What is true knowledge? Is it what we acquire when we study for examinations and then obtain degrees? We proudly display our degrees on our visiting cards. Do our degrees identify us? And if we show someone our degrees, is respect going to be forthcoming? If we have a Master's degree, people will still not compliment us, but will ask why we do not have a doctorate. And if we have gone through a doctoral programme, they will ask why we have not gone through post-doctoral research programmes. So when we talk of this kind of worldly knowledge, people are always bound to think we haven't done enough. And such degrees only lead to envy among others. But there is a knowledge of another kind that is worth acquiring, and which, if acquired, automatically earns us the respect of others, said Goda Venkateswara Sastrigal. And that is scriptural knowledge. It is not knowledge that is of the perishable world, but knowledge of the Supreme One.

Those who study the Vedas go through a rigorous training. There is no question of a Vedic scholar being insufficiently trained. Vedic scholars are moving libraries. And if they have to give discourses on philosophy, they must also be well-versed in worldly matters to be able to give examples to illustrate the points they make. So they also have worldly knowledge.

The study of the Vedas and an analysis of the meaning of the Vedas impart humility to a person. Gnanis also have patience in abundance. A person who has patience needs no other armour. We talk of the four ashramas: Brahmacharya, Grihastha, Vanaprastha and Sanyasa. When a person takes to sanyasa, he gives up the Vedas, discards his sacred thread and gives up the Gayatri mantra. What is the significance of this? The Gayatri mantra protects us. It throws a firewall of protection around the person who recites it. But a sanyasi has no need of protection, for he promises that he will not hurt anyone. He who does not hurt anyone will not have enemies.

A sanyasi not only does not hurt anyone but also does not bear hatred against anyone. By his qualities of humility, patience, forbearance and kindness, he affords protection to everyone. The very presence of such gnanis protects the world.

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