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Those Who Seek God

Part 53 of the Bhagavad Gita for Awakening

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Among the virtuous, four kinds seek me: the distressed, the seekers of knowledge, the seekers of wealth and the wise (7:16).

Now a great deal of people think they are religious, that they “seek the face of God,” but Krishna is presenting us with four broad categories of seekers.

The distressed. The Artas means those who are intensely troubled–bereft, afflicted, distressed, or suffering. Wisely they seek for relief in God, rather than try to distract themselves or deny their problems. Nor do they fool themselves with the false answers and delusive things of the deluded world.

The seekers of knowledge. The Jijnasus are those who desire knowledge and understanding, who really want to find the answers to the why and wherefore of themselves and their life, past, present, and future. They both think and realize that there is more to themselves and to life than they presently know. Like Socrates, they know that they know virtually nothing. But they yearn to know, realizing that without spiritual knowledge they are adrift on the ocean of relative existence without any sure hope. They will be satisfied with nothing less.

The seekers of wealth. The Artharthi are those who seek attainment and welfare, but not the temporary and changeable things of the world. They want something that lasts and cannot be lost. Right now they may not know it, but inevitably they will come to realize that they are really looking for God alone.

The wise. A jnani is one in whom true wisdom has arisen in the form of spiritual intuition, and who now consciously and very actively seeks the knowledge of Brahman which is itself Brahmanirvana, the state of enlightenment in Brahman. In Krishna’s listing the jnani is not a perfect knower of Brahman, otherwise he would not be a seeker, but he is a knower who is impelled by what he knows to seek Supreme Knowledge and the Supreme Knower. It is only natural that Krishna would continue, saying:

The highest seeker

Of them, the wise man, ever united, devoted to the One, is pre-eminent. Exceedingly dear am I to the man of wisdom, and he is dear to me (7:17).

It is obvious from this verse that the jnani is a yogi, for he is devoted to God and to no other for two reasons. First, he values God above all else. Second he knows that God alone is real, that all else is unreal and therefore unworthy of his dedication. But his valuation is not an impersonal factoid. Rather, God is dear to him and he is dear to God. Priya means both “dear” and “beloved.” Actually, Krishna uses two words: atyartham priya: “exceedingly dear”–even “extraordinarily dear.” So God fills the heart and mind of the jnani, just as God is fully intent on him. As Solomon sang: “My beloved is mine, and I am his” (Song of Solomon 2:16. See also 6:3 and 7:10).

Then Krishna tells us:

All these indeed are exalted, but I see the man of wisdom as my very Self. He, with mind steadfast, abides in me, the Supreme Goal (7:18).

The jnani does not love God because of what he can get from him. He loves God because he alone is worthy of his love. Our English word “worship” was originally “worthship”–accounting someone worthy. We do not love God for any trait or deed, but for what he is in his essence. He is the ultimate and only Goal of all sentient beings. And devoted hearts alone reach that Goal.

Just a bit more:

At the end of many births the wise man takes refuge in me. He knows: All is Vasudeva [He Who Dwells in All Things]. How very rare is that great soul (7:19).

Vasudeva is the Universal, All-Pervading God. The jnanis have ripened throughout many dedicated lives in which God alone has been their goal and refuge. For they know that God is all, the beginning and end. Rare indeed are such great ones. Yet, all of us are destined to be rare like them. Happy destiny!

Read the next article in the Bhagavad Gita for Awakening: Those Who Worship God and the Gods

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Introduction to The Bhagavad Gita for Awakening

Preface to The Bhagavad Gita for Awakening

Bhagavad Gita for Awakening links:

  1. The Battlefield of the Mind
  2. On the Field of Dharma
  3. Taking Stock
  4. The Smile of Krishna
  5. Birth and Death–The Great Illusions
  6. Experiencing the Unreal
  7. The Unreal and the Real
  8. The Body and the Spirit
  9. Know the Atman!
  10. Practical Self-Knowledge
  11. Perspective on Birth and Death
  12. The Wonder of the Atman
  13. The Indestructible Self
  14. “Happy the Warrior”
  15. Buddhi Yoga
  16. Religiosity Versus Religion
  17. Perspective on Scriptures
  18. How Not To Act
  19. How To Act
  20. Right Perspective
  21. Wisdom About the Wise
  22. Wisdom About Both the Foolish and the Wise
  23. The Way of Peace
  24. Calming the Storm
  25. First Steps in Karma Yoga
  26. From the Beginning to the End
  27. The Real “Doers”
  28. Our Spiritual Marching Orders
  29. Freedom From Karma
  30. “Nature”
  31. Swadharma
  32. In the Grip of the Monster
  33. Devotee and Friend
  34. The Eternal Being
  35. The Path
  36. Caste and Karma
  37. Action–Divine and Human
  38. The Mystery of Action and Inaction
  39. The Wise in Action
  40. Sacrificial Offerings
  41. The Worship of Brahman
  42. Action–Renounced and Performed
  43. Freedom (Moksha)
  44. The Brahman-Knower
  45. The Goal of Karma Yoga
  46. Getting There
  47. The Yogi’s Retreat
  48. The Yogi’s Inner and Outer Life
  49. Union With Brahman
  50. The Yogi’s Future
  51. Success in Yoga
  52. The Net and Its Weaver
  53. Those Who Seek God
  54. Those Who Worship God and the Gods
  55. The Veil in the Mind
  56. The Big Picture
  57. The Sure Way To Realize God
  58. Day, Night, and the Two Paths
  59. The Supreme Knowledge
  60. Universal Being
  61. Maya–Its Dupes and Its Knowers
  62. Worshipping the One
  63. Going To God
  64. Wisdom and Knowing
  65. Going To The Source
  66. From Hearing To Seeing
  67. The Wisdom of Devotion
  68. Right Conduct
  69. The Field and Its Knower
  70. Interaction of Purusha and Prakriti
  71. Seeing the One Within the All
  72. The Three Gunas
  73. The Cosmic Tree
  74. Freedom
  75. The All-pervading Reality
  76. The Divine and the Demonic
  77. Faith and the Three Gunas
  78. Food and the Three Gunas
  79. Religion and the Three Gunas
  80. Tapasya and the Three Gunas
  81. Charity and the Three Gunas
  82. Sannyasa and Tyaga
  83. Deeper Insights On Action
  84. Knowledge, Action, Doer, and the Three Gunas
  85. The Three Gunas: Intellect and Firmness
  86. The Three Kinds of Happiness
  87. Freedom
  88. The Great Devotee
  89. The Final Words
  90. Glossary

Visit our e-library page for Free Downloads of this and other ebooks in various formats.

Read the Maharshi Gita, an arrangement of verses of the Bhagavad Gita made by Sri Ramana Maharshi that gives an overview of the essential message of the Gita.

Read The Bhagavad Gita (arranged in verses for singing) by Swami Nirmalananda Giri (Abbot George Burke).

Read about the meanings of unfamiliar terms in A Brief Sanskrit Glossary

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