Author: – Divya Nagaraj.
The Goal of Education
This can be answered in two ways, through the western (adharmic) lens and the dharmic lens. Let us first examine this question through the western lens.
In the Western sense, put in most simplistic terms, the goal of education is to attain material prosperity and status. The basis of the western system of education, as of today, is to separate religion from science. Therefore, the topic of religion is kept out of classrooms.
The students are expected to specialize in any (or multiple talents !!) of the subjects of science, humanities, arts, music, literature, and so on, mostly based on their aptitude and skill-set. While the subject matter expertise is taken care of, one might ask about morals and values for children, how is that addressed? Morals and values are taught separately as to what is good and bad in binary terms.
All over the world, everyone agrees that lying is bad. Therefore, children are told not to lie. But are they taught what exactly constitutes a lie?
Religion (the Western Universalist sense) and science can never reconcile because of the insurmountable foundational differences. Obviously, when I say religion here, I’m not including Hinduism, for Hinduism isn’t a religion in the “western” sense, instead, it is Dharma, Sanatana Dharma. Since religion and science cannot reconcile, it made sense for the West to separate religion from education.[i] Because science cannot be altered, it is the way it is, whether you like it or not. Neither were the Abrahamics ready to change the philosophy of religion, in order to align it with the natural laws of the universe, that science aims to be. Therefore, the only way forward was to separate the two.
So a typical product of this system of education goes on to secure a well-paying job, or tends to become an entrepreneur, whose only motive is profit (because it is the primary measure of success) with total disregard to humanity or environment, aspire to climb up the ladder of positions in a corporation, lead a good life(the one constituting all the luxuries money can buy) and then retire with enough wealth to take care of them for the rest of their lives. While this system is materialistically rewarding, will it help one accomplish his/her spirituals goals, or teach one to pay back to this universe which has blessed us all with the bounties of nature. Will it remind one of the impending duties towards humanity? When one’s goal is only material prosperity, morals and values are trivialized or compromised.
This system of education was imposed globally, through colonial conquests. India is a prime example that exemplifies the loopholes in this system of education.
Now let’s focus on the goal of education through the dharmic lens. The authentic Indian system of education focused on blending material prosperity with spiritual goals. It emphasized on maintaining harmony with nature. There was no need to alienate Hindu dharma from the educational sphere as there are no conflicts between dharma and science as in the case of religion. The ultimate goal of human existence as per the Hindu philosophy is to attain moksha, loosely translated as self-realization. Education took care of this goal by customizing the path for every individual, unlike the one size fits all theory of the West. In the traditional Gurukul system, the relationship between the teacher and the student was a sacred one. It was the responsibility of the Guru to foresee the welfare and development of the student in all spheres of his life, it was a holistic approach. [ii]Based on the aptitude and the skill set of the student, the Guru guided the student to follow a path that would help him achieve both material progress and spiritual goals. Morals and values were blended in with all subjects, helping the student to learn contextual ethics and values.
India was once the most economically prosperous country in the world, with nearly 40 % of the world’s GDP. It was also the most advanced in terms of science as per modern standards, be it in the field of medicine, astronomy, linguistics, architecture, metallurgy, steel industry, shipbuilding, mathematics, textiles, and more. It is also a known fact that the Queen of Spain ordered Christopher Columbus to find a sea route to the wonderland which is India, but then he accidentally landed on the shores of America and the rest is history.[iii] [iv]
Dharampal’s recorded observation of the subjects taught across India in this era : mainly constituted Ramayana & Mahabharata along with other disciplines of Shastras and specialized Vedic subjects. The itihasa symbolize ethics, morality, science, and everything else that is required to achieve progress and prosperity.
The Mahabharata encompassed economics, sociology, politics, accounting, the art of war, chemistry, and more.[v] In this period, India had a flourishing trade with the rest of the world and produced some of the greatest luminaries in the field of arts and science. India’s contributions to the field of science and technology are well recorded. From Sushrutha to Aryabhata to Srinivasa Ramanujan. Thanks to the British and our colonized Indian luminaries, these great itihasas as were buried as mere stories, thereby putting a full-stop to the genius Indian era.
Another important aspect of the Indian education system is that, it focused on the development of buddhi, what we may call as the intellect. It is said that the primary cause of all the problems in our life is the result of a poorly developed intellect. When the intellect is well-developed we make wise decisions, failure will not wreck us, for it helps in developing equanimity towards success and failure. It enables one to master the senses, and stay focused on the ultimate goal of life. How could one attempt to teach subjects without helping the child to develop a strong intellect?
This is one of the major flaws in the (buddhi-free) Western system of education.
The aim of (traditional) education in (ancient )India is chitta-vritti-nirodha, the inhibition of those activities of the mind by which it gets entangled in the world of matter and objects.[vi]
What a contrast to the Western system of education, isn’t it?
One of the key differences between the two systems of education, is that, the west teaches you how to succeed, but will not teach you how to deal with failure.
This is evident from the family lives of the West, their family systems and personal relationships are largely broken, as a result they are mostly unhappy with a lot of psychological issues, despite the material success. [vii] [viii]
Now contrast the pre-colonial (pre-Islamic invasions even ..) India with the one under the Macaulay system of education. When India was once the pioneer in scientific innovations, what happened now? Why aren’t we able to produce the kind of geniuses we once did?
Nevertheless, we have produced a good number of capable modern slaves, who are willing to be at the beck and call of the American sahibs. At best, a handful have been appointed as CEOs of large corporations. Most Indians look at this as a civilisational achievement and as a cause to celebrate. Dutifully serving the Western master is a matter of pride. Why haven’t Indians created any of the leading corporations in the world? Is that not the right question to ask ?
A pretty straightforward answer, I think – is the education system which makes all the difference.
Now, one may argue that the western system of education has also driven some of the game-changing innovations in the world and can also attribute the material success of the USA and Europe to this education system.
But this success is also in a direct relation with the lack of sustainability and the debilitating “COST”, that humanity and the planet is paying to help the West achieve whatever they have done so far.
Their practices are “completely” ADHARMIC,
…with total disregard for humanity or nature .This is the result of not being rooted in Dharma. Only Dharma can teach you to achieve success in a manner where entire (prakriti included) humankind can benefit.
The two critically acclaimed and hard-hitting Documentaries , linked below , should provide to the dharmic-ally oriented reader , proof of the deeply ADHARMIC foundations of (all) Western systems.
It is time we re-think the system of education in India and revive it for good. Superficial attempts will not do. Is it worth alienating spirituality and deep dharma driven values from education?
This alienation has only produced a breed of aimless depressed youth, who are compromised on everything, from morality to values to decency to even basic cleanliness and discipline.
[ii] Ancient Indian Education, Radha Kumud Mookerji
[v] Ancient Indian Education, Radha Kumud Mookerji
[vi] Ancient Indian Education, Radha Kumud Mookerji
Divya Nagaraj from Bangalore is currently a Research Assistant at Infinity Foundation. She is a Computer Science Engineer from PES University, Bangalore with a Post-Graduate degree in management from SP Jain school, View More…