Once a great scientist and well-known lecturer by the name of Niels Bohr was delivering a lecture on science to students at Calcutta University. Professor Satyen Bose was presiding at the lecture and he gave the speaker a glowing introduction. Then, to the students’ wide surprise, Satyen Bose sat down and proceeded to close his eyes, and he appeared to fall asleep.
Niels Bohr’s talk was extremely brilliant and everyone found it deeply interesting and illumining. Unfortunately, at a certain stage of the lecture, the visiting scientist found it extremely difficult to explain a particular point. Again and again he tried to solve the problem, rewriting it on the blackboard several times, but he could not solve it. Finally Bohr stopped and turned to Bose: “If Professor Bose helps me, I will be very grateful to him.”
Professor Bose still had his eyes closed and the students thought that the Professor was sleeping, so they burst into laughter. Bohr asked them, “Why are you laughing?”
Most of the students hesitated, but one young man said, “We are laughing because it seems that Professor Bose has been asleep the whole time.”
Upon hearing this, Professor Bose opened his eyes and said to the students: “Perhaps you are right. Now, what is the problem, O lecturer?”
Niels Bohr told him he was in trouble and asked for help. On hearing the nature of the problem Professor Bose said, “Ah! Is it a problem?” In a minute he solved it, to everybody’s utter astonishment. Then he sat down and closed his eyes and said, “Yes, now I am going back to sleep once again.”
The student who had accused Professor Bose of sleeping said, “Forgive me, Professor, it seems that your sleep world is more illumined than our wisdom world!”
Professor Bose kept his eyes closed for the rest of the lecture.
GIM 70. 18 January 1979↩