396 – Knowledge

National Integration Through Thirukkural And Sanskrit

Repeated Learning

This narrative is from the life of Shri Kannadasan,  regarded as one of the greatest writers in Tamil language.

Kannadasan in his younger years was attracted towards a movement which had Atheism as one of its core ideologies. Since he was endowed with extraordinary literary skills, he was assigned the responsibility of reading the scriptures, specifically, Ramayana and Mahabharata and identifying key teachings in them, which are against rational thinking, encourage discrimination between classes of people and promote blind superstitions. He was required  to draft speeches which ridicule those teachings. For months together, Kannadasan studied through those scriptures and identified many areas and drafted excellent notes which in turn were extensively quoted by the leaders. His interpretations drew huge applause from the masses.

After couple of months, he was confronted with questions, by the learned, about his understanding and interpretation of the scriptures. He wanted to give them a fitting reply. He again went through those scriptures and drafted his response. Somehow, he felt, his response was not convincing enough. To enable him to put up an impregnable defense, he sought  a break from the original assignment and  re-read the scriptures again. To obtain greater clarity, he kept asking questions and sought answers for them. As he read more and more of them, he could sense the shallowness of his initial understanding and hypothesis. He juxtaposed his own experiences with the teachings and understood the inner meanings of what has been said in them.  After months of reading, he finally ended up, becoming a staunch believer in God. He authored a book in Tamil “Meaningful Hindu Dharma”, explaining in simple terms, the teachings in Hindu Scriptures. This book, is still much sought for, even after 35 years of his death.

Moral of the  Story

Knowledge gets enhanced only out of repeated learning.  Keep asking questions again and again and search for answers to firm up your understanding. Illiterates are not those who cannot read or write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn. It is widely accepted  that the understanding of an exposition is the reward of consummate knowledge.

Thiruvalluvar in Couplet 396 reiterates that the extent of one’s knowledge depends on the depth of one’s learning. It is analogous to water springing out in proportion to the depth upto which the sand in a pond is dug out.

தொட்டஅனைத்து ஊறும் மணற்கேணி மாந்தர்க்குக்
கற்றஅனைத்து ஊறும் அறிவு

Thotta-anaithu oorum Manarkeni Maandhark-kuk
Katra-anaithu oorum Arivu

பரிமேலழகர் உரை:

மணற்கேணி தொட்ட அனைத்து ஊறும் – மணலின்கண் கேணி தோண்டிய அளவிற்றாக ஊறும், மாந்தற்கு அறிவு கற்றனைத்து ஊறும் – அதுபோல மக்கட்கு அறிவு கற்ற அளவிற்றாக ஊறும். (ஈண்டுக் ‘கேணி’ என்றது, அதற்கண் நீரை. ‘அளவிற்றாக’ என்றது, அதன் அளவும் செல்ல என்றவாறு. சிறிது கற்ற துணையான் அமையாது, மேன்மேல் கற்றல் வேண்டும் என்பதாம். இஃது ஊழ் மாறு கொள்ளாவழியாகலின், மேல் ‘உண்மை அறிவே மிகும்’ (குறள் .373) என்றதனோடு மலையாமை அறிக.).

Sanskrit Translation by Shri S.N. Srirama Desikan

வித்₃யா ப்₄யாஸானு ஸாரேண ந்ருணாம் ஜ்ஞானம் ப்ரவர்த₄தே |
க₂னனானு கு₃ணம் தோயம் வர்த₄தே ஸைகதே யதா₂ ||