While the women were engaged in conversations among themselves and the men were similarly engaged in conversation, there arrived from all directions almost all the important sages and ascetics, who had come for the purpose of seeing Lord Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma. Chief among the sages were Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana Vyāsa, the great sage Nārada, Cyavana, Devala, Asita, Viśvāmitra, Śatānanda, Bharadvāja, Gautama, Lord Paraśurāma (along with his disciples), Vasiṣṭha, Gālava, Bhṛgu, Pulastya, Kaśyapa, Atri, Mārkaṇḍeya, Bṛhaspati, Dvita, Trita, Ekata, the four Kumāra sons of Brahmā (Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanātana and Sanat-kumāra), Aṅgirā, Agastya, Yājñavalkya and Vāmadeva.
As soon as the sages and ascetics arrived, all the kings, including Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira and the other Pāṇḍavas and Lord Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, immediately got up from their seats and offered respects by bowing down to the universally respected sages. After this, the sages were properly welcomed by being offered seats and water for washing their feet. Palatable fruits, garlands of flowers, incense and sandalwood pulp were presented, and all the kings, led by Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, worshiped the sages according to the Vedic rules and regulations. When all the sages were comfortably seated, Lord Kṛṣṇa, who descended for the protection of religion, began to address them on behalf of all the kings. When Kṛṣṇa began to speak, all became silent, being eager to hear and understand His welcoming words to the sages.
Lord Kṛṣṇa spoke thus: “All glories to the assembled sages and ascetics! Today we all feel that our lives have become successful. Today we have achieved the desired goal of life because we now see face to face all the exalted, liberated sages and ascetics, whom even the great demigods in the heavens desire to see. Persons who are neophytes in devotional service and who simply offer their respectful obeisances to the Deity in the temple but cannot realize that the Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, and those who simply worship different demigods for fulfillment of their own lusty desires, are unable to understand the importance of these sages. They cannot take advantage of receiving these sages by seeing them with their eyes, by touching their lotus feet, by inquiring about their welfare or by diligently worshiping them.”
Neophyte devotees or religionists cannot understand the importance of great mahātmās. They go to the temple as a matter of formality and pay their respectful obeisances unto the Deity. But when one is promoted to the next platform of transcendental consciousness, one can understand the importance of mahātmās and devotees, and in that stage one tries to please them. Therefore, Lord Kṛṣṇa said that the neophyte cannot understand the importance of great sages, devotees or ascetics.