I will not use the word student; it is too ordinary and has implications of only an intellectual approach. A disciple uses his whole being to approach the ultimate questions of life. A disciple is interested only in realization, not in just knowing about it. The student is interested in knowing about it. And these are very diverse interests. Knowing about it is one thing, but knowing it, not about it…the word about means around and around but never coming to the point.
I used to know an old man, Mahatma Bhagwandin. Only two persons were recognized in India as mahatmas, great souls: Mahatma Gandhi and Mahatma Bhagwandin. Mahatma Bhagwandin met me just by coincidence, and he started feeling something for me, so whenever he was moving from my city to somewhere else he would make it a point to stay with me for at least one day, two days, three days, as much as he could afford.
He was an old man, a very beautiful man, and I have never come across a man who was more knowledgeable. It seemed he was almost a walking Encyclopedia Britannica. You ask anything and he knows. I have never heard him saying, “I don’t know.” And I have found that what he says is always right – and about strange things with which he has no concern. I used to go with him every day for a walk in the morning and he would tell me about the Latin names of the trees. He knew so much about everything…as if his whole life had been nothing but collecting information.
One day I told Mahatma Bhagwandin, “You know all the Latin names of all the trees that we pass but I don’t think you know yourself.” He was shocked but he was a very patient man and he tried to understand why I said that.
I said, “You are like a walking Encyclopedia Britannica, but nobody has ever heard that an Encyclopedia Britannica has become enlightened. There is no possibility. You know everything, but I suspect that this is a way to avoid knowing yourself.”
He remained silent. He didn’t say anything. We reached home, he took his bath, and after his bath he said, “You are right. But now tell me how to forget all this knowledge.”
I said, “There is no need to forget it. Just don’t go on bragging about it, bringing it up again and again, telling it to people. Don’t be an exhibitionist. And the whole energy that you have been pouring into collecting information is enough to bring a transformation to your life.