Literature

KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM

A recent seminar in the Madras city organized by some inquirers inspired by the thoughts of the great philosopher, J. Krishnamurthy, has posed a question whether our present day education system is aimed at producing merely highly intelligent and academically oriented brilliant people or people who understand not only themselves but also those around them. The speaker who gave the opening remarks has referred to the ironical situation pointed out by J. Krishnamurthy where a man excelling in his work would be leading a shoddy and uninteresting life, or a brilliant scientist would be highly superstitious in his daily life.  

In the Chandogya Upanishad there is an interesting story. Svetaketu, son of Uddhalaka Aruni, returned to his parental abode after spending some years at Gurukula and acquiring proficiency in all fields of knowledge and skill. When his father questions him about all that he has learnt, he reels out a big list of subjects in which he had attained mastery. The father finally asks him a question – whether he has learnt that by knowing which everything else in the world is known? The son is baffled. “Is there such a knowledge?”, he asks his father. Then he comes to know about the knowledge of one’s own Self and acquires it with the help of his wise father.  

Through ages mankind has advanced in the fields of scientific knowledge and intellectual reasoning. But man has never become wiser than his great ancestors of the remote past who lived a life of “simple living and high thinking”. Man rose in knowledge but fell in wisdom. Our sages and seers were wise. They lived in turn with nature, understanding themselves and the world around them. The modern man with a blind intellect has learnt only to destroy himself and the world around with his own intellectual and scientific capabilities. Science has come with penicillin and anesthesia in one hand and atom and hydrogen bombs in the other. Nations have vied with each other in spending billions of rupees on producing nuclear weapons and in arms race rather than in making this world a happy, peaceful and blissful home for the mankind free from ignorance and disease.  

Bharatavarsha, since times immemorial, is a Land of Light – the land of spiritual wisdom  which enables mankind to know the meaning and purpose of our life. This land of the rishis produced in modern age too giants in the spiritual field like Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Dayananda, Swami Rama Tirtha, Sri Aurobindo, Sister Nivedita, J. Krishnamurthy and Papa Ramdas and even today there lives in our midst spiritual luminaries like the Paramacharya of Kanchi and Yogi Ramsuratkumar of Tiruvannamalai. But how many of our so-called intellectuals and educated elite are interested in following the footsteps of these great masters and take a life of sacrifice and sadhana seeking a higher goal in life? 

These ‘intellectuals’ in their selfish pursuit of material wealth and power, have never hesitated to blindly run behind cheats and scoundrels who put on the garb of godmen and spiritual advisers. We see the pathetic sight of many of our eminent scientists, educationists, doctors, lawyers, judges, politicians, businessmen and industrialists clustering around cheap sooth-sayers, astrologers and ‘miracle-makers’ who claim that gods descend on them periodically to tell their clients how to invest their money in business, how to win elections and become ministers, how to get promotions, how to get their daughters married or how to acquire house and property, etc. An innocent villager going to a witch doctor to get his ailment cured is in no way more superstitious and less intelligent than these ‘highly intellectual’ fools who seek happiness in a corrupt life like a leper seeking pleasure in scratching his own ulcerated body. Where has our education led these people to? A highly qualified scientist or engineer burning his bride who fails to bring in sufficient dowry, a successful businessman who bribes in crores to get things done by corrupt administrators, politicians devoid of education, character and morality running engineering, medical and other educational institutions and amassing wealth in black money, and even judges who indulge in corruption and bribery to acquire as much as possible before retirement are not uncommon in our country.  

The solution to this is certainly in changing our educational system. Right from the school days the idea is put into the minds of our younger generation that all their education is only to enable them to earn a livelihood. Our children want to become doctors and engineers to become rich quickly, but not Men with a capital “M”. Swami Vivekananda wanted a man-making and nation-building education. But our educational institution which demand huge donations and charge heavy fees do not care to help a poor man’s child with character, integrity and merit to come up in life as an ideal citizen. They are more interested in selling seats to mint money to fill the coffers of those who run these institutions. And whom will these institutions produce except monsters of corruption, characterlessness and beastliness.  

Spiritual luminaries like the Mother of Pondicherry and J. Krishnamurthy had started experimental ventures in the educational field by setting up ideal educational institutions that could provide such a type of education which would enable the youth “to manifest the perfection that is already within” and to “bring out” the best in them by instilling higher values of life along with modern scientific knowledge. But unless the people of the whole country awaken themselves to see around them the deep rooted corruption and highly polluted way of life, the infectious germs of which are eating into the vitals of our national existence, and make a determined effort to stop this rot so that at least their progeny could live a truly human life and strive to reach divine heights, who will save our nation and the world too, for Mother Bharat is expected to be the Loka Guru. Tamaso maa jyotirgamaya – Lead us from darkness to Light – must be our nation’s prayer now.  

Vande Mataram! 

Author: Professor Sadhu Rangarajan, 1993

Back to top button