Relevant Enquiries

BY: SUN STAFF - 25.1 2022

By HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada, 'Back to Godhead' - Volume 3, Part 18, April 20, 1960 – Delhi.

Relevant Enquiries - (Athato Brahma Jijnasa)

A small child walking with his father goes on enquiring constantly. He asks his father so many odd things and the father has to satisfy him with proper answers. When I was a young father in my householder life I was overflooded with hundreds of questions from the then second son who was my constant companion.

One day it so happened that a bridegroom party was passing our tram car and the four year old boy as usual enquired what was the big procession. He was given all the possible answers of his thousand and one question regarding the marriage party and at last the question came from him whether his father was married! This queer question gave rise to a loud laughter for all the elderly gentlemen present there but the boy was astounded as to why we were laughing.

Anyway the boy was somehow satisfied by the married father. And the lesson from this incidence is that a human being, as he is a rational animal, is born to make enquiries and questions. The greater the number of questions, the greater is the advancement of knowledge and science. The whole material civilization is based on this originally volume of questions by the man asking from the elderly persons. The elderly persons give away the proper answers to the questions of the youngsters and thus the progress of civilization is made one step after another. And the highest intelligent man makes enquiries in what is next after death. Less intelligent persons make less enquiries but in the case of higher intelligence the questionnaires are still higher and higher.

Maharaj Parikshit the great Emperor of the whole world was accidentally cursed by a Brahmin to meet death within seven days and that being bitten by a serpent. The cursing Brahmin was a boy only and yet he was so powerful but still without knowing the importance of the great king the boy foolishly cursed him to meet death within seven days. The incidence was later on lamented by his father whom the king had offended.

When the king was informed of the unfortunate occurrence, he at once left his palace home and went to the bank of the Ganges near his capital for being prepared for the impending death. And because he was a great king almost all the sages and learned scholars assembled there where the king was fasting prior to his leaving mortal body. At last Sukhdev Goswami the youngest contemporary saint also arrived on the spot and he was unanimously accepted for the chair of the meeting even though his great father was also present in that meeting. The king respectfully offered him the chair and asked him relevant questions in the matter of his passing away from the mortal world which was to take place on the seventh day thenceforward. The great king as the worthy descendant of the devotee Pandavas made the following relevant enquiries from the great sage Sukhdeva. He asked, "My dear Sir, you are the greatest of the great transcendentalists and therefore I beg to ask you submissively about my duties at this moment. I am just on the verge of my death and as such what should be done by me at this critical hour. Please let me know my Lord also what shall I hear now, what shall I worship or whom shall I remember now. A great sage like you does not stay at the house of a householder more than necessity and it is my good fortune that you have kindly come here at the time of my death. Please therefore give me your direction at this critical hour and oblige."

The great sage thus being pleasingly asked by the king answered his questions authoritatively as he was not only a great transcendental scholar but also he was well equipped with the qualities of God as he was the worthy son of Vadrayana or Vyasdeva.

He said:—

"My dear King, your enquiry is very much relevant and it is also beneficial for all the people for all the time. It is relevant because such enquiries are the topmost of all other enquiries on account of being confirmed by the teaching of the Vedanta Darshan. It is atmabit sammta i.e., those who are liberated soul with full knowledge of spiritual identity—do put forward such relevant enquiries in order to elucidate further informations in the matter of Transcendence."

"Srimad Bhagwatam" is the natural commentation of the great Vedanta or Sarirak Sutras compiled by Srila Vyasdeva. The topmost Vedic literature with nucleus of basic enquiries on the transcendental subject of spiritual knowledge,—is the Vedanta Sutra. Srila Vyasdeva compiled this great treatise but still he was not satisfied in his mind. He happened to meet at that time Sri Narada his spiritual master who advised him to describe the identity of the Personality of Godhead and upon this advice only he meditated on the principle of Bhakti Yoga which showed him distinctly what is the Absolute and what is the relativity or Maya. On perfect realisation of these facts only he compiled the great narration of the beautiful Srimad Bhagwatam which begins from the practical and contemporary historical facts in the life of Maharaj Parikshit.

The Vedanta Sutra begins with the key enquiry in Transcendence. It is said there as Athato Brahman Jijnasa i.e., one should now enquire about Brahman or the Transcendence.

So long a man is in the full vigour of life he forgets the naked truth of death which he has to meet and still the foolish man does not make any relevant enquiry in the real problems of life. Everyone thinks he will never die although he sees in every second the evidences of death before his eyes. Animalism and humanity is distinguished here. An animal like a goat does not understand about his imminent death although just before it another brother goat is being slaughtered. It will stand peacefully just before it being allured by a bunch of green grass offered to it for awaiting the next chance of being slaughtered at the same place. The animal has no sense of this impending death. But a human being if he sees that his fellow brother is being killed by an enemy either he fights to save his brother or he quits the place, if possible, to save his own life. That is the difference between a man and a goat.

An intelligent man knows that death is born along with his own birth. He knows that he is dying every second and the final touch will be given as soon as his term of life is finished. He, therefore, prepares himself for the next life or liberation from the disease of repeated birth and death.

Foolish man does not know that this human form of life is obtained after a series of birth and death in the past by the law of nature. He does not know that a living entity is an eternal being and he has no birth and death. Birth, death, old age and diseases are external impositions on a living entity on account of his contact with the material nature. It is due to his forgetfulness of eternal godly nature or being qualitatively one with the Absolute Whole.

Human life is the opportunity to know this eternal fact or truth of life and as such the Vedanta Sutra advises in the very beginning of the book that because we have got this valuable form of human life it is our duty to enquire, now, what is Brahman or the Absolute Truth.

A man who is not intelligent enough does not enquire about this transcendental life but he enquires on many irrelevant matters which does not concern to his eternal existence of life. From the very beginning of his life he enquires from his mother, father, teacher, professors, books and so many other sources but he has no right type of informations about his real life.