An interesting discussion on how much one 'knows' happened in yesterday's episode of the serial, 'EngE Brahmanan?' in Jaya TV.
Can any one 'know' everything?
Can anyone claim himself to be fully knowledgeable?
These questions were handled by Mr Cho Ramaswamy in the episode.
He quoted a sloka which said that that a person may know whatever he 'knows'. But he may not know what he does not know!
Mr Cho also listed the texts he knows and has read.
This discussion quite stirred me up.
Because 'to know' is very much an obsession for a seeker of Vedantha!
This begins with very basic question of what must be known.
From Acharya Ramanuja's commentary on Brahma sutras, we come to know that
if by knowing something, everything else can be known,
then the knowledge of that 'something' constitutes Real knowledge!
According to him, by knowing Brahman, everything in this created worlds and beyond can be known. So the knowledge of the Brahman and Its Nature constitutes Real knowledge. By knowing That Brahman, one can be said to have known everything. One can explain or understand or know any phenomenon happening in this world at present, in the past and in the future.
To understand this, he gives the example of many items made of clay.
The knowledge about a doll, or a pot, or a brick or some artifact can be had if we know the constituent that has gone into making them. Suppose the clay is used for making them. Then the knowledge about the clay, the clay in different ratios with water and other substances and the nature of clay available from different locations must be necessary to know how the different things made from clay will look like and how long it will last.
Similarly by knowing the nature of Brahman, we can know how everything in this created world will behave, because it is from Brahman everything has sprung up.
The knowledge of the Brahman is supposed to be the Highest knowledge that one must aspire for.
The numerous texts (sruti and smruthi) only help us as guide-books in getting that knowledge about Brahman.
So it is not enough if one says that one has read this book or that book. Has one read or sought about the Brahman is the question that would lead one to the quest of Ultimate knowledge.
The 3 gems (Prasthaana thraya) namely Upanishads, Brahma sutras and Bhagavad Gita are the texts that guide one seeking knowledge of the Brahman.
The numerous stories, thoughts of many saints and noble persons, puranas and other texts do bring out the essence of these gems. In reading them, one must not lose sight of the essence – which is the knowledge about Brahman.
In this context, I consider the compilation of thoughts and stories of Paramacharyal of Kanchi given as "Deivatthin Kural" is an excellent one for any seeker of Knowledge.
One irony about Knowledge is that perfect Knowledge is impossible!
If knowing the Brahman is the Ultimate knowledge, that can not happen without Realization of Brahman.
It is because if we say that this is Brahman, then it is not Brahman!
The 'neti' (na ithi) verses of Brahadaaranyaka upansihad give us the insight that Brahman can never be described. If some one says that this is Brahman or Brahman is of this nature, then it is not Brahman. For, Brahman is that which goes beyond all thoughts, words, descriptions and visualizations.
It can only be Realized!
Such realization comes by attainment of Brahman.
One who has attained Brahman is said to have become Liberated from the cycle of birth and death.
That means he won't be with us in mortal form to tell us what it means to be realizing Brahman!
That state of Brahman can not be expressed by any facilitating agent.
It can only be experienced.
It is the Knowledge / experience of Brahman as satyam, gyanam and anantham.