One’s hierarchy of needs “moves up” from more basic and material to fulfillment of psychological. The highest level is, no need for external fulfillment but a self-absorbed blissful enlightened state. However, being in the mundane world we expect one to have the need for regard/respect when all other material needs are satisfactorily taken care of. Where and who gets the respect is the basic question.
It is observed that the householder gets respect in his own home ecosystem. This includes immediate family, partially extended family, and the servants one may hire to fulfill the domestic work requirements. So griha is the playground for the “Grihastha”. Then the “Prabhu”, the village head gets respect within the bounds of the village. Beyond these boundaries, others from a different place probably don’t even recognise who this person is unless one introduces oneself. Even such self-introduction shall not fetch much respect one may be craving for, based on natural recognition.
Still larger canvas is the kingdom and the ruler here is “Raja”. It is known that the raja gets regard from his subjects spread all over his country. The rule where one is able to exert, collect taxes, offer protection, facilitate trade, and carry out welfare activities, one’s name shall be known. Beyond the bounds of the particular kingdom hardly anyone may recognise if the raja moves around in plain clothes and with a simple appearance. Thus, there are bounds even for a king’s fame, recognition, and getting respect.
Compared with the above three and contrasted is the fame that can spread and regard one may command when one is a “Vidwan”, possessor of wisdom. Beyond the geographical limitations and political/ruling affiliations, the works of a vidwan may spread and stay for times. The people who may appreciate the wisdom of the work of the vidwan, naturally reciprocate through the act of reverence. An example is the works of Shri Mokshagundam Visweshwarayya whose birthday is celebrated on the September 15 as Engineers’ Day. Discounting parochial bounds, good work gets definitely recognised. Hence, it is said that one with knowledge and wisdom gets respect from “sarvatra”, meaning all places. Hence is the adage “Vidwan sarvatra pujyate”. Perhaps a holistic goalpost for aspiring scholars.
Dr S Ainavolu is a professor at VPSoM, DYPU, Navi Mumbai. Views are personal. You can read more at https://www.ainavolu.in/blog