Bhagavad Gita-Chapter 12 Bhakti Yogah-Yoga of Devotion


shreyo hi jnaanamabhyaasaat jnaanaaddhyaanam vishishyate
dhyaanaat karmaphalatyaagas tyaagaadcchaantir anantaram // 12.12 //

Better indeed is knowledge than practice; meditation is better than knowledge; better than meditation is the renunciation of the fruits of action; peace immediately follows such renunciation.

The order of importance given in this Verse is as under:
Renunciation of the fruits of action> Meditation > Knowledge > Practice.

Knowledge is better than practice - Spiritual practices mean listening to discourses on scriptures, performing rituals etc in a routine manner without understanding the significance behind them. Knowledge means acquiring discrimination and discipline at mental and intellectual levels. A correct knowledge of the implications of the spiritual practices and the scriptures is necessary to make them fruitful.

Meditation is better than knowledge - More important is the meditation on the knowledge so acquired than the mere knowledge. This means long pondering over the meaning of spiritual terms and declarations which can take place only through meditation. Meditation based on knowledge is considered superior to mere knowledge.

Renunciation of fruits of action is better than meditation - Meditation is an attempt by the intellect towards a better understanding of the knowledge acquired. Anxiety about the future causes agitation in mind. An agitated mind is not suitable for meditation. Renunciation of the fruits of actions while practising self-control and seeking refuge in the Lord destroys the desire in the seeker which is the source of unrest and brings about the inner calm and peace. For one tranquil in heart the cessation of ignorance comes without delay.

We have seen two methods of worship viz., the one of the manifested form and the other of the unmanifested Absolute in the foregoing verses.


In the following eight Verses (from 13 to 20) Sri Krishna paints the picture of a true devotee and his relationship with the world around him. These verses answer the question posed by Arjuna in the opening verse of this Chapter.

adweshtaa sarvabhootaanaam maitrah karuna eva cha
nirmamo nirahankaarah samaduhkhasukhah kshamee // 12.13 //

He who has no ill will to any being, who is friendly and compassionate to all, who is free from attachment and egoism (feeling of `I'ness and `My'ness) even-minded in pain and pleasure and forgiving,

santushtah satatam yogee yataatmaa dridhanishchayah
mayyarpitamanobuddhiryo madbhaktah sa me priyah // 12.14 //

Ever content, steady in meditation, possessed of firm conviction, self-controlled, with the mind and intellect dedicated to Me - he, who is thus devoted to Me, is dear to Me.

These two verses give 10 noble qualities of a true devotee viz.

1. Hatred towards none
2. Friendly and compassionate to all
3. Freedom from attachment and egoism
4. Balanced in the pairs of opposites
5. Forgiving nature
6. Always with contentment
7. Steadfast in meditation
8. Self-controlled
9. Firm in conviction and
10. Mind and intellect always cantered on the Lord.

yasmaannodwijate loko lokannodwijate cha yah
harshaamarshabhayodwegairmukto yah sa cha me priyah // 12.15 //

He by whom the world is not agitated and who cannot be agitated by the world, who is freed from joy, anger, envy, fear and anxiety - he too is dear to Me.

Three more characteristics of a real devotee are enumerated.

11.  He by whom the world is not agitated - where there is sun there can be no darkness; similarly where there is a man of equanimity and perfection an atmosphere of divinity, serenity, joy and peace prevails.

12.  Who cannot be agitated by the world - not only serenity is spread around him but such a devotee cannot also be agitated or his inner equipoise disturbed by the chaotic conditions of the world around him.

13.  He who is completely freed from joy, anger, envy, fear and anxiety which are all the causes for inner agitations.

Such a devotee, who is ever peaceful with himself and the world, is not a source of grief to any and none can make him feel grief.

anapekshah suchirdaksha udaaseeno gatavyathah
sarvaarambhaparityaagee yo madbhaktah sa me priyah // 12.16 //

He who is free from expectation, pure, skilful in action, unconcerned and untroubled, renouncing all undertakings - he who is thus devoted to Me, is dear to Me.

In this verse six more subtle qualities of a perfect devotee are added. They are:

14.  Free from expectation - A true devotee is independent of the world outside drawing equanimity from within himself.
15.  Who is pure - pure externally and internally – External purity is cleanliness of physical body and things around. Internal purity is friendship, compassion, nobility and virtuous dealings with others.

16.  Skilful - swiftness and enthusiasm in all actions and in decision making.

17. Unconcerned - It means not squandering away the mental energies by avoiding exaggeration of small difficulties in life and being impartial.

18. Untroubled - who never allows himself to be disturbed by agitations caused by desire.

19.  Renouncing all undertakings - This does not mean abandoning all undertakings or productive efforts. It means renouncing the egoistic sense of self importance in undertaking any venture. All our undertakings are controlled by many external factors and our role is thus limited. Hence there is no place for self-importance in any work we undertake.

The devotee who has all these six qualities is dear to The Lord.

Yo na hrishyati na dweshti na shochati na kaangkshati
shubhaashubhaparityaagee bhaktimaan yah sa me priyah // 12.17 //

He who neither rejoices nor hates, nor grieves, nor desires, and who has renounced good and evil, he who is thus devoted is dear to Me.

The ideas spelt out in verse 13 are dealt with in more details. The devotee who does not

20.  Rejoice when he attains desirable objects,

21.  Hate or fret and fume on getting undesirable objects,

22.  Grieve over parting with beloved and cherished objects and

23.  Who has a complete sense of fulfilment and has no desire for anything that he has not attained, (he having attained the Self, attained everything).

24. Renounces good and evil - none of the dualistic experiences can be of any consequence to him and

25. Who is of full devotion to the Lord, is dear to Him.

The import of this verse is that when a devotee has awakened to the God-consciousness and evaluates life from his new experience, he cannot rejoice at or hate, grieve at or desire anything in this world and he comes to renounce totally the very concepts of good and evil.

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