BHAGAVAD GITA: Knowledge of the Absolute: Chapter 7:Verse 3
kaścid yatati siddhaye
yatatām api siddhānāṁ
kaścin māṁ vetti tattvataḥ
Synonyms: manuṣyāṇām — of men; sahasreṣu — out of many thousands; kaścit — someone; yatati — endeavors; siddhaye — for perfection; yatatām — of those so endeavoring; api — indeed; siddhānām — of those who have achieved perfection; kaścit — someone; mām — Me; vetti — does know; tattvataḥ — in fact.
Translation: Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth.
The first six chapters of the Gītā are meant for those who are interested in transcendental knowledge, in understanding the self, the Super self and the process of realization by jñāna-yoga, dhyāna-yoga and discrimination of the self from matter. So, in the first six chapters, the living entity has been described as nonmaterial spirit soul capable of elevating himself to self-realization by different types of yogas. At the end of the Sixth Chapter, it has been clearly stated that the steady concentration of the mind upon Kṛṣṇa, or in other words Kṛṣṇa consciousness, is the highest form of all yoga.
The next six chapters talk about how to control mind, confidential knowledge, devotional services etc.
The seventh chapter talks about Knowledge of the Absolute (the topics deal with devotional service). Here the Supreme Personality of Godhead says: Now hear, O son of Pṛthā, how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt. And I shall now declare unto you in full this knowledge, both phenomenal (jñānam means Knowledge) and numinous (vijñānam, means practical knowledge). This being known, nothing further shall remain for you to know. This shows reading of Bhagavad Gita in theory is not enough what we have to do this we have to put in to practice then only we will be in perfect in Krishna consciousness.
In this verse Krishna says out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection and those who have achieved perfection hardly knows me in truth. This statement is not to create fear in us but to make us think the importance of Practicing Krishna consciousness so that we may not take Krishna consciousness for granted but practice it sincerely.
This verse also discusses about:
1) The various type of people who seeks God? What are their motivations.
2)The various path taken by the seekers to reach God? And what is the right path
3)Why only one out of thousands endeavor for perfection
4)What we can do to achieve perfection.
What are the types of people who seeks God ?
Generally, mankind is simply engaged in the animal propensities, namely eating, sleeping, defending and mating, and hardly anyone is interested in transcendental knowledge. They are content with this status out of ignorance. Due to maya, everyone has forgotten the real purpose of life. Originally, we were all spirit souls with full of knowledge and bliss enjoying with Krishna in the spiritual world. We fell down from the Spiritual world because we wanted to enjoy separate from Krishna. In material world we have forgotten our true identity.
While we are in this material world, we are controlled by 3 modes of material nature like
1)Mode of ignorance ( Tama guna )
2)Mode of passion ( Raja guna )
3)Mode of goodness ( Sattva Guna )
Every one of us will have some amount modes of all these 3 natures within us and depending on the degrees of these nature we possess certain behavior. And because of that our propensity like eating, sleeping, defending and mating tends to affect our spiritual life. Those who are in the Sattva Guna tend to approach God, people in the mode of passion also sometimes approach God.
So, when do people approach God. The seventh chapter of Bhagavad Gita ,7:16, explains in depth various details like
catur-vidhā bhajante māṁ
janāḥ su-kṛtino ’rjuna
ārto jijñāsur arthārthī
jñānī ca bharatarṣabha
Translation: 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.
Distressed: When difficulties come, they approach God. Example if someone is sick in their family, or a natural calamity comes they approach God and pray. This is also good in one way if we think because they are actually approaching God and praying for their needs. Many people are in this category. If they by chance come across a devotee, then they are going to get benefited tremendously. Many people come to Krishna consciousness through devotees and this is really good because we are trying to get back to God.
Desirer of Wealth: These people are in bad shape due to lack of money and distressed and they pray to Lakshmi Devi. This is also good in one way because they are approaching a Demigod. By approaching Demigod, they are actually indirectly praying to Supreme Lord
The inquisitive: These people are curious to know about God. They are also actually frustrated because they don’t know what to do sometimes. For example, a child asking her parents why are we going to temple and parents don’t have a right answer to give. Parents also started to think what answer to give to their child .Are they going to temple with the love to see God or to ask God to fulfill their material needs. They also need to give the kids right answer that is where the curiosity comes. And if they come across a pure devotee that is going to benefit them in a big way.
Who is searching for the absolute:
These people are serious to know about the absolute. They try to read all kinds of Vedic and spiritual books and they try to enquire by themselves. The problem here is there is no one to guide them. They tend to read lots of philosophy and can become impersonal and that is the biggest challenge faced, but if they are really sincere to know about God then Krishna will guide them to right path. They will be introduced to some devotees. The good part is there is good chance to know about God for them in right way but also there is a danger of going in the wrong path because there are lots of fake gurus out there and they can be misguided as well. This is a very critical stage because in one way they want to know about God and in other way they have chance in going in the wrong path as well.
Pure devotees: Pure devotees are the one who do not have any material desire and have attained perfection. These are the people whom we have to approach because they can actually guide us to the right path and one has to be really fortunate to get their association and the fortune comes only by our sincere desire. We are all actually fortunate to know about Krishna consciousness as we are in the right path due to the mercy of devotees.
There is another type of people called Miscreants (atheistic). They DO NOT approach God.
In BG 7.15 Krishna says,
na māṁ duṣkṛtino mūḍhāḥprapadyante narādhamāḥmāyayāpahṛta-jñānāāsuraṁ bhāvam āśritāḥ
Translation: Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, who are lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons do not surrender unto Me. These are the people who does not approach god. These people are really grossly foolish persons, the lowest of mankind, the deluded speculators and the professed atheists
Paths/Motivation of God seekers
So, what is the best path to achieve God?
In BG 7.17, Krishna says,
teṣāṁ jñānī nitya-yuktaeka-bhaktir viśiṣyatepriyo hi jñānino ’tyarthamahaṁ sa ca mama priyaḥ
Translation: Of these, the one who is in full knowledge and who is always engaged in pure devotional service is the best. For I am very dear to him, and he is dear to Me.
So, one who eventually comes to the platform of pure devotional service is the best. By searching after knowledge, one realizes that his self is different from his material body. Here pure devotees help us to realize we are different from this material body and as he further advances, he comes to the knowledge of impersonal Brahman and Paramātmā. When one is fully purified, by practicing Krishna consciousness, he realizes that his constitutional position is to be the eternal servant of God and our duty is to serve Krishna.
In BG 7.18, Krishna says,
udārāḥ sarva evaitejñānī tv ātmaiva me matamāsthitaḥ sa hi yuktātmāmām evānuttamāṁ gatim
Translation: All these devotees are undoubtedly magnanimous souls, but he who is situated in knowledge of Me I consider to be just like My own self. Being engaged in My transcendental service, he is sure to attain Me, the highest and most perfect goal.
So, does it mean that if you are not a pure devotee ,Krishna will not consider you. No, it is not like that. If you practice Krishna consciousness you are considered as magnanimous, Krishna is declaring in this verse that anyone who comes to the Lord for any purpose is called a “Mahatma or a great soul”. So, we are in the process of becoming a Mahatma actually and we are in the right track.
The devotees who want some benefit out of devotional service are accepted by the Lord because there is an exchange of affection. Out of affection they ask the Lord for some material benefit, and when they get it, they become so satisfied they eventually advance in devotional service. But the devotee in full knowledge is considered to be very dear to the Lord because his only purpose is to serve the Supreme Lord with love and devotion. Examples of such pure devotees are:
1)Prahalad Maharaj: At a very young age he started preaching about Krishna to his friends. He was fearless at all times even when his father tried to kill him many times because he had full faith in Krishna will protect him and only Prahalad Maharaj could approach/ pacify Lord Nrsimha Deva after killing Hiranyakasipu.
2)Sudhama: Was always thinking of Krishna
3)Srila Prabupada: Selflessly spread the knowledge of Krishna consciousness to the whole world in pure devotional service. He came to America with no money. But established 108 temples in North America within 10 years. Here now we see people are struggling to establish at least one temple but Srila Prabhupad was able to do it. Only a pure devotee could do that. This Shows the mercy of Krishna to his pure devotee’s.
4)Srila Prabupada was giving Krishna consciousness to Hippies, the people whom we dare to approach and converted them to happies. This shows that his purity that which attracted many people towards him, because the always think and talk about Krishna and if we see Krishna is also all attractive so are his pure devotees . They represent Krishna at all aspects.
ONE OUT OF THOUSANDS ENDEAVOR FOR PERFECTION.
Who are the one out of Thousands that endeavor for Perfection?
bahūnāṁ janmanām antejñānavān māṁ prapadyatevāsudevaḥ sarvam itisa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ
Translation: After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.
It takes many many births for us to actually to come to know Krishna and fully surrender un to him. it is not an easy task. We have already undergone millions of births in various species of life and also in human form of life and each time we have learned little bit about Krishna .We might have done some pious activities like building a temple, hospital, or educating people, donating for charities etc., but most of these things were on material platform. We never surrendered to Krishna. To surrender un to Krishna we actually need favor of a devotee who has knowledge about Krishna or his representatives. When we get touch with such a devotee, we also become purified. That is what our objective. When we are spreading Krishna conscious message, we are actually giving that mercy to the people all over the world letting everyone to come to the pure stage of a Vaishnava.
Kṛṣṇa can be known only by persons who are in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. This is the important thing. You cannot know yourself Krishna. You have to approach a person who actually knows about Krishna and Krishna actually reveals himself only to his pure devotees. So, if we approach this way you will definitely make progress if you are sincere. Other transcendentalists may achieve impersonal Brahman realization, for this is easier than understanding Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Person, but at the same time He is beyond the knowledge of Brahman and Paramātmā. So, the yogis and jñānīs are confused in their attempts to understand Kṛṣṇa.
Krishna says in many places in Bhagavad Gita. “No one knows Me” in multiple places. This can be explained by the example of an Airplane. We are sitting in a plane on the run way and the airplane is taking off to the sky. While we are going up, we happy to see so many things below , then we see the clouds and get confused because we cannot see anything. But when we go further up, we get some clarity. Again, when we still go further up , there is some more clarity but still there are multiple layers of clouds. The plane again goes up and up and we come above the clouds finally. And once we are above the clouds then everything is crystal clear. We can see now the clouds are below that is how our journey in Krishna conscious also in realizing God. In the initial stage we come across devotees who share some knowledge we are all excited and want to put in to practice. Then as we practice Krishna Consciousness more, there will be some progress then we come across the reality “the cloud stage”. Then as we practice Krishna conscious more sincerely , we realize that this is not that easy task there is some difficulty and challenges or struggles to perfect our practice then Krishna sees our sincere efforts and helps us so we might come out of the “cloud stage” and see some light. But sometimes we lack in our practices, and it can happen multiple times depending on how serious we are in the path of Krishna consciousness and then finally we come out of the “cloud” sincerely by our sincere practice and see everything clear that stage is the pure devotional stage. The personalization is not a simple subject to understand.
Many people are not willing to accept the fact that Supreme Lord who had created the whole world is a person that is not an easy thing for many people to digest but that is the truth. We cannot understand him by our material senses. But He reveals himself only to His pure devotees . As you clean your heart through the process of Bhakti Krishna gives you the intelligence to understand that He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the cause of all causes, the primeval Lord Govinda. Īśvaraḥparamaḥkṛṣṇaḥsac-cid-ānanda-vigrahaḥ/ anādir ādir govindaḥsarva-kāraṇa-kāraṇam. The so-called path of bhakti practiced by unauthorized persons without knowledge of bhakti may be easy, but when it is practiced factually according to the rules and regulations, the speculative scholars and philosophers fall away from the path.
Bhakti is not easy to practice. It has to practiced with rules and regulations by authorized scriptures. We have to careful from where and from whom we have to hear about Krishna. In the beginning of spiritual realization, while one is trying to give up one’s attachment to materialism, there is some leaning towards impersonalism, but when one is further advanced, he can understand that there are activities in the spiritual life and that these activities constitute devotional service. This knowledge we will get only by the mercy of devotees. Identifying a bonafied devotee is important. We are very fortunate that Srila Prabhupad gave us the right path. Realizing this, he becomes attached to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and surrenders to Him. Devotional service means whatever activities we do for the pleasure of Krishna. When we give pleasure to Krishna or any other person there is love or affection or Exchange of affection, we get more attachment. The more you attached to Krishna the more surrender you will be to Krishna. That is the gradual path. At such a time one can understand that Lord Krishna’s mercy in everything, that He is the cause of all causes, and that this material manifestation is not independent from Him. Krishna gives the right intelligence or knowledge. He realizes the material world to be a perverted reflection of spiritual variegations and realizes that in everything there is a relationship with the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa. Thus, he thinks of everything in relation to Vasudeva, or ŚrīKṛṣṇa. Such a universal vision of Vasudeva precipitates one’s full surrender to the Supreme Lord ŚrīKṛṣṇa as the highest goal. Such surrendered great souls are very rare. We need to have full faith in our Shiksha Gurus, Spiritual Master and in our scriptures so we can achieve this progress.
WHAT CAN WE DO FOR PERFECTION?
In BG 4.34, Krishna says,
tad viddhi praṇipātenaparipraśnena sevayāupadekṣyanti te jñānaṁjñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ
Translation: Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.
1)Approach a Spiritual Master and learn from him Submissively, not in a challenging spirit.
2)Follow the 4 regulative principles strictly
3)Chant the Hare Krishna Maha mantra at least 16 rounds every day
4)Associate with advanced devotees who are strictly following this path
5)Read SrilaPrabhupad’s books [Bhagavat Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, Chaitanya Charitamrta etc. every day ]
6)Spread this knowledge of Krishna Consciousness to everyone
1)Only one in thousands endeavor for perfection. Of that hardly few know Krishna in truth
2)We should not take this Krishna conscious path lightly or take it for granted.
3)Krishna specially favors pure devotees, because they are very dear to Him.
4)We can also become pure devotees by following this path of Krishna consciousness.