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Scholarship Sometimes Misses Out On Simple Solutions

Scholarship sometimes obscures our understanding rather than clarifying it. Scholarship also misses out on simple solutions. One cannot see the forest for the trees, as it were. The obvious is missed. With the light of wisdom, true scholars are able to cut through the accretions deposited by intellectual arrogance. The Buddha was also able to resolve scholarly disputes with his simple solutions.

The following incident from Sri Ramakrishna’s life illustrates how great teachers use this light of wisdom. Once, the priest of the Radhakanta temple at Dakshineswar fell while carrying the image of Krishna, and one of the legs of the image broke.

Temple rituals are governed by many rules and regulations, and normally one consults certain shastras for these rules. But in unusual cases, when the written accounts do not offer any advice, scholars are consulted. Thus, a meeting of scholars was convened to determine what should be done. The scholars all agreed that the image should be discarded and a new one made.

But being attached to the image, Mathur Babu and Rani Rasmani did not immediately act on this advice; they asked Sri Ramakrishna for his opinion as well; not because he was a scholar, but because they felt he had spiritual insight.

Sri Ramakrishna’s answer surprised everyone with its non-traditional but utterly reasonable approach. He asked, ‘If any one of the Rani’s sons-in-law were to break a leg, would she forsake him and put someone else in his place? Wouldn’t she rather have him treated by a doctor? Let it be the same in this case. Mend the image and worship it as before. Why should the image be discarded?’ This was so obviously correct that everyone wondered why no one had thought of it before. This is the effect of one ray of light from the goddess of learning.