Proverb – India

Never step on books.

The informant, Manoj learned this proverb from his parents while living in Bethesda Maryland. His parents are both from the Bhutan region of India, which is where he believes they learned it. Although this is an Indian proverb, his parents generally say it to him in English and he does not know its exact phrasing in Hindi. He reports that if one does accidentally step on a book, the proper way to rectify the situation is to touch the book and then touch your head and heart. Although the phrase is taken literally, it is generally understood to advocate the seeking out of knowledge. Manoj says his parents use it to tell him to actively seek out as much knowledge as possible. According to Manoj the message the proverb conveys is that you should never spurn knowledge. He believes the proverb carries an important message and says he will pass it on to his children.

I think this proverb expresses a respect for knowledge and I like that position. I think the presence of a proverb like this within a culture shows that culture has a respect for knowledge. It is interesting to note that if one breaks the rule about stepping on books there is a purification ritual to perform. There are many purification rituals in American superstition-if you tip over a salt shaker you throw salt over your shoulder.