concentration or Yoga,’ i.e., abiding in Me alone in a steady manner; uttering the sacred ‘syllable Om,’ the brahman which connotes Me; remembering Me, who am expressed by the syllable Om; and fixing his ‘life-breath within the head’ — whosoever abandons the body and departs in this way reaches the highest state. He reaches the pure self freed from Prakrti, which is akin to My form. From that state there is no return. Such is the meaning. Later on Sri Krsna will elucidate: ‘They describe that as the highest goal of the Atman, which is not destroyed when all things are destroyed, which is unmanifest and imperishable’ (8.20–21). Thus, the modes of contemplation on the Lord by the aspirants after prosperity and Kaivalya (Atmann-consciousness) have been taught according to the goal they lead to. Now, Sri Krsna teaches the way of meditation on the Lord by the Jnanin and the mode of attainment by him.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
This verse reveals that one should repeatedly vibrate the sacred syllable OM the personalised sound vibration of the Supreme Lord which is non- different from the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence; both being different aspects of the Supreme, and think of Lord Krishna who is manifest by expressing the vibration of OM. One who departs their life in this way at the moment death attains the eternal, ultimate destination and attains the Supreme Lord who is one without a second.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Except through the Brahmanadi which is one of the 100 nerve centers in the crown of the head; if the life force of a jiva or living entity exits the body by any of the other 99 nerve centers it gets diverted and recycled back into samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death without attaining moksa or liberation. Both the Vedic scriptures Vyasa Yoga and Moksa Dharma are specify that when jivas exits through the eyes they go to the sun, when they exit through the ears or any of the 99 centers they go to the place that corresponds with it but they all remain in the physical manifestation and do not lead to the spiritual plane as does the Brahmanadi.The word hrdi- nirudhya means confined to the heart and denotes meditating on the atma or soul and the Supreme Lord Krishna. The Padma Purana states: Because He attracts He is in the hearts of all jivas and attracts them towards Himself, He is known as Hrdi the heart. When the life force is stationed in the head it is not possible to abide in the heart. The Vyas Yoga states: Wherever the life force abides that is where the jiva and the mind also abide. Thus only the one who has prepared themselves throughout their lives in proper mediation is able to concentrate in equanimity and is fully able to be in equanimity. This is the purport.
Now begins the summation.
As the Supreme Lord Krishna is symbolised by the one word OM His personalised transcendental sound vibration, the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence is also known by the one word OM.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
One who chants the sacred syllable OM which is the personal sound vibration of the Supreme Lord Krishna and which expresses the brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence, constantly meditating on Lord Krishna who is the full absolute aspect of the brahman and who while vacating their physical body at the moment of death departs through the sushanna channel situated in the crown of the head reaches according to qualification and gradation of one’s lifetime practice, attains the eternal spiritual plane described in the Vedic scriptures known as the Upanisads.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
8.13 Yah, he who; prayati, departs, dies; tyajan, by leaving; deham, the body-the phrase ‘leaving the body’ is meant for qualifying departure; thereby it is implied that the soul’s departure occurs by abandoning the body, and not through the destruction of its own reality, having abandoned thus-; vyaharan, while uttering; the eka-adsaram, single syllable; om iti brahma, viz Om, which is Brahman, Om which is the name of Brahman; and anusmaran, thinking; mam, of Me, of God who is implied by that (syllable); sah, he; yati, attains; the paramam, supreme, best; gatim, Goal. Further,
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
8.12-14 Sarvadvarani etc., upto Yoginah. The gates : the sense organs, like the eyes and not the place of excrement etc. Restraining the mind in the heart : By this, only the absence of attachment towards the objects, and not any seat, is stated. One’s own Prana : the driver of one’s own Self (the vital air). So, the meaning is ‘Fixing this Prana in the head i.e., the very Self with the Power-of-Will, lying beyond all categories. Thus the controlling of body [has been prescribed]. Reciting Om : This denotes the act of controlling the sense of speech. Meditating on Me : It signifies the non-wandering of the mind over other objects. Whosoever travels well : Whosoever travels day after day not to return back (i.e., for final emancipation). Therefore casting away the body i.e., longing ‘How to avoid taking once again the body, a repository of all troubles’, whosoever remembers Me always with his mind, that thinks nothingelse-he reaches Me i.e., he realises My state. Really the Sage (Vyasa) does not favour [the idea of] upward flight [of the Soul from the body] that may go against the pronounced intention of [attaining] total identity with the Absolute Brahman that admits no duality. Therefore it has been said : ‘If the Siva-existence (the Absolute State) is Omnipresent, then the upward flight serves no purpose indeed. On the othe hand, if Siva (the Absolute) is not Omnipresent then the upward flight cannot yield Siva (the Auspicious one, the Absolute)’. Alternately [the Gita passage may be interpreted as :] If some persons have not undergone the process of constant practice, yet at the time of death there arises [in them] – due to some undefinable reason, like the Free Will of the Lord and the like-a condition, similar to the one mentioned above, then [in the case of those persons] this condition itself – characterised as ‘the flight from the body’ (getting oneself disassociated from the body) – is stated [by the Sage] as a means obstructing all the other potential mental impressions. That is why in the passage starting ‘That unchanging one which the Veda-knowers speek of’ and ending ‘I shall tell you that’, [the Sage] has made a solemn declaration in order to explain the astonishing nature of the reflection on the Bhagavat – even though it lasts only a moment – marked by the destruction of all the [other] potential mental impressions. Hence the great teachers also say : ‘O Sambhu ! If You could set Your foot, atleast for the duration of a single winking of the eye, in [my] blemishless mind, what else would You not accomplish [for me]’. That is why, with a view to satisfy those who raise the question ‘But the breaking [of body of the wise] has been found without remembrance [of the Lord] at the time of departure’, here it is said ‘He who [remembers Me] constantly with the mind, not attached to any other thing.’ The meaning of it is : ‘He whose mind is not attached to any other result to be achieved.’ For him I am easy to attain : For him there is no need to undertake the trouble of searching for a suitable time for departure; making pilgrimage to sacred places; [waiting for] the time of the summer solastice; taking shelter in the temples; augmenting the [Strand] Sattva; remaining absorbed in the thought [of the Lord]; [expecting] the auspicious moment of equinox and of the day [time]; selecting a locality that is naturally pure; having body free from dirt of attachment (or unguent); wearing clean cloth; and similar other ones. Hence it has been stated earlier [under VIII, 5-7 above] ‘Either in a sacred place or in the house of a dog-cooker’ etc. But it has been declared that ‘He attains My State.’ Will there he rebirth for him even after attaining that State ? Considering this doubt [the Lord] says :
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
om ity ekaksaram brahma
vyaharan mam anusmaran
yah prayati tyajan deham
sa yati paramam gatim
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
oḿ — the combination of letters oḿ (oḿ-kāra); iti — thus; eka-akṣaram — the one syllable; brahma — absolute; vyāharan — vibrating; mām — Me (Kṛṣṇa); anusmaran — remembering; yaḥ — anyone who; prayāti — leaves; tyajan — quitting; deham — this body; saḥ — he; yāti — achieves; paramām — the supreme; gatim — destination.