There is a saying in Sanskrit:
“yuktiyuktam bacham grahayam baladapi shukadapi,
yuktihinam bacham tyajjyam balaldapi shukadapi”
It means – reasonable words or words of wisdom must be accepted even if those words come from a child or a parrot, Unreasonable talks or words devoid of wisdom must be shunned even if those words come from a child or a great sage like Shuka.
This is a great piece of wisdom. Usually we attach authenticity to authority. We take as gospel truth and accept the words spoken by an authority figure without any verification. An extreme example of this is what happened in the case of Hitler. During his time even the great intellectuals of Germany accepted his propaganda messages without verification and worked for him to further his evil designs.
On the other hand timely and helpful advice coming from a person without authority is ignored. This is quite common in organisational set ups. Sane and effective suggestions from junior employees are quite often sidelined. The seniors even go to the extent of deriding the hapless junior. They may say, “What are you in front of us? You are just a kid in the organsiation. Are you here to teach us who are like the headmaster of the school where you studied?”
Experience has its own advantages. But with experience comes the possibility of experience bias that clouds our ability to see things from a fresh and unbiased perspective.
I love to learn from young people. Children are quick learners and are not afraid to experiment. In understanding the working of a gazette or the latest technological upgrade, children can teach us better.
In certain areas they have distinct advantages. In matters of spoken English my children do correct me and I welcome that. My school and college teachers, though masters of written English, did not have exposure to proper spoken English.
Our history and mythology also have many instances of children coming to the rescue of adults. One such legend is associated with the construction of the sun temple at Konark.
Twelve years after the construction started, when the sun temple was nearing completion, the architects were faced with a crisis. They were not able to figure out how to fix the kalasha at the top and mark the completion of the temple. The king became impatient with the inordinate delay at the final stage and gave an ultimatum to the architects that if they did not fix it before the next sunrise all their heads would be cut off.
Coincidentally, Dharamapada the twelve year old son of the Chief Architect Bishnu Maharana had come to meet his father. He came to know of the problem and went to examine it. He detected detect a minor fault in the construction. He corrected it and fixed the kalasha.
The legends goes on to state that subsequently he jumped to the sea to his death so as to remain anonymous in order to save the architects from beign disgraced for not being able to fix the problem themselves.
The acts of Abhimanyu of Mahabharat are also humbling. There is no way to underestimate the power of innocence.
(In response to Indispire #223)
(‘teach me to dream’ – my anthology of poems – will be available for free download from 01.06.2018 to 03.06.2018.)