The sacred texts, often referred to as shastras or scriptures, stand as the ultimate paragons of authority. In the realm of mortal existence, an innate inclination towards proprietorship resides within each human being. Yet, the inevitability of acknowledging authority looms large. In essence, we are compelled to prostrate ourselves before a superior, seeking their sagacious guidance.
Regrettably, the vexing quandary lies in our inability to discern the rightful authority, leaving us adrift in a sea of perplexity.
To the one who comprehends their teachings through the agency of a realized sage, they bring forth a luminous clarity, unveiling profound insights into consciousness. As exemplified in the verse articulated by Yamaraj, one of the twelve authorities cognizant of the original scriptures:
"svayambhūr nāradaḥ śambhuḥ
kumāraḥ kapilo manuḥ
prahlādo janako bhīṣmo
balir vaiyāsakir vayam" (Srimad Bhagavatam 6.3.20)
This roster of luminaries, including Lord Brahmā, Bhagavān Nārada, Lord Śiva, the four Kumāras, Lord Kapila, Svāyambhuva Manu, Prahlada Mahārāja, Janaka Mahārāja, Grandfather Bhīṣma, Bali Mahārāja, Śukadeva Gosvāmī, and Yamaraj himself, is privy to the authentic religious principles.
A person who conscientiously adheres to the scriptures' tenets is aptly labeled a "śāstra-cakṣus." This term delineates one who beholds the world through the lens of sanctioned scripture, for it is through these prismatic texts that the astute seeker of knowledge and wisdom should perceive the universe. Consider, for instance, the sun, which to the unaided eye appears as a mere fiery orb. However, delving into the annals of science and literature, meticulously validated, reveals the sun's vastness and dominion over our terrestrial abode. Ergo, gazing unadorned upon the world is but a superficial glance; genuine vision transpires via the imprimatur of revered texts and learned mentors.
On October 18, 1968, during an enlightening discourse in Seattle, Srila Prabhupada, the venerable founder-acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, expounded, "Spiritual realization can be perfected by three parallel processes: Sādhu, a saintly individual of realized wisdom; śāstra, authoritative and venerable scriptures, particularly the Vedas; and guru, an authentic spiritual guide."
Moreover, during a conversation with Mike Robinson, an inquirer representing the London Broadcasting Company, Śrīla Prabhupāda eloquently asserted, "Yes, it's all in the literature. We're elucidating it in English, yet we remain steadfast in our commitment to preserve the pristine knowledge contained therein. We do not engage in the spurious creation of wisdom. The Vedic literature resembles the manual instructing one on the assembly of a microphone, dictating each screw's placement and the meticulous arrangement of metals. Deviation from these directives would result in utter ruin. Similarly, our role is one of preservation, not innovation. A single immersion in one of our books bestows genuine spiritual enlightenment."
It is pertinent to emphasize the line of inquiry one should pursue. As elucidated by Srila Prabhupada in the Back to Godhead magazine, dated April 20, 1960, "Since humans are rational beings, they are inherently driven to raise inquiries and pose questions. The more numerous the queries, the greater the stride toward enlightenment and scientific advancement. The most sagacious of mortals, however, direct their scrutiny toward the enigma of life after death."
Hence, the imperative lies in relentless "INQUIRY" and the assiduous pursuit of knowledge from the correct "AUTHORITY," which serves as the compass to navigate through the labyrinth of perplexity. It's of paramount importance to remain cognizant of the fourth of the ten offenses against the Holy Name, which admonishes against blaspheming the venerable Vedic scriptures. Our caution should be unwavering in this regard.