kaviḿ purāṇam anuśāsitāram
aṇor aṇīyāḿsam anusmared yaḥ
sarvasya dhātāram acintya-rūpam
āditya-varṇaḿ tamasaḥ parastāt
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 8.9
One should meditate upon the Supreme Person as the one who knows everything, as He who is the oldest, who is the controller, who is smaller than the smallest, who is the maintainer of everything, who is beyond all material conception, who is inconceivable, and who is always a person. He is luminous like the sun, and He is transcendental, beyond this material nature.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
The process of thinking of the Supreme is mentioned in this verse. The foremost point is that He is not impersonal or void. One cannot meditate on something impersonal or void. That is very difficult. The process of thinking of Krishna, however, is very easy and is factually stated herein. First of all, the Lord is purusha, a person—we think of the person Rama and the person Krishna. And whether one thinks of Rama or of Krishna, what He is like is described in this verse of Bhagavad-gita. The Lord is kavi; that is, He knows past, present and future and therefore knows everything. He is the oldest personality because He is the origin of everything; everything is born out of Him. He is also the supreme controller of the universe, and He is the maintainer and instructor of humanity. He is smaller than the smallest. The living entity is one ten-thousandth part of the tip of a hair, but the Lord is so inconceivably small that He enters into the heart of this particle. Therefore He is called smaller than the smallest. As the Supreme, He can enter into the atom and into the heart of the smallest and control him as the Supersoul. Although so small, He is still all-pervading and is maintaining everything. By Him all these planetary systems are sustained. We often wonder how these big planets are floating in the air. It is stated here that the Supreme Lord, by His inconceivable energy, is sustaining all these big planets and systems of galaxies. The word acintya (“inconceivable”) is very significant in this connection. God’s energy is beyond our conception, beyond our thinking jurisdiction, and is therefore called inconceivable (acintya). Who can argue this point? He pervades this material world and yet is beyond it. We cannot comprehend even this material world, which is insignificant compared to the spiritual world—so how can we comprehend what is beyond? Acintya means that which is beyond this material world, that which our argument, logic and philosophical speculation cannot touch, that which is inconceivable. Therefore intelligent persons, avoiding useless argument and speculation, should accept what is stated in scriptures like the Vedas, Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam and follow the principles they set down. This will lead one to understanding.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
Please see text 10 for Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur’s combined commentary to texts 9 and 10.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
8.9 – 8.10 He who focusses his life-breath between the eyebrows at the time of death with a mind rendered unswerving through its purification achieved by the strength of Yoga conjoined with Bhakti practised day after day; and he who contemplates on the ‘Kavi’ i.e., the Omniscient, the ‘Primeval’, i.e., who existed always, ‘the Ruler,’ i.e., who governs the universe, ‘who is subtler than the subtle,’ i.e., who is subtler than the individual self, ‘who is the Dhata’ of all, i.e., the creator of all, ‘whose nature is inconceivable,’ i.e., whose nature is other than everything else, ‘who is sun-coloured and beyond darkness,’ i.e., who possesses a divine form peculiar to Himself — he who concentrates on Him, the Divine Person described above, between the eyebrows, attains Him alone. He attains His state and comes to have power and glory similar to His. Such is the meaning. Then He describes the mode of meditation to be adopted by the seeker of Kaivalya or the Jijnasu (i.e., of one who seeks to know his own self or Atman in contrast to one whose object is God-realisation).
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
Again it is iterated by Lord Krishna about the specifics of the Supreme Being to be meditated upon. The verse begins with kavim meaning omniscient,the Supreme Being knows everything. He is puranam or beginningless, existing eternally. He is anusasitaram or the regulator of creation. He is less perceptible then the anor or atom, subtler than the subtlest. He is dhataram or the sustainer of everything, of infinite glory. He is acintya-rupam or of divine inconceivable form, not comprehensible to the mind and intellect of the impure. He is aditya-varnam or self resplendent like the sun. He is parastat or transcendental to material nature. The Svetasvatara Upanisad III.VIII states: I have known that Supreme Being who exists beyond material nature and who is resplendent like the sun.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Now Lord Krishna speaks about the goal in this verse. The word kavim means omniscient, one who knows everything. The Brahma Purana states: The Supreme Being is kavi or all knowing. He is the seer of everything because He knows all things. The word dhaaratam means sustainer, maintainer. What does this also indicate? That the Supreme Being is the maintainer and sustainer of supreme wisdom for those living entities so inclined. The Moksa Dharma states: Commencing with Brahma the architect of the universes and Rudra the termination principle of the universes, all by the grace of the Supreme Personality desiring the Ultimate Reality achieve their goal. He is acintya or inconceivable by the mind and senses. He is tamasah parastat or transcendental to the constraints of the physical body as well as the unmanifest, far beyond the scope of prakriti or the material substratum pervading all existence which is in obscurity and darkness. The Pippalada Samhita states: Death is indeed tamas or darkness but the illumination emanating from the immortal form of the Supreme Being is transcendental to the dark pale of death.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Beginning with the word kavin meaning omniscient Lord Krishna succinctly defines the characteristics of the Supreme Being to be revealed. He who is puranam or without beginning, anusasitaram or the ruler of all, acintya or inconceivable, dhataram the universal sustainer, aditya-varnam or effulgent like the sun. Such a Supreme Being is tamasah parastat or transcendental to the darkness of material nature and time, completely different.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
8.9 Yah, he who, anyone who; anusmaret, meditates on; kavim, the Omniscient, the Knower of things past, present and future; puranam, the Ancient, the Eternal; anusasitaram, the Ruler, the Lord of the whole Universe; aniyamsam, subtler; anoh, than the subtle; dhataram, the Ordainer; sarvasya, of every-thing-one who grants the fruits of actions, in all their varieties, individually to all creatures; acintya-rupam, who is of inconceivable form-His form, though always existing, defies being conceived of by anybody; aditya-varnam, who is effulgent like the sun, who is manifest as eternal Consciousness like the effulgence of the sun; and parastat, beyond; tamasah, darkness-beyond the darkness of delusion in the form of ignorance-(he attains the supreme Person). This verse is to be connected with the earlier itself thus: ‘by meditating (on Him)…he attains Him.’ Further,
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
8.9-10 Kavim etc. Prayana-etc. He who would meditate in this manner (i.e. as described in the verse) etc. The Sun-coloured. The Sun-colour does not delmit the Absolute (Vasudeva-tattva). However, a comparison with the sun is drawn because the absolute too transcends the darkness of ignorance consisting of the varied wrong notions, like fancying forms etc. This is the idea here. In between the eye-brows : [This may be understood] as above.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
kavim puranam anusasitaram
anor aniyamsam anusmared yah
sarvasya dhataram acintya-rupam
aditya-varnam tamasah parastat
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
kavim — the one who knows everything; purāṇam — the oldest; anuśāsitāram — the controller; aṇoḥ — than the atom; aṇīyāḿsam — smaller; anusmaret — always thinks of; yaḥ — one who; sarvasya — of everything; dhātāram — the maintainer; acintya — inconceivable; rūpam — whose form; āditya-varṇam — luminous like the sun; tamasaḥ — to darkness; parastāt — transcendental.