THE MASTERY OF LEARNING
A few days ago, a new set of the Encyclopaedia Britannica had been bought for the Belur Monastery. Seeing the new shining volumes, the disciple said to Swamiji, “It is almost impossible to read all these books in a single lifetime.” He was unaware that Swamiji had already finished ten volumes and had begun the eleventh.
Swamiji: What do you say? Ask me anything you like from these ten volumes, and I will answer you all.
The disciple asked in wonder: ‘Have you read all these books?”
Swamiji: Why should I ask you to question me otherwise?
Being examined, Swamiji not only reproduced the sense, but at places the very language of the difficult topics selected from each volume. The disciple, astonished, put aside the books, saying,
“This is not within human power!”
Swamiji: Do you see, simply by the observance of strict continence all learning can be mastered in a very short time – one has an unfailing memory of what one hears or knows but once. (VII. 223-24)