Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj explains the fundamental position of surrender in the pursuit of absolute knowledge.
vāsudeve bhagavati bhakti-yogaḥ prayojitaḥ
janayaty āśu vairāgyaḿ jñānaṁ cha yad ahaitukam
(Srimad Bhagavatam: 1.2.7)
[“Devotion to the Supreme Lord quickly produces detachment and self-revealed knowledge.”]
Spontaneous knowledge (ahaituki-jnan) will come in its full purity only when the Lord comes down to your heart and shows to you, “I am such and such.” Knowledge about the Lord is possible when He wills it. Knowledge about Him is real when He desires to reveal Himself to you. Your conjecture made up during so many lives in the mundane plane is all misconception.
To attain God, or to do His work, knowledge of the English language may be necessary, or may not be necessary. It is necessary if I am teaching an Englishman. I have to learn English in order to deal with persons who speak English. Similarly, if I want to convince and convert a man who has a strong sense of logic, then I need some knowledge of logic in order to talk with him. For no other reason is knowledge of English or logic necessary. I need to be knowledgeable if I want to make a man who is proud of his knowledge submit to my words. In this way knowledge may be used in the service of the Lord under certain conditions.
siddhānta baliyā chitte nā kara alasa
ihā ha-ite kṛṣṇe lāge sudṛḍha mānasa
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita: Adi-lila, 2.117)
Srila Krishna Das Kaviraj Goswami says, “Don’t sit idle and think that to be illiterate or foolish is the only condition needed to get the Lord’s grace.”
Knowledge should come to help me to make my position secure. To meet the negative tendencies that may spring up within me and stop them, some knowledge is necessary to a certain extent. But the real thing cannot come through knowledge. It comes only through submission, by sincerely waiting and showing Him that I am really qualified because I feel myself to be most insignificant: “I am a bona fide candidate for Your grace because I am the most in want.” This is dainyam. Only through sharanagati can we expect to have Him, and dainyam, sincere humility, is the first part of sharanagati.
jagāi mādhāi haite muñi se pāpiṣṭha
purīṣera kīṭa haite muñi se laghiṣṭha
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita: Adi-lila, 5.205)
[“I am more sinful than Jagai and Madhai. I am lower than a worm in stool.”]
tṛṇād api sunīchena taror iva sahiṣṇunā
amāninā mānadena kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita: Adi-lila, 17.31)
[“The Lord’s Name must be chanted with humility greater than that of a blade of grass.”]
Sincere helplessness, realisation of one’s helplessness, is trinad api sunichata [being ‘lower than the grass’].
dainya, ātma-nivedana, goptṛtve varaṇa
‘avaśya rakṣibe kṛṣṇa’—viśvāsa pālana
Dainyam and atma-nivedanam: “I can’t stand alone; I am not able to stand independently on my own legs. I must seek the shelter of He by whose grace alone I can live.” In this way the tendency of atma-nivedanam [self-surrender] will naturally come from within because I feel that I cannot stand independently: I am that insignificant and thus desire shelter.
Then goptritve varana and ‘avaysha raksibe Krishna’—vishvasa palana. I must ardently and sincerely accept Him as my guardian and first of all I must have confidence that He will protect me: “I am not shelterless—my guardian cannot but save me.”
bhakti-anukūla-mātra kāryera svīkāra
We are to accept what is favourable to the life of a devotee and forsake what is unfavourable to a life of a devotee. These are the characteristics of a real devotee.
Hare Krishna. Hare Krishna.
The finite wants the Infinite. The quest must be very unusual; it cannot be an ordinary thing. The finite wants to have the Infinite: necessarily this can only happen through submission, through prayer. It can happen only by showing that I am helpless: “Without You I can’t go on; I can’t do. I can’t do.” By gradually attracting His kindness and pity, my object may be fulfilled. There is no other way. There is no other way than to present myself before Him in a naked way: “I am such. I am the most needy. I am far away, and I am the most needy. Thus I have come to seek Your help. Without that I cannot be saved; I cannot live at all.” Such sincere craving is the real qualification of a devotee. He may be a good scholar, but this tendency must have the upper hand within him. He may have many qualifications in the worldly sense but only if this feeling is predominant in him will he get the Lord’s grace.
It is not that everyone who is graced with devotion to the Supreme Lord is poor in all worldly respects. Some may be highly talented or resourceful men who at heart are very humble and think themselves to be nothing.
pāraṁ paraṁ jigamiṣor
(Sri Chaitanya-chandrodaya-nataka: 8.23)
[Those who desire to cross over the ocean of material existence and serve the Lord feel] “I have nothing to boast. I have nothing. If I analyse myself, I see that I have nothing. I am the most needy. I am the most needy.”
This must be the leading feeling of a devotee, whatever qualification he may have. He may be Brahma, he may be Shiva, he may hold any position, but to attract the attention and grace of the Lord this quality of feeling needy must be predominant. Otherwise one cannot attract Him.
Hare Krishna. Hare Krishna.