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Problem With Searching God In Books

The problem with searching god in books is that when one goes deep into such studies, contradictions seem to arise. When widely differing theories are offered on the same subject one is apt to get confused, hardly knowing which of them represents the correct position. Several doubts arise. For example, which among the theories of creation is correct? What is the merit of book learning and what is the limit to it? Why do doubts arise? Can one get the ultimate enlightenment from books alone? What is salvation? Which is the best path to salvation or realisation, and why? These are typical and by no means hypothetical questions. The list is not exhaustive either. Only the sages who have realised the ultimate truth themselves can provide satisfactory replies to such questions.

Sri Ramana Maharshi's reply to a question on creation illustrates his unique way of reconciling controversies. The questioner was puzzled by Vedic statements giving apparently conflicting accounts of cosmogony. Maharshi said, "Different seers saw different aspects of truth at different times, each emphasising some viewpoint. Why do you worry about their conflicting statements? The essential aim of the Vedas is to teach us the nature of the imperishable Self and show us that we are That.

The following quotation from Sri Bhagavan Maharshi brings out the limitations of book-learning: All scriptures without any exception proclaim that for attaining Salvation the mind should be subdued; and once one knows that control of the mind is their final aim, it is futile to make an interminable study of them. What is required for such control is actual inquiry into oneself by self interrogation: "Who am I?" How can this enquiry in quest of the Self be made merely by means of a study of the scriptures.

Another saying of Sri Bhagavan drives home the same point: The scriptures are useful to indicate the existence of the Higher Power (the Self) and the way to gain it. Their essence is that much only. When that is assimilated the rest is useless.

Cautioning against unnecessary discussion and arguments on scriptures, Sri Ramakrishna says: One wishing to take pure water from a shallow pond should not disturb it, but gently take it from the surface. If it is disturbed the sediment will rise and make the whole water muddy. So, if you desire to be pure, do not waste your energies in useless scriptural discussions and arguments, but slowly go on with your devotional practices. Failing this your little brain will become confused.

Sai Baba of Shirdi once sharply remarked: "People hope to find Brahma in these books, but it is bhrama [confusion] not Brahma that they find there.”

Remarks of the Sufi master Sai Rochaldas Sahib in the matter are noteworthy. He says: "Yes, there is nothing lacking in the scriptures because these are the utterances arising out of the experiences of sages. Yet, they are mute. They are helpful up to a point and not beyond that. As soon as the right attitude is developed through the spiritual practices, the jiva gets all the light from within.