Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Para and Apara Knowledge

Generally, all knowledge is divided into two classes, the Aparâ, secular, and the Parâ, spiritual. One pertains to perishable things, and the other to the realm of the spirit. There is, no doubt, a great difference these two classes of knowledge, and the way to the attainment of the one may be entirely different from the way to the attainment of the other. Nor can it be denied that no one method can be pointed out as the sole and universal one which will serve as the key to all and every door in the domain of knowledge. But in reality all this difference is only one of degree and not of kind. It is not that secular and spiritual knowledge are two opposite and contradictory things; but they are the same thing — the same infinite knowledge which is everywhere fully present from the lowest atom to the highest Brahman — they are the same knowledge in its different stages of gradual development. This one infinite knowledge we call secular when it is in its lower process of manifestation, and spiritual when it reaches the corresponding higher phase. (IV, 433 – 434)

In Indian tradition knowledge is divided into into two parts. Even though it is understood that the knowledge is the central core of one’s being, still the paths revealed by great incarnations and teachers have a uniqueness of their own. It is this ‘para’ knowledge, which is specially effective in personal transformation, that is traditionally handed over from Guru to Shishya. Swamiji also warns those disciples who become fanatically attached to their Guru and their teachings to the point of sacrificing Truth for the sake of the individual.

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