Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 7, Verse 3

मनुष्याणां सहस्रेषु कश्चिद्यतति सिद्धये |
यततामपि सिद्धानां कश्चिन्मां वेत्ति तत्वत: || 3||

manuṣhyāṇāṁ sahasreṣhu kaśhchid yatati siddhaye
yatatām api siddhānāṁ kaśhchin māṁ vetti tattvataḥ

manuṣhyāṇāmof men; sahasreṣhuout of many thousands; kaśhchitsomeone; yatatistrives; siddhayefor perfection; yatatāmof those who strive; apieven; siddhānāmof those who have achieved perfection; kaśhchitsomeone; māmme; vettiknows; tattvataḥin truth

Translation

BG 7.3: Amongst thousands of persons, hardly one strives for perfection; and amongst those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows me in truth.

Commentary

In this verse, the word siddhi has been used for perfection. This is a word loaded with numerous connotations and meanings. Here are a few meanings of the word siddhi from the Sanskrit dictionary: attainment of a supernatural power, accomplishment, success, performance, fulfillment, solution of a problem, completion of cooking or a task, healing, hitting the mark, maturing, supreme felicity, beatitude, an unusual skill or faculty, perfection. Shree Krishna uses the word for perfection on the spiritual path, and says, “Arjun, out of innumerable souls, only a tiny proportion possess the human form. Amongst those who have attained the human birth, only a few strive for perfection. Even amongst thousands of perfected souls, those who are aware of my paramount position and divine glories are very rare.”

Why do souls who have achieved perfection in spiritual practices not know God in truth? This is because without bhakti, or loving devotion to the Lord, it is not possible to know or perceive him. Spiritual aspirants who practice karm, jñāna, haṭha yog, etc. without including devotion alongside cannot know God. In the Bhagavad Gita, Shree Krishna reiterates this fact many times:

“Although he is all-pervading and all living beings are situated in him, yet he can be known only through devotion.” 8.22.

“O Arjun, by devotion alone, and by no other means, can I be seen as I am, standing before you. In this way can you know me, receive my divine vision, and enter into the mysteries of my understanding.” 11.54

“Only by loving devotion does one come to know who I am in truth. Then, having come to know my personality through devotion, one enters my divine realm.” 18.55

Thus, those spiritual aspirants who do not include devotion in their sādhanā remain restricted to theoretical knowledge of God. They do not get experiential knowledge of the Absolute Truth.

Having said that one in many human beings knows him in truth, Shree Krishna now launches into a description of the material and spiritual dimensions of his energies. He first introduces apara prakṛiti, the field of material energy, which is an inferior energy, and yet, an energy of God.