maharṣayaḥ sapta pūrve
catvāro manavas tathā
mad-bhāvā mānasā jātā
yeṣāḿ loka imāḥ prajāḥ
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 10.6
The seven great sages and before them the four other great sages and the Manus [progenitors of mankind] come from Me, born from My mind, and all the living beings populating the various planets descend from them.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
The Lord is giving a genealogical synopsis of the universal population. Brahma is the original creature born out of the energy of the Supreme Lord, who is known as Hiranyagarbha. And from Brahma all the seven great sages, and before them four other great sages, named Sanaka, Sananda, Sanatana and Sanat-kumara, and the Manus, are manifested. All these twenty-five great sages are known as the patriarchs of the living entities all over the universe. There are innumerable universes and innumerable planets within each universe, and each planet is full of population of different varieties. All of them are born of these twenty-five patriarchs. Brahma underwent penance for one thousand years of the demigods before he realized by the grace of Krishna how to create. Then from Brahma came Sanaka, Sananda, Sanatana and Sanat-kumara, then Rudra, and then the seven sages, and in this way all the brahmanas and kshatriyas are born out of the energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Brahma is known as Pitamaha, the grandfather, and Krishna is known as Prapitamaha, the father of the grandfather. That is stated in the Eleventh Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita (11.39).
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
Not having mentioned that intelligence, knowledge and non-bewilderment cannot give real knowledge of the Lord, the Lord in this verse states that these things cannot give true knowledge of the Lord.
The seven great sages beginning with Marici, the four Kumaras such as Sanaka, and the fourteen Manus beginning with Svayambhuva, take birth from me in the form of Hiranyagarbha (Brahma). They arose from my mind. The brahmanas and others exist as the offspring, sons and grandsons, or students, and students of students of the seven sages, the four Kumaras and the Manus.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
Furthermore Lord Krishna explains that in the Puranas which are ancient Vedic literatures are many proofs concerning the great sage Bhrgu, the seven sages who are Marici, Atri, Angiras, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu and Vasistha and others such as the four Kumaras and the Svayambhuva Manu; all who are endowed by the Supreme Lords essence and in whom He has placed a portion of His power and potency. This very power is being illustrated as all of these great beings were manifested from the mind of the Supreme Lord as a mere desire of His and all of them are the factual grandsires of all progeny on Earth multiplying and multiplying in the worlds as sons, grandsons and great grandsons as well as disciples grand disciples and great grand disciples and so forth and so on as the case may be.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
The seven great sages of an earlier age are Marici, Atri, Angiras, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu and Vasisitha of magnificent splendour. It is found in the Moksa Dharma abd throughout the Puranas. Among the Manus the first was Svayambhu and the others were Sarochisa, Raivata and Uttama of a previous age and from them came all humans and not from Bhrgu and others who came after and are from our present age. The words imah prajah spoken by Lord Krishna denotes the descending lineage of the four orders being brahmins, ksatriyas, vaisyas and sudras and does not refer to any beings born in the future. So these four Manus headed by Svayambhu are the primary ones and the otherss coming after are subsequent ones. Even in the Gautama text it has been mentioned: Those who are connected to Svayambhu, Svarochita, Raivata and Uttama have very good progeny.
Even though Tapasama is senior to Svarochita, his name is not mentioned here because he is one of the descendants of the Supreme Lord and so it would be incongruous with the words manasa jata referring to the mentally expanded forms from Brahma. This is recorded in the Bhagavat Purana where descriptions of the Manus have been enumerated, that Brahma created the Manus from his mind and it also states that without relinquishing the body given to them by Brahma it was possible for them to be born as Priyavrata’s sons. Both interpretations are capable to be accepted. This is proven by Lord Krishna using the word purve meaning their predecessors. The use of the word mad-bhava meaning from His energy confirms that even though they were created from the mind of Brahma, they are integrally endowed with Lord Krishna’s potency.
Now begins the summation.
The Brahma Purana states that Marici, Atri, Angiras, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu and Vashistha of great splendour were earlier known as the seven sages Because of exceptional intelligence Brahma and other demigods were sometimes known as Manus. Even though the demigods were numerous they were sometimes referred to as Manus because of the divisions of the four orders. Because of weakness some of the demigods were known as dina or weak while other demigods such as Brahma and Rudra were known as strong. The demigods for whose favour worship was done not to propitiate Lord Krishna but instead to acquire some material benefits were known as dina. The worship and propitiation directed towards Lord Krishna was performed only by those demigods who were known as Manu and they did not direct their worship to any other source than Him. The Maha Vishnu Purana states: The progeny of Marici and others were known as manavas or human beings. Their sons and grandsons and great grandsons gradually populated part of the material creation of the Supreme Lord Krishna.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Nevertheless the seven great sages being Marici, Atri, Angiras, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu and Vasistha followed later by Bhrgu and others sages. The four elder seers being the Kumaras: Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanat and Sanatana were born even earlier to these sages and the 14 Manus headed by Svayambhuva and also before Shivas 11 Rudras were manifested. All of the aforementioned fully consider the Supreme Lord Krishna to be the ultimate creator, preserver and destroyer of the complete material manifestation and all are completely devoted to the Supreme Lord without reservation following His direction in all situations and circumstances. Sometimes it may externally appear as if they are bewildered or belligerent as it sometimes appears in the case of Shiva; but these mirages are merely to enhance the lila or divine pastimes of Lord Krishna. His devotees to whom He grants moksa or liberation from material existence were originally created from His will, not from the womb of any female and from the seven great sages along with the four Kumaras, the 14 Manus and 11 Rudras have descended the entire human population producing sons, grandsons, great grandsons etc. all within the scope of the four orders being Brahmin, Ksatriya, Vaisya and sudra in accordance with their previous respective actions.
It should be understood that Brahma being empowered by the will of Lord Krishna manifested the four Kumara’s and the Rudra’s from his mind. While Svayambhuva Manu and his wife Satarupa were manifestations of the two halves of the golden egg from whence sprang creation in one age as willed by the Supreme Lord. The 13 subsequent Manus were born from a mothers womb. The four Kumara’s created earlier had no interest in producing progeny being indifferent to material nature. Thus the seven great sages were empowered with the task of procreation the population of humans and they also become world preceptors establishing and propagating the Vedic religion through the medium of actions. The Manu’s are empowered for universal protection. The Rudra’s are empowered for universal destruction. The four Kumara’s being themselves great liberated beings are empowered to liberate others from the cycle of birth and death throughout creation and to establish and propagate the path of detachment and renunciation from the material. In the Moksa Dharma it is stated after the origin of the seven great sages that they are knowers of the Vedas and are known as world preceptors appointed for begetting progeny. Similarly after the account of the Kumara’s it states that after attaining atma tattva or soul realisation they resorted to the path of renunciation and being experts in yoga or the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness, they are universally known as liberated holy preceptors.
Manu’s protect and Rudra’s destroy. In the Visnu Purana is stated: O’ brahmins, Visnu, Manu, Rudra and others as well as all beings exemplify the glory of the Supreme Lord Krishna. In the Bhagavat Purana, II.VII.V Brahma states: O’ ascetics I performed penance to create all the various and diverse beings. First arising from my penance Sana was produced which became Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanat and Sanantana known as the four Kumara’s. To them I gave instructions about the atma or eternal soul in all sentient beings and which became dormant at the end of the previous cycle of existence. Also in the Bhagavat Purana XI.XIII.XIV beginning etavan yoga adisto Lord Krishna states: The actual system of yoga taught by My devotees headed by Sanaka Kumara is to completely withdraw the mind from the external senses directly concentrating it on the Supreme Lord.
It should never mistakenly be considered that the seven great sages existed previously before the Manu’s and the Kumara’s as this would be erroneous. The Kumara’s are absolutely elder even to the Manu’s and their names and number equalling four does not include any of the 14 Manus who are enumerated in the Puranas as follows: Svayambhuva, Svarocisa, Uttama, Tamasa, Raivata, Caksusa, Vaivasvata, Savarni, Daksa Sarvani, Brahma Sarvani, Dharma Sarvani, Rudra Sarvani, Deva Sarvani and Indra Sarvani. Out of these 14 Manus the first six have already served out there appointed time and passed. We are presently protected by the seventh Manu known as Vaivasvata and the Markandaya Purana, Saptasati XIII.XXI confirms that the eighth Manu will be called Sarvani. So in conclusion it should be crystal clear that the Manu’s are elder to the seven great sages and that the four Kumara’s are even senior to the Manu’s.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
10.6 Sapta, the seven; maharsayah, great sages-Bhrgu and others; tatha, as also; catvarah, the four; manavah, Manus [Savarni, Dharma-savarini, Daksa-savarni, and Savarna.-Tr.]- well known as Savarnas; purve, of ancient days; yesam, of whom, of which Manus and the great sages; imah, these; prajah, creatures, moving and non-moving; loke in the world, are the creation; madbhavah, had their thoughts fixed on Me-they had their minds fixed on Me, (and hence) they were endowed with the power of Visnu; and they jatah, were born; manasa; from My mind-they were created by Me through My mind itself.
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
10.6 See Comment under 10.11
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
maharsayah sapta purve
catvaro manavas tatha
mad-bhava manasa jata
yesam loka imah prajah
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
mahā-ṛṣayaḥ — the great sages; sapta — seven; pūrve — before; catvāraḥ — four; manavaḥ — Manus; tathā — also; mat-bhāvāḥ — born of Me; mānasāḥ — from the mind; jātāḥ — born; yeṣām — of them; loke — in the world; imāḥ — all this; prajāḥ — population.