Human beings are among the most prominent creatures in the universe, granting them a unique standing in the grand scheme of the divine order. There are two reasons for the superiority and special status of a human being in the Jagata (or Jagat –universe in macro perspective). Firstly, it is the presence of intellect –Buddhi, as termed in the Indian philosophy. Here it is crucial to differentiate between intellect –Buddhi and wisdom –Buddhimatta (‘बुद्धिमता’ –The Shrimadbhagavadgita, 7: 10). Although they have the same etymology or origin, appearing quite similar, yet they are two distinct concepts. Secondly, there is the human inclination towards creativity. Here, by creativity, I mean an urge to initiate or to innovate. Productivity is also closely aligned with this. Both of these, intellect and creativity, are inherent in every human being, albeit varying in degrees from individual-to-individual.
Intellect and creativity are, in fact, the two unparalleled virtues bestowed upon man, which, as has been said already, determine his superior and most special status in the world –Jagata. While they reveal the purpose of human life and pave the way to achieve the goal of life, yet the achievement of the goal of life eventually relies on wisdom, termed as Viveka in Indian term. Wisdom represents the evolved state of intellect. It is a matter of gradual growth and development in the experiences of life –constantly changing circumstances. Intellect, coupled with wisdom, is a divine attribute. It is welfaristic in all manners paving the way to one’s salvation.
Along with sanity, foresight, discretion, and prudence, many other aspects are also used as synonymous with wisdom. Wisdom serves as the basis of the genuine knowledge –Jnana; without wisdom, intellect is incomplete, and knowledge is not deep, real and authentic.
Wisdom strengthens the human mind, which also includes rationality and mental health. Conscious state is developed in man only through wisdom. It is on the basis of this that man builds his character, becomes insightful, and creates a favourable environment to navigate any kind of challenging life situations successfully.
Wisdom wards off blind imitation and empowering one to realize the truth through his conceptual abilities. Recognizing the all-time importance of wisdom in human life, it has been said:
“हितमत्वाज्ञान केन्द्र स्वातंत्र्येत विचारयेत्/
नान्धानुसरणं कुर्यात कदाचित् कोऽपिकस्याचित//”
“Hitamatvaajnaana Kendra Swaatantryeta Vichaarayet/
Naandhaanusaranam Kuryaata Kadaachit Koapi Kasyaachita//”
That is, “Taking wisdom as the basic factor of the welfare, every subject should be considered in an independent state. There should be no blind following in any situation.”
Wisdom plays the vital role in making man aware about real and unreal. Through the logical and analytical process of thinking, this, as said already, leads one out of confusion and provides him with the ability to discern truth from falsehood. It ensures the strength of determination to embrace the reality by bringing man to a situation free from ‘नोद्विजेत् –Nodvijet’ (The Shrimadbhagavadgita, 5: 20) –an unperturbed state of mind. It is only in the calm and stable mind, that clarity appears.
Wisdom is the means of all-round development of human life. Without this, human life lacks its purpose and fails to achieve its real goal.
Education –Shiksha, which is a life-long process and in its true sense it brings out whatever already exists within, i.e., the virtues present within and through their continuous development leads one to self-reliance and liberation, “सा विद्या या विमुक्तये –Sa Vidya Ya Vimuktaye”, is also not fruitful without wisdom.
The basic ancient education system of India, which has its roots in the ancient Gurukulas, the Acharyas of which were philosopher-like sages and supreme scholars like Valmiki, Vamadeva, Vishvamitra, Kapila, Kanva, Dhaumya, Chyavana, Shankaracharya, Ramanujacharya, Madhvacharya etc, was continuously dedicated to the development of wisdom in man. With this method, thinking, reasoning, analysis, dialogue etc. were essentially associated with study in all subjects. In ancient institutions like Nalanda, Takshashila, Vallabhi, Vikramashila and many other centres of education and research, the knowledge of grammar, astronomy etc. was imparted. Exploration along with research work in various subjects, while emphasizing values, morality and ethics, was a part of education –study and research for developing wisdom in a learner. Undoubtedly, this was to bring the wisdom of the learner to an appropriate and expected level; the relevance of which remains intact even today.
It is the wisdom of man, which accords him the knowledge of the reality of the purpose and goal of his life by getting him realized the way of a continuously flowing river, and accordingly guides him also to step forward on the path of life. Wisdom calls upon man to live life like a river. The river never goes back. Therefore, forgetting the past, focusing on the present, and eventually building the path of salvation on the basis of righteous acts. Karmas are inevitable in life (“न हिकश्चित्क्षणमपिजातु तिष्ठत्यकर्मकृत् –Na Hi Kashchitkshanamapi Jaatu Tishthatyakarmakrit –One cannot remain without Karmas –deeds, even for a moment.” The Shrimadbhagavadgita, 3: 5). Therefore, transformation of Karmas into righteous acts and practices in world accordingly is the basic Mantra of making human-life meaningful. Righteous acts are deeds done for the greater welfare of one and all while keeping the eternal truth of Indivisible Totality at the centre. In this context, the role of wisdom in human-life is not only the most important, but also decisive. Vivekananda Subharati University, Meerut (India).
— A Padma Shri and Sardar Patel National Awardee Indologist Dr. Ravindra Kumar is a Former Vice Chancellor of CCS University, Meerut; he is, currently the Ombudsman of Swami Vivekananda Subharati University, Meerut (India).