Chapter 12: Bhakti Yog

The Yog of Devotion

This chapter begins with Arjun asking Shree Krishna about the two types of yogis and among them whom does He consider perfect. Those who worship the formless Brahman or those who are devoted to the personal-form of God. Shree Krishna declares that devotees can attain Him by both paths. However, He considers those who worship His personal-form as the best yogis. In this small chapter of 20 verses, Shree Krishna emphasizes that the path of devotion is the highest among all types of spiritual practices.

He then explains to Arjun that it is rather difficult to meditate upon the unmanifest aspect of God. Hence, the path of worshiping the formless is full of tribulations for the embodied souls. On the other hand, the devotees who worship His personal-form dedicate all their actions to Him. And with their mind and intellect consciously surrendered, they attain Him. Such souls swiftly get liberated from the cycle of life and death. Therefore, Shree Krishna asks Arjun to give up all doubts and surrender his intellect with his mind fixed in loving devotion to God alone.

Shree Krishna says that such love for God does not come naturally to the struggling souls. Devotion is not some mysterious gift that one can get; it requires consistent efforts to cultivate it. Shree Krishna tells Arjun that if he is unable to absorb his mind in God completely, then he should strive to do all his work with devotion to God. And with constant practice, he will reach perfection. If Arjun cannot even do this, then he should work for the pleasure of Shree Krishna. And if he feels even this is difficult, then he should simply renounce the fruits of all his works and be situated in the self.

Shree Krishna further explains that the cultivation of knowledge is higher than mechanical practice, and meditation is higher than knowledge. However, better than meditation is the renunciation of the fruits of actions because it immediately leads to great peace. The rest of this chapter describes all the wonderful qualities of God’s loving devotees, who are very dear to Him.

Arjun inquired: Between those who are steadfastly devoted to Your personal form and those who worship the formless Brahman, whom do You consider to be more perfect in Yog?

The Lord said: Those who fix their minds on Me and always engage in My devotion with steadfast faith, I consider them to be the best yogis.

But those who worship the formless aspect of the Absolute Truth—the imperishable, the indefinable, the unmanifest, the all-pervading, the unthinkable, the unchanging, the eternal, and the immoveable—by restraining their senses and being even-minded everywhere, such persons, engaged in the welfare of all beings, also attain Me.

For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifest, the path of realization is full of tribulations. Worship of the unmanifest is exceedingly difficult for embodied beings.

But those who dedicate all their actions to Me, regarding Me as the Supreme goal, worshiping Me and meditating on Me with exclusive devotion, O Parth, I swiftly deliver them from the ocean of birth and death, for their consciousness is united with Me.

Fix your mind on Me alone and surrender your intellect to Me. There upon, you will always live in Me. Of this, there is no doubt.

If you are unable to fix your mind steadily on Me, O Arjun, then practice remembering Me with devotion while constantly restraining the mind from worldly affairs.

If you cannot practice remembering Me with devotion, then just try to work for Me. Thus performing devotional service to Me, you shall achieve the stage of perfection.

If you are unable to even work for Me in devotion, then try to renounce the fruits of your actions and be situated in the self.

Better than mechanical practice is knowledge; better than knowledge is meditation. Better than meditation is renunciation of the fruits of actions, for peace immediately follows such renunciation.

Those devotees are very dear to Me who are free from malice toward all living beings, who are friendly, and compassionate. They are free from attachment to possessions and egotism, equipoised in happiness and distress, and ever-forgiving. They are ever-content, steadily united with Me in devotion, self-controlled, of firm resolve, and dedicated to Me in mind and intellect.

Those who are not a source of annoyance to anyone and who in turn are not agitated by anyone, who are equal in pleasure and pain, and free from fear and anxiety, such devotees of Mine are very dear to Me.

Those who are indifferent to worldly gains, externally and internally pure, skillful, without cares, untroubled, and free from selfishness in all undertakings, such devotees of Mine are very dear to Me.

Those who neither rejoice in mundane pleasures nor despair in worldly sorrows, who neither lament for any loss nor hanker for any gain, who renounce both good and evil deeds, such persons who are full of devotion are very dear to Me.

Those, who are alike to friend and foe, equipoised in honor and dishonor, cold and heat, joy and sorrow, and are free from all unfavorable association; those who take praise and reproach alike, who are given to silent contemplation, content with what comes their way, without attachment to the place of residence, whose intellect is firmly fixed in Me, and who are full of devotion to Me, such persons are very dear to Me.

Those who honor this nectar of wisdom declared here, have faith in Me, and are devoted and intent on Me as the supreme goal, they are exceedingly dear to Me.