Signs and Marks of Stupidity

The Ancient Tamil Text, Tirukkural talks about various signs of stupidity. The best way to avoid ill qualities and bad fate is to know the characteristics of these things very closely. So, it may be good to be aware of a few things about stupidity as well.


(Image Credit – Bernard Goldbach)

Ignorance brings Stupidity

Accepting the bad and rejecting the good is a sure sign of stupidity. This occurs due to ignorance about details of what is in offer for us. Often we are presented with choices in life with a balance of gains and losses. Our choice for the attractive short term gains at the expense of long term benefits leave us beaten, defeated, at debt and in huge losses. Still, the awareness about quality of our minds that lead us to the wrong choices do not always arise within us. Isn’t this stupidity? We may clear intelligence tests of the highest difficulty levels. But, life may show us how stupid we really are.

The highest form of stupidity is desiring for things that we do not deserve. With the onset of democracy, anyone can rise to the highest posts of power. But, people who view power as an extension of their money do so without deserving the post very well. In India, we have had countless situations where landlords and businessmen chased power and politics, but with very bad results. Allegations of corruption, bad governance, misreading public opinion, nepotism and several such ill effects are common across country. Again, we also see people who are not aware of a field or a company suddenly taking up leadership posts due to family ties struggling with execution of work. This is due to taking up things that they do not deserve to hold.

Signs of Stupidity

  1. Shamelessness
  2. Inattention/ Carelessness
  3. Lack of Love and Empathy
  4. Laziness/ Inaction

Tirukkural clearly states the above four signs of stupidity. Self Respect is a very great quality. Still, a sense of shame in indulging in Adharmic activities like stealing, corruption and adultery is vital for glory. Shame does not always come from fear of the consequences, but the insight about right vision and right action. An insightful man will not commit adultery even if there is no chance of being caught in action at a later time.

Ancient India was known for precision and high attention to detail. Study the architecture, literature or art forms born out of India to appreciate this detail orientation. However, the same attention to detail is not completely present in our psyche today. Our technology and products are not the highest quality in the world. Our literature today has lot of holes that can be filled. Sadly enough, it is a sign of stupidity.

Love is the biggest component of life success. An athlete is in love with her/ his sport. A writer is in love with words. A mother is in love with her child. A teacher is in love in art of pedagogy. When something is done without love and empathy, it starts to show in the results. It is love that encourages an artist to spend hundreds of hours in perfecting that brush stroke or a footballer to master a particular move. Without love, such “sadhana” is impossible. So, it is love that leads a person to her/ his life purpose and shall we dare say that not finding your life purpose is stupidity?

Even with insights and knowledge, not performing karma or actions is stupidity. It is not rare to find a complainer who is quick to point out shortcomings of others, but not ready to look at herself/ himself. They can find trouble at home, at work, at school, at the system and the world at large. But, are there steps taken to understand what is lacking in self? This is a sign of stupidity.

The Intelligent Stupid

Today, we have a huge crowd of well learned, well read group of people who are ready to advise others in anything under the sun. But how much do they practice what they say? In the ancient times, they used to read the Shastras and interpret it without following it much themselves. Imagine someone teaching meditation, who cannot stay still for even a minute. Today, we can see people who speak of money management with large debts and those who train couples to manage their relationships struggling with their fourth marriage. These are clear signs of stupidity. Are we also part of this group of stupid people?  

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