True Knowledge in Vedic Philosophy

“That knowledge which purifies the mind and heart alone is true Knowledge, all else is only a negation of Knowledge” ~Ramakrishna

true knowledge

What is True Knowledge ?

In the 21st century, the meaning of True knowledge is treated as knowledge of a particular subject or subjects. That is simply conceptual knowledge, as actually this is gathering information for further use. Whatever is experienced or whatever is heard from others gets accumulated in our mind, and whenever an occasion arises, we use it. This is mere information regarding various matters. It does not touch one’s being.

To know about something (even god) is not true knowledge.

To accumulate information about God and to know God directly are two different things. Those who are busy in collecting information about God cannot know Him. There is always a distinction between accumulation of information and knowledge. To see light and to know about light are two different things. Similarly, there is distinction between True knowledge and conceptual knowledge. Ancient Rishis regarded higher knowledge as “Para Vidhya.”

Your past knowledge can be a hindrance!

Accumulation of information for self knowledge is a hindrance because it is always wedded to the past, while self knowledge is possible only in the present. Gathered from outside, it is known as conceptual knowledge and is completely different from the inner knowledge. The conceptual knowledge is only thinking about reality but this thinking about reality is not actual reality. We accept the teaching of many scriptures but the True knowledge comes from inner perception. There should be no difference between our selves and that knowledge. Acquired knowledge makes the knower assertive but true knowledge obliterates the ego of the knower and when he is completely empty of his ego, only then the Truth unfolds itself to him. We have to die to live. It is said, “He Saveth life who loseth it.”true knowledge

Sometimes the question that arises within our mind is, “what am I?”  This moment is actually the awareness of movement of our conscious and unconscious mind. By constant awareness of what one does, feels or thinks, one can find out what one is and that is ‘Self Knowledge.

Awareness as a tool to True Knowledge.

Awareness means to be alive internally and externally, otherwise life is only a dream. Constant awareness eliminates all thoughts and gives a feeling of quietude. Wakeful awareness is self-consciousness which in other words is Ultimate Reality. Shrimad Bhagavad Gita Says:

या निशा सर्व भूतानां तस्या जागर्ति संयमी

यस्यां जाग्रति भूतानि सा रात्रिः पश्यति मुने:॥ (2-71)

A Yogi keeps awake during what appears to be a night for others. Similarly, what appears day to others is night for a Muni (Perfect being).

The moment we realize that we are inattentive, we become attentive. To be aware that we are not aware is awareness. In order to attain self-knowledge, we must live in relationship and not in isolation. It is one’s reaction to all objects, things and persons which reflects one’s True self and it is only by a study of these reactions that one can know oneself. We can not know ourselves in solitude.

Isolation, resistance, and suppression are all hindrances to self knowledge. This can be discovered through relationship. In absence of challenges one gets misled to believe that he has conquered passion etc. Without true knowledge all learning leads to ignorance and illusion. This awareness will lead you to self knowledge which opens the gate to the ultimate reality. In course of time you will be bestowed with love, compassion, charity, etc. automatically without any effort. Therefore, one lives in bliss, peace and tranquility continuously. Acharya Uppal-Deva in his celebrated work Sivas-Trutavali says:

 ” O Lord’ like others let me be engrossed in worldly pleasures as abundantly as I wish but with a condition that all such pleasures should appear to be embedded in you, so that my thought differentiation in these pleasures is totally removed.”

What is the use of knowing about everything else when we do not know who we are? It is said, without understanding our selves, the search of so-called Reality is an escape from our selves. Without self knowledge the God that we seek is the God of illusion and illusion inevitably brings conflict and sorrow.true knowledge

Yogis do not view the understanding of their inner nature as different from the Supreme Principles. The inner principle, with its own vibrations are born because of one’s limited understanding, and gives an object a definite characteristic, which is also limited. This all is the result of the vibration of consciousness known as Jnana Shakti.

Jnana Shakti is a vibration of consciousness, the result of its play is not different from consciousness. When the vibration becomes limited, objects are perceived with limited vision. This understanding is called Grahya Grahaka Bhava – awareness of the subject-object relationship. Constant vibration of the perceived is not actually different from the perceiver.

A person should seek his own self and understand the world. He should know God who permeates the forms of the world. When he understands, and knows his own self all his old impressions subside. He never feels ‘I am’ different from God. He experiences the entire universe as being filled with supreme consciousness. This kind of understanding is true nature of true knowledge. It is said, “To know God is to become God.” Awareness is the reality of everything. Having differentiated knowledge and not having undifferentiated knowledge is bondage.true knowledge

Knowledge that is inherent in our conscious lives is limited knowledge. True knowledge being unlimited, undifferentiated and identical with consciousness is the essence of reality. Hence it is defined as Self-knowledge or True knowledge.

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