Suthan, one of the most knowledgeable persons, a receptacle of wisdom, walks into a holy place called Nimishe where the rishis were performing a sacrifice for 12 years. After making him comfortable, Shaunaka approaches him with a request: to narrate the story of Srimad Bhagawatham.
Shaunaka has a special trait: he is capable of asking the right question at the right time. And for any dialogue to start, the Master should be comfortable, physically and mentally. This is what Shaunaka does.
For any meaningful dialogue with a Master, it is important that the receiver of the knowledge or information or wisdom should not only be able to grasp it but also throw up right questions. Not asking questions or asking the wrong question can upset a Master.
But Masters also have unique qualities. Through a question, he can gauge the wisdom of a person and then fashion an answer accordingly. True Masters or Rishis, do not dismiss any question as foolish or below standard.
Electricity is powerful and can light up large areas. But when 100 watts of electricity goes through a 40 watt bulb, it will blow out the filament. Similarly, each one of us have a capacity to absorb knowledge, which, like electricity, is powerful. A true Master can understand how much of knowledge to impart to the one asking a question.
In fact, major puranas and texts start with a question. The voluminous Mahabaratha starts off with a question in Adi Parva. When Ugrasrava, son of Lomaharshana, also known as Sauti, enters the yagna shala (place) of Saunaka, surnamed Kulapati, in Naimisha, one of the many rishis asks him: “Where have you come from O lotus-eyed Sauti? Where have you been spending your time?” Mahabaratha begins from there.
Bhagwad Gita too starts with a question posed by Dhritharashtra: “O Sanjaya, after assembling in the place of pilgrimage of Kurukshetra, what did my sons and the sons of Pandu do, being desirous to fight?”
In the course of the Gita, Arjuna poses many questions to Krishna.
The essence is that our texts are replete with questions and answers revealing the mind of the questioners and the Masters. It is never a monologue. Knowledge and wisdom are shared experiences.