Krishna says the One in Knowledge is Best
There are four types of pious persons who will surrender to Krishna:
- The distressed.
- Those who are in need of money.
- Those who are inquisitive,
- And those who are searching after knowledge of the Absolute Truth.
It is natural that a person who is pious, who believes in God, will surrender to Him in times of distress, when he needs money or is inquistive. In the next two verses Krishna describes of these four types the one in knowledge is best:
Of these, the wise one who is in full knowledge in union with Me through pure devotional service is the best. For I am very dear to him, and he is dear to Me. (Bhagavad-gita 7.17)
Free from all contaminations of material desires, the distressed, the inquisitive, the penniless, and the seeker after supreme knowledge can all become pure devotees. But out of them, he who is in knowledge of the Absolute Truth and free from all material desires becomes a really pure devotee of the Lord. And of the four orders, the devotee who is in full knowledge and is at the same time engaged in devotional service is, the Lord says, the best.
By searching after knowledge one realizes that his self is different from his material body, and when further advanced he comes to the knowledge of impersonal Brahman and Paramatma. When one is fully purified, he realizes that his constitutional position is to be the eternal servant of God.
So by association with pure devotees, the inquisitive, the distressed, the seeker after material profits and the man in knowledge all become themselves pure. But in the preparatory stage, the man who is in full knowledge of the Supreme Lord and is at the same time executing devotional service is very dear to the Lord. He who is situated in pure knowledge of the transcendence of the Supreme Personality of God is so protected in devotional service that material contaminations cannot touch him.
All these devotees are undoubtedly magnanimous souls, but he who is situated in knowledge of Me I consider verily to dwell in Me. Being engaged in My transcendental service, he attains Me. (Bhagavad-gita 7.18)
It is not that other devotees who are less complete in knowledge are not dear to the Lord. The Lord says that all are magnanimous because anyone who comes to the Lord for any purpose is called a mahatma or great soul.
The devotees who want some benefit out of devotional service are accepted by the Lord because there is an exchange of affection. Out of affection they ask the Lord for some material benefit, and when they get it they become so satisfied that they also advance in devotional service. But the devotee in full knowledge is considered to be very dear to the Lord because his only purpose is to serve the Supreme Lord with love and devotion. Such a devotee cannot live a second without contacting or serving the Supreme Lord. Similarly, the Supreme Lord is very fond of His devotee and cannot be separated from him.
In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (9.4.68), the Lord says: “The devotees are always in My heart, and I am always in the heart of the devotees. The devotee does not know anything beyond Me, and I also cannot forget the devotee. There is a very intimate relationship between Me and the pure devotees. Pure devotees in full knowledge are never out of spiritual touch, and therefore they are very much dear to Me.”