bhutesu virudbhya uduttama ye
sarisrpas tesu sabodha-nisthah
tato manusyah pramathas tato ’pi
gandharva-siddha vibudhanuga ye
daksadayo brahma-sutas tu tesam
bhavah parah so ’tha viriñca-viryah
sa mat-paro ’ham dvija-deva-devah
Translation by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
Of the two energies manifest [spirit and dull matter], beings possessing living force [vegetables, grass, trees and plants] are superior to dull matter [stone, earth, etc.]. Superior to nonmoving plants and vegetables are worms and snakes, which can move. Superior to worms and snakes are animals that have developed intelligence. Superior to animals are human beings, and superior to human beings are ghosts because they have no material bodies. Superior to ghosts are the Gandharvas, and superior to them are the Siddhas. Superior to the Siddhas are the Kinnaras, and superior to them are the asuras. Superior to the asuras are the demigods, and of the demigods, Indra, the King of heaven, is supreme. Superior to Indra are the direct sons of Lord Brahma, sons like King Daksa, and supreme among Brahma’s sons is Lord Siva. Since Lord Siva is the son of Lord Brahma, Brahma is considered superior, but Brahma is also subordinate to Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Because I am inclined to the brahmanas, the brahmanas are best of all.
Purport by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
In this verse the brahmanas are given a position superior to that of the Supreme Lord. The idea is that the government should be conducted under the guidance of the brahmanas. Although Rsabhadeva recommended His eldest son, Bharata, as emperor of the earth, he still had to follow the instructions of the brahmanas in order to govern the world perfectly. The Lord is worshiped as brahmanya-deva. The Lord is very fond of devotees, or brahmanas. This does not refer to so-called caste brahmanas, but to qualified brahmanas. A brahmana should be qualified with the eight qualities mentioned in text 24, such as sama, dama, satya and titiksa. The brahmanas should always be worshiped, and under their guidance the ruler should discharge his duty and rule the citizens. Unfortunately, in this Age of Kali, the executive is not selected by very intelligent people, nor is he guided by qualified brahmanas. Consequently, chaos results. The mass of people should be educated in Krsna consciousness so that according to the democratic process they can select a first-class devotee like Bharata Maharaja to head the government. If the head of the state is headed by qualified brahmanas, everything is completely perfect.
In this verse, the evolutionary process is indirectly mentioned. The modern theory that life evolves from matter is to some extent supported in this verse because it is stated, bhutesu virudbhyah. That is, the living entities evolve from vegetables, grass, plants and trees, which are superior to dull matter. In other words, matter also has the potency to manifest living entities in the form of vegetables. In this sense, life comes out of matter, but matter also comes out of life. As Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita (10.8), aham sarvasya prabhavo mattah sarvam pravartate: “I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me.”
There are two energies — material and spiritual — and both originally come from Krsna. Krsna is the supreme living being. Although it may be said that in the material world a living force is generated from matter, it must be admitted that originally matter is generated from the supreme living being. Nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam (Katha Upanisad 2.2.13). The conclusion is that everything, both material and spiritual, is generated from the Supreme Being. From the evolutionary point of view, perfection is reached when the living entity attains the platform of a brahmana. A brahmana is a worshiper of the Supreme Brahman, and the Supreme Brahman worships the brahmana. In other words, the devotee is subordinate to the Supreme Lord, and the Lord is inclined to see to the satisfaction of His devotee. A brahmana is called dvija-deva, and the Lord is called dvija-deva-deva. He is the Lord of brahmanas.
The evolutionary process is also explained in Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya, Chapter Nineteen), wherein it is said that there are two types of living entities — moving and nonmoving. Among moving entities, there are birds, beasts, aquatics, human beings and so on. Of these, the human beings are supposed to be the best, but they are few. Of these small numbers of human beings, there are many low-class human beings like mlecchas, Pulindas, bauddhas and sabaras. The human being elevated enough to accept the Vedic principles is superior. Among those who accept the Vedic principles generally known as varnasrama (presently known as the Hindu system), few actually follow these principles. Of those who actually follow the Vedic principles, most perform fruitive activity or pious activity for elevation to a high position. Manusyanam sahasresu kascid yatati siddhaye: out of many attached to fruitive activity, one may be a jñani — that is, one philosophically inclined and superior to the karmis. Yatatam api siddhanam kascin mam vetti tattvatah: out of many jñanis, one may be liberated from material bondage, and out of many millions of liberated jñanis, one may become a devotee of Krsna.