by Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Goswami

[Srila Prabhupada took sannyasa from Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja in 1959 in Mathura, India, at Sri Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha. He is also the diksa-guru of Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja.]

The knowledge that the jivas acquire at different levels of consciousness is not the same qualitatively nor is it the same quantitatively. Furthermore, knowledge gathered on one level will not necessarily help one's knowledge on the next level. In fact, from the perspective of the knowledge acquired on one level, knowledge acquired at the previous level may be extremely insignificant, inferior and even harmful in one's activities. However, there exists an ultimate level of knowledge, having acquired which there is no possibility of ever again becoming degraded. All types of learning gathered prior to this ultimate level are useless. The development of man's superlative inner qualities take place only by striving to attain this ultimate level of knowledge. Such knowledge alone is known as sambandha-jnana.

The jnana which Srila Rupa Gosvamipada is referring to in the phrase jnana-karmady-anavrtam when defining uttama bhakti, and the jnana that Srila Narottama Thakura has declared to be visera bhanda (pots of poison)* in his kirtanas are not this sambandha-jnana. That jnana which attempts to negate the knower (jnata), the knowable (jneya) and the knowledge (jnana) by annihilating them, in fact, only culminates in ajnana (ignorance). Only that jnana is rejected by them. Such jnana is not sambandha-jnana. It is simply the corrupt jnana which destroys sambandha.

The jnana which is acquired at different levels of consciousness is divided into five categories: (i) indriyartha jnana - knowledge for the purpose of sense gratification, (ii) naitika jnana - moral knowledge, (iii) isvara jnana - knowledge of the supreme controller, (iv) brahma jnana - impersonal knowledge, and (v) suddha jnana - pure knowledge.

(i) Indriyartha jnana - knowledge for the purpose of sense gratification.

The mundane senses gather a conception of the external world and transmit that conception to the mind via the nervous system. The first tendency of the internal sense (the mind) is to gather ideas of the external world. The mind's second tendency is to preserve these ideas in the memory. Then through its third tendency, the mind mixes and separates these ideas, and such functions as deliberation and imagination are produced. The mind's fourth tendency is to ascertain particular groups or classes of these ideas, and by classifying them will make the concepts more manageable. Through the mind's deliberation he will then either accept or reject those groups. Through the mind's fifth tendency, a logical meaning emanates from those properly arranged ideas, and this is called yukti, logic or reasoning. Only by the assistance of this yukti have all types of psychological and material science been produced. Since this yukti is simply a tendency of the mind, it cannot comprehend the tattva which is beyond the mind and mundane words. Paresanubhuti is beyond the approach of such indriyartha jnana.

(ii) Naitika jnana - moral knowledge

Thoughtful consideration of mundane auspiciousness and inauspiciousness, accomplished with the help of indriyartha jnana, gives rise to naitika jnana, moral knowledge. Attachment for matters that are pleasing to the mind and disgust for those which are displeasing are the focus of this jnana. Taking all these features of the mind into consideration, the niti-sastras, which are based on yukti, are a product of the imagination*. They contain instructions for cultivating sense enjoyment and for restraining hatred for anything which happens to be opposed to such sense enjoyment. Since human nature has a still higher tendency, naitika jnana alone cannot satisfy man. Naitika jnana, while focusing on subjects related to the development of the body, mind and society, presents ideas of what is righteousness, and what is sin and vice. However, naitika jnana remains completely silent regarding realization of the supreme absolute reality in the eternal blissful dhama.

(iii) Isvara jnana - knowledge of the Supreme Controller

The thoughtful class of humanity who have carefully deliberated upon the constitution of all entities on earth, considering their mutual relationship, the proper rules to be followed by householders and all other asramas, collective cooperation to remedy all needs, and discussion for progressive development, have concluded on the basis of reason that this world cannot have come into existence by itself. Rather, they have accepted that it has emanated from one prominent tattva, which is intrinsically characterized as jnana, or jnana-svarupa-tattva. That tattva, worshipable for the whole world, is omnipotent, and it is obligatory to worship that reality with heartfelt gratefulness. Then, being pleased with us, He will arrange all types of facility for our sense enjoyment. On the other hand, there are those who maintain a different understanding about the omnipotent purusa. They believe that due to His celebrated and magnanimous nature after having created us, He has made all types of arrangements for the enhancement of our pleasure. That supreme person does not expect anything in return from us, so there is no specific purpose for us to worship Him. Then there are others, such as the saisvaravadis (theists), who say that by performing one's prescribed duties, one achieves happiness, such as attaining Svarga, and by performing activities which are not prescribed, one attains hell. This type of isvara jnana can to some degree be accepted as jnana, but it is mainly mixed with karma. However, isvara jnana does not grant realization of one's nitya siddha svarupa (eternally perfect spiritual form). Thus, paresanubhuti is much higher than this level of jnana.

(iv) Brahma jnana - impersonal knowledge

Man, not being satisfied by the above isvara jnana, again is impelled to apply his reason (yukti) to further cultivate higher jnana. However, at this point, he reaches the final limit of his reasoning. His reasoning, having been repeatedly pushed and finding no other means, then gives rise to the concept of negation, and he proceeds to take support of the laksana vrtti (the unintended or secondary meaning of the statements of Vedanta). In reality, the supreme absolute entity possesses characteristics such as form, variety, qualities, and so on. However, on the basis of yukti that has been stimulated by repeated pushings (and pressure), the conception of a supreme entity that is formless, unvariegated, quality less and undifferentiated manifests. The notion of brahma jnana, in the form of undifferentiated tattva, originates from an anadhikara (ineligible) exercise of the imagination by his reason (yukti). There is no possibility of attaining paresanubhuti, realization of the Supreme Absolute Truth, by such brahma jnana.

(v) Suddha jnana - pure knowledge

It is by these various types of jnana that ordinary people generally expect to attain paresanubhuti. However, paresanubhuti is far beyond the scope of all such knowledge, and this has been proved above. Now, the first question to arise is this - Are such realizations possible? And secondly, if they are possible then what are the means to attain them? The answer to the first question is - certainly there is a possibility. And in the Gita, Bhagavan Sri Krsna personally responds to the second question:

tesam satata-yuktanam
bhajatam priti-purvakam
dadami buddhi-yogam tam
yena mam upayanti te
["Upon those who perform bhajana to Me with love, yearning for My eternal association, I bestow the transcendental knowledge by which they can come to Me." (Bhagavad-Gita 10.10)]

Suddha jnana can only awaken in one who has completely given up all desires and efforts for anyabhilasa (desires other than to serve Krsna), karma and the four types of jnana which have been mentioned above. At that time, the jiva understands that "constitutionally I am the servant of Bhagavan and my sole function is to serve Him." Being possessed of such suddha jnana, those who constantly engage in bhagavad bhajana with priti (affection) attain a ray of light in the form of eternal buddhi yoga from the sun of the supreme purusa. Only through this ray of light from the supreme sun can one attain paresanubhuti.

To attain paresanubhuti, calmness, a steady mind, and patient longing for the ray of Bhagavan's compassion are required. One cannot advance in a restless or fickle condition. However, this does not mean that one should become inactive, nor can one get any positive result by adopting an artificial means, such as astanga yoga, to make the mind steady. Therefore, the most desirable means is to perform bhajana, being constantly united with Him.

Translated from Sri Gaudiya Patrika, Year 40, Issue 1
by the Rays of The Harmonist team.
Published in English for the first time in Rays of The Harmonist No. 8 Summer 2001

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