“Akshaja means ‘the measurement of our senses,’ and adhokshaja means ‘that which is beyond the measurement of our senses.’” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.19.25 Purport)
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His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that one of the ways to address the Almighty is through the Sanskrit word Adhokshaja. While an appropriate name for the one who is the source of everything, the word also has a specific meaning.
Studying that meaning provides additional avenues for appreciation. Particularly for those who are intelligent, Adhokshaja is a name to be appreciated, as the meaning also applies to the knowledge passed down by that original person.
“Man’s knowledge should be developed to explore the technology which deals with the difference between a living man and a dead man, a living body and a dead body. That spiritual knowledge was taught by Krishna in the beginning of Bhagavad-gita. Arjuna was talking to Krishna as a friend. Of course, whatever he was saying was right, but it was right only to a certain point. Beyond that point there are other subject matters of knowledge, which are called adhokshaja because our direct perception of material knowledge fails to approach them.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Krishna, the Reservoir of Pleasure)
1. Generally not satisfied to follow blindly
“Does it get nauseating to you, too? After a while, all of the ‘pure devotee’ this and ‘pure devotee’ that; it’s just pathetic. You people obviously have a difficult time understanding the source material. You are not that intelligent; at least in this area.
“Whenever you get stuck on something, you resort back to the ‘pure devotee’ angle. Or you will say that such and such is God, and that that is why we can’t understand them. I simply cannot accept that. I will not follow blindly. I would never want to come off as unintelligent. Maybe that is a character flaw I have, but I simply cannot set it aside.”
2. Will not accept only on the word of others
“You say that such and such is the savior. We should follow them. We should trust the process. Then we will gradually understand on our own. Well, do you understand anything? It doesn’t seem to me that you have sufficient knowledge.
“Why should I take your word for it? Isn’t that sentimentalism? Isn’t that dogmatic insistence? Any person can recommend that others trust them. Any person could castigate others for not following, warning that they are on the path to eternal pain and misery. That is, unless they follow the recommended path. Then they will be saved. How, exactly? No one knows.”
3. Will not settle for respecting from a distance
“I get it that you treat the matter gravely. You have a healthy respect. This person is supposedly the most important in the entire world. In the entire universe, in fact. Since they control the universe, you refer to them as Jagannatha.
“But why the fear? Why the awe? I appreciate higher concepts, for sure. I acknowledge authority that is superior to me. At the same time, I have a brain. I would like to use it. I would like to know more about this person that everyone is worshiping. I require further insight in order to be convinced of the process. I would like to step into the arena, so to speak.”
Adhokshaja facilitates the transition from unsatisfied to acceptance. At least as far as the mind can understand, there is the opportunity to ask questions. There is a way to measure, so to speak.
For instance, if someone claims that God is the strongest person in the world, there are historical examples that serve as tests for quantification. These incidents create benchmarks, if you will. In the avatara of Shri Rama, the Supreme Lord lifts the heaviest bow imaginable. It is a bow that cannot be moved by any of the strongest kings in the world. Rama lifts it and applies string without hesitation or strenuous exertion.
For the comparison with respect to beauty, we have known objects of reference like the soothing moonlight, the lotus flower, the spring season, and the dark cloud about to pour rain. These are but comparisons, as nothing can actually compare to the one who is beauty personified.
If we want to measure the intelligence in God, we have sacred texts like Bhagavad-gita. A single Sanskrit shloka can be studied, contemplated, and reassessed for the duration of an entire lifetime. There is eternal relevance. From a verse explaining the continuation of consciousness, I simultaneously get an appreciation for the potency of air, and how it moves unobstructed.
शरीरं यद् अवाप्नोति
यच् चाप्य् उत्क्रामतीश्वरः
वायुर् गन्धान् इवाशयात्
śarīraṁ yad avāpnoti
yac cāpy utkrāmatīśvaraḥ
vāyur gandhān ivāśayāt
“The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.8)
The intelligent person never has to settle for blind following. They never have to believe based only on the recommendation of others. They can study Adhokshaja for an entire lifetime, but still never reach the end of His greatness. This lack of completion is actually a wonderful boon, as it facilitates further glorification, into the infinite future.
Surely not a lot to see,
But some intelligence in me.
That not to follow blind,
Some inquisitiveness to find.
Adhokshaja my curiosity meeting,
Like strength of all kings defeating.
And beauty of lotus flower and more,
Expanding knowledge in store.
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