The Brilliant Student
At a particular college a professor of history was quite well known. He was a good professor and also he showed a personal interest in his students. If students didn’t come to his classes, he would send for them and inquire why they were not coming. Everyone was very, very grateful to him for his kindness.
One student came to his class the first day of the school year. Then he did not come again. The history professor sent students to inquire what was wrong. Nobody ever found him at home, so they couldn’t give any news of him.
Four months later, on the day before the examination, one young man in the history class met this particular student on the way to the college. He asked him, “Are you going to come tomorrow to the history exam?”
The student said, “Of course I will come.”
The young man started laughing out loud because this student had come to class only once. But the following day the student did come to sit for the examination. The kind-hearted teacher was mad and sad. He was mad because this student had not come even one more time after the first day. And he was sad because he felt that this fellow would fail miserably.
Some naughty students were there. When they saw this student, they all started laughing. For so many months he had not come. How would he answer any questions? He had not studied at all, so what could he know?
The teacher said to him, “Do you really want to take the examination? Will it not be better for you to take it next semester?”
“Oh no,” said the student, “let me try. I may pass the examination. If you are very kind, I will definitely pass.”
The professor said, “No, I am kind only in that I show personal interest in my students — seeing which students are coming and noting their behaviour. But when I am correcting the examination papers, I have to be strict.”
But the student said, “You are kind in other ways. As a human being, you are kind. Are you not going to pass me?” In this way the student pleaded with the teacher.
The teacher said, “I am legally obliged to allow you to take the examination, because you sent in your fee. I can’t ask you not to take the examination. But I'm not obliged to pass you.”
Then the teacher passed out the examination. The students were allowed two and a half hours to complete it, but this particular student finished everything in an hour. So, again, all the students started laughing, thinking, “This fellow! What could he have written in an hour?” Outwardly the teacher didn’t laugh, since he was a respectable man, but he did laugh inwardly.
After the examination was over, the professor collected all the papers and took them home to correct. O God, this fellow had answered all the questions perfectly except one. All the other students had made many more mistakes than he had. Some failed totally because they didn’t know the subject at all, while others did well, but not as well as this young man. He far surpassed the rest of the students. The professor wondered how this could be. The student had been sitting in front of him, so he could not have copied. The others all saw that he was not doing anything unfair. The teacher could not figure it out. In a few days’ time the professor informed the students that they could come to get their papers. When the professor saw this one student, he asked, “How could you do so well when you had not been coming to class at all?”
The student said, “Sir, when I came here the first day, I saw that your students were all idiots I felt that it was not necessary to come here every day. I decided that I would come only for the examination, and I knew I would pass. I had the book, and also I have a private tutor who teaches me higher courses. Next year I will go to another university to study. But this year I have been studying with private tutors because the students here are all fools.”
The professor asked, “Why did you make that one mistake,”
“That is my fate,” replied the student. “What do you mean?” asked the teacher.
The young man explained, “I attended your class one day, and you confused me. If I had not come to your class that day, I would have answered that question correctly. You have idiot students, and the way you explained it to them created confusion for me. So I could not answer that question correctly. It was all because of what you did on that day. If you had not discussed that particular matter, I would have answered that question correctly, as I did all the rest.”
Sri Chinmoy, Big pot, little pot.First published by Agni Press in 1981.
This is the 459th book that Sri Chinmoy has written since he came to the West, in 1964.