We are in darkness, Krishna is the light
Posted June 1, 2005
Please accept my humble obeisances, all glories to Srila Prabhupada. This is a response to the article, "Are we in darkness?" posted 11/01/04. Though this may sound fanatic, I found this article to be an attack on the perfect knowledge contained in the Bhagavatam, and ignored it when it was first posted. Seeing others have responded in mostly a sentimental way (please forgive my offenses, I do not mean to be with this statement), I hope to respond with logic and reasoning. At the very least, explain why I would accept information that seems to completely contradict current science -- the planet Rahu being one example.
When I first read Bhagavad-Gita, I was not a devotee, nor had I ever heard of devotees (the only experience of a Hare Krishna I had was seeing the spoofs in the Airplane! movies). I noticed easily in Srila Prabhupada's writings that he mentions we never went to the moon -- a pretty outrageous statement. Still, I was reading thi to compare the philosophy with my own, so I put this "on the back burner," and continued reading. What I found was the most comprehensive and satisfying philosophy I had ever known. All points I had ever considered were there, but better explained and expanded upon.
This knowledge came about when I read that one cannot understand spiritual knowledge in a challenging mood. I realized that was what I was doing in trying to compare my own knowledge with the Gita's. So I suspended my doubt for the sake of argument -- did the experiment, if you wish to call it that -- and the floodgates opened. Once I realized that this was a complete understanding of the ultimate knowledge in life -- why? -- I could also understand that the little things were most likely right as well. In other words, instead of working from the bottom, inconsequential details up, I started at the most important detail and went down. Is there an invisible planet Rahu? Who cares? It has little effect on my life, but the understanding of the goal of life DOES has an effect, and the Vedic information gave the best answer. Thus I believe there is a planet named Rahu, that it is the head of an ancient demon, and that it swallows the sun and moon -- in for a penny, in for a pound.
Another reason I accept Vedic information unchanged, is the explanation it gives in its own defense. The source is pure and perfect, so as long as it is unchanged, it remains pure and perfect. The Dark Ages are cited at the beginning of mataji's article, what could be seen as the start of moving away from Biblical acceptance into the "scientific" method (the Renaissance could also be seen as this, but I digress). Yet, we can easily see how theories and understandings have changed repeatedly -- in today's world almost daily -- about what is really the truth. The thoughts of yesterday are regarded as foolish while the thoughts of today are true and eternally correct -- until tomorrow. For example, just today I saw an article at Google news that some scientists have shown direct sunlight to cure more cancers than it causes. If I may transplant ideas for people, this is seen as the most amazing thing by King Yuddhisthir: all around the theorems are disproved, and yet each theory sees itself as law. The simple fact is that materialistic science gives relativistic answers - answers that will change due to time, place, and circumstance. In contrast, knowlege from Krishna is absolute - unaffected by time, place, or circumstance - and we see that the basic understandings of the world as given in the Bhagavad-Gita 5000 years ago are true today. Instead of repeatedly guessing the answer, if we admit that we don't know, and ask the teacher (Krishna) the answer to the test question, then we can assuredly get the right answer. This is the nature of descending knowledge, and the reason Vedic literature is accepted.
It is true, however, that the descended knowledge is required to be unchanged from the pure source. If water is pure, then anything other than more pure water put into it will immediately make it impure. Thus we must be very very cautious that our teacher is giving us the pure knowledge. Srila Prabhupada warned that one shouldn't take a step without being absolutely sure. We should scrutinizingly study those who instruct us and see if what they have is what we want. Are they happy independent of worldly situations? Sounds like a nice thing to have, let's learn from them how to achieve it. The qualities are given in scripture, and they are very steep requirements - I doubt you will find anyone today who fits it perfectly. I believe Srila Prabhupada did, and so I will follow what he teaches, even when it goes against what seems to be true. After all, I could get something so monumentally huge as not being this body wrong, so why is it not possible to get whether there is an invisible planet wrong as well?
Lastly, tying into the quote from Leonardo DaVinci, I was originally going to question his authority, which is legitimate, but fanatical. Instead, I shall respond that using one's memory IS using one's intelligence. If a person accepts something to be true, is it not intelligent to memorize it? One could use their intelligence to find out someone's name by stealing their ID, hiring an investigator, looking at their underwear tag, or they could ask the authority -- the person -- and remember it. No need to ask each time, simply use your memory. Where intelligence comes in is checking to see if what authority tells us can be realized -- intelligence is confirmation of memory.
Your humble servant,