“This knowledge is the king of education, the most secret of all secrets. It is the purest knowledge, and because it gives direct perception of the self by realization, it is the perfection of religion. It is everlasting, and it is joyfully performed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.2)
pavitram idam uttamam
su-sukhaṁ kartum avyayam
As soon as it exits the womb, the young child enters the discovery process. They have some intelligence going in. This must be the case, otherwise how would they know how to cry? How would they know how to eat? We see this intelligence at a higher level at the beginning of life in other species. The human being needs a GPS application to travel to a foreign place. They need the same app when returning home. Yet the bees and birds remember where their homes are. They go out looking for food and then come back without a problem.
sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭo
mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca
vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyo
vedānta-kṛd veda-vid eva cāham
“I am seated in everyone’s heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas am I to be known; indeed I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.15)
Armed with some intelligence, the newborn begins to take in the world that is foreign to it. The extended classroom that is the journey through life can be likened to a track where new secrets constantly get revealed. There is the secret that one plus one equals two. This is simple enough to understand for the adult, but previously the same person had to learn this truth and realize its validity through their own effort.
At a more mature level, there is the secret that death must occur. Before death even there is old age. While the person in denial will try every which way to extend life indefinitely, the issue remains that the childhood body cannot return. At one time the human being lived inside of a tiny space known as a womb, but in adulthood there is no way to repeat the same. Thus time shows its mark at every step, culminating with the dreadful event known as death.
Is there knowledge beyond this? Is there a higher secret? In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna says that there is. The knowledge He imparts to Arjuna is described as the secret of secrets, raja-guhyam. This information is most confidential, and it is befittingly paired with those who are seeking answers to the bigger questions in life. Though this knowledge is powerful in all respects and can deliver anyone, it is not intended to be heard by those who are of the demoniac nature. People in this category think that life comes simply through sex desire and that there is no controller behind everything.
asatyam apratiṣṭhaṁ te
jagad āhur anīśvaram
kim anyat kāma-haitukam
“They say that this world is unreal, that there is no foundation and that there is no God in control. It is produced of sex desire, and has no cause other than lust.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 16.8)
The most confidential knowledge directly refutes that claim. It is the secret of all secrets because it goes through all of space and through every time period. The secrets we learn of one plus one and guaranteed death apply to this lifetime. The various secrets pertaining to maintenance of the body apply only to the local sphere. As a simple example, the human being can eat chocolate and get some nutrition out of it. The same chocolate is toxic for the dog, however. Therefore such secrets apply only in limited circumstances.
The knowledge given by Krishna is universal. He says that He is the origin of the entire creation. He creates, causing the manifestation. By His will everything is maintained. He then destroys, resulting in annihilation. Though this is work done on the largest scale, and thus requiring the most effort, Krishna is not affected by any of it. The universal manifestation is one way to understand Him, and yet it is still an incomplete representation.
Creation and annihilation occur through time. As Krishna is the constant factor, He is superior to time. In fact, time is one way to understand Him. Those who belong to the category known as “atheist” deny the existence of Krishna, or God, but they still acknowledge time. Therefore they are technically theists who only know of the Divine through His formidable force that is time. In this sense everyone is a theist to some degree.
Those who accept and understand the most confidential knowledge associate with the Divine in a way that brings superior results. The universal secret of all-time delivers the fallen soul from the clutches of the material space and the influence that time has on it. The Supreme Lord brings the rescued to His side, where they engage in service in one of nine different ways.
śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ
arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ
“Hearing and chanting about the transcendental holy name, form, qualities, paraphernalia and pastimes of Lord Vishnu, remembering them, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering the Lord respectful worship with sixteen types of paraphernalia, offering prayers to the Lord, becoming His servant, considering the Lord one’s best friend, and surrendering everything unto Him (in other words, serving Him with the body, mind and words) – these nine processes are accepted as pure devotional service.” (Prahlada Maharaja, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.23)
“If this secret is universal, why isn’t it shared with everyone? If it applies to all of time, why is it delivered at a specific moment in time, namely the battlefield of Kurukshetra some five thousand years ago?”
Though the most confidential knowledge is difficult to find, it actually never disappears. Just as certain groups rise to prominence and then later fall again, the devoted souls on earth are sometimes larger or smaller in number. The knowledge remains intact through the system of parampara, or disciplic succession. This is also explained in the Bhagavad-gita.
imaṁ rājarṣayo viduḥ
sa kāleneha mahatā
yogo naṣṭaḥ parantapa
“This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 4.2)
The secret is shared with those who will make proper use of it. We can think of it like not explaining the higher truths of mathematics to someone who doesn’t even know one plus one. Lecturing the person in this situation serves no purpose.
One aspect to the universal secret is that the potency of the original creator is not limited simply to knowledge. That potency extends to all aspects directly representing Him, including His name. This means that one who is not yet fortunate enough to have access to the most confidential knowledge can still connect with the Supreme Lord. The chanting of the holy names creates this connection, and it eventually brings the universal secret of all-time to the here and now: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Not limited to a certain place to shine,
For everywhere is universal secret of all-time.
This information to only those going,
Who desire higher truths for knowing.
Other knowledge limited to apply,
Not giving reason for living why.
Secret available for even knowledge without,
Holy name giving divine presence no doubt.