“Of these, the wise one who is in full knowledge in union with Me through pure devotional service is the best. For I am very dear to him, and he is dear to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.17)
तेषां ज्ञानी नित्य-युक्त
प्रियो हि ज्ञानिनो ऽत्यर्थम्
अहं स च मम प्रियः
teṣāṁ jñānī nitya-yukta
priyo hi jñānino ‘tyartham
ahaṁ sa ca mama priyaḥ
Friend1: You likely find this in every religion. The concept of avoiding competing philosophies. Don’t venture outside of the specific culture.
Friend2: Are we talking culture or religion? You are probably referring to the idea of not being a member of multiple religious institutions simultaneously.
Friend1: That is part of it, for sure. You will get confused. You run the risk of blasphemy. Your faith might be shaken.
Friend2: Yes. Understandable. Choose one thing and be dedicated to it. No reason to be an expert scholar on everything out there.
Friend1: There is a hint of blind faith in that warning. The idea of surrendering to one book, to one savior, or else you will be doomed.
Friend2: It is total and complete faith. You could describe it as blind if there is no intelligence at the foundation.
Friend1: Rational thought, as in choosing something after careful deliberation.
Friend1: Here is my question for you. Don’t we find the same thing in the Vedas?
Friend2: What is that? Blind faith? The beginning is athato brahma-jijnasa. Make an inquiry into Brahman, which is the Absolute Truth. Use the intelligence provided the human being to advance in this direction. Athato means that now is the time. Not before. Not in a previous existence. The conditions were not as conducive.
Friend1: I get that. I am more referring to the idea of not studying every religion. The acharyas recommend staying with something like Shrimad Bhagavatam. Their claim is that everything needed to be known will be found in that sacred text.
Friend2: It is not a claim. It is the honest truth.
Friend1: Okay, but doesn’t every religious leader say that about their particular book? Everyone dissuades comparative study, probably because they are afraid of the challenges competing philosophies might present.
Friend2: There is a big difference with the Vedas.
Friend1: What is that?
Friend2: The culture itself features comparative study. If you read something like Bhagavad-gita, the teacher presents many different philosophies. He briefly covers so many aspects of living. More detail is in Shrimad Bhagavatam. The acharyas in the devotional line actually know every point of view.
Friend1: How is that possible? No one can live through every experience.
Friend2: Shastra-chakshu. The eyes of the sacred texts. You will be exposed to every philosophy that will ever exist. You will understand the pros and cons. You will see where a certain angle of vision is correct, and where it falls short in describing the complete picture.
Friend1: I see.
Friend2: Always use your intelligence. Of the four kinds of people who approach Shri Krishna, the Supreme Lord, in devotion, the jnani is considered the best. This is because they have made a decision based on intelligence to serve God without motive and without interruption. Intelligence includes comparative study. You can only make a wise choice to abandon all dharmas and surrender unto Krishna after you know for certain that no other path will come close to bringing the same level of bliss, both for this life and future ones.
From comparative study dissuaded,
That to stay in one place persuaded.
But hint of blind faith not?
Let me see what others have got.
Idea that Bhagavatam everything assimilating,
Many philosophies as such contemplating.
So that decision for bhakti wise and sober,
Most dear is the intelligent knower.