Ignorance is the cause of sufferings. In order to tide over sufferings, one has to necessarily dispel the ignorance. Now the question is- How to dispel the ignorance? Ignorance remains unknown. Then how can one get rid of some thing that is unknown?
Ignorance is not complete absence of knowledge. It is rather incomplete or distorted knowledge. It has a semblance of knowledge. Ignorance is not opposite to knowledge although ordinarily it is understood to be so. Ignorance represents lower truths where as knowledge represents higher truths. It is a well-known fact that there is a gradation of knowledge. As and when we acquire more and more knowledge, ignorance simultaneously fades away just as darkness goes away with the lighting of a candle. Ignorance is the cause of sufferings. Knowledge relieves us from sufferings. Knowledge leads to peace and happiness. Perfect knowledge leads to perfect bliss. That by which we perceive or cognize understand or experience anything is called knowledge. By knowledge we understand things and make others understand. When we explain certain things to others and when others understand the same, we say that they have learnt or understood. That means, whatever we have already learnt is knowledge. What we are going to learn is knowledge and that which we make others understand is also knowledge. Therefore knowing, explaining or teaching come under the category of knowing, that is knowledge.
Knowledge, as expressed in this Creation:
The creation is an integration of various forms and qualities. The forms are visible but the qualities are not. The qualities are perceived or experienced by means of knowledge. We gather knowledge of various descriptions such as - whether the form is ugly or beautiful, black or white, long or short? We also try to perceive the qualities of the objects. We try to perceive the properties etc.
Different individuals put in their varying grades of knowledge at different places and at different times. Whatever the man contemplates now, were there in different shapes and sizes. Now after seeing those objects once again, man is experiencing, recollecting that knowledge. To elucidate further, let us take the example of a rose plant. After recognizing its various parts such as leaves, flowers and thorns, we call it a rose plant. Likewise we differentiate varieties of roses according to their colours, breeds etc. Let us take the case of all other things in this creation. After knowing various qualities, shapes and sizes of some matters, plants or animals, we call them by different names. Knowledge enables us do so. Knowledge is involved in all these. It can be said that whatever knowledge we acquire on a particular thing was earlier existing in some form or quality. In other words, knowledge is involved in whatever we see or experience in this creation. That means, the true nature of every thing in this creation is knowledge. The creation, being the manifestation of Brahman, it is said that Brahman is Knowledge Absolute.
Chit shakti (consciousness energy) by its inherent greatness manifests itself as three qualities such as Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. They are the basic three qualities. These three qualities form the basic ingredients of the creation. Due to changes or mix up in varying proportions of the three qualities, various other qualities are created in various permutations and combinations, which subsequently manifest as forms. In other words, these basic three qualities are begetters of all forms of different colours, shapes and sizes. These three qualities are the organizers, arrangers and the promoters of all sorts of qualities. These three qualities are known as primordial power of the beginningless nature. The trio represents three great powers, which are known as will, knowledge and action. This classification, in a broad sense, is nothing but different states of knowledge. To put it in a different language, the primordial trio such as sattva, Rajas and Tamas unfold themselves in various ways wielding three powers such as will, knowledge and action, which can be broadly termed as knowledge. Knowledge is true nature of the three qualities. This trio as discussed earlier undergoes various modifications by three powers such as will, knowledge and action to unfold itself as this universe. This universe in which knowledge is very much involved also radiates knowledge.
Ignorance and Maya:
One of the characteristic features of these three qualities is that in some places there appears more knowledge and some where less knowledge. Viewed from a lay man's angle, the living being clearly demonstrates more knowledge than the non-living. The jiva does possess some knowledge on each and every thing that appears in between matter and the highest Brahman. He possesses some knowledge, which is limited. With limited knowledge he cannot know things fully. Each and every thing in this creation is different from the other. Each is a different form or state. One form cannot understand the other form. It is particularly so, for the lower form which cannot comprehend the higher form. This 'not-understanding' or 'not-knowing' is ignorance. Ignorance does not mean absence of knowledge. It means less or inadequate knowledge. Due to ignorance, a jiva mistakes a particular thing as some other thing. For example a rope is mistaken as a snake. Due to ignorance, essential things are overlooked but things of lesser importance or value are attached priorities. Ignorance generates pride and prejudice. Due to ignorance poison is regarded as nectar. As a result, jiva suffers from doubts and despair, agonies and anxieties, fear and frustrations. All these varieties of effects are nothing but mental illusions or Maya. It is said that man suffers due to Maya. We are under the impression that there is some thing called Maya, which triggers sufferings. Trying to explain this mysterious concept of Maya, the sages say that Maya is existent, Maya is non-existent. Maya is neither existent nor non-existent.
Their confounding statements present Maya or try to explain the indescribable Maya in a more mysterious manner.
For example, when we say there is Dharma, we can't simultaneously say that there is no Dharma. Likewise when we say that there is truth, we can't say at the same time that there is no truth. But simultaneously saying that Maya exists and Maya does not exist, does not make any sense to the common man. The question is- Whether it exists or does not exist? But such a statement cannot just be ignored as meaningless. What may be this 'is' and 'is not' characteristics of Maya. It is neither existent nor non-existent. It is positive; it is negative; it is neither positive nor negative. Such types of statements although quite significant are nevertheless meaningless for the common man. However the statements are quite meaningful in the sense that Maya exists for the ignorant whereas it does not exist for the wise or seers of truth.
He who is established in wisdom becomes one with the being. For him Maya is neither existent nor non-existent. But when jiva is not able to understand Maya, he is caught in the cobweb of Maya. Maya is nothing but the play of the three qualities or Triguna. Maya has got two powers, namely, 1. Projection power 2. Veiling power. By projection power varieties are manifested. In other words, multiplicity becomes apparent. By the veiling power, the jiva is shrouded by ignorance and forgets its true self. As a result of that, he suffers. Maya cannot be pointed out as this or that. No symptom can be ascribed to Maya for a proper diagnosis. It exists; it does not exist. Both the statements are true. It remains with the ignorant, does not remain with the jnani (realiser). To put it in another way, knowing only limited or relative truth is Maya. Knowing the Absolute Truth amounts to cessation of Maya.
Where there is no ignorance there is no Maya. Where there is knowledge there is no Maya. Every thing looks crystal clear before knowledge. Therefore the jnani becomes a witness. In a higher sense, except the realised souls all others have some degree of ignorance. Therefore every one suffers by the play of Maya. It is ignorance of truth that creates illusory effects. It is knowledge of Truth that leads us to Unity. Absence or inadequacy of the knowledge creates multiplicity or plurality. In absence of a correct answer, many wrong answers stay afloat.
The effects of ignorance are such that one cannot know oneself as ignorant. Rather one considers oneself to be more knowledgeable than others. Not being able to know one's own ignorance is also ignorance. Due to hypnotising effects of Maya, it will not occur to an ignorant person that there still remains higher knowledge to know. The day he cherishes in his mind to learn more, his progress starts then and there.
Past impulses and knowledge:
Every one is born with some past impulses. A person in whom the predominant quality is Tamas, possesses least knowledge. The person in whom the predominant quality is Rajas, is called Rajasic and the person in whom the predominant quality is sattva is called sattvic. Similarly those in whom we see predominance of animal instincts are called beasts or animals. Likewise, a human being is called so because his mind is developed and he is capable of contemplating on different subjects. Those in whom divine qualities are predominant are known to be devas.
Gunas are the modifications of knowledge. In other words, the latent knowledge expresses or manifests as Gunas.
Different names are attributed to different things on cognizing the qualities present in them. In different forms corresponding qualities are expressed. Different qualities also evolve as different forms.
In other words, the characteristics of a dog have taken the shape of a dog. Human qualities have taken human form. Each and every being advances through different course and in the process it acquires some impulses in an evolutionary process.
Although the qualities correspond to the forms taken, all the inner qualities are not expressed always. Those come to light in specific situations and environments. While going ahead whatever one sees, hears, and reads thinks remain in him as knowledge. It means that the forgotten knowledge that remains latent buoys up to the surface after seeing reading listening or remembering. This is called samskar or the impulses.
The great Greek philosopher Socrates had thrown light on this aspect. According to him, "You have taken many births. Knowledge acquired in several life spans is stored in you. A lot of powers acquired in several births are conserved in you. Because the qualities correspond to the forms you have taken, that much knowledge as required by you only gets activated. All that knowledge acquired by you in the past is very much there in you. That is not at all wasted. You have only forgotten that."
Socrates further explained as follows-
when some body tells us something we give our nods of approval. How do we approve or disapprove? The reason is whatever we have heard were all inside us. When the materials stored inside match with the fresh inputs we say, 'yes' or nod in approval. When there is a mismatch, we nod in disagreement.
Suppose we are to go to the market for purchasing some thing. At times we forget to do so, being overwhelmed by many other criss-crossing thoughts. When some one raises some thing about the market or the related topics, we at once remember that we are also to buy something from the market. Many such examples can be cited. Like that, by seeing listening and recollecting, many such thoughts lying unstirred in our sub-conscious state also get stirred and buoy up to the surface. Thus we remember forgotten things.
If you see some body making or designing some thing you are also able to do that. How could you do? That means you might have made such things earlier. Now when you come across that design you are able to understand the knowledge behind that design and put the same into practice by arousing that knowledge from within. There may be initially some imperfections in your doings but slowly new ideas and new skills develop in you by which you try to improve upon till you are really perfect or go nearer to perfection. When some thing is perfectly done, it is to be understood that your complete knowledge has been recollected. Acquiring some knowledge means developing your own latent knowledge. There are also people who cannot understand even after seeing a process of work. It may be due to the fact that he had learnt that many years back or many births back. Or, may be, he has taken only a few human births.
The great scientist Archemedes had said, "Give me a platform outside the earth. I can move the earth even." This appeared surprising and unachievable. The secret was that he had developed the lever theory by which quite a heavy mass could be displaced.
By dint of knowledge man could know the latent powers in the different kinds of matters, molecules and atoms. Their effects and reactions etc are also known. He could know how they could be put into different uses. For example fire is a combination of light and heat energy which can be put into several uses. Again after knowing that the same fire can be extinguished by carbon di oxide, we are able to get rid of fire. Similarly there are different types of diseases and remedies. By knowing the remedies we can get rid of the maladies. The more the man acquires knowledge, the more he can enjoy. With the advancement of science, varieties of techniques have been developed to offer mankind comforts, peace and happiness by their proper use. It is but the knowledge, which is the remote control of all remote controls.
Each of the divine qualities such as renunciation, self-restraint, spiritual practice, service, truth, love and forgiveness, is a divine power. The scriptures describe about the super natural powers demonstrated by the demons. All these powers are acquired by knowledge. If some body is hostile to us, we can win him over by love. If some body differs with us we know what type of methods or tricks to be applied to make him fall in line. If some one possesses a cruel heart, we try to find out some psychological ways to soften his heart. This is also done with the help of knowledge. In other words every thing is accomplished by the proper application of knowledge. It must be remembered that knowledge is power and without it every thing is meaningless. One must understand the strength and significance of knowledge so that one shall thirst for knowledge. By acquiring knowledge a man can very well distinguish himself in the society. The knowledgeable man is really powerful. Only a powerful man can serve others. He becomes the beckon light for the society. He only can enjoy freedom. He only can be fearless and brave. He alone deserves supreme bliss. He can know the past present and future also. For him nothing remains unachievable. It is evident that knowledge provides strength. Knowledge is truly the Power Absolute or the Energy Absolute by which all other powers and energies can be clinched, clutched or controlled to be brought under use.
True nature of Knowledge:
Is there any body who expresses himself by himself? Is there any body that regulates himself by himself? Is there any body that identifies himself by himself?
He is an inexpressible existence who has neither any beginning nor an end. He is ever present. He, by whom every thing else comes into being or in other words He by whom every thing else is caused and conditioned is the Supreme Being. He manifests himself in innumerable ways. In other words, he makes himself known in various ways, i.e. in various forms and qualities. He regulates himself as and when required.
He knows every thing. He who knows every thing can also do every thing. He who can do every thing is no doubt omnipotent.He is omniscient.The Vedas describe Him as most powerful. He who is omnipotent can make every thing possible. Therefore, he is a conscious energy. True self is pure consciousness. The Vedas call him Consciousness Absolute (Prajnanam Brahman). By this Chit Shakti or Conscious Energy, every thing becomes possible and by that Conscious Energy every thing can be known. This knowing power is known as knowledge. There is absolutely no difference between chit and knowledge although usages are differently made. Consciousness causes every thing. When by using consciousness some thing is understood or explained, it is called knowledge. These two words such as consciousness and knowledge essentially denote the same thing. The consciousness manifests as knowledge.
Perfect or total knowledge:
From the gross to the subtle and the subtlemost Brahman, the entire knowledge is divided into two parts for easy understanding. Those are apara and para. Apara connotes the lower state while para stands for the higher state of knowledge. Broadly speaking apara relates to the perceivable or material existence (becomings) whereas the para knowledge relates to the Being by whom every thing else is caused and conditioned.
Who is the cause of all becomings?
It is the bounden duty of every one to know Him who is the essence of every thing. On realising that great power, the source of all powers the rishis have named Him as Brahman, Atman, Ishwar etc. That highest state is realised by knowledge power which is Chitshakti. While explaining the true self or Brahman, it is normally said that He is neither Chit nor Achit. He is neither existence nor non-existence. He is that inexpressible unmanifest consciousness by whom we know chit, by whom we know achit, existence and non-existence. He who can realise that becomes that. He realises, " I am Brahman; I am Atman; I am the witness consciousness; I am in every one and every one is in me; My play goes on incessantly; I am the pure consciousness who does not admit of any decay, death or bondage; I am the Knowledge Absolute."
This is called self-knowledge, Knowledge of Brahman or the total knowledge, eternal and undivided.
Greatness of knowledge:
- Knowledge is life; knowledge is the vital energy. Without knowledge, man is lifeless.
- The more one is knowledgeable, the more one is lively and vivacious.
- By the help of knowledge the jiva is able to do every thing.
- By knowledge, man realises all truths and puts those in use.
- By knowledge, man can realise God and enjoy supreme bliss
- Knowledge gives courage, patience, inspiration and fearlessness
- By knowledge, man can know past present and future.
- By knowledge, man discriminates between good and bad and enjoys divinities.
- By knowledge, we measure and evaluate every thing. Without knowledge every thing is meaningless/ valueless.
- By knowledge man gets rid of sufferings
- God is knowledge Absolute. Hence it is said, "Prajnanam Brahman". Brahman is pure knowledge or Pure Consciousness. He who surrenders to knowledge surrenders to Brahman.
- Knowledge is light. Where there is knowledge, there is no darkness of ignorance.
- By knowledge, man earns punya (virtues). By ignorance he commits sin.
- By the varying degree and level of knowledge, we differentiate things such as matter, man, insect, animal and God etc.
- Knowledge is power. He who possesses knowledge becomes powerful. He becomes knowledge Absolute.
- Knowledge protects all of us. All our properties are protected by knowledge.
The conscious existence manifests itself as various forms and qualities. In the process, the basic sub-stratum i.e. consciousness manifests itself as Sun, Moon, Stars, Planets and all other living and nonliving objects which again after completing the cycle merge with that basic sub-stratum.
The process is going on incessantly, ages after ages. Upanishads in this context say, every thing is created from Brahman and ultimately is merged with the Brahman. To be created, to exist undergoing natural modifications and ultimately to merge with Him, there are some laws or regulatory process. Creation, operation destruction are all operated by this Law. During the course of operation of this law or during the working of the process, we come across varieties, which include jiva, Ishwar and Brahman. Every thing is a manifestation of Brahman but due to ignorance the jiva is not in a position to know this mysterious working and significance of Sanatan Dharma, the Law of Eternity. That is why, he is not able to observe Dharma. He does Adharma (opposite of Dharma) as a result of which he suffers. In order to tide over all sorts of sufferings it is essential for every one to know what the Law of Eternity is. By that one can put an end to one's miseries and realise True Self.
Without knowledge, it is not possible to know Him. By knowledge every thing can be understood. Every human being must endeavour to regain his lost paradise by recollecting the forgotten knowledge. That is why, Dibya Darshan lays utmost emphasis on knowledge.
Dharma emanates from Knowledge and moksa(liberation) from Dharma.