College Education and Man-Making (2008, Sukhdev Vihar, Delhi) - Audio

An autonomous college can have a program of this kind, that a student can do honours in three subjects, not one, and they will make a timetable suitable to this kind of system. This is one innovation that can be proposed because at present we have big difficulty in getting those students who are capable of three-four subject mastery. As I have told you in my own case, I wanted to do philosophy and economics, philosophy honours and economics as subordinate subjects. That is all that was allowed, that you can take one subject subordinate and three subjects in honours. That was the idea at that time. So even there, however, I was told that if you take philosophy you can take Sanskrit as a subordinate subject, you take English as a subordinate subject, but economics is so opposed to philosophy that you can't take economics as a subordinate subject, because the timetable of economics and philosophy are so organised that one cannot be attending both the classes, and I said to my principal I want to do both philosophy and economics, so I was refused. Then I went to principle again and I said I want to do economics, so he said.. he was a very kind man, he was from Scotland, very nice man, so he hesitated. He said, suppose I allow you to do economics but cannot arrange your timetable, will you study on your own? I said yes, I shouldn't not be debarred from taking the examination. That’s all, then he smiled and said, that’s good and I allow you. So I did philosophy in economics and I was first in economics in university. That is because I studied economics books at home in my hostel and I used to go to some professor of economics from time to time to discuss and our teachers were so good. They were quite welcoming students if they went to them.

Now, if this is sometimes allowed because of the goodwill of a principle, and if you are an autonomous college, where you can allow it as a matter of course, how much difference it would make. In fact, I wanted to do my BA Economics, Philosophy, Sanskrit and Astronomy. These are my great interests at that time, but Sanskrit I could not do because there was no timetable available. Astronomy was out of the picture because it belonged to science. You are an art student, so you can't do science subjects at all. Why? Why can't a student of arts do a science subject? I don't understand. Why should I not do philosophy and physics? Actually both are so interrelated. If I want to be a philosopher of science, I should know science quite well. Why is this not allowed? Who prevents anybody from doing it?

When I ask this question, somebody will say: oh you know there is this university and now they are allowing it. Answer is answered. Finish. One university out of 300 universities is doing it, so what? How will you change the climate of universities where this is normally allowed? This is the question: why should our students be deprived from learning languages at a higher level, even when they study some other subjects? Language is a very important subject.

Literature is a humane subject, one who studies drama for example, whether it is Shakespeare or it is Kalidas or both, a student who has done these two dramas only Kalidasa and Shakespeare, will be a human being with deep insight into life, broad understanding of life, catholicity in the mind automatically. Having read Othello you will doubt yourself whether you should doubt your wife. If you have studied Othello properly the whole idea of jealousy which arises among some husbands regarding their wives, there is a catharsis when you read Othello, a wife who was so faithful becomes subject to suspicion, simply because somebody comes and tells him Iago comes up in the picture and administers some kind of a poison in the mind of the man and begins to doubt his faithful wife, ultimately murders her, I mean the one whom he loves so much, and then he stabs himself because you discover that you made a mistake. Anybody who has read Othello properly will be a better human being after reading Othello, even the insensitive person would become much more refined.

Anybody who reads Macbeth for example, he will understand what is the evil of undeserving ambition. A man who was a faithful servant of his king simply is poisoned by somebody saying, “hail king” and the idea of kinghood is injected into the mind of this man and speaks of it to his wife, who is also ambitious, then plots to make him the real king. He murders him and after the murder, what? Murders Duncan and then what happens? Life is most miserable, both the life of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, what is portrayed in the drama is so appealing to the human heart. It washes out wrong ambitions in the human heart.

Anybody who reads Hamlet, what is the evil of scepticism, the power of doubt to dissolve the warmth of love and indecisiveness which arises in life, what kind of tragedy is produced when the mind is all the time in suspicion and never arriving at a decision? The woman whom he loves, Ophelia comes with all the warmth and Hamlet because he has begun to doubt the faithfulness of his mother to his father. He says to Ophelia, “go to nunnery”. This is the advice he gives to her. Ultimately, Ophelia becomes disbalanced in mind and drowns herself. This tragedy is on what account and after the tragedy occurs what happens to Hamlet himself? Then he pronounces all his love to Ophelia. Laertes, her brother, buries her and Hamlet is not in the picture when the enterrement takes place. When Hamlet comes, he digs up the tomb of Ophelia and the memorable statement he makes:

I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers
Could not with all their quantity of love
Make up my sum. What wilt thou do for her?

His brother had buried her. Now he says forty thousand brother’s love cannot equal mine. But what then? Tragedy has occurred. Where was that love of forty thousand brothers, more than that, where is that love? One who studies Hamlet is a different kind of man.

One who studies Kalidasa, what is the message of Kalidasa? All his kings are great heroes and great lovers, a combination in personality of heroism and love, intense love. Pururavas in love of Urvashi, Agnimitra in love of Malvika, Dushyanta in love of Shakuntala, all the three kings are heroes. Even the gods invite him, invite the kings for battle with demons, elevated characters of that high level and how the royal mind, what royally they can love, what kind of worship they can offer to the woman whom they love and what catholicity of consciousness.

Kalidasa requires a different temperament to study the greatness of his dramas, different from Shakespeare, and if you are both, if you have done Sanskrit drama and English drama and the two influences are at work in a human consciousness, you get a different kind of a personality and one who does this and does philosophy, you can understand what kind of philosopher will be, and if he's also a physicist, you can see what kind of his philosopher he will be.

And why can't you do it? philosophy, physics and literature? Why can't you do it? and literature not only of one language, literature of two languages? Why not? Why should a student of Shakespeare not do Kalidasa? Who says so? Why should that not happen? You speak of world culture, and why can't we even intertwine two cultures here in India? Why should you not have facilities for doing it? What prevents you?

Anyway, these are some of the major problems of college education. When you say, excellence is needed, and you just see controlling, what kind of control if autonomous college exists? The problem is that we do not have even the ideas of innovations and we do not have ideas as to how innovations can be implemented, if at all you want. and what kind of training of thought is required so that in due course of time such innovations will be implemented and where is the thinking factory, where is it being allowed? What is the thinking at the top level on the subject? These are the questions which are more germane. As far as the enrollment is concerned, if your education people are good people, it will percolate down, this forcing of education on the people instead of people feeling that they must demand education and then forcing people to be educated because of certain other benefits which come and the kind of education you give which is easier to pass through, you will never get quality. Today, students pass BA MA quite easily. So there's no real education. That mind has to be trained. Mind has to be made to think, even 10 pages if you understand properly, you are educated. If you understand ten pages even, truly understand, but even this capacity, our students don't have. So that is where our educational situation is to be looked upon with critical eyes.

What are we doing to create educated people who think? So the problem is not made of enrollment, it is a very subordinate problem and whenever people write on education, they think only of enrollment, absenteeism, dropouts and then how to take more and more colleges and more and more universities and how to speak of creativity and freedom. Your highest thoughts are exhausted. The real butter of education is never explored.

What is it that makes an educated person an educated person? What is the pedagogy of education, how to combine different subjects, how to define faculty development? How to develop ratiocination, concatenation of thought, critical thought, metaphysical thought, scientific thought, imaginative thought, different kinds of thought? How do you develop these different kinds of thoughts in the human personality? These questions are hardly taken into account.

Which were the central questions in the old system of Education.

Yes, extremely important, a school teacher in olden days, he was also a physician. He was an astronomer. He was an advisor to the agriculturists. He was an advisor of dharma, a school teacher in a school, he was a friend of children. He was a respected preceptor of families and the child was given to him by parents, “now educate my child”. That echo with that life was a reality, but that teacher who was alone, he played such a big role and that teacher was a teacher because he was also educated in a pathshala where so many things were taught to the individual, and this was in the decadent India, in the time of Sri Chaitanya and others.

In the real India, the classical India, education was much more sophisticated, much more broad-based, where they thought of 64 art and sciences, what a tremendous idea that every woman was considered to be educated if she knew these 64 sciences and arts and there were men who could do it and that system continued for a long time. If the queen of Jhansi at the age of 18, she could come up to fight a battle, it could not happen unless there was a great system, even in tradition, as a result of which a girl could be educated by the age of 18. She was the leader of an army. So that system was there all over and today hardly anybody is thinking about the systems of education that could be possible even in educational institutions. If you go and you ask them: what is the pedagogy of ancient India? You'd hardly find anyone who knows about it.

It’s nowhere even the horizon.

Yes, absolutely.

So, these are stray ideas, since we are reading these two three pages, so now we can continue to read. So even this question is not in the minds of the people that there is diversity in our country and a huge diversity, and this country can be kept intact only by a powerful process of integration. How to combine these two forces together?—what is called centripetal force and centrifugal force. Centrifugal force is a force which puts you into all diversity. Centripetal takes it towards unity and both have to be combined together. How to do this? In the modern conditions because of transport facilities, because of communication facilities, it has become easier to integrate. Transport and communication, these two facilities have allowed the country to become more united, but psychologically we have not been able to create that unity, and it is there that our whole test lies. It is because of the fact that in ancient India this problem was considered very wisely. They created cultural unity even in cultural diversity, not political unity in political diversity, but cultural unity in cultural diversity. They created special literature, special institutions and central ethos of unity and ensured that this was spread in the country deliberately.

It was enjoined upon parirajakas to travel like ambassadors and to give to the people, those pieces of literature, those articles of ethos, and those articles of intercommunication, and they were spread all over the country. That is why, even today, in spite of all kinds of disintegrating forces, even today, India remains intact, even when India had so many states, even so many princely states were there, even then, India could be called India because of that. And unless we have another vision of the same kind of vision and unless we create conditions by which that vision is spread in the country and kept alive deliberately, the forces of division are bound to constantly arise.

Even partition of India was a result of that fissiparous tendency in India. India could not sustain the unity of the whole country, and we now see what price it is if the country is disintegrated. We are remaining poor largely because of partition. We are maintaining a huge army only for that sake, only for the border side, and what for? We have to pay a big price of disintegration, and today also I mean, a part from northeast India does not belong to India. Tamil Nadu does not belong to India and tomorrow Mumbai also will say the same thing and if Mumbai says Patna will say the other way as retaliation and why not? even Delhi will be claimed only by north India. Why should southern people live here?

These are all wrong tendencies, which are being allowed to flourish. There is not one pan-Indian language which has been encouraged in our country. This is one of the first things which has to be understood. What are the integrating forces in India? Sanskrit was an integrating force in India. At one time, Sanskrit literature was a unifying factor in India. Dharma was an integrating force of India, not religions. There were Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism, all these are flourishing in their own way, but dharma was universal, even Jainism had principles of dharma, ethical life. Buddhism had Dhammapada. India had dharma apart from religion and all that, you can belong to Vaishnavism or anything, but dharma was the same.

So that dharma was ethos, was common, and that ethos was propagated through literature. Not many people realise that drama and Mahabharata were not written for the sake of historical writing form. The intention of writing was educational. This is not sufficiently realised that Valmiki and Vyasa wrote, what was the motivating force? It is not like modern literary people, mere aesthetic, joy and creativity. It was basically for the sake of educating the people, how to give to the people unifying forces of dharma. That was the main concern of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Even today, India has remained intact because of these two great unifying forces, even today, but we don't really recognize these two great resources from that point of view, there are no human beings today who understand the value of this from this point of view. Our education does not tell our people that these two great things are for education. They are not mere matters of literature. They were written for educating the people, even Tulsidas when he wrote Tulsi Ramayana, was to educate the people. That was his main idea. It said that now Sanskrit is not known by people, but people ought to know, they should be educated, so he wrote in the regional language, but the purpose was educational. This idea of education is not present at all in our present mind.

Well, that's why there are no more books in the other languages. The major books are still in English.

Yes, because one Indian language is not postured. There is no conscious, deliberate choice made by the country. There is a need for whole-seeing at the top. We need a kind of a battery, they think of think tanks and all that, but they're all limited to a small area but whole-seeing large problems of integration.

So, even when the program we've had in ISE, where all those people spoke, they all had, they were experts in their own field. So then, it needed somebody much greater to integrate that decided on actions.

Absolutely. In India we had people like Vyasa who could see the whole, Kalidasa who could see the whole of India, something valid for the whole country, and it is that whole-seeing that is a necessity. Now, today, that whole-seeing has to be for the whole world, not only of India.

But currently to make India turn around, even limited to India, it needs to be addressed urgently because the same thing is quite evident, the world over it's again limited, divided.

Yes, we have to have. That's one of the reasons why I’m selecting these monographs, both from east and west. It is for that reason that new minds which have to be created have to be holistic, whole-seeing. If we can publish those 80 monographs they can really be global. You will select, in some kind of a selection from the world, those forces which give you the holistic view of things.

Again, it could be a kind of ascension to universal language.

Yes, absolutely. Which is the real function of India. India has to give that. That's why all these three books, which have been edited are universal, the Aim of Life is both eastern and western, The Good Teacher and the Good Pupil is both eastern western, so also Mystery and Excellence on The Human Body is both eastern and western. They are universal books.

Whatever we attempt about these books and the program should be able to convey this about the books.

Today, one of the greatest needs of the world is internationalism. Nationalism is, of course, important, but internationalism is also extremely important and right now it is not first nationalism and then internationalism. Nationalism itself will flourish if you develop internationalism. So this is where BJP is not in synchronicity with the time that our education has to be international education. The reason why I advocate four language formula consisting of Sanskrit, mother-tongue, English and French - this is my real formula, Sanskrit is a pan-Indian language. regional language is your mother tongue, English is the international language, and French is an internationalising language. It is that language that would bring India and Africa closest together. The two parts of the world which have got to come together because today India and China are recognized, but tomorrow Kenya and Uganda will be recognized as a powerful emerging giants. And if India develops French language, then India will be a prototype of Africa. In Africa there are only two languages: English and French. So India can be a real leading power of Africa. Imagine if India becomes a leading power of Africa, what would be the great power in India.

The other day Umber came here, and he spoke in French on that day, because he can't speak English. He was the director of UNESCO and he called a colleague of his due to that and he said you translate my words into English. He spoke himself in French and English translation was given on the spot, both were Africans. The one who translated knew both English and French very well, but director general himself could not speak in English, so it was a good example. If there were Indians, who knew both English and French Africans could have easily come and very easily communicated with us. So if you want an international world and if India wants to be the leader of international world, this four language formula is the right formula for India: Sanskrit, regional language, English and French; a proposition very difficult for people to accept. But if you look at it from the whole point of the holistic, India can easily become a world leader only by these four languages. Hindi will have some kind of predominance in this movement, but anyone who knows Sanskrit and regional language for him Hindi is not difficult at all, anyone in India who knows Sanskrit and his regional language very well Hindi is not a big problem. It won't happen the other way around. Once Mother said Hindi will always be resisted, because non-Hindi area will have permanent handicap. Northern Indians who speak in Hindi if their language becomes national, Bengalis, Gujaratis, Marathis, Telugus, Kannadas, Tamilians, Mallayalis, they will have a permanent handicap. Why should anybody accept a permanent handicap? It is only thanks to Hindi films that Hindi has spread actually, not because of education. Now it is diminishing because every region is producing its own films. So it is not a permanent solution for Hindi and Hindiwallas have tried to impose Hindi upon other states as if they are the lords and everybody else should study Hindi, Hindi is their mother-tongue so they can lord over the others, over everybody. Even in the central government, Hindi people have an advantage, even in the parliament, they have an advantage, it is natural to be resented about, because why should you impose an handicap permanently? Sanskrit today as a pan-Indian language has an equal handicap for everybody. If it becomes a national language, everybody will have to learn and everybody will have to excel by self-effort equally, nobody has a greater advantage.

Actually if they look at who has more Sanskrit words than Hindi, then Malayalam has plenty of Sanskrit words, eighty percent. Even Tamil has fifty percent of Sanskrit words. Gujarati has sixty-seventy percent Sanskrit words, and so Bengali. So if Sanskrit is made a national language, the whole scene and the world culture of India is so easily accessible.

Who has to bell the cat!

That’s where the problem lies with India. There is a need for a real resurgence of India. You should advocate these ideas, which will be greatly opposed..