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Paths of knowledge, devotion and action Dr. Nikhil asked ‘Somebody is telling that the paths of knowledge, devotion and action are not linked because the scholars follow the path of knowledge and illiterate follow the path of devotion and service (action)”. Swami replied: As already told by Me, you should not allow the loose statement of anybody without subjecting it to sharp analysis. It is already clearly established that the knowledge, devotion and action are linked even in the worldly issues (Pravrutti) and in spiritual knowledge (Nivrutti). As an example in Pravrutti, if you like to go to see Mumbai, your liking is basically kindled by information of the details of Mumbai. Then, the knowledge of the details of the path of journey to Mumbai is essential to travel in correct direction. The knowledge of yourself is also important to differentiate yourself from Mumbai. From the details of Mumbai it is already established that Mumbai is a city. You must know that you are a human being and not the Mumbai city. Since you are different from the Mumbai city there is possibility of your journey to Mumbai city. If you are already Mumbai there is no need of your journey to Mumbai. This part is knowledge, which is essential for your attraction to Mumbai and for planning your journey in correct way. Without this knowledge, you will not have even the intention to travel to Mumbai and even if you travel you will be mislead to leave the right track. Your journey or the action alone can give the fruit of reaching Mumbai and seeing it. As an example in Nivrutti, Rukmini loved Krishna only after hearing the details of Krishna from Narada. This love to God or devotion cannot be generated in the absence of the knowledge about God. Once you see the devotion in a person, you must infer the existence of the divine knowledge in that soul, which is the cause of devotion. This love or devotion made Rukmini to put practical efforts to attain Krishna. Thus, devotion is cause of the action. Due to her sincere practical effort (action) she could reach Krishna and could become His wife. Such fruit is the result of her action. Therefore, in both Pravrutti and Nivrutti the knowledge, the devotion and the action are interlinked and form as the three interlinked stepping stones to reach the fruit. If you find the devotion in a person without the effort for knowledge, you should not mistake that the devotion can come without knowledge. It is impossible. In such case, already the knowledge is associated with the soul, which was built up in the previous birth. Gopikas are devotees of God in this birth. The back ground of this devotion, which is the spiritual knowledge was already established in the previous birth in which these Gopikas were sages putting sincere efforts for acquiring the correct knowledge. A devotee having the devotion must already be the scholar of knowledge and surely becomes the servant doing the action in the form of service. Therefore, a born devotee or servant must be a scholar in the previous birth. Knowledge is not related to the education or literacy. It is related to the wisdom of the person. A person, who is illiterate, need not be unwise. Sometimes, a scholar is also unwise, who does not grasp the essence of knowledge and fails to practice it. The essence of knowledge can be explained in layman’s language even to the illiterate as you can see in the Gospel of Jesus or the Gospel of Rama Krishna Parama Hamasa. He can teach essence of spiritual knowledge with perfect similes. The complicated details of certain topics in depth are not necessary for illiterate since such complicated details come only in the sharp analysis to be used to clarify the complicated doubts that arise only in the intellectual brain. Such context will never come in the case of the illiterates. There is no need of such complicated details in the way of the implementation of the essence of spiritual knowledge. But, in one angle, it is better that even illiterate knows those details also. Such details also can be preached with slow speed by repeating several times in layman’s language with the help of perfect similes. Such induction of the details of knowledge in depth protects the illiterates from the exploitation coming from the intellectuals. In such case, the devotees are never mislead. The strong devotion gives the inference of already existing strong knowledge. Shankara says that the devotion is always associated with the spiritual knowledge as characteristic. Since knowledge is the cause, it should be always in the devotion like the earth in the pot or gold in jewel. In one place in Gita Lord Krishna says that the topper is the scholar. In another place same Krishna says that the topper is a devotee. There can be only one topper in the superlative degree. Therefore, Shankara says in His commentary that knowledge and devotion are one and the same. When the correct knowledge is associated with sufficient power of devotion the action is sure. Hence, the service is also spontaneously generated. Therefore, a scholar can alone become the devotee and the devotee alone can become the servant. The servant alone can attain the fruit. Therefore, once you become a scholar with correct knowledge, you are sure to attain the fruit as said by Shankara (Jnana deva tu kaivalyam). The intermediate steps like devotion and service are not mentioned since you are sure to pass through those two steps spontaneously after the first step (knowledge). Shankara, Ramanuja and Madhva established these three stepping stones, which are linked in sequence establishing the unity of philosophy in these great divine preachers. They are not separate preachers for different sects of followers. Every spiritual aspirant has to follow these three preachers in the sequence of time like passing through school, college and university. These three are the incarnations of the three divine Lords Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. These three divine Lords are linked and mutually co-related in the form of Lord Dattatreya. This itself is a proof for the link between knowledge, devotion and action (service) preached by Shankara, Ramanuja and Madhva respectively. www.universal-spirituality.org Universal Spirituality for World Peace