Narad (an ancient Indian sage and considered a protagonist who always conveyed a moral or message through his story or tales) visited Lord Vishnu (an Indian god who is considered as a sustainer and preserver of the world) in his kingdom. Narad walked into Vishnu’s room and in his usual style called out, “Narayan, Narayan! (another name for lord Vishnu). But this time his tone was a bit curt. Before Lord Vishnu could comment on the tone Narad blurted; ” My Lord, I am upset with something that I witnessed at the entrance to your palace. I am your most ardent devotee. Every moment I praise your greatness and speak of your kindness to the whole world and yet at the entrance of your palace there is a statue of Garud (another disciple and in the form of half man and half bird) and not mine! It makes me very upset that you do not find me fit to be your best disciple. You don’t even consider me fit enough to make me incharge of guarding your abode. Why, this discrimination my Lord?”
Before Lord Vishnu could respond they heard a loud noise of something breaking and then a wail from outside, near the palace garden. Lord Vishnu looked at Narad and gently asked Narad to find out the source of this noise. Narad all eager to please his lord and earn his favour, headed out to check what the noise was all about and found a woman crying. He came back to give the information to Vishnu stating, “There is a woman crying outside your palace my lord’.
Did you ask her why she is crying? asked Lord Vishnu
‘No, my lord! But I will find out now’ stated Narad and went out to find out. He came back to report, ” My Lord, the woman broke her pot, which is why she is crying.”
Surprised Narad asked ” It was just a pot, why is the woman crying over a mud pot?
‘I don’t know my lord. But I will find out” Narad went out again to speak to the woman and on returning, feeling proud to have done what his lord had asked him to do stated: “My Lord, she was carrying milk in two pots to sell to the village people and out of which the larger one broke, which is why she is crying.”
‘How did she fall Narad” asked Vishnu
I don’t know my lord but I will find out” but before he could get out to find out Garud flew inside the room and seeing him Vishnu stopped Narad from going out and turned to Garud and ordered ” Garud I heard a loud noise a little while ago. Please find out what happened. Garud bowed and moved out and Nard stood silently sulking.
In a few minutes Garud returned, bowed down and reported ” Dear Lord, there is a woman outside your palace. She was carrying two pots full of milk, which she would have sold to earn food for her children. While walking she thought she glimpsed and saw a long dark snake on the ground and in sheer fright toppled over. It was not a snake but actually a rope. The larger of the two pots fell, hence spilling all the milk. She says since she has lost most of the milk she was carrying in her pots, she won’t earn enough money to feed her children, which is why she is crying. I have told her that she should not worry as she is in lord Vishnu’s kingdom. You are the caretaker of the world and you will look after her children and they will not go hungry. She has faith in you my lord and is hence pacified now. I suggest you call her in and talk to her.”
What is it that one learns from this story?
Both were disciples of Vishnu. Both reported the same sequence of events differently. Narad followed the instructions of his lord verbatim and did only what he was told to do. He did not apply himself and nor did he believe he needed to exert to do so. Just by blind faith did he think the lord would bless him. Such a discipline is called a mere follower.
Garud was a discipline of lord Vishnu too. He too followed his Lord’s instructions but he applied his knowledge to add value to the work given to him. His attention was to ensure that not only was his lord given the requisite information but was also problem solving, critically analyzing the next step that needed to be done, was being proactive in preempting any other issue that would cause more trouble and also ensuring that there was win-win situation for everyone in any given situation. Such a disciple is a doer and a leader.
What kind of learners do you think the present generation should be? Should they be followers or should they be doer’s and leaders who can problem solve? What is our education system creating them to be? When we have standardized examinations and where all we need to do is rote role the content and then vomit the same without applying our own perspective to the content what kind of generation are we going to produce? We will create more Narad’s than Garud’s in this world.
While we may aspire to create Garuds we are scared to make a radical change in the way our education is run. Life is a race and the one who wins will not necessarily be the one who was the fastest, but the wisest. Life is a long journey and a rather complicated one. It requires skills and the right approach to be a winner. Many a times, it needs innovation, problem solving and higher order thinking to get through situations, irrespective of how much knowledge, information and educational degrees you possess. At schools, we often only focus on loading our children with information, pushing it all down their guts by rote learning methodologies and even train their minds to think only what their course structures demand them to think. Are we allowing our children to become thinkers? Where is the problem solving approach in their learning? How are we inculcating a habit of observation and analysis in our children? Will they succeed in life without these skills? I doubt!
There is an urgent need to let the present generations minds and spirits soar as they are the future. Let us not bind them in fears, rather let them fly high and aim for the sky!