Dr. Radhakrishnan conveyed to Maharaj Shri (Guru Dev) that Dr. Conger would like to hear something related to Vedanta and that he desires His Excellency’s assistance with gaining an insight into ‘Absolute Truth’.
Maharaj Shri replied – “The ‘Absolute Truth’ illustrated in Vedanta is a self-established entity; it is illumination itself; no other source is required to contribute to its illumination.”
Dr. Radhakrishnan explained its meaning to Dr. Conger in English, to which Dr. Conger said – “The resources described in Vedic Shastras to attain ‘Absolute Truth’ could not be said to exist without a purpose?”
Maharaj Shri replied – “The purpose of those resources is not to illuminate Brahman (Supreme Reality); their significance lies purely in precluding Avidya (lack of knowledge). The resources only destroy Avidya; they do not illumine the ‘Absolute Truth’. That which is illumination itself, does not require any other light to be seen. As for example, the Sun is self-luminous; no other light is required to see it. The dawn breaks prior to sunrise, but the rise of dawn merely causes the darkness to dispel; it does not illuminate Surya, for Surya is illumination in itself. All resources described in Vedic Shastras merely dispel Avidya (Inner Darkness)*; they do not illumine the Atma (Inner Self), for Atma itself is light*.”
Listening to Maharaj Shri’s spiritual teaching on the theoretical essence of Brahmavidya using only a short illustration of the rising dawn, Dr. Radhakrishnan was filled with delight in that still and peaceful atmosphere of midnight. Immediately he said – “Maharaj Shri has resolved this mystery with utmost simplicity. Even after carefully studying this content for several months and discussing it for two hours, we would not have obtained this much clarity as much as His Excellency has offered in just two minutes.”
Seeing Dr. Radhakrishnan so delighted at Maharaj Shri’s reply, Dr. Conger became extremely eager. He said to him – “Apparently you are rejoicing in Maharaj Shri’s reply. What did he say?” Dr. Radhakrishnan said – “Dr. Conger, what Maharaj Shri has explained is something only to be experienced; it is to obtain this experience that people seek the company of Gurus.” Having said this much, Dr. Radhakrishnan explained Maharaj Shri’s reply to Dr. Conger in English and at the end requested Maharaj Shri -
“These days I am very busy with political affairs here, otherwise I would definitely prefer to spend some time in your company. However, it is my sincere wish to spend two months with you whenever you are in Jyothirmath”.
Maharaj said – “Yes, Jyothirmath is a nice place.”
After this the visitors apologized for any inconvenience* that may have been caused to Shri Charan and took leave in a humble and courteous manner.
Maharaj Shri must have spoken only a few sentences to these visitors, but every word flowing out of his mouth was wrapped in spiritual knowledge. The resonance from the sound of each word was offering a perception of Brahman. His speech was so powerful that its profound effect was evidently being experienced at that time.
The brief reply offered by Maharaj Shri to the questions put forth by Dr. Conger, if annotated, will become a vast composition. But for the sake of our reader’s entertainment, only a few aspects have been presented in brief as follows -
Dr. Conger raised the topic of experiencing Vedanta Tattva (Vedantic Truth). Maharaj Shri thought that scholars from the West believe Brahmatattva (Ultimate Reality) to be ‘Nonperceivable’ (that which cannot be experienced); hence he should reply according to their belief. But since the question was raised in connection with Vedanta to Shankaracharya ji, the reply had to be philosophical as well. Therefore, even though the question focused on resources illustrated in Vedic Shastras, Maharaj Shri defended his reply from the Vedantic philosophical point of view so well that there was no space left for anything to be said further.
Many times it has been observed that whenever Maharaj Shri is asked a fitting question on a topic and is requested to offer more information related to it by someone whom he considers unfit, he relates that topic to Vedantic philosophy at such a high level that the interrogator gets very delighted at that moment, and even though he does not get what he actually wanted, he realizes this only later. Fascinating someone without giving anything is a very distinguished quality of Maharaj Shri, due to which, whoever approaches him returns only delighted.
When Dr. Conger requested Maharaj Shri’s help with experiencing Tattva (Absolute Truth), Maharaj Shri could have advised him to carefully study and practice Nididhyasana (meditation of the Atman) to gain it. If Maharaj Shri would have wanted to suggest in this manner, this would have been the straight path. But there was no desire to offer information on Tattva, because spiritual teaching which aims at perceiving ‘Absolute Truth’ is rightly offered only to a person who is already accomplished in ‘Sadhana Chatushtaya’ (four means of salvation) and is willing to learn (make spiritual progress). Dr. Conger and Dr. Shillp may have been renowned scholars from America, but they cannot be said to be accomplished in ‘Sadhana Chatushtaya’; hence, from Maharaj Shri’s point of view (that Maharaj Shri who is counted as one belonging to the same class as the Gurus in ancient times), how could they be entitled to obtaining spiritual instructions on experiencing ‘Absolute Truth’! This is the reason why Maharaj Shri, in his reply to Dr. Conger, turned the topic around in such a manner that the question itself proved to be irrelevant. The question was, ‘Could you kindly help me in experiencing Brahman’. The reply was, ‘No assistance is required in experiencing Brahman because Brahman is illumination in itself’. Maharaj Shri did not mention directly that ‘Your question is irrelevant’; Dr. Conger was just unable to question him further.
‘Knowing the principle from reading books’ and ‘Understanding it from practical experience through Yoga’; the difference between these two things is exactly that which is clearly expressed in the question and answer above. The words spoken by an ordinary Jnani with only ‘Paroksh’ knowledge (in this case Dr. Conger) in front of a Jnani who has ‘Aparoksh’ knowledge (in this case Maharaj Shri), clearly define his unawareness on the subject.
This was the reason why Maharaj Shri became silent after replying to Dr. Conger’s query in just one sentence. From the question itself Maharaj understood that he has very little understanding of the knowledge contained in Vedanta, and hence it will not be worthwhile to reveal further knowledge on this subject before him. Accordingly he made a statement on the principle, and in its meaning he demonstrated the futility of the question and became silent. When the same question was put forth again in a different form, Shri Charan (Guru Dev) also gave the same reply (using a small example of dawn) in different words and repeated that Brahman itself is illumination and nothing else is required to understand it.
Comprehending the subtleness of the manner in which Maharaj Shri gave an equivalent reply to the questions put forth by the renowned and intelligent scholars from the West, Dr. Radhakrishnan was filled with joy. For once, he felt proud of the fact that even today there are highly knowledgeable scholars in our country who can be presented before others as a symbol of that ‘greatness’ which we present about India’s superiority in philosophical sciences on our visit to foreign countries.
The teachings of Maharaj Shri are the efforts of his own experiences in life; or say that the principles interwoven in his biography are actually a collection of his teachings flowing out of his beautiful mouth. Those teachings which have been compiled as lectures are indeed perceived as lectures, but the philosophical truths obtained through these lectures are actually a collection of all the results of the successful implementation of his teachings. Shr iCharan’s biography is abundant with advice, and hence it is evidently worthy to continue interweaving it in this Upadeshmala.