Wednesday, July 29, 2015

LOOSING YOUR MOTHER TONGUE AND YOUR OWN LANGUAGE WEAKENS YOUR BRAIN A FINDING OF THE NEUROSCIENCE, PRESERVE THE PLASTICITY OF THE BRAIN AND YOU CAN LEARN ANY AND ALL OTHER FOREIGN LANGUAGES AND CULTURES EVEN AT THE POST GRADUATE LEVEL BUT NOT DURING FORMATIVE YEARS, THIS FACT MUST GUIDE THE EDUCATIONAL POLICY OF INDIA



school
Outlines of Indian Education: Ananda 
Coomaraswamy and R.K. Mookerji
The most visible wound of this is that today, we have to read our own literature in a foreign language.



यस्तु विज्ञानवान् भवति युक्तेन मनसा सदा |
तस्येन्द्रियाणि वश्यानि सदश्वा इव सारथेः ||
This uplifting verse from the Kathopanishad (III.6) perhaps best captures the ancient Indian approach tolearning and education. Borrowing R.K. Mookerji’s translation [1]:
He who is possessed of supreme knowledge by concentration of mind, must have his senses under control, like spirited steeds controlled by a charioteer. 
yamaThis verse occurs in the context of Yama teaching the young Nachiketa the secrets of Brahma Vidya (Knowledge of the Supreme Reality), and the underlying principle of control of the senses and concentration of mind characterizes the general Indian outlook towards learning—be it in any sphere. Indeed, concentration in itself is viewed as an intermediate step towards the ultimate goal of realizing the Self. Thus, for example, a Sthapati’s(sculptor, temple builder) training necessarily includes the subtext of the fact that his learning and its eventual application are directed at accumulating virtue as opposed to merely building a religious structure.
This conception not only applies to learning and education but is also reflected in the organization of traditional Indian society, which stood the test of time until it was rudely, violently interrupted by barbaric, successive alien monotheistic invasions and an extended spell of colonialism. At the heart of this lies a simple idea: to offer the “best scope for the development of the individual” [2] according to his/her temperament, intelligence and so on.
Another distinguished and distinguishing characteristic of ancient Indian education is its emphasis on the personal and intimate nature of imparting and receiving knowledge. Those that conceived and designed the method of ancient Indian learning had mastered and gained deep insights into what can loosely be termed Consciousness. We can turn to R.K. Mookerji again [3]:
The pupil must find the teacher. He must live with him as a member of his family and is treated by him in every way as his son. The school is a natural formation, not artificially constituted. It is a hermitage…functioning in solitude and silence. The constant and intimate association between teacher and taught is vital to education…[T]he pupil is to imbibe the inward method of the teacher, the secrets of his efficiency, the spirit of his life and work, and these things are too subtle to be taught…
In other words, an ounce of experience is worth more than reading a hundred books. This sort of system also places enormous responsibility and accountability on the part of the teacher to lead by example. He must constantly introspect and evaluate his own lifestyle, conduct and character. Even if a graduate didn’t exactly become the world’s foremost scholar, this system ensured that he wouldn’t be a bad citizen. It is for this reason that until the advent of the destructive British system of education, the Indian Guru Parampara(Lineage of Gurus) was revered across the subcontinent. Further [4],
The making of man depends on the human factor. Here the personal touch, the living relationship between the pupil and teacher make education. The pupil belongs to the teacher and not to an institution or the abstraction called the school. A modern school teaches pupils by “classes”, and not as individuals with their differences. (Emphasis added)
This lament by R.K. Mookerji has been echoed by almost all great rooted Indian scholars and intellectuals ranging from Swami Vivekananda, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Dharampal and others. As history is witness, the near-total destruction of this system of education and its replacement with the British colonial system of education continues to produce assembly line machines, which contemporary society treats merely as economic resources, nothing higher. This industrialization of education—apart from its alien imposition and mindless digestion by Indians—has severed several generations of Indians off from their roots, as seen in this caustic lament by Swami Vivekananda [5]:
swami The child is taken to school, and the first thing he learns is that his father is a fool, the second thing that his grandfather is a lunatic, the third thing that all his teachers are hypocrites, the fourth, that all the sacred books are lies ! By the time he is sixteen he is a mass of negation, lifeless and boneless…We have learnt only weakness.
Contrast this with the Indian conception of parents and the Guru as akin to God and the full extent of the cultural and civilizational damage that was wrought upon India will become clear. We shall take leave of R.K. Mookerji after examining this superlative insight he gives on the intertwined relationship between the teacher, the taught and knowledge itself:
Knowledge did not then exist in the form of MSS.which could be stored up in a library like household furniture, for knowledge was the furniture of the mind, while the teacher himself was the living and walking library….for thousands of years, even up to the time of Kumarila…it was considered sacrilege to reduce the Veda to writing, for learning was not reading but realization, and knowledge was to be in the blood, as an organic part of one’s own self.[Emphasis added]
That this lofty conception carried itself unbroken up to the mid-1900s can be evidenced from D.V. Gundappa’s pen picture of Mahāmahopādhyāya Hanagal Virupaksha Sastri, one of the foremost scholars of Vedanta [6]:
Sri Sastri frowned upon printed texts and generally did not rely on them. He insisted on learning the texts by heart. On one occasion, he saw me holding a printed book in my hands, and said, “Even you have started holding printed books these days?” On another occasion, he was discussing Advaita siddhi at lunchtime. I had a printed version of the work in my hand to follow the discussion and that edition contained several printing mistakes. Sri Sastri, who knew the entire work by heart, immediately exclaimed with a smile, ‘See, that’s why I say you should not rely on printed books!’
Perhaps Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy remains one of the staunchest defenders of the Indian tradition of education in the mould of what David Frawley terms an Intellectual Kshatriya.
Coomaraswamy wrote several articles about the nature and state of the British-imposed Indian education and alerted Indians about its perils. Because he mostly wrote for a scholarly audience, he didn’t quite use the forthright language that Swami Vivekananda did (quoted above). He clearly, forcefully enunciated the nuances behind what Swami Vivekananda expounded to an ostensibly lay audience. One of the most celebrated quotes of Coomaraswamy on the disasters of English education follows [7]:
A single generation of English education suffices to break the threads of tradition and to create a nondescript and superficial being deprived of all roots,a sort of intellectual pariah who does not belong to the East or the West, the past or the future. The greatest danger for India is the loss of her spiritual integrity. Of all Indian problems the educational is the most difficult and most tragic.
His essay, Education in India is a reader’s treat for the range of problems it examines, and equally, for the solutions it suggests. Read together with Memory in Education, it shows what was and what is possible.
Coomaraswamy opens the first essay with his characteristic candor in condemning the more evil facets of British imperialism.
…[One of] the greatest injuries done to the people of India have taken the outward form of blessings.
The perception that British education somehow “liberated” India and bestowed upon us a “modern education” persists till date. Coomaraswamy demolished this myth as early as 1909 when the calculated destruction of native learning systems was unfolding right before his eyes. In his time, he noted that an average English-educated Indian was unable to appreciate, nay, understand his own culture.
The most crushing indictment of this Education is ..that it destroys …all capacity for the appreciation of Indian culture. Speak to the ordinary graduate … on the ideals of the Mahabharata–he will hasten to display his knowledge of Shakespeare; talk to him of religious philosophy–you find that he is an atheist of the crude type common in Europe a generation ago…not only has he no religion but he is as lacking in philosophy as the average Englishman…talk to him of Indian art–it is news to him that such a thing exists; ask him to translate … a letter written in his own mother tongue–he does not know it. He is indeed a stranger in his own land.(Emphasis added)
Lord MaculayThe last line is a crushing indictment of our collective cultural amnesia. Coomaraswamy reserves strong words for Lord Macaulay, the man who started this process of cultural colonization. Addressing the British educators in a tone of undisguised sarcasm, Coomaraswamy asks them why they’re unable to recognize the Indian babu, “made in [their] own image” by their
most pompous and self-important philistine, Lord Macaulay, [who believed that] a single shelf of a good European library was worth all the literature of India, Arabia, and Persia.
And sounds out a baleful prophecy to
Beware lest in a hundred years the judgement be reversed.
Indeed, the latest incarnation of Macaulay’s colonial Indian inheritors goes by the label of “Idea of India.” However, in small and numerous ways, Coomarswamy’s prediction is slowly ringing true. Today, there’s renewed interest to study all aspects of ancient India with quite some appreciable zeal although efforts are scattered, far and few, and not really up to the mark.

British Education Policy Examined

Coomaraswamy’s condemnation of the British education system stemmed from several sources. His main concern was that English education replaced something invaluable with something worthless. It put the student in a paradox: on the one hand the student was cut off from his roots and on the other, he would be unable to fully acquire the culture and/or “viewpoint” of the imperialist. He becomes a second class citizen—in every which way—among the Westerners despite imbibing their culture, and he becomes a cultural orphan among his own people.
…in actual fact, it is not the English point of view [that is acquired] but a caricature of it.
Coomaraswamy then quotes Abbe Dubois on the subject:
To make a new race of the Hindus, one would have to begin by undermining the very foundations of their civilization, religion, and polity, and by turning them into atheists and barbarians.
And this belief that Indians needed to be educated stemmed from the assumption that India was a savage country, “which it is England’s divine mission to civilize.” It is reasonable to conclude that Macaulay operated from this racist, colonial-supremacist mode.
When Macualay’s notorious education policy was first put into action, the British faced tremendous difficulties as Coomaraswamy points out. Sir Thomas Munro wrote that “if civilization were to be made an article of commerce between two countries, England would soon be heavily in debt.” Prof. Nelson Fraser “shows how little the English teacher can know of the real life of [Indians]…” and that
The Englishman is the last person to put forward any view as to possible reforms in Hindu institutions.
anandaCoomaraswamy also narrates how the English educators who arrived in India to teach were completely lost. Even in their sincerest attempts to learn more about Indians, they found that the more “[the teacher] understood, the less would he wish to interfere, for he would either be Indianised at heart, or would have long realized the hopeless divergence”between English and Indian ideals.
Coomaraswamy says that the idea of education should be separated from the “notion of altering the structure of Indian society.” Any alteration or change or in his words, “true reforms come only from within and slowly.”
The British however, did not heed any of these real problems reported from the field. They devised the education system such that Indian ideals, philosophy, arts, and languages were crushed without bloodshed.
One way to do that was by bringing education under government control. Ananda Coomaraswamy writes that few indigenous institutions that imparted education in Sanskrit and Arabic “carry on a forlorn struggle for existence.” India had a rich tradition of education built on the gurukula system or pathashala system sponsored and supported by society with little or no adverse government interference. By “governmentalizing” education, the British cut off a long and unbroken tradition almost overnight. Any autonomous institution would die an eventual death. This aspect is brought out in vivid, excruciating detail in Dharampal’s volumes, most notably, the Beautiful Tree. 
A few modern institutions such as the Central Hindu College in Benares and the Hardwar Gurukula are carried on entirely without Government aid; but ..are bound to the University curriculum as otherwise their students would be unable to obtain degrees….The net result is that Indian culture is practically ignored in modern education…
The British assault on Indian education also had the Missionary dimension. Coomaraswamy writes that Missionary education avowedly
…practises intolerance–by endeavouring to destroy that culture, in schools where education is offered as a bribe and where the religion of the people is of set purpose determined.
This practice continues even today where some Christian schools forbid female students to wear bindi, bangles, etc, all sacred symbols of Hindus.

Some Solutions

Ananda Coomaraswamy repeatedly stresses on the ideal of education than a mere system of education. As an idea, education should “draw out or set free the characteristic qualities of the taught.”
In Memory in Education, he notes that culture, “in the East has been only secondarily connected with books and learning; it has been a part of life itself,” echoing R.K. Mookerji. From this, it wouldn’t be incorrect to say that culture is the agglomeration of the education of several centuries. That is, any national culture is shaped by the education it receives. Which is why today we notice that most urban cities in India are fast turning into cheap replicas of their counterparts in the West. Or the fact that the ubiquitous keyboard is quickly replacing traditional Indian instruments as the choice of instrument for aspiring musicians.
T.S. EliotCoomaraswamy also emphasizes that the “distinction between wisdom and knowledge must never be forgotten,” which reminds us of T.S. Eliot. Wisdom, according to Coomaraswamy is therefore the “true end of education.” He quotes Knox speaking about the culture of the people of Ceylon.
Ordinary Plowmen ..do speak elegantly, and are full of compliment.. there is no difference between the ability and speech of a Countryman and a Courtier.
And quotes a Sinhalese proverb,
Take a ploughman from the plough and wash off his dirt and he is fit to rule a kingdom.
And attributes this astonishing feature to the existence of a national culture not dependent on the knowledge of reading and writing. He laments throughout these essays that this treasure has been lost almost forever thanks to English education.
The most visible wound of this is that today, we have to read our own literature in a foreign language. That the glut of Mahabharatas written today by Indian authors is in English is an admirable effort. Yet almost none of these authors have read the original in Sanskrit–or in their vernacular tongue–because they don’t know the language.
In the end, Ananda Coomaraswamy offers a seven-point remedy to overcome this. I quote most of them verbatim (in italics).
  1. A universal philosophical attitude, “contrasting strongly with that of the ordinary Englishman who hates philosophy.”
  2. The sacredness of all things–the antithesis of the European division of life into sacred and profane… In India…religion idealises and spiritualizes life itself rather than excludes it.
  3. The true spirit of religious toleration, illustrated continually in Indian history…
  4. Etiquette–civilization conceived of as the production of civil men. In other words, education should enable a civilization where life should bring forth culture, not theories and books.
  5. The renewal of the special relationship between teacher and pupil and a return to the epics, classics, and in general, literature which has stood the test of time. …the epics as embodying ideals of character, learning [as] a privilege demanding qualifications, not to be forced on the unwilling…extreme importance of the teacher’s personality. Coomaraswamy frowns upon the modern practice of “making everything easy for the pupil.”
  6. The basis of ethics should spring from altruism and not from religious or other commandments. This follows from the “recognition of the unity of all life.”
  7. Development of personal character and conduct. As educational aids, Coomaraswamy lists them as control of thought, speech and action, concentration, one-pointedness and a “capacity for stillness.”
His essays lament the loss of these ideals, which existed for centuries despite Islamic invasions and occupation. However, it was only the British axe that dealt it the fatal blow.
Coomaraswamy’s criticism might seem severe but he is not blind to some of the advantages English education brought for India. Even here, he says, these benefits tilt the balance in favour of preserving Indian culture. To close this essay in his words:
Western knowledge is necessary for India, but it must form for her….a post-graduate course.

Notes:

  1. Ancient Indian Education, xvii: Radha KumudMookerji
  2. Ibid, xxi 
  3. Ibid, xxvi
  4. Ibid, xxvi
  5. The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda: Volume 3: Lectures from Colombo to Almora: The Future of India
  6. Jnapaka Chitrashaale: Vaidika Dharma Sampradaayastaru, D.V. Gundappa
  7. Education in India: Dance of Shiva, Ananda K Coomaraswamy

school
 
Outlines of Indian Education: Ananda 
Coomaraswamy and R.K. Mookerji
The most visible wound of this is that today, we have to read our own literature in a foreign language.
यस्तु विज्ञानवान् भवति युक्तेन मनसा सदा |
तस्येन्द्रियाणि वश्यानि सदश्वा इव सारथेः ||
This uplifting verse from the Kathopanishad (III.6) perhaps best captures the ancient Indian approach tolearning and education. Borrowing R.K. Mookerji’s translation [1]:
He who is possessed of supreme knowledge by concentration of mind, must have his senses under control, like spirited steeds controlled by a charioteer. 
yamaThis verse occurs in the context of Yama teaching the young Nachiketa the secrets of Brahma Vidya (Knowledge of the Supreme Reality), and the underlying principle of control of the senses and concentration of mind characterizes the general Indian outlook towards learning—be it in any sphere. Indeed, concentration in itself is viewed as an intermediate step towards the ultimate goal of realizing the Self. Thus, for example, a Sthapati’s(sculptor, temple builder) training necessarily includes the subtext of the fact that his learning and its eventual application are directed at accumulating virtue as opposed to merely building a religious structure.
This conception not only applies to learning and education but is also reflected in the organization of traditional Indian society, which stood the test of time until it was rudely, violently interrupted by barbaric, successive alien monotheistic invasions and an extended spell of colonialism. At the heart of this lies a simple idea: to offer the “best scope for the development of the individual” [2] according to his/her temperament, intelligence and so on.
Another distinguished and distinguishing characteristic of ancient Indian education is its emphasis on the personal and intimate nature of imparting and receiving knowledge. Those that conceived and designed the method of ancient Indian learning had mastered and gained deep insights into what can loosely be termed Consciousness. We can turn to R.K. Mookerji again [3]:
The pupil must find the teacher. He must live with him as a member of his family and is treated by him in every way as his son. The school is a natural formation, not artificially constituted. It is a hermitage…functioning in solitude and silence. The constant and intimate association between teacher and taught is vital to education…[T]he pupil is to imbibe the inward method of the teacher, the secrets of his efficiency, the spirit of his life and work, and these things are too subtle to be taught…
In other words, an ounce of experience is worth more than reading a hundred books. This sort of system also places enormous responsibility and accountability on the part of the teacher to lead by example. He must constantly introspect and evaluate his own lifestyle, conduct and character. Even if a graduate didn’t exactly become the world’s foremost scholar, this system ensured that he wouldn’t be a bad citizen. It is for this reason that until the advent of the destructive British system of education, the Indian Guru Parampara(Lineage of Gurus) was revered across the subcontinent. Further [4],
The making of man depends on the human factor. Here the personal touch, the living relationship between the pupil and teacher make education. The pupil belongs to the teacher and not to an institution or the abstraction called the school. A modern school teaches pupils by “classes”, and not as individuals with their differences. (Emphasis added)
This lament by R.K. Mookerji has been echoed by almost all great rooted Indian scholars and intellectuals ranging from Swami Vivekananda, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Dharampal and others. As history is witness, the near-total destruction of this system of education and its replacement with the British colonial system of education continues to produce assembly line machines, which contemporary society treats merely as economic resources, nothing higher. This industrialization of education—apart from its alien imposition and mindless digestion by Indians—has severed several generations of Indians off from their roots, as seen in this caustic lament by Swami Vivekananda [5]:
swami The child is taken to school, and the first thing he learns is that his father is a fool, the second thing that his grandfather is a lunatic, the third thing that all his teachers are hypocrites, the fourth, that all the sacred books are lies ! By the time he is sixteen he is a mass of negation, lifeless and boneless…We have learnt only weakness.
Contrast this with the Indian conception of parents and the Guru as akin to God and the full extent of the cultural and civilizational damage that was wrought upon India will become clear. We shall take leave of R.K. Mookerji after examining this superlative insight he gives on the intertwined relationship between the teacher, the taught and knowledge itself:
Knowledge did not then exist in the form of MSS.which could be stored up in a library like household furniture, for knowledge was the furniture of the mind, while the teacher himself was the living and walking library….for thousands of years, even up to the time of Kumarila…it was considered sacrilege to reduce the Veda to writing, for learning was not reading but realization, and knowledge was to be in the blood, as an organic part of one’s own self.[Emphasis added]
That this lofty conception carried itself unbroken up to the mid-1900s can be evidenced from D.V. Gundappa’s pen picture of Mahāmahopādhyāya Hanagal Virupaksha Sastri, one of the foremost scholars of Vedanta [6]:
Sri Sastri frowned upon printed texts and generally did not rely on them. He insisted on learning the texts by heart. On one occasion, he saw me holding a printed book in my hands, and said, “Even you have started holding printed books these days?” On another occasion, he was discussing Advaita siddhi at lunchtime. I had a printed version of the work in my hand to follow the discussion and that edition contained several printing mistakes. Sri Sastri, who knew the entire work by heart, immediately exclaimed with a smile, ‘See, that’s why I say you should not rely on printed books!’
Perhaps Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy remains one of the staunchest defenders of the Indian tradition of education in the mould of what David Frawley terms an Intellectual Kshatriya.
Coomaraswamy wrote several articles about the nature and state of the British-imposed Indian education and alerted Indians about its perils. Because he mostly wrote for a scholarly audience, he didn’t quite use the forthright language that Swami Vivekananda did (quoted above). He clearly, forcefully enunciated the nuances behind what Swami Vivekananda expounded to an ostensibly lay audience. One of the most celebrated quotes of Coomaraswamy on the disasters of English education follows [7]:
A single generation of English education suffices to break the threads of tradition and to create a nondescript and superficial being deprived of all roots,a sort of intellectual pariah who does not belong to the East or the West, the past or the future. The greatest danger for India is the loss of her spiritual integrity. Of all Indian problems the educational is the most difficult and most tragic.
His essay, Education in India is a reader’s treat for the range of problems it examines, and equally, for the solutions it suggests. Read together with Memory in Education, it shows what was and what is possible.
Coomaraswamy opens the first essay with his characteristic candor in condemning the more evil facets of British imperialism.
…[One of] the greatest injuries done to the people of India have taken the outward form of blessings.
The perception that British education somehow “liberated” India and bestowed upon us a “modern education” persists till date. Coomaraswamy demolished this myth as early as 1909 when the calculated destruction of native learning systems was unfolding right before his eyes. In his time, he noted that an average English-educated Indian was unable to appreciate, nay, understand his own culture.
The most crushing indictment of this Education is ..that it destroys …all capacity for the appreciation of Indian culture. Speak to the ordinary graduate … on the ideals of the Mahabharata–he will hasten to display his knowledge of Shakespeare; talk to him of religious philosophy–you find that he is an atheist of the crude type common in Europe a generation ago…not only has he no religion but he is as lacking in philosophy as the average Englishman…talk to him of Indian art–it is news to him that such a thing exists; ask him to translate … a letter written in his own mother tongue–he does not know it. He is indeed a stranger in his own land.(Emphasis added)
Lord MaculayThe last line is a crushing indictment of our collective cultural amnesia. Coomaraswamy reserves strong words for Lord Macaulay, the man who started this process of cultural colonization. Addressing the British educators in a tone of undisguised sarcasm, Coomaraswamy asks them why they’re unable to recognize the Indian babu, “made in [their] own image” by their
most pompous and self-important philistine, Lord Macaulay, [who believed that] a single shelf of a good European library was worth all the literature of India, Arabia, and Persia.
And sounds out a baleful prophecy to
Beware lest in a hundred years the judgement be reversed.
Indeed, the latest incarnation of Macaulay’s colonial Indian inheritors goes by the label of “Idea of India.” However, in small and numerous ways, Coomarswamy’s prediction is slowly ringing true. Today, there’s renewed interest to study all aspects of ancient India with quite some appreciable zeal although efforts are scattered, far and few, and not really up to the mark.

British Education Policy Examined

Coomaraswamy’s condemnation of the British education system stemmed from several sources. His main concern was that English education replaced something invaluable with something worthless. It put the student in a paradox: on the one hand the student was cut off from his roots and on the other, he would be unable to fully acquire the culture and/or “viewpoint” of the imperialist. He becomes a second class citizen—in every which way—among the Westerners despite imbibing their culture, and he becomes a cultural orphan among his own people.
…in actual fact, it is not the English point of view [that is acquired] but a caricature of it.
Coomaraswamy then quotes Abbe Dubois on the subject:
To make a new race of the Hindus, one would have to begin by undermining the very foundations of their civilization, religion, and polity, and by turning them into atheists and barbarians.
And this belief that Indians needed to be educated stemmed from the assumption that India was a savage country, “which it is England’s divine mission to civilize.” It is reasonable to conclude that Macaulay operated from this racist, colonial-supremacist mode.
When Macualay’s notorious education policy was first put into action, the British faced tremendous difficulties as Coomaraswamy points out. Sir Thomas Munro wrote that “if civilization were to be made an article of commerce between two countries, England would soon be heavily in debt.” Prof. Nelson Fraser “shows how little the English teacher can know of the real life of [Indians]…” and that
The Englishman is the last person to put forward any view as to possible reforms in Hindu institutions.
anandaCoomaraswamy also narrates how the English educators who arrived in India to teach were completely lost. Even in their sincerest attempts to learn more about Indians, they found that the more “[the teacher] understood, the less would he wish to interfere, for he would either be Indianised at heart, or would have long realized the hopeless divergence”between English and Indian ideals.
Coomaraswamy says that the idea of education should be separated from the “notion of altering the structure of Indian society.” Any alteration or change or in his words, “true reforms come only from within and slowly.”
The British however, did not heed any of these real problems reported from the field. They devised the education system such that Indian ideals, philosophy, arts, and languages were crushed without bloodshed.
One way to do that was by bringing education under government control. Ananda Coomaraswamy writes that few indigenous institutions that imparted education in Sanskrit and Arabic “carry on a forlorn struggle for existence.” India had a rich tradition of education built on the gurukula system or pathashala system sponsored and supported by society with little or no adverse government interference. By “governmentalizing” education, the British cut off a long and unbroken tradition almost overnight. Any autonomous institution would die an eventual death. This aspect is brought out in vivid, excruciating detail in Dharampal’s volumes, most notably, the Beautiful Tree. 
A few modern institutions such as the Central Hindu College in Benares and the Hardwar Gurukula are carried on entirely without Government aid; but ..are bound to the University curriculum as otherwise their students would be unable to obtain degrees….The net result is that Indian culture is practically ignored in modern education…
The British assault on Indian education also had the Missionary dimension. Coomaraswamy writes that Missionary education avowedly
…practises intolerance–by endeavouring to destroy that culture, in schools where education is offered as a bribe and where the religion of the people is of set purpose determined.
This practice continues even today where some Christian schools forbid female students to wear bindi, bangles, etc, all sacred symbols of Hindus.

Some Solutions

Ananda Coomaraswamy repeatedly stresses on the ideal of education than a mere system of education. As an idea, education should “draw out or set free the characteristic qualities of the taught.”
In Memory in Education, he notes that culture, “in the East has been only secondarily connected with books and learning; it has been a part of life itself,” echoing R.K. Mookerji. From this, it wouldn’t be incorrect to say that culture is the agglomeration of the education of several centuries. That is, any national culture is shaped by the education it receives. Which is why today we notice that most urban cities in India are fast turning into cheap replicas of their counterparts in the West. Or the fact that the ubiquitous keyboard is quickly replacing traditional Indian instruments as the choice of instrument for aspiring musicians.
T.S. EliotCoomaraswamy also emphasizes that the “distinction between wisdom and knowledge must never be forgotten,” which reminds us of T.S. Eliot. Wisdom, according to Coomaraswamy is therefore the “true end of education.” He quotes Knox speaking about the culture of the people of Ceylon.
Ordinary Plowmen ..do speak elegantly, and are full of compliment.. there is no difference between the ability and speech of a Countryman and a Courtier.
And quotes a Sinhalese proverb,
Take a ploughman from the plough and wash off his dirt and he is fit to rule a kingdom.
And attributes this astonishing feature to the existence of a national culture not dependent on the knowledge of reading and writing. He laments throughout these essays that this treasure has been lost almost forever thanks to English education.
The most visible wound of this is that today, we have to read our own literature in a foreign language. That the glut of Mahabharatas written today by Indian authors is in English is an admirable effort. Yet almost none of these authors have read the original in Sanskrit–or in their vernacular tongue–because they don’t know the language.
In the end, Ananda Coomaraswamy offers a seven-point remedy to overcome this. I quote most of them verbatim (in italics).
  1. A universal philosophical attitude, “contrasting strongly with that of the ordinary Englishman who hates philosophy.”
  2. The sacredness of all things–the antithesis of the European division of life into sacred and profane… In India…religion idealises and spiritualizes life itself rather than excludes it.
  3. The true spirit of religious toleration, illustrated continually in Indian history…
  4. Etiquette–civilization conceived of as the production of civil men. In other words, education should enable a civilization where life should bring forth culture, not theories and books.
  5. The renewal of the special relationship between teacher and pupil and a return to the epics, classics, and in general, literature which has stood the test of time. …the epics as embodying ideals of character, learning [as] a privilege demanding qualifications, not to be forced on the unwilling…extreme importance of the teacher’s personality. Coomaraswamy frowns upon the modern practice of “making everything easy for the pupil.”
  6. The basis of ethics should spring from altruism and not from religious or other commandments. This follows from the “recognition of the unity of all life.”
  7. Development of personal character and conduct. As educational aids, Coomaraswamy lists them as control of thought, speech and action, concentration, one-pointedness and a “capacity for stillness.”
His essays lament the loss of these ideals, which existed for centuries despite Islamic invasions and occupation. However, it was only the British axe that dealt it the fatal blow.
Coomaraswamy’s criticism might seem severe but he is not blind to some of the advantages English education brought for India. Even here, he says, these benefits tilt the balance in favour of preserving Indian culture. To close this essay in his words:
Western knowledge is necessary for India, but it must form for her….a post-graduate course.

Notes:

  1. Ancient Indian Education, xvii: Radha KumudMookerji
  2. Ibid, xxi 
  3. Ibid, xxvi
  4. Ibid, xxvi
  5. The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda: Volume 3: Lectures from Colombo to Almora: The Future of India
  6. Jnapaka Chitrashaale: Vaidika Dharma Sampradaayastaru, D.V. Gundappa
  7. Education in India: Dance of Shiva, Ananda K Coomaraswamy

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

WHAT EXACTLY IS JUSTICE KURIAN JOSEPH'S POINT? SUPREME COURT JUSTICE HAS THE POWER TO POLLUTE THE LAW, DELUDE THE CITIZENS OF INDIA, COLLUDE WITH THE TERRORISTS AND PARDON THE KILLER OF 250 HELPLESS INNOCENT LAW-ABIDING INDIANS ? WHAT KIND OF SUPREME JUSTICE IS THAT WHICH SAVES AND PROTECTS THE LIFE OF THE MASS MURDERER TERRORIST INSULTING THE FAMILIES OF THE 250 DEAD PREACHING TO THEM THE SUPREME VALUE OF SAVING THE LIFE? WHEN DID THE OTHER CORRUPT CHEEK ENTER THE SUPREME COURT AND THE INDIAN PENAL CODE?? KURIAN GO BACK TO THE LAW SCHOOL AND LEARN THE BASICS OF THE THEORY OF JUSTICE.

DOES INDIA WANT TO BECOME A GREAT POWER, WITH BOMB ON ONE HAND AND GITA ON OTHER? : ASKS S. GURUMURTHY PAYING TRIBUTE TO THE WISDOM OF DR. A P J ABDUL KALAM WHICH NEEDS TO BE INTERNALIZED BY ALL INDIANS

Bomb on One Hand, Gita on Other

Published: 29th July 2015 06:00 AM
Last Updated: 29th July 2015 06:14 AM
We have often asked ourselves and others why India in its several thousand years of history has rarely tried to expand its territories or to assume a dominant role. Many of the experts and others with whom we had dialogue referred to some special features in the Indian psyche which could partly explain their greater tolerance, less discipline, the lack of sense of retaliation, more flexibility in accepting outsiders, greater adherence to hierarchy and emphasis on personal safety over adventure.”
This is what Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, with the co-author SY Rajan, wrote in the famous book “India Vision 2020 A Vision for the New Millennium” [1998]. Kalam had raised these profound issues that are sourced in our national confusion over couple of thousand years since Ashoka became the role model of India by giving up war altogether. Kalam is being profiled by his millions of admirers as a ‘People’s President, teacher, scientist, visionary, thinker, and patriot.’ He is certainly all these and more. He had bombs and missiles on the one hand with veena and Gita on the other. The huge bandwidth of the man brings out the complete philosopher-nationalist that he was. Dr Kalam introspected and posited for the nation critical issues which mirror the lessons our history has taught us but we have not learnt and still refuse to learn. Each of the issues raised by Kalam is profound. As we did not expand them, our territories contracted. As we were not disciplined, our tolerance was a mere vanity. Accepting outsiders at the cost of kinship has divided us. Preferring personal safety over adventures has made us victims of adventurists. How true Kalam was? Yet, there was, even now there is, no effort to reorient our education or national discourse on Kalam’s lines, even though he wrote his famous work in 1998. Even today, Kalam, the man, is being discussed — personally and anecdotally. But there is very little focus on what he said or envisioned for India. Encomiums are being paid to him as a visionary without discussing what his vision is. Kalam’s introspection should be the concern, even active enterprise, of the entire nation and its establishment — government, media, academia and intellectuals. Even now it is not too late. In the memory of Kalam, work on what he had envisioned for India can begin. But there can be no beginning unless there is honest introspection by Indians about the role and purpose of India.
Kalam’s Pokhran bomb and missiles have undoubtedly put India in a different league geopolitically and strategically. In his book Challenge and Strategy: Rethinking India’s Foreign Policy, Rajiv Sikri, India’s former foreign secretary recalled how despite Jawaharlal Nehru’s well-known but little publicised attempts to get closer to the US in the 1950s, India’s relations with the US remained at a low level for 50 years. According to Sikri, it was only after India became a nuclear weapons power in 1998 that the nature of India’s relationship with the US underwent a qualitative change and the US was jolted into taking India, and indeed the whole of South Asia, seriously from a security and geopolitical perspective. Pokhran-II coincided with India’s growing economic weight and the increasingly influential role of the Indian-American community in the US. Both factors added to India’s importance in US eyes. Kalam’s bomb showed what the West-centric world respects. Power. Nuclear weapons power is indeed fearsome. When the first atom bomb was exploded, its author Dr Robert Oppenheimer, a great admirer of Hindu spiritualism, quoted this verse in Bhagawad Gita to describe its power: “If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, That would be like the splendour of the Mighty One... I am become Death, The shatterer of Worlds.” And this is how the Gita-studying and veena-playing Dr Kalam described the Pokhran bomb in 1998. “I heard the earth thundering below our feet and rising ahead of us in terror. It was a beautiful sight. It was a triumph of Indian science and technology.” Power is indeed dangerous. But being without it is more dangerous. A democratic India, with 1/6th of humanity, humanistic philosophies of Sankara, Buddha and Gandhi and no record of invading others, high tolerance and flexibility in accepting outsiders was not respected. It was actually trivialised. See the contrast. In the 1970s, Henry Kissinger waited in Beijing for days for authoritarian China, which had 30 million people dying of hunger and was deep in poverty to agree to meet him! Why? A hungry and poor China had hundreds of nuclear warheads. That the world respects power is what the world has taught India — which is eight out of 10 populated by Hindus whom Mahatma Gandhi had described as “gentlest” of people on the earth.
The geopolitical stature of India which started to rise with Pokhran has been on the escalator ever thereafter. The National Intelligence Council attached to the Central Intelligence Agency [US] reported [Dec 2012] that India will be among the three world powers in 2030 along with the US and China. But for Kalam’s bomb and missiles India would never have been seen as a candidate for a global power. Japan has trillions of dollars of assets. But that does not make it a world power. Power is comprehensive. Mere economic power is no power. Merely being an economic power without being a military power will invite invasions, like India did. We were the leaders of the world economy for 1,700 years, according to Angus Maddison who studied the world economic history on behalf of the OECD nations. But our wealth only invited invasions of barbaric peoples. We were conquered because we had no sense of the importance of power. We even detested power as uncivilised.
The national confusion about, even bias against, military power, started with Ashoka giving up wars after he was shocked by the scale of destruction in the Kalinga war. Ashoka, after the Kalinga war, was in the same state for mind as Arjuna was before the Kurukshetra war. One cried after the war, and the other, before the war. But Sri Krishna with Bhagawad Gita cleared the confusion of Arjuna and made him a warrior. But Ashoka did not have the benefit of a Krishna to clear his confusion. And his confusion became our national pride. We paid the price for that high-cost pride with invasions and destruction of India. Kalam’s Pokhran explosion cleared the confusion and transformed India into a global power, though it is yet to be internalised by our elites and intellectuals. The Economist magazine [March 30, 2013] in its cover story asking “Can India become a great power?” answered it at the end of its editorial: “That India can become a great power is not in doubt. The real question is whether it wants to be.” This is what the nationalist-philosopher Dr A P J Abdul Kalam wanted this nation of 1.25 billion to say in once voice: “yes we want to be”. Instituting an in-depth study of our history to learn and internalise the lessons from it is the greatest tribute to this great man.
 (The author is a chartered accountant and a leading columnist)