Around 3000 BC, Karna, a sutputra (son of a carriage rider) had to lie that he was from a royal family, to get education. He was given a curse when his background was revealed. The curse, that cost him his life, the price he paid for seeking knowledge.
About the same time, another promising young man Eklavya, who belonged to a tribal community, was denied education due to his background. Determined, he made a statue of the guru who refused him education, he skilled himself in archery by practicing it. He became so skillful, that it made even the most skilled archer jealous who was the student of the guru who denied Eklavya. Call it whatever you want, the same guru who denied him education and still recieved the respect of a teacher through his statue, asked Eklavya for his right thumb as gurudakshina (tuition fees), sadly Eklavya oblidged. Another tragedy, for the sweet reward of knowledge and skills.
In 11th century, Gyaneshwar and his siblings were denied a formal education due to their father’s past actions. They were outcasted by their villagers just because. Good for him that, it didn’t stop him to translate and write Gita in their local dilect.
In 18th century, AhilyaBai Holkar dreamt big, she saw a future where women gets education just like the men did. She did make it possible that I could write this, right now!
Mr and Mrs Karve established the first women university in India. How privileged I have been, to get my engineering degree from one of their institution, which was a women’s engineering college.
I am grateful for being alive right now, then any other time in human history. All doom and gloom aside, we do live in a world, where you can access infinite amount of knowledge about infinite amount of things and you won’t have to give your thumb.
What the real concern is, what George Orwell pointed in 1984 and more hauntingly what Aldous Huxley speculated in Brave new world.
“Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information.Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.” -Neil Postman
What would you give for knowledge?
What do you have to give for knowledge today?