Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 7, Verse 19

बहूनां जन्मनामन्ते ज्ञानवान्मां प्रपद्यते |
वासुदेव: सर्वमिति स महात्मा सुदुर्लभ: || 19||

bahūnāṁ janmanām ante jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ

bahūnāmmany; janmanāmbirths; anteafter; jñāna-vānone who is endowed with knowledge; māmunto me; prapadyatesurrenders; vāsudevaḥShree Krishna, the son of Vasudev; sarvamall; itithat; saḥthat; mahā-ātmāgreat soul; su-durlabhaḥvery rare

Translation

BG 7.19: After many births of spiritual practice, one who is endowed with knowledge surrenders unto me, knowing me to be all that is. Such a great soul is indeed very rare.

Commentary

This verse clears a common misconception. Often people who are intellectually inclined deride bhakti (devotion) as inferior to jñāna (knowledge). They maintain a supercilious air about themselves being engaged in the cultivation of knowledge and look down upon people engaged in devotion. However, in this verse Shree Krishna states the very reverse. He says that, after cultivating jñāna for many lives, when the jñānī’s knowledge reaches a ripened state, then he or she finally surrenders to God.

The fact is that true knowledge naturally leads to devotion. Let us say that a person was walking on the beach, and he found a ring on the sand. He lifted it up, but had no knowledge of its value. He thought it must be a piece of artificial jewelry, so common nowadays, and must be worth only $30. The next day, he showed the ring to a goldsmith, and asked, “Can you please value this ring for me?” The goldsmith checked it, and replied, “This is 22 carats gold. It must be worth $300.” On hearing this, the person’s love for the ring increased. Now when he looked at the ring, he got as much pleasure as he would on receiving a gift of $300.

A few more days went by, and his uncle, who was a jeweler, came from another town. He asked his uncle, “Could you evaluate this ring and the stone embedded in it?” His uncle looked at it, and exclaimed, “Where did you get this from? This is a real diamond. It must be worth $100,000.” He is overwhelmed. “Uncle, please do not joke with me.” “I am not joking, son. If you do not believe me, sell it to me for $75,000.” Now, he got confirmed knowledge of the true value of the ring. Immediately, his love for the ring increased. He felt he had won a jackpot, and his joy knew no bounds.

See, how the persons love for the ring kept increasing in proportion to his knowledge? When his knowledge was that the ring’s worth is $30, his love for it was to the same extent. When his knowledge became that the ring is valued at $300, his love for it increased to the same proportion. When his knowledge became that the ring is actually worth $100,000, his love for it got enhanced in the same measure.

The example above illustrates the direct correlation between knowledge and love. The Ramayan states:

jāneṅ binu na hoi paratītī, binu paratīti hoi nahiṅ prītī [v20]

“Without knowledge, there cannot be faith; without faith, love cannot grow.” Thus, true knowledge is naturally accompanied by love. If we claim we possess knowledge of Brahman, but we feel no love toward him, then our knowledge is merely theoretical.

Here, Shree Krishna explains that after many lifetimes of cultivation of knowledge, when that jñānī’s knowledge matures into true wisdom, he surrenders to the Supreme Lord, knowing him to be all that is. The verse states that such a noble soul is very rare. He does not say this for jñānīs, karmīs, haṭha-yogis, ascetics, etc. He declares it for the devotee, and says that the exalted soul who realizes “All is God,” and surrenders to him, is very rare.