Knowledge is power. But here ‘power’ does not mean physical ability. It is the power of mind or intellect that can tame his inner self and the outer world. The most powerful thing in the world is knowledge because it can create and destroy life on earth. In addition, knowledge helps us distinguish between humans and animals. Knowledge is the ability to use one’s knowledge to help others.
The hunger for power is universal. We generally identify power with physical strength. In that sense, a tiger is more powerful than man. A primitive man was more powerful physically than a civilized man. But the man of today, though physically much weaker, is more powerful than a tiger or any other ferocious animal or the primitive man for his power of knowledge. And there is forceful Nature with thunder, lightning, etc. But man has the knowledge to make the forces of Nature to serve him. Francis Bacon says that our whole world stands on knowledge.
In the primitive age, the man was a helpless creature on earth. He was afraid not only of the wild animals but also of various natural calamities like flood, earthquake, violent storm etc. He was then ignorant of the natural forces and the cause behind them. The sun or the rain were then imagined to be gods. When pleased, such gods would use their power for man’s good, but when angry, they would use it for man’s punishment.
The man could not save himself from natural disasters as he did not have the knowledge to understand why these things happened. But with the passage of time man gathered knowledge. And knowledge gave him the power to understand the ways of nature. Thus he is able not only to tame wild animals but also to control wild nature. With scientific knowledge, man has tamed roaring rivers by constructing dams and the thundering fire of the sky as electric appliances for domestic and industrial purposes.
Nowadays we need more knowledge of more power. Knowledge of science gives man the power to fly to the moon and to conquer space. It gives us the god-like power to create test-tube babies and even to create a similar living creature by cloning. It has given us the power to establish instant communication within any part of the globe with the help of satellites. Thus knowledge is the source of enormous power—a man now enjoys. The more we acquire knowledge, the more we discover the infinite sea of knowledge lying in front of us.
However, achievements of scientific knowledge are not an unmixed blessing. Such knowledge has enabled us to protect us from many evils; and, at the same time, it has created fresh evils and problems for mankind. It has helped man to invent and manufacture atom bombs, biological warfare and other weapons for mass destruction. Thus, knowledge of science has become a monster of Frankenstein ready to destroy its own maker.
Of course, knowledge is of different kinds. It falls under two broad categories — knowledge of the external world and knowledge of one’s own self. The sages of ancient India followed both kinds of knowledge and attained amazing success.
We must note another point that knowledge is not the acquisition of information only. In words of Swami Vivekananda: education is not a mere bundle of information that runs riot undigested in our brain. Knowledge becomes perfect when it is assimilated and melted into wisdom. We should remember that man is not simply a well-informed machine, but man is a rare combination of head, heart and hand, i.e., intellect, love and physical Power — all together. Therefore, knowledge should be tempered by wisdom so that it does not entice a man to indulge in evil and destructive forces but to choose the safer role for mankind.