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Questions - Poem

Vanita is an engineer-researcher-consultant-artist: a gifted singer-poetess; & writes in English-Hindi-Gujarati on her diverse experiences

Questions are purely human, as only humans are bestowed with the intelligence to question, analyze, understand and conclude.

Questioning is an art that blossoms in the world of science.

Our questions guide, regulate and steer our quest in Life ....

- Vanita Thakkar (12-02-2021)



Questions –

Glaring, staring,

Hurling, whirling,

Piercing, pining,

At times, peeping,

Playfully gleaming,

Spoken or wordless ….

“Why …. ?”, “What ….?”

Answers –

Exploring meanings,

Consoling sadness,

Passing time ….

Losing or surrendering,

Surrendering and waiting ….

You and I – All,

But, wait,

For the Ultimate.

- Vanita Thakkar (13/11/2012)

Knowledge is having the right answer,

Intelligence is asking the right question.


Questions are purely human. Most of the evolved living organisms display emotions and intellect. But, only humans are bestowed with the intelligence to question, analyze, understand and conclude.

As a teacher, I always encourage my students to ask questions without hesitation. That helps in developing a clear understanding of the subject. I always tell them that a question is just a question - there is no "silly question".

Being new to the subject, not having any cue to its fundamentals and applications, asking the right questions also becomes difficult. So, many times, I myself ask them questions, to orient them towards the subject, step by step. This makes the sessions interactive and interesting. Asking questions that are easy to answer builds confidence in the students. Then relating the answers to the fundamentals of the subject sows the seeds of curiosity, further inquiry and then, thinking on the subject.


Some Memories ....

Ash .... ??!!

Once while teaching Non-Conventional Energy Sources (NCES) to my Engineering students, I was explaining them different types of Biomass Gasifiers - Up-Draft, Down-Draft, Cross-Draft and so on, in which producer gas (essentially a combination of carbon monoxide and hydrogen and some other gases that can be used as a gaseous fuel) is obtained from biomass. After explaining the whole process, I told them that the final residue, in the form of ash gets collected at the bottom of the gasifier. Within moments, I sensed waves of whispers .... What's up ??!!

One boy asked with a twinkle in his eyes, "Madam, what is it that gets collected at the bottom .... ??!!"

Ohh !!

"Guys !! We are talking about the residue from gasification process, not about any beauty queen !!"

Ha, Ha ....

Why Can Molten Ash Not Be Pumped Out Of Thermal Power Plants ??!!

Once during a lecture on Ash Handling in Power Plants, two students popped up in disagreement on the difficulties in handling large quantities of molten ash in coal based thermal power plants. What is the big deal in it ??!! Molten ash can be simply pumped out of the place !! (Ha, Ha .... !!)

I was a bit surprised as both of them were good students. I tried to make them understand, but they were stuck at the idea of pumping molten ash out of the power plant .... (Ha, Ha !!)

Even when the lecture got over, they came after me, trying to convince me that people have missed out a lot in matters of ash handling .... it would be possible to easily pump molten ash out of power plants ....

Fine, I said. I asked them to come to me with complete details of how that can be done. I asked them to come with solutions to all the problems that I had tried to explain to them which made it impossible to do so ....

They never came, of course, but I still affectionately remember their stubbornness, full of enthusiasm and overconfidence and eagerness to do something, prove something ....

I go into the Upanishads to ask questions.

- Niels Bohr

Many of the ancient Hindu scriptures, the Upanishads are in the form of Question-Answer sessions between the Guru and his disciple(s). Upanishads, also called Vedanta, are the concluding part of the oldest of scriptures - The Vedas. The Upanishads sow the seeds, nurture and develop the essence of the spiritual ideals and practices of the Hindu way of life.

There are about 108 known Upanishads from the four Vedas, namely, Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda. The Vedas are extensive sources of knowledge that were passed on from one generation to another orally. There are 12 main or pramukh Upanishads - the oldest ones. Much of the Vedic literature is considered missing. The Sama Veda alone had more than 1000 branches out of which parts of four branches are available ....

There is an Upanishad called Prashnopanishad. The name is a combination of two words - Prashna and Upanishada, in which Prashna means Question. It is a part of the Atharva Veda - the main or pramukh Upanishad of the Atharva Veda. It addresses six essential questions regarding Life and Existence - six Prashna, and each is a chapter with a discussion of answers.

Original Sanskrit texts and translations of the Vedas, Upanishads and Prashnopanishad in Hindi, English and other languages, with elaborations are available online. Some links are as follows :


Shreemad Bhagwad Geeta is a Question-Answer dialogue between Shree Krishna and Arjuna. It consists of 700 shlokas in 18 chapters (Adhyaayas), that cover the spiritual queries of a very dejected, weakened and confused Arjuna in the middle of the battle-field of the Mahabharata, just at the onset of the battle, and the enlightening answers Shree Krishna gives to all his questions, with utmost love and patience. Shree Krishna tells Arjuna that His answers contain the essence of all the Knowledge that is there in the Upanishads.

Shreemad Bhagwad Geeta is thus the Holy Scripture that provides insight, answers, solutions and energy to address queries and confusions in every walk of human life.


© 2021 Vanita Thakkar

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