udārāḥ sarva evaite
jñānī tv ātmaiva me matam
āsthitaḥ sa hi yuktātmā
mām evānuttamāḿ gatim
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 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.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
It is not that 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:
sadhavo hridayam mahyam
sadhunam hridayam tv aham
mad-anyat te na jananti
naham tebhyo manag api
“The devotees are always in My heart, and I am always in the hearts 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.”
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
“Then, that means that the other three are not dear to you?”
No they are all dear to me. Those who worship me, accepting things they have desired, but which I wanted to give, are certainly dear to me, who have affection for my devotees, because I give generously to them. But the jnani is myself. He worships me and does not desire anything at all from me, either svarga or moksa. Thus I am dependent on him: he is my soul. This is my opinion. This is because he is firmly fixed (asthitah) in having attained the highest goal (anuttamam gatim), me in my form as Syamasundara alone (eva), not my impersonal aspect as brahma nirvana. The jnani, who has a predominance of bhakti and no material desires, is considered by the affectionate Lord as his own self. But the kevala bhakta, the pure devotee, is considered by the Lord to be dearer than his very self.
na tatha me priyatama atma-yonir na sankarah
na ca sankarsano na srir naivatma ca yatha bhavan
My dear Uddhava, neither Lord Brahma, Lord Siva, Lord Sankarsana, the goddess of fortune nor indeed My own self are as dear to Me as you are. SB 11.14.15
naham atmanam asase mad-bhaktaih sadhubhir vina
O best of the brahmanas, without saintly persons for whom I am the only destination, I do not desire to enjoy My transcendental bliss and My supreme opulences. SB 9.4.64
atmaramo ‘py ariramat
Smiling upon hearing these despondent words from the gopis, Lord Krishna, the supreme master of all masters of mystic yoga, mercifully enjoyed with them, although He is self-satisfied. SB 10.29.42
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
7.18 Because they worship Me alone, all these are generous i.e., benefactors. For, those who receive from Me anything, however small they are, I consider them as contributing everything to Me (and thus as benefactors). But I deem the man of knowledge to be My very self. I consider Myself as depending on him for My support. Why is it so? Because this person considers Me to be the highest and finds it impossible to support himself without Me; I also find it impossible to be without him. Thus, verily, he is My self. The attainment of this state of mind requires innumerable auspicious births. It is attained after gaining the knowledge of the real nature of the self and the self feels that Its happiness consists in being a dependant (Sesa) of Myself.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
The question may arise that do the other three classes being the artta or afflicted, the artharthi or those desiring wealth and the jijnasuh or those desiring self realisation have to undergo transmigration and reincarnation? The answer is never. This is confirmed by Lord Krishna using the word udarah meaning noble and magnanimous. All these noble beings obtain moksa or liberation from the cycle of birth and death in the material existence; but the jnani or knower of God is His very atma or soul. This is because the jnani with his mind fixed solely upon the Supreme Lord, has taken complete refuge in Him alone as the only goal other than which there is nothing superior. So such a realised being is interested in no other purpose then attaining the Supreme Lord and thus devotes all there efforts for this.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Sri Madhvacharya did not comment on this sloka.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
One may pose the question what about the other three types being artto the aflicted, atharthi or those seeking wealth and jnajinsuh or those seeking moksa or liberation. Are they wretched and unworthy? To the contrary and Lord Krishna confirms this with the word udarah meaning noble and magnanimous. All these devotees are noble beings who have accumulated great merit in the course of tens of thousands of previous births. No one can become a devotee of Lord Krishna if they only have a small amount of merit from previous lives. The devotees of the Supreme Lord Krishna have such a surplus of accumulated merit due to having practised austerities, undergone penance, performed yoga, engaged in meditation, offered prayers and given worship. That it is a natural course of events that in their early lives they attain the opportunity to be Lord Krishna’s devotee. This is confirmed and corroborated in the Vedic scriptures by the statement: Humans whose sins are expired cultivate devotion to Lord Krishna. Others who still remain sinful never become Lord Krishna’s devotee, they only can worship Kali, Ganesh or some impersonal phantasm conception. So for those aspirants of the three previous types who have the tinge of fruitive motivations, still they are the elect and after finally achieving devotion to Him they become free from desire and qualified for moksa or liberation from the cycle of birth and death. Lord Krishna accepts the jnani as His very self to exemplify their exalted position, because nothing is more dearer then oneself. For the jnani is the elite and the absolute devotee who is firmly established being time tested over a myriad of lifetimes. He is wholeheartedly devoted to the Supreme Lord as his only goal another of which there is nothing superior and having such faith assuredly arrives at that goal.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
7.18 Sarve, ete, all of these three, without exception; are eva, indeed, udarah, noble, i.e.; they are verily dear to Me. For, no devotee of Mine can become disagreeable to Me who am Vasudeva. But the man of Knowledge becomes very much dear. This is the difference. Why is this so? In answer the Lord says: Tu but; jnani, the man of Knowledge; is atma eva, the very Self, not different from Me. This is me, My; matam, opinion, conviction. Hi, for; yuktatma, with a steadfast mind-having his mind absorbed in the idea, ‘I am verily Vasudeva, the Lord, and none else’, that man of Knowledge asthitah, is set on the path leading to, he is engaged in ascending to, going to; mam eva, Me alone, to the supreme Brahman; who am the anuttamam gatim, super-excellent Goal to be reached. The man of Knowledge is being eulogized again:
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
7.16-19 Caturvidhah etc., upto sudurlabhah. Those who worship Me are men of good action. They are of four types. All these are noble ones. For, other persons, mean-minded as they are, beg a cure of their affliction, and money etc., from persons who have hands, feet, stomach, body and intelligence (or bodily strength) that are equal to their (the beggers) own, or even from those who are very much inferior. But, by comparison with the man of wisdom, [the other three under question] are of inferior intelligence. For, they entertain, at that sage too, a sense of duality. Becuase, a sense of duality ‘I seek this from the Bhagavat’ is clearly discernible in them. On the other hand, the man of wisdom hangs on Me alone with a sense of identity [of him with Me]. Hence, I am verily indentical with him. It is I alone, and not [any other] gain, that is dear to him. That is why he is having a mind purified by the firm conviction ‘All is nothing but Vasudeva’.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
udarah sarva evaite
jñani tv atmaiva me matam
asthitah sa hi yuktatma
mam evanuttamam gatim
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
udārāḥ — magnanimous; sarve — all; eva — certainly; ete — these; jñānī — one who is in knowledge; tu — but; ātmā eva — just like Myself; me — My; matam — opinion; āsthitaḥ — situated; saḥ — he; hi — certainly; yukta-ātmā — engaged in devotional service; mām — in Me; eva — certainly; anuttamām — the highest; gatim — destination.