“Every living entity within this material world is subject to four deficiencies: he commits mistakes, he accepts one thing for another, he cheats, and he has imperfect senses. The Vedas, however, are not written by any living creature within this material world. Therefore they are said to be apaurusheya. No one can trace out the history of the Vedas.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.2.31 Purport)
1. When I was born
“Though I don’t remember much from this period of time, I never thought I was significantly less intelligent than the people in charge. Rather, I was the boss. I got to do whatever I wanted. Food delivered in an instant, even though I never had to call a restaurant. Hotter or colder in temperature, to fit the circumstance.
“In truth, I was entirely dependent. I could not discern the days and nights. I had no idea about the calendar. I could not read what was written in books. I could not walk into the kitchen and feed myself. I really knew nothing.”
2. When I was young
“I never had an explicit mentor or someone I looked up to. Perhaps subconsciously I followed others, but I tended to think that I knew it all. I was being suppressed in my intelligence by the school system. The parents were too dumb to recognize my potential. Others discriminated against me based on age.
“In truth, I barely knew anything. I committed one mistake after another. I was shielded from the difficult, cold, and ruthless outside world by my parents. The people in charge understood the difficulties, and I was merely benefitting from their sacrifices.”
3. When I was new to the workforce
“I was good at what I did. The job portion was okay, but the environment was new to me. I had no idea how to play office politics. I gave my honest answer to every question. I stepped into every argument, not realizing the potential long-term ramifications.
“Comparing myself to what I know now, it is a miracle I ever survived. When I see young people starting their careers, I pray for them. I hope that their road is not as difficult as mine was. I hope they learn everything that I did, but much sooner.”
4. When I was a parent for the first time
“Literally, the first night home with the baby and I had no idea what to do. It was crying, and I thought just leaving it that way would be enough. Through many periods of trial and error, I got in the swing of things. I did not know parenting would be this difficult. Three years pass by as if they were thirty; there is not a moment to rest or get comfortable.”
5. When I was old
“Even in old age, I learned so much. When I was younger, I just assumed the elderly had more wisdom based on their experience. In essence, they had seen it all. In reality, the world is constantly changing. People evolve over time, but if their experiences are limited, maybe their level of knowledge remains static.
“I am learning new things about institutions we trusted for so many years. The politicians, the medical establishment, the school system, the large corporations – I had no idea they had so much disdain for the common man. It has been really eye-opening for me, and has made me rethink everything that I previously took for granted.”
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is so kind and merciful that He has provided the Vedas, which are like the instruction manual for living. The potency is so meaningful and impactful that time and circumstance are not inhibitors. The Vedas guide me today as much as they guided someone living one hundred years in the past.
They will continue to be the law books moving forward. This is not to say that the content is necessarily static or without nuance. A work which follows the original teachings, but expounds upon the principles suited to the time and place, is also considered Vedic literature.
I am otherwise always in ignorance precisely because of the defects accepted at the time of birth. I tend to think in the opposite direction; that I know it all. That itself is a manifestation of an underlying defect. Material existence is something like a diseased condition, and the Vedas are there to provide the remedy.
The cured condition is connection with the Almighty. The jiva soul is part of the marginal energy, tatastha-shakti, because it can toggle between ignorance and knowledge, conditioned and liberated. The Vedas are the helping hand to guide us back into knowledge, abandoning the ignorance.
Since they come from the original person, the Vedas are flawless. They are not subject to the four principal defects in the conditioned living entity. The Vedas and God are essentially one. The original person is the one worshiped, and the Vedas give the procedures and practices to facilitate that worship.
Short, but standing tall,
Thinking I knew it all.
But really a fool to see,
Not much knowledge in me.
Even in old age the same,
More insight to gain.
Vedas not in that way defective,
In every time period effective.
Categories: the five