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Sunday, December 28, 2014

"Where did you learn?"

A good message for the young and the old alike 
An article written by Dr. C.R. Swaminathan, former Deputy Educational advisor to Govt. of India given to a souvenir. Here is a gist of the article.

This happened in the year 1956-57, when H.H. Sri Kanchi MahaswamigaL was camping at the Madras Sanskrit College, Mylapore, Madras.

One evening, MahaswamigaL was about to address a huge gathering in which great personalities like Rajaji were present. He was contemplating about the topic he should speak on.

Suddenly, he called late Prof. Sankaranarayana Iyer, who was standing by the side of the dais and recited two lines of a Sanskrit verse. He asked the Professor if he remembered the remaining two lines of that verse. The Professor pleaded  ignorance and got down from the dais.

This conversation took place before the mike, so audience gathered could easily hear its details. Dr. C. R. Swaminathan, the author of the article on Mahaperiyava,
heard the beginning of the Sanskrit verse that Periyavaa recited. Since he happened to know the other two lines of the verse, he went to Prof. Sankaranarayana Iyer and
told him those two lines.

The Professor went up the dais again and recited the lines before MahaswamigaL..

Mahaperiyava asked him, "You said you did not know the lines. How come you know them now?"

The professor replied "Someone in the audience remembered it and told me."

Mahaperiyavaa inquired who was the person and told the Profession to call Dr. Swaminathan to the dais. When he came, Paramacharya inquired about his name and occupation. Then the sage asked, "Where did you study?" Thinking that the question was about his academic education, Dr. Swaminathan replied that he studied in the Presidency College, Madras.

"Not that. Where did you learn this verse?"

Dr. C.R. said that his grandfather taught him the verse when he was a child.. Paramacharya inquired about his native place, his grandfather's name and his family details. The entire conversation was held before the mike, so the audience heard every bit of it.

The verse in question was the following:

arthaaturaanam na gurur na bandhu,
kshudhaathuranam na ruciki na pakvam,
vidyaturaanaam, na sukham, na nidra,
kaamaaturanam na bhayam na lajja.

One who pursues wealth knows no guru or relations.
One who is hungry knows not taste or if the food was cooked well.
One who pursues knowledge knows neither comfort nor sleep.
One who has desires knows no fear or shame.

Later in the discourse, Paramacharya dealt with the Kenopanishad and explained  how Goddess Parvati came as a teacher to enlighten the celestials about the supreme Brahmin.

When concluding the discourse, he referred to the earlier incident and said:

"Before I started delivering my discourse, I called a young man to the stage to know where from he learnt the subhashita verse, of which I recited the first half. I knew who he was. What I wanted him to tell you about his reciting the other two lines this moral verse was that he had learnt it, not from his school or college, but from his grand-father, and that too during his childhood days. 
It was to impress upon you all that children should get moral education at home from elders because they cannot get it from the modern schools and colleges".

Dr. Swaminathan concluded his article with these words:

"I am recalling this incident to show that an insignificant person like myself, extremely nervous, while standing before H.H. on the dais, noticed by about thousands of people forming the audience, could be utilized by the Acharya to drive home to the audience that (a) a joint family system with elderly parents and grandparents can serve as a valuable supplement to the school education of young children

(b) the elders can usefully spend their time by narrating such stories and morals to the children and (c) such teaching can be retained in one's memory only if imparted at the formative age."

The above incident happened 50 years before, but the message holds good even today and will stand
for years to come. 

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