To assimilate Transcendental knowledge is much more than a formality–SP

January 14, 2023 in Articles by Damaghosa dasa

Article by Ishan das

SB 2.9.43–TRANSLATION

 

The great sage Nārada also inquired in detail from his father Brahmā, the great-grandfather of all the universe, after seeing him well satisfied.

 

PURPORT-

“The process of understanding spiritual or transcendental knowledge from the realized person is not exactly like asking an ordinary question from the schoolmaster. The schoolmasters in the modern days are paid agents for giving some information, but the spiritual master is not a paid agent. Nor can he impart instruction without being authorized. In the Bhagavad-gītā, the process of understanding transcendental knowledge is directed as follows:


tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ jñāninas tattvadarśinaḥ


Arjuna was advised to receive transcendental knowledge from the realized person by surrender, questions and service. Receiving transcendental knowledge is not like exchanging dollars; such knowledge has to be received by service to the spiritual master. As Brahmājī received the knowledge directly from the Lord by satisfying Him fully, similarly one has to receive the transcendental knowledge from the spiritual master by satisfying him. The spiritual master’s satisfaction is the means of assimilating transcendental knowledge. One cannot understand transcendental knowledge simply by becoming a grammarian. The Vedas declared: 


yasya deve parā bhaktir yathā deve tathā gurau

tasyaite kathitā hy arthāḥ prakāśante mahātmanaḥ


“Only unto one who has unflinching devotion to the Lord and to the spiritual master does transcendental knowledge become automatically revealed.” Such a relationship between the disciple and the spiritual master is eternal. One who is now the disciple is the next spiritual master. And one cannot be a bona fide and authorized spiritual master unless one has been strictly obedient to his spiritual master. Brahmājī, as disciple of the Supreme Lord, received the real knowledge and imparted it to his dear disciple Nārada, and similarly Nārada, as spiritual master, handed over this knowledge to Vyāsa and so on. Therefore the so-called formal spiritual master and disciple are not facsimiles of Brahmā and Nārada or Nārada or Vyāsa. The relationship between Brahmā and Nārada is reality, while the so-called formality is the relation between the cheater and cheated. It is clearly mentioned herewith that Nārada is not only well behaved, meek and obedient, but is also self-controlled. One who is not self-controlled, specifically in sex life, can neither become a disciple nor a spiritual master. One must have disciplinary training in controlling speaking, anger, tongue, mind, belly and the genitals. One who has controlled the particular senses mentioned above is called a gosvāmī. Without becoming a gosvāmī one can neither become a disciple nor a spiritual master. The so-called spiritual master without sense control is certainly the cheater, and the disciple of such a so-called spiritual master is the cheated.


One should not think of Brahmājī as a dead great-grandfather, as we have experience in this planet. He is the oldest great-grandfather, and he is still living, and Nārada is also living.The age of the inhabitants of the Brahmaloka planet is mentioned in the Bhagavad-gītā. The inhabitants of this small planet earth can hardly calculate even the duration of one day of Brahmā.

 

…………………..

 

 

Now, let us once again read Srila Prabhupada’s purport and contemplate his instructional guidelines:  

 

“The process of understanding spiritual or transcendental knowledge from the realized person is not exactly like asking an ordinary question from the schoolmaster. The schoolmasters in the modern days are paid agents for giving some information, but the spiritual master is not a paid agent.”


The first point Srila Prabhupada makes is that transcendental knowledge must be received from the realized person and not from someone who can repeat book knowledge.  Unless the spiritual master is realized, he cannot actually impart a realized understanding to his student.  

 

The specific process of transmission of knowledge, from the realized spiritual master to his student, is further explained by Srila Prabhupada; but first Srila Prabhupada clarifies the distinction between a paid teacher and a spiritual master. 

 

A paid agent is a person who is hired to give information.  In this sense, such a teacher is the paid servant of the student, and is giving information regardless of the qualifications of the student.  The spiritual master is not obliged to impart transcendental knowledge.  


“……. but the spiritual master is not a paid agent. Nor can he impart instruction without being authorized…. “


The bonafide spiritual master is the unalloyed devotional servant of Krishna and therefore he will not be hired by or obliged to anyone.  And because he is Krishna’s unalloyed confidential servant, he is authorized by Krishna to impart transcendental knowledge.  Unless he is authorized by Krishna, he is not empowered to impart transcendental knowledge to his student.  

 

After making these opening points, Srila Prabhupada proceeds to elucidate the relationship between the bonafide spiritual master and his student that qualifies the student for receiving transcendental knowledge from the bonafide spiritual master:  

 

“In the Bhagavad-gītā, the process of understanding transcendental knowledge is directed as follows:


tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ jñāninas tattvadarśinaḥ


Arjuna was advised to receive transcendental knowledge from the realized person by surrender, questions and service.”

 

 


Surrender, questions and service.  In Bhagavad-gita, 2.7, Arjuna asks questions of Krishna in a mood of surrender:  

 

“Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of weakness.  In this condition I am asking you to tell me clearly what is best for me.  Now I am your disciple, and a soul surrendered unto you.  Please instruct me.” 

 

Srila Prabhupada continues to bring the nature of the relationship between the bonafide spiritual master and his student more precisely into focus as follows:  

 

“Receiving transcendental knowledge is not like exchanging dollars; such knowledge has to be received by service to the spiritual master. As Brahmājī received the knowledge directly from the Lord by satisfying Him fully, similarly one has to receive the transcendental knowledge from the spiritual master by satisfying him. The spiritual master’s satisfaction is the means of assimilating transcendental knowledge. One cannot understand transcendental knowledge simply by becoming a grammarian.”


A bonafide spiritual master is not in need of anything material.  He is atmarama, completely self-satisfied in his reciprocal loving relationship with Krishna.  However, he is very merciful and kind.  And when he sees the sincere endeavor of his student to satisfy him, he is moved to bless his disciple with spiritual understanding.  As Srila Prabhupada states above:

 

“The spiritual master’s satisfaction is the means of assimilating transcendental knowledge.”


“Assimilation” is not a process of intellectual or logical understanding.  Rather, spiritual assimilation is a process of transformation in which the spontaneous devotional demeanor becomes alive within the heart of the bonafide student. And the means of assimilating transcendental knowledge” is to satisfy the spiritual master.  In the last sentences of his purport to BG 4.34, Srila Prabhupada Speaks of his inclination for having a very compassionate personal response to the sincerity of a bonafide disciple:  

 

“A bonafide spiritual master is by nature very kind toward the disciple.   Therefore when the disciple is submissive and always ready to render service, the reciprocation of knowledge and inquiries becomes perfect.”  

 

In other words, when the bonafide spiritual master is pleased with the genuine service attitude of his disciple, he is moved to bless the disciple with the ability of “assimilating transcendental knowledge.”

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