Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣak Śrīdhar Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj reminds devotees of the real utility of knowledge.
Devotee: When living entities come into the mahat-tattva, do they all begin from the same species of life, or from different species of life?
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: From a hazy common conception, individual conceptions springs up. Individuality springs up from the mahat-tattva.
Devotee: So, it may be different species, not the same species?
Devotee: The living entity becomes a Brahmā? Becomes an ant? Becomes a frog? Becomes a bird? What does he become?
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: All possibilities are there in germinal form in the mahat-tattva. They are in a nondifferentiated form that cannot be detected. We see the products of those forms in our everyday life that are present in the mahat-tattva in such a small conception that they cannot be detected. After the mahāpralay, the complete withdraw of the creation, when the creation enters into the stage of prakṛti, something like a watery substance, the whole thing is preserved in a nutshell. I am told that in Japan they are making a library in which they can keep many, many books in a script that is so small that it cannot be read without a microscope.
Devotee: It is called microfilm.
Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: Microfilm: in a small place, a big book is represented. It is something like that. In prakṛti, everything is present in an undetectable way. But the Supreme Lord and His delegated agent can detect anything and everything everywhere. To ordinary understanding, however, it is beyond knowledge and experience. It is in such a germinal form. We can say the possibility for the living entity to assume various forms exists in a very small form that cannot be detected. Again, when the creation gradually becomes bigger and bigger, we see the variety of forms taken by the living entity. In our everyday experience, we see that from nondifferentiation, differentiation springs up. A big tree is reserved within a seed. The possibility of a tree exists within a seed, and, taking help from the environment, the seed produces a big tree. It is something like that. It is beyond our knowledge.
So much enquiry about the nonessential, however, is a bar to devotion. So Brahmā says,
jīvanti san-mukharitāṁ bhavadīya-vārtām
sthāne sthitāḥ śruti-gatāṁ tanu-vāṅ-manobhir
ye prāyaśo ’jita jito ’py asi tais tri-lokyām
Bhāgavatam discourages this sort of scrutinising knowledge. There no end to it. If you take up this path of knowing (jñāna-mārg), it won’t help to take you to the real goal. Faith will help you. The path of knowledge may help you partly to consolidate your faith in the beginning (madhyam-adhikār), but real help will come from the plane of faith. Brahmā himself said,
manaso vapuṣo vācho vaibhavaṁ tava gocharaḥ
“Those who are very proud of their intellect may know many things. Let them boast of their fruits. But my conclusion is, ‘O Lord. I do not know anything. You are infinite. Your ways, Your every movement, is infinite.’”
So, it is rather insanity to go to enquire about the ways and nature of the Lord. Submission and the aspiration to have His grace—to pray for His grace—is the right way to come to our desired end.
Let others be proud of their knowledge produced by analysing this thing and that thing. There is no end to it. If you study a particle of sand for many lives, you will find no end. So don’t go to that side. It is wild goose chasing. Come directly through the favourite disciple of the Lord and begin service as much as you are given permission. Gradually go towards ānanda-mārg [the path of joy].
Sat, chit, and ānanda [energy, consciousness, and joy]. From chit, go direct to ānanda. Don’t waste your energy in chit and sat. You are all desirous of ānanda: fulfilment, ecstasy. So try to start your journey directly towards ānanda, eliminating sat and chit. On the way, to a certain extent, the help of sat and chit should be taken. Only take as much as is necessary and avoid the rest. No ambition should be fulfilled in their company. The intrinsic demand of your nature is for ānanda, rasam, sukham, happiness. So direct your journey directly towards ānanda, Kṛṣṇa. That is possible through devotion and dedication, through faith.