Ch 7  VERSE 19

बहूनां जन्मनामन्ते ज्ञानवान्मां प्रपद्यते

वासुदेवः सर्वमिति महात्मा सुदुर्लभः ॥१९॥


bahūnāṁ janmanām ante

jṣānavān māṁ prapadyate

vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti

sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ


bahūnām—many; janmanām—births; ante—after; jñāna—vān—he possessing knowledge; mām—unto Me; prapadyate—surrenders; vāsudevaḥ—cause of all causes; sarvam—all; iti—thus; saḥ—such; mahātmā—great soul; sudurlabhaḥ—very rare.

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.

bahūnāṁ janmanām ante

jnānavān māṁ prapadyate

vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti

sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ


“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.”

So in the previous verse that we had studied it—and I’ll just read it to you,

“Besides this inferior nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is a superior energy of Mine, which are all living entities who are struggling with material nature and are sustaining the universe.”

So in this verse there is a description of the jivas, the living beings; and in material nature they are simply struggling very hard with material nature and disconnected from their spiritual nature, in illusion as to their actual spiritual identity. But Krishna had previously mentioned how amongst all the living beings, or human beings, there are some who are endeavouring for that which is higher, more perfect, more spiritual; and in that verse, which is the third sloka in this chapter, chapter 7, He states,

“Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavour for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth.”

So, what we see is that it is a rare situation for a living being in the human form to actually aspire for some form of higher perfection, spiritual liberation, and even amongst those who are endeavouring for this, hardly one of them will come to know Bhagavan Sri Krishna as He actually is. These endeavours for perfection often extend over many lifetimes, not like just one little bit of effort or endeavour, and this point is addressed by the great acharya, Sri Madhva Acharya. And commenting on this verse, he has stated,

“After the experience of many, many lifetimes one becomes aware of Lord Krishna’s supreme position. The Brahma Purana states: ‘Becoming aware after taking many, many births one resorts to the Supreme Lord.’ It is not that everyone who first approaches the Supreme Lord Krishna is aware of His paramount position as the Supreme controller. It is subsequently, after many, many lives of approaching Him, that one becomes aware of this.

In more recent times, about 530 years ago, the great Caitanya Mahaprabhu made the following statement, which is found in the Caitanya Caritamrita:

“According to their karma, all living entities are wandering throughout the entire universe. Some of them are being elevated to the upper planetary systems, and some are going down into the lower planetary systems. Out of many millions of wandering living entities, one who is very fortunate gets an opportunity to associate with a bonafide spiritual master by the grace of Krishna. By the mercy of both Krishna and the spiritual master, such a person receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service.”

So this provides us with a context, or a bigger picture, that the attainment of the position of understanding Lord Sri Krishna to be the Original Personality of Godhead, and for a person to desire the highest form of spiritual enlightenment, to awaken their natural propensity to love and to serve, in a mood of deep love and affection, the personality of Godhead, is an extremely rare and deeply fortunate occurrence. Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, in his commentary on this verse, made the following statements:

“The living entity, while executing devotional service or transcendental rituals after many, many births, may actually become situated in transcendental pure knowledge that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the ultimate goal of spiritual realization. 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 one can understand that there are activities in the spiritual life, that these activities constitute devotional service.”

So I’ll just speak to a point here. The reference to impersonalism is a reference to the philosophy that was propounded by Shankaracharya. Adi Shankar, in his promotion of a philosophy that’s known as kevala advaita, or pure monism, where there is no distinction made between the jiva and the Supreme Lord. It is understood that this teaching or philosophy runs counter to what is actually taught in the Vedas. And it is stated here that sometimes in the beginning of the spiritual pursuit someone may be drawn to this philosophy, termed here as impersonalism, but this is due to an insufficient understanding of the nature of the soul and the nature of the Parabrahman, the Supreme Truth, which is ultimately manifest in the form of the Personality of Godhead.

So continuing:

“Realizing this, he becomes attached to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and surrenders to Him. At such a time one can understand that Lord Sri Krishna’s mercy is everything, that He is the cause of all causes and that this material manifestation is not independent from Him. He realizes the material world to be a perverted reflection of spiritual variegatedness and realizes that in everything there is a relationship with the Supreme Lord Krishna. Thus he thinks of everything in relation to Vasudeva, or Sri Krishna. Such a universal vision of Vasudeva precipitates one’s full surrender to the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna as the highest goal. Such surrendered great souls are very rare.”

So, in order to help with a context of this verse, related to the previous verses: Arjuna had been questioning Krishna about the nature of people that may approach the transcendental path. And we will begin just reading here some of these verses, beginning with the 16th verse in the 7th chapter, where Lord Krishna states:

“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.”

So there had been a previous discussion of the nature of people who are adverse to a higher spiritual truth, and who are adverse in particular to the concept, or the understanding of the Personality of Godhead. And after itemizing these four categories of individuals Krishna goes on to explain the nature of those who take shelter in the Supreme, and these four categories of people are deemed pious.

This piousness is actually very foundational to great spiritual advancement. There has to be an inclination towards the higher spiritual truth or reality. If one has no inclination towards that, if they feel themselves to be self-sufficient and independent, doubting about any higher spiritual truth, such persons are not inclined to the descending process, the avaroha-pantha, the process of approaching the idea of higher spiritual authority in a mood of submission, in a mood of gentleness of heart. One is, rather, infected with arrogance and a feeling of being supreme.

This consciousness of feeling, “I do not need God. I do not need anything higher,” is the foundation for the material consciousness. When the living being sees themself at the centre of everything, I see everything in relation to me, and I am driven by a desire for my own so-called enjoyment, I am seeking my own happiness, my own pleasure. This consciousness is the ultimate manifestation of materialism.

When people are possessed of this type of consciousness, and they become informed about the impersonal philosophy, they may then begin to cultivate this misunderstanding, or this corrupted idea that I am God. This is actually the ultimate ego trip. This is the highest expression of ignorance, of the ahankara, this initial covering of the soul that blinds the living being to their real self-interest and to real spiritual truth.

People that are in this condition often look upon the pious in a very derisive way. They feel them to be ignorant, stupid, unintelligent, feeling that, “Oh, they are going to create some idea of a higher being and take shelter because they don’t have the strength to stand on their own. They are weak and unintelligent.” But nothing could be actually further from the truth.

It requires great intelligence to surrender to the Supreme Lord. One has to be vastly experienced and possessed of a vast amount of knowledge and understanding to realize that I am not completely independent. I am not all powerful. I do not actually control my destiny, as it were. I am often engaged in undertakings and pursuits that I think will bring me happiness, when in reality it will only produce untold misfortune and misery for me. And when I find that I am unhappy in this pursuit, and when I feel frustrated, I don’t admit that perhaps I’ve made a mistake and am heading in the wrong direction. I—what I will do is choose another course of action, which will be an additional mistake that will not offset the first mistake but only make things worse. This is the nature of material consciousness.

And so, when a person begins to take shelter of a higher spiritual truth, or reality, it doesn’t matter what is the driving force, what is the reason for doing it. The reason can be utterly materialistic, as is the case here in these four types of people that take shelter of the Supreme Lord:

First is those in distress. Of course, that’s an—can be an infinite variety of situations that are causing distress. But when I take shelter of God it actually opens a doorway by which I can actually find my ultimate—the ultimate good for me, spiritual liberation. So you have the distressed.

The desirer of wealth, whether somebody is desiring great wealth, or they are just—they are barely able to make it and just wanting to get a few bucks to get through the next day for them and their family. Anyone that is a desirer of wealth may turn to God, “Please help me.”

Then you have the inquisitive.

And then finally, the one who is actually in knowledge and searching, the person that is searching, in knowledge of the absolute.

So continuing:

“Of these, the wise one who is in full knowledge in union with Me through pure devotional services is best, for I am very dear to him and he is dear to Me.

All these devotees are undoubtedly magnanimous souls, but he who is situated in knowledge of Me I consider verily to dwell in Me. Being engaged in my transcendental service he attains Me.”

So—and these were the verses that were leading up to this one which we had just read, and which I will now read again:

“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.”

We see this confirmed in the Brahma Samhita, where Lord Sri Krishna is identified by Lord Brahma as the sarva karana karanam, the great cause of all other causes, the originator of everything. And He is addressed in a verse in the Brahma Samhita as follows:

īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ sac-cid-ānanda-vigrahaḥ
anādir ādir govindaḥ sarva-kāraṇa-kāraṇam

“Krishna, who is known as Govinda, is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal, blissful, spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin, and He is the prime cause of all causes.”

So in the next verse that we study we will look into this subject a little bit further. So until then thank you.