Sri Krishna said:

तद्विद्धि प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नेन सेवया।

उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ते ज्ञानं ज्ञानिनस्तत्त्वदर्शिनः।।4.34।।

"Know that through prostration, iniry and service. The wise ones who have realized the Truth will impart the Knowledge to you."

The question is:

"Why did Krishna ask Arjuna to resort (i.e. serve) to other GyAnis when he himself was available to be served?"

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    @iammilind: Thanks for suggesting. I modified my question. Oct 28, 2015 at 5:21
  • was this similar to Rama asking Lakshmana to seek teachings from Ravana?
    – The Destroyer
    Oct 28, 2015 at 6:20
  • @AnilKumar: can you quote the verses from Srimad Ramayana, wherein Rama told Lakshmana to seek teachings from Ravana, please? Oct 28, 2015 at 6:25
  • this might not be present in Valmiki Ravana but i read it from "Ramayana by C Rajagopalachari". Ok you can neglect my statement if it's not available in Valmiki Ramayana.
    – The Destroyer
    Oct 28, 2015 at 6:33
  • @AnilKumar: As far as I understood, the only authoritative text on Ramayana is Valmiki's Ramayana. Other Ramayanas and commentaries can not be relied upon, if they deviate from Valmiki's Ramayana, please. Oct 28, 2015 at 6:37

2 Answers 2


GyAni[1] is similar to God(Krisna)'s own self[2].
Hence serving (or Poojan) a GyAni is equivalent to offering the same to the lord. This is also basis of Bhakti.

Ok, but why not Krishna himself?

Arjuna was anyway surrendered to Krishna. But through Gita, Krishna has made the message eternal. i.e. not specific to Arjuna or their life times. Had Krishna insisted Bhakti for his then personal form then it becomes too limited in availability. One day Krishna has to depart from earth, but GyAnis will always remain in some or the other forms.

That's why Krishna did not disregard other GyAnis compared to his then human form. In fact, he always acted in prescribed duties without trying to bend the social norms & rules. Depending on situation, he was quite humble. There is an event in Rajasuyika Parva, where Krishna arrives for the yagna and asks Yudhishtira to command him to take up any duty suitable for him[3]. He too washes the feet of Brahmins. He had nothing to achieve but still (or hence) he acted into his Karmas, which were actually Akarmas[4]. Because he was aware that, should he misconduct, everyone will follow him, leading to the destruction of society[5].


[1] GyAni = enlightened or self realized with transcendental awareness

[2] BG 7.18 — All these devotees are undoubtedly magnanimous souls, but he who is situated in knowledge of Me, I consider to be just like My own self. Being engaged in My transcendental service, he is sure to attain Me, the highest and most perfect goal.

[3] Krishna, extolling his virtues, said.--'Thou, O tiger among kings, deservest imperial dignity. Let, therefore, the great sacrifice be performed by thee. And if thou performest that sacrifice an obtainest its fruit we all shall regard ourselves as crowned with success. I am always engaged in seeking good. Perform thou then the sacrifice thou desirest. Employ me also in some office for that purpose, for I should obey all thy commands.'
Also in BRC Mahabharata, there is an episode where Krishna washes feet of Brahmanas.

[4] Akarma = non-fruitive actions in accordance of Swa-Dharma

[5] BG 3.23, 3.24 — For if I ever failed to engage in carefully performing prescribed duties, O Pārtha, certainly all men would follow My path.
— If I did not perform prescribed duties, all these worlds would be put to ruination. I would be the cause of creating unwanted population, and I would thereby destroy the peace of all living beings.

  • I agree with your statement - Krishna has made the message eternal. i.e. not specific to Arjuna or his life time. However, why should he advice either Arjuna in specific or any spiritual aspirant in general to approach Jnanis, but not to only one Jnani? Again, when Arjuna heard the Gita, why should he approach another Jnani and serve them, for the same discourse? Oct 28, 2015 at 8:15
  • @srimannarayanakv, only 1 gyAni would be impractical. Because 1 sloka mentions that gyAnis also helplessly behave according to their material nature. A person usually would have a tendency to follow certain nature which reflects his/her self. e.g. A devote Muslim will surely follow words of Muhammad or some genuine ImAm of today; but if he doesn't regard Krishna as supreme, then it doesn't mean that he cannot achieve God. Depending on different tastes, the gyAnis are also different (refer BG 10.19 onwards). A gyAni need not be a saint; he can be terrorist too! Must be self realized.
    – iammilind
    Oct 28, 2015 at 8:34
  • I am differing with your view that A gyAni need not be a saint; he can be terrorist too! Must be self realized. Sri Krishna used the word ज्ञानि in respect persons, who are realised only. Oct 28, 2015 at 8:40
  • @srimannarayanakv, just evaluate my above "terrorist" statement with BG 18.17. "Terrorist" is a relative term. e.g. For US, the Islamists are terrorists & for Islamists, US is (cultural) terrorist. But regardless, the actor's consciousness is important from an observer (God) perspective. Actions have absolutely no relevance here. Because actions are generated due to 3 modes of material interaction. Desire generates Karma Fala. That's why an animal killing another doesn't generate any Karma Fala. For human also it's true when done with Sattvik BhAva.
    – iammilind
    Oct 28, 2015 at 9:18
  • I have gone through the sloka 18.17. I think you have taken one single phrase out of the phrases used in the sloka- "nor does he become bound-even by killing these creatures!". The sloka says "He who has not the feeling of egoism, whose intellect is not tainted, he does not kill, nor does he become bound-even by killing these creatures!". There should not be egoism, and whose intellect is not tainted. we can not apply to the terrorists, whose nature we all know. any way we will come to the main point. Oct 28, 2015 at 10:48

Sri Krishna gave a message through the following sloka, not to get distracted by the outer appearance of various GURUs (spiritual teachers), and to get knowledge from each GURU, if necessary. by serving them.

तद्विद्धि प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नेन सेवया।

उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ते ज्ञानं ज्ञानिनस्तत्त्वदर्शिनः।।4.34।।

Know that through prostration, inquiry and service. The wise ones who have realized the Truth will impart the Knowledge to you.

A question arises as to

(i) why did Krishna ask Arjuna to resort (i.e. serve) to other Jnanis, when he himself was available to be served?

(ii) Was this advice given to Arjuna specifically or given to all spiritual aspirants in general?

(iii) Was approaching and serving a spiritual GURU is mandatory, in majority cases, for gaining knowledge and finally getting realisation for any spiritual aspirant?

However, here Sri Krishna was advising to approach many WISE ONEs (plural), but not a single WISE PERSON (A GURU). Why?

Enlightenment/Realisation in spirituality is equal to all persons, though belong to different sects/religions. The outer appearance, the customs the WISE will follow, the food habits, etc, may be different for WISE people belonging to various sects/religions.

There might be many ways to reach the TOP of the mountain. However, after reaching the TOP, the other paths, other the one the WISE person used, will be viewed by the WISE with equality.

This equanimity of viewing all paths can be obtained by approaching and serving various WISE people belonging to different sects/religions.

By serving one GURU/WISE person, the spiritual aspirant will be accustomed to that GURU's way of thinking only and cannot get the equanimity.

That is why Sri Krishna insisted on serving different WISE people, instead of ONE WISE person.

  • I think there is a similar reference in the Yoga Vashishtha too May 19, 2016 at 14:43

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