Theory and practice

These days the system helps people to quantify their learning, achievements or experience through certificates, trophies and medals. Individuals pursue their dreams and goals on the strength of these documents. The unpredictable journey of life often throws some unprecedented challenges in the way of people. 

The equation of the testimonials with that of the person’s genuine caliber can be calibrated only during times of crisis. A story from our hoary past puts across this perception ever so well. There once lived a Rishi in a hermitage amidst a thick forest. A lot of parrots inhabited the place. 

The Rishi developed a fondness for the feathered creatures. Once he saw a hunter in the forest. He was concerned about their security. 

Therefore, he taught them a song, which said, “The hunter will come, he will strew grains, he will spread a net but we shall not be tempted.” The parrots learned the words in tune and sang the verse incessantly. 

The Rishi was pleased and relieved. As expected, the hunter came along. The birds sang their lines as usual. The hunter was stunned by their wisdom. 

His heart sank as he realised that he could not trap the intelligent and wary avians. Yet he did not want to go away empty-handed. He decided to give it a shot. He scattered some food grains on the earth and spread a net over them. 

Then he rested under a nearby tree, hoping for the best. After a while, the familiar song woke him from his reverie. 

He found the parrots singing and pecking away at the grains oblivious to the fact that they had been ensnared. The hunter thanked his penchant for his never-say-die attitude, even as he bundled the birds away.

Quite like the birds, most of us have a theoretical knowledge of life skills and many subjects. 

We pass on our awareness to those who seek them and to those we care for. However, this process alone does not make anyone intelligent or wise. 

It is only during testing times one can see whether people have understood what they know. It is only their faith in their learning which can give them the necessary impetus to translate their comprehension into action. 

When the essence of our learning fails to percolate into our actions, we can safely consider that we have not learned much. 

The fact that we have internalised our learning and stored it as knowledge to salvage us from the sticky wickets of life can be proved only at such times.

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