It is very interesting that even our wealth is not ours, we only possess it as a middle link in a great chain – a son inherits his father’s wealth, then his son inherits it from him. No one is born with wealth, this much is certain: it doesn’t matter where it comes from, no one is born with it. It may be given by the state, it may be given by the family, by society, or a tradition, it may be earned through hard work, or else it may be stolen, but one thing is certain: no one is born with it and no one dies with it. So wealth is a phenomenon that happens in the middle somewhere and is outside of us.
It is the same with knowledge: it is obtained from others. Knowledge is the accumulated earnings of society. That is why animals cannot be knowledgeable – they have no language through which to accumulate their knowledge. That is why when the father animal dies, he is unable to hand over his experience to his son, there is no way. The son has to start again from where the father had started; hence animals cannot develop.
Illiterate societies cannot make any progress. The oral information from the father is not enough. Many things get lost and the sons have to start afresh – from ABC.
As language evolved it created treasure troves of knowledge. And when we also created a script and discovered how to write, all fear of losing that knowledge disappeared. That is why this phenomenon has become possible only with man. With animals, the son begins exactly at the same point again where the father began – the son dies at the same point where the father had died, his sons have to start all over again from the very beginning – that is why no progress becomes possible.
All human progress happens because each son takes over where his father left off; the volume of knowledge goes on growing and the wealth of knowledge goes on accumulating. Every generation accumulates knowledge and hands it on to the next generation. That is why the more knowledge a society accumulates, the more intelligent it becomes. Knowledge is an accumulation.
Just imagine that for twenty years all universities, colleges, schools were closed, that all libraries were burned, and for twenty years there was no available means for any education; that fathers stop teaching their sons, teachers stop teaching their pupils…do you know what would happen? In twenty years you would be where you were two million years ago. Everything would be lost.
Knowledge is an accumulation and it has to be handed over constantly, hence the existence of schools. What do the schools, colleges and universities do? They hand over the accumulation of knowledge from the father’s generation to his son’s generation, nothing else. The teacher’s work is this transferring, his whole business is to hand over what the older generation has accumulated to the new generation – that is his only work, that of being an intermediary link.
Knowledge is also wealth obtained from others. All knowledge put together may be called veda. In India we call the Vedas, samhita. “Samhita” means that which has been collected, everything known which has been compiled. That is why I do not agree that veda consists of only those four Indian scriptures called the Vedas. Whatever has been accumulated in the world as knowledge is veda; knowledge as such is veda, a samhita, a collection, because it has been accumulated.