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831. The Wisdom of the World

It used to be said that there are a hundred books on reading which one can have the essential wisdom of the world. Men known for their wisdom and wide knowledge used to be known as ‘walking Encyclopedias'. Around them an intellectual circle gathers. Genius is the vertically rising summit. Wisdom has the horizontal spread flung far and wide. What we call general knowledge is a large body of information. It is the power of memory that gains a distinction there. Wisdom is the capacity of the entire Mind, not the isolated memory alone.  Modern knowledge is extensive; earlier education offered an intensive power to Mind. The distinction is somewhat like the difference between a specialist who can handle work only in his field and the generalist who can apply his Mind to any work as he is endowed with the basic ability.

Such a wisdom is acquired by reading history and biographies, says Sri Aurobindo. They give us life knowledge, a knowledge to tackle issues of life. It can be said in other words. One gives skill, the other offers capacity. It is the school that gives the skills. The family offers the basic capacities to the child which he later fortifies by his dealing with the society when he leaves school. Man needs both, though wisdom determines the outside limits of accomplishment. Information fosters General Knowledge; values cultivate the substance of wisdom. Wisdom offers leadership while skill allows one to rise in administration to great heights. Manners are a social skill which enables one to move successfully with all types of people. Behaviour organises manners. Character enshrines capacity to accomplish and allows one to rise to leadership in many areas that are locally significant. It is personality that is fostered on values and wisdom that permits one to climb the last rungs of the ladder, to national leadership.

Scholars, experts, researchers, authorities in various subjects, masters of ceremonies are those endowed with the extraordinary skill that makes them well known in a field. V.K. Krishna Menon spoke in the UN for eleven hours setting up a record, and was the editor of Penguin Publications. He was a great expert in many things. He once said, "After Nehru, we look up to Kamaraj for leadership." Menon could rise in eminence but national leadership is for a cut of personality far different from his. It is true that these traits are inborn. It is also true that in many people there are sparks which the parents or family can foster into wise leadership. Should one be in touch with his inner being, then even the spark that is not there can be born.  When something is there, it can be fashioned into an endowment. With the passing years, greater opportunities are emerging.

story | by Dr. Radut