Talking About Even a Little Understanding

[Bhagavad-gita]“O Krishna, I totally accept as truth all that You have told me. Neither the gods nor demons, O Lord, know Thy personality.” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.14)

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sarvam etad ṛtaṁ manye

yan māṁ vadasi keśava

na hi te bhagavan vyaktiṁ

vidur devā na dānavāḥ

Friend1: I have another contradiction for you.

Friend2: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Friend1: No.

Friend2: How do they get that ship into the bottle?

Friend1: I have always wondered about that. But again, no.

[ship in a bottle]Friend2: Someone told me they use tweezers. I always thought they just mold the glass around the already built ship.

Friend1: That would be harder than using the tweezers.

Friend2: Good point.

Friend1: Anyway, it’s from the Bhagavad-gita. More specifically, from something said in a particular verse.

Friend2: Okay. This should be good. Before you begin, I hope you know that Krishna Himself is contradictory.

Friend1: What do you mean?

Friend2: He is greater than the greatest and smaller than the smallest. He is both of these things simultaneously. He is within the heart of every living entity as the Supersoul. This is more than just sending out a representative to report back information. He is literally within everyone as the witness; hence the description of Him as antaryami. At the same time, He is in the spiritual realm of Vaikuntha. Logic can’t explain that.

Friend1: You fell right into my trap, my friend. Your little dissertation there made my point for me. I will proceed forward anyway, and you’ll see what I mean.

Friend2: Okay.

Friend1: There is a verse in the Bhagavad-gita where Arjuna says that Krishna is impossible to know. Well, not totally impossible, but he says that both the demigods and the demons don’t know His personality.

Friend2: Right.

Friend1: A demigod is a deva, a celestial being. They are highly advanced in all areas of material existence. If they can’t know Krishna, who is God the person, what hope is there for the rest of us? The part about the demons I understand. They are the opposite of the devas. So if a demigod has great intelligence, the demon has very little.

Friend2: Well, it depends on your definition of intelligence, but generally you’re right. The demon could be very adept at lying, cheating, and stealing. Still, for this discussion they are certainly without intelligence because of their lack of knowledge of Krishna. They could see Him face to face and still not recognize Him for who He is.

Friend1: Not to mention what you said in the beginning. There are all these contradictory aspects to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Since I am a man of the people, I know what their concern will be here.

Friend2: What is that?

Friend1: They will want to know what the purpose is to studying the Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic texts. We are obviously not demigods. Intelligence is a material element, so if we live an existence that is inferior to the demigods, by extension it can be deduced that our ability to know Krishna is even less.

Friend2: That’s a fair point.

Friend1: You agree that studying the Supreme Lord is a waste of time, then?

Friend2: Not at all.

Friend1: Please explain.

Friend2: For starters, the material existence is impossible to understand fully. Would you cede that point?

Friend1: Hmm. Maybe. Tell me more.

[history]Friend2: Let’s say that I become a professor in history at a college. My expertise will be history. There is no way that I can consume every book that has ever been published. There is no way for me to know everything that has ever happened.

Friend1: That’s true.

Friend2: Even if by some miracle I could, I would have no way of remembering everything I read. Even if I could remember everything, I would have no way of processing the information in a meaningful way.

Friend1: You could say the same thing about scientists. They never fully understand the nature around them.

Friend2: Plus, their conclusions are always changing. Today they speak with certainty about a subject, and a few years later they will reverse their position. Again, they will speak with certainty, criticizing anyone who dares challenge them.

Friend1: Okay. So you’re saying that learning anything is basically a waste of time?

Friend2: No, but we see that a limitation in understanding does not prevent the attempt. The difference with spiritual life is that knowing Krishna just a little bit brings perfection. Also, the Supreme Lord Himself says that He can be known in full. The key is to know the truth about Him, without doubts.

Friend1: Is that the mayy asakta manah partha verse?

Friend2: Yes.

śrī-bhagavān uvāca

mayy āsakta-manāḥ pārtha

yogaṁ yuñjan mad-āśrayaḥ

asaṁśayaṁ samagraṁ māṁ

yathā jñāsyasi tac chṛṇu

“Now hear, O son of Pritha [Arjuna], how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.1)

[Bhagavad-gita]Arjuna should hear from Krishna and have a mind attached to Him. It’s as simple as that. The demigods may not know Him completely, as they are engaged in some type of material activity. This is the reason pure devotion is always stressed. Pure devotion means bhakti practiced without any outside motives. You’re not after knowledge, renunciation, or mystic perfection. It’s a platform rarely achieved, but the possibility is there. Krishna unveils the path, and He even gives help to the person who tries. He brings to them what they need and preserves what they have. That’s why studying Him is the most worthwhile use of time.

In Closing:

With this gifted intelligence of mine,

Where in most worthwhile use of time?

When of Him just a little to know,

To proceed towards highest realm so.

Of Shri Krishna, Supreme Lord we speak,

Despite limitations, His mercy just seek.

Help to you directly giving,

Your shortcomings quickly forgiving.

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