“This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.2)Download this episode (right click and save)
If you ask someone to go grab a book of knowledge, where will they go? The shelves on the bookstores are divided into sections. There is the section for computer programming. There is the section for cooking. There is the section for history. Each section is filled with books, which have knowledge in them. His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada refers to the knowledge in these categories as arts. Real knowledge is of the absolute variety, something which is not subject to interpretation. Bhagavad-gita gives that knowledge, and so it can be considered an authority source to guide all of life’s actions.
Let’s say that someone wants to write screenplays for movies and television. They are intrigued by what they see already released, and so they eventually want to do more than just consume. They want to become a content creator. Those already in the business suggest taking a class or too. The classes distribute some type of knowledge, but the information is not absolute. For starters, there is not just one way to write a screenplay. A person may have pioneered a new style and therefore one or more classes at a university can cover the inner workings of that style, but this doesn’t mean that this is the ONLY style. Art is not limited in such a way.
In addition, a true artist always looks to break the mold. They don’t follow an assembly line model, where the exact same piece is replicated by the thousands for the sole purpose of turning a profit. Indeed, a genuine artist tries their best not to repeat themselves; they try to break the boundaries of convention. The famous recording artist who has a popular album gets ridiculed for changing their style later on, but in fact the same artistic attitude that went into creating the previous hit is what goes into the making of the music that is different. In art, the more one repeats themselves, the more they dilute their body of work. Their older pieces then lose their uniqueness; they aren’t appreciated as much.
Art does not apply only to paintings, music and film. Understanding the human mind is also an art. So is trying to grasp the complex nature around us. Even medicine is an art. We can say that one food is bad for people in general, but then there are always exceptions. Some are able to eat “unhealthy” foods their whole life and live for a very long time. Others can follow all the recommendations of the diet experts and still be stricken with disease at a young age.
Real knowledge never changes. What is an example of this? “The Absolute Truth is the source of everything: janmadya asya yatah.” This aphorism is found in the Vedanta-sutra as well as the Shrimad Bhagavatam, which is the natural commentary on the former. There is a single source from which everything has come into existence. This truth is not subject to interpretation. We see that everything has a beginning. Everyone has a father. When you climb up the chain of ancestry and reach a point where there is no father, you have the ultimate source.
“The Absolute Truth” is one way to describe this source. There are so many other truths to supplement this one undeniable fact. The things which emanate later on are always tied to the original source in some way. We have parents, which means that we are not the source of everything. We are thus tied to the Absolute Truth. In ignorance we find more interest in relative truths. We ponder theories on how a football team will achieve victory in the upcoming week. We support this political group today and tomorrow support the opponents. We are never fixed, as external conditions always change.
Throughout the changes, we remain the same. Our essence is eternal in its existence. We can realize this flawless claim with great difficulty or we can accept it from the chain of disciplic succession. In the Bhagavad-gita, the personality who is the original father, the Absolute Truth, explains how transcendental knowledge is passed on through a chain of teachers and disciples. It is never created. It is not an art form that has fads and trends. It is not up for revision by a more “enlightened” being to appear in the future. The source is the only being who is fully enlightened, all the time. He is kind enough to pass on transcendental knowledge, but only to those who are fit for receiving it.
Those who wish to challenge the Absolute Truth can never assimilate transcendental knowledge. Their very attitude indicates that they would rather craft their own art, where they will hopefully rise to the topmost position in the universe. Indeed, so many historical personalities have risen to prominence, thinking that they would dominate the world forever. The cruel hand of time destroyed their art, though the unintelligent can’t see the flaw. Unaware that transcendental knowledge exists, they seek to replicate the art form, tweaking things here and there.
Departments of knowledge that are nothing more than arts are limited in their application. Biology, physics, chemistry, sports medicine, history, social studies, language arts and the like will not help me to figure out how to make the most of this auspicious human life. Philosophy ponders the most puzzling questions, but it only makes guesses as to the cause of everything. Transcendental knowledge is absolute in its truths and is also applicable in all spheres of life. If I know that the Absolute Truth is a personality, I’ll behave in such a way that He’ll recognize my work. If I know that I am an eternal spark emanating from that truth, I won’t be so puzzled by birth and death, which are nothing more than the changing of bodies, like a shift in clothing. If I know that trying to live forever in this body is a waste of time, I’ll put more emphasis on making the most out of my time in this human birth.
As pleasure is what ultimately guides all activity, it also plays a central role in the life of the person who has accepted transcendental knowledge. The benefit to knowing the Absolute Truth is using your thoughts, words and deeds to feel transcendental pleasure, enjoyment which goes beyond the six senses, the gross body, and the manifest duration of life. Transcendental knowledge gives the mature fruit of a divine consciousness, which is never destroyed. The exact application of the principles of transcendental knowledge can be an art form, where what works for one person may not for another, but the truth that the Personality of Godhead is the source of everything is never up for interpretation, and neither is the fact that one is happiest when serving Him.
If to get knowledge where to start?
All sections in bookstore just an art.
Indeed, artist mold tries to break,
Conventional path try not to take.
Transcendental knowledge same for all of time,
I am a spark of Brahman, temporary is body of mine.
Art in how those principles to implement,
But truth of tie to God not up for argument.