Little Knowledge is Dangerous !

Dear Children! To learn any subject, we need to know the fundamentals of it. It is true for math or science or language or any other subject. However, merely learning fundamentals of a subject should not fill us with a conceit of earning! Even as empty vessels make the most noise, a man of little learning speaks more than what is needed. Due to his over-enthusiasm to prove his own knowledge, such a person sometimes ends-up speaking irrelevantly.

Here is a story of a person who makes himself a fool by applying his basic knowledge of Sanskrit to explain off the varied aspects of that language.

To gain proficiency in Sanskrit, our elders recommend us to learn amarako:sa, sabdas (nouns with their cases) and dha:tus (verb forms) etc. Sabda is a table which lists out the various cases of a nouns in singular, dual and plural numbers. Cases of nouns are called vibhakthis. Nominative case is ‘pratthama: vibhakthi’, the accusative case is ‘dviti:ya: vibhakthi’ and so on. Ra:ma sabda is the most fundamental sabda. Here is a story of a person who knew only

Littel knowledge is danger

Ra:ma sabda and professed himself to be a Sanskrit scholar and went to win the hand of a girl by showing off his knowledge!

In the city where our hero lived, there lived a Sanskrit scholar who had a daughter of marriageable age. She was well educated and desired to marry a well-educated person. She would ask the suitors questions pertaining to Sanskrit language and assess them! She wanted to marry a person who would answer her questions in a satisfactory manner. Our hero, confident in his Sanskrit learning of Ra:ma sabda approached the family and sought hand of the girl.

As was her practice, the girl said that she would pose three questions which he should answer. Though he knew only fundamentals of language, he assumed that he was an expert in the language. With such pride, he requested her to put the questions which he claimed would answer with ease.

As the first question, she asked “Which vibhakthi is vihasya?” Promptly the man replied, “Oh ! It is the shashtti vibhakthi—the sixth case–in singular form. It is similar to the word ‘ra:masya’ of ra:ma sabda.” Little did he know that vihasya is not a noun case at all! It is an ‘asama:paka kriya’- a verb !

As a second question, the girl asked: “Which vibhakthi is the word ‘viha:ya’?” Promptly came the answer: “It is chaturtthi vibhakthi- the fourth case. It is similar to ra:ma:ya of ra:ma sabda.” Again, this was wrong! ‘viha:ya is an indeclinable word without any case or gender. The girl realised that the ra:ma sabda was the beginning as well the end of his Sanskrit knowledge.

Though irritated at his irrelevant answers, she decided to put the third question also. “What is the case of the word ‘aham’?” Barely did she finish asking, came the response, “It is dvithi:ya: vibhakthi – the second case—like the word ra:mam in ra:ma sabda.” The word ‘aham’is a pronoun! The girl grasped the characteristic of the young man – an inordinate pride
in his little learning!

Plainly declining her marriage with our young hero, the girl said to her father:

yasya shashtti chathurtthi:sya:th vihasya cha viha:ya cha|
aham kattham dvithi:ya:sya:th dvithi:ya:sya: maham kattham ||

The meaning of the verse is – “How would I be wife (dvithi:ya) of a person who says that ‘aham’ is of dvithi:ya: vibhakthi ? A person who says that vihasya and viha:ya are shashtti and chaturtthi vibhakthi respectively?”

There are some lessons to be learnt from this story:

krushno: rakshathu no: jagathraya guruhu krushnam namasya:myaham
krushne:na:mara sathravo: vinihatha:ha krushna:ya thasmai namaha|

krushna:de:va samutthitham jagadidam,
kushnasya da:so:2smyaham

krushne: thishttathi visvame:thadakhilam, he: krushna rakshsva ma:m||

In the above verse, we have various vibhakthi of krushna sabda in singular form.

They are mentioned below along with an approximate English equivalent in the brackets.

Lesson 1:

Knowing fundamentals of a subject does not mean that we have mastered the subject. Pride should not seep into our heart just because knowledge has made its space in our brain. Such pride prevents us from learning. Most of the times it distances us from the company of learned ones too!

Lesson 2:

In our country, even in earlier days, girls were highly educated and could speak in the form of spontaneous verses. Observe the line ‘aham kattham dvithi:ya:sya:th dvithi:ya:sya: maham kattham’ of her verse ! Pun resounds in the entire line with the usage of the three words ‘aham’, ‘kattham’ and ‘dvithi:ya:’ !!

Lesson 3:

People would have special affection and respect for us only if we are well educated and well mannered. Education must make us realise how vast the ocean of knowledge is and how little we have gathered from it. Manners must make us humble and receptive so that we can educate ourselves more.

There is one more interesting verse which we must learn. We do not know if our ‘ra:ma-sabda’- scholar knows it or not but there is one more sabda of ‘krushna’ which is of same structure as ra:ma sabda. We have a lovely verse in mukundamala which adores Lord Krushna and at the same time depicts various vibhakthis of krushna-sabda.

Krushnha ( pratthama: vibhakthi)- (Krushna
krushnam (dvi:thi:ya: vibhakthi)- (in-front-of
krushne:na (thruthi:ya: vibhakthi)- ( Krushna
krushna:ya (chathurtthi: vibhakthi)- (to
krushna:th (panchami: vibhakthi)- (from
kushnasya (shashtti: vibhakthi)- (of Krushna)
krushne: (sapthami: vibhakthi)- (in Krushna),
he: krushna ( smabo:dhana pratthama:
vibhakthi)-( O! Krushna!!)

Is not this slo:ka a subtle combination of finest poetry and devotion!! Mukundamala is bestowed to us by none other than Kulase:khara a:lwar !

– By M. Krishnapriya, India, translated by Ramakrishna Tupurani