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My Online Writings - 2004 - '07

Part 3
It is foretold! The torrential flow of inexorable destiny!
Quality of knowledge

Many, many years ago, when I joined in the state syllabus schools over here, in my 5th class, I came across a story in the vernacular language textbook. It was a story the underlying sense of which I couldn’t get at, at that time. I do not think even the teachers had any idea of what the story was imputing at.

It was a simple theme. It goes like this:

Many years ago, a man was going through a far-off town. He saw a man selling mangoes, which were very sweet. It was a strange thing. For, it was not Mango Season. He lingered around, and when the seller was free, he approached him. The seller was a lower caste man. Yet, he was doing brisk business, and earning much money.

The man was obsequious to the Mango Seller. The Mango Seller took him, and gave him food. When the mood was friendly, the man asked of the Mango Seller, as to how he was getting the Mangoes, when there were no Mangoes in any area around. The Mango Seller asked him to stay with him, which he did. He turned into an obedient man to the Mango Seller, for he knew that this man was in possession of highly potential business secret, which needed to be grasped.

After a few months of servitude, the Mango Seller became very affectionate to him. When this was the mood, the man again inquired of him as to the source of the Mangoes. He was asked to accompany him in the night. At night, he was taken to a nearby Mango tree in the same compound owned by him. The Mango Seller had with him a bucket of liquid. He poured this liquid under the tree, and then went into a meditative mood, and started chanting a mantra. Then they came back and slept. In the early morning the Mango Seller woke him up and took him to the Mango tree. It was full of ripe mangoes.

The man was truly enraptured. He begged him to teach him the mantra and the technique. The Mango Seller told him thus: I will teach the method and the chanting. Yet, there is one promise I will extract out of you for this. When you learn this art, you will become famous and make money, for you belong to the higher caste. There will come a time when you will be enquired of as to who taught you the technique of making mangoes in the off-season. Then you need to mention my name in full; do not hide any part of it, even though it will display my lower caste. This is the promise I need from you.

It seemed a very meagre fee for getting such an enchanting knowledge. The eager man promised as required. He learned the method. He bid farewell to his guru, and went his way.

As foretold by his guru, he became famous and rich, by means of his superhuman capability in regard to making mangoes. He was invited to many functions, and he was part of the higher social groups.

One day, during a sumptuous luncheon, he was asked the same question, which had been foretold by his guru. He had no qualms in saying to the exalted personages around him thus: My guru was a very great Brahmin!!

The moment he said it, he could feel the aura of supernatural attributes vanishing from him. He had lost his capabilities. His chanting was again mere words, with no encoded power in them. The curse of his guru!!!

This was the story. What was the intended moral in this story is not known. It is possibly on the theme of honesty, and shallow ego; or may be on gratitude and such other things.

Yet, many years later, when I remembered this story, I did find a strange resonance with another theme, of much wider implication, and unconnected to the original moral issues.

It is an issue which may not exist in England; yet, feudal language nations like India are cursed with this factor.

To elaborate on this theme, let me tell about the carpenters of this place. Traditionally they have been skilled in their vocation that came to them as family vocation connected to caste. There is immense woodwork in immense houses, temples, palaces that can give tribute to their refined skills. Even certain books on Vasthushastra (Art of architecture), may have connection to them and their intellect.

Yet, by caste they were low. When being low, they are enwrapped by lower level words. Then a very powerful aura perches on their words also. When they use lower level words to others, it has a very powerful crippling affect on the other person (especially if he or she is trying to display superior attributes), and this is very much perceived by the others in society. Yet, to their social superiors they are innately trained to be obsequious.

Now Brahmins were the superiors in traditional society. They remained as the repositories of ancient wisdom. Naturally, architecture, which in those days was very much dependant and connected to carpentry, was also knowledge and wisdom. So it is only natural to suppose that the Brahmins would send their children to the carpenters to imbibe the intricacies of that art, which was capable of building beautiful structures in wood.

Yet, they did not; they would not. No Brahmin in the right sense would do that. Naturally, there may be exceptions to prove the rule.

Why did the Brahmins not want their children to learn such a fine art? The reason may seem silly to the English mind.

The Brahmin children in bygone years were to be kept in the pedestal of the feudal language, by the lower castes. This in itself was to enwrap them with a very powerful social aura, which was to give them very commanding powers in the society at large. The very presence of a Brahmin child was a most auspicious thing in the right setting. It naturally had a very positive impact on mind and mood. The very looks of this child who never had to bear the taunts of the lower level words would be different from the others.

In feudal language, giving knowledge/information connects persons with a powerful guru-disciple link; the former asserting his rights and claims through the use of appropriate encasing words.

If this child were send to be under the lower level carpenter class, and made to accept them as sort of gurus and superiors, their lower level words of address and referring, would very easily erase the aforementioned aura. For, these lower level words used by social inferiors have a more powerful impact, which can override the power of the positive aura the child was bearing.

Now it so comes about that knowledge comes with an aura, in feudal languages. When one admits to a particular knowledge, immediately the society associates it with the quality of persons who are in possession of it. It so happens that people do not want to have knowledge that is associated with inferiors. Certain knowledge is superior, and certain are inferior.

I hope I have input some ideas on the story I gave above. The very moment he mentions his guru’s name, the other persons in the exalted society would perceive a scene of him being in servitude in language of a lower caste man. This scene would also enwrap this man as a most negative aura. His claim to social heights would be the claim of the despicable.

Now let me continue. When the British came to India, the reality was that most of them were not of comparable wisdom/knowledge/information to a learned Indian. For example, when one compares the amount of wisdom an erudite Brahmin of that times was in possession of, it may be easy to say that very few British men who came seeking adventure and fortune could measure up to them.

Yet, what was the problem?

The problem with Indian Scholars was that they were a burden on their society at large and very little of their information was of any use to most people. For, the moment one person is acknowledged as a learned man, he becomes the focus of ‘respect’. This respect is actually a burden on the others. Yet, since this respect is the motive force in social dealings and of law and order, it comes with warmth. People feel a glow to be near it.

Yet, for the learned man, his scholarship is something of a possession to be protected from others. He will not share it. Only a fool would do so. For, the moment it is given, the other man comes in possession of it. The potential difference that the difference in wisdom levels had created would be lowered; respect also comes down. It is inviting social suicide.

Knowledge, wisdom, learning, whatever way you name it, is held up by the possessors, and used as a sort of beating stick to discipline others, and not to enlighten them.

In modern days, it has come to pass that in many areas in India, the Brahmin child is made to sit with others in schools, and to bear the same level of language as of others. The teachers have become more brutish; most belong to the lower castes. The exquisite aura in looks and physique of the Brahmin child has vanished.

Naturally, in all public offices also, there is reservation to public appointment. Persons with few claims to quality adorn and desecrate these posts. The general public end up at the lower language levels of mean mental moods. It has despoiled the nation further.

Yet, during the English rule, the theme I mentioned above was fully getting erased from the nation. What was then being introduced was something entirely alien. Now the old evil mood is back with a diabolic vengeance.

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