Inquiry and Faith
Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Deva Goswami illuminates the spirit of sincere spiritual discussion.
You see, too much discussion may oppose faith. Ultimately everything is adhoksaja (transcendental). Krishna is adhoksaja and approachable only through faith. He is not approachable by intellect, reason, or argument. Argument is necessary to help intellectual people to a certain extent. But to want that everything must come within one’s fist is a drawback for a devotee. As much as possible we try to understand Krishna and explain him to others, but at the same time we maintain within our subconscious that everything is backed by Krishna’s sweet will and that nothing can be measured.
maya tatam idam sarvam
“I am everywhere; I am nowhere. Everything is within me; nothing is in me. Find my position through your intellect if you can, O Arjuna.” (Bhagavad-gita 9.4)
We must always keep this warning on our brain. Then we shall go to analyze, and analyze, and analyze. Ultimately we must think, “He is unknown and unknowable, and everything is in his hand. He is everywhere; he is nowhere. Everything is in him, and nothing is in him.”
He is acintya (inconceivable). Mahaprabhu said acintya-bhedabheda: Krishna is not within the fist of anyone. Everything is controlled by his sweet will. Our brain has been warned in this way. We try to discuss Krishna, but too much intellectualism hampers our faith. Our faith may be based on intellectual understanding, and in the madhyama-adhikara (intermediate stage of devotional practice) it is necessary. Thus Bhaktivinoda Thakura said that the madhyama-adhikara is a dangerous zone. By deluding us with intellectualism, God may also forbid us from coming to perfect theism from the madhyama-adhikara. And a kanistha-adhikari (neophyte practitioner), if he comes in contact with an uttama-adhikari (advanced practitioner), can clearly pass over the madhyama-adhikara. So the madhyama-adhikara is a dangerous zone.
It is necessary, however, to a certain extent, to consolidate our faith.
siddhanta baliya citte nā kara alasa
iha ha-ite krsne lage sudrdha manasa
“Do not be lazy in considering siddhanta within your heart. Doing so firmly attaches your heart to Krishna.” But we must always remember that the intellect should help to strengthen our faith. Sraddha [faith] can approach the infinite. The intellect can never approach the infinite. Only sraddha can, and how much sraddha we can hope to have? A bit; a bit of sraddha. “Nothing is impossible in the infinite.” On the basis of our experience, how much sraddha we can develop? When we discuss the siddhanta [scriptural truths], the positive thing that has been given to us, we try our best to use our experience to understand its wholesome character. But trying to do this too much will disturb our faith. The possibility for that is there. In the background we must always remember, “He is unknown, and his ways are unknowable. I cannot bring him within my fist.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta: Adi-lila, 2.117)
The intellect should not disregard the characteristic of Krishna that sraddha can reach. Krishna’s jurisdiction should not be encroached on by the intellect. His sweet will should not be pushed. Krishna’s sweet will, his independence, should not be cornered. The intellect should not be indulged in that way. “He is all-in-all. He can make and mar.” This understanding will help us. Sraddha, faith, will help us!
tad viddhi pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya
“Learn divine knowledge through surrender, inquiry, and service.” Pariprasna (sincere inquiry) is allowed. Pariprasna means questions which help one’s faith, seeking conclusions which help one’s faith. So questions should be put forth only to corroborate one’s faith. With that caution, we shall try to know anything and everything, but we should understand that we are limited and we are going to tackle the unlimited. This idea must never be forgotten at any stage in our discussion.