By Chandrashekhar

Is reality really as what we perceive it to be? This is a question that has eluded for ages both the scientists and the philosophers alike, leading to development of multifarious systems of learning. One’s interpretation of various observations in life is strongly influenced by one’s perceptual experiences in the past. 

The knowledge one gains from or has been taught during the course of life, play a predominant role in molding one’s psycho-physical nature. But the probability of any of two random individuals to have undergone exactly similar experiences in the course of their lives is practically infinitesimal, thereby making it logical to conclude that every individual would react to or interpret a certain observation in a distinctly unique way. If we accept this conclusion, then the contention of most people that reality could be conclusively interpreted simply based on one’s own perceptions, falls flat on the ground.

Why? Because reality has to maintain the characteristic of being consistent and not subjected to change due to individual perceptions and circumstances, else the entire system of logic and analysis governing our daily lives would breakdown, leading to a world of chaos and disorder. The very fact that we see highly defined laws governing the cosmos clearly shows a fallacy in our system of perceptual learning.
Could there be another methodology of knowledge acquisition that is not impeded by the limitations of our faculties of perception? The modern day person based learning system, where in the knowledge is transferred from an instructor to the instructed retains the original essence, leaving no scope for fallibilities arising out of individual perceptual errors. A similar model was also adopted in the Vedic system of learning. But critics question the credibility of the ‘instructor’ in regards to his ability to act as a faithful via-medium in this process of knowledge transfer. After all wasn’t he also once a student, who was subjected to fallacy of perceptual limitations and whimsical interpretations? For the Vedic model to function effectively there was a kind of monitoring system, which ensured that the instructor, the instructed and the instruction are all functioning in accordance with the original purpose of intent. This system of monitoring was culture, an indispensable aspect of learning and living.

Culture sets up a complete system of functionality based on moral, ethical, sociological and often times spiritual principles, which are innate to all of us. Culture ensures that along with knowledge, the purpose of its intent is also systematically imparted to the instructed, thereby avoiding catastrophic repercussions that may arise out of misuse of knowledge. As dogmatic and illogical as it may seem to be, culture facilitates in imparting the right perception of reality and understanding the purpose of existence. Hence a clear understanding has to be developed that all genuine cultural practices are actually highly evolved scientific practices meant for creating a harmony with the cosmic order. In short, knowledge without practice of culture will only lead to pandemonium and destruction of the very fabric of human existence.

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