“A person is said to be established in self-realization and is called a yogi [or mystic] when he is fully satisfied by virtue of acquired knowledge and realization. Such a person is situated in transcendence and is self-controlled. He sees everything-whether it be pebbles, stones or gold-as the same.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.8)
युक्त इत्य् उच्यते योगी
yukta ity ucyate yogī
Friend1: I have heard it said, no pun intended, that hearing is sufficient for achieving perfection.
Friend2: Perfection in what?
Friend1: Self-realization. Knowing my true identity. Meeting the purpose of life. The secret to living, the reason we are in this world at present.
Friend2: You have to hear from the proper source.
Friend1: Shravanam is the Sanskrit. It is one of the nine processes of devotional service, bhakti-yoga, as listed by the great Prahlada Maharaja.
Friend2: Notice that shravanam appears first. Any of the nine will qualify. You can find perfection through ways other than hearing, but it is the simplest and most straightforward.
Friend1: The perfect example in this regard is Maharaja Parikshit. He sat down and heard for seven days. This was at the end of life. He wasn’t suffering from a terminal illness, but he might as well have been.
Friend2: The curse of the brahmana. Parikshit accidentally did something wrong previously and he was set to incur the wrath at a later date.
Friend1: He decided to renounce the kingdom and hear Hari-katha. The speaker was qualified; Shukadeva Gosvami. The result was liberation.
Friend2: Absolutely. Perfection. Sitting and hearing attentively was as good as serving God directly. It was superior to meditational yoga. The king did not need to do anything else.
Friend1: I am glad you mentioned yoga. Now let’s take a verse from the Bhagavad-gita. Krishna describes a person who is self-realized and a yogi. One of the symptoms of such a person is that they are fully satisfied due to jnana and vijnana.
Friend2: Theoretical knowledge and practical realization.
Friend1: Yes. I understand that vijnana is more important.
Friend2: Would you rather be treated by someone who only passed medical school or someone who has been in the field practicing medicine for years?
Friend1: The latter, because they know more. They can act off the knowledge instead of just giving the correct answers to questions on a test.
Friend2: There you go. That’s a good way of putting it. Jnana should lead to vijnana. Jnana is still important. Hearing the knowledge about the eternal nature of the soul, how it is different from the gross and subtle material elements, how the soul travels through different changes, is critical in making a turn in the proper direction.
Friend1: Now let’s go back to Parikshit. There was no yoga in the traditional sense.
Friend2: Forget that. Yoga is a connection. Parikshit was in union with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna, through hearing.
Friend1: Alright, then let’s agree that mysticism was absent.
Friend1: I can see where there was jnana. Shukadeva’s information contained the highest wisdom, describing the creation, God’s role in it, and how the Supreme Lord is above the dualities of a material nature.
Friend2: You get nine cantos of detailed explanation before reaching the nectar-like stories involving Krishna and His pastimes on this earth.
Friend1: The question is, where is the vijnana? How could Parikshit get practical realization of the principles learned?
Friend2: Why would he need that, though?
Friend1: Because Krishna says jnana and vijnana are two symptoms of a self-realized person.
Friend2: To sit down at the end of life and hear Hari-katha indicates vijnana. You might not want to identify it as such, that Parikshit is a realized soul, but shravanam in bhakti accounts for everything necessary.
Friend1: I don’t know. How could he be self-realized if there was no field work, per se?
Friend2: Sitting and hearing was the field work. This was the end of life, remember. Moreover, bhakti is superior to knowledge. The comparison is made to two children. Bhakti is a devi.
Friend1: A goddess.
Friend2: Yes, and her two sons are jnana and vairagya.
Friend1: Knowledge and renunciation.
Friend2: They are old and tired in the dark age of Kali, but when bhakti meets Narada Muni and the connection to the Shrimad Bhagavatam, the two sons become rejuvenated. Young again. You can indeed become a kid again, even if you are on the verge of death. That perfection in life will carry you forward to the best destination.
Proper understanding clear,
From simple process to hear.
Like Parikshit for Bhagavatam sitting,
On verge of this life quitting.
Jnana and vijnana properly accounted,
By Shukadeva and Divine lila recounted.
By that tale perfectly spun,
New life and once again young.