vedeṣu yajñeṣu tapaḥsu caiva
dāneṣu yat puṇya-phalaḿ pradiṣṭam
atyeti tat sarvam idaḿ viditvā
yogī paraḿ sthānam upaiti cādyam
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 8.28
A person who accepts the path of devotional service is not bereft of the results derived from studying the Vedas, performing austere sacrifices, giving charity or pursuing philosophical and fruitive activities. Simply by performing devotional service, he attains all these, and at the end he reaches the supreme eternal abode.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
This verse is the summation of the Seventh and Eighth chapters, which particularly deal with Krishna consciousness and devotional service. One has to study the Vedas under the guidance of the spiritual master and undergo many austerities and penances while living under his care. A brahmacari has to live in the home of the spiritual master just like a servant, and he must beg alms from door to door and bring them to the spiritual master. He takes food only under the master’s order, and if the master neglects to call the student for food that day, the student fasts. These are some of the Vedic principles for observing brahmacarya.
After the student studies the Vedas under the master for a period from five to twenty years, he may become a man of perfect character. Study of the Vedas is not meant for the recreation of armchair speculators, but for the formation of character. After this training, the brahmacari is allowed to enter into household life and marry. When he is a householder, he has to perform many sacrifices so that he may achieve further enlightenment. He must also give charity according to the country, time and candidate, discriminating among charity in goodness, in passion and in ignorance, as described in Bhagavad-gita. Then after retiring from household life, upon accepting the order of vanaprastha, he undergoes severe penances—living in forests, dressing with tree bark, not shaving, etc. By carrying out the orders of brahmacarya, householder life, vanaprastha and finally sannyasa, one becomes elevated to the perfectional stage of life. Some are then elevated to the heavenly kingdoms, and when they become even more advanced they are liberated in the spiritual sky, either in the impersonal brahmajyoti or in the Vaikuntha planets or Krishnaloka. This is the path outlined by Vedic literatures.
The beauty of Krishna consciousness, however, is that by one stroke, by engaging in devotional service, one can surpass all the rituals of the different orders of life. The words idam viditva indicate that one should understand the instructions given by Sri Krishna in this chapter and the Seventh Chapter of Bhagavad-gita. One should try to understand these chapters not by scholarship or mental speculation but by hearing them in association with devotees. Chapters Seven through Twelve are the essence of Bhagavad-gita. The first six and the last six chapters are like coverings for the middle six chapters, which are especially protected by the Lord. If one is fortunate enough to understand Bhagavad-gita—especially these middle six chapters—in the association of devotees, then his life at once becomes glorified beyond all penances, sacrifices, charities, speculations, etc., for one can achieve all the results of these activities simply by Krishna consciousness.
One who has a little faith in Bhagavad-gita should learn Bhagavad-gita from a devotee, because in the beginning of the Fourth Chapter it is stated clearly that Bhagavad-gita can be understood only by devotees; no one else can perfectly understand the purpose of Bhagavad-gita. One should therefore learn Bhagavad-gita from a devotee of Krishna, not from mental speculators. This is a sign of faith. When one searches for a devotee and finally gets a devotee’s association one actually begins to study and understand Bhagavad-gita. By advancement in the association of the devotee one is placed in devotional service, and this service dispels all one’s misgivings about Krishna, or God, and Krishna’s activities, form, pastimes, name and other features. After these misgivings have been perfectly cleared away, one becomes fixed in one’s study. Then one relishes the study of Bhagavad-gita and attains the state of feeling always Krishna conscious. In the advanced stage, one falls completely in love with Krishna. This highest perfectional stage of life enables the devotee to be transferred to Krishna’s abode in the spiritual sky, Goloka Vrindavana, where the devotee becomes eternally happy.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
This verse relates the results of knowing what has been explained in this chapter. Surpassing (atyeti) all the results of other processes, the yogi, being a devotee, attains the best place, which is non-material (param) and eternal (adyam).
The superiority of the devotees has been previously stated. In this chapter, the supreme position of the ananya bhakta among all devotees has been indicated.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
8.28 Whatever fruit is said to accrue for meritorious actions in the form of the regular study of the Vedas Rg, Yajus, Saman and Atharvan as also for the performance of sacrifices, austerities, gifts — all these does not transcend on knowing this, namely the greatness of the Lord as taught in the two chapters (7 and 8). By immense joy arising from the knowledge of this, he regards all these results as negligible as straw. Be being a Yogin, viz., a Jnanin, he reaches the supreme, primal abode which is without beginning and is attainable by such a Jnanin.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
The subject matter of this chapter which ascertained the meaning of the eight questions posed by Arjuna has beens concluded along with its results. Lord Krishna sums it up with the words tat sarvam punya-phalam meaning all those pious rewards. Whatever merit one receives from study of the Vedas, by the performance of yagna or propitiatory rites, by asceticism and penance, by charity and philanthropic activities. One who knows the glorious and pre-eminence of devotion to the Supreme Lord Krishna surpasses and transcends them all as well as whatever action is declared to be meritorious in the Vedic scriptures. Such a being reaches that state of yoga or the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness, that is superior to all. How does one achieve this? By clearly comprehending the intrinsic meaning of the answers expounded to these eight questions and subsequently become a yogi possessed of spiritual knowledge. Such a being assuredly attains the supreme destination which is the origin of all the worlds and has eternal association with the Supreme Lord.
This eighth chapter explicitly explains an easy method of deliverance by the eight-fold path of astutely comprehending the purport of the eight question answered by Lord Krishna.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
The one who has understood and assimilated the truth regarding the purport to Lord Krishna’s unequivocal answers to Arjuna’s eight questions as well as the process of attaining it will never forget the Supreme Lord whether performing activities or not performing activities. Therefore it is stated in the Skanda Purana: Knowing the two paths which lead to the archi-adi the path of light, along with the process, the methodology and the implementation one will not be deluded in the knowledge of the supreme attainment.
Now begins the summation.
One who following these two paths by knowledge of the pre-eminent paramount position of the Supreme Lord realises the brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence which is more meritorious than even study of the Vedas, attains the eternal abode of the Supreme Lord in association with Him.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Thus Lord Krishna concludes this chapter stating the results of ascertaining the intrinsic meaning of the answers to the eight questions asked by Arjuna. The yogi or one perfecting the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness having devotion for the Supreme Lord eclipses all. Such a being fully realising the intrinsic truths revealed in the answers given by Lord Krishna to these eight questions and understands the absolute supremacy of the Supreme Lord surpasses in achievement all the pious merits of those who are devoted to study and reflection of the Vedas, those who perform ritualistic Vedic activities for rewards, those who engage in severe austerities and penance and those who give much charity to others. Such a yogi understands that material goals only lead to temporary rewards and that all meritorious activities performed with any attachment or desire assuredly propels one back into physical existence endlessly. The conclusion is that for such a yogi it is the Supreme Lord Himself that is the only goal and as He is the only goal such a one attains the Supreme Lords and has eternal association with Him in His transcendental abode in the spiritual worlds.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
8.28 Viditva, having known; idam, this-having fully ascertained and practised what was spoken in the course of determining the answers to the seven questions (put by Arjuna in verse 1 and 2); the yogi atyeti, transcends, goes beyond; tat sarvam, all those; punya-phalam, results of righteous deeds, aggregate of rewards; yat, that are; pradistam, declared by the scriptures; with regard to these,viz vedesu, with regard to teh Vedas which have been properly [Sitting facing eastward after having washed one’s hands, face, etc.] studied; yajnesu, with regard to sacrifices performed together with their accessories; tapahsu, with regard to austerities practised correctly [With concentrated mind, intellect, etc.]; ca eva, and also; danesu, with regard to charities rightly [Taking into consideration place, time and fitness of the recipient.] given; and upaiti, he reaches; the param, supreme; sthanam, State of God; adyam, which is primordial, the Cause that existed in the beginning, i.e. Brahman.
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
8.28 Vedesu etc. He goes beyond : he humiliates, because he, by his [constant] remembrance of the Bhagavat, neutralizes all the mental impression of all the activities. When all the actions (their mental impressions) are destroyed, he easily attains the Supreme Siva.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
vedesu yajñesu tapahsu caiva
danesu yat punya-phalam pradistam
atyeti tat sarvam idam viditva
yogi param sthanam upaiti cadyam
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
vedeṣu — in the study of the Vedas; yajñeṣu — in the performances of yajña, sacriﬁce; tapaḥsu — in undergoing different types of austerities; ca — also; eva — certainly; dāneṣu — in giving charities; yat — that which; puṇya-phalam — result of pious work; pradiṣṭam — indicated; atyeti — surpasses; tat sarvam — all those; idam — this; viditvā — knowing; yogī — the devotee; param — supreme; sthānam — abode; upaiti — achieves; ca — also; ādyam — original.