I had intended to write a very short post in the Subhaashit section of this blog, but it kept getting longer, like Hanuman’s tail. So I am posting it here. I’m afraid it has turned into a rambling piece of writing.

……………………………………………………………………………………………….

Imagine a world where each and every person has good food to eat every day, clothes made from the richest fabric to wear, fine jewellery-very expensive, and a nice house with the most modern amenities- to live in.  Everyone would work for five days in a week and rest for two. If anyone fell ill, they would get free medical attention. Sounds like Utopia, doesn’t it?

But there’s a catch– there would be no music in this perfect world to move you, no art to make you wonder. No poetry to transport you to the heights of joy or to bring a tear to your eye. No literature to make you ponder and introspect.

Such a world would not be so perfect, would it?

………………………………………………………………………………………………

Our thinkers of earlier times had the right idea when they wrote-

पृथिव्यां त्रीणि रत्नानि जलमन्नं सुभाषितम् l
मूढैः पाषाणखण्डेषु रत्नसंज्ञा विधीयते ll

There are three (त्रीणि) jewels (रत्नानि) on this earth (पृथिव्यां)- water (जलं ), food (अन्नं ), and Subhaashits (wise sayings in verse form).
It is (only) the ignorant (मूढैः) who designate as jewels (रत्नसंज्ञा विधीयते) (mere) pieces of rock(पाषाणखण्डेषु).

What the Subhaashit-kars meant is, that once the basic needs of a person like water, food and shelter are satisfied, after that, the things that nourish his mind are more important than other physical luxuries.

What is a diamond after all? Merely a lump of coal! Ignorant are they who covet diamonds and other similar luxuries which have no real value. Intelligent persons know that literature such as Subhaashits (wise sayings in Sanskrit) are far more valuable.

Expanding the well-known Biblical saying, Dr B. R. Ambedkar said- “Man Cannot live by bread alone, He has a mind which needs food for thought.”

And perhaps that is the difference between humans and animals? A human being needs intellectual/ emotional nourishment as well as physical. And if wholesome nourishment is not received, then a person will accept whatever he can get.

……………………………………………………………………………………………….

A person’s mind cannot remain a vacuum. If he does not have something positive to occupy his mind, he will find something else, however negative it may be.

काव्यशास्त्रविनोदेन कालो गच्छति धीमताम् l
व्यसनेन च मूर्खाणां निद्रया कलहेन वा ll

Wise persons spend their time in literary discussions, but ignorant people waste their time in cultivating bad habits, in sleep or in unnecessary arguments.

This is something that we would do well to remember. And try to ensure that some positive intellectual nourishment is always readily available!

……………………………………………………………………………………………….

 As children we dream of becoming famous musicians, accomplished actors or talented singers. We aspire to climb Everest, sail around the world, or find that elusive remedy for a hitherto incurable disease.

 As we grow up we become more practical. And that is necessary, too, no doubt. 

 But we should not forget that we are humans, after all. And our human-ness manifests itself in a myriad different ways. In a person’s ability to dream. In someone’s love of literature, or the arts.In a musician’s readiness to spend hours practicing the violin. In a thinker’s pondering of philosophical questions. In the capacity to question, to debate and to convince.

And that is why we consider- or should consider- literature, arts and science to be valuable- more valuable than all the diamonds in the world.

What do you think?