Once, three highly educated scholars – a mathematician, an astronomer, and a theologian - had to cross a wide river to attend an important seminar. They all boarded a boat from the bank of the river. The wind and water currents were flowing in the opposite direction; so, time was dragging very slowly that day. Just to while away the time, the scholars started a conversation with the boatman. Amidst general talks, the mathematician asked the boatman, “Do you know how to read and write?” The boatman answered, “No Sir, I am an illiterate fellow.” The mathematician's eyes bulged out in amazement. In a surprising tone, he remarked, “What! In such modern times, you are living without education. You mean to say that you are unaware of addition, multiplication, axioms, theorems, and formulae of mathematics? Really, you have dumped a quarter of your life in water.” Now, it was the turn of the astronomer. He also enquired haughtily, “Do you know anything about stars, planets, and galaxies?” The poor boatman said, “No Sir! Not as such. But when I look up, I admire the twinkling stars dotted in the sky.” “O man! It seems to me at least half of your life has been dumped into water”, the astronomer remarked. Now, the theologian also could not hold himself any longer. He said, “Anyway, forget this modern knowledge. Being a God-fearing man, I believe you must have heard commentaries on Shrutis, Puranas, and other scriptures.” “Swami, the truth is I never had time for even this. Day and night, I toil hard to earn meals for myself and my family,” the boatman answered. “Don't tell me this! You have neither modern knowledge nor scriptural one. In which world do you live? I would say three-fourth of your life has been dumped into water.”
Meanwhile, turbulent currents of wind came up and they quickly turned into a powerful gale. The boat started swaying forcefully and the river was soon in full fury. The boatman tried hard to steer the boat but could not maintain the control for long. Ultimately, he gave up. As he was about to go overboard, the boatman asked the scholars if they knew how to swim. The scholars replied in chorus, “No! We never learned how to swim.” Now the ball was in the boatman's court. “O Sires, what a pity! What a waste! You don't know how to swim! Now your whole life will be dumped into water!” Saying thus, he jumped into the river.
Likewise, we are also sailing on the river of life. All the knowledge of the empirical world (aparavidya) can keep us afloat only for a time being. To sail across this turbulent river of life and reach the immortal bank, only paravidya (Knowledge of God - BrahmGyan) is the medium. So, march ahead and save yourself from being drowned!!!
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