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What relevance does wisdom literature have in an IIM student’s life? || IIM Ahmedabad (2020)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
3 min
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Questioner: What is the relevance of wisdom literature for an IIM student?

Acharya Prashant: You see, all the miscellaneous literature that we read is knowledge about stuff, knowledge about things that occur to us, stuff that we can hold, feel, name, process—objects. Those stuff units are duly called objects, which occur to us, who are the subjects.

So, there is knowledge that comes to you, and then there is the knowledge about the one to whom the knowledge comes. It is extremely important to know the one who is accumulating the knowledge. Why do we need knowledge at all? Who is the one who is gathering knowledge? Who is the one who is reading literature? To what end, for what purpose? If we do not ask this question, then our pursuits are quite mechanical. We do not know what we are doing things for.

In fact, what is quite possible is that you may have knowledge and that knowledge might be used by a center within you, by a part of yours which is not quite in congruence with your welfare. It is a simple question to ask: I am going to have knowledge—who is desirous of that knowledge? What am I going to use that knowledge for?

It is not a comfortable question to ask. It is a straightforward question, but not an easy one. You can immediately ask it, but it may disrupt your inner comfort, it may put you at unease. Therefore, we find it easier to just keep involving ourselves with stuff around ourselves, rather than ask, “What is my relationship with that stuff?” And when I am talking of stuff, that stuff includes all the literature that we read—books, journals, institutionalized knowledge, like the knowledge that we gather from this campus.

Wisdom literature, on the other hand, is knowledge about who you are. What is the center within that is desirous of knowledge? What is the center within that is doing this, doing that, trying for this, competing with that, accumulating this, dropping that? Who is doing all this? What does he or she hope to get from what he is doing? Are the hopes really materializing? And if not, then why keep investing in an entity that is perpetually failing to deliver?

That is why wisdom literature is as important as, rather far more important than all other stuff that we read. Translated into other words, self-knowledge, which is not something mystical, which is not something esoteric, which is something as simple as questioning your intentions. That self-knowledge, self-enquiry, is more important than having the know-how of the world’s systems, of technology, of politics, of society, of all the things that are available to us in the libraries.

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