Gnana is something that sometimes comes to people in a most unexpected way and at the most unexpected time. Experiences they have in life sometimes turn people into gnanis. Some people have the intuition to know what is important in life, and they too are gnanis. But gnana is generally something that does not materialise overnight.
Gnana may be said to be a state of mind, which comes slowly over time, in most cases. An unripe fruit is sour. But as it ripens, it turns sweet. This transformation of an unripe fruit into one that is tasty is a journey. Likewise, our lives too are journeys. Initially, life proceeds in a mundane way, and we are concerned with day to day activities and trivial matters. But like an aircraft taxiing and taking off slowly, life, which has been proceeding on a plateau, moves in an upward direction, when people start being spiritual, Suki Sivam said in a lecture.
For most of our lives, we are concerned with how to obtain food, how to earn money to meet our needs, how to provide for our children and so on. It is only as we get older that we realise that we have spent our lives so engrossed in providing for ourselves and our family, that we have never thought of more important things like liberation from the cycle of births and deaths. It is only when we seek gnana that we can acquire it. We have to ask ourselves questions like, “Why am I here on this earth? What is the purpose of life? How do I reach God?” When we ask ourselves these questions, our search for God has begun.
But a true gnani is not content with acquisition of knowledge for himself. He is anxious to make such knowledge available to others. He is also concerned about every living thing.
Once, Saint Eknath, along with many others, was making rotis beside a river. A dog came close to the place and was shooed away by everyone. But Eknath closed his eyes and kept repeating, “Vittala!” The dog grabbed a roti that Eknath had just rolled out. Eknath ran after the dog. He then said to the dog, “If you eat a dry roti, you will suffer from indigestion. Let me apply some ghee on your roti!” Gnanis see God in every living thing.