Concepts of Knowledge - Bhartruhari's statements
1. Let me quote a Sanskrit Sloka on the subject for you to enjoy.
Knowledge is a wealth that :
The thief cannot steal;
Income-tax department (King) cannot acquire;
Brother cannot demand a share;
Does not weigh on you;
It grows forever as you share;
Truly, knowledge is the greatest wealth.
2. Let us try to understand the concept of knowledge by comparing and contrasting.
Knowledge is an intangible power. It is not tangible like say, a pen, pencil, gold, earth, etc. A tangible material can be touched, smelt or otherwise experienced by any one or more of the five sense organs. (Five indriyas.) Knowledge, like love cannot be felt or experienced by the organs of senses. It can be experienced only by the mind or the heart.
Since knowledge and love are not tangible, they increase when you give. If you sincerely believe in religion, you will never place any restrictions in giving knowledge and love. Give them freely, give them widely. The concept of royalty for technical knowledge was a foreign subject in India. We never thought of monopolising knowledge and we never thought of charging a price for the knowledge.
It is also my experience that by giving knowledge, it increases. It cannot be proved. It has to be experienced. And the paradoxical truth of the Indian philosophy is that you do not give knowledge with a purpose to increasing your knowledge. You give knowledge because you want to give. Your knowledge increases as a result of your action of selfless giving. The moment you do something with an expectation of a reward, you may get the reward. The reward may be directly proportionate to your act of giving. When you give something without the expectation of a reward, the rewards that you get will be many faceted, many times more.
The beauty of this process is such that you do not know when and how you will get the rewards. You do not even need faith in the concept that you will get rewards. Because you are not expecting rewards. Let them come as and when they come. If they don’t come, you are not concerned.
Since knowledge is not tangible, a very important characteristic of knowledge has to be understood. The “quantum” of knowledge that the giver gives and the receiver receives may be different.
Compare. If a shopkeeper gives the customer one Kilogramme (kg.) of rice, the customer receives one kg. of rice. There will be no difference between the quantity that is given and the quantity that is received.
However, in case of knowledge, a teacher may give knowledge to fifty students at a time. Some students may receive all the knowledge communicated by the teacher. Some may get less. Some may get nil. There may be one or two students with brilliant imagination who will understand more than the teacher has explained.
The grasping power of every recipient is different. It depends upon the intelligence, the willingness and the attention of the receiver.
Similarly the explanation power of the teacher also varies. It depends upon the intelligence, the love for giving, the love for the students and even the character of the teacher. If Gandhiji told about virtues of truth, crores of people in India were prepared to give their lives on Gandhiji’s words. A chartered accountant dealing in black money may do his best, but will never be able to convince his son about the virtues of truth.
4. The flow of knowledge should be EASY.
“Easy” as contrasted to “Forced.”
No one may force knowledge upon anyone else. Nor upon oneself.
The seeker will have to work for acquiring the knowledge. He may have to put in a lot of work. But all that work would be voluntary work – as against someone else forcing it.
When the desire to seek knowledge makes one do anything, everything is unforced or easy.
5. Knowledge – A Process
One may try to gain knowledge in any manner.
Reading, discussing, debating etc. etc.
Do not try to get the final answer all at once.
Do not seek for instantaneous conclusions.
Knowledge does not come in at one go. It comes in a flow. Sometimes a trickle, sometimes a rapid flow. But always a flow.
It is not like money or any other physical product. You may receive Rs. 100/- or Rs. 1,00,000/- all at one go. One single cheque and the matter is over.
Not so with knowledge.
Acquiring knowledge is a process, not a transaction.
6. Professional Meetings.
We do not come here to make money. We do not expect to get answers to our queries – that we can go back to the office – give to our clients and charge fees.
That is not the purpose of study circles or conferences.
We come here to acquire knowledge.
In fact, we come here to know how to acquire knowledge.
Then we go back.
Use the techniques / methods and acquire more knowledge.
This knowledge is then applied to client’s facts and we earn our fees.