Of teachers, and teachers…

A famous line from Casino Royale – there are dinner jackets and there are DINNER JACKETS – this, is the latter…

In the same vein, there are teachers, and there are TEACHERS…the level of learning that you reach in life largely depends on which one taught you.

Sanskrit has levels of teachers – depending on the level of knowledge and guidance that they impart.

अध्यापक – Adhyāpaka

उपाध्याय – Upādhyāya

आचार्य – Āchārya

पंडित – Pandita

दृष्टा – Drsta

गुरु – Guru

An Adhyāpaka is one who is able to give you in-depth information, and knowledge. An Upādhyāya does that as well, but also helps you reach a high level of comprehension of the subject. An Āchārya imparts skills, and a Pandita is a subject-matter expert. A Drsta is a visionary and can help you think in that way too, and a Guru is one who awakens.

And these are roles played by individuals, which means that one can be a Pundit in some cases, and a Guru in others. For instance, my karate master was a “Guru” for me, but some consulted him as a Pundit given his expertise in martial arts. He was (and is) also a Drsta for me, especially in my later years.

अध्यापक itself is a derivative of अध्यापन (adhyāpana). The word अध्यापन adhyāpana is a causal word of अध्ययन adhyayana which in Sanskrit usually means learning or reading or studying.

The word अध्ययन adhyayana has three components: अधि adhi, अय् ay and अन ana.

‘अधि adhi’ here is a prefix, and as a prefix it means above, over, beyond. ‘अय् ay’ is a root-sound (connected with the root इ i), which means ‘to go’. ‘अन ana’ is a nominal suffix which turns a verbal root into a verbal noun. So, the word अध्ययन adhyayana means, ‘going above or beyond’.

अध्ययन thus does not mean mere learning – but going beyond what is considered knowledge, into the domain of awareness. Thus, an Adhyāpaka facilitates the student to go beyond books, the instrument of learning, into the realm of awareness, which is supposed to be the true goal of education.



prerakaḥ sūcakaśvaiva vācako darśakastathā।
śikṣako bodhakaśvaiva ṣaḍete guravaḥ smṛtāḥ॥

The one who inspires, one who informs, one who recites, one who guides,
one who teaches, and the one who awakens, these are the six Gurus to remember.

And what if all these traits are found in one person? What if there is one person who inspires oneself to break barriers in the mind and body, who makes you aware of your capabilities, who, through his powerful speech, awakens the potential that is inherent within you?

There are many black belts who start dojos, but a very few of them teach. Even fewer inspire, and hardly anyone awakens. 

But I have been fortunate enough to be a student of Kancho Rakum. From the age of 13, I had just one master, and I didn’t need any other.

Martial arts was only the beginning – Kancho went on to teach us how to live life. How to pursue perfection, how to be dedicated beyond your own conscious abilities…the endless revisions of the first edition of Power Karate resulted in many discarded sheets of paper and an eye for detail that helps me till this day. The sweat from the classes where we pushed our limits still flows, when I push my limits in working with passion, that bus I took to Koramangala for my first class still rides, through my journey of many firsts, only because I am not afraid of learning and trying new things…

And so today, on Teacher’s Day, I remember everything that Kancho has taught me, and thank God that I was brought on this path, and that Kancho held the lamp as I walked. But before God, I would have to thank you, because

गुरौ न प्राप्यते यत्तन्नान्यत्रापि हि लभ्यते, गुरु प्रसादात सर्वं तु प्राप्नोत्येव न संशयः॥ – Whatever is not obtained from the Guru, cannot be obtained from elsewhere, with the grace of the Guru one indeed obtains everything.

Thank you Kancho. Wish you a very happy Teacher’s Day.