“But what need is there, Arjuna, for all this detailed knowledge? With a single fragment of Myself I pervade and support this entire universe.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.42)
अथ वा बहुनैतेन
किं ज्ञातेन तवार्जुन
विष्टभ्याहम् इदं कृत्स्नम्
एकांशेन स्थितो जगत्
atha vā bahunaitena
kiṁ jñātena tavārjuna
viṣṭabhyāham idaṁ kṛtsnam
ekāṁśena sthito jagat
Friend1: I often hear you say that with Vedic culture, questions are welcome.
Friend2: Not challenges, necessarily.
Friend1: What is the difference?
Friend2: In one situation you are genuinely interested in learning. Inquisitiveness. I heard something from the teacher and I want them to expand on it. Indulge my interest.
Friend1: And challenging is when you have already decided against a particular principle or philosophy?
Friend2: Where you want to give the teacher a hard time. By the way, anyone can challenge anything. Just because I present an opposing view doesn’t mean that my argument is necessarily valid.
Friend1: How so?
Friend2: As an example, you could say that the sky is blue. Something most people would agree upon. I could argue vehemently against that.
Friend1: But on what basis?
Friend2: Skepticism. How do you know what the color blue is? Who is the person that defined the color to begin with? With so many mistakes committed throughout history, both grave and barely noticed, who is anyone to say that their position is absolutely correct?
Friend1: Well, couldn’t I use skepticism to discount what you said right now? Why should I listen to your philosophy if you’ve already acknowledged that everyone is flawed?
Friend2: There you go. Now you are getting somewhere.
Friend1: Alright, so we have someone who isn’t challenging. They are genuinely inquisitive.
Friend2: Make humble inquiries. Offer some service. The person who has seen the truth, tattva-darshi, will be more than willing to offer assistance:
तद् विद्धि प्रणिपातेन
उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ते ज्ञानं
tad viddhi praṇipātena
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ
“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.34)
Friend1: I appreciate that Krishna makes the presentation, answering every question that Arjuna asks.
Friend2: Including the lack of force. Krishna does not compel Arjuna to follow. Notice the absence of a threat of eternal damnation. The choice is up to the disciple. Have they heard properly? Have their doubts been settled?
Friend1: Okay, I am glad you mentioned that. What if I still have doubts? What if there are questions that can’t be answered?
Friend2: Such as?
Friend1: Take something basic. How many past lives have I had? Where was I two hundred years ago?
Friend2: Ha! That question is answered. You were somewhere. You always existed, except only Krishna can remember the past stretching that far back. He has the veda of such lives. He is knowledgeable, but you are not:
बहूनि मे व्यतीतानि
जन्मानि तव चार्जुन
तान्य् अहं वेद सर्वाणि
न त्वं वेत्थ परन्तप
bahūni me vyatītāni
janmāni tava cārjuna
tāny ahaṁ veda sarvāṇi
na tvaṁ vettha parantapa
“The Blessed Lord said: Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them, but you cannot, O subduer of the enemy!” (Bhagavad-gita, 4.5)
Friend1: That is not an answer to my question.
Friend2: Yes, it is.
Friend1: You are lacking specifics.
Friend2: Who cares? Whether you were in the body of a fish or a resident of the heavenly region, what difference does it make now?
Friend1: But you admit, then, that there are some questions which cannot be answered.
Friend2: We are not talking about trivia, here. This isn’t information to help you finish first as a contestant on Jeopardy. These are the most important questions pertaining to an existence. Those issues are resolved.
Friend1: What about time? A beginning to a beginning. If God is the first person, who was before Him?
Friend2: No one. That is the meaning to anadi.
Friend1: Okay, but doesn’t that leave me right where I started?
Friend2: Where is that?
Friend1: Lacking knowledge.
Friend2: Actually, I just explained to you one of the simplest ways to understand God. You don’t even have to travel a great distance to see a guru. No need to open a book, even. Just understand that there is one person who is before everyone. He is the oldest and also without any signs of aging. That is one way to understand God.
Friend1: It is a way, but it doesn’t give me a complete understanding.
Friend2: Why not?
Friend1: Because of the time issue. I cannot comprehend going infinitely into the past.
Friend2: Or the future. The same issue with space. You and I will never understand that concept. It is beyond the thinking capability of the human being. Since we are the most intelligent species, maybe that’s a hint that we should be asking other questions.
Friend1: Such as?
Friend2: The ones answered in Bhagavad-gita. Know God. Know yourself. Know the individual. Know the spiritual and the material. Make a rational assessment as to the proper direction in life. Put material knowledge on one end of the scale and spiritual knowledge on the other. See which one carries greater significance. Armed with the proper knowledge, reach the highest destination upon completion of this lifetime.
Upon this lifetime to end,
To highest destination send.
When spiritual knowledge gaining,
Proper perspective attaining.
For right questions to inquire,
Not for trivia of history to transpire.
Issues by Bhagavad-gita addressed,
By that sacred conversation be blessed.