99/9: Irrelevance Of Knowledge

Summary: Tendency to acquire knowledge for its own sake is a big obstacle in sadhana. Since the path of an individual is unique to him/her, dry knowledge can only confuse the sadhak. On the other hand, knowledge obtained by personal experience is unique to the sadhak and hence it shows the correct way to proceed in sadhana.

Verse 99: Haa Prakrutivikho Aaghava, Tuvaa Maagaa Parisilaase Paandavaa, Mhanoni Aso Kaai Saangaavaa, Pudhatpudhati.

Translation: The way we get entangled in this world Arjuna, you have heard it before too. Therefore, let me not repeat it again and again.

There is a general feeling amongst us that knowledge means acquiring of lot of information. This feeling is much more pronounced amongst the so-called intellectual people. Over the years, with hard work, they have fine-tuned their capacity of analysis and faculty of memory. Therefore, they are hesitant to agree on anything without gathering a lot of information and then spending a lot of energy on analyzing the information. However, there are things in this world that do not need so much effort. For example, we all go to sleep without actually keeping track of how a large number of people in this world go to sleep. We just do it when we feel like it. Another and somewhat serious example is the way we get married. I am sure that, barring a few nut cases, most of us do not read big books on how to get married and what are all the consequences of living a life with another person. Nor do we go around accumulating knowledge taking interviews of married people! This verse is saying that doing sadhana and knowing its ultimate aim is yet another example of this kind. There is not much to know. The whole point is to put in practice whatever little we know.

Ramakrishna Paramhans used to say that the whole import of Gita is understood if we repeat the word ten times. At the end of it, the word becomes reversed into Tagi, which means renunciation. What Gita is telling us is to renounce our present way of life and look for truth.

In sadhana, we start off by some very simple thing. It may be dissatisfaction with our present situation, or it may be feeling a vague incompleteness about our life. Then, those who are fortunate meet a guru who is well established in the knowledge of truth and is kind enough to give advice. The mantra given by our guru and the method of meditation is the next little bit of knowledge that is acquired by us. That is all we need. Now what requires is to use this knowledge creatively. Make your whole life a living embodiment of practicing what little the guru has taught you and you will keep acquiring the bits and pieces of knowledge needed for your growth. The required knowledge comes about miraculously in your life. Sometimes, you get the required information by a look on the face of a passer-by, sometimes just by taking a walk in solitude and sometimes by talking with some body with similar interests in life. The means may vary, but what one acquires at any given point is a tiny bit of knowledge. It is always one small step at a time. But these small steps have the power of taking you to your ultimate aim.

On the other hand, if we hurry and try to read and acquire knowledge by reading books (instead getting it from our own life), we often get confused. We see so many different possibilities for every single question of ours that we feel inadequate in solving our own problems and feel diffident about our progress. Whenever we look at ourselves, we seem to see only the faults! This is the outcome of acquiring dry knowledge. What one gets by acquiring knowledge from our own life, and by believing in the knowledge obtained this way, is the right attitude of acceptance. The acceptance of our true self is a very important step in progressing in our sadhana. This complete acceptance can only come when we have very honestly tried to put into practice the little knowledge we have learnt from our own experiences.

Therefore, Lord Krishna is telling Arjuna that I can tell you in many different ways how the world has come about and how is it that we do not see God, despite He being so close to us. But it does not serve any purpose. You have already known whatever there is to know. Now, just put your knowledge in practice. That is the need of the hour, not additional knowledge. If we have gone to a mango orchard to eat mangoes, we do not need to know the owner of the orchard or who planted the trees or any other details. Having somehow reached the trees, our only job is to pluck the mangoes and start eating. They taste just as sweet with or without knowing other details. In fact, trying to gather other information leaves you with less time to eat and enjoy!


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