The knowledge is the information about God, about yourself and about the path through which you can please the Lord. You must know the actual form of God and His correct address. You must also know that you are not God. If you are already God (as Advaita philosophers say), there is no need of Sadhana because if you are God, every human being is God. When you are the goal already, what is the need of any spiritual effort? Then what is the real path to please the God? The answers for these three questions (Triputi) about the three items that is God, yourself and the path to please God consist the knowledge or Jnana Yoga. When you get more and more details about the goal, you develop more and more interest on the goal and such interest is called as devotion. Rukmini got full information about Krishna from the sage Narada. The information inspired her and she was fired with love on Krishna. This love on the Lord is called as devotion. The word love is used in the case of any one or anybody other than God. To distinguish the love on God, a separate pious word “Devotion” is used. The devotion is at two levels. One is theoretical and the other is practical. The theoretical devotion alone is fraud. However, it is valid if it is associated with practical devotion. The practical devotion (service) must be associated with the theoretical devotion just as the plate of meals is associated with a cup of drinking water. Service should be according to the requirement of the Lord. Some devotees think that the service for the welfare of the society should be the aim of God. But God is above the society. God is not for the society, whereas the society is for the God’s entertainment. His wish or desire is the guiding light for your line of service. If you think that God is for society, He will ask you to do His personal service.
Ramayana is only personal service to God. Killing of Ravana became inevitable and was not the main goal. If killing Ravana is the main goal, Rama would not have asked to return Sita so that He will go back from the war. Therefore if you have confirmed the Lord, you should not apply logic, and you should become His slave (Daasa) like Hanuman without logic. The aim of your service should be to please God and not to please the society. In fact your family is a very important part in the society. You should not sacrifice your family for the sake of society. You need not also sacrifice the family for God if your family consists of devotees. Only in the extreme case of opposition, you can sacrifice the family for the sake of the Lord. It is a very rare case but still such rare case is not ruled out. God in human form and the devotees are to be served. Among the devotees, the liberated souls who are recognized by their firm faith and continuous service and sacrifice are the best. Such liberated souls are more than God because God treats them more than Himself.
Shankara gave a lot of importance to knowledge. He said that if knowledge is complete, the goal is achieved (Jnanadevatu Kaivalyam). You may think that the knowledge cannot give the fruit directly and it should give devotion which leads into service. But if knowledge is complete, the devotion, the service and pleasing God are automatic spontaneous consequences. Rukmini got all the information about Krishna from Narada which is the stage of knowledge. Then she developed attraction to Krishna which is the devotion. By the devotion, she could attain Krishna. Gita said that one can attain God by devotion. But achievement is not the final goal. Pleasing the God is the final goal. For her devotion, the aim was to serve Krishna and not to become queen of Dwaraka. The devotion of most of the devotees is only to attain some fruit. That is not real devotion. The real devotion expects service. Service to God itself is fruit and there cannot be another fruit for the fruit. Rukmini being the incarnation of Maha Lakshmi sat at the feet of the Lord and pressed His feet. That was the aim of Her devotion. The Lord made Maha Lakshmi as the deity of the infinite wealth which is this entire universe. Generally, even with little wealth, the eyes come up on the head. But being the possessor of such infinite wealth, she sits at the divine feet of the Lord and acts as a slave. She is giving us message that the fruit of the devotion should be service to Lord and not attaining the wealth. Service is the proof of devotion which is the practical philosophy. The importance of knowledge (Jnana Yoga) is that if the knowledge is intensively complete, the determination and the subsequent service are spontaneous. Therefore there is no gap between the complete knowledge and practice. If the realization is complete, practice (service) is a spontaneous consequence. There is no time gap and there is no need of any effort. When the knowledge is intensive and complete, such state is said to be realization. If the knowledge is not deep and not complete, we should not use the word realization. Often people think that knowledge and practice are different. It is not correct. If the knowledge (Jnana) is complete, devotion (Bhakti) is spontaneous effect. Such devotion is also intensive and complete. The immediate consequence of such devotion is service.
Shankara says that knowledge and devotion are not separate (Paramartha Jnana Lakshana Sampannam Bhaktim). Therefore it means that complete knowledge means complete devotion. The proof of devotion (love) is only service as you can see in the case of your children. Your love on them is expressed only through service to them. In their case, there is no theoretical love. You are not chanting the name of your child, you are not singing about your child. All these forms of false devotion appeared only in the case of God. I say it is false because there is no sacrifice or service as found in the case of children. Therefore devotion itself means service Therefore knowledge; devotion and service are the three alternative words for the same meaning. Shankara preached about knowledge. Ramanuja preached about devotion. Madhva preached about service. This means that Shankara, Ramanuja and Madhva are the three incarnations of the same Lord Datta. Thus if knowledge is intensive and complete, you have reached the goal as said by Shankara. The Lord praised the knowledge at the very outset in Gita. Therefore concentrate on the divine knowledge and propagate it so that all other souls also reach the goal along with you.
His Holiness Shri Datta Swami