Vikram, Betal and Communication by Prof. Arati Kamath

Vikram, Betal and Communication by Prof. Arati Kamath

We all have grown up listening to stories ofVikram and Betal – the delightfully moral and insightful conversations between the legendary king & his spooky companion.

Let me therefore regale you with one of his stories –

Once upon a time there lived four sons of a poor Brahmin who taught them all the Vedas and the holy scriptures. Upon their parents’ death, the brothers decided to each go out into the world and learn a special skill and come back and meet at a common place. So they dispersed and months later, came back to the same place at the appointed time.

Each told others what he had learnt. The first one said, “I can create flesh of a creature from a single bone of the creature”. The second one said, “I know how to grow the hair and skin of a creature if it has flesh and bones.” The third one said, “I can create the limbs of a creature if its form is complete with skin hair and flesh and bones”. The fourth one said, “ I know how to give life to that creature once it is complete in form with limbs”.

So, they set off into the forest to find a piece of bone on which they could test their skills. The very first bone that they found was the bone of a lion – on which each brother was now eager to demonstrate his skill. And so each one did – and when the fourth brother was done, there stood in front of them a huge roaring lion, who promptly pounced on them and ate them all up.

Betaal stops here, and asks King Vikramhis question: “Who among the four brothers is responsible for the death of all of them?” Vikram replies with alot of thought, “The fourth one, as he was the one who gave life to theotherwise dead structure of bones, flesh, limbs and hair.” At this, Betaal flies away again, with King Vikram in hot pursuit.

If we analyse this story, these young men had the skills to build a lion, but they forgot that a lion is a carnivores animal. They felt proud about their creativity and felt as if they possessed Godly powers – and that led to their downfall.

In fact, we can relate this story in today’s era. Through the internet, students today have the skills to build up programmes, modules and content. But we haven’t foreseen the effects yet.Here, I replace the internet in the place of the lion of the story – since this is an invention that has affected our privacy, our appetite and our sleep – in a way, destroying us. The growth of the internet has stirred a debate about how online communications affect social relationships. I feel that many of us do not understand what we are doing.

The trickier the problem, the smarterone needs to be to be able to solve it.

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