The Gordian Knot

One of the Truths I had personally discovered and I believe firmly is that KNOWLEDGE CAN WAIT, BUT POWER WOULDN’T.

Knowledge is interconnected and to use pieces of information to form a fabric would give its structure. Knowledge accretes and becomes a part of the cause and effect continuum.

Notwithstanding the Oracle of Telmessos, Alexander never thought of cutting it till he discovered that there was no KNOWLEDGE available then to untie it. In fact the knowledge that had emerged by then, after many attempts by many at untying the Gordian knot was that, if one were to set a strand loose, another end would end up into a knot. That experience precluded the assumption that THERE HAS TO BE A WAY TO UNTIE IT.

In fact experience of Alexander and his knowledge of those who had tried and failed, impelled him to take a decision. Had Alexander the Great allowed the presumption that “THERE IS A WAY TO UNTIE THE KNOT AND IT IS JUST THAT I HAVE NOT DISCOVERED IT” to survive in his mind, he would probably have untied the knot later or would have left it to the posterity to succeed within those rigid terms of ‘untying’. But the MILITARY POWER that stood behind him, wouldn’t brook such a thought.

Asia had to be conquered, ‘if not now, how would any Emperor ever be vested by providence with so much success with military POWER to fulfil the oracle’ Alexander must have thought. Alexander ensured that he fulfilled the predictions of Telmessos, NOT by untying the Gordian knot but by cutting it or probably by removing the lynchpin. Either way, the ‘untying’ was not within the rigid framework of knowledge or skill as had been supposed.

Could a man of limited means have survived with such a thought much less acted so? Nay!It needs a Conqueror with an indefatigable army to do what Alexander the Great did.

Now the cognoscenti interpret that there are ‘inextricable’ problems which do not need knowledge and skill to ‘extricate’, but the Power to cut and delink the cart.
Gordios’ good fortune of having rode into Phrygia on an ox-cart when the people were waiting for the oracle to come to pass, might have been serendipitous for Gordios, but the cutting or removing the lynchpin was based on the confidence of the military POWER of Alexander.

This cherry picked example of mine proves that Knowledge can wait, but Power won’t.


I used to wonder often why Porus the defeated King of Punjab, in the Battle of Hydaspes, was not only forgiven by the victor Alexander the Great, but also given some of the territories captured by Alexander himself. In the meeting between the victor and the vanquished immediately after the Battle at Hydaspes, when Alexander the Great is supposed to have asked King Porus how he’d like to be treated, Porus is stated to have said, “Like a King!”

Alexander the Great had granted his wish. It was not the granting of the wish, that had amazed me but the very answer given by the defeated Porus. Was it out of desperation? Was it because he had already known of Alexander’s generosity and gambled on it? Only Porus could answer that, we can speculate. But the fact is that Porus asked and it was granted.  My speculation is that Porus had not much options left to RULE a kingdom, and therefore must have decided to go down with arrogance oozing, than to surrender meekly merely to save his life. So the response was nothing but out of DESPERATION.

But how does DESPERATION differ from CYNICISM?

In CYNICISM, the person who is cynical cannot have the history of having fought for the same thing that he is cynical about. Otherwise it is merely a “grapes are sour” story. The CYNIC has to hold in contempt the very thing that somebody else relies on as INVALUABLE. The following description by PLUTARCH’S “LIVES”:-

While Alexander was at Corinth, politicians and philosophers came to congratulate him, but he noticed that the famous philosopher Diogenes, who lived there in Corinth, did not come. So Alexander went to visit Diogenes at his home and found him lying down, sun-bathing. Diogenes raised himself up a little when he heard the crowd approaching, and Alexander asked the philosopher very courteously if there was any favor a king could do for him. Diogenes only said: “Yes, please take your shadow off me.” Alexander’s companions, on the way back, were making fun of the simple-minded old man, but Alexander told them: “Laugh if you must, but if I were not Alexander I would choose to be Diogenes.”

That is CYNICISM. Diogenes just did not RECOGNIZE the very things which were the basis of the greatness of ALEXANDER. Porus’ response was a desperate attempt, that went RIGHT, but Diogenes’ response was something that did not go WRONG!!

LONG LIVE CYNICISM- after all everyone cannot become an ALEXANDER!!!