Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 7, Verse 16

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-vidhāḥfour kinds; bhajanteworship; māmme; janāḥpeople; su-kṛitinaḥthose who are pious; arjunaArjun; ārtaḥthe distressed; jijñāsuḥthe seekers of knowledge; artha-arthīthe seekers of material gain; jñānīthose who are situated in knowledge; chaand; bharata-ṛiṣhabhaThe best amongst the Bharatas, Arjun


BG 7.16: O best amongst the Bharatas, four kinds of pious people engage in my devotion—the distressed, the seekers after knowledge, the seekers of worldly possessions, and those who are situated in knowledge.


Having described the kinds of people who do not surrender to him, Shree Krishna now categorizes the kinds of people who do take refuge in him.

1) The distressed. For some people, when the pot of worldly miseries becomes excessive, it leads them to conclude that running after the world is futile, and it is better to take shelter in God. Likewise, when they see that worldly supports are unable to protect them, they then turn to God for protection. Draupadi’s surrender to Shree Krishna was an example of this type of surrender. When Draupadi was being disrobed in the assembly of the Kauravas, she first counted upon the protection of her husbands. When they remained silent, she relied upon the pious elders present in the assembly—Dronacharya, Kripacharya, Bheeshma, and Vidur—to help her. When they too failed to offer her protection, she clenched her sari between her teeth. Up to this stage, Shree Krishna did not come to Draupadi’s rescue. Finally, when Dushasan pulled her sari with a jerk, it slipped from the grasp of her teeth. At that point, she no longer had any faith in the protection of others, nor was she relying on her own strength. She surrendered herself totally to Shree Krishna, who immediately offered her complete protection. He intervened by extending the length of her sari. No matter how much Dushashan pulled, he was still not able to disrobe Draupadi.

2) The seekers after knowledge. Some people take shelter of God out of their curiosity to know. They have heard about others finding beatitude in the spiritual realm and this makes them curious to know what it is all about. So, to satisfy their curiosity, they approach the Lord.

3) The seekers of worldly possessions. Another kind of people are very clear about what they want but they are convinced that only the Lord can provide it to them, and thus they go to his shelter. For example, Dhruv began his devotion with the desire to become more powerful than his father, King Uttanapad. But when his devotion matured and God finally gave him darśhan, he realized that what he had desired was like broken pieces of glass from someone who possessed the priceless jewel of divine love. He then requested the Lord to bestow pure selfless devotion upon him.

4) Those who are situated in knowledge. Finally, there are souls who have reached the understanding that they are tiny parts of God and their eternal dharma is to love and serve him. Shree Krishna says that these are the fourth kind of people who engage in his devotion.