dhūmo rātris tathā kṛṣṇaḥ
tatra cāndramasaḿ jyotir
yogī prāpya nivartate
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 8.25
The mystic who passes away from this world during the smoke, the night, the fortnight of the waning moon, or the six months when the sun passes to the south reaches the moon planet but again comes back.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
In the Third Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam Kapila Muni mentions that those who are expert in fruitive activities and sacrificial methods on earth attain to the moon at death. These elevated souls live on the moon for about 10,000 years (by demigod calculations) and enjoy life by drinking soma-rasa. They eventually return to earth. This means that on the moon there are higher classes of living beings, though they may not be perceived by the gross senses.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
This verse describes the path of return taken by the karmi. Smoke indicates the deity of smoke, and similarly night indicates the deity of night. Similarly there are the deity of the dark fortnight and the deity of the daksinayana. The karma yogi who goes on the path represented by these devatas attains svarga loka indicated by the words candramasam jyotih. Having enjoyed there, he returns.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
8.25 This denotes the world of the manes etc., described by the term ‘starting with smoke.’ Here the term Yogin connotes one associated with good actions.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
Now Lord Krishna explains the path that leads to a return of rebirth in the material existence. When one accedes to death at the times presided by the demigods identified with smoke, with night, with the waning moon and with the suns waning southern course guided on these paths those who performed ritualistic Vedic activities will reach the celestial heavens and after amply enjoying the fruits of their actions will return again and be reborn in the world of mortals. The Brihadaranyaka Upanisad VI.II.XVI states: They first reach the demigod identified with smoke, etc. Thus by mediation and performing selfless Vedic activities without desire for rewards one gradually achieves moksa or liberation from material existence and those who perform Vedic activities with a desire for rewards and benefits return to the material worlds after enjoying their accumulated merit in the heavens. But those who go against the injunctions of the Vedic scriptures and do prohibited activities only return to material worlds after prolonged and agonising suffering in the lower hellish planets when all their demerits have been purged. While ordinary creatures of flora and fauna are reborn again and again incessantly and continuously.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Sri Madhvacharya did not comment on this sloka.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Now Lord Krishna speaks of the path by which there is a return of rebirth in the world of mortals. This path is the path where the manes or ancestors are situated and wherein are stationed the demigods presiding over smoke, night, the dark fortnight of the moon, the six months of the suns waning southern course. The aspirant who is devoted to self aggrandising Vedic activities for attaining the pleasures of the heavenly realms and also for doing public welfare works like excavating drinking water and feeding the poor to gain merit are all considered fruitive actions seeking rewards. After death such aspirants are led by the aforementioned presiding demigods one after another in ascending succession until they reach Svargaloka the heavenly realms where they enjoy the rewards of their material activities until the merits of their worldly deeds are finished, at which time they return to the world of mortals and are born again. Here the words dhumo and ratris meaning smoke and night respectively signify the presiding demigods of Pitriloka the world of the manes.
The Chandogya Upanisad V.X.III-VI states: Those who perform Vedic activities like yagna or propitiation and worship for the sake of acquiring merit as well those doing philanthropic activities such as donating food and land for the sake of acquiring merit, both are guided by the presiding demigods of the smoke, then the night, then the dark moon fortnight and then to the presiding demigod of the sun in its six months waning southern course. These do not reach the presiding demigod of the year as they are routed to Pitriloka and from there to space, then to the heavenly realms where they enjoy rewards of there good deeds until their merits have shrunk to residue and expired. Afterwards these beings return to be reborn in the world of mortals by the same way back which they have come, from the heavenly realms to the space and all the way down to the smoke where they began. But to be reborn they must transition from the smoke to the mist and from the mist to the clouds, from the clouds they transition to rain which falls upon the ground and then transitioning they are born on Earth in the forms of rice, barley and other grains as well as herbs and sesame plants and various types of beans. Thus it is very difficult to evolve from this position because only if these different flora are eaten by human or animal and subsequently emitted as semen into the womb of a fertile female do they become an embryo and entering material existence are able to develop further. The Chandogya Upanisad VII.X.VII states: Accordingly those of righteous conduct in their previous life will take birth as a human in the family of righteous parents. Whereas those of abominable conduct in their previous life will take birth in the abominable wombs of dogs, pigs and unclean beings. Therefore those aspirants for moksa or liberation from material existence should strive to realise the brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence and achieve the path which leads to the cessation of rebirth no longer returning to the material existence as elaborated by Lord Krishna in the previous verse.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
8.25 Dhuman, smoke; and ratrih night, are the deities presiding over smoke and night. Similarly, krsnah, the dark fornight, means the deity of the dark fortnight. Just as before, by sanmasah daksinayanam the six months of the Southern solstice, also is verily meant a deity. Tatra, following this Path; yogi, the yogi who performs sacrifices etc., the man of actions; prapya, having reached; candramasam jyotih, the lunar light-having enjoyed the results (of his actions); nivartate, returns, on their exhaustion.
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
8.24-25 Agnih etc. Dhumah etc. Northern : upper (or upward). Course : the one taken [by the sun] during the period of six months. This course, on account of its illuminating nature, is figuratively described by the words denoting fire etc., and the course, contrary to this, by opposite terms. This course is intercepted with the lunar parts of enjoyment. Hence [it leads to] the return for enjoyment.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
dhumo ratris tatha krsnah
tatra candramasam jyotir
yogi prapya nivartate
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
dhūmaḥ — smoke; rātriḥ — night; tathā — also; kṛṣṇaḥ — the fortnight of the dark moon; ṣaṭ-māsāḥ — the six months; dakṣiṇa-ayanam — when the sun passes on the southern side; tatra — there; cāndramasam — the moon planet; jyotiḥ — the light; yogī — the mystic; prāpya — achieving; nivartate — comes back.