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CC Madhya-lila 24.094 - BG 07.16
Bhagavad-gita As It Is
BG Chapters 7 - 12
O best among the Bhāratas, four kinds of pious men begin to render devotional service unto Me—the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.
Unlike the miscreants, these are adherents of the regulative principles of the scriptures, and they are called sukṛtinaḥ, or those who obey the rules and regulations of scriptures, the moral and social laws, and are, more or less, devoted to the Supreme Lord. Out of these there are four classes of men—those who are sometimes distressed, those who are in need of money, those who are sometimes inquisitive, and those who are sometimes searching after knowledge of the Absolute Truth. These persons come to the Supreme Lord for devotional service under different conditions. These are not pure devotees, because they have some aspiration to fulfill in exchange for devotional service. Pure devotional service is without aspiration and without desire for material profit. The Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.1.11) defines pure devotion thus:
- ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānu-
- śīlanaṁ bhaktir uttamā
- (CC Madhya 19.167)
"One should render transcendental loving service to the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa favorably and without desire for material profit or gain through fruitive activities or philosophical speculation. That is called pure devotional service."
When these four kinds of persons come to the Supreme Lord for devotional service and are completely purified by the association of a pure devotee, they also become pure devotees. As far as the miscreants are concerned, for them devotional service is very difficult because their lives are selfish, irregular and without spiritual goals. But even some of them, by chance, when they come in contact with a pure devotee, also become pure devotees.
Those who are always busy with fruitive activities come to the Lord in material distress and at that time associate with pure devotees and become, in their distress, devotees of the Lord. Those who are simply frustrated also come sometimes to associate with the pure devotees and become inquisitive to know about God. Similarly, when the dry philosophers are frustrated in every field of knowledge, they sometimes want to learn of God, and they come to the Supreme Lord to render devotional service and thus transcend knowledge of the impersonal Brahman and the localized Paramātmā and come to the personal conception of Godhead by the grace of the Supreme Lord or His pure devotee. On the whole, when the distressed, the inquisitive, the seekers of knowledge, and those who are in need of money are free from all material desires, and when they fully understand that material remuneration has nothing to do with spiritual improvement, they become pure devotees. As long as such a purified stage is not attained, devotees in transcendental service to the Lord are tainted with fruitive activities, the search for mundane knowledge, etc. So one has to transcend all this before one can come to the stage of pure devotional service.
“"O best among the Bharatas (Arjuna), four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto Me—the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute."
This is a quotation from the Bhagavad-gītā (7.16). The word sukṛtinaḥ is very important in this verse. Su means "auspicious," and kṛtī means "meritorious" or "regulated." Unless one follows the regulative principles of religious life, human life is no different from animal life. Religious life means following the principles of varṇa and āśrama. In the Viṣṇu Purāṇa it is said:
- varṇāśramācāravatā puruṣeṇa paraḥ pumān
- viṣṇur ārādhyate panthā nānyat tat-toṣa-kāraṇam
- (CC Madhya 8.58)
According to religious life, society is divided into four social divisions—brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya and śūdra—and four spiritual divisions—brahmacarya, gṛhastha, vānaprastha and sannyāsa. One needs to be trained to become a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya or śūdra, just as one is trained to become an engineer, doctor or lawyer. Those who are properly trained can be considered human beings; if one is not trained socially and spiritually—that is, if one is uneducated and unregulated—his life is on the animal platform. Among animals there is no question of spiritual advancement. Spiritual life can be attained by proper training-either by following the principles of varṇa and āśrama or by being directly trained in the bhakti school by the methods of śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam/ arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ sakhyam ātma-nivedanam (SB 7.5.23). Without being trained, one cannot be sukṛtī, auspicious. In this verse Kṛṣṇa says that people approach Him when in distress, in need of money or when actually inquisitive to understand the Supreme Being, or the original source of everything. Some people approach Him in the pursuit of knowledge of the Absolute Truth, and others approach Him when they are distressed, like the devotee Gajendra. Others are inquisitive, like the great sages headed by Śaunaka, and others need money, like Dhruva Mahārāja. Śukadeva Gosvāmī approached the Lord when he pursued knowledge. All these great personalities thus took to the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa.