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The Supreme Knowledge

Part 59 of the Bhagavad Gita for Awakening

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The Holy Lord said: To you who do not disbelieve I shall declare this most secret knowledge combined with realization, which having known you shall be free from evil (9:1).

What words! Yet they are purely wisdom, free from exaggeration or emotionality. The qualities of this great knowledge should be scrutinized by us who seek for it.

Most secret

Krishna calls this knowledge, not just secret (guhya), but most secret (guhyatamam). It is knowledge hidden from all but the knowers of Brahman, yet it can be spoken about to those who are approaching that knowledge. Essentially, Krishna is going to give us the knowledge that inevitably leads to that supreme knowledge. It is most secret because it is utterly incomprehensible and hidden to a consciousness that is not awakened and already purified to a marked degree. For regarding those not awakened and not purified it can justly be said: “They seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand” (Matthew 13:13).

Disbelief

False religions and false teachers demand faith in the sense of unquestioning acceptance of doctrines and dogmas. Or they require a person to accept all their statements. “Every word of the guru is a mantra.” What outrageous, egomaniacal bunk!!! Krishna is nowhere near this kind of fakery. When he says “you who do not disbelieve” he is using the word anasuyave, which means to be free of contradiction or contention in the sense of willful contrariness–what in the American south is meant by the word “cussedness.” Krishna is not blaming a sincere unacceptance of something, but rather a perversity and negativity of mind that causes a person to intentionally reject truth. It is a symptom of conscious evil, and a lot of people have it. That is why Saint Paul urged: “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:12). This is not a matter of simple non-belief, as I have said. There is no wrong in not believing something, even if it proceeds from a limited understanding. It is the refusal to believe that is being spoken of here.

The same thing is found in the life of Jesus. We are told: “He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” Even: “He marveled because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:58). It is evident that to Jesus unbelief was an actual psychic/spiritual force, not just a matter of ideas. The Greek word translated “unbelief” is apistia, which means to deliberately refuse to believe something from perversity of will, not sincerity of opinion. Such a crookedness of intention bars anyone from approaching the most secret knowledge.

Knowledge and realization

Krishna then tells us that this great knowledge is both intellectual knowledge (jnana) and the spiritual knowledge (vijnana) that comes from true spiritual experience. It is a knowing that is based on Being. In other words, it is the knowing of an adept yogi.

Liberation

Some people dearly love to know things, even if what they know has no practical use for them. But Krishna is not interested in mere intellectual curiosity which eventually will be seen as triviality of mind and heart. He is setting forth to us “this most secret knowledge combined with realization [understanding], which having known you shall be free from evil.” Such knowledge has a very practical and perceptible effect: liberation of the spirit from the evil of compulsive rebirth. A liberated yogi may be born thousands of times after his liberation, but always through his liberated will. Nothing whatsoever constrains or compels him. This, and this alone, is freedom. Krishna continues:

Royal knowledge, royal secret, this the supreme purifier, readily understood, dharmic, pleasant to practice, eternal (9:2).

Raja vidya, raja guhyam–royal knowledge and royal secret. This knowledge is royal because it enables those who possess it to become enthroned in the highest consciousness, giving them rulership over all that heretofore bound and compelled them. It is the supreme authority and power beyond and above which there is no authority or power, for it is a participation in the knowledge and power of God.

Supreme purifier

Such knowledge purifies us by dispelling all the shadows of ignorance, causing our mind to shine forth with–and in–the Light of God. We often see people who have engaged themselves with only the external disciplines and beliefs of religion come to a very bad end–a “fall” indeed. Many who have for decades “followed in the ways of righteousness” sink into a degradation undreamed of by them or those who know them. I myself have seen this sad phenomenon several times. In each case it was because, however sincere they may have been, they busied themselves with the externals of religion and did not gain inner, spiritual experience and knowledge. Thus, their inner disposition had never really changed. But the knowledge Krishna offers us is a transformative force, going far beyond “forgiveness of sins” and “getting right with God.” It is a transmutation from the baseness of material, egoic consciousness into the gold of spirit-consciousness. And I do not mean consciousness of spirit as an object, but the Consciousness that is Spirit. A religion that does not lead us to this supreme purifier is a cruel mockery that can end only in grief and shame.

Plainly intelligible

This great knowledge has as a prime characteristic its perfect intelligibility. It is indeed subtle and deep and exalted, yet it is clearly comprehensible to those who have evolved to the point needed to put it into practice.

Discontented with the simplistic beliefs of the religion I was born into, when I looked afield I was appalled at the turgid meanderings of the labyrinth called “philosophy” in the West. The writings of renowned “thinkers” convinced me that they might be able to think, but they certainly could not speak or write clearly and to the point. It was obvious to me that they were adored just for their incomprehensibility that was mistaken for profundity. No thank you!

When after years of dissatisfaction I read the Gita I was awed by the clarity of its concepts and its mode of presentation. I was ready for more. Having read in Autobiography of a Yogi that Shankaracharya was the greatest of Indian philosophers, I approached his books in the Hollywood Vedanta Bookshop with caution. Surely such a sublime philosopher would be beyond my understanding. Nobody likes to risk being proved a dummy, but I took the chance and opened the first book at hand. Staggering revelation: it was beautifully comprehensible! More: it was gloriously simple, and equally profound. Happy amazement.

Although they should have been looked into before, I next turned to the Upanishads, the supreme heights of Indian thought. There I found profound clarity and profound simplicity that only eluded the ego-darkened mind. So I learned by this that those who really know can also communicate the clarity and purity of their knowing. This is because their knowledge comes from experience, not intellectual jugglings. Which is why in the Sanskrit original of this verse Krishna uses the expression pratyakshavagamam: that which is clearly seen by the eyes. Of course, in this case it is the inner eyes that are being spoken about.

Righteous

This knowledge is also dharmyam–according to the principles of righteousness, of dharma. This is a crucial point, for it is not unknown or even rare to come across scoundrels who claim that their spiritual realization has elevated them beyond or above the law of dharma. But Krishna tells us that the highest knowledge affirms dharma, not violates it.

Easy to practice

Next Krishna tells us that this great knowledge cannot only be put into practical expression, it is actually susukham kartum–easy to practice. Now that is the fact. If we find that it is not easy to practice or agreeable to us–for sukha also means pleasant and agreeable, even to the extent of giving us happiness–then something is very wrong. Either our “knowledge” is false or corrupt or we are false and corrupt. Or perhaps both. We need to figure out what is wrong and make it right. Those who inoculate themselves with the wisdom of the Gita will be secure from catching the diseases of adharma, of unrighteousness. And they will find that the way of dharma is for them a joyful and easy path.

Imperishable

The supreme truth is avyayam; it is imperishable in the sense that once attained it cannot be lost or eroded–it never fades away. Nor is it ever superseded or gotten beyond. It can never be lessened or changed. It is truly immortal. It is absolutely secure and abiding. On the other hand:

Those who have no faith in this dharma, without attaining me are reborn in the realm of death and samsara (9:3).

Krishna uses an interesting word–ashraddadhanah, which means both not having faith and not giving faith. This second meaning refers to those who in their hearts know the truth but refuse to acknowledge and act upon it. This is a way of life for many people. But whichever it is–not having faith or refusing to act upon it (note the implication that faith and action are inseparable)–the result is failure to attain union with God and a return to earthly incarnation, “reborn in the realm of death and samsara.”

We must resolve to nevermore tread that sorrowful path again.

Read the next article in the Bhagavad Gita for Awakening: Universal Being

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Introduction to The Bhagavad Gita for Awakening

Preface to The Bhagavad Gita for Awakening

Bhagavad Gita for Awakening links:

  1. The Battlefield of the Mind
  2. On the Field of Dharma
  3. Taking Stock
  4. The Smile of Krishna
  5. Birth and Death–The Great Illusions
  6. Experiencing the Unreal
  7. The Unreal and the Real
  8. The Body and the Spirit
  9. Know the Atman!
  10. Practical Self-Knowledge
  11. Perspective on Birth and Death
  12. The Wonder of the Atman
  13. The Indestructible Self
  14. “Happy the Warrior”
  15. Buddhi Yoga
  16. Religiosity Versus Religion
  17. Perspective on Scriptures
  18. How Not To Act
  19. How To Act
  20. Right Perspective
  21. Wisdom About the Wise
  22. Wisdom About Both the Foolish and the Wise
  23. The Way of Peace
  24. Calming the Storm
  25. First Steps in Karma Yoga
  26. From the Beginning to the End
  27. The Real “Doers”
  28. Our Spiritual Marching Orders
  29. Freedom From Karma
  30. “Nature”
  31. Swadharma
  32. In the Grip of the Monster
  33. Devotee and Friend
  34. The Eternal Being
  35. The Path
  36. Caste and Karma
  37. Action–Divine and Human
  38. The Mystery of Action and Inaction
  39. The Wise in Action
  40. Sacrificial Offerings
  41. The Worship of Brahman
  42. Action–Renounced and Performed
  43. Freedom (Moksha)
  44. The Brahman-Knower
  45. The Goal of Karma Yoga
  46. Getting There
  47. The Yogi’s Retreat
  48. The Yogi’s Inner and Outer Life
  49. Union With Brahman
  50. The Yogi’s Future
  51. Success in Yoga
  52. The Net and Its Weaver
  53. Those Who Seek God
  54. Those Who Worship God and the Gods
  55. The Veil in the Mind
  56. The Big Picture
  57. The Sure Way To Realize God
  58. Day, Night, and the Two Paths
  59. The Supreme Knowledge
  60. Universal Being
  61. Maya–Its Dupes and Its Knowers
  62. Worshipping the One
  63. Going To God
  64. Wisdom and Knowing
  65. Going To The Source
  66. From Hearing To Seeing
  67. The Wisdom of Devotion
  68. Right Conduct
  69. The Field and Its Knower
  70. Interaction of Purusha and Prakriti
  71. Seeing the One Within the All
  72. The Three Gunas
  73. The Cosmic Tree
  74. Freedom
  75. The All-pervading Reality
  76. The Divine and the Demonic
  77. Faith and the Three Gunas
  78. Food and the Three Gunas
  79. Religion and the Three Gunas
  80. Tapasya and the Three Gunas
  81. Charity and the Three Gunas
  82. Sannyasa and Tyaga
  83. Deeper Insights On Action
  84. Knowledge, Action, Doer, and the Three Gunas
  85. The Three Gunas: Intellect and Firmness
  86. The Three Kinds of Happiness
  87. Freedom
  88. The Great Devotee
  89. The Final Words
  90. Glossary

Visit our e-library page for Free Downloads of this and other ebooks in various formats.

Read the Maharshi Gita, an arrangement of verses of the Bhagavad Gita made by Sri Ramana Maharshi that gives an overview of the essential message of the Gita.

Read The Bhagavad Gita (arranged in verses for singing) by Abbot George Burke (Swami Nirmalananda Giri).

Read about the meanings of unfamiliar terms in A Brief Sanskrit Glossary

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