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The wave is the ocean…

We start the ninth chapter with Krishna telling Arjuna that he would teach him `raja vidya’, `raja guhyam’ i.e. the king among knowledges and the king among secrets. Why does he call it the best, the topmost among the knowledges? Every knowledge has its own validity; a given branch of knowledge is not meant to replace another branch. So why does Krishna call it the king among knowledges? It’s very simple. Any knowledge that you learn—Medicine, Physics, Psychology, etc.,–is all about managing your life, about handling it, and life is a dangerous game, no one comes out of it alive. The best that knowledge can do is tackle it, deal with it….All branches of knowledge can help do this and they are all valid in that. But what you call existential problems of life—our sense of isolation, finitude, the loneliness that we talked about as samsara earlier–they can only be managed by these various disciplines of knowledge, there is no solution to them. But this knowledge, the self-knowledge that we talk about, is the one that frees you from your existential issues, it frees you from samsara. That is why Krishna calls it the king of all knowledge. He is not dismissive of other branches of knowledge, they are all necessary for the management of life, but this one frees you from the problem of life. Remember, this is not royal knowledge (royal knowledge would be knowledge of strategy, martial arts etc.) but the king among the various disciplines of knowledge with its source in the Upanishads, the Vedic wisdom.

Krishna also calls it the king among secrets, i.e. the most secret. Why? Is it because the knowledge is so guarded by the teacher and the student that it is not exposed? No, look at what we are doing; we are putting it up on a blog where the whole world can see it. It is not because we are secretive about this wisdom. In fact, what is a secret? A secret is something that has to be revealed. Similarly, this knowledge is also something that has to be revealed. But there are some secrets that one stumbles upon. For example, the secret of penicillin was discovered by accident. But can you stumble upon this knowledge Krishna talks about? You can stumble upon a teacher–he may be sitting in the Himalayas and you stumbled upon him–but you can’t stumble upon this knowledge.

Let me tell you a story I heard from my teacher to illustrate this example. Some years ago, two people were travelling in the first class coupe of a train from Delhi to Chennai. In the old days that journey took two days. One of the two was a youngster and the other a wealthy man. The rich man was sitting and counting a thick wad of notes, and the young man noticed this. Two nights were more than enough to make a clean job of this, the young man thought to himself. The two got chatting. Dinner was served and, later, when the young man returned from the cloak-room, he was pleased to see the rich man fast asleep. He waited for some time and then started going through his belongings in search of the bundle of money. But he found nothing. Soon it would be light. In frustration, he gave up on the search and went to sleep. There was one more night in the coupe, he thought to himself, and he was determined to succeed in his mission. In the morning they were woken up. After some time, when the young man returned from the cloak-room, once again he found the wealthy man counting his money. He would wait for the night, he thought.

 Night fell, the wealthy man fell asleep. The young man decided to make an even more thorough search this time but he found nothing. He thought the rich man had perhaps hidden the money in the cloak-room, and so he searched the cloak-room as well but to no avail. The next morning they were woken up for a cup of tea. Again, the young man, on returning from the cloak-room, found the businessman counting his cash. The young man was puzzled. `Tell me’, he asked in sheer frustration, `where did you keep the money?’….The businessman said, `I know my fellow travellers well….I have made money by knowing people…’ All that is alright, the young man said, but tell me where did you keep it? The businessman laughed and said, `Under your pillow…That’s the last place you would think of searching…’ Because you can’t imagine that what you are searching is with yourself.

It is the same with this knowledge…There is no way that I am going to think that this infinite being, this fulfilment I’m searching for is me. There is no way I can go about stumbling on this knowledge, because the very person who is stumbling about is the reality that you are seeking. Therefore, you may stumble upon other secrets but there is absolutely no chance you will stumble upon this one. Therefore, it has to be revealed to you by a teacher. Therefore, among secrets, this one is called the king among secrets, the most secret of the secrets. Also, to be able to understand this, you are required to have a certain amount of emotional maturity, a certain mental preparation. If you hear it without the requisite emotional maturity, you are not going to get it. That is why this is the most secret among the secrets, that is why it is called a secret doctrine. Not because gurus refuse to part with it. It is available for the asking, and sometimes it’s also available without asking. But it has to be revealed to you.

So what is the secret he’s talking about? Normally, people have this idea that there’s a divine spark n them which is God, or God manifests in me as a divine spark. Krishna refutes this. He says, `I’m not in them, they are in me.’

Maya tatami dam sarvm jagad avyaktamurtina

Matsthani sarvabhutani na caham tesvavasthitah (verse 4)

This entire world is pervaded by Me whose form cannot be objectified. All beings have their being in Me and I am not based in them.

If you look at our explanation of Ishwara in an earlier post, we said Ishwara has both the intelligence and the material for the universe. You can compare it to the ocean and all the waves as the creation; the ocean is not in the wave, but the wave is in the ocean. Similarly, God is not a divine spark in each one of us, but we are in God, because God is the totality and we are the individual. Therefore, it looks like there is a part and whole relationship between individual and totality (because a wave is part of the ocean.) So the first thing Krishna does is dismiss this idea that God is a divine spark in every one of us, and says, `No, you are in God’, which means that everything—around you, outside you, inside you—everything is nothing but God ….

The next thing he says is that they are not in me either, because the idea of they and me is resolved, because you are not separate from God. If you shift attention from the wave to the water that makes up the wave, is there a separate wave and an ocean? There is only one mass body of water. This is the only reality. Therefore, there is only one existence-awareness that makes up both Ishwara and the individual. Therefore, all that is there is one existence-awareness. This understanding is what he talked about as the secret. In fact, in the Gita, this is all that has to be understood. If this is understood, you are no more a limited being, you are the unlimited existence-awareness, free from any sense of mortality, free from any sense of isolation, free from any sense of finitude. This is the truth that all the Upanishads reveal, that the Gita reveals. This is what is called as Vedanta, Arsha-vidya or Vedic wisdom.

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