The Teacher must be a Nobody || Acharya Prashant (2011)

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Question: Sir, what does it mean to be a Teacher?

Answer: Going through Shankar’s works and then a few Upanishads, I am humbled by the pain these teachers have taken to bring the concept to the student.

1. Shankar announces, even before the beginning, that only the most deserving and the most desirous should read his texts. However, as you read on, you discover that the text has been made so simple and lucid that even a half-wit may understand it. His announcement is a trick, a tool. He has actually lied.

2. The Sanskrit has been kept astonishingly simple. The sentences have been kept very short.

3. To help the student understand the Truth, the same thing has been explained using at least 30 different examples. Sky, Sun, Metal, Birds, Rice, Coconut, Pot, Sea, Moon, Fire, Sword, Sex…there is hardly anything that has not been used to make the text comprehensible.

4. The author unhesitatingly declares that what he is saying is rubbish and should be discarded once the student starts seeing. ‘Does a lamp need another lamp?’, he asks.

5. The language is lyrical. These are actually songs. The teacher has acknowledged that the student would learn faster if the words are melodious.

6. There is a deliberate attempt to give a structure to the teachings. There is a clear recognition that mind likes structures, and the student would lean faster if structures and patterns are used.

7. The author knows fully well that the Truth is ineffable. Yet he uses the names of the deities in vogue. After saying ‘I am not X, I am not Y, I am not Z, I am not XYZ, he says I am Shiva’. Refer to the Nirvana-Shatakam. He may have as well said ‘I am NOT’. Or, he could have said ‘I will not speak about who I am, because I am indescribable.’ Yet, he chooses to call the Self as ‘Shiva’.

From these observations, I have tried to learn a few things about the technology of teaching. What does it mean to be a teacher? It means: I am a nobody.It means I cannot have a characteristic style. It means I cannot carry a particular personality that I feel comfortable in.

I cannot say ‘This is the way I teach’.

I cannot say ‘I will not touch these texts or pay respect to your gods.I will not even refer to them. It doesn’t matter that these texts and gods run through the very fibre of your mind.’

I cannot say ‘I will not borrow from other teachers’.

I cannot say ‘You will have to rise up to me to understand me. If I make my language simpler I would be guilty of apostasy.’

I cannot say ‘It is no good to laugh because my message is deep and my motive is serious.’

I cannot say ‘I will not make you cry because that would be violence.’

I cannot say ‘I will not compromise on my own values for the students’ sake.’

I cannot say ‘The Truth is absolute and I will not corrupt it by putting it in words.’

I cannot say ‘The Truth is the prerogative of those with intelligence and I do not care whether most people understand me or not.’

I cannot say ‘You can attain to the Truth only if you drop the mind.’

I cannot say ‘The mind is your enemy. At best, it is a deception.’

I cannot say ‘I will tell you that everything is false. As for the Truth, nothing can be said.’

I cannot say ‘Why are you asking for my hand? Just get up and start walking. The power and the Truth is within you.’

I cannot say ‘All those who seek support are ignorant. All those who offer support are malevolent.’

Based on my interactions on various e-media.

Dated: 11th October,’11

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  1. I was taught that teacher is a potter, who can give any shape to the clay(students).

    Now I understood that teacher is that clay itself which takes shape through students.

    Thankful to the teacher……


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