A Blog on Mythology and occasionally on Reality.

This is a Blog on Mythology, both Indian and World and especially the analysis of the myths.

In effect, the interpretation of the inherent Symbolism.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Importance of Asking Questions - Part 2

Yesterday, we discussed the subject matter with reference from Mahabharata. Today in the second and the concluding part, we will discuss the same subject with some other examples.

Let us take another example from Ramayan. When Lakshaman was lying wounded, Hanuman was entrusted with the task of getting sanjivani buti from the forests of the Himalayan range. Since Hanuman was not used to asking questions and that too in front of Ram, he left without asking for more details. If only he had asked questions about the kind of herb required, he wouldn’t have to bring the whole mountain for a small herb! But then some people never question, or rather, never ask questions! If only he had, the mountain eco-system would have been spared the massive displacement, besides saving much of his strength and energy for future!

From the Celtic Mythology, one of the most famous myths is that of Fisher King and the story of Sir Perceval. According to this myth, like all the Knights of King Arthur, Sir Perceval too was looking for the Holy Grail. During one such adventure of his, Perceval came across a castle in a strangely ruined land. Inside he sees an old man, who is ill, but invites Perceval to spend the night. The old man gives Perceval a special sword but says little else. After dinner, Perceval is witness to strange sights. A young man enters the hall with a white spear with a drop of blood on its tip. Then follow two more young men carrying candle holders. Finally enters a beautiful woman carrying a golden cup. Perceval is curious to know what was going on, but was too tongue-tied for the fear of offending his old host. The next morning Perceval wakes up to an empty castle. There was nothing and nobody. Perceval later learns during his journey that the blood on the tip of the spear was that of Jesus and the golden cup was the Holy Grail itself! If only he had asked, the old man would have been cured, who was Fisher King himself and the entire strange land could have been cured of a strange illness. Again, a classic example of not asking a question which could have solved his quest.

Finally, an example of not asking the right question; According to Greek mythology, Tithonus, the Prince of Troy was in love with the goddess Eos. Eos requested Zeus to bestow Tithonus immortality, but she forgot to ask for eternal youth for Tithonus. Thus in due course of time, Tithonus grew older and older till he shrivelled to nothing more than a voice. According to some, he turned into a cicada, which renews its skin every year! A case of asking not asking the right question.

In life we come across many a situation when we ought to have asked a question or better still, the right question. Never hesitate in asking a question as it is only a quest which leads you to solution. If Lord Buddha had not asked the basic question of what is life, would he have attained Enlightenment and left an entire world of knowledge and righteousness? If Sir Isaac Newton had not asked as to why the apple fell down, would he have discovered gravity? If Ferdinand Magellan, had not asked the basic question of what was beyond the horizon, would he have discovered that the earth was round contrary to the then prevailing notion of it being flat? All the questions asked were very simple and according to the times, extremely ‘fundamental’. But see what the rather fundamental and redundant questions have given the world.

To conclude, never shy from asking a question. I read an interesting quote which was something like this – a person is a fool for a few minutes for asking a question, but he is a fool for life for not asking a question. On a lighter note, imagine what would happen to the likes of Google, and other search engines, if we don’t have questions?


  1. Thank you for this. Am a student of the subject and pretend to be in the profession of asking questions. You have given me some valuable insights on how to introduce the subject to my trainees.

  2. Nice blog Utkarsh!

    Upanishad, which means(that) Knowledge gathered by the student sitting near or at the feet the teacher, is generally conceived as a dialogue of question- answer sessions between teacher and the student. But there are instances where asking questions by students has not been appreciated by the gurus.

    Here is an example.
    According to the legend, sage Vaishampayan, had a brilliant student called Shaunak. Shaunak would never accept the argument from his teacher given to him by his guru and thus would question him constantly. Once in the feat of anger his teacher- sage Vaishampayan asked him to return him all the knowledge he had given him thus far.

    So Shaunauk 'vomited'all the knowledge given to him by his guru. The rule says knowledge should not be wasted . So the other students of Vaishampayan turned into bird 'tittar' and gathered all the bits that had been vomited. This was put together in Taittiriya Upanishad,which is a part of Krishna Yajur Veda, forming the 7,8 and 9 the chapter.
    Idea of questioning is a central to education and learning. And should be encouraged in every form.


  3. sorry- the student is yagnyavalka and not shaunak as I mentioned.