By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami PrabhupadaLecture given in Los Angeles, May 13, 1970
A primary Vedic book warns us of the danger of culturing material knowledge without spiritual knowledge.
“Those who are engaged in the culture of nescient activities shall enter into the darkest region of ignorance. Worse still are those engaged in the so-called culture of knowledge.” (Sri Ishopanishad, Mantra 9)
There are two kinds of education: material and spiritual, or brahma-vidya and jada-vidya. Jada-vidya means material education. Jada means “that which cannot move,” or matter. Brahma-vidya is spiritual education.
Spirit can move. Our body is a combination of spirit and matter. As long as the spirit is there, the body moves, just as a man’s coat and pants move as long the man wears them. It appears that the coat and pants are moving, but actually the clothes appear to be moving only because the man is moving. Similarly, the body moves because the spirit soul moves.
A car moves when the driver moves. Foolish people think that the motorcar is moving on its own. But in spite of all the mechanical arrangements, it cannot move on its own.
People think that material nature is working independently, moving and manifesting so many wonderful things. At the seaside we see that the waves moving. But the waves are not moving on their own; the air is moving them. But air is not moving on its own. In this way, if you go back, back, back to the ultimate cause, you’ll find Krishna as the cause of all causes. That is philosophy—to search out the ultimate cause.
Here it is said, andham tamah pravishanti ye avidyam upasate. Avidya refers to persons captivated by external movements. They are worshiping avidya, nescience. That will not help them. There are big, big institutions for technology, where students learn how a motorcar can move, how an airplane can move. And people are manufacturing so much machinery. But there is no educational institution that teaches how the mover, the spirit soul, is moving. That lack of understanding is called avidya, nescience. The actual mover is not being studied, but the external movement is being studied.
When I lectured at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, I inquired, “Where is the technology to study the mover?”
But they have no such arrangement. They could not answer satisfactorily. That is avidya.
Here, in the Ishopanishad, it is said, andham tamah pravishanti ye avidyam upasate. Those engaged only in the material advancement of education will go to the darkest region of existence, andham tamah. It is a very dangerous position that at the present moment there is no arrangement in any state, all over the world, for spiritual education. Modern civilization is pushing human society to the darkest region of existence.
Actually, it is happening so. In your country, your rich country, you have a nice educational system, so many universities. But what class of men are you producing? The students are becoming hippies. Why?
The leaders should think, “In spite of so many educational institutions, what are we producing?”
Worshiping avidya is not knowledge. Bhaktivinoda Thakura has sung very nicely:jada-vidya yato, mayara vaibhava, tomara bhajane badha. Jada-vidya means material education. He says it is an expansion of maya, the illusory energy. The more we advance in material education, the more we will be hampered in understanding God. And at last we shall declare, “God is dead. I am God. You are God.” All this nonsense.
That progression is hinted at here: andham tamah. Andham means darkness. There are two kinds of darkness: the absence of light, and ignorance.
Materialists are certainly being pushed into the darkness, but there is another class, the so-called philosophers, mental speculators, religionists, and yogis. They are going still more into the darkness because they are defying Krishna. They pose as if culturing spiritual knowledge, but because they have no information of Krishna, or God, their advancement in education is more dangerous: They are misleading people.
Those preaching the so-called yoga of today are misleading people: “Meditate, and you’ll understand that you are God.”
By meditation, one becomes God. [Chuckles.] You see?
Krishna never meditated. He never had any chance to meditate, because from the very beginning of His appearance, Kamsa was prepared to kill Him. Then His father transferred Him to the house of Nanda and Yashoda in Vrindavana. There also, when He was sleeping as a three-month-old baby, the demon Putana attacked Him.
Krishna had no chance to meditate to become God. He is God from the very beginning. That is God. God is God and dog is dog. That is the law of identity.
These ideas are all nonsense: “Become still, become silent, and become God.”
How can I become silent? Is there any possibility of becoming silent? No. There is no such possibility.
How can I become desireless? These are all bluffs. We cannot be desireless. We cannot be silent. But our desires and our activities have to be purified. That is real knowledge. We shall desire only to serve Krishna. That is purification of desire. Not desireless. That is not possible. How can I be desireless? How can I be silent? That is not possible.
Our activities should be engaged, dovetailed, in Krishna’s service. That is real knowledge. As a living entity, I have all these things—activities, desires, the propensity to love. Everything is there. But these things are being misguided. We do not know where to place all these things. That is avidya, ignorance.
Ishopanishad teaches us that we should be very careful. We don’t say that you shouldn’t advance in material education. You can advance, but at the same time, become Krishna conscious. That is our propaganda. We don’t say that you shouldn’t manufacture cars or machines. But we say, “All right, you have manufactured this machine. Employ it in Krishna’s service.” That is our proposal. We don’t say to stop it. We don’t say that you cannot have any sex life. But we say, “Yes, have sex—for Krishna. You can have sex a hundred times to produce Krishna conscious children. But don’t create cats and dogs.” That is our proposal.
Education is required, but if education is wrongly diverted, it is very, very dangerous. That is the purport of this verse. So-called education has no value.
Thank you very much. Hare Krishna.