Volume 12 - Issue 05
May 2014
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Posted on: May 02, 2014

Seeking Knowledge the Right Way

In a land where spiritual knowledge was celebrated and even revered, lived a scholar of brilliance that few could match. He had committed to memory a wide number of esoteric texts and could speak on any profound topic impromptu.

He gave the glimpse of the supreme peace to many who heard him talk, but alas, his was a heart that still sought that supreme peace itself. He successfully hid this failing under the cloak of scholarship, but how could he turn away from this restlessness? He was even surprised, that all the knowledge-gathering had even now left him wanting and un-satiated. He could not tolerate the paucity of inner peace any further. The pain was even deeper for him because he had no one else to share this secret failing.

So one day he set out. He told his followers and admirers that he was going on a pilgrimage all by himself. But it was not to any temple, church or synagogue he went. He walked deep into the forest where lived a Master in his humble monastery. His heart told him, there he will find the peace and understanding he yearned for; there he will get that wisdom which he did not find in books.


After a long trek he reached the place. The master was sitting all by himself, surrounded only by his spiritual aura. The scholar humbly prostrated before him and waited to be permitted to talk. The master looked at him and said, “What brings you here child?”

“I am for the world a great scholar,” replied the aspirant, “But at heart am starved for the true understanding that will give me the peace that you enjoy.”

The master smiled, but there was sympathy in the smile, not a spot of contempt.

“I have read every book on spirituality,” the scholar continued, “I have dilated on every topic they explain. Yet there is an emptiness I cannot fill. I understand, yet do not comprehend!”

The master then asked with compassion, “Tell me child, how have you studied the spiritual texts? Have you studied them like a rich altruist who gives sandalwood in charity, or like a princess who spends hours in front of the mirror, lost in her beauty?”

The scholar was plunged in deep thought. In his mind he speculated, ‘Any day a philanthropist is better than a narcissist!’ But he did not make bold to reply.

The master continued, “You have studied the texts like the rich man. When he gives away sandalwood, he picks them up and hands it over. The fragrance of the sandalwood lingers on his hands for a while, before fading away. That is exactly how you have studied the texts. You merely picked the words and handed it over to the ones eager to receive them. The joy and peace you felt was like the fragrance that lingers, but for a little while. That is not how you should read the scriptures.

“Dive deep within yourself and seek the knowledge. All wisdom that is to be found is in your heart. Find it, and then read whatever you wish to. You will then read the scriptures like the princess looking into the mirror. She is enchanted by the beauty she sees in the mirror, but knows well that it is her own.”

We are often given to think that what we need to know has to come from outside. We believe, the more we read and more esoteric the literature, the more learned we shall become. Bhagawan has often corrected this perspective; He says true learning and education is that which brings forth knowledge from within. That is the knowledge we all must strive for. Swami says:


“The highly talented persons in different walks of life have not acquired their skills from somewhere outside. All these are but manifestations of their own innate potentialities. It is sheer ignorance to think that any person can be developed by some other person. Everything is in you alone. All that you do by way of your effort is to manifest or give an outer expression to what is already inherent in you.

"So even in the spiritual field, all the sadhana that you need to do is to remove the obstruction, namely, the ignorance that is preventing the manifestation of the divinity already present in you.”

- Divine Discourse, 31 May 1990

This message rings forth loud and clear in an interaction that happened between Prof. V. K Gokak, eminent scholar and first Vice Chancellor of the Bhagawan’s University, and Swami Himself. In a talk given by Mr. B.N. Narasimha Murthy (former Warden, Brindavan Campus) in the Divine Presence, he narrated this episode:

“Once in early 1970s, Swami chose Vedas and Vedic Culture as the main theme for a Summer Course in Indian Culture and Spirituality. Bhagawan granted about twenty divine discourses on the Vedas. He quoted exhaustively from the Vedas and Upanishads; He quoted from the commentators, both eastern and western. He quoted from Sayanaachaarya and Yaaskaachaarya; He quoted from Max Mueller, Weber, Keith and Winternitz. Dr. Vinayaka Krishna Gokak was astounded.

“He wanted to know, when Swami studied all that. He went to Swami and submitted at His lotus feet a question - 'Swami, Neevu yaavaaga idhannella odhidhiri?' (Kannada) - ‘Swami, when did you read all this?' Swami smiled and replied, 'Odhuva ketta abhyaasave nanage illa!' (Kannada) - ‘I don’t have the bad habit of reading books!’

“Then Swami explained, 'This is the secret of the emergence of the Vedas in the minds of sages and seers. All the knowledge in the universe is there in the human brain. There are many brain centres; each is a centre for one particular branch of knowledge. If a man is able to control his mind and senses, and focus his mind on a particular brain centre, all the knowledge pertaining to that branch of knowledge will stand revealed to him!'”

Man has been endowed with all the knowledge in the world. As Bhagawan explained, what is needed is control and steadying of this mind. That is why Bhagawan would say, ‘Study to be steady.’ All learning should lead to a state in which our minds shall remain in balance and under control. Then we will be able to discover the repository of knowledge within. When the water of a pond is limpid, the sparkling shells that lie in the bottom can be seen!

Illustrations: Ms. Vidya (Kuwait)

- Radio Sai Team

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