veetaraagabhayakrodhaa manmayaa maamupaashritaaha |
bahavo jnyaanatapasaa pootaa madbhaavamaagataaha || 10 ||

Free from attachment, fear and anger, absorbed in me and taking refuge in me; many have been purified through the austerity of knowledge, and have attained my essence.

veeta : free from
raaga : attachment
bhaya : fear
krodhah : anger
man-mayaaha :  absorbed in me
maam-upaashritaaha : taking refuge in me
bahavaha : many have
jnyaana-tapasaa : through the austerity of knowledge
pootaaha : purified
mad-bhaavam : my essence
aagataaha : have attained

Shri Krishna concluded the topic of Ishvaraa and his avataara in the previous shloka. Having heard this, a question may arise as to how many individuals were successful in realizing the eternal essence by following the path laid out by Shri Krishna. He gives an encouraging answer to that question. He says that many people have attained the eternal essence following this path. They have become “manmayaahaa” or one with him.

Many of us may have followed the teaching so far, and may have also understood the notion of karmayoga. Assuming that we follow it diligently, we would like to know what comes next in the spiritual journey. We can proceed further, but we cannot force it, just like one cannot go from high school to college without passing exams.

So in this shloka, Shri Krishna gives the roadmap to attaining the eternal essence. First, he advises us to follow the path of karmayoga so that our system is cleared of vaasanaas. It is the preparatory stage in the spiritual path, as we have seen earlier. As we become proficient in karmayoga, we slowly become free of attachment, fear and anger.

Next, as our vaasanaas become weaker, the force of our thought becomes more controlled. Our mind becomes purer, and consequently, becomes still. This enables us to better comprehend, contemplate upon and internalize the statements such as “I am the eternal essence”. Traditionally, these stages are shravana (hearing the scriptures), manana (contemplating) and nidhidhyaasana (internalization).

This constant and continued attempt to achieve identification with the eternal essence through the three stages of shravana, manana and nidhidhyaasana is called “jnyaana tapas” or the austerity of knowledge. We should note that this knowledge is not the kind of academic knowledge that we are used to. It is the absence of ignorance caused by vasanaas, or in other words, absence of selfish thinking.

Finally, having been purified by the austerity of knowledge, we begin to attain an affectionate attitude towards Ishvaraa. This attitude of devotion makes us take ultimate refuge in Ishvaraa, indicated here by the word “maanupaashritaaha”.

1. This shloka summarizes the three traditional paths of spirituality: karmayoga, bhaktiyoga (devotion) and jnyaanayoga (knowledge)