Chapter 12The Path of DevotionVerse 12


Sanskrit Vocal





Commentaries of the Four Authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

as confirmed in the Garga Samhita Canto 10, Chapter 61, Verses 23, 24, 25, 26
Rudra Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Sridhara Swami's Commentary

The renunciation of the rewards of actions is being praised. Knowledge based on Vedic teachings coupled with guidance by guru gives direct realisation of the Supreme Lord Krishna and is superior to even great endeavour without realisation of Him. Meditation based on realisation of Lord Krishna is superior to knowledge of Him. The Mukunda Upanisad III.I.VIII states: Through meditation on the Supreme Lord one realises the absolute. Such a state of meditation naturally leads to lack of desire and renunciation of the rewards of actions which continually practised bestows by Lord Krishna's grace moksa or liberation from samsara or the perpetual cycle of birth and death in the material existence.

Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Madhvacarya's Commentary


Knowledge is superior to performance of an activity without proper knowledge. Still better is meditation with divine knowledge rather than mere knowledge by itself. In the Abhimlan section of the Sama Veda is stated: Better is divine knowledge then mere meditation. Better is the meditation associated with divine knowledge rather then mere knowledge alone because from this comes atma tattva or realization of the soul and the Supreme peace. Along with meditation karma-phala-tyagas or renunciation of the rewards of actions, is also praised and is essential to spiritual success otherwise one would not be qualified. So divine knowledge also associated with renunciation is also recommended. But superior to even renunciation of the rewards of actions is complete equanimity to all actions. So wisdom is the determining factor for the method implemented and is naturally based on qualification and level of development. Renunciation has been expounded upon in previous chapters but now it is being elucidated as an adjunct with meditation. The Gaupavana section states: Superior to meditation without renunciation is meditation with renunciation. It is logical that the importance of renunciation should be deemed worthy of application to meditation for superior to meditation with knowledge is meditation with knowledge exhibiting renunciation of the rewards of meditation for this leads to complete equanimity regarding all actions. Otherwise it could never be possible to achieve peace of mind if one failed to renounce the desire for results and was always hankering for rewards and this is what is being affirmed by Lord Krishna. The Kashayana section states: Superior to meditation with knowledge is non-attachment to performing actions for rewards and the renunciation of the rewards of actions coupled with bhakti or exclusive devotion to the Supreme Lord. Not by renunciation alone is moksa or liberation from material existence possible neither is it possible by meditation with renunciation. It only manifests when they both are in association with bhakti to the Supreme Lord Krishna through the medium of the spiritual master from one of the four authorised sampradayas or empowered channels of disciplic succession as revealed in Vedic scriptures. Otherwise it would be like praising renunciation and meditation by themselves and that is not correct for the reality is that only by bhakti is success guaranteed. An example is that in battle soldiers fight for the kingdom and win the war but the success is deemed attributed to the efforts of the king alone, bhakti is like this.

Now begins the summation.

One who exclusively propitiates the Supreme Lord Krishna considering all other gods as merely aspects of His potencies and thus subservient to Him are known as undeviated and undistracted. Lord Krishna has already confirmed that the rewards solicited from all other gods are only temporary and not eternal because they themselves are not on the eternal platform. Here a query might arise regarding the worship of Sri Laxsmi because she is so inseparable from the Supreme Lord and now this doubt will be specially clarified. When one offers bhakti or exclusive loving devotion to the Supreme Lord by japa or chanting His holy names or by prayers, or by worship or by singing and praising His glories etc. Then it should be understood that these activities are initiated from within by Sri Laxsmi for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord. When one firsts worships other gods and then worships the Supreme Lord it should be understood that there is an acute lack of bhakti and while pleasing to other gods is not acceptable by Sri Laxsmi for it was not performed for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord even if one offers the Supreme Lord the complete rewards received for worshipping the demigods. The activity may be big or small but the Supreme Lord only accepts it if the intention is 100% for His exclusive satisfaction alone. So in conclusion all one's activities should be intended as an offering to the Supreme Lord because from such activities realization dawns and renunciation of the rewards of action arises and liberation from material existence manifests and the Supreme peace is attained.

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Ramanuja's Commentary


5 If the performance of activities for the Supreme Lord is merely an exercise ordered by the mind for the body to enact then in no way can it be considered bhakti or exclusive loving devotion as it being merely a dictate of the mind has no connection to the heart and without passing through the heart there is no possibility of accessing the consciousness of the atma or eternal soul. The mind however great it may be has no qualification or eligibility to access the atma. Thus it would behove an aspirant to pursue the next alternative and attempt to develop atma tattva or soul realisation as instructed by Lord Krishna in verses III. IV and V of this chapter. If after prolonged practice and attempts if atna tattva does not arise because of a lack of inner spiritual development or due to an unstable mind easily distracted or because of weakness in controlling the senses then one should adopt themselves to the contemplation and reflection of the atma as delineated in chapter two as the next alternative. If even this is to difficult to execute with regularity then one should perform activities that please the Supreme Lord and renounce the desire for rewards for it. Such activities are associating with His devotees and rendering service to them, celebrating the appearance days of Him and His avatars or incarnations and fasting from all grains on ekadasi which is the 11th day of the waxing and waning moon. Performing activities in this way without any interest in receiving rewards and benefits will result in the absence of all reactions and thus the cessation of all sins. Thereafter one will achieve peace of mind and from there one becomes a candidate for practising contemplation of the atma. In conclusion aspirants who are inept at performing bhakti are encouraged to perform simpler methods which will step by step gradually bring one up to that platform. Thus alternative methods applicable for the inept who wish to evolve themselves have been succinctly enumerated.

Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Kesava Kasmiri's Commentary

If those seeking moksa or liberation from material existence would wish to develop bhakti or exclusive loving devotion to Lord Krishna which is characterised by completely focusing the mind and the intellect in meditation upon Him alone which is the essential prerequisite for attaining the Supreme Lord. Yet if there is ineligibility in this regard Lord Krishna has compassionately given in descending order alternate methods each succeeding one easier than the preceding one such as continuous practice of thinking exclusively of Him, perform regularly actions of devotion and at least relinquish the desire for the rewards of one's actions. Now we see that He extols and praises renunciation of rewards because it bestows purity of mind and combined with bhakti leads one directly to the Supreme Lord. Superior is knowledge of Vedic scriptures acquired from the teachings at the feet of the spiritual master. Atma tattva or soul realisation is superior to meditation and the Svetasvatara Upanisad I.III states: After passing through abstraction and meditation those who achieved atma tattva perceived the innate power of the Supreme Lord concealed within His own qualities. Atma tattva is not achieved by meditation upon the abstract; but by meditation upon the Supreme Lord combined with renunciation for the rewards of actions atma tattva is certainly achieved and the best means to enhance one's spiritual development. This is because by renouncing the desire for reward for one's activities one no longer is forced to accept the reactions for one's actions and sins are no longer accrued. Thus one achieves the Supreme peace. Lord Krishna has already explained in chapter two, verse 55 that the renunciation of all desires and cravings of the mind bestows the highest bliss and that one who has achieved this is considered to be sthita-prajna or self realised because one's satisfaction comes from the bliss of the atma or eternal soul within. The Katha Upanisad VI.XIV states: When all the desires lodged in one's heart have been given up and released then a mortal being becomes immortal and realises the brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence.

Thus ends commentaries of chapter 12, verse 12 of the Srimad Bhagavad-Gita.

Verse 12

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