Brahman exists as the all-pervading energy in this phenomenal world. Therefore the Vedas have defined Brahman as formless, impersonal, pure, and so on. But the source of Brahman is an eternal personality who has no material form but who has a transcendental form full of spiritual potencies and all divine qualities. He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the embodiment of eternity, knowledge, and bliss. He possesses all six transcendental opulences to an infinite degree, He performs superexcellent divine pastimes, and He alone is to be searched out and known in all the scriptures. The materialistic, fruitive workers make the mistake of thinking that this supreme transcendental personality is mundane, and thus they become degraded into pseudodevotees. And the dry speculators, having been repulsed by the material phenomena in their search for knowledge of the Absolute, think that the transcendental form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is also repulsive, thus clearly proving that their ascending process of acquiring knowledge is insufficient and inferior. Both these groups are in a pathetic spiritual state. Therefore, to shower His causeless mercy upon them, the Supreme Lord has revealed the truth about Himself and His transcendental potencies in the Bhagavad-gītā.
Devotees serve Vanipedia and Vanipedia serves the world - a success formula to save humanity
Collaborate with us to invoke and fully manifest Srila Prabhupada's Vani-presence.
Process of acquiring knowledge
- 1 Srimad-Bhagavatam
- 2 Sri Caitanya-caritamrta
- 3 Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
- 4 Lectures
- 5 Conversations and Morning Walks
- 6 Correspondence
SB Canto 1
The Vedic system of acquiring knowledge is the deductive process. The Vedic knowledge is received perfectly by disciplic succession from authorities. Such knowledge is never dogmatic, as ill conceived by less intelligent persons. The mother is the authority to verify the identity of the father. She is the authority for such confidential knowledge. Therefore, authority is not dogmatic. In the Bhagavad-gītā this truth is confirmed in the Fourth Chapter (BG 4.2), and the perfect system of learning is to receive it from authority. The very same system is accepted universally as truth, but only the false arguer speaks against it.
SB Canto 2
Lord Brahmājī said to Nārada that his impression that Brahmā was not the supreme authority in the creation was correct. Sometimes less intelligent men have the foolish impression that Brahmā is the cause of all causes. But Nārada wanted to clear the matter by the statements of Brahmājī, the supreme authority in the universe. As the decision of the supreme court of a state is final, similarly the judgment of Brahmājī, the supreme authority in the universe, is final in the Vedic process of acquiring knowledge. As we have already affirmed in the previous verse, Nāradajī was a liberated soul; therefore, he was not one of the less intelligent men who accept a false god or gods in their own ways. He represented himself as less intelligent and yet intelligently presented a doubt to be cleared by the supreme authority so that the uninformed might take note of it and be rightly informed about the intricacies of the creation and the creator.
SB Canto 4
Lord Brahmā said: My dear Lord, Your personality and eternal form cannot be understood by any person who is trying to know You through the different processes of acquiring knowledge. Your position is always transcendental to the material creation, whereas the empiric attempt to understand You is material, as are its objectives and instruments.
There are different levels of acquired knowledge—direct knowledge, knowledge received from authorities, transcendental knowledge, knowledge beyond the senses, and finally spiritual knowledge. When one surpasses the stage of acquiring knowledge by the descending process, he is immediately situated on the transcendental platform. Dhruva Mahārāja, being liberated from the material concept of life, was situated in transcendental knowledge and could perceive the presence of a transcendental airplane which was as brilliant as the full moonlight. This is not possible in the stages of direct or indirect perception of knowledge. Such knowledge is a special favor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One can, however, rise to this platform of knowledge by the gradual process of advancing in devotional service, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Before becoming a Vaiṣṇava, Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya was a mental speculator (jñānī), and being such, he always cut jokes with Vaiṣṇavas. A Vaiṣṇava never agrees with the speculative system of the jñānīs. Both the jñānīs and karmīs depend on direct sense perception for their imperfect knowledge. The karmīs never agree to accept anything not directly perceived, and the jñānīs put forth only hypotheses. However, the Vaiṣṇavas, the unalloyed devotees of the Lord, do not follow the process of acquiring knowledge by direct sense perception or mental speculation. Because they are servants of the Supreme Lord, devotees receive knowledge directly from the Supreme Personality of Godhead as He speaks it in the Bhagavad-gītā, or sometimes as He imparts it from within as the caittya-guru.
Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
Renunciation Through Wisdom
Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures
So perfect knowledge, how it can come? The perfect knowledge can come from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is the process of acquiring knowledge, so far we are concerned. Evaṁ paramparā-prāptam imaṁ rājarṣayo viduḥ (BG 4.2). The knowledge, perfect knowledge, is coming from Kṛṣṇa, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and if we receive that knowledge in cool head and assimilate, then our knowledge is perfect. Just like we are preaching this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. This is perfect knowledge. If you inquire whether I am perfect or my disciples who are preaching this Kṛṣṇa conscious movement, they are perfect, we may be imperfect. We are imperfect. We accept we are imperfect. But we are distributing the perfect knowledge. Kindly try to understand. We may be imperfect, but perfection means one who assimilates the perfect knowledge, he is perfect.
So we have to accept these things that we are prone to commit mistake, we are illusioned, we cheat, and our senses are imperfect. Then how I can give you perfect knowledge? That is not possible. But if you accept the Vedic knowledge... Just like I gave you the example: Vedic knowledge says sometimes contradictory. Just like cow dung, stool of an animal, is pure. And if you analyze, you will find it is pure. So our process of acquiring knowledge is from the Vedas. Vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyam (BG 15.15). And what is the purpose of the Vedas? Why Vedic knowledge is perfect? Because it is spoken by God. God is perfect, and whatever He speaks, that is perfect. Therefore God is called "God is good." All-good. Whatever He does, whatever He speaks, everything is good, perfect.
There are two kinds of processes of acquiring knowledge. One process is deductive, and the other process is inductive. Those who are student of logic, you know that there are two processes: deductive knowledge and inductive knowledge. Deductive knowledge is considered to be more perfect. And what is that? Just like "Man is mortal." This is a truth, accepted. How man is mortal, nobody's going to enter into discussion. It is accepted that man is mortal. Now, Mr. Johnson is a man. So he is mortal. This is the deductive conclusion. Because man is mortal and Johnson is a man, therefore he's mortal. This is the process of deductive knowledge. Now, how this man is mortal, this truth established? The other party, those who are inductive, follower of inductive process, they want to see actually by experiment and observation how man is mortal. They want to study, "This man dies. That man dies. That man dies. That man dies." Therefore they make a general conclusion, "Well, all men are mortal."
Sometimes we find a small full-stop-like creature moving on the page of the, on a leaf of the book. You cannot see it, but it is moving. That small creature also has got heart. But is there any scientist to find out how he is moving, how he has got leg, how he has got hands, how he has got...? Any anatomy, is there any anatomy or physiological science to test? Here is our Dr. Mukerjee, sitting. "Can you find out the heart in that small particle-like animal?" It is not possible. But there is. But there is; otherwise, how Kṛṣṇa says sarva-bhūtānām, all living entities? So our so-called scientific advancement always remains indefinitely imperfect because it is not possible to understand the whole thing as it is. But we can understand from Bhagavad-gītā that there is heart. Now if you go to the laboratory to find out where is the heart of the small creatures, you have no capacity, neither you have instruments. No. Therefore your knowledge will always be imperfect because this process of acquiring knowledge is always imperfect. But this knowledge, as we hear from Bhagavad-gītā that there is heart in every living entity, this is perfect.
So Kṛṣṇa says, jñānaṁ te 'haṁ sa-vijñānam... The yoga system... Yoga system is a type of knowledge. Jñānam. Jñānam means knowledge. Jñānaṁ te 'haṁ sa-vijñānam idaṁ vakṣyāmy aśeṣataḥ (BG 7.2). "I'm just trying to explain the knowledge, or the devotional knowledge, or the yoga system, by which you can understand Me perfectly. That I am speaking to you in full knowledge." Jñānam, and sa-vijñānam, "with scientific knowledge." Not that bogus knowledge. Sa-vijñānam. Vijñānam means science. With scientific knowledge. Now, modern days, people are advanced. They like to talk on scientific basis. And here is the Kṛṣṇa's statement: sa-vijñānam, "with scientific knowledge." Vakṣyāmy aśeṣataḥ: "And I shall explain," aśeṣataḥ, "in full explanation, without any reservation." Not that summarily I say something, you do not follow, you do not understand, I finish. No. "I shall fully explain," aśeṣataḥ. Yaj jñātvā, "And if you fortunately can understand," yaj jñātvā neha bhūyo 'nyaj jñātavyam avaśiṣyate, "if you understand this science, then you finish your process of acquiring knowledge."
And formerly, the Vedas were heard by the students from the spiritual master. Just like in the Bhagavad-gītā you'll find that Arjuna is hearing from Kṛṣṇa. He's not studying any Vedānta philosophy in the battlefield. He was simply hearing. So that is the process, hearing. You can hear at any place. Even in the warfield, you can hear from the authoritative source. So that was the process of acquiring knowledge, hearing. Hearing means receiving the knowledge, not manufacturing. There are two process of knowledge. There are some persons who think, "Oh, why shall I hear from him? Oh, I can think. I can speculate. I can manufacture something new of my own group." These are nonsense. This is not Vedic process. Vedic process is hearing, ascending process, er, not..., descending process. There are two processes of knowledge: ascending and descending. Ascending means trying to go high by your strength, and descending means the pure knowledge which comes from up, you receive it. Inductive and deductive process.
This is called Vedic knowledge. Exactly what is the fact, that is stated there. So our process of understanding, this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement—we do not hear from any bogus person. We hear from Kṛṣṇa. Therefore Kṛṣṇa says for us, those who are Kṛṣṇa conscious, tat samāsena me śṛṇu: "From Me because I am the supreme authority, Kṛṣṇa." Kṛṣṇa says that mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat kiñcid asti dhanañjaya: (BG 7.7) "There is no more superior authority than Me." So we get knowledge from superior authority. That is the process of acquiring knowledge.
We go to school, colleges, teachers. So why? To receive knowledge. So teacher or school, college, they are in higher authority. Similarly, you go on, higher authorities, higher authorities, higher authorities. You reach to Brahmā because he is the original creature and he described the Vedic knowledge. So he is also not higher authority. He also received knowledge from God. Tene brahma hṛdā ādi-kavaye (SB 1.1.1). That is stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavata. Ādi-kavaye, the original person.
- amānitvam adambhitvam
- ahiṁsā kṣāntir ārjavam
- ācāryopāsanaṁ śaucaṁ
- sthairyam ātma-vinigrahaḥ
- (BG 13.8)
So, Kṛṣṇa, the supreme authority, Supreme Personality of Godhead, He's speaking the process of acquiring knowledge. Jñānam. So, the first beginning of knowledge is humility.
Just like we hear that even a great scientist, Sir Isaac Newton, he used to say, "What knowledge I have got? I have simply collected a few grains sand from the big beach." Yes. That is humbleness. So Kṛṣṇa says that in the process of acquiring knowledge, one must be very humble and meek. This is the first qualification.
This is sattva-guṇa. but those who are situated in the rajo-guṇa and tamo-guṇa, they cannot become humble. That is not possible. Passion and ignorance. So one has to... Knowledge means one has to come to the platform of goodness, sattva-guṇa, the brahminical qualification. Śamo damas titikṣa ārjavaṁ jñānaṁ vijñānam āstikyaṁ brahma-karma svabhāva-jam (BG 18.42). Everything is there in the Bhagavad-gītā. The qualification. These are the qualification of brāhmaṇa. These are the qualification of kṣatriya. These are the qualification of vaiśyas, these are the qualification of śūdras. Śūdra has one qualification. What is that? Paricaryātmakaṁ śūdra-karma svabhāva-jam (BG 18.44). A śūdra means he'll be satisfied if he gets one good master, that's all. No other qualification.
For example, just like we are very much proud of our eyes. We say, "Can you show me God?" But our eyes are so long perfect as long the light is. It is conditional. Therefore every sense now we are possessing, they are not perfect. So we acquire knowledge by using our different senses. Therefore, because they are imperfect, whatever knowledge we gather by speculation, that is imperfect. So if we take knowledge from such personalities who are liberated, then that knowledge is perfect. This is the process of acquiring knowledge in Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement—that we receive knowledge from the perfect person. Now, here it is said that because it is given by the perfect person Vyāsadeva, we should take knowledge from this Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. And the proof is that we have now become Godless, we have no information of God, but if you read Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, then immediately you will realize God. Just like you can see in reality that these boys, these girls who have joined this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, because they are reading Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Bhagavad-gītā, they are now gradually realizing what is God and what is his relationship with God. So unless we realize God and our position, and we become lover of God, there is no question of peace in the mind. Therefore it is recommended here that if you want real peace in the mind, try to understand what is God, what is your relationship with God, and act accordingly. You will be immediately peaceful. As soon as you become peaceful, your life is successful.
So it is the... Śāstra means that you cannot throw it away. Nobody has thrown Bhagavad-gītā at any time, anywhere, because it is perfect. Nobody has thrown Bible—because they are perfect in knowledge. Jijñāsitam adhītaṁ ca. Jijñāsitaṁ susampannam api te mahad-adbhutam: "You have done wonderful work." And kṛtavān bhārataṁ yas tvaṁ sarvārtha-paribṛṁhitam: "And you have created the great literature Mahābhārata, in which everything is there." Eh? Jijñāsitam adhītaṁ ca. "And not only simply you have inquired, but you have studied fully." There are many inquisitive persons, inquire so many things, but do not study. Reciprocation, there must be study and inquiry. Just like a nice scholar in the college, he inquires from the professor, at the same time studies. So the process of acquiring knowledge is to study and to inquire.
Prabhupāda: You saw... You did not see your great-grandfather. But how do you know? Hearing is also another process.
Indian man (1): My question is whether there is distinction between Rāma and Kṛṣṇa.
Prabhupāda: The distinction is that hearing is also a process of acquiring knowledge. Why don't you accept it? Simply seeing is not acquiring knowledge. There are so many senses, and hearing is the first-class sense to understand which you cannot see.
Just like father, mother, never cheats. When the son inquires from the parent, the parent gives exact information, right information. Similarly, if we get right information from the right person, that is perfect knowledge. If you want to reach to the conclusion by speculation, that is imperfect, inductive process. That will never become perfect. It will remain imperfect for all the time. So we get information from the perfect person, Kṛṣṇa. Therefore whatever we speak, that is perfect because we don't speak anything which is not spoken by Kṛṣṇa or authorities who have accepted Kṛṣṇa. That is called disciplic succession. So our process is, process of acquiring knowledge, is very easy and perfect. That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. We cannot say anything which is not accepted by the authorities coming from Kṛṣṇa. And in the Bhagavad-gītā Kṛṣṇa recommends this process of knowledge: evaṁ paramparā-prāptam imaṁ rājarṣayo viduḥ (BG 4.2). "This knowledge, formerly, all the great saintly kings..." Formerly, there was monarchy. Just like nowadays also, the government is authority. Your President is authority. So in the days of monarchical king, government, the monarch or the king is head of the government. He is authority. But formerly, those authorities, those kings, were ṛṣis, great learned scholars, ṛṣis, great devotees. They were not ordinary men. That system of government was very nice.
Prabhupāda: So we are..., what we are? Inferior or superior? Kṛṣṇa conscious, we think ourselves as servant of God. Is that inferior or superior?
Śyāmasundara: Well, our practice is not unconscious.
Prabhupāda: No. We are conscious.
Śyāmasundara: We are conscious, so we do not rely on the complex to guide us, or an unconscious impulse to guide us.
Prabhupāda: No. We are not guided by impulse. We are guided directly, instruction from the superior.
Prabhupāda: Our process is to acquire knowledge from the superior. We are not guided by these complexes.
Conversations and Morning Walks
1968 Conversations and Morning Walks
Caller: Yes. Swami, you say you have to know yourself. Now, how does a person go about knowing when he knows himself, who he is and what he is. In other words, when does he reach the stage where he says, "Hah! I know where I am and what I am."
Prabhupāda: Yes, there are two different processes of acquiring knowledge. One process is to research oneself by his own endeavor, by his limited sense speculation. And another process is to know from the authority. Just like deductive process, we say, man is mortal. This knowledge is received from higher authorities, just like our teacher or parents, we understand that man is mortal. Another process is one can make research whether actually man is mortal.
1971 Conversations and Morning Walks
Guest (1): That consideration of "myself, I am thinking," that is not there.
Prabhupāda: Then who is thinking?
Guest (1): Thinking means...
Prabhupāda: No, no, don't use abstract knowledge. As soon as you are thinking, you are thinking.
Guest (1): No, that sometimes thinking, when you are listening inside you...
Prabhupāda: Anyway, listening or thinking, these are different process of acquiring knowledge, but you are doing that.
1973 Conversations and Morning Walks
Prabhupāda: Yes. Therefore, our speculative knowledge, intellectual platform, is not helpful. We must receive knowledge from superior source, perfect source. That knowledge is perfect. Just like we give, generally this example, that to find out who is my father, my search out, research, will not help me, but if my mother says, "Here is your father," that is perfect knowledge because she's authority. Therefore, for perfect knowledge, we have to take it from the perfect authority, not by our speculative intellectual gymnasium. No, that will not help. Because our intellectual jurisdiction is very limited. That is Vedic process. Vedic process is not to acquire knowledge by ascending process, inductive process. Vedic knowledge is to receive knowledge by descending process, knowledge coming from authority. That, that you will find in the Bhagavad-gītā, Fourth Chapter: evaṁ paramparā prāptam imaṁ rājarṣayo viduḥ (BG 4.2). Knowledge has to be received... Just like a child receives knowledge... He is inquisitive: "Mother, what is this? Father, what is this?" And mother informs him, "My dear child, this is is. This is this." So he is acquiring knowledge by descending process. And if the child wants to get knowledge independently, that is not knowledge. He'll touch the fire. Mother: "Don't touch, don't touch, my dear child!" But he does not know. He's thinking the fire as something eatable. So by the Vedic process, this experimental knowledge is no useful. Yes. The Vedic injunction is tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet: (MU 1.2.12) "In order to receive perfect knowledge, you must have approach the guru." Guru means who has the perfect knowledge.
1947 to 1965 Correspondence
In this age all the Mantras that can help us reaching perfection up to the plane of Godhead—has been still more concentrated into the Hari-nama. We find therefore in the Brhannaradiya Puranam (38/126) a particular stress on Harinama which is stated as follows:
- harinama harinama harinama eva kevalam
- kalau nastyeva nastyeva nastyeva gatir anyatha
The above statement is very important in the following manner. There are two different processes for acquiring knowledge. The one is Deductive Process and the other is Inductive Process. In the Deductive Process we deduce the conclusion from the statement of higher authorities whereas by the Inductive Process we make a research in the truth by our own imperfect knowledge and induce a conclusion. Say for example if we want to know how man is mortal then we have to make a research in statistics of daily death occurrences.