किं तद् ब्रह्म किमध्यात्मं किं कर्म पुरुषोत्तम ।
अधिभूतं च किं प्रोक्तमधिदैवं किमुच्यते ॥१॥
अधियज्ञः कथं कोऽत्र देहेऽस्मिन्मधुसूदन ।
प्रयाणकाले च कथं ज्ञेयोऽसि नियतात्मभिः ॥२॥
arjuna uvāca –
kiṁ tad-brahma kim adhyātmaṁ kiṁ karma puruṣottama
adhibhūtaṁ ca kiṁ proktam adhidaivaṁ kim ucyate
adhiyajñaḥ kathaṁ ko’tra dehe’smin madhusūdana
prayāṇa-kāle ca kathaṁ jñeyo’si niyatātmabhiḥ
Arjuna inquired: O Puruṣottama (Supreme Person), what is Brahman? What is the self? What is karma? What is action? What is this material manifestation? Who are the demigods? Who is the object of sacrifice and how does He dwell within the body? O Madhusūdana, how can You be known by those who are self-controlled at the time of death?
For the serious student of yoga and, for that matter, anyone desiring the perfection of life, Arjuna asks Śrī Kṛṣṇa, his dearest friend and well-wisher, a series of very important questions. Vedānta-sūtra, one of the most scholarly literatures ever written on the thesis of transcendence, begins with the statement, oṁ athāto brahma-jijñāsā – ‘Now in this human form of life, one should inquire into Brahman’. The human form of life is actually meant for inquiry into such matters as Arjuna has put forward, and the Supreme Master of yoga, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, will now answer them most concisely. The purpose of the human form of life is also explained in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam as follows:
kāmasya nendriya-prītir lābho jīveta yāvatā
jīvasya tattva-jijñāsā nārtho yaś ceha karmabhiḥ
Life’s desires should never be aimed towards gratifying the senses. One should desire a healthy life only because human life is meant for inquiry about the Absolute Truth. Nothing else should be the goal of one’s activities. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 1.2.10)
अक्षरं ब्रह्म परमं स्वभावोऽध्यात्ममुच्यते ।
भूतभावोद्भवकरो विसर्गः कर्मसंज्ञितः ॥३॥
śrī bhagavān uvāca –
akṣaraṁ brahma paramaṁ svabhāvo’dhyātmam ucyate
bhūta-bhāvodbhava karo visargaḥ karma-saṁjñitaḥ
Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa replied: It is said that Brahman is the imperishable Supreme, and the ātmā is the original spiritual nature of the living being. Karma is that which produces birth, duration of life and death.
अधिभूतं क्षरो भावः पुरुषश्चाधिदैवतम् ।
अधियज्ञोऽहमेवात्र देहे देहभृतां वर ॥४॥
adhibhūtaṁ kṣaro bhāvaḥ puruṣaś cādhidaivatam
adhiyajño’ham evātra dehe deha-bhṛtāṁ vara
This material manifestation is defined as constantly changing and this material universe is the cosmic form of the Supreme Person. I am the object of all sacrifices, situated in all living beings.
अन्तकाले च मामेव स्मरन्मुक्त्वा कलेवरम् ।
यः प्रयाति स मद्भावं याति नास्त्यत्र संशयः ॥५॥
anta-kāle ca mām eva smaran muktvā kalevaram
yaḥ prayāti sa mad-bhāvaṁ yāti nāsty-atra saṁśayaḥ
At the time of death, one who leaves the body specifically remembering Me attains My nature – of this there is no doubt.
यं यं वापि स्मरन्भावं त्यजत्यन्ते कलेवरम् ।
तं तमेवैति कौन्तेय सदा तद्भावभावितः ॥६॥
yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ tyajaty-ante kalevaram
taṁ tam evaiti kaunteya sadā tad-bhāva-bhāvitaḥ
O son of Kuntī, whatever state of being one remembers at the time of death, one certainly attains to that nature.
तस्मात्सर्वेषु कालेषु मामनुस्मर युध्य च ।
tasmāt sarveṣu kāleṣu mām anusmara yudhya ca
mayy-arpita-mano buddhir mām evaiṣyasy-asaṁśayaḥ
Therefore, always remember Me and fight! Surrender your mind and intelligence to Me and you will surely attain Me.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s answers to Arjuna are to the point and if one accepts Kṛṣṇa as the ultimate authority in yoga, as indeed He is, then one quickly attains the most valuable knowledge. To acquire perfect knowledge by speculation or by the process of trial and error simply wastes valuable time. In fact, so much time is wasted in speculation and experimentation that even after centuries such processes have failed to deliver perfect knowledge of the meaning of life. Everyone is dying, and for the most part dying without answers to life’s most basic questions. However, since time immemorial, Śrī Kṛṣṇa has had the answers and they are presented here in Bhagavad-gītā.
Kṛṣṇa says that all living beings are Brahman – part and parcel of the spiritual energy of the Absolute Truth – eternal, individual, imperishable and immutable. However, in this material world death of the body comes to everyone. There are no exceptions. But for those whose mind and intelligence are fixed on Kṛṣṇa, they do not take birth again in the material world, but attain Kṛṣṇa’s own divine nature. Kṛṣṇa is by nature sac-cid-ānanda – eternal, complete in knowledge and full of bliss. Remembering Kṛṣṇa at the time of death, one attains that nature and is immediately transferred to the abode of Kṛṣṇa, far beyond the material sky and the planets of birth and death. As Kṛṣṇa will explain in Chapter 15, one who attains His Supreme Abode does not return to this material world.
When we speak of saṁsāra, we are indeed talking about reincarnation. Although reincarnation is becoming a popular belief in many communities, it is for the most part misunderstood. To many, reincarnation means being born as a human being life after life, but this is not a fact. The human form of life is only rarely achieved. It is not something that comes in rapid succession. Above and below the human species there are hundreds and thousands of other life forms. According to one’s activities performed in this life and one’s final consciousness and state of mind at the time of death, one’s next birth is determined.
In the species below the human being, namely animal, aquatic, insect and plant life, there is great ignorance and suffering. Above the human plane there are higher planets full of celestial beings and celestial pleasures. Yet higher or lower, all stations of life in the material world are temporary. There is no place of eternal damnation and no place of eternal happiness in the material universe. Nothing in this world is everlasting. Only the abode of Kṛṣṇa is beyond the dualities of pleasure and suffering.
Kṛṣṇa says above in verse 5, anta-kāle ca mām eva smaran muktvā kalevaram – one who remembers Him at the time of death attains His transcendental nature. To remember Kṛṣṇa at the end of life is indeed perfection, and to forget Him is the greatest aberration. The Viṣṇu-dharmottara Purāṇa states:
sā hānis tan mahac-chidraṁ sa mohaḥ sa ca vibhramaḥ
yan muhūrtaṁ kṣaṇaṁ vāpi vāsudevo na cintayet
If even for a moment remembrance of Kṛṣṇa is missed, that is the greatest loss, the greatest illusion and the greatest anomaly. (Viṣṇu-dharmottara Purāṇa 1.16)
However, it is our experience of the world that death is often accompanied by great pain, confusion and bewilderment of memory. Therefore, it would seem that to remember Kṛṣṇa at the time of death is no easy task. Death may come swiftly at any time, without a moments notice or even during sleep, thus impeding one’s remembrance of Kṛṣṇa. In this regard Kulaśekhara Ālvār writes in Mukunda-mālā Stotram as follows:
adyaiva me viśatu mānasa-rāja-haṁsaḥ
kaṇṭhāvarodhana-vidhau smaraṇaṁ kutas te
O Kṛṣṇa, please help me die quickly so the swan of my mind may become encircled by the stem of Your lotus feet. Otherwise at the time of my final breath, when my throat is choked up, how will it be possible for me to think of You? (Mukunda-mālā Stotram 33)
For the bhakti-yogī Kṛṣṇa takes all his many endeavours, practices and services into consideration. Even if the bhakti-yogī is unable to remember Kṛṣṇa at the time of death, Kṛṣṇa will certainly remember him. Śrī Kṛṣṇa is never forgetful under any circumstance and thus He swiftly delivers His devotee from the clutches of death. Kṛṣṇa Himself confirms this in the Varāha Purāṇa as follows:
yadi vitādi-doṣeṇa mad bhakto māṁ ca na smaret
ahaṁ smarāmi mad bhaktaḥ nayāmi paramāṁ gatim
If My devotee is unable to remember Me at the time of death because of the great disturbances felt within the body, at that time I shall remember My devotee and take him to the spiritual world.
अभ्यासयोगयुक्तेन चेतसा नान्यगामिना ।
परमं पुरुषं दिव्यं याति पार्थानुचिन्तयन् ॥८॥
abhyāsa-yoga-yuktena cetasā nānya-gāminā
paramaṁ puruṣaṁ divyaṁ yāti pārthānucintayan
O Pārtha, one who practices yoga and focuses his mind, without straying from the path, and meditates upon the Divine Supreme Person, certainly achieves Him.
कविं पुराणमनुशासितार-मणोरणीयंसमनुस्मरेद्यः ।
सर्वस्य धातारमचिन्त्यरूप-मादित्यवर्णं तमसः परस्तात् ॥९॥
kaviṁ purāṇam anuśāsitāram
aṇor aṇīyāṁsam anusmared yaḥ
sarvasya dhātāram acintya-rūpam
āditya-varṇaṁ tamasaḥ parastāt
One should meditate upon the Supreme Person who is all-knowing, without beginning, the Supreme Controller, who is smaller than the atomic particle, yet who is the support of all things in the universe, whose form is inconceivable, who is radiant like the sun, and who is beyond material nature.
प्रयाणकाले मनसाऽचलेन भक्त्या युक्तो योगबलेन चैव ।
भ्रुवोर्मध्ये प्राणमावेश्य सम्यक् स तं परं पुरुषमुपैति दिव्यम् ॥१०॥
bhaktyā yukto yoga-balena caiva
bhruvor madhye prāṇam āveśya samyak
sa taṁ paraṁ puruṣam upaiti divyam
At the time of death, one who remembers Him with a steady mind by drawing the life-airs between the eyebrows by dint of yogic power certainly reaches the Divine Supreme Person.
Yoga and meditation are described herein. However, they are not impersonal or self-centred processes. Meditation is to be performed on the Absolute Truth, Śrī Kṛṣṇa – not on abstract ideas that we ourselves are the sum total of reality, that we are all-knowing or that we are the supreme controller etc. Such processes are not meditation, but self-deception and never lead to liberation or eternal bliss.
In verse 10, Śrī Kṛṣṇa says that in yogic meditations (aṣṭāṇga and kuṇḍalinī-yoga) one should draw one’s life-airs to the area of the eyebrows. This indicates the location of the ājñā-cakra. There are seven cakras located in the body that are the primary seats of human consciousness. Consciousness pervades the entire body, but is said to be centred in one of the seven cakras – mūlādhāra-cakra (located at the base of the genital), svādhiṣṭhāna-cakra (located at the base of the spinal cord), maṇipūra-cakra (located in the navel area), anāhata-cakra (located in the heart), viśuddha-cakra (located in the throat), ājñā-cakra (located in between the eyebrows) and the sahasrāra-cakra (located at the top of the head).
When consciousness is situated in the lower three cakras one is found to be preoccupied with the animal tendencies of eating, sleeping, mating and defending. When consciousness is situated in the upper cakras there is progress in the finer sentiments of spiritual culture and ultimately liberation. Consciousness is raised in meditation from one cakra to another through the subtle passage in the body known as the suṣumṇā-nāḍī.
Kṛṣṇa says that the yogī should bring his consciousness to be seated in the ājñā-cakra, sometimes known as the ‘third eye’. Here the yogī makes his or her final preparation and at last raises the consciousness through the suṣumṇā-nāḍī to the sahasrāra-cakra and from there the yogī quits the material body. If the aṣṭāṅga-yogī or kuṇḍalinī-yogī makes Śrī Kṛṣṇa the object of his meditation while concentrating on the ājñā-cakra, then after passing the sahasrāra-cakra, the yogī achieves Kṛṣṇa’s Supreme Abode. However, if the said yogī does not make Śrī Kṛṣṇa the object of his meditation, then he may enter the brahma-jyoti for sometime, but eventually he returns to this material world.
The aforementioned processes of yoga take superhuman endeavour and for the most part are not possible for the average person to achieve in this age. Aṣṭāṅga-yoga and kuṇḍalinī-yoga must be practiced in absolute seclusion from society, observing complete celibacy and fasting for long periods. In ancient times such yogīs went to the mountain caves of the Himālayas or to the deserts. Today’s yogīs in modern yoga studios and societies are unable to raise their consciousness through the cakras to the sahasrāra-cakra because they lack the solitude and severe determination required. Therefore, Bhagavad-gītā conclusively recommends the process of bhakti-yoga that can be practiced by everyone, everywhere, by fixing the mind on Śrī Kṛṣṇa and thus attaining perfection.
One may question that since Śrī Kṛṣṇa is speaking here in the third person that He is not referring to Himself as the object of meditation and therefore it does not mean that we should meditate on Kṛṣṇa. However, according to Svāmī B. R. Śrīdhara Mahārāja, a great ācārya of bhakti-yoga, when Kṛṣṇa speaks in the third person, He is referring to the object of meditation as His expansion as Paramātmā (Super Consciousness). As already explained in the Second Chapter, Śrī Kṛṣṇa manifests Himself as the Paramātmā, present in the hearts of all living beings. Therefore, meditation on the Paramātmā means meditation on Kṛṣṇa.
Those who cannot comprehend the Absolute Truth as personal, due to anarthas (misgivings of the heart), can meditate on Kṛṣṇa’s impersonal aspect as Brahman. But this process is tedious and the results are limited since even the Brahman-realised yogī must once again return to the world of birth and death.
यदक्षरं वेदविदो वदन्ति विशन्ति यद्यतयो वीतरागाः ।
यदिच्छन्तो ब्रह्मचर्यं चरन्ति तत्ते पदं संग्रहेण प्रवक्ष्ये ॥११॥
yad akṣaraṁ veda-vido vadanti
viśanti yad yatayo vīta-rāgāḥ
yad icchanto brahmacaryaṁ caranti
tat te padaṁ saṅgraheṇa pravakṣye
Great sages in the renounced order of life and scholars of the Vedas accept the vow of celibacy and utter oṁ to enter into Brahman. I shall now explain this process to you.
सर्वद्वाराणि संयम्य मनो हृदि निरुध्य च ।
मूध्न्या।र्धायात्मनः प्राणमास्थितो योगधारणाम् ॥१२॥
sarva-dvārāṇi saṁyamya mano hṛdi-nirudhya ca
mūrdhny-ādhāyātmanaḥ prāṇam āsthito yoga-dhāraṇām
One should control all the senses and concentrate the mind within the heart, fixing the life-airs between the eyebrows and fully absorbing oneself in yoga.
ओमित्येकाक्षरं ब्रह्म व्याहरन्मामनुस्मरन् ।
यः प्रयाति त्यजन्देहं स याति परमां गतिम् ॥१३॥
oṁ ity-ekākṣaraṁ brahma vyāharan mām anusmaran
yaḥ prayāti tyajan dehaṁ sa yāti paramāṁ gatim
Thus, by chanting the great monosyllable oṁ and remembering Me, when one leaves the material body, he will attain the Supreme Abode.
अनन्यचेताः सततं यो मां स्मरति नित्यशः ।
तस्याहं सुलभः पार्थ नित्ययुक्तस्य योगिनः ॥१४॥
ananya-cetāḥ satataṁ yo māṁ smarati nityaśaḥ
tasyāhaṁ sulabhaḥ pārtha nitya-yuktasya yoginaḥ
O Pārtha, that yogī who is without deviation and constantly remembers Me alone, easily attains Me for he is always connected to Me.
मामुपेत्य पुनर्जन्म दुःखालयमशाश्वतम् ।
नाप्नुवन्ति महात्मानः संसिद्धिं परमां गताः ॥१५॥
mām upetya punar janma duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam
nāpnuvanti mahātmānaḥ saṁsiddhiṁ paramāṁ gatāḥ
Those great personalities who have attained Me never take birth again in this temporary world of misery, for they have reached the highest destination.
Modern systems of yoga focus more or less on achieving a healthy condition for the body, but this is actually not the aim of yoga. The process of yoga is intended for one goal and one goal alone – to transcend the world of birth and death. There is, of course, more than one system of yoga, but all schools of yoga aim at a singular goal – liberation.
As already explained in previous commentaries, the mantra oṁ elevates one to the stage of liberation. However, it should be noted here that the divisions of yoga, such as sense-control and celibacy, must also be in place before the chanting of mantras can be effective. Mantras purify the mind and heart of material contamination which arises from sense enjoyment. If one endeavours for purification, but at the same time does not control the senses, then it is tantamount to starting a fire while simultaneously pouring water on it. Sense-control is therefore essential for those attempting to practice all forms of yoga.
आब्रह्मभुवनाल्लोकाः पुनरावर्तिनोऽर्जुन ।
मामुपेत्य तु कौन्तेय पुनर्जन्म न विद्यते ॥१६॥
ābrahma-bhuvanāl lokāḥ punar āvartino’rjuna
mām upetya tu kaunteya punar janma na vidyate
O Arjuna, all planets up to the abode of Brahmā are places of birth and rebirth, but those who reach Me never take birth again.
सहस्रयुगपर्यन्तमहर्यद् ब्रह्मणो विदुः ।
रात्रिं युगसहस्रान्तां तेऽहोरात्रविदो जनाः ॥१७॥
sahasra-yuga-paryantam aharyad brahmaṇo viduḥ
rātriṁ yuga-sahasrāntāṁ te’ho-rātra-vido janāḥ
A day of Brahmā consists of one thousand yugas and his night also lasts for the same period.
भूतग्रामः स एवायं भूत्वा भूत्वा प्रलीयते ।
रात्र्यागमेऽवशः पार्थ प्रभवत्यहरागमे ॥१९॥
avyaktād vyaktayaḥ sarvāḥ prabhavanty-ahar-āgame
rātry-āgame pralīyante tatraivāvyakta-saṁjñake
At the beginning of Brahmā’s day, all things become manifest from the unmanifest state. When Brahmā’s night begins, again they all become unmanifest.
भूतग्रामः स एवायं भूत्वा भूत्वा प्रलीयते ।
रात्र्यागमेऽवशः पार्थ प्रभवत्यहरागमे ॥१९॥
bhūta-grāmaḥ sa evāyaṁ bhūtvā bhūtvā pralīyate
rātry-āgame’vaśaḥ pārtha prabhavaty-ahar-āgame
O Pārtha, all living beings repeatedly take birth again and again. When Brahmā’s night approaches they are absorbed into Me once more and with the arrival of Brahmā’s day they are born again.
परस्तस्मात्तु भावोऽन्योऽव्यक्तोऽव्यक्तात्सनातनः ।
यः स सर्वेषु भूतेषु नश्यत्सु न विनश्यति ॥२०॥
paras tasmāt tu bhāvo’nyo’vyakto’vyaktāt sanātanaḥ
yaḥ sa sarveṣu bhūteṣu naśyatsu na vinaśyati
However, beyond this state is another unmanifest state that is eternal and cannot be destroyed when all other beings are annihilated.
अव्यक्तोऽक्षर इत्युक्तस्तमाहुः परमां गतिम् ।
यं प्राप्य न निवर्तन्ते तद्धाम परमं मम ॥२१॥
avyakto’kṣara ity-uktas tam āhuḥ paramāṁ gatim
yaṁ prāpya na nivartante tad dhāma paramaṁ mama
It is said to be unmanifest and eternal and is declared to be the ultimate destination, upon attaining which, one never returns. This is My Supreme Abode.
पुरुषः स परः पार्थ भक्त्या लभ्यस्त्वनन्यया ।=
यस्यान्तःस्थानि भूतानि येन सर्वमिदं ततम् ॥२२॥
puruṣaḥ sa paraḥ pārtha bhaktyā labhyas tv-ananyayā
yasyāntaḥ sthāni bhūtāni yena sarvam idaṁ tatam
O Pārtha, that Supreme Person, within whom all living beings are situated and who pervades the entire creation, can only be attained by bhakti-yoga.
The topmost planet in the material universe is known as Satya-loka, the abode of Brahmā. Life on that planet is very long – one day in Satya-loka is equal to 4,260,000,000 years on planet Earth. Nonetheless death occurs there also. Nowhere in the material universe is free from death.
At the end of each of Brahmā’s days there is a partial annihilation in the universe and a total annihilation of the universe at the end of Brahmā’s life. The partial annihilations are called pralaya and the final annihilation is called mahā–pralaya. Everything in the universe has a beginning and an end. All things come into being and eventually all things are destroyed. Creation, duration and annihilation are the three basic phases of the universe, yet Bhagavad-gītā does not subscribe to an apocalyptic world view or an ‘end times’ scenario in which we will all be judged.
The predominating Deities of creation, duration and annihilation are the three guṇāvatāras, Brahmā, Mahā-Viṣṇu and Śiva respectively. Brahmā manifests the secondary creation, Mahā-Viṣṇu maintains the creation and Śiva, by producing a sound vibration from his ḍamaru drum, brings about the annihilation. These guṇāvatāras are portions of the plenary expansions of Kṛṣṇa, the avatārī, or origin of all avatāras. During the periods of annihilation, both partial and complete, the living beings rest in a state of slumber within the body of Mahā-Viṣṇu and are again manifest at the arrival of Brahmā’s day. This is repeated over and over again on a cosmic timescale until Brahmā reaches the end of his life, at which point the entire universe is again wound up in the body of Mahā-Viṣṇu. Everything necessary for the manifestation of the material universe, and indeed billions and trillions of universes, is provided by Mahā-Viṣṇu in the form of the mahat-tattva (the aggregate of material elements), and at the time of annihilation that energy is again absorbed into Mahā-Viṣṇu.
Energy is neither created or destroyed as it exists always as Kṛṣṇa’s aparā-prakṛti, inferior material energy. That energy is endlessly mutable, manifest and unmanifest, but ultimately it is never destroyed. Kṛṣṇa and all His energies are eternal.
Once again, the same point is being reiterated by Kṛṣṇa, that His Supreme Abode is beyond material nature, eternally manifest, beyond birth and death and once going there one does not return to saṁsāra. That Supreme Abode of Kṛṣṇa is Goloka Vṛndāvana, and it is attainable only through the process of bhakti-yoga. This Supreme Abode is mentioned in Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta as follows:
sa ca tad vraja-lokānāṁ śrīmat-premānuvartinā
kṛṣṇe śuddhatareṇaiva bhāvenaikena labhyate
Far from this material universe is the beautiful abode of Śrī Kṛṣṇa that is known as Goloka Vṛndāvana, the topmost Vaikuṇṭha planet. Goloka is only attained through bhakti-yoga by those who follow in the footsteps of the people of Vraja who have pure love for Kṛṣṇa. (Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta 2.5.78-79)
यत्र काले त्वनावृत्तिमावृत्तिं चैव योगिनः ।
प्रयाता यान्ति तं कालं वक्ष्यामि भरतर्षभ ॥२३॥
yatra kāle tv-anāvṛttim āvṛttiṁ caiva yoginaḥ
prayātā yānti taṁ kālaṁ vakṣyāmi bharatarṣabha
O best of the descendants of Bharata, I shall now explain to you those times that the yogīs attain either liberation or rebirth at the moment of their departure.
अग्निर्ज्योतिरहः शुक्लः षण्मासा उत्तरायणम् ।
तत्र प्रयाता गच्छन्ति ब्रह्म ब्रह्मविदो जनाः ॥२४॥
agnir-jyotir ahaḥ śuklaḥ ṣaṇ-māsā uttarāyaṇam
tatra prayātā gacchanti brahma brahma-vido janāḥ
Those who know Brahman pass from this world on the path of fire and light, during the time of the waxing moon or during the six months when the sun traverses the northern hemisphere.
धूमो रात्रिस्तथा कृष्णः षण्मासा दक्षिणायनम् ।
तत्र चान्द्रमसं ज्योतिर्योगी प्राप्य निवर्तते ॥२५॥
dhūmo rātris tathā kṛṣṇaḥ ṣaṇ-māsā dakṣiṇāyanam
tatra cāndramasaṁ jyotir yogī prāpya nivartate
Departing on the path of darkness, during the night, during the waning moon or during the six months when the sun makes its course across the southern hemisphere – that yogī attains the celestial lunar planet, but then returns.
शुक्लकृष्णे गती ह्येते जगतः शाश्वते मते ।
एकया यात्यनावृत्तिमन्ययावर्तते पुनः ॥२६॥
śukla-kṛṣṇe gatī hy-ete jagataḥ śāśvate mate
ekayā yāty-anāvṛttim anyayāvartate punaḥ
Both these paths of light and darkness are accepted as being permanent in this world. By one path, one does not return, by the other path, one returns.
नैते सृती पार्थ जानन्योगी मुह्यति कश्चन ।
तस्मात्सर्वेषु कालेषु योगयुक्तो भवार्जुन ॥२७॥
naite sṛtī pārtha jānan yogī muhyati kaścana
tasmāt sarveṣu kāleṣu yoga-yukto bhavārjuna
The yogī who knows these two paths is never bewildered. Therefore, O Arjuna, at all times be fixed in yoga.
वेदेषु यज्ञेषु तपःसु चैव दानेषु यत्पुण्यफलं प्रदिष्टम् ।
अत्येति तत्सर्वमिदं विदित्वा योगी परं स्थानमुपैति चाद्यम् ॥२८॥
vedeṣu yajñeṣu tapaḥsu caiva
dāneṣu yat puṇya-phalaṁ pradiṣṭam
atyeti tat sarvam idaṁ viditvā
yogī paraṁ sthānam upaiti cādyam
Knowing this, a yogī surpasses all kinds of pious results that are achieved through study of the Vedas, by offering oblations in sacrifice, by penances and by philanthropy. That yogī reaches the eternal abode.
To attain higher planets within the material universe one must study the Vedas, offer sacrifice, perform penances and acts of charity. One who has performed these activities is reborn on a higher planet and lives a long life, enjoying great luxury for tens of thousands of years.
However, the bhakti-yogī has no desire to enjoy in higher planets. He easily achieves all the benefits of sacrifice, penance etc. simply by surrendering to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The bhakti-yogī does not have to choose an auspicious moment to leave the material body because he is under the shelter of Kṛṣṇa. Everything is auspiciously ordained for those who have surrendered to Kṛṣṇa, enabling them to reach Kṛṣṇa’s eternal abode.
But the yogī who is not in bhakti-yoga does not achieve the Supreme Abode of Kṛṣṇa nor does he easily ascend to higher planets at the time of death. Factually speaking, the yogī has to choose the time of his death, so as to pass from the body at the most opportune time. He must choose wisely, otherwise he is born again on this Earth. Needless to say, this is a near impossibility – especially for ordinary people. Therefore, it is the yogī in bhakti-yoga that is most assured of success.
ॐ तत्सदिति श्रीमहाभारते शतसाहस्रयां संहितायां
श्रीमद्भगवदीतासूपनिषत्सु ब्रह्मविद्यायं योगशास्त्रे श्रीकृष्णार्जुनसंवादे
oṁ tat saditi śrī-mahābhārate-śata-sāhasryāṁ saṁhitāyāṁ
brahma-vidyāyāṁ yoga-śāstre śrī kṛṣṇārjuna-saṁvāde
OṀ TAT SAT – Thus ends Chapter Eight entitled Tāraka-Brahma 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.