The knowledge which the saints possess is so subtle, penetrating and comprehensive, that they easily grasp the essence or the purport of the vedas and their philosophy. They may perhaps not be able to say who wrote a certain treatise, or when, or where, or what appears on such and such a page, but the gist of all books is certainly in their ken. Common people like us often just read the words in a saint’s writing; but the real gist can only be understood by the saint’s grace; by ourselves, we can understand it no better than the comprehension of the father’s message which a child may convey to the mother in its own lisping words.
The saints write books to enable ‘intelligent’ readers to convince themselves and progress on the spiritual path. We should not try to interpret their words in a strained or far-fetched manner, but just accept them straightforwardly. We should read without prejudice or preconceptions, for a clear understanding; just as overwriting makes the original illegible, preconceptions muddle understanding; so our reading should be with a clear, unprejudiced mind.
Books like the Jnyaneshwari and Dasabodh should be read with close attention, just as a letter from a person near and dear to us is read most attentively down to the last little syllable, as addressed to us in a personal capacity. Many people go to listen to discourses just because it is a social vogue, or as an entertainment, or as something to kill time with. Few, indeed, are those who read saints’ books really to find out what they ought to do, and act accordingly. More read them out of blind reverence because they were written by saints; while the majority do not care to read them at all.
People in general usually disregard God and spiritual values; we go to a saint to learn how to go counter to this common trend. Saints have an awareness of the body only to the extent necessary in practical life; otherwise they treat the body as no better, no truer, than a mere shadow. It is not sense to grieve for ‘pain’ to a shadow, and therefore the saints are unaffected by the body’s pains and pleasures.
Many persons unrelated to a saint or unremunerated by him, voluntarily labour for him or for those who visit him; this they do because of his divine love for them.
* * * * *