arjuna uvāca –
evaṁ satata-yuktā ye bhaktās tvāṁ paryupāsate
ye cāpy-akṣaram avyaktaṁ teṣāṁ ke yoga-vittamāḥ
Arjuna said – O Kṛṣṇa! From all the advice you have given me so far, I have come to know that there are two types of yogīs, namely one kind of yogī that attaches all physical and social works to the bonds of dependence in Your exclusive bhakti and worships You with pure devotion, and the other kind of yogī who accepts all physical and social works as necessary through niṣkāma-karma-yoga and takes support from Your ādhyātmika-yoga worshiping the imperishable and unmanifest nature. Amongst these two types, which is superior?
śrī bhagavān uvāca –
mayy-āveśya mano ye māṁ nitya-yuktā upāsate
śraddhayā parayopetās te me yuktatamā matāḥ
(Kṛṣṇa replied) The devotee who fully dedicates his entire life to bhakti with the help of nirguṇa–śraddhā (pure transcendental faith), and absorbs his mind in Me is the greatest of all yogīs.
ye tv-akṣaram anirdeśyam avyaktaṁ paryupāsate
sarvatra-gam acintyaṁ ca kūṭastham acalaṁ dhruvam
sanniyamyendriya-grāmaṁ sarvatra sama-buddhayaḥ
te prāpnuvanti mām eva sarva-bhūta-hite ratāḥ
Those who worship My imperishable, indescribable, unmanifest, omnipresent, inconceivable, unchanging, inanimate, enduring and non-differentiated nature by regulating all the senses, seeing all things equally, with the intention of benefiting all living beings, also achieve Me after many hardships. Besides Me, there is no worshipable object. Therefore, whoever endeavours to achieve the Supreme Object in any way attains Me.
kleśo’dhikataras teṣām avyaktāsakta-cetasām
avyaktā hi gatir duḥkhaṁ dehavadbhir avāpyate
The difference between the jñāna-yogī and the bhakti-yogī is that after practicing and cultivating the Supreme Object, he achieves the results without fear. The jñāna-yogī is constantly dedicated to the unmanifest Reality, and at the time of practice he experiences difficulty meditating on the opposite. ‘Meditating upon the opposite’ – in other words, by meditating upon that which is contrary to natural perception it thus creates misery for the jīva. At the time of achieving the result, there is no fearlessness because if one does not realise My eternal nature before the time of sādhana has passed, his final destination only creates distress. The jīva is an eternal spiritual element. If he becomes merged within the unmanifest state, then his most acceptable state is annihilated. If his own inherent nature arises, then by rejecting that which opposes his nature, the mood of identifying with the Supreme, there will be trouble. Due to having a material body, if the jīva begins to meditate upon the unmanifest, the result he achieves is in the form of misery during the time of practice and at the time of attaining the result. In reality, the jīva is caitanya-svarūpa (intrinsically conscious by nature) and has a specific spiritual form. Thus one should know that the unmanifest condition is completely contrary to the jīva’s nature and creates a state of misery. Bhakti-yoga creates auspiciousness for the jīva. If jñāna-yoga is independent of bhakti, it creates inauspiciousness everywhere. Therefore, the adhyātma-yoga achieved by worshipping the formless, unchanging, omnipotent and non-differentiated nature is not approved.
ye tu sarvāṇi karmāṇi mayi sannyasya mat-parāḥ
ananyenaiva yogena māṁ dhyāyanta upāsate
teṣām ahaṁ samuddhartā mṛtyu-saṁsāra-sāgarāt
bhavāmi na cirāt pārtha mayy-āveśita-cetasām
For those who accept support from My divine nature, who consider all physical and social activities to be completely subservient to My devotion, and through exclusive bhakti-yoga in relation to Me, meditate upon My eternal form and worship Me and whose minds are immerses in thoughts of Me, I swiftly deliver them from the deadly ocean of saṁsāra. In other words, I give them freedom from the state of bondage within māyika saṁsāra, and when the bondage of māyā is removed, I protect the jīvātmā from death in the form of abheda-buddhi (considering himself to be non-different from Me in all respects). There is no help forthcoming to those persons with abheda-buddhi whose minds are attached to the unmanifest. It is the cause of inauspiciousness. My promise is, ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham (‘In whatever way people surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly’). By this it is understood that the unmanifest nature of those persons who meditate upon the unmanifest merges within Me. What is My loss? By attaining such a destination, the jīva who follows the philosophy of non-difference become bereft of the superiority of their own true nature.
mayy-eva mana ādhatsva mayi buddhiṁ niveśaya
nivasiṣyasi mayy eva ata ūrdhvaṁ na saṁśayaḥ
Remember Me by fixing Your mind upon My eternal divine nature. Apply your discretionary intelligence to Me, and become situated in bhagavat-tattva (the reality of the Absolute). By doing so, you will achieve the greatest result of sādhana-bhakti, which is unconditional prema.
atha cittaṁ samādhātuṁ na śaknoṣi mayi sthiram
abhyāsa-yogena tato mām icchāptuṁ dhanañjaya
Know that what I have said concerning unconditional prema, that is a matter of concentrating the antaḥkaraṇa (internal senses) upon Me. Constant practice (abhyāsa) is necessary while engaging in sādhana. If you are unable to concentrate the mind upon Me, then it is better for you to engage in abhyāsa-yoga (connecting to Me through constant practice).
abhyāse’pyasamartho’si mat-karma-paramo bhava
mad-artham api karmāṇi kurvan siddhim avāpsyasi
If you are unable to engage in constant practice, then offer your actions unto Me. if you do so, you will gradually achieve constant practice and eventually attain perfection in the form of mental stability in meditating upon that Reality who possesses qualities.
athaitad apy-aśakto’si kartuṁ mad-yogam āśritaḥ
sarva-karma-phala-tyāgaṁ tataḥ kuru yatātmavān
If you are unable to offer them unto Me, then engage in work related to Me, then being established in the self, give up the results of all your activities.
śreyo hi jñānam abhyāsāj jñānād dhyānaṁ viśiṣyate
dhyānāt karma-phala-tyāgas tyāgāc cāntir anantaram
O Arjuna! Sādhana-bhakti is the only method to achieve unconditional prema. That bhakti-yoga is twofold. In other words, the way of concentrating the antaḥkaraṇa upon Bhagavān and engaging the bahiṣkaraṇa (external senses) in action. Activities in relation to the antaḥkaraṇa being fixed upon Bhagavān are threefold, namely smaraṇātmaka (remembrance), mananātmaka (contemplation) and abhyāsātmaka (constant practice). However, for those who possess dull minds, these three kinds of activities for the antaḥkaraṇa are inaccessible. Śravaṇa and kīrtana are for the bahiṣkaraṇa, in other words, external activities which are accessible to all. Thus contemplation (mananātmaka) or intelligence in relation to Me is superior knowledge – that is superior to constant practice (abhyāsātmaka). After constant practice, one may endeavour to meditate. However, while meditating, the results of constant practice arises, then meditation is easily fulfilled. Therefore meditation is superior to mere jñāna. That is because when meditation is steady, desires for the pleasure of Svarga or the bliss of mokṣa disappear. When these two desires are rejected, one achieves serenity in the form of preventing the senses from dwelling on all objects, with the exception of My form and qualities.
adveṣṭā sarva-bhūtānāṁ maitraḥ karuṇa eva ca
nirmamo nirahaṅkāraḥ sama-duḥkha-sukhaḥ kṣamī
By nature, such a peaceful devotee is completely devoid of envy towards all living beings, in other words, if any person is envious towards him, he is not envious towards them. Rather, he is friendly to all. “How to save those unfortunate jīvas who are traversing the wrong path?” In this regard, he is compassionate. He is unattached to the physical body, in other words, he is devoid of false ego. If he is attacked by others, he considers it to be a result of his prārabdha-karma. Therefore he is tolerant.
santuṣṭaḥ satataṁ yogī yatātmā dṛḍha-niścayaḥ
mayy-arpita-mano-buddhir yo mad-bhaktaḥ sa me priyaḥ
He is always satisfied with whatever comes of its own accord while maintaining the body. In order to achieve the results of his practice, he is steady in yoga. He has determination and always makes endeavours to attain unconditional prema.
yasmān nodvijate loko lokān nodvijate ca yaḥ
harṣāmarṣa-bhayodvegair mukto yaḥ sa ca me priyaḥ
My peaceful devotee who does not give any distress to other persons and is not distressed by others, and is free from pleasures and pains, namely anger, fear and misery, is most dear to Me.
anapekṣaḥ śucir dakṣa udāsīno gata-vyathaḥ
sarvārambha-parityāgī yo mad-bhaktaḥ sa me priyaḥ
My devotee, who is impartial towards worldly deeds, who is pure, expert, detached, devoid of anguish, and without desire for any result from his activities, is dear to Me.
yo na hṛṣyati na dveṣṭi na śocati na kāṅkṣati
śubhāśubha-parityāgī bhaktimān yaḥ sa me priyaḥ
One who does not hope for any mundane result nor finds internal pleasure when attaining it, who does not become envious or sad when mundane results are suspended, and does not identify with anything auspicious or inauspicious – such a person is a devotee and dear to Me.
samaḥ śatrau ca mitre ca tathā mānāpamānayoḥ
śītoṣṇa-sukha-duḥkheṣu samaḥ saṅga-vivarjitaḥ
tulya-nindā-stutir maunī santuṣṭo yena kenacit
aniketaḥ sthira-matir bhaktimān me priyo naraḥ
My devotee is always impartial towards enemies and friends, he is equipoised in heat and cold or happiness and distress, always detached, maintains an equilibrium in the face of criticism and praise, content with whatever is there, naturally quiet, devoid of household attachments and has naturally achieved a steady mind – he is dear to Me.
ye tu dharmyāmṛtam idaṁ yathoktaṁ paryupāsate
śraddadhānā mat-paramā bhaktās te’tīva me priyāḥ
Those who have faith in Me and perfectly worship this nectarean dharma that has been described by Me – they are My devotees. Thus, they are most dear to Me. The jīvas should take refuge in this systematic path that I have described. By this methodical course, a jīva can achieve unconditional prema.
Thus ends Chapter Twelve entitled Bhakti Yoga from the conversation between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna in the Upaniṣad known as Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā, the yoga-śāstra of divine knowledge, from the Bhīṣma-parva of Mahābhārata, the literature revealed by Vyāsa in one hundred thousand verses.
Thus ends the translation and commentary of the Twelfth Chapter