patraḿ puṣpaḿ phalaḿ toyaḿ
yo me bhaktyā prayacchati
tad ahaḿ bhakty-upahṛtam
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 9.26
If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
For the intelligent person, it is essential to be in Krishna consciousness, engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, in order to achieve a permanent, blissful abode for eternal happiness. The process of achieving such a marvelous result is very easy and can be attempted even by the poorest of the poor, without any kind of qualification. The only qualification required in this connection is to be a pure devotee of the Lord. It does not matter what one is or where one is situated. The process is so easy that even a leaf or a little water or fruit can be offered to the Supreme Lord in genuine love and the Lord will be pleased to accept it. No one, therefore, can be barred from Krishna consciousness, because it is so easy and universal. Who is such a fool that he does not want to be Krishna conscious by this simple method and thus attain the highest perfectional life of eternity, bliss and knowledge? Krishna wants only loving service and nothing more. Krishna accepts even a little flower from His pure devotee. He does not want any kind of offering from a nondevotee. He is not in need of anything from anyone, because He is self-sufficient, and yet He accepts the offering of His devotee in an exchange of love and affection. To develop Krishna consciousness is the highest perfection of life. Bhakti is mentioned twice in this verse in order to declare more emphatically that bhakti, or devotional service, is the only means to approach Krishna. No other condition, such as becoming a brahmana. a learned scholar, a very rich man or a great philosopher, can induce Krishna to accept some offering. Without the basic principle of bhakti, nothing can induce the Lord to agree to accept anything from anyone. Bhakti is never causal. The process is eternal. It is direct action in service to the absolute whole.
Here Lord Krishna, having established that He is the only enjoyer, the primeval Lord and the real object of all sacrificial offerings, reveals what types of sacrifices He desires to be offered. If one wishes to engage in devotional service to the Supreme in order to be purified and to reach the goal of life—the transcendental loving service of God—then one should find out what the Lord desires of him. One who loves Krishna will give Him whatever He wants, and he avoids offering anything which is undesirable or unasked. Thus meat, fish and eggs should not be offered to Krishna. If He desired such things as offerings, He would have said so. Instead He clearly requests that a leaf, fruit, flowers and water be given to Him, and He says of this offering, “I will accept it.” Therefore, we should understand that He will not accept meat, fish and eggs. Vegetables, grains, fruits, milk and water are the proper foods for human beings and are prescribed by Lord Krishna Himself. Whatever else we eat cannot be offered to Him, since He will not accept it. Thus we cannot be acting on the level of loving devotion if we offer such foods.
In the Third Chapter, verse thirteen, Sri Krishna explains that only the remains of sacrifice are purified and fit for consumption by those who are seeking advancement in life and release from the clutches of the material entanglement. Those who do not make an offering of their food, He says in the same verse, are eating only sin. In other words, their every mouthful is simply deepening their involvement in the complexities of material nature. But preparing nice, simple vegetable dishes, offering them before the picture or Deity of Lord Krishna and bowing down and praying for Him to accept such a humble offering enables one to advance steadily in life, to purify the body, and to create fine brain tissues which will lead to clear thinking. Above all, the offering should be made with an attitude of love. Krishna has no need of food, since He already possesses everything that be, yet He will accept the offering of one who desires to please Him in that way. The important element, in preparation, in serving and in offering, is to act with love for Krishna.
The impersonalist philosophers, who wish to maintain that the Absolute Truth is without senses, cannot comprehend this verse of Bhagavad-gita. To them, it is either a metaphor or proof of the mundane character of Krishna, the speaker of the Bhagavad-gita. But, in actuality, Krishna, the Supreme Godhead, has senses, and it is stated that His senses are interchangeable; in other words, one sense can perform the function of any other. This is what it means to say that Krishna is absolute. Lacking senses, He could hardly be considered full in all opulences. In the Seventh Chapter, Krishna has explained that He impregnates the living entities into material nature. This is done by His looking upon material nature. And so in this instance, Krishna’s hearing the devotee’s words of love in offering foodstuffs is wholly identical with His eating and actually tasting. This point should be emphasized: because of His absolute position, His hearing is wholly identical with His eating and tasting. Only the devotee, who accepts Krishna as He describes Himself, without interpretation, can understand that the Supreme Absolute Truth can eat food and enjoy it.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
For the worshippers of the devatas, there is extreme trouble, but this not so for my devotees. In this verse, the word bhakyta in the instrumental case literally means “by the devotional process.” But then with the next phrase bhakty upahrtam (offered by the process of bhakti), there would be unnecessary repetition. The sentence would read, “I accept that which is offered by the process of devotion from whoever offers by the process of devotion.” Thus the word bhakya means “with devotion” indicating in this sentence a person with genuine devotion, the devotee. Thus, I do not accept what is offered by persons who are not my devotees with only some temporary devotion. But whatever my devotee gives, I enjoy in a suitable way (asnami). What type of offering is it? It is not given because someone told him to offer it, but it is given out of love. But if my devotee has an impure body, I do not accept even that offering. He has pure body (prayatatmanah, ritually pure body). This excludes persons during menstrual cycle or with other impurities. However, the word prayata atmanah can also mean a person with pure mind. No one except my devotee has a pure mind.
As Pariksit says:
dhautatma purusah krsna-pada-mulam na muncati
A pure devotee of the Lord whose heart has once been cleansed by the process of devotional service never relinquishes the lotus feet of Lord Krishna, for they fully satisfy him, as a traveler is satisfied at home after a troubled journey. SB 2.8.6
The sign of their purity is the fact that they cannot give up the service to my lotus feet. Even if there is a trace of lust or anger it is insignificant, like the bite of a toothless snake.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
9.26 Whoever offers to Me with true devotion a leaf, or a flower, or a fruit or water, which can be easily obtained, I accept it. That true devotion is love of such an exalted kind that the devotee cannot sustain himself without making such offering; the devotee has no extraneous purpose other than serving Me. Such an offering coming from a heart rendered pure with that singleness of purpose of considering the offering as an end in itself — I, the Lord of the universe, whose sport consists in the origin, maintenance and dissolution of the entire world, who has all desires fulfilled, whose will is always accomplished, whose auspicious attributes are unlimited and unsurpassed, who is enjoying the infinite and unsurpassed bliss that is in Myself — I accept and enjoy the aforesaid type of offering, as if I was obtaining a desired object far beyond the range of My hopes. Thus it is declared in the Moksa-dharma: “Whatever acts are consecrated by those whose intellects are concentrated in single-pointed devotion, all these, the Lord Himself accepts on His head.” (Ma. Bha. Sa., 340.64) Sri Krsna proceeds to say: As there is this distinctive excellence, incomprehensible by speech and mind in respect of these great men called the Jnanins, you also, following them, become a Jnanin, i.e., have your self and all your belongings ‘bent down,’ i.e., dedicated, under the weight of Bhakti as prescribed earlier. Be always singing My praises, doing My services, worshipping Me and prostrating before Me; also perform your secular and Vedic duties, periodical and occasional, in this manner.’
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
Thus it has been revealed that the devotees of the Supreme Lord attain eternal benedictions and now Lord Krishna explains how simple and easy it is to render bhakti or exclusive loving devotion unto Him. One who has no position in society who is penniless but clean externally and cleansed internally. If such a being offers the Supreme Lord a fruit or flower, or some water or even a leaf to the Supreme Lord with devotion in their heart He will gladly accept and transcendentally enjoy with great pleasure such simple things. Unlike the demigods who will only accept offerings of great opulence and other petty gods who expect one to perform very unreasonable and sometimes horrendous requests to prove one’s allegiance; the Supreme Lord Krishna possessing eternal existence, unlimited knowledge and immeasurable bliss as well as all superlative qualities and excellent attributes is not half as pleased by opulent, ostentatious offerings as He is pleased by offerings imbued and saturated by the loving devotion of bhakti. Therefore whatever simple or minute offering is given to Him by His devotee He happily accepts even if it is only a leaf.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Perchance one may assume that since Lord Krishna is in the paramount position as the Supreme Lord and God of all lords and gods then His worship and propitiation will be the most complicated and difficult and so worship of lesser gods is easier. To clear this misconception Lord Krishna states me bhaktya prayacchati meaning if one offers to Him with devotion. As it is only possible that His devotees have devotion for Him it is natural that He only accepts offerings from His devotees. The Varaha Purana states that: Offerings from those who are not His devotees by unrighteous means does not lead to positive results. Exclusively by bhakti or loving devotion for His satisfaction does the Supreme Lord become pleased. The Mahabharata has stated that: One who is in communion with the Supreme Lord through bhakti is revered by all. Solely by bhakti to the Supreme Lord exclusively is one considered in this world to be beyond the sway of the three gunas being the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance and beyond the pull of their own self interest for one has communion with the Supreme Lord externally as the all pervading cognisant and internally as paramatma the all pervasive supreme soul in all sentient beings.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Here it can be discerned that unlike the deities of other gods who need extensive exertion and effort to gain their benedictions, the devotees of Lord Krishna feel perfectly at ease in worshipping Him. This is what He is indicating by the words me bhaktya prayacchati meaning offering to Him with loving devotion. Even if one of sinless mind and pure heart fully focusing on the Supreme Lord offers Him something that is obtained without effort such as water or even a leaf or flower; if it is imbued with devotion it is sanctified and the Supreme Lord, who is the fully content and cognisant controller of the entire creation indecipherable by Brahma and Shiva, becomes pleased and indeed He feels indebted to such a devotee. The Narayaniya section of Mahabharata states: Brahma, Shiva, the demigods, other gods, the Daityas, Danavas, Raksasas, Asuras, celestial sages, the Nagas, Garuda, Gandharvas, Siddhas and royal sages that whatever oblations either sacrificial or ancestral all ends up automatically at the feet of the Supreme Lord. But whatever action is performed with bhakti or exclusive loving devotion to Him, He accepts with the utmost appreciative and affectionate love.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
9.26 Yah, whoever; prayaccati, offers; me, Me; bhaktya, with devotion; patram, a leaf; puspam, a flower phalam, a fruit; or toyam, water; asnami, I accept; tat, that (gift)-leaf etc.; prayata-atmanah, of the pure-hearted man; which has been bhakti-upahrtam devotionally presented. Since this is so, therefore-
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
9.23-26 Ye’ pi etc. upto prayatatmanah. Even those who worship [gods] with other names, they too [in fact] worship Me alone, becaue there is nothing (no god) to be worshipped apart from the Brahman. But the difference is that [they do so] by non-injunction. Non-injunction : different injunctions. [This amounts to saying that] having the innate nature of the Absolute Brahman-Existence, I am indeed worshipped by manifold injunctions (i.e., sacrifices enjoined by injunctions). But non-injunction should not be explained as ‘by defective injunction’ as it has been done by others (other commentators), who acquire dirts of great sins by insulting other systems of philosophy. If their view is correct then the declarations that are actually found viz., ‘They offer sacrifice to Me alone’, and ‘I am alone the enjoyer of all sacrifices’ – all would be inconsistent. Enough of talk with the sinful ones. Our preceptors, however, explain [ye’pyanya-etc.] as follows : Those who, following the principle of the doctrine of duality consider certain deity as different from their own Self and as devoid of the innate nature of the Brahman, and offer sacrifice to that deity only-but it is only to Me, their own Self that even those men offer their sacrifices, however by non-injunction i.e. by faulty injunction of the nature of duality-view. That is why [the Lord] says (in verse 25) ‘They do not recognise Me, their own Self, correctly as that deity itself, i.e., as the enjoyer [of the oblation of the sacrifice]. Hence they move away from My nature . Why ? By being votaries of gods, they attain the gods etc. (verse 26). It amounts to say that this [fact of attaining these gods] is itself nothing but moving away [from Me, the Self]. On the other hand, those who realise My nature (i.e. Me) as being not different [from their Self], they offer sacrifices to Me alone, even though those sacrifices etc. are for the gods, goblins and manes.’ [The Lord] is going to conclude [the present topic] as : ‘(Thus) offering sacrifice to Me they attain Me alone.’ (IX-29,35). But that alone is called a deity which is aimed at [according to injunction], for offering things (i.e. oblation). Hence, how can a sacrifice be offered to one’s own Self, a category that cannot be aimed at ? For example, there is the injunction: ‘The oblation [of rice] of the rite prayana, crooked in the milk, is intended for the deity Aditi’; and hence this Aditi becomes the object intended [in the sacrifice], because that particular deity is an adjunct of an injunction, and because it is included in the injunction as one to be aimed at. But [in the present case], there is no injunction that concerns the Self. Having [these objections] in mind [the Lord] says : [They offer sacrifice] to Me following non-injunction. The idea is this : An injunction is required only in the case of a deity that is different from one’s own Self. For, the injunction is one of the nature of imparting the knowledge only of that particular thing which is not known [otherwise]. But, one’s own Self, the Absolute Lord, is known, not following any injunction. For, the knowledge of the Self is not brought by injunction. Certainly no action is undertaken not aiming the Self. Therefore in all cases [of offerings], intended for the deities like Indra etc., this Self of one’s own is certainly intended , as the Self is, by nature, the illuminator of the entire Universe; as It is like a thread in a garland; and as It is illumining [on Its own accord], asserting Its superiority [over all others] and only serving as a background (bhittih, ‘a screen’, or ‘a wall’) of the manifestations of the deity so intended by him [in the sacrifice]. Thus it is established by logic that even the votaries of gods offer sacrifices to Me (the Absolute) alone, becuase ‘I’ depends on no injunction. As far as these sacrificers are concerned, the principal effect of the sacrifice viz., attaining ‘Me’, is not intended by them as their own. On the other hand, they are very much satisfied with attaining the status of Indra etc., just as a priest is satisfied with limited fees. To indicate this, the parasmaipada form (yajanti) [is used]. For, it has been stated by myself (Ag.) [else-where] as : ‘One, who knows the Vedas and does not know [to intend for] the status of (or the word) Sambhu (the Absolute), would feel afflicted in despair. [For], aspiring for the heaven, and [hence] rejecting the status of [the actual] performer of of sacrifice (yajamana), [but at the same time] performing sacrifice for others (yajan), he has become a [mere] priest in the sacrifice. Indeed, the divergently flowing floods of taste for action, without exception, – even though they flow from the Absolute consciousness – do not bestow [on the performer] the mighty ocean of Bliss of one’s own Self if they do not gain a complete stability’ Thus whosoever realises in the said manner, his sacrifice, though aimed at the deities like Indra, is in fact a sacrifice offered to the Absolute Lord. Whatever may be the other actions of his, they too become acts of worshipping his own Self, the Absolute Lord, as It alone is intended in all his action. This [the Lord] says :
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
patram puspam phalam toyam
yo me bhaktya prayacchati
tad aham bhakty-upahrtam
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
patram — a leaf; puṣpam — a ﬂower; phalam — a fruit; toyam — water; yaḥ — whoever; me — unto Me; bhaktyā — with devotion; prayacchati — offers; tat — that; aham — I; bhakti-upahṛtam — offered in devotion; aśnāmi — accept; prayata-ātmanaḥ — from one in pure consciousness.