In Bhagavad Gītā, Śrī Kṛṣṇa says that the living entity is under the influence of ignorance and therefore in a state of bewilderment, ajñānenāvṛtaṁ jñānaṁ tena muhyanti jantavaḥ (Gītā 5.15). When a person is in ignorance, their faculty of discernment is eclipsed. As a consequence, they are unable to make proper decisions, thus rendering them ineffective in achieving their cherished goals of peace and happiness. Therefore, ignorance is the root cause of our suffering. Since this ignorance has no beginning (SB 11.22.10), a conditioned living being is called nitya-baddha, or ever conditioned (SB 11.11.7).
Moreover, just as we have beginningless ignorance about our own self and source, we also have beginningless inquisitiveness. From our very birth, we are inquisitive about everything around us. This inquisitiveness is the most intense drive that we experience. It begins from our very birth and continues until death. Wherever we go and whomever we meet, we are always curious to know more. In fact, much of our dialogue begins with a question. We are always hungry for new pieces of information. Yet, no matter how much we acquire, we never seem to be satisfied. No one thinks that they know enough and that there is nothing more to know. Even the greatest scientists of modern times feel inadequate in their knowledge about the world.
Unfortunately, although we have the gift of an inquisitive nature, most of us utilize it only to learn about mundane subjects. We use it to sustain our material life and get material pleasure. This, however, does not bring us complete satisfaction or an end to our suffering. The real use of our inquisitive nature is to know the ultimate source of our existence. In Upaniṣadic terminology, that source is called Tattva or Brahman. Therefore, while answering the second question of the sages assembled at Naimiṣāraṇya, “What is the essential engagement by which the self can attain complete fulfillment?” (SB 1.1.11), Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī states that the purpose of life is to inquire about Tattva and not just to work for material pleasure (SB 1.2.10). It is only by knowing this Tattva that our inquisitiveness will become fulfilled, yasmin vijñāte sarvaṁ vijñātaṁ bhavati.
Most śāstras, such as the Purāṇas and Mahābhārata, are composed in the form of a dialogue between a teacher and student. In the olden days, the student would personally approach a teacher or a learned sage to pose questions and clarify doubts. In the modern age, however, the internet gives an inquisitive person the facility to engage in conversation with someone far away and ask them questions. There may not be any personal contact between them. In fact, they may even be complete strangers.
Our new publication “Pearls of Wisdom – Questions and Answers with Satyanarayana Dasa from A to Z” is a collection of such questions and answers on a variety of topics related to bhakti, be it philosophical, social, or practical aspects. Some of these questions were emailed to Babaji directly, while others were asked via our jiva.org website. Sometimes, the questions posed by one person can be illuminating to others as well, for no one can conceive of every type of question. Additionally, one may also not always get the opportunity to ask questions. Therefore, for the benefit of an inquisitive person, we have compiled these questions and answers in the form of a book. The questions related to a specific topic have been grouped together although they may have been asked by different people at different times. For the purpose of maintaining privacy, the identities of the questioners have not been revealed. We hope that this book will be helpful for people on their spiritual journey. The replies given here are according to the school of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism, whose theology is the acintya-bhedābheda-vāda of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
The book was printed in Europe and is presently only available there. It can be ordered through our Online Store.