Knowledge

CHAPTER – 5

 

  • What exactly is the meaning of knowledge? What is its primary purpose?

Whatever enlarges the frontiers of our mental, intellectual and spiritual horizons and whatever broadens our vision and perspective is indeed the subject, the merits and the description of “Knowledge”. The purpose of knowledge is primarily one that allows fuller individualization of human being’s character and personality and a free action and reaction between his own self and the ethical conception of his surroundings.

 

  • What are the sources of knowledge?

The whole gamut or field of literature is a source of knowledge. There are countless books of knowledge in many languages adoring many religions. But the oldest piece of literature is the Veda. “Vid” means knowledge and what gives us knowledge is the Veda. The most vital characteristic feature of Vedas is that they contain knowledge for immense material prosperity and invaluable guidance for spiritual progress. Rishis and Munis, Gurus, and preceptors, Atma and the Brahman are all great repositories of knowledge.

 

  • What is true knowledge?

True knowledge is one which inspires a conception and perception of the end of human life as a whole, one which eventually equips the human being with not only his genesis vis-à-vis the genesis of the universe but also with the exciting ramifications of the labyrinth dedicated to realization of and merger with ultimate reality of existence called God.

Such knowledge that drives one to the spirit of enquiry (a) as to one’s past, present and future, (b) as to why one faces interminable trials and tribulations (c) the solutions there to (d) as to the secret doctrine that takes one to the sure and successful path of material and spiritual fulfillment. Peace descends on every one of those who pursue the time-honored spiritual path, with all material benefits accruing to one as adventitious advantages, without awareness of the concurrent advantage. As God resides in the human heart, true knowledge of a tall order springs (not from books but) from the centre of the heart, by way of self-luminosity.

 

  • Is it possible to draw a thin line of demarcation between knowledge and enlightenment? Where does wisdom fit it?

It is possible to draw even a thick line between the two!

Knowledge is one that is acquired through external sources such as books, newspapers and periodicals; it is normally acquired through instruction for study, initiation into a secret doctrine and inculcation into an ideal worthy pursuit. Wisdom is a product of experience and nurturing. Enlightenment, as opposed to acquisition of unknown province or subject from external sources, is more an internal matter! The innate entity adorning every human heart glows as it is a center of self-luminosity disseminating the sector lore and ultimate in knowledge for the fulfillment of life.

 

  • How far does University education impact basic knowledge and values of life to students?

University education has come to stay although the old Gurukula system of education on vital subjects of importance to spiritual progress no longer exists. Even in higher spheres of learning such as metaphysics and philosophy, there are very students intending to pursue research for the sake of its intrinsic worth. In India, some universities and institutions here and there (like the Benares Hindu University and Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan to name a few) have still been encouraging significant studies of Indian culture and the country’s rich cultural heritage. Outside India, contribution of the German scholar on Oriental philosophy through the East-West oriental series of books deserves special mention. Likewise, the Oriental series of Harvard University and especially “A Vedic Concordance” by Prof. Bloomfield – an extremely painstaking research work by way of an index to all the Vedic mantras is prodigious work of paramount importance – will remain a monumental work for several decades at least as it covers virtually the entire volume of Vedic hymns and the subordinate ones under the main clusters. Although it runs to more than 1000 pages, the great author recommends, in all humility, further research into Vedic lore and even suggests some areas deserving intense study! He concludes that his encyclopedia work is only a beginning of studies into the most ancient piece of literature on Earth!

These, however, constitute some silver linings to dark clouds where imparting of lasting knowledge to students is concerned. In other words, what University education means and includes education on modern practical subjects for a living – for material existence. And, Universities all over the world turn out millions of graduates every year in order to eke out their livelihood!

 

  • What is true education?

From the earliest days, Hindus have looked upon education as a golden coin of two faces or facets! Distinction has been made of education into (i) Iha Vidya and (ii) Para Vidya. Iha Vidya implies instruction into such lore as is relevant for material progress in this (Iha) world (Loka) while Para Vidya means and includes all that is pertinent to the paramount object of life namely God-Experience and attainment of the highest place in celestial hierarchy by grace of Providence!

In fact “Iha Vidya” has been even looked upon as “Avidya” or education which does not lead one to the highest spiritual fulfillment like “Para Vidya”.

Even the capacity to recite all the Vedic mantras of a countless nature does not take one to the threshold of salvation. It is the Vedantic approach implying the need for reaching the Lotus Feet of the Veda Purusha – the Supreme Creator of all (including the Vedas) that is verily the true education glorified in the Hindu scriptures.

 

  • What is precisely wrong with an educational system that provides the best equipment for job-oriented aspirations?

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the educational system catering to job-oriented requirements. Let us by all means raise the economic level and social status of society. We need not be wedded to wooden seats in a compartment if we can afford to have a cushion seat for travelling comfort!

But it should not mean cultural stagnation; there is equally nothing wrong in using the educational platform as an instrument or means for dissemination of such knowledge that provides for – in addition – lessons in culture and refinement, lessons for blossoming the young minds into a worthy state for spiritual progress or preparation therefore! Education merely for living is inadequate.

No educational system should bristle with limitations of any kind and nor should it suffer from such a one-sided blind focus as to be torn by shackles of utilitarian philosophies.

 

  • The most voluminous of all scriptures is the Hindu scriptural text; how is it possible for an ordinary person or illiterate or ill-equipped person to know anything about their essence?

It is a mistaken foundation to believe that one derives knowledge of the essence of scriptures from a perusal of texts or from study of ancient lore. Even for the best literate one, a lifetime is not sufficient to make a modicum of study of scriptures.

There have been many instances of illiterate and uneducated persons rising to a Supreme level of knowledgeable and the enlightened! The celebrated French thinker Gonda, very rightly declares in his masterly book on Vedic Poets, that when one gets Divine Grace, all knowledge is conferred on him by the Guru or deity he propitiates. He calls the instant rise of knowledge as “Pratibha Shakti”.

Many of the Rishis like Vālmiki did not have any educational background. But they rose to the stature of epic poets! How did they acquire the superhuman power to author mystic works of a colossal nature? It was by Thapas, Thapas and Thapas!

 

  • What are the principal ingredients of “T-H-A-P-A-S”? 

The principal ingredients of T-H-A-P-A-S are:

Transcendental focus on the Supreme,

Heart being the residence of its dream!

Austerity engendering innate fire,

Propitiation eschewing objects of desire!

Alacrity with which meditation moves on, with –

Silence as the Sine Qua Non!

 

  • What is esoteric knowledge?

Esoteric knowledge is one which is

  1. Exclusively for a very few number of people and
  2. Actually understood by such a small number, and
  3. Knowledge of a special nature reserved for a few only!

Esoteric knowledge means and includes:

  1. Knowledge of a secret doctrine of a religious or spiritual nature;
  2. Knowledge of an exclusive path of God realization or Spiritual attainment;
  3. Knowledge of a special hymn or mantra not really accessible to all; a rāga not known to any!
  4. Knowledge which is passed on to a few disciples by a great Guru or God in recognition of eligibility of the exclusive few!

 

  • Can you give examples of such esoteric knowledge?

Here are some examples of esoteric knowledge. But the list is not exhaustive; there is more in this than meets the eye!

(a) Kāla jnāna The knowledge of the past and the present besides that of the shape of things to come; this is a blessing of the Sadguru to his pupil with a basic knowledge of Jyothisha or Vedic Astrology.
(b) Brahma jnāna Knowledge of the Brahman or Atman besides experience of the Brahman or Atman. A Brahma jnāni or Atma jnāni knows the nature of qualities of God and virtually follows the very patterns of behavior of God.
(c) Rishi jnāna The Rishis are our earliest ancestors and as such do have compassion for all people in general and direct descendents (Gotra clan) in particular. They have athēndriya-jnāna-shakti (Superhuman sensory perceptions).
(d) Mantra jnāna Knowledge of special mantras having a bearing on the origins, sustenance and dissolution of the universe in general and the individual in particular. These are the most potent, protective, constructive and curative and hence most efficacious!
(e) Oushadha jnāna This branch of knowledge can go into a big volume to merit the nomenclature of Vedic medicine. Just as there are mantras for deadly diseases like AIDS, cancer, cardiac arrest etc., there are Ayurvedic medicines too!
(f) Vanaspati vijnāna There are certain special herbs which are sent to earth by Indra and other gods in recognition of intense thapas of Sri Shuka Paramarshi and Saptha Rishis headed by Gautama. All these are specially sent for the benefit of mankind. For example, Vedic Chemistry teaches to extract aluminium from china clay and make it cheaper than plastic – modern science knows nothing about this!
(g) Bhu-garbha Jnāna relating to the hidden geological wealth of the country such as underground water, minerals, geological structures – bereft of survey, investigation or analysis! Known minerals in unknown places and unknown minerals in equally unknown places beneath the surface of Earth! This jnāna goes under Vedic Geology.
(h) Vedic Mathematics A cluster of 16 sutras enshrined in Atharva Veda with useful applications in solving mathematical calculations in a brief and easy way – was revealed to the Shankaracharya of PuriSree Bharthi Krishna Teertha – who solved the juggernaut of the formula after intense thapas.
(i) Vedic Biology Contains very useful methods calculated to get better quality and higher produce. There are some plants or trees which cannot be propagated except through seeds. For example, the guava (fruit) plant which has to rely on seeds can grow with shoots bereft of seed support and save costly time for the germination and minimum growth!
(j) Vedic Embryology How is it possible to product the best among children? Should the children keep on crying even after the first cry? “Crying expands the lung growth of crying children”, the medical experts affirm! But should we not say the growth of all organs of a baby is in the mother’s womb and not in the medical instructor? What prospects can be held out to childless women who have failed to bear children despite medical assistance? These are exclusively the domain of Vedic Embriology.
(k) Vedic Cosmology Modern scientists especially those in the west give patently inaccurate theory of the origins of the Universe on the one hand and theory of the Solar system on the other. The discovery of existence of dark matter and dark energy will expose the hollow nature of their so-called origins! The obvious discrepancies and contradictions in our Solar system are pointers to the fact that at least some of the planets in our solar system were captured by our Sun from neighboring Solar systems.
(l) Vedic Physics Physics, astro-physics and particle physics were well-known to the ancient Indian world of wisdom. Nuclear physics was one subject thoroughly mastered by scholars of early times in India but the heritage is well preserved by the great Gurus even today. “Soundarya Lahiri” by Adi Shankara is, for example, an intricate study of Particle Physics!
(m) Vedic Socialism The Samjnānam Sookta in Rig Veda is a clear pointer to early Vedic conception of all people having been created by God without any distinction as to race, sex, language or religion. If any doubt exists in anyone, “Let the element of inequality be purged from the minds of men!” declares the Veda.
(n) Vedic Metaphysics Vedic philosophy associated with secret doctrines of a special nature enabling every aspirant to reach God, although there are numerous methods and paths.
(o) Musical Composition Rare musical compositions based on certain unknown Rāgās – such as the “Shāmbhavi” rāgā – do constitute facets of esoteric knowledge; and if the art of construction is known, the rare  rāgā – hitherto unknown – can cause ripples of Onomatopoeia in the realm of dance and music and even “one-upmanship” of superiority (over others) as master of musical fiction and dancing diction!
(p) Divya jnāna The unique phenomenon of divine vision reserved for an exclusive few. Great ones like the Sadguru or the Rishi who can cast their eye into unimaginable distances, delve into a bygone day or see a future event with photographic memory – are persons endowed with a divine gift!

 

 

  • What is the secret behind Shat-Chakra-Yoga?

Secret doctrine envisages the art of attainment of Brahman by practice of Kundalini Yoga thereby achieving sublimation of Kundalini Shakti or Serpent Power from the lowest regions of Mūladhāra chakra adorned by 4 peeta-shaktis or 4 letters to the next higher region of Swādhishtāna with 6 peeta-shaktis or letters; further the Shakti moves from Swādhishtāna to Manipura with 10 letters and to Anāhata chakra with 12 letters; above this heart center is the neck or Vishuddhi chakra presided over by 16 peeta-shaktis with 16 letters from A to Aha; Shakti eventually passes through Ajna chakra ruled by 2 letters of Ha and Ksha to reach the thousand petalled lotus of Brahman at the apex of the head. The 6 chakras adorned by peeta-shaktis letters are as under:

  1. Mūladhāra: The chakra is presided over by peeta-shaktis denoted by letters 45th to 48th (from Varadā to Saraswathi) 4 in number
  2. Swādhishtāna: Is ruled by 6 in number (from 39th to 44th ) (from Bhandini to Lamboshtikaa)
  3. Manipura: Ruled by peeta-shaktis 10 in number from 29th to 38th
  4. Anāhata: Anāhata chakra has 12 letters from 17th to 28th (from Kaalaratree to Thankaree)
  5. Vishuddhi: It is adorned by 16 (from Amrutha to Akshara) and
  6. Ajna: Ajna chakra is ruled by Hamsavathi and Kshma (2 letters)

The 50 peeta-shaktis are different forms of Adi-Shakti; the 50 letters coverge into Om. All that the sadhaka (aspirant) has to do is to withdraw – his bodily sensory perceptions into the mind, mental propensities into the intellect; intellectual perceptions into jnāna which in turn should focus attention on A-U-M, and gradually from M to the immortal seat of A standing for the Brahman (“Amrutha” means immortal). The secret origins of the Sanskrit alphabet are set out in the following table. Yoga implies a transcendental supreme state by union of Shakti with Siva. It is beneficial to recite the 50 names of Shakti – clockwise and anti-clockwise, once a day!

The secret origins of the Sanskrit alphabet: The first letter of each peeta-shakti accounting for 50 letters (arranged below) constitutes the Sanskrit alphabet:

No. Name of Peeta-Shakthi 1st Letter   No. Name of Peeta-Shakthi 1st Letter
1. Amritaa A 26 Jnaanaroopaa Jnya
2. Aakarshinee Aa 27 Tankahastaa Ta
3. Indraanee E 28 Thankaaree Ttha
4. Eeshaanee Ee 29 Daakinee Da
5. Umaa U 30 Dhankaaree Ddhaa
6. Oordhvakeshinee Oo 31 Naaminee Na
7. Rudhiraa Ru 32 Taamasee Ta
8. Rooshaa Roo 33 Sthaanvee Thatha
9. Lrushaa Lru 34 Daakshaayinee Da
10. Lrookaa Lroo 35 Dhaatree Dha
11. Ekapadaa Ae 36 Nandaa Na
12. Aishvaryabhirataa Ai 37 Paarvathee Pa
13. Omkaaree O 38 Phatkaaree Ppha
14. Oushadhaatmaa Ou 39 Bandhinee Ba
15. Ambikaa Am 40 Bhadrakaalee Bha
16. Aksharaa Aha 41 Mahaamaayaa Ma
17. Kaalaraatree Ka 42 Yashasvinee Ya
18. Khateetataa Kha 43 Raktaa Ra
19. Gaayatree Ga 44 Lamboshtikaa La
20. Ghantaadhaaree Gha 45 Varadaa Va
21. Ngaarnaatmaa Nga 46 Sree Sree
22. Chandaa Cha 47 Shandaa Sha
23. Cchaayaa Ccha 48 Saraswatee Sa
24. Jayaa Ja 49 Hamsavatee Ha
25. Jhankaaree Jha 50 Kshamaa Ksha

 

 

  • What qualities can we find in one endowed with Brahma Jnāna; knowledge of the Brahman?

Gautama Maharshi, who was endowed with Brahman Jnāna as a Brahmarshi, was Himself the author of “Gautama Brahma-Sutras”. He was a repository of Dharma.

He has enumerated eight qualities/characteristics of a Brahma jnāni. They are:

  1. Kindness towards all living beings
  2. Patience
  3. Absence of jealousy
  4. Purity – internal and external
  5. Tirelessness
  6. Goodness
  7. Freedom from parsimony (or miserliness)
  8. Non-covetousness

 

  • Is there a theory of knowledge?

Yes! The philosophical study of the nature of knowledge has been given the name of “Epistemology”.

Epistemology is the branch of study that deals with traditional knowledge and the bundle of ancient beliefs. Of course, this bundle takes a separate name – “lore”.

 

  • There are apparently different levels of knowledge from what we call “only a smattering of knowledge” to knowledge of “everything!” Can we classify them?

The classification of knowledge is an interesting sketch to draw; here they are:

  1. Little knowledge said to be dangerous!
  2. Smattering of knowledge – slight, fragmented knowledge (esp. of languages)
  3. Knowledge after the event nicknamed “hindsight!”
  4. Knowledge of formal, unimaginative, dry, book-learning classified as “Pedantry!”
  5. Knowledge of a deep or scholarly kind – “Erudition”
  6. Knowledge of an instinctive nature – “Intuition”
  7. Knowledge of appropriate behavior esp. in social circles is given a foreign nomenclature “Savoir – Faire”
  8. Knowledge or learning deserving of encouragement gets the name of “Renaissance Humanism”
  9. Gathering of knowledge or information bit by bit – “Glean”
  10. Pretended learning or knowledge referred to as veneer of scholarship – “Sciolism”
  11. Knowledge of something before occurrence – “Precognition”
  12. Knowledge of perception by means of a sixth sense, supernatural powers, intuition, telepathy or the like – “Clairvoyance”, “Extra-sensory Perception (ESP)”, “Cryptaesthesia”
  13. Knowledge that all knowledge derives from the exercise of reason, rather than from experience of perception – “Rationalism”
  14. Knowledge that is gradually absorbed or acquired – “Osmosis”
  15. Knowledge acquired by intuition on supernatural experience, goes by the name of “Transcendence”
  16. Knowledge reserved for a select few – “Esoteric Knowledge”
  17. Knowledge that all knowledge derives from experience, more so from sense perceptions – “Empiricism”
  18. Knowledge of having deeply organized bit of information or close acquaintance with a subject – “Intimate”
  19. Supernatural beliefs, practices and events – “Occult”
  20. Knowledge of everything or of a great event, deal, incidence, event – or anything under the Sun – OMNISCIENCE

Transcendental knowledge – Esoteric knowledge are two of the several steps of the ladder deserving of special mention as the same constitutes the repertoire or gift of a chosen few! Omniscience is the totality of all knowledge in and of the Universe!

 

  • What precisely is the knowledge of the Self?

Knowledge of the Self is the one eulogized in Hindu Philosophy because of the fact that the Self or Atman is the seat of the Brahman!

Knowledge of the Self

  • Is known only to the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra and the Yogis in deep contemplation.
  • Is the recognition of the fact that the seed of creation of the whole universe is located in subtle form in the centre of the human heart, with the name of “Brahma Chaitanya”, “Atma Chaitanya” or “Shuddha Chaitanya”
  • That this primordial energy passes proper comprehension, description or deliberation as it is the subtler than the subtlest.
  • That the knowledge of this Chaitanya is such as to destroy all fears or apprehensions of birth, death or rebirth.
  • That the Supreme Creator in this form is in Sat-Chit-Ananda; state of indescribable bliss and glory.

 

  • Where should we place one who claims to know everything?

This simple question has been answered brilliantly by Kena Upanishad. If one claims to know everything, Kena says, he knows nothing.

On the other hand, if one says he does not know anything, “Tell him he knows everything!”

 

  • What do the words “jnāna” and “vijnāna” mean?

Jnāna consists in knowing that the Atman and the Paramatman are one and the same. After knowing the identity, proceeding further to attain the bliss of the Paramatman is Vijnāna.

It should be understood (as the message of Vijnāna) that since the Atman (the Jeevātman) originally emerged from the Paramatman, the true end and aim of a jeevan is to attain the highest state of the Paramatman ultimately. “Vijnānam yagnam tanute” means that science (Vijnāna) involves a sacrifice. The pursuit of the Paramapadam i.e., the Paramatman will itself mean quite a sum of sacrifice e.g., time spent in thapas!

 

  • What is the difference between jnānam and vijnānam? 

Jnānam means knowledge of a thought while Vijnānam is the science behind it. We can think of an example most germane to one of the main purposes of this book. For example Sri Shuka Paramarshi in the Shuka Rahasyopanishad was told by Siva himself that all mantras should be subjected to six-fold Kara-Nyāsa and six-fold Anga-Nyāsa before the recipient of the mantra sits for vibration. A mantra has its Rishi who ennobled it, the metre it is constructed in, the presiding deity of the mantra, the two fold Nyāsa, Digbhandana, Dhyana-shloka, and Panch-puja before constant japa focus on the deity. Mere knowledge of the moola-mantra is what (mantra) Jnāna is; but the knowledge and significance of the mantra and modus operandi of the application thereof, the secrets of construction of the mantra, the benefits of radiation thereof, the understanding of the whole process and purpose – constitutes the Vijnāna of the mantra. While Jnānam is perception of something, Vijnānam is the science thereof and the scientific significance of. Switching on the table fan by pressing the button is the knowledge of operation; but its construction and the knowledge of the motive force or even the physics behind the technique is the science behind it! In order to understand the Vijnānam, we must have at least a smattering of information or mere knowledge of it!

 

  • How does the lack of knowledge cloud the mind of an ignorant person?

This is rather a subtle one to answer! The sweetness of honey is not known to the flower! The value of money is not known to the miser! The reverberating sound of the school is not heard by the bell! The value of the pearl is not known to the shell! The aromatic smell of incense is not felt by the stick!

The sweetness of honey, the value of money, the reverberating sound, the value of pearl, and the aroma of incense owe their very origin to the follower, the miser, the bell, the shell and the stick respectively – but the latter does not know the former! In the same way, an ignorant person cannot perceive the values of wisdom! Ignorance, lack of knowledge or wisdom in a person clings to the mind by virtue of past actions.

 

  • What is the meaning of “māyaya-aprahuta-jnānam”?

It means “Knowledge stolen by illusion!” A further question that arrives is whether “Jnāna” or knowledge can ever be stolen by any flash or facet of illusion!

Read the 5th sloka of “Soundarya Lahari” of Adi Shankara:

Haristwām-ārādhya pranatajāna-sowbhāgyajānaneem

Purā nāree bhūtwā puraripumapi kshobhamanayar |

Smaropi twām natwā ratinayanalehyena vapushā

Muneenāmapyantaha prabhavati hi mohāya mahatām ||

The essence of the sloka (addressed by Sri Adi Shankara to Bhagavathi) is that Vishnu propitiated Bhagavathi and taking the feminine form (of Mohini) made even Shiva’s heart flutter! Manmatha also worshipped Devi and with an attractive physical frame commensurate with the inviting eyes of Rati Devi is endowed with the power to throw the great Munis into an irresistible spell of māya or illusion.

When a Muni or a Jnāni falls to the captivating countenance of a “Mohini” (one capable of casting a spell of attraction or illusion) on knowledgeable ones, it can be rightly described as “Knowledge being stolen” by the impact of the attractive.

Incidentally, the “Trilokya-mohana mantra chakra” has the beeja-aksharās (seed letters) of the first two letters of the Sanskrit alphabet Am and Aām together with “Sowhu” beejakshara. The middle Aām refers to the irresistible peeta-shakti of “Ākarshini” endowed with the all-powerful attractive attribute of enticing anyone!

The 18th and 19th slokas of “Soundarya Lahiri” convey the meaning of similar spell of māya by a man who worships Bhagavathi and gets the power to attract the most beautiful women like Urvashi!

 

  • What is the meaning of “Aksharam na-ksharathi”?

Akshara” ( as opposed to “Kshara” suggestive of liability to destruction ) means indestructible.

 

  • “Aksharam Brahma-Samhitam” – What is the meaning here?

It means that the pros and cons of Akshara can go into a big volume on the Brahman. In other words, as the akshara represents the ultimate particle of countless numbers of particles go into the huge dimensions of the ultimate building blocks of nature.

Just as the Brahman pervades the akshara, the whole universe created by the Brahman is also pervaded by the Brahman. Bricks are made of tiny (or tiniest invisible) particles and so are the building blocks made of bricks and a variety of components – all ultimately traceable to akshara or particle.

 

  • Vedic hymn “Rucho akshara parame vyoman”- Significance?

This Vedic declaration brings about a nexus between Rik (or body) and Akshara Brahman. The mortal body contains the immortal akshara called the Atman, immortality being the common factor of identity between the Akshara, Atman, and the Brahman pervading the sky and the vast expanse of space.

 

  • How is the above connected with the hymn “Sahasra-aksharā parame vyoman”?

This Vedic declaration conveys almost the idea to the effect that in the whole gamut of the invisible sky (and space) the Brahman manifesting as an akshara pervades it entirely by multiplying itself into a “thousand letter” i.e., into a myriad letters (myriad akshara-s).

As the Atman and Brahman are indistinguishable from each other and as both are self-luminous entities, so is the akshara too. With the Guru’s grace, a sadhaka can comprehend within himself the self-luminous akshara.

 

  • What is the significance of the Vedic passage “Om iti-ekāksharam Brahma”?

It means that the singular letter “Om” is verily the Brahman.

 

  • What are the most beautiful lines about Brahman?

Eka-meva advitiyam Brahma – Brahman is only one, bereft of second

Sathya-jnānam-anantam Brahma – Brahman is a manifestation of Truth-Knowledge-Infinity

Sat-chit-ekam Brahma – Brahman is the Truth, Consciousness and One

Brahma satyam, jagam mithyam – Brahman is the reality, Universe the unreality

 

  • What do we understand by “Sarvam khalvidam Brahma” and Anandam Brahmeti vyajanāth”?

“Sarvam khalvidam Brahma” asserts that whatever is eternally true (or real) is Brahman. “Anandam Brahmeti vyajanāth” means that bliss indeed is Brahman.

 

  • “Aksharānām – A-kāro asmi” says Bhagavadgita (Ch. 10, Sl. 33). What does it mean?

The first of the alphabet “A-kāra” is the supreme seat of Prabrahman as the Supreme Creator. As also the Mahakāla, the Creator says He transcends time as He is the creator and destroyer thereof. He faces all, He is the all knowing, all pervading protector of all.

 

  • Which is the biggest or the most potent weapon?

From the earliest times upto the pre-British era in India and virtually all over the world, the weapons of war consisted mainly of the arrow, mace, sword and the like. The Gods were endowed with some special weapons of very strong nature. The use of bow and arrow was a very highly skilled exercise not only regarding target, focus and accuracy but was invariably linked to the powerful mantras. Brahma-astra was supposed to be the most powerful astra or weapon. Equally destructive as a potent weapon was Agneya-astra similar to the present-day atom bomb!

Strangely enough, this very question was indeed the question that arose during the conversation between Bhagavan Krishna on the one hand and the Pandavas on the other, in the presence of Bhishma.

Lord Krishna initiated the debate with a question on the subtleties of Dharma governing the science of archery and the customary methods of employing the bow and arrows as weapons of destruction.

Arjuna said “Without Your Grace, no arrow will be of any use!” Then came the vital question from Lord Krishna, “Which is the biggest or the most potent weapon?”

The repository of righteousness, Dharmaraja, came with his personal opinion, “The biggest arrow is Brahma-astra!

Lord Krishna did not seem to agree with this opinion. He said, “Just look at my previous incarnations and think over what happened in Rāma-avatar. As Rāma, I shot the very Brahma-astra against my devotee Hanuman and what happened to the so-called weapon of great destruction? The arrow was a failure and the Brahma-astra exercise was an exercise in futility!”

Everyone in the hall was taken aback by Lord Krishna’s analysis of the function of the most dangerous arrow which draws a blank in Rāma-Anjaneya fight.

Discerning Lord Krishna’s mood, Bhishma said, “The biggest arrow is Agneya-astra!” Bhishma’s suggestion did not convince Lord Krishna. He said “Rules regulating the shooting of Agneya-astra by married people are different from those indicated for unmarried ones. If bachelors use the Agneya-astra according to the Code of Ethics, its potential strength as a weapon will increase manifold – almost to a illimitable extent.”

Advancing his arguments Lord Krishna said to Bhishma, “You know what happened when you shot the Agneya-astra in the battle-field. It didn’t harm me at all!”

Then it was Bhima’s turn to make his submission before Bhagavan. “Vāyuva-astra is the biggest” he said.

Lord Krishna was not impressed with Bhima’s suggestion either! “That belongs to your father’s armory. There is nothing great that can be said about it.” That silenced Bhima.

“If a thejasic arrow has to be produced,” said Arjuna, “I would say that Pāsupatha-astra is the biggest”

Paramatman did not appear to be satisfied with the idea. “How can it be big?” asked Lord Krishna, “Ekalavya made an earthly idol of his Guru (which gave him the knowledge). When that is the truth, wither Pāsupatha-astra?”

Nakula then came out with his submission. “There is an arrow called Moola-bala Sani. That is the biggest!” he said.

Quick was Lord Krishna’s reply, “It is a fraudulent weapon. It is as unrighteous an arrow as it would be if we throw mud into an enemy’s eyes. It cannot be a big one!”

Finally, Sahadeva got up to make his submission. But Bhima intervened to say, “You know what happened to my suggestion of Vāyuva-astra as the biggest weapon – an opinion the Lord throws into the space of obscurity. You are infatuated with the intoxication of metaphysical madness! However, what eligibility do you have to give a proper reply to Bhagavan’s reply?

Sahadeva continued despite the dissuasion by Bhima. Turning to Bhagavan he said, “There is the most powerful weapon that can make Your head turn up and down in total approbation. You play the game in such a way that I am unable to understand You! You look as if You do not seem to know the answer Yourself!”

“How can you say I do not know the answer”, said Krishna.

Proceeding further, Sahadeva said, “There is the biggest weapon which can bend Your head! That is Krishna Bhakthi!! If only I shoot the arrow of bhakthi, You as the champion of bhaktas, will immediately jump into the fray and play with him! You will run up to him and wholeheartedly get behind the bhaktha to start your “leela”! In the metaphysical truth of the mysterious biggest weapon, is there an astra which is more formidable than Krishna Bhakthi?”

Draupadi, who was the victim of Kauravas’ sinful karma, “What weapon is there to get rid of bad karma?”, she asked. Bhima intervened again with a suspicious note, “How can Krishna Bhakthi spell death-knell to karma?” he asked.

“Bhakthi is the only weapon which can cause favorable reaction from Bhagavan! Erasement or destruction of karma is a matter of personal experience (based on their prayers!)” replied Sahadeva.

“If the strength of karmic influence is one which goes up,” objected Bhima, “How can Sahadeva’s solution of Krishna Bhakthi do anything?”

The powerful debate on the subject proved to be a very funny one apparently engulfing even the great Lord.

“In order to put forward the correct answer,” said Krishna, “The only one who is qualified to speak is Dharmaraja.”

The pious one got up and with bhakthi offered prostrations to the Paramatman; said Dharmaraja, “Swamin! Bereft of Your Grace, nothing in this world, whether the power of wealth, the command over faculties of enjoyment, facets of fortune and upper-hand of bliss – all pale into insignificance as they cannot secure ultimate victory!”

The reply brought a smile on Bhagavan’s face. The smile seemed to signify symbolic acceptance and synthesis of submissions of Dharmaraja’s Dharma analysis and Sahadeva’s karmic solution through the power of Krishna Bhakthi!

 

  • What is the result of sin?

A rusted piece of iron eats up the iron itself. A sinful act swallows the sinner itself. It is just a matter of time for justice!

 

  • Is there a sin more serious than murder?

No doubt murder is the most heinous of all crimes. The murderer acquires the sin of what is called “Brahma-hatya” – a sin which will haunt and pester one for seven incarnations of life. Even Gods cannot escape from the severity of the sin! After Indira killed Vruthāsura, the Brahma-hatya thereof chased Indra relentlessly whereever the latter went to protect himself. When Mahishasura was killed, the linga which adorned the neck of asura got stuck in Devi’s hand! She had to take a dip in the special tank of sacred waters in the vicinity of Durga sannidhi in Thiruvannamalai (in Tamil Nadu) – to get rid of the linga.

But a more serious sin is (a) Character assassination of virtuous people, (b) Insult of humiliation caused to saintly people. (Mahishasura was a big Shivayogi but the way he insulted the great Agasthya Maharshi brought him the “reward” of a curse!) (c) Harming the reputation of pious people and devotes of God.

There is a murderous sin called “Thejo-vadha” i.e., talking disparagingly of spiritual people, ascetics, Gurus, Munis, Rishis etc. Even approval of such humiliation caused, amounts to an unpardonable sin.

Those who are indirectly connected with the act of “Thejo-vadha” will have to pay very dearly. “Thejo-vadha” is more serious if the criticism hurled against a thejasic personality takes place on a public platform in front of an audience. Come what may, all right-thinking people should resolve from the bottom of their heart that they will not indulge a “Thejo-vadha” of any one or cause “loss of face” to anyone directly or indirectly. “Thejo-vadha” is the assassination of one’s spiritual glory.

Let us imagine an instance of a thejasic one making a wrong categorical assertion of a metaphysical truth or quoting a Vedic or scriptural text wrongly from a public platform. No one is entitled to point out the mistake and put him to a loss of face. That amounts to “Thejo-vadha”. One who causes the loss of face at that time, one who prompts or motivates such a one to cause the humiliation, and one who approves of the sin of the “Thejo-vadha” on the spot or after the event – are all seriously guilty of the sin. It is disapproved by Divinity with disastrous results. For, the reputed one, humiliation causes the “death” of his reputation.

It is in this context that gossip generates an infringement of the moral code – an infringement which is not curable by any known religious remedy!

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