Shrimad Bhagavad-gita

by Narayana Gosvami | 2013 | 327,105 words

The Bhagavad-gita Verse 18.56, English translation, including the Vaishnava commentaries Sarartha-varsini-tika, Prakashika-vritti and Rasika-ranjana (excerpts). This is verse Verse 18.56 from the chapter 18 called “Moksha-yoga (the Yoga of Liberation)”

Sanskrit text, Unicode transliteration, Word-for-word and English translation of verse 18.56:

सर्व-कर्माण्य् अपि सदा कुर्वाणो मद्-व्यपाश्रयः ।
मत्-प्रसादाद् अवाप्नोति शाश्वतं पदम् अव्ययम् ॥ ५६ ॥

sarva-karmāṇy api sadā kurvāṇo mad-vyapāśrayaḥ |
mat-prasādād avāpnoti śāśvataṃ padam avyayam
|| 56 ||

sarva-karmāṇi–all sorts of activities; api–even though; sadā–always; kurvāṇaḥ–performing; mat-vyapāśrayaḥ–My exclusive devotee; mat-prasādāt–by My grace; avāpnoti–attains; śāśvatam–the eternal; padam–abode of Vaikuntha; avyayam–imperishable.

By My grace, My exclusive devotee attains the eternal and imper-ishable realm of Vaikuṇṭha, even though he always engages in various types of duties.

Commentary: Sārārtha-Varṣiṇī Ṭīkā

(By Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura; the innermost intention of the commentary named ‘the shower of essential meanings’)

“It was explained earlier that a jñānī ultimately achieves the result of sāyujya-mukti, merging with My effulgence, by gradually giving up the results of his prescribed duties, or karma. He then gives up the karma itself and finally, he abandons jñāna. But how do My devotees attain Me?” To explain this, Srī Bhagavān speaks this verse beginning with sarva. “If even those who are inferior, that is, those who are sakāma (possessing material desires) attain the supreme destination by taking shelter of Me, what can be said of the destination of devotees who are niṣkāma (without such desires)?”

Even those who engage in all types of prescribed duties, such as regular (nitya), occasional (naimittika), fruitive (kāmya) and social activities, and who maintain their sons, daughters and others, achieve the indestructible destination, what to speak of those who give up prescribed duties, mystic perfection, knowledge, devotion to various demigods and all other material desires.

“Here, the statement āśrayate (he takes shelter) means that he wholeheartedly serves Me.” The prefix āṅ on the word śraya implies that service is certainly predominant. The word api (also) in the phrase karmaṇy api indicates the inferiority of prescribed duty and implies that it is secondary for such people. In other words, such people perform bhakti that is mixed with karma, prescribed action, not prescribed action that is mixed with bhakti. This means that they are not excessively engrossed in the karma that was described in the first six chapters. The words śāśvataṃ padam mean ‘they attain My eternal abodes such as Vaikuṇṭha, Mathurā, Dvārakā and Ayodhyā.’

But how will these abodes survive the total annihilation (mahā-pralaya)? In response to this, Śrī Bhagavān says avyayam. “My abodes are not destroyed at that time; they remain unaffected. This is possible only by My inconceivable potency.”

One may raise the following doubt: “On the one hand, a jñānī attains sāyujya, the liberation of merging with the Supreme Spirit, only after achieving naiṣkarmya, action without reaction. This occurs as a result of his giving up all sense enjoyment, performing painful austerities and so forth for many lifetimes. Your devotees, however, attain Your eternal abode, even though they may perform their duty with material desires. Is this solely because they have taken shelter of You?” In response to this Śrī Bhagavān says, “This takes place by My mercy. Know that My sweet will is beyond all reason.”

Commentary: Sārārtha-Varṣiṇī Prakāśikā-vṛtti

(By Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja; the explanation that illuminates the commentary named Sārārtha-varṣiṇī)

This verse illustrates the speciality of bhakti and the bhakta. As one selflessly performs his pre-scribed duty as an offering to Bhagavān, one’s heart becomes increasingly purified and gradually one attains knowledge, or jñāna. “Such jñānīs then become qualified to attain bhakti to Me. By My causeless mercy, however, My aikāntika-bhaktas, who are exclusively dedicated to Me, can attain My supreme abode in any condition, simply by taking shelter of pure devotion. They are not bound by the results of any duty, even while performing obligatory (nitya), causal (naimittika) and fruitive (kāmya) activities. By My mercy, they quickly attain Vaikuṇṭha and Goloka, My eternal abodes.” This indicates the supremely merciful nature of Bhagavān in relation to His aikāntika-bhaktas. Bhagavān Himself says in the Gītā (9.30), “api cet su-durācāro bhajate mām ananya-bhāk–even if a man’s conduct is most abominable, if he engages in exclusive devotion to Me, he is to be accepted as a devotee.”

Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura quotes Kṛṣṇa as saying, “I have explained that the Vedic process is the confidential path to attaining Me. First one worships Bhagavān by selflessly offering Him the fruit of one’s prescribed duty (niṣkāma-karma-yoga). In this way, one attains knowledge (jñāna). Through that knowledge, one attains devotion (bhakti). I am lucidly describing the first of these three processes. Now, please listen as I explain how I am achieved by the second process, namely, worship of Me.

“Being especially attracted to Me, the devotee takes exclusive shelter of Me, even though he has material desires. Considering Me to be the Supreme Lord, he offers all of his activities to Me. By My mercy he finally attains that nirguṇa-bhakti (bhakti beyond the modes of nature), the imperishable and eternal position.”

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