This kind of experience (referring to knowledge) you will find even in ordinary man, even in bird. They have some sort of specific intelligence or knowledge. That is not knowledge. You will find even in animals that there are wonderful activities which we cannot perform. That is not knowledge. Knowledge means to understand SPIRIT and MATTER. That is knowledge.
-Srila Prabhupada lecture New York 01-04-1967
This definition of knowledge given by Srila Prabhupada is a stark difference from modern day definition of knowledge. In today’s world, knowledge is simply collection of information and the ability to repeat the information in a timely manner much like a computer. Knowledge also refers to any skill or art one possesses as a result of this information & subsequent training he or she gathers. This is knowledge from the perspective of modern day world.
According to the great spiritual teachers of the Vedic tradition, knowledge is the ability to find the root cause of all causes, thus finding one frees oneself from the problems of life. Actually, in one sense, modern day philosophers and scientists are also in quest of the same truth – that is – to find the root cause and solution to problems of life. But their attempts end in frustration because they do not distinguish SPIRIT from MATTER and thus operate solely on the material platform.
When we intellectually perceive the presence of something “OTHER” than the normal operations of matter, and we start to enquire into that something “OTHER”, this enquiry is the beginning of knowledge. This enquiry will ultimately lead us through a path where we can find the root cause of all causes. While every singular individual living being has to undertake the journey of enquiry (like flying our own plane), there are perfect enlightened masters ready to guide us through this journey. Seeking guidance from these enlightened masters, if we take up this journey of enquiry we will ultimately reach to the point where we can distinguish SPIRIT from MATTER. At this enlightened stage, we will see all beings equally and neither hanker for the future nor lament for the past. Continuing on the enlightened stage, we will stop our journey when we find KRISHNA or SUPREME SPIRIT.
Along this continuum of enquiry from MATTER to SPIRIT to KRISHNA, there are innumerable theories and philosophies. This singular non-dual entity KRISHNA where all conflicts resolve and beyond which there is no more enquiry and hence the root cause of all causes, is the destination and pinnacle of all knowledge & problems of life- for all seekers, scientists and philosophers.