aṅgirā devalo ’sitaḥ
mārkaṇḍeyo ’tha gautamaḥ
durvāsā yājñavalkyaś ca
ṛṣir veda-śirā dhaumyo
muniḥ pañcaśikhas tathā
ete pare ca siddheśāś
The word jñāna-hetavaḥ is very significant because great personalities like those listed in these verses wander on the surface of the globe not to mislead the populace, but to distribute real knowledge. Without this knowledge, human life is wasted. The human form of life is meant for realization of one’s relationship with Kṛṣṇa, or God. One who lacks this knowledge is categorized among the animals. The Lord Himself says in Bhagavad-gītā (7.15):
na māṁ duṣkṛtino mūḍhāḥ
āsuraṁ bhāvam āśritāḥ
“Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons, do not surrender unto Me.”
Ignorance is the bodily conception of life (yasyātma-buddhiḥ kuṇape tri-dhātuke … sa eva go-kharaḥ). Practically everyone throughout the universe, especially on this planet, Bhūrloka, thinks that there is no separate existence of the body and soul and therefore no need of self-realization. But that is not a fact. Therefore all the brāhmaṇas listed here, being devotees, travel all over the world to awaken Kṛṣṇa consciousness in the hearts of such foolish materialists.
The ācāryas mentioned in these verses are described in the Mahābhārata. The word pañcaśikha is also important. One who is liberated from the conceptions of annamaya, prāṇamaya, manomaya, vijñānamaya and ānandamaya and who is perfectly aware of the subtle coverings of the soul is called pañcaśikha. According to the statements of the Mahābhārata (Sānti-parva, Chapters 218-219), an ācārya named Pañcaśikha took birth in the family of Mahārāja Janaka, the ruler of Mithila. The Sāṅkhya philosophers accept Pañcaśikhācārya as one of them. Real knowledge pertains to the living entity dwelling within the body. Unfortunately, because of ignorance, the living entity identifies himself with the body and therefore feels pleasure and pain.