CHENNAI: The esoteric content of scriptural knowledge is eternal and unchanging and the Bhagavad Gita exemplifies the way in which this knowledge has been transmitted in the oral tradition when Lord Krishna becomes a preceptor to enlighten Arjuna and humanity. In the Upanishads, transmission of the message is important and sages have been directly enlightened about spiritual truths and this knowledge has been handed down from preceptor to disciple.

Lord Krishna tells Arjuna that the truths He now instructs were originally taught by Him to Sun God, who in turn, taught it to Manu and Manu taught Ikshvaku. But in course of time, this tradition that was maintained from preceptor to disciple, had somehow been lost.

Arjuna asked Lord Krishna how He could have taught this knowledge long back to Sun God. The Lord says that He has been born into this world several times. Likewise, Arjuna also has been born many times. But while the Lord knows the secrets of the births of all beings, Arjuna is aware of this present birth alone. Moreover, He states that though He is without beginning or end, He is born time and again out of His Sankalpa and Maya.

In a lecture, Swami Guatmananda explained that even today, spiritual tradition has been kept alive by the illustrious hierarchy of preceptors whose teachings became a “living message” with the power to enlighten. Among such great masters in contemporary times is Sri Ramakrishna whose impact has been widely felt because this preceptor had realised God and only one who has done so can certify and guarantee the credibility of the spiritual message. Whenever spiritual tradition becomes intellectual, there is much rhetoric and argument that dilutes the spiritual element. Logic is the means to know the truth and it is also true that reason is not always right.

A preceptor’s ability to communicate effectively depends on his spiritual strength derived from direct perception rather than logic or reason that can easily eclipse spiritual conviction. The basis of this belief is the awareness of the presence of the immortal and the everlasting against the background of whatever is ephemeral and fast fading.