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Dr. Jernail S. Anand


People often say there is a limit to human wisdom, but there is no limit to human folly.  Some questions need to be addressed in this regard. Does wisdom work in all situations wherever it is needed? Why in human blood, the element of wisdom is so limited, while it is folly that holds the court? Human society finds a fine counterbalancing of the two forces: wisdom and folly but, obviously, it has a preference for the foolish. Wisdom, with its grey hair, hardly leaves the ground for any fresh innovations. Saintliness, godliness, goodness, wisdom, truth – are issues which top the divine charts. Human society values these values, but only in its thoughts, in its books, and in its academic pursuits. In our workaday life, we repose complete faith in folly. We  live by our stupidities,  while wisdom stands apart, and looks at men, one after the other, going Lear’s way.  


While talking of its limitations, I feel like ascribing wisdom to grey hair. Among younger people, the presence of wisdom is acknowledged as maturity.  A small child who thinks in a mature way is never called wise, for this word is earmarked for aged people. Yes, folly has no pranks. It can be used indiscriminately for men [or women] of any age.

It struck Lear when he had grown old. In fact, it was in his extreme wisdom that he had decided to divide his property among his three daughters. Wisdom and folly, lap and overlap in his case so closely that finally he says:


“beat at this gate

that let thy folly in,

And thy dear judgement out”


Can age, and seniority guarantee wisdom? And if someone applies his experience and thinks that he is taking a wise decision, where is the guarantee it will not go berserk?


I am intrigued at our penchant to invite senior persons to address our functions. They too start rubbing the salt of wisdom upon the gaping wounds of the young listeners who are least interested in the past they are trying to erect. All those who have grown older, have not dried their hair in the sun. They may be having their share of bitter memories of their past. But no one likes borrowed wisdom. People like to hazard into experience, and learn the hard way. What is experience if not a record of one’s failures?


The wisdom of yore is lying trapped in scriptures, or holy books and is manifest in the lives of the ‘godmen’ far more than ordinary men. Wisdom is preached to the laity, and it is meant for them only.  Not for the ‘great’ men themselves who think they have acquired a license to play hide and seek with it and while trying to imitate gods, most of them [the godmen] find themselves behind the bars.


The men of wisdom often torture google and bring up quotes from the immortals, trying to impress their message on unwilling minds. Can a man of 80 years  throw light on issues which did not exist in his times? Can his advice be relevant to the age which has not yet arrived? How can old wisdom be commensurate with the needs of our times today? If a person starts telling us the benefits of the family, he may be right in his own way, but can it ring a bell with young professionals who are nurtured on the idea of nonstop work? A home must have the man back by 5 pm. Who is back by 5 pm? And is there any one waiting for the man to come? All these models have nearly disappeared, leaving a vacuum behind. How relevant is this rant for the past glory?  I wish to understand, particularly, when any U-turn is out of question.


The modern youth needs counselling and guidance, not from scholars who were once very successful administrators. Their times are gone. We need scholars who can look forward and visualise a future which responds to the emerging needs of the younger generation. We want people who can break out of the boundaries of settled wisdom that our previous times saw. Our time, our age, this moment has a different constitution. No formulas which worked fifty years back, can be applied now. We have to be very selective about the wisdom whose source is in the past that does not exist today.  


Moreover, whether we wish it or not, we are being pushed forward, while old wisdom can push us back in time.   Past is a book which has been written and closed.  Now, opening that book and reading it occasionally is good. But keeping it opened, and reading it all the time is revolting.  


There is no wisdom if, instead of writing the book of today, and the book of tomorrow, we are revelling in the book of yesterday. Without realising that the wisdom related in those books had its validity once. It was  a limited wisdom, which may be relevant to us only in parts. I have no intention to disown our past. Only we must not let it cling to us, and render us resistant to change.


The major issue with the present generation is: we don’t know how much that is past is relevant to our future. Distance lends charm to objects. The past too sometimes looks tempting. But, most of the times, this glitter is illusory.  If the past were relevant even today, it would not pass into history. Every moment introduces us into the future, and we let it slip into the past.  If you can manage and negotiate change, it will be a transformation into a new image, keeping every construct, which is relevant, intact. The moment that we are holding now, if we want it to be meaningfully spent, it has to have the wisdom of the past, tempered with the power and push to embrace an uncertain future. But if we keep revelling in the past, and forget that wisdom has its limitations, time will be forced to break the old bridges, and it will be our loss.



Dr Jernail Singh Anand, President of the International Academy of Ethics, is author of 161 books in English poetry, fiction, non-fiction, philosophy and spirituality. He was awarded Charter of Morava, the great Award by Serbian Writers Association, Belgrade and his name was engraved on the Poets’ Rock in Serbia. The Academy of Arts and philosophical Sciences of Bari  [Italy] honoured him with the award of an Honourable Academic. Recently, he was awarded Doctor of Philosophy [Honoris Causa] by the University of Engg and Management, Jaipur. Recently, he organized an International Conference on Contemporary Ethics at Chandigarh. His most phenomenal book is Lustus:The Prince of Darkness [first epic of the Mahkaal Trilogy].

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