In the Gita, Shri Krishna says those who follow the Path of Knowledge are the most beloved to Him. It seems difficult to understand why so. However a little logic, (it is mine and therefore I may be forgiven if other intellects or experience prove otherwise) seems to give a reason. To initially progress on the path of knowledge one needs the Mind to be one’s ally. Why? The initial understanding has to start from the Mind accepting the Reality. Then in a moment the Truth becomes real and experienced. For that, initial quest and keenness to know the Truth to arise, the Mind must have been conditioned in the past to want to experience the Truth. This can happen only if one’s tendencies and habits have been Inward or Godward as the case maybe. Therefore one can say True Knowledge can arise only when the conscious Mind wants to Surrender itself to the Lord (in whatever form or as the Inner Self). In my view, the fact that even in our ignorant state, our Mind (the most difficult instrument to control) deeply desired to know Him could be the reason why Shri Krishna makes that statement.
This path requires great strength of Mind and steadfastness. The truth can be known only when the Mind is quiescent (silent). However this path starts with the Mind trying to understand the Truth through a logical approach. At one point too many questions will remain unanswered or not clear. At that time the Mind must give up trying to compartmentalize what is Infinite in Itself and throws up Infinite experiences and fit the Infinite in its space. Once the Mind surrenders itself to the Vastness, true intuitive knowledge will arise. Then the Truth will be experienced in glimpses. It will be like the Sun being seen between clouds. The Sun (Truth) will be visible off and on in the Mind’s silence. At one point the Sun will shine through in all its glory. After that even if the clouds do come, the Truth that the Sun is there behind the clouds always will be known.
The question then arises why does one need to be strong to experience the Truth. Since the start of this Path is through the active seeking Mind, it can assume itself to be all knowledgeable and portray the reflection of the Sun on the clouds as the Sun’s rays. Not only does this prevent one from experiencing the Truth but also the Mind can hold on to its beliefs and swears that, that is the Truth. Therefore it may even deny there are clouds or there could be different ways to experience the Truth. Instead the Mind can make its beliefs stronger and actually prevent or even make future progress impossible. Thus, this path leads one through a razor’s edge where one could easily slip down or even hurt oneself.
In the Path of Devotion it was the emotion which led one to overcome all other Desires. It was the deepest of Love which swamped all our Desires and stilled all other thoughts. In the pursuit of Happiness through Knowledge it is not emotion but an Awareness of our Self and the Universal Self which leads one to Him. Similarly the Love and Faith in Him allowed one to discard all other experiences to want only a perfect Union with Him. In the Path of Knowledge the Mind initially becomes the ally to reject actively all other wants or desires as being only temporary in nature and makes one pursue the True Happiness which is permanent and within one. What starts as a rejection of one’s reactions, judgments, labels etc., becomes a habit/practice which then leads one to a thought free state and ultimately identification with Him or our Self. As a contrast in the Path of Devotion maximum time and effort is spent in identifying with Him (through our imagination and feelings) till the Union becomes complete and thought free in Ecstasy or Bliss.
Who are the persons who have achieved Happiness through this path? Many of our saints or learned souls (right from ancient times) have gone through the Path of Knowledge. In recent times Sri Aurobindo, Ramana Maharishi, Vivekananda are great examples of Knowing the Truth and then embodying it every minute in their Life. The uniqueness of this Path is that very quickly one becomes “Self Reliant” and the pursuit of the Divine becomes a complete Inner quest. This is accompanied by a complete acceptance of all aspects of Him (even the most cruel and demonic of His many faces). This “Self Reliance” means one will enjoy/accept every other experience as a means to know Him and till that Awareness becomes Real there is no deviation from one’s goal. It is also clear to one that the Awareness will be full and complete when the time is ripe.
(This is the first article of a two-part series on ‘Paths to Happiness -- Knowledge’. The second part will appear next Friday.)
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(The writer is the Joint Managing Director of TVS & Sons Ltd., and MD, TVS Logistics)