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Third Chapter-He is knowable by all the Vedas
HE IS KNOWABLE BY ALL THE VEDAS
Q. How can one know the truth of the Lord (Bhagavat-tattva)?
A. This can be known by the soul's knowledge of the self-evident truth (svatah-siddha-jnana).
Q. What is self-evident truth?
A. There are two types of knowledge (jnana):
1) self-evident (svatah-siddha), and
2) that which depends on the senses (indriya-paratantra).
Self-evident knowledge is the natural truth that is inherently a feature of the pure spirit soul's original form. It is eternal, just as the totality of the divinely conscious realm is also eternal. This self-evident knowledge is called veda or amnaya. This veda, in the form of pure knowledge (siddha-jnana-rupa) has incarnated in the material world in the shape of Rk, Sama, Yajur and Atharva, along with the conditioned souls (baddha-jivas); this alone is the self-evident knowledge (svatah-siddha-jnana). Whatever knowledge that ordinary souls can gather through the use of their material senses is only the second type of knowledge, or indriya-paratantra (dependent on the senses).
Q. Can anyone know the Bhagavat-tattva (the truth of the Lord) by indriya-paratantra-jnana (sensual knowledge)?
A. No. Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is beyond the scope of all the material senses. For this reason, He is known as Adhoksaja. The senses, as well as all the material conceptions gathered from the sense perceptions, always remain very far away from the Bhagavat-tattva, the truth of the Lord.
Q. If Bhagavan is attainable through self-evident knowledge (svatah-siddha-jnana), then we should be able to attain Him by whatever svatah-siddha-jnana that we presently have. What then is the need to study the Vedic scriptures?
A. The Veda is present in every pure spirit soul's existence in the form of svatah-siddha-jnana. According to the different levels of different souls in the materially conditioned state, this Veda will spontaneously manifest itself to one person, or may remain veiled to someone else. Therefore, to help reawaken the forgetful conditioned souls to the eternally self-evident truths, the Veda has also incarnated in the form of written books which may be studied, recited and heard.
Q. We have heard that Bhagavan is perceivable only through bhakti (devotional service). If this is true, then how can we say that He is perceivable by jnana, even svatah-siddha-jnana?
A. That which is called svatah-siddha-jnana is another name for bhakti. When speaking of topics related to the supreme truth (para-tattva), some call it jnana and some call it bhakti.
Q. Then why is jnana condemned in the devotional scriptures (bhakti-sastras)?
A. The devotional scriptures express a great reverence for svatah-siddha-jnana; indeed, they state that other than this purely self-evident spiritual knowledge, there is no auspicious welfare. The types of jnana that are condemned in the bhakti sastras are:
1) indriya-paratantra-jnana (knowledge based on sense perception)
2) nirvisesa-jnana (impersonal non-distinct knowledge), the latter of which is merely an absence of the former.
Q. All the Vedic scriptures speak of
1) karma (fruitive activities),
2) jnana (speculative knowledge) and
3) bhakti (devotional service).
By which of these can the Bhagavat-tattva (the truth of the Lord) be known?
A. By examining the statements of all the Vedas collectively, it is seen that they are all in complete agreement that other than Bhagavan, there is nothing but nothing else worth knowing. All the karma (fruitive activities) mentioned in the Vedas ultimately lead to Bhagavan. When jnana (speculative knowledge) fructifies into its pure condition, then one gives up all dualities that arise from both visesa-jnana and nirvisesa-jnana. One then aims for Bhagavan. The process of Bhakti (devotional service) naturally cultivates a direct relationship with Bhagavan; therefore the Lord can be known by all the Vedas.