The Four Learned Scholars

Swami Sivananda Saraswati

Once four learned scholars – an ayurvedic doctor, an astrologer, a musician and a logician – had to spend a day in a village. Each was a very great authority on his own subject, but empty of wisdom concerning life.

When it was time to eat, each went about collecting articles for the meal. The ayurvedic doctor went off to buy some vegetables, but his medical knowledge concerning their food value would not allow him to choose any. The potato was harmful as it would cause wind, the onion was too tamasic, and so all the other vegetables proved defective and unsuitable for eating.

The astrologer climbed a coconut tree to fetch a coconut. While he was climbing down, a donkey from a nearby house brayed, and the astrologer stopped halfway down the tree, deciding at once to work out the astrological consequences of this donkey’s braying!

The musician’s history was yet more ridiculous. He was watching the pot in which the rice was being cooked. The water was boiling, and soon a rhythmic sound emanated. The musician, true to his knowledge of music, at once began keeping time. But would the sound from the boiling pot conform to the known laws of music? Soon the musician was so angry that he broke the pot with the ladle, and the rice fell on the ground and was lost.

The logician was none the better. He was returning with a cup full of ghee when it struck his logic-solving mind to test and verify whether the cup supported the ghee or the ghee the cup. He at once turned the cup upside down, and the ghee fell on the ground and was soon lost. Grief-stricken, still the logician congratulated himself on his findings and walked back lost in thoughts of logic.

Be not merely learned, but become truly wise. More learning will not bestow on you an iota of real happiness. Book learning is lifeless knowledge. Wisdom is bliss.