चतुर्विधा भजन्ते मां जना: सुकृतिनोऽर्जुन |
आर्तो जिज्ञासुरर्थार्थी ज्ञानी च भरतर्षभ || 16||
chatur-vidhā bhajante māṁ janāḥ sukṛitino ’rjuna
ārto jijñāsur arthārthī jñānī cha bharatarṣhabha
chatuḥ-vidhāḥ—four kinds; bhajante—worship; mām—me; janāḥ—people; su-kṛitinaḥ—those who are pious; arjuna—Arjun; ārtaḥ—the distressed; jijñāsuḥ—the seekers of knowledge; artha-arthī—the seekers of material gain; jñānī—those who are situated in knowledge; cha—and; bharata-ṛiṣhabha—The best amongst the Bharatas, Arjun
Four types of virtuous men worship Me, Ο Arjuna: the man in distress, the man seeking knowledge, the man seeking enjoyment, and, Ο best of the Bhāratas, the man endowed with wisdom.
The devotees of the Lord are classified into four types. All of them worship the Lord. But their aim and purpose are different. They are all righteous people (sukritanah) as distinguished from the opposite type of demonical natures described in the previous verse.
1. Artah: Men in distress remember the Lord and pray to Him for the removal of their difficulties and sorrows. Men suffering from painful diseases cry for the mercy of the Lord to save them. So also, when attacked by dacoits or wild animals, when harassed by wicked people, men call on the Lord to protect them. These form the largest majority of devotees in the world. They seek refuge in various Devas for help and protection. Whatever their nature may be, they remember the Lord sometimes or other, and recognise Him as the Higher power, and so, they are all virtuous- ‘sukritanah’. Gajendra cried for the protection of the Lord when he was caught by the sea-monster. Draupadi did so when she was about to be stripped naked in the Royal Court of Dhritarashtra. The Lord did come down to protect them.
2. Jijnasuh: These are people who are eager to know and understand the Lord. Great research is carried on into the objective world, and people are spending their high intelligence and energy in these material pursuits only. Here and there we come across a research-worker in the field of the Divine. They study the sastras, examine their own nature, seek the guidance of the Guru, and try to find out the ultimate cause of creation, and the basic secret of their own personality. The Lord has already declared that the knowledge-seeker (jijnashu) transcends sastraic knowledge and Vedic ritualism. Such intense yearning to know the truth is the effect of the good done in several births.
3. Artharthi: Men who seek prosperity are the third type of devotees. Their object is to enjoy worldly prosperity in the various fields of human life. Naturally, they seek the benevolence of the Lord to confer prosperity on them. They are also the devotees of the Lord.
It is to be noted that the infinite compassion of the Lord is also open for people who desire material comforts, unopposed to the law of Dharma.
4. Jnani: The man of knowledge knows the real nature of the Lord, and is able to discriminate between the true and the illusory. He has attained the Self-state and lives in constant absorption in Atma. Unlike the ‘arta’ and ‘artharthi’ he has no fears and no desires. He loves the Lord because he knows that He is the only Reality in the universe, that He is the repository of all wisdom and bliss. He has nothing to gain for himself, and so his devotion to the Lord is a spontaneous act of oneness with Him.
Thus the four classes of men are included among the Lord’s devotees. They are all righteous men. Among ‘arta’ bhaktas we have the example of Gajendra and Draupadi; among the ‘jijnasu’ bhaktas Parikshit, Udahava, and others; among the ‘Artharthi’ bhaktas Sugriva, Dhruva, and others; and among the jnani’ bhaktas Suka, Narada, Bhishma, Prahlada and others.