Knowledge, Practice, and Goal

It’s early December. The sun is balmy in the afternoons. The cold is tolerable right now. In a couple of weeks fog will start rationing the sun light. The sun will rise every morning, so will I, but I won’t be able to soak in the warmth. Fog will be the barrier. The sun is too powerful to be covered by fog. The truth is, fog doesn’t hide the sun; it prevents us–because of our bodily limitations–from seeing it, feeling it. Maya is like this fog. It can’t hide God, but it prevents us from experiencing Him. Maya is subservient to Krishna, but we, in our conditioned state, are subservient to Maya.

In the influence of Maya, we turn life into a battlefield. Instead of taking refuge in Krishna, we make repetitive attempts to alter Maya for our satiation. Arjuna heard Krishna’s message, comprehended it by asking questions, and acted up on Krishna’s advice. Because Arjuna was willing to make Krishna’s will his own will, He could see the supreme. The fog of Maya couldn’t delude Arjuna. Those of us who follow Arjuna’s footsteps come under Krishna’s protection. Then life becomes a spiritual playground.

Vrindavana is the spiritual playground where those who invest themselves in divine love join Krishna’s party. But we, under the sway of Maya, establish our own laws, and the world becomes Kurukshetra. In Kurukshetra, those who try to impose their will on Krishna, perish, and those who make Krishna’s will their own, they journey to the eternal world of eternal truth, eternal knowledge, and eternal bliss.  A systematic, philosophically-sound, and creative learning under an expert master empowers us to experience Vrindvana, where Maya doesn’t cover our vision. In Vrindavana, Krishna gives all His associates ecstatic experiences.

A systematic learning involves three aspects: How we gain knowledge about something, what we practice to realize that knowledge, and finally, what’s the result of our practice. This trio reflects the original paradigm that a soul follows to ignite its dormant divine love.  The original paradigm has the three stages of spiritual advancement, namely, sambandhajñāna, abhidheya, and prayojana. Sambandha-jñāna means establishing one’s original relationship with the Supreme God, first of all, by knowing about Him through scriptures, abhidheya means acting according to that constitutional relationship, and prayojana is the ultimate goal of life, which is to ignite the dormant love for God (premā pum-artho mahān). So, learning anything new in life involves Sambandha (knowledge), Abhideya (practice), and Prayojana (goal/conclusion).  For example, in the process of learning how to make pasta, sambadha would involve reading the recipe in a cookbook. Abhideya would involve actually practicing and acquiring skills in the kitchen and making the pasta. Prayojana would be relishing the pasta.

The paradigm of Sambandha, Abhideya, and Prayojana provides a framework for the universal and eternal teachings of the Bhagavad Gita. The Gita explains the fundamental truth that out of Īśvara (the Supreme Lord), jīva (the living entity), prakti (nature), kāla (eternal time), and karma (activity), it’s our karma (activity) that, if we channel with a regulated consciousness, can open the doors to the highest experience of Vrindavana. This is Sambandha. To sail through the ocean of nescience, four types of skills are available: Karma skills, Jnana skills, yoga skills, and bhakti skills.  Learning these skills from an expert master and practicing them is the highest abhideya. And, the prayojana is to realize the supreme. The highest prayojana is Krishna-prem.

A regulated human consciousness is closer to the supreme. When unregulated, our consciousness takes us away from Him. On the sea-saw of reality, we (Jiva) are either in the grip of Maya (prakirti), kala, and karma, or in the bliss of supreme realization and divine love.

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