Sunday 22 March 2015

The Power of Why

This is a story from nowhere.

Once upon a time there was a wise man, Shashwaka, of a certain religion, who found that according to the scripts of his religion the best of the best gift that earns the highest merit is the gift of knowledge.  Let me call his religion Xst. Being a devoted Xstist, Shashwaka decided to give away the knowledge he possessed whenever he gets a chance.

Once, on his way to a distant city across the thick forest, Shashwaka met a young traveler, Vihaka, who became very friendly with him. Understanding that Shashwaka is a very wise person, Vihaka asked Shashwaka to give him the knowledge. Being a Xstist himself, Vihaka started treating Shashwaka as his guru and absorbed everything that Shashwaka taught him without any question or argument.

As they came to a very turbulent river without a bridge, Shashwaka asked Vihaka to gather few medium sized logs from the forest and also to cut long strips of bark from Asanawa trees. While tying the logs with Asanawa bark strips, Shashwaka told Vihaka that he should always use strips of Asanawa bark for making a raft that has to be used in fast moving turbulent water. Vihaka absorbed this knowledge up to the word.

After crossing the river with the aid of the hastily made raft, Vihaka said that as he now possesses a good knowledge of making a raft he can start a transport service to people who cross the river a few miles downstream, where there were few villages. Shashwaka was very happy that the knowledge he gifted to this young man is going to be a fruitful venture that will help many people.  

Vihaka went downstream parallel to the river and Shashwaka went away from it. As Shashwaka was less than one mile away from the river, he met another young man, Derudan. After having a chat for a while Shashwaka asked Derudan about his way of living.

“I provide a rafting service to the villagers downstream, but most often my raft is out of order so that sometimes for days the service is interrupted” said Derudan.

“What do you use to tie the logs of your raft?” Shashwaka asked.

“Ropes made of Jute”

“That’s where your problem lies. Use the strips made of Asanawa bark. That will solve your problem”

Derudan didn’t accept Shashwaka’s words as it is. After several questions and clarifications Derudan thanked Shashwaka and went on his way.


After a few years, Shashwaka came back on the same way and reached the river. Instead of making a raft himself, Shashwaka thought why shouldn't he walk few miles downstream and get the service of one of the young men to whom he gifted knowledge.

As he came to the village he found that there are about 5 rafts in a small pier. None of the drivers of the rafts were either Vihaka or Derudan. He approached one of the rafts and asked the driver whether he knows either of the two. The driver said that Derudan is their boss whom can be met inside a small shed nearby, but Vihaka was killed together with five villagers as their raft got disintegrated in the midstream on a stormy day, several months ago.

Shocked by hearing this tragedy, Shashwaka went straight to the hut where Derudan is having his office. After the formal greetings Shashwaka asked Derudan about the incident.

In a calm voice, Derudan explained what happened.

“After I met you, I re-made my raft with Asanawa barks as you instructed me. Then I found that another person, Vihaka, was also making a raft in the same manner. Later I found that he has also got the guidance from you. We both had very good income and the villagers were very happy for the continuous service”

“Then what went wrong?”

“During the last summer, we found that Asanawa trees in the whole forest have been infected with a certain disease so that its bark became unsuitable for tying the raft as the strips became weak and could not survive much longer in water”

“Ok then what you did”

“I was looking for a similar or better alternate and found that strips of raw bamboo strips, do the job even better than Asanawa barks”

“What about Vihaka?”

“Although I kept on telling him this solution, he said that according to you, he should always use Asanawa bark strips for tying the logs”

..........Shshwaka started recalling his dialogue with Derudan few years ago during their brief meeting.

“Why do you say that I should always use Asanawa barks to tie the logs?” Derudan questioned politely.

“Because, Asanawa bark is the only material in this region, up to my knowledge, which is able to keep the logs tied for a long period in water”

“What makes it keep the logs tied tightly for long time in water?”

“Look at the Asanawa barks, they have long fibers which are very strong and also water resistant”

“So finally what I need is not Asanawa bark but something having strong fibers and water resistance”

“Yes, but in this area, only Asanawa bark has those qualities”

“That’s what you think, but there may be some other materials as well”

“Yes, but Asanawa barks are everywhere in this forest. So you don’t have to worry about other materials”

“Yes, but one day we may need. Thanks for the valuable knowledge you gave me”


Shashwaka was painfully shaken by the tragedy of Vihaka and started wondering whether there is something wrong with the Scripts of Xsitism

Many centuries after, I also find the same situation in my teaching career in science. Almost all my students are looking for knowledge transfer from me. Most often the transferred knowledge is accepted unchallenged....................... and I know that I have been generating hundreds of Vihakas for all these years. 

Recently, I found a lead to the solution of this issue. There was nothing wrong with the Scripts of Xstism. The issue is in the nature. You can gift the knowledge to others, but not the intelligence. This is a universal truth. No one can transfer the intelligence to others. Gifting the knowledge may most often be beneficial to the human kind, however, there is a chance that the knowledge transfer may also be ending up in total disaster. 

Although the intelligence cannot be gifted, there is a way of stimulating it. That is to train the human beings from the right beginning to question "WHY" before they accept the knowledge. 

Train your child, train your student, train everyone to ask "why?". That will make the human mind filtering off good knowledge from bad knowledge and right knowledge from wrong knowledge. This analytic skill itself is a part of intelligence.

The present day human calamities show that how dangerous the transfer of knowledge is, when the receiver has no intelligence to ask "why?". 

The "intelligence" can never be developed within a human mind, even if you pour the person with sea of knowledge, unless you make the person aware of the power of "WHY" .......... !!!!!!!


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