The Mother Divine
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By Swami Dayananda Saraswati
Sri Sri Sitaramdas Omkarnath
Chaturvidah bhajante mam janahsukrtino ‘rjuna, the people, given to good actions who worship me are four-fold (BG 7-16). Among those sukrtino, who recognize and worship Ishvara, there are four types. Chaturvidah. Vidhah means variety so there are four varieties of devotees. All of themh ave sufficient recognition of Ishvara to be devotees but among them there isa gradation. The degree of recognition, their attitude, approach, prayers, etc., all determine the four types. And they are, he says, aartha, jijnasu, arthaarth, jnani.

Arthi means any sorrow or grief. Sadness, distress, discomfort, trouble are all called arthi. Aartha is one who is seized by a distress, caused by a thief, tiger, or disease. Tigers were common in those days when India was full of forests, so Sri Sankara commonly uses the tiger as an example. When a person is seized by some distress, who will he call as a last resort? If he has some punyakarma, there is Ishvara in his life and he will call upon Him. But only when he is in distress. Till then he does not think of Him. But at least during that spell of distress he does think of Him – because he does not see anyone else who can help him. This kind of devotee is called aartha, a devotee in distress.

Artha means what is desired. In this context it means wealth and things similar to it – power, progeny and so on. One wants all these and to get them, the arthaarthi invokes the grace of Bhagavan. He thinks he cannot live happily without these things and so he makes use of various means to get them. He uses local influence, money etc. – plus Bhagavan, because he recognizes that there is always a factor over which he has no control. As a devotee, he is mature enough to recognize the chance element. That herecognizes as daivam. And there is no way of having any control over itwithout some grace. So whenever he wants to accomplish something, heinvokes the grace of Ishvara to control certain factors that he cannot control oreven know. He will perform rituals in order to invoke Ishvara’s grace to helphim gain whatever he wants. This is kamya-karma, a karma done with adesire to accomplish a given end within samsara. The one who does kamyakarma is an arthaarthi. But he is also an artha devotee. When he is in troublehe will, of course, invoke the Lord. An artha, however, is not an arthaarthi because only in distress can he think of God.

The third one is jijnasu. The order in the verse artha, jijnasu, arthaarthi is for the sake of meter. But in order of their understanding artha and arthaarthi are one group, jijnasu and jnani, another. Jijnasu is the one who desires to know. What does he wants to know? That is also important because even the one who does wrong actions, duukrtino, wants to know a lot of things – like how to open locks. But here, the subject matter is Ishvara,the truth of Ishvara, bhagavat-tattvam. He is not invoking Ishvara’s grace for simple accomplishments. He wants to know the truth of Ishvara, the ultimate cause of everything. And this jijnasu is a great devotee. He does not use Bhagavan as an accomplice for his small little pursuits; he wants to know who Ishvara is. As a bhakta he invokes Ishvara’s grace for this. He also offers his prayers; he also performs his daily and occasional duties, nitya naimittika karma. But he does all this to gain a clear mind, antakarana shuddhi, and the knowledge of Ishvara.
Knowledge of Ishvara is nothing but knowledge of atma. Ishvara, the cause of everything happens to be the essence, oneself. If Ishvara were other than atma he would be anatma, and therefore inert. The only conscious being is atma, and Ishvara is not separate from it.

This seeming difference between Ishvara and the individual is due to upadhi. There is only one reality and that the jijnasu wants to know. He is a devotee because he seeks the help of Ishvara and performs prayerful actions to earn this help. But his actions are not for limited ends within sansara, kamya-karmas. The artha and arthaarthi are kamis because theirs are kamyakarmas. The jijnasu, however, is a karma-yogi so his is a different type of devotion. Because of his extra punya, he has discrimination, viveka, and because of that he is a jijnasu.

And then there is a fourth bhakta. All four recognize me and to the degree they recognize me they are in union with me. The fourth one’s recognition is complete so his identification is total. When you are a jijnasu you necessarily become a jnani, one who knows the truth of Lord Vishnu, Parameshvara, as himself. He is a real bhakta.

Excerpted from the Bhagavad Gita Home Study course. Published as Devotion as Jnana Yoga in the 9th anniversary souvenir of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, 1995