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Uttama means "the knowledge which is beyond this material darkness." This material world is called darkness, and when the knowledge surpasses this material world, material knowledge, that is really called uttama

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Expressions researched:
"This material world is called darkness, and when the knowledge surpasses this material world, material knowledge, that is really called uttama"

Lectures

Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures

Uttama means "the knowledge which is beyond this material darkness." This material world is called darkness, and when the knowledge surpasses this material world, material knowledge, that is really called uttama. Udgata-tamaṁ yasmāt: "from which the darkness has been separated."
Lecture on BG 8.28-9.2 -- New York, November 21, 1966:

Kṛṣi. Kṛṣi means cultivation, and kṛṣi means very great. Kṛṣ-dhātu. So kṛṣṇa or kṛṣ means who repeated repetition of birth, repetition. So kṛṣi—"repetition of birth;" ṇa means "one who checks it." He is Kṛṣṇa. "Repetition of birth, one who checks," He is Kṛṣṇa. Therefore our repetition of birth can be checked only by God. Otherwise not possible. Hariṁ vinā na mṛtiṁ taranti: "Nobody can stop his repetition of birth and death without having the causeless mercy of God."

So therefore Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa is a scientific name of God. So Vāsudeva, that Kṛṣṇa's another... Kṛṣṇa has many names. Vāsudeva. Vāsudeva means "all-pervading." So vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti sa mahātmā sudurlabhaḥ (BG 7.19). After many, many births, if one comes to this understanding that "Vāsudeva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is everything," that is his perfection of knowledge. That is his perfection of knowledge. And at that time he surrenders. Sa mahātmā sudurlabhaḥ. That sort of, I mean to say, great soul, mahātmā... Mahātmā means great soul. You have... Perhaps you have heard mahātmā, the word, Indian word. Mahātmā is a designation of a person who is a surrendered soul to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He's called mahātmā. He's not... Mahātmā means "great," "expanding, expanded." Ha. So one who becomes a devotee of the Lord, automatically he becomes expanded. Therefore mahātmā means one whose heart is expanded.

Here Kṛṣṇa says that rāja-vidyā, rāja-vidyā: "The knowledge which I am just trying to impart, this is rāja-vidyā, the king of all knowledge." Rāja-vidyā. Rāja means "king," and vidyā means "knowledge." There are... Just like in our ordinary course of life we find somebody king, somebody subject, similarly, He's comparing this knowledge as the topmost, the king of all knowledge. Rāja-vidyā rāja-guhyam. Rāja-guhyam means "very confidential." And pavitram. Pavitram means "very pure," idam, "this knowledge." And uttamam. Uttamam means "which is transcendental." Ut means "trans-," and tama means "darkness." So uttama means "the knowledge which is beyond this material darkness." This material world is called darkness, and when the knowledge surpasses this material world, material knowledge, that is really called uttama. Udgata-tamaṁ yasmāt: "from which the darkness has been separated." Light, the knowledge of light...

So uttamam. Pratyakṣa avagamam. Pratyakṣa avagamam means if you follow this path, then you will personally understand how far you are advancing. How far you have become on the path of perfection, you yourself will understand. Nobody will require to certify that "You have advanced so much." You'll understand yourself. Pratyakṣa avagamaṁ dharmyam. Dharmyam means the religious principles. Pratyakṣa avagamaṁ dharmyaṁ susukham. Susukham means that it is very happy to execute. Very happy to execute. Susukhaṁ kartum avyayam (BG 9.2). And if you perform it, it will have never any lapse. It is permanent, permanent. We do many things which is, has no permanent effect, which has no permanent... Suppose we work in this material world for some perfection of education, or perfection of business. We get, amass a vast amount of money. But that is not avyayam. That is not eternal. As soon as your body is finished, everything is finished. Your education finished, your M.A. degree finished, your bank balance finished, and everything, your family finished—everything finished. Now again begin life. Vāsāṁsi jīrṇāni yathā vihāya (BG 2.22).

So therefore anything, whatever you are doing in this material world, that is not avyayam. That is not eternal. Temporary. Temporary. So this knowledge is not like that. Svalpam apy asya dharmasya trāyate mahato bhayāt: "The Kṛṣṇa consciousness knowledge is so perfect that even if you do one percent, two percent execute, then it can help you to..., help you protection from the greatest danger." Svalpam apy asya dharmasya. And besides that, suppose in this life I perform work in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, say twenty-five percent. I am not perfect. My next life will begin from twenty-sixth point. So much, what I have acquired in this life, that is not lost.