Sheikh Raunqi Ram’s village enjoyed a unique distinction amongst all other villages in its proximity- it had the only school with an English teacher. That teacher was one of the two people in the area who could teach English. The other, of course, was Sheikh Raunqi Ram himself. Though not a teacher by profession, he did enjoy the reputation of knowing English.

As luck would have it, once the concerned English teacher met with a serious accident, and the Doctor advised him rest for a few months. People of his village, and also those of the surrounding ones, were worried.

“What will happen to our children? Who will teach them English”, was the question troubling their minds.  The answer though was obvious. Who else, but Sheikh Raunqi Ram.  So it happened. Sheikh Raunqi Ram, was requested by the anxious villagers to take up the task.  He agreed, readily, “Though I don’t have much time to spare, but I guess I have to take it up, for the sake of the society.”

Sheikh Raunqi Ram started taking the English class. However, a blithe Shiekh would often teach a thing today, and forget about it tomorrow, only to remember it weeks later. As such there wasn’t much continuity in classes. But something is better than nothing. So the lessons went about on a generously carefree note.

Once Sheikh Raunqi Ram wrote an essay, ‘India-The Great Nation’. “I will take a test of this after two days. So learn it by heart”, he told the students.  The students did obey him and prepared vigorously for the test. However, as was his wont, Sheikh Raunqi Ram forgot to take the test.  As is widely known, the mugged up material does not stay for long in the mind. So the students also gradually started forgetting the text, and in the process even forgot that they had to appear for the test.

However, one fine morning, Sheikh suddenly remembered about it and asked the students to write the test.  Poor students! They were taken aback, unprepared. But a teacher is a teacher, and so he must be obeyed. So, they quietly started writing, whatever they remembered.  Human mind by nature and somewhat by conditioning, always wants to excel, by hook or crook. The students were no different. They had to do well, whatever the cost. The matter stored in the mind did not seem to be of much help. So recourse was taken to the matter written in the note-books.

Only four students were present, sitting in a row, one after the other. The first was able to scurry through his note book faster than the others, and found the essay written days earlier, which was copied to the extent permitted by careless supervision of the teacher.

The one behind him took a wise decision to copy what the first one had written, of course again within the limitations imposed by the circumstances. Logically, the third and the fourth student also followed suit, copying from their immediate neighbor.

As was expected, the results also showed a varying degree of accuracy, decreasing progressively!

The evaluation began.

The first student, who had copied directly from the note book, a copy of the first order so as to say, had done well. Only two mistakes! “Very good”, was the remark fetched.

The next one, who had copied from the first one (copy of the second order) wasn’t as good. “Many mistakes”, was the remark, “can do better”.

Copy of the third order was not encouraging.“Too many mistakes! Failed!” was the verdict, accompanied by a slap.

Now came the last one, who happened to be Sheikh Raunqi Ram’s nephew. Sheikh tried to read the paper – ‘Copy of the fourth order’- but could not, because, whatever was written therein was beyond his comprehension. In fact, except the script there was nothing ‘English’ there. Not a word could be made out of what was written in that apology of an essay. This was the ‘Copy of the fourth order’. Sheikh Raunqi Ram was appalled. This was not what he had asked them to write. “How could the essay written by me be converted to such a horrible trash”, he lamented. “How could my composition be mutilated to this extent!”

But his nephew was unfazed. In his own wisdom, he had written, what he thought was the original essay.

As usual, the perturbed Sheikh retracted into musing.

He was suddenly reminded of the Shastra Vaani (The voice of scriptures), in which even the all-knowing Shastras express their fear.  Shastras, the treasure chests of eternal wisdom, which seek to dispel all fear and darkness! Can they fear something?

“Yes”, say the Shastras. “We are terribly afraid of those ‘learned ones’ who mutilate our true being.  Those who, trying to run with the support of crutches of words alone,  wander far away from the true meaning of what we intend to say. Those who take pride in deriving a totally wrong inference from our text, completely  contradictory to what we actually intend to propagate.”

When one tries to pour the extra sensory wisdom of the scriptures, into a mould made of  mere words and grammatical rules, and when one tries to shape up their essence with the grossly limited power of the worldly intellect  and logic,  the end result is something that the scriptures ‘purportedly’ state.

This is the copy of the first order!

Then comes the second stage. When the ‘not so accurate concoction’ made in the first copy, transgresses to the level of mind, the ever shaky expanse of the mind imparts a different hue to it.  The convenient logics and counter-logics, so typical of the mind, force it to retain what suits it and shun or change what doesn’t.

Thus is obtained ‘the copy of the second order’!

By the time this second copy enters the realms of comparatively grosser sensory perceptions, the essence of the scripture acquires a devastatingly mutilated form in as much as that the true meaning of the scriptures is totally obliterated.

This is the copy of the third order!

And then comes the most dangerous state. The copy of the fourth order!

This stage appears when a person, who swears by copy of the third order, becomes a preacher.   Driven by the urge to ‘guide’ others, which is nothing but a manifestation of his ingrained ego,  he begins to dole out sermons, laced with the sugar of interesting words, and passes down this self generated product as the “meaning” of scriptures.

Some truly knowledgeable and experienced seekers, solely due to their acumen,  may succeed in gleaning the real essence from such renderings. However, these explanations, if they deserve to be called so, do nothing more than perplexing the  ordinary gullible listeners, or at best making them relish such unsubstantiated orations purely on the basis of sugar coating  of charming  words.

It is said, ‘A clever blind man guides a group of the blind’. Similarly  quite often a clever’ cheater of the fourth order’  succeeds in establishing himself as a spiritual guide of the unsuspecting masses, using his sly oratory skills laced with sedatives of  entertaining words.

“Uncle I have not cheated. I wrote the essay as you had written for us”, his nephew’s words brought Sheikh Raunqi Ram out of his musing trance. He threw a cold philosophical glance at the little one, but did not say a word.

“I, know, my son, that you are the cheater of the fourth order.  But my worry is, how will the common man recognize others of your creed”, said Sheikh Raunqi Ram to himself as he walked away silently.