“Humility; pridelessness; nonviolence; tolerance; simplicity; approaching a bonafide spiritual master; cleanliness; steadiness; self-control; renunciation of the objects of sense gratification; absence of false ego; the perception of the evil of birth, death, old age, and disease; detachment; freedom from entanglement with children, wife, home and the rest; even-mindedness amid pleasant and unpleasant events; constant and unalloyed devotion to Me; aspiring to live in a solitary place; detachment from the general mass of people; accepting the importance of self-realization; and philosophical search for the Absolute Truth—all these I declare to be knowledge, and besides this whatever there may be is ignorance.” (Bhagavad-gita 13.8-12)
HH BVPS Maharaja: This is God’s opinion. He is saying anything else other than this is ignorance. So if it is not based on this, it is ignorance. So it doesn’t matter if others think otherwise. They are out-numbered. God takes precedence here.
So now we see here, approaching a bonafide spiritual master, in there there will be the element of knowledge, study and instruction and all that. All the others are qualities required, qualities, mentalities, ways of endeavoring. So the attitude is the most important. So if the attitude is correct and the proper knowledge is there then the action will be correct. But if the knowledge is not proper, the attitude is the biggest of all this. The attitude, the lifestyle. That’s what knowledge is. Therefore the Vedic system of education the emphasis is on the character development, on the qualities. Because if you have that, then you are educated.
But if you don’t have that, then you are not educated. Krsna says, it is ignorance. It may be a piece of paper, it may get you a job, it may get you money, but it is still ignorance. Maybe important, maybe useful, but ignorance. It should never be considered knowledge. Knowledge means, you have an understanding of guru, sadhu and sastra and other aspects of information of this world, but with these appropriate qualities to understand it in the proper way. You don’t have those understandings, we are not educated.
Because otherwise here, humility, pridelessness… Someone has knowledge they are very proud of it, the modern academy is very proud of their knowledge. Tolerance, non-violence is not there because they are neglecting the soul. Tolerance, they don’t tolerate other things. Simplicity, they try to make it very complex otherwise it doesn’t appeal to their intellectual brain. Approaching a bonafide spiritual master, they don’t bother with that. They only deal with being in line with whoever is in the chair above them so that they don’t get kicked out, they get ten years with time they can sit in that seat. Cleanliness, that is definitely not very popular at the modern academy. Steadiness, maybe in the way of your job, a little bit steady they can have that. Self-control, maybe in some areas maybe in not, they maybe very well in their speech, and their intelligence might be quite controlled but we don’t know if they are controlled in others. Renunciation of the objects of their sense gratification, that is not in any way a prerequisite of the modern academy, especially depending upon which aspect of the modern academy they take. Absence of false ego, that’s definitely you wouldn’t want to go there. Perception of the evil of birth, death, old age and disease, that is lacking. Detachment is lacking. Freedom from entanglement with children, wife, home and the rest, that is lacking. It is not saying that one is not a family person, it says one is not entangled with it. In other words, one is performing one’s duties, one knows the rules, one is properly following it, so one is engaged in the activities of household life but one is not entangled in it. So that will be absent. Even-mindedness amid pleasant and unpleasant events, that is not because that would be the impersonal character so that won’t fall into the modern training in the academy. Constant and unalloyed devotion to Me, that is definitely lacking there. That is faith, that is a big ‘no-no.’ Inspiring to live in a solitary place, okay, a solitary place happens to be in an office in the corner of the building somewhere, but it has a great prestige because that is where the head of the department sits. So it is a solitary place, but the problem is, it is based on false ego. Detachment from the general mass of people, because they are socially dysfunctional they generally tend to be. But it is not that that is their preference. Accepting the importance of self-realization, that is very individual, that they can’t actually do that as an academic, as an individual they may be, but as an academic they would not. And philosophical search for the Absolute Truth, they may claim it is but they wouldn’t want to find it. They look all day, but if they find, oh that is bad, and then the search is over, then you got to work.
(From Lecture on Science of Inquiry, 27th Oct 2008, Bhaktivedanta Academy, Sridham Mayapur )