Sri Ramakrishna would often tell his devotees about the extraordinary nature of Ultimate Knowledge. He would say that such knowledge is far beyond expression, explanation, etc. To illustrate the idea he used to narrate a story.

Once, a king requested a yogi to impart him with knowledge in just one word. In reply, the yogi said, “All right, you will get knowledge in one word.” He asked the king to wait for a while. Even as they were talking, a magician came to the king. The latter saw the magician moving two of his fingers rapidly and heard him exclaim, “Behold, O King! Behold.” The king looked at him intently and saw two fingers, but he was amazed when after a few minutes he saw the two fingers become one. The magician moved that one finger rapidly and said, “Behold, O King! Behold.” The implication of the story is that Brahman and the Primal Energy, at first, appear to be two. At that time, a spiritual aspirant is clearly aware of duality. But after attaining the Knowledge of Brahman, one no longer perceives the two entities separately. Then there is no differentiation; there is One, without a second, i.e. Advaita i.e. non-dual knowledge.

Sri Ramakrishna would explain Ultimate Knowledge as beyond words, beyond mind, etc. It is not possible to express or explain the nature of Ultimate Knowledge with the help of our senses. It has to be perceived or to be experienced, to be more specific, intuitively. That Ultimate Knowledge, which is also called Brahman or Atman or Unitary Consciousness is deeply or intuitively felt. When one reaches that state one is hardly in a position to speak. One is amazed or wonder-struck and can at best convey his experience in a word or two that are hardly intelligible to the lesser mortals, to those who have not advanced that far in sadhana.


Published in the ‘Sacred Books of the East’ column, Sunday Guardian, 16th Mar 2013