Among devotees, jñānī is being praised.
tesām jñāni nityayukta ekabhaktirviśisyate |
priyo hi jñānino'tyartham aham sa ca mama priyah ||7.17||
Among these, the jñānī, always united (to me), his devotion resolved in oneness, is distinguished because I am very much dear to him and he is also dear to me.
Among these four devotees, jñānī is always united to Īśvara - nityayukta. Jñānī means the one who has immediate knowledge of the truth of Īśvara. Having owning up Īśvara as oneself, there is no time he/she is away from the Lord, because there is no second thing for a jñānī to see union and separation. Thus the word union here is "as though union". Therefore Īśvara is dearest to jñānī, and he/she is dearest to Īśvara. As we have seen, "ātmanah tu kāmāya sarvam priyam bhavati" - everything is dear only for the sake of the self. Therefore for jñānī, Īśvara who is not different from him/her is the dearest. Unlike ārtha and arthārthī who only use Īśvara as the means to release from distress and to gain what is desired. For jijńāsuh, Īśvara is the means also the end for moksa pursuit, but the dearest for him/her is still freedom for oneself. Therefore jñānī is distinguished from all of them, because Īśvara is recognised as one's self, hence he/she is dearest to Īśvara. It doesn't mean Īśvara has partiality, next it is explained.
udārāh sarva evaite jñānī tvātmaiva me matam |
āsthitah sa hi yuktātmā mām evānuttamām gatim ||7.18||
All these are indeed exalted, but the jñānī, the wise person, is myself alone. This is my vision. Because he, the one whose mind is absorbed in me, has indeed reached me, the end beyond which there is no other end.
All of these devotees are exalted, they all recognise me. So, from the standpoint of those who do not recognise me, they are exalted. But jñānī is the most beloved, because he/she is Īśvara alone. The others are also not different from me, but they have not recognised the fact. There is no partiality on the part of Īśvara, because he is already everyone. It is not that only the jñānī's ātmā is Īśvara's ātmā. The fact remains the same for all. The praise of a jñānī here is to point out that devotion is meant only for self-knowledge. It is absolute love, where between the object of love and the one who loves there is no difference.
bahūnām janmanām ante jñānavān mām prapadyate |
vāsudevah sarvam iti sa mahātmā sudurlabhah ||7.19||
At the end of many births, the one who has gained the knowledge "Vasudeva is everything", reaches me. That wise person is very rare.
At the end of many births, indicates a numbers of births wherein one had gathered enough punya conducive to knowledge. One has many births before one begins to recognise the fundamental problem and seek solution. When the knowledge is gained, this wise person sees "Vasudeva is everything". Vasudeva here doesn't mean Lord Krsna in the form of Krsna as one of the devata. Vasu means the one in whom everything exists, by whom everything is sustained (sat). Deva means pure consciousness (cit). From the standpoint of the world, it is vasu, the cause of everything and from its own standpoint it is consciousness, deva. Therefore this pratyagātmā - "the very self is everything", "I am everything", in this way the wise person reaches the Lord.
Question arises, if Īśvara is everything in this world, isn't it has no different between holding the reality of the world and holding to the reality of Īśvara? To answer this question, śāstra uses a method called bādhāyām sāmānādhikaranyam.
Samāna means "the same" and adhikarana means "locus". When two things have the same locus, then one is said to be a samāna-adhikarana. And the condition in which two objects enjoy the same locus is called sāmānādhikaranya. There are two types of sāmānādhikaranya. In a green pot, both green colour and the pot are in the same locus. Similarly, when we say, "sumukhee is a teacher", both sumukhee and the teacher reside in the same locus. Sumukhee is teacher and the teacher is sumukhee. A is B and B is A. However, in the case of Brahman, the situation is different. When we say Brahman is everything, it means the world is Brahman, but Brahman is not the world. A is B but B is not A. Suppose I have mistaken a tree as a person, and say, "that is a person". Then one who knows that it is not a person, points out that the person I saw is a tree. He/she would say, "that person is a stump of a tree". It means, what one sees as the person actually is a stump of a tree. This indicates that they have the same locus. But after knowing the person I saw actually is a tree only, then the person resolves into the tree. They share the same locus, but one who doesn't have its own reality resolved into its reality. This kind of sāmānādhikaranya in which one is negated, one resolves into the other is called bādhāyām sāmānādhikaranyam. Śāstra uses this technique to explain the fact that what we perceive as the pluralistic world is in fact one non-dual Brahman alone. The world is Brahman, but Brahman is not the world. Just like the person one has wrongly seen, is actually a tree, but the tree is not a person. Through the perceived name and form we find the true nature of Brahman, and we hold on to it. While interacting with the world we understand the mithyatvam (dependent existence) of the world which will never give us fulfilment, and we hold on to the only reality - Īśvara, which is the fullest me alone. Therefore it is said that the world is Brahman, but Brahman is not the world.