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Thirukkural-On Wealth-On Ignorance-Kural-404

Kallaathaan otpam kaliyanan raayinum

Kollaar arivudaiyaar.

The wise will not be taken in by flashes of good sense

Occasionally displayed by the ignorant

The ignorant too may sometimes come up with flashes of good sense; it may be accidental or otherwise. But the truly learned men will not go all out to recognize these as true gems of wisdom, brought forth by deep learning and consistent experience.

According to Sydney Smith, the wit of language is miserably inferior to the wit of ideas. The former is sometimes encountered even among the uneducated, but the latter is found only among the truly educated persons. Such sudden flashes of wit among the uneducated will not raise them to the level of the really learned.

The learning referred to here need not always be the one acquired by conventional education and degrees. Some persons, who have the natural aptitude, acquire very rapidly knowledge and skills, through the school of experience and could be depended upon to make wise decisions in their own chosen field. The great Kamaraj was one such in relation to the field of politics. An appropriate phrase in Tamil describes them as “Patikkata maedhai" meaning a person who is great and wise, without the benefit of conventional learning.

There have been others too like him in history. President Abraham Lincoln of the United States of America, who was born in a long-cabin and never went to any recognised school or college, or other professional institution of law, is today acclaimed as the greatest president the U.S.A. ever had. The people of the United States think so, because he kept the States of the Union together at the risk of a civil war. Humanity thinks so because he liberated the black slaves of the U.S.A.

Story first published: Wednesday, June 2, 2010, 11:53 [IST]
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