Friends, let me first say a few words about your principal. I don't think he expects me to speak about him, but I must say that all of you are very fortunate. In one word I can tell him: I love you very much. When I come to teachers, I come to them with three expectations. The first arises from my complaint and I always ask teachers to pardon me for this complaint. When I first joined the ministry of education to advise the prime minister on education, I told her that, if we want a true system of education which has to be given to the children of India, first pay attention to the teachers, I could have advised her on many different things. I could have said change your books, give better books, change your system, make it quite different. I could have said change the environment, the timings of the school, so many propositions can be made, but after many years of experimentation in education, I have come to the conclusion that nothing will work if teachers are not paid attention to.
Therefore, when I get this chance to meet the teachers, I feel extremely fulfilled, I want to talk to teachers. I want to meet them. I want to talk to their souls. I regard India at present in a situation of a tragedy. We have so much, and yet we have so little for teachers and still much less for the children, and this is the situation of a tragedy. I want this tragedy to be reversed. I don't want our country to undergo another period of slavery and you may not be feeling that pressure, but when I see the international situation, the national situation, situation in our classes, our children, the inspiration that is being given to children, I feel we are heading towards a period of another dose of slavery, I would like it to be prevented at any cost.
This is not the time to analyze the situation and to show you how we are heading towards another period of slavery. It can be another occasion, and if there is one section in the country which can prevent that tragedy, it is teachers, it's not only this number of teachers, but teachers as a whole. Teachers can prevent the tragedy and no other, this is also certain. It is not politicians, it is not economics, it is not scholars, it is not bankers, it is not businessmen, industrialists. No, I don't look at them for the salvation of this country. I simply look at teachers, a nation can be made or a nation can be destroyed within a period of 20 years at any given time. You enter into a field and the whole civilization may have been built over thousands of years, in 20 years you can take it forward or you can ruin it. It will depend upon teachers.
This may seem to be an exaggeration, but a child takes about 20 years to grow up. If those 20 years are looked after properly, in 20 years time the whole nation can change in the direction that teachers have determined, therefore I said within 20 years - you can either make a civilization, or you can destroy a civilization. This is the importance of teachers. Unfortunately, this is not understood by teachers themselves and also because those who matter, so-called matter in the world, regard teachers as an appendage to the society, appendix, not something very central to the country.
How you will look upon the child? What aspirations you will feel in the heart of the child, how you will chisel his faculties? faculties of thought, faculties of imagination, faculties of will, faculty of action, various kinds of skills in 20 years time? If you properly do it, you will have a new generation which will shine. Therefore, you might say I have a 20-year program starting from today. If you all agree, you can start anytime, you decide but speak of a 20 year program. In these 20 years, the first program will be a program for yourselves, not for children. Only for yourselves, what you will do to yourselves, how you will look upon yourselves, how you will look upon your own work, how you will take care of everything, you decide today that from now on you will be a good teacher.
In fact, I did not know what questions were going to come. I was thinking of what I’m speaking to you, and the very first question that has come to me is exactly a question appropriate to what I am talking to. You I’ll read out that question in this is exactly the question that I had in my mind to ask you, and you have asked me that very question. It’s a very good sign when there is an identity of the sentiment and even in the formulation of the question. So this is the program which I would like to present to the teachers for themselves those qualities which you want children to have. My answer is yes: it is futile to expect a child to possess those qualities which you don't possess yourself. Of course, many teachers believe it's not necessary. We say to many children: do what your teachers ask you to do, don't do what your teachers do. This is also a proposition very often made. I don't agree with that view.
I demand from teachers if they want to avoid the tragedy that is going to take place in this country. I’m sorry, for speaking such a language, but I speak to you as if I’m speaking to myself, if you want that our country should not have another dose of slavery, then you can prevent that tragedy, and for that the first decision you should make is exactly this. The qualities that you want to develop among your children, 20 years are given to all of us. In 20 years time let us develop those very qualities in ourselves.
Now the second question is: hamein apne andar lagataar ache guno ko kaise banai rakh sakte hain? How can we develop and maintain lagata, constantly? They should be maintained. How do you sustain? First of all, let us underline it is necessary to sustain. Today you resolve. I want to be a good teacher, but tomorrow, if that resolution is going to be weak and day after tomorrow, weaker and thereafter very weak and thereafter forgotten, then this work cannot be done. The tragedy of any nation, particularly the tragedy of which I am speaking today, that tragedy can be removed only if teachers decide that we want to prevent that tragedy. We don't want slavery. We want our children to be heroes, heroic.
Now, if heroism is a quality that you want to develop among our children, then our teachers also have to be heroic. I'll come later on to decide as to what is heroism, but first of all, it is necessary that we decide that our children should be heroic. The two examples which we have discussed recently with your students are the examples of Rana Pratap and Rani Lakshmibai. Both were heroic, their qualities are to be, first of all, understood, appreciated, underlined.
What are the other qualities apart from heroism? What are the other qualities that we need to develop among our children and therefore among ourselves? It is the quality of what I call iconoclast. An iconoclast is one who breaks images. An iconoclast is one who is an open opponent of dogma. If you see all around, you have a very big refusal with R capital refusal. You look at your own house. Your own school, your own society, your own country, all our enemies, come to you in the form of negation and if you probe that negation, why are you saying? No, the answer is, don't ask the question, just accept what I am saying. Of course, they won't say in these brutal words, but if you go into depth of their refusal, their simple answer is you believe what I tell you, don't ask, just do what I ask you to do. This is what I call the image: a kind of idol which blocks you. It is this dogmatism which has to be destroyed, and how can you deal with dogmatism?
No dogma can be rejected, can be broken, except with one weapon, and that is the quest for knowledge. It is only knowledge which is the remedy of dogma. I’ll come to this question as to what are the dogmas? According to me, there are four dogmas all over the world today and I’ll tell you: where is the sting of these dogmas and how these dogmas can be broken? And I would like teachers to be free from these dogmas in themselves and destroy them from the minds of the students. Dogma should be replaced by true knowledge or at least quest for knowledge.
We have to create a long long quest among students and teachers to learn constantly and to learn without break and to inspire children to learn and learn and learn, unending education, lifelong education, so that dogmas can be broken. You will find that people who are around you do not have a real argument. Of course they will give you lots of arguments and they will give the illusion of argumentation all around. You will feel they have great arguments, but when you will go to the end of the tunnel, you will find there is no argument, it is simply: no. There is no argument, it is no simply. No, it is this no which has to be rejected because it is blocking the way for the future.
The future society will be a society of knowledge, whether you like it or not, whether you want it or not, whether people prescribe it or not. It is happening and will happen. We talked today of the media. Basically, all media are instruments of knowledge through which knowledge can be given to the people. We call it information technology, we don't use the word knowledge so much. We call it information technology. That technology has come to stay and we have to underline the words “come to stay”. It will stay, and the only use of that in that technology is to spread information and more information and more information, and this information will carry the messages of dogmas and they will imprison our children within the prisons of dogmas, so the second quality which I want children to develop and the teachers therefore to develop is that of quest of knowledge, which can break dogmatic assertions which are imprisoning our society and development. So this is the second quality I would like teachers to develop.
There is a third quality for which I don't need to make lot of argumentation, but to implement the message of this quality is very difficult. What is the third quality? The third quality is skill. Every individual should have certain skills. I don't say all the skills. Every individual should have certain skills on every line of development. There should be a dimension of skill. Now this is a dimension of skill nobody will argue against. Everybody accepts you want everyone to be skilled, but when you ask the society, please give us the facilities by which skills can be developed. You’ll be told by many. Somehow people are not ready to give you facilities for development of skills. Why? Because skill development is not only very difficult but also very costly, it's not easy to develop the skill of anybody.
Skill requires, first of all, on the part of the individual, a great deal of practice. Nobody can become skilled unless he has patience to practice. The skill which he has to develop, even if you want to be a singer, you have to spend hours and hours and hours of practice. If you want to be a dancer, you need to have hours and hours and days and months to practice. If you want to be a good speaker, the capacity, the skill of communication we require months and years of practice, in fact, all the teachers have to have one skill, and that is communication skill. Unfortunately, this skill is not being provided. It is assumed that somehow it will come, you just go through a period of training and it will come and therefore we don't look after that problem at all and communication is one of the skills that every teacher requires, but very important quality, very important skill to have. A population of any amount, maybe 10, 000 or 1 billion, if you do not develop skills among your people, you are only producing consumers and not producers, and that society cannot be sustained. A society which only consumes and consumes and consumes, that society cannot be sustained. It is only a productive society, a creative society that can be sustained. Therefore, if we want to avoid slavery, we must produce children who are skilled. This is a third quality and I would like that for teachers also to develop skills. I will come back to this question afterwards.
Again, let me come to the fourth quality which I would like teachers to develop. It is a quality which prevents you from quarrelling among yourselves. We all have an infinite capacity of finding the causes of quarrel and then to engage ourselves in quarrels, and everyone has reason for quarrelling and mind you everyone is right in his reasoning. I have not found anybody who has a quarrel without any real, any good bases. I’ve examined the arguments of two partners in a quarrel and I’ve seen that both are right. Both are saying something which is quite right, but quarrel is not right. The reason for the quarrel is quite right. The only thing that is not right is a quarrel. Why does a quarrel come about? The quarrel comes about because we do not know how to assert what we think is right. We do not know it is our incapacity. We are told that we should learn how to live together harmoniously. We do not know how to bring two right points of view together and to join them together. We do not know how to synthesise. We do not know how to harmonise. We do not know how to see interconnections. We have not learned what is called mutuality. It’s a very important quality of mutuality, the two individuals in a question or in a situation, how to bring them together so that there is mutuality, both need each other. The principal needs the teachers. Teachers need the principal, if this is understood by all the partners concerned, there should be no quarrel, there can be dialogue, there can be exchange of ideas and with every exchange of ideas, there is a greater warmth which can come out. Greater joy can be spread, greater love can manifest. In other words, we do not know the art of love, we all want to love, we all want to be loved. We do not know the quality by which love can increase and can multiply. So I don't speak of any other qualities.
There are many many qualities. One can make lists of qualities you might have seen. NCERT has described 82 qualities or virtues or values. I don't speak of those long long lists. I have only these four qualities. I just enumerated qualities to be developed by teachers from today, provided you consent, provided you give an agreement that, yes, we want to work for India. We should not walk straight into the path of a new dose of slavery. We want our India to remain free and truly free. Now I’ll come back to these four things again after some time, because let these four ideas sink in.
In the meantime I’ll take up some other questions which have come also, which are good ones:
Q: aisa kyun lagata hai ke hum kisi ke saath bhi nyaya nahi kar pa rahe hain?
It’s a very, very good question. It comes out from the sense of justice. It’s a great confession to ourselves. How is it that we are not able to do justice to ourselves, to others, to our work? One of the reasons why this is happening is that we are living today in a very strange world, which we do not know, do not understand. If you were born two centuries ago, this would not have been the condition. In England, it was called the Victorian age in which everybody was feeling that he was right, just, glorious. In these 200 years the world has changed and if you ask the question in what respect has the world changed? One can give a long, long lecture on this subject, but I will tell you only two or three things in respect of which we can judge the way in which the world has changed and why we feel it to be strange.
One is that today the world has become more transparent than it was ever before. Now, transparency has many problems. Secrecies has many solutions. When the child is told, this is a secret, you will Not know about it, many problems are put under the carpet. It’s a very big defence against lots of questions which can arise. You say it is not for children to know, elders can know you cannot know. This was an answer which was very famous even a hundred years ago. Children shouldn't ask this question and children used to accept it. Yes, yes, we are very young, when we become big, we shall come to know. Today this answer will not satisfy your children. This is one of the big changes in the whole world culture today. The world has become too transparent. It’s only one example.
Take another example. In the earlier times, even 200 years ago, you could manage your life by means of a kind of deception. You can keep an outer facade of one kind, doing something quite different behind the facade and telling the people something else, and this facade could remain, so that it could be sustained, but no more today, even if you start it for some time, after a very short time, it gets revealed. Imagine a prime minister of a country like ours, offering a bribe to a few members of parliament so that they can be tempted to vote in favour of the government instead of against it. An operation which comes about quite secretly within a short time, it is in broad daylight. The facade is removed very quickly in ordinary times. This facade would have remained and remained and remained. If at all, removed after 100 years, who bothers about it, it does not affect life, but today it is not so.
The third thing which is happening today is the idea of good and bad. At one time we all knew what was good. We all knew what was bad. We knew, society knew, children knew. Today if you say to the child: this is not good. You’ll say: why? Why is it not good? I like it, we do not have a real argument in our mind, in our heart. Yesterday we had a very piercing question from your students when I said to the students - god does not test you. He thought that I was saying that even good men don't test you, and so he put a question to me saying why was Harishchandra tested by men like Vishwamitra, a very great sage and by god like Indra, why this question comes up in this form? In the ancient times or even hundred years ago, people would simply not raise a question of this kind. Vishwamitra is Vishwamitra. You can't raise the question why he did it. No, today's child asked me the question. Who is this? Vishwamitra was testing Harishchandra for what? He did not ask the question: why should Harishchandra have accepted to be tested by Vishwamitra? That also could have been asked. He was still respectful. He didn't ask this question, but questions of this kind are today raised: what is right, what is wrong? Today’s children want to know why something is right in its fundamentals, in its truths, not because somebody said it in the earliest times or because it is so believed. No, he wants to be convinced about it. Today, it's a different stage of life which you have reached today, so this is the third aspect of our present condition.
The fourth aspect is that the world of today has become so intricate. You can't understand it. Take for example only the system of circulation of money. How does money circulate in the country and in the world? What are money markets? The whole society today seems to be grabbing something from the currents of money which are flowing and we do not really know what is this flow of money which is going on all around and very little of it comes to your hands and some other people are able to grab quite a lot. We don't know this system, we don't know the system of law. It is so intricate. We don't know the system of medicine. So intricate. We don't know the system of engineering, so intricate. We don't know the system of governance, it is too intricate. The whole world has become so intricate, so complex.
There are huge structures and nobody's in command. You may be the president of america, and you may think that you can press the button, but even that it will not be possible for you, because you do not know the structures, they are so complex, so intricate. You don't know how it can be managed, how can it be handled even by those who think that they can manage? They are not able to manage. Actually, we are only grabbing something that is all. You can grab a little out of it by some tricks for some time, but nobody feels that he's a master of the thing, because the things are so intricate and so huge. You can't control them.
When I joined the ministry of education. My own minister told me, Professor Joshi - I am here for the last five years in this ministry. At the end of five years, I can now say that I have begun to understand my ministry, not to be able to act on it or to even.. This system in which we are now engaged, we do not know the system, we don't know the levers of the system, how the syllabi are being prepared by whom? What is the thought going on in it already? We know what are the systems of examinations and who are running those systems of examination. We do not know what the minds of children who are coming here are. We do not know what the motivations of the parents who are sending the children here are. We do not know. Teachers are drawn from different sides and we do not know the teachers. We don't have the time. We want to ask the teachers. Tell me: what are your problems? How do you feel?
A good principal requires two years to understand every teacher properly. This is my personal experience. You join a school. If you really want to understand your teachers, only teachers, 100 teachers, 200 teachers. It takes two years to understand them. To some extent the systems have become so complex, so intricate, so intertwined, you don't understand now it is this condition. This is the basic answer to the question. The basic reason is that we are not able to understand what is all around us. What is truly demanded of us and what we have to do for the others in this world today. Hardly anybody is satisfied. The demands are increasing, so much all the time to satisfy the demands is a very difficult task. Therefore, we feel we are not doing justice. I do not blame anybody if you feel that you are not able to do justice, please do not worry so much.
There is only one way of doing justice to everybody. It is to be sure that you have done your best. That is the simple answer. Whether other people feel satisfied, not satisfied, happy, unhappy, it is a secondary thing, not that it's not important. It is secondary. Ask yourself: have I done my very best to answer the questions or demands which are made on me. If you have done it then do not scold yourself. Do not blame yourself. You have done your very best. For the rest, we shall see tomorrow. This is the answer I could give. Fine.
Q: What should be the aim of life and if there are many aims or competing aims, then how to keep an equilibrium between them, how to satisfy them? How to harmonise them?
It’s also a very important question. There are, of course, many aims of life, there are competing aims of life and we have to understand them. We have to see the balance of these questions. Even ordinarily, you find a teacher's life today is perhaps a very difficult life, most difficult life. I don't think anybody in any profession has such demands as the demands made on the teacher. The teacher is living in a family, husband or wife to be satisfied, children to be satisfied, parents to be satisfied, time table to be kept. You may have your own school to come. The child has another school. The school timing of the child has to be maintained. Early in the morning you get up in the winter at seven o'clock the bus comes, you have to send the child at the right time. You come to the class, you have to be on a tip toe in your class because the children know better than you in many respects. The children have got television at home. They have got videos at home, they have read so much, they have got the internet, they can find out many things which you cannot find out in your own home and you are to be up to date. You have to be five steps ahead of your children to be able to command respect, to be able to speak to them properly somewhat authoritatively, and then the parents demand from you something which children do not demand from you and you have to satisfy those parents. You may think that this child should not be pressed. Parents say no, no, no. You press with my child, give him a lot of work, he's wasting time at home, and you feel that he should be given some free time, leisure, where he can think for himself. But parents are demanding something quite differently, and then these are only ordinary questions.
Then there are questions of aims of life to be developed in children, aims of life that we ought to pursue the objectives of society which are to be observed. Society demands one thing or morality demands something else, customs demand something else. You need to harmonise all of them. It’s a very difficult task. This question of aim of life hardly comes in any other profession. A banker goes to the bank ten to five and after that there are no questions on his mind as to what is the aim of life, how to meet the demands of parents or even those who put their money into the banks. No questions about that system, it is rigid and laid down. You follow the rigid system and your banking work is perfect, but with the teachers it is not so. It is so flexible, so open and so vulnerable. Therefore, I do not want to tell you how you can answer this question.
This is one of the most intricate questions to answer this question. I have to speak only of the aim of life, only on the aims of society, only of the aims of your family people, the aims of your students and the expectations of the parents. These are the minimum things on you, on teachers and you have to make some kind of balance among them to be able to answer this question. I should have 3-4 hours entirely on this question, which I don't want to spend now at this time. So I will simply say: keep this question for the future.
Q: How to keep equilibrium, how to keep ourselves steady and sound, and how to maintain well-being in spite of all these intricate problems and responsibilities which are on us.
I do not know the answer to this question. For the other one, I know the answer, but for this one I don't know the answer. To claim to answer this question, I have to be god myself, because only god can answer this question. The true answer is: rely on god. If you want to be absolutely in a state of steadiness, soundness, keep some time in your life when you can be simply like a child standing before god and say: please keep me with you and give me a bath of your love on me and I want to be bathed by you. If you can do that, then he will answer and keep you in good state.
Now there is another question here:
Q: What is the definition of satisfaction?
The answer is, this cannot be defined, satisfaction cannot be defined, it is not an inability to define, there are certain things which in their very nature cannot be defined. If somebody says define colour, colour cannot be defined. If a blind man says, please tell me what a colour is, there is no means by which you can explain it to a blind man. What is colour? These are indefinable. What is knowledge? Suppose somebody says what is knowledge? It cannot be defined. There are certain things which can only be experienced, certain things which can be lived, they cannot be defined, but you can describe.
There is a question of difference between description and definition. You can describe and description does not give you satisfaction, but it's a helpful indication. So in that sense, you can say satisfaction is a state of being, state of consciousness, where for the time being at least you do not ask for more, a state of being or state of consciousness in which, for the time being, at least you do not ask for more, there's a state of satisfaction.
Then you have to say there are levels and levels of satisfaction. There are physical satisfactions, vital satisfactions, mental satisfactions, moral satisfaction, spiritual satisfactions, and therefore there is a kind of a hierarchy of satisfactions.
There are many rich people who are satisfied. You might see in many ways they can get any food they want to eat, satisfied, they can travel wherever they want, whenever they want, satisfied, they can hear any music whenever they like, satisfied. But if you ask him, are you satisfied with your capacity to write a good letter? Most of the rich people do not know how to write good letters. It’s a fact. There is a great dissatisfaction among rich people in regard to the qualities and skills of the mind, to be able to find the right word for the right stage for the right state of consciousness. They are not able to find it, they can spend hours and hours improving upon a short speech of 10 lines. They take 2 days only to write a good speech which your principal can write in 5 minutes, but that rich man will take 2 days. Only to chisel even ten lines, it's a great dissatisfaction he has got.
How many people like to sing and how few people can sing. Everybody would love to be a singer, who does not like to be a singer in this world. It’s a natural quality, natural ability in a human being. The one thing that distinguishes a donkey and a man is in the respect of the ability to sing, and everyone wants to sing. How many people are satisfied with their capacity to sing? Very, very few people. Similarly, there are many many things regarding which we want, but we cannot be satisfied and you may have many things even morally you may be great.
The Chandogya Upanishad says that a great teacher like Narada went to a great teacher called Sanat Kumar and said to Sanat Kumar, teach me because I have sorrow. So then the teacher says: what do you know? He says, I know practically everything. In fact, he gives a long list of all the knowledge that he possesses and yet he's dissatisfied. Why? Because there is sorrow - and this is one of the greatest problems of human life - you may achieve anything, wonderful things in life.
But there is something in man which is real sorrow, and the answer to that sorrow is only spiritual and every human being ultimately seeks that fulfilment and it is in that state that we need to reach and teacher to be a real teacher should really be a seeker of that fulfilment, because every child that is in your charge is actually seeking that fulfilment. He may not know that he's taking that fulfilment, but he is really seeking that fulfilment and therefore the greatest task of the teacher is to be the master of fulfilment. If we are not fulfilled, how shall we fulfil the children? This is the greatest demand on the teacher. That’s why we may say that please, I don't want to be a teacher, because the demand on the teacher is so great, but remember this is a demand, basically not only on the teacher, but on everybody.
Therefore, even if you want to cease to be a teacher to get rid of this requirement, there is no solution. Better that we are teachers and better we confess that it will take a long long time for us to reach that point. It does not matter. A time will come when we shall be able to fulfil this condition also. When we are fulfilled, our children will feel fulfilled.
Now there is another question here:
Q: There can be two aims of life. The question says there can be two aims of life. One is spiritual, another is worldly, spiritual means awakening of real self but then the person is not considered as a successful man in this world, worldly. I suppose earning a lot of money if he strives for getting a good post, fame and money, he is considered as successful in the world, but he loses the interest in finding his own self. How can we maintain balance between these two so both are achieved, and both are achieved by the help of education?
Who has put this question? Very good question. I think it's one of the most difficult questions. Let us try to understand the question and let us try to answer this question. I personally don't believe that there is a dichotomy between worldly and spiritual. There is certainly a difference of the emphasis. You can be both spiritual and worldly. I have seen many great men who combined the two things very well. You can be a captain of industry and you can live in god at the same time and there is no conflict between the two. You can be a good pilot and you can be a great admirer of the skies and the wonders of the skies and therefore the infinity and therefore the creator of infinity. The two things can go quite well together.
Many people believe that if you follow the spiritual aim of life, you'll be useless for the world. Not at all. On the contrary, I personally believe if you really want to be useful to the world, if you really want to be practical, you should be highly spiritual. You cannot be really practical unless you are really spiritual. A practical man without spirituality emphasises this or that or that or that and he becomes absorbed in that he does not really know the skill of manipulating the forces of the world. There is a very fine sentence of Nehru if you read that book called aim of life. You will find there is a chapter by Nehru in that book: Philosophy of Life. That is the title of the chapter in which he writes autobiographically. He says I am interested in philosophy, in metaphysics. I feel interested, he says, in Advaita because when I read the argument of Shankara, I feel there is a great logic in it and therefore I feel drawn into it, but then he adds, but I am deeply interested in the problems of life, problems of the world, and I want to devote myself to the problems of life and problems of the world and therefore he says I will put aside these deep spiritual, metaphysical questions.
Now this is the attitude which has flourished in the world quite a lot. Now I myself was at one time greatly influenced by what Nehru has written and in my search I found that you cannot solve the problems of the world unless you tap the spirituality of man, and I came to this conclusion. Very briefly I’ll tell you how I came to this conclusion.
When I was studying the problems of the world, I found that one of the most difficult problems of human life is that of poverty. So many people live below the poverty line and I began to ask myself how to get rid of poverty from the world? That led me to economic analysis. I studied economics from this point of view myself, so that if there is an economic answer to this question, we can apply it. While studying economics I came to realise that so long as a capitalistic society remains as it is, you have no answer to the problem of poverty. So then I thought of communism. It was felt that in Russia at that time it was the high tide of communism, so if you have machinery of the government in your hands, then you can order. Nobody will live in a five story bungalow if you have three rooms and five children, perfectly all right, whether you are wealthy or not wealthy, it will not be counted. You will no more be called wealthy. It is finished. In this way everybody will be given housing clothing. Everybody will be maintained, sustain food. It was a very interesting program, a purely worldly problem, a worldly answer. At that time the Soviet Union had not collapsed. It was in the high tide, but I could foresee at that time that this cannot be sustained.
It is something that is not consistent with human nature. To put all people equal is contrary to human nature. It’s a very long question and a very difficult debate one can have on it, but this was my perception.
Secondly, you can maintain this kind of situation only when you force people and forcing cannot be sustained for long and then I found that if people become equal as far as money is concerned, people seek power and there is capitalism of power not of money. But people begin to seek capitalism of power. I want to become more powerful and I want to tyrannise over other people, so you may perhaps resolve the problem of bringing food, clothing and shelter equal to all the people, but you can't get rid of tyranny. Those are more powerful and less powerful. How will you, how will you sustain that society? How long?
I had foreseen that the soviet union would one day collapse and it collapsed suddenly, as it did ultimately. So you have either a capitalistic society or you have a communistic society or you have a socialistic society in between which is worse. You are neither here nor there, and this is what has happened in India. We said we shall have a socialist society in India. In 1991 we realised that we cannot sustain it: privatisation, bringing more and more capital from capitalists inviting foreign powers to invest money in our country, what is called globalisation, the whole tide is in a different direction.
This was my question. Are we able to resolve the problem with which you started and how many years you go on planning, working and then collapsing? What is the real solution to the problems of poverty? What is the real solution of the problem of the hunger of power in man? What is the answer to tyranny in man? It’s only one answer.
In fact, this is the answer given once by U Thant. I don't know if you have heard his name. U Thant was at one time secretary general of the United Nations Organisation. In 1967 he had studied all the problems of the world as much as the ordinary human being can study, even when he becomes an expert, and he said that we know today that the money that we are spending on war, even a fraction of it, is sufficient to provide a good life to everybody in the world. Now, where is your economics? A fraction of the money that is being spent on war is sufficient to satisfy the hunger of the people of the world. You don't need the economics of capitalism, socialism, communism. His answer was: only to stop war and ensure that in the whole world there will be no war in the future. The moment this is done hunger is gone, you have enough already.
Now, if you come to this question, how will you ask people not to quarrel, not to go for war or not to plan for war? I don't see anywhere except by the spread of spiritual oneness in the world. There is no other way. So if I want to solve economic problems, I don't see how that economic problem can be resolved unless you go to the plane of spiritual consciousness, and that is the only effective, it’s not imagination, the only effective means by which you really can serve the world. You can bring heaven on the earth, it is possible, provided you work for the unity of mankind, for love among the people, among the spiritual oneness of people, there's no other alternative. You can climb up anywhere in the world you like, you can say I am concerned only with the world and nothing else. Do it. You spend a thousand years on it, it is guaranteed you will not succeed.
As Sri Aurobindo says very clearly, Spiritual solution is the only solution, and if people cry out saying oh impossible, then you can tell very clearly to people: my dear brothers and sisters, if that is impossible, then what you are striving to do is impossible. If you are going to succeed whatever you are trying, I only gave the example of economic poverty, but you go anywhere in the world in any direction you go, if you are really seeking a solution to the problems in the world, there is no other way than the spiritual solution.
Therefore, this dichotomy that if you are practical, you can't be spiritual; if you are spiritual, you can't be practical, my answer is that if you are really practical, if you really want to solve the problems of mankind, you really want to bring about the practical result, the only way is the way of spiritual consciousness. There is no other solution. It’s a fact. You analyse the problems. You study it at the very great depths.
In fact, I spent 50 years only in the study of this problem, and I can tell you very convincingly, you try this way, you try that way, you try anyway, you may have one economic advisor against another. You can have one political advisor against another. You can be one captain of industry against another. You bring all of them. The best. None has a solution to the problems of the world, practical problems except by only one thing: development of spiritual consciousness.
In fact, this very Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1955 I had just passed my is examination and I was in Delhi in what is called IAS training school, we were about 50 people and we 50 people were invited by the prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru at his home. This was one of the programs of training the IAS officers, meeting with the prime minister one day, and when we went to him he was very busy. He came from some meeting and he sat down before us and the very first thing he asked us the question: tell me what is the most difficult problem of India? That was his question to all of us, and naturally we were all Nehruvians at that time. We all believed that problems of the world, economic problems of the world, poverty—this is the most difficult problem of the world or of India in any case. So in one voice we said: economic poverty. He said: no. He said the problem is a problem of consciousness.
When he spoke, it was a different Nehru from what I had expected of him. Here was a Buddha speaking actually, not Nehru. He said the problem. The most difficult. The central problem of human life is the problem of consciousness. Then he turned into Hindi, jo hamko bhis aati hai woh consciousness ke bare mein hai. He said that is our real problem. He said poverty is a poverty of consciousness, and that is the problem. I think, by the time of 1955 Nehru had become quite different from what he had written earlier in his book, The Philosophy of Life. He had come to realise that however much you try, he became the apostle of peace for what? Peace is not an economic proposition. Peace is a spiritual proposition. His whole idea of Panchsheel is coexistence, it is a spiritual proposition.
Therefore, to believe that practicality is something when you throw away the spirituality or that, if you become spiritual, you become unpractical, I don't accept this, this dichotomy at all. For the very sake of practicality, you cannot be truly practical, you cannot have skill, you cannot have a quest of knowledge, all the things that I told you, you cannot be heroic. All these are practical things. If you really want to be practically a good teacher, you have to have heroism. You have to have a quest of knowledge. You have to have skills, you have to have a condition in which you will not quarrel. These are spiritual propositions. All the four are spiritual propositions.
Our idea of spirituality is not to go away from the world and sit down at some place and to remain inactive. No. Spirituality is dynamism, as Vivekananda rightly said: play football. That is spirituality. You kick a ball effectively skillfully wisely, that is spirituality. It’s quite true, do a thing practically, really practically, successfully with spirituality. It is this new science which combines spirituality and practicality, which has to be developed among all of us. A new attitude has to be created. This dichotomy is very injurious to the country and the world.
Well, these are the questions you have put to me. I have tried to answer these questions. If you have any further questions you can put to me and then, if you don't have, then I shall come back to the first question with which I started: those four things with which I started. But first I can postpone those four things later on to some other meeting when I come again to Lucknow and I can be with you that those four things remain with you for quite some time. But if you have any questions, I would like to hear your questions and have the delight, joy of talking to you. All right.
Q: In spite of the spread of communication, man is lonelier today than ever before. Is it really true? Is man lonelier today than ever before?
In a sense, it is true in a sense, it is not true. Today the world has become so packed, so crowded, particularly because of the spread of communication. They hardly get time to be alone. If your television runs up to two o'clock at night and you get up at 11 o'clock in the morning when the day is already half gone and when the work is pressing upon you and you just join up with the work and go on and on and on, you don't get time for yourself at all. But it is true that any moment you feel that you want to be alone, and even if you get half an hour to be alone, the pressure of loneliness is so great that you really feel a vacuum and that sense of vacuum makes you feel lonelier than ever before, so it is true in that sense. Our sense of loneliness today is much more acute than what we had earlier.
But this question is not enough: it's a good observation. It expresses anguish today, but there is no further question as to how to deal with it or what is to be done so I’ll reserve the question later on. I only say that today it is true that when you feel you are really alone, once in a while you do feel a tremendous vacuum and that sense of vacuum makes you feel that you are lonelier than ever before.
This is a good practical question: the children today do not value time. Actually I would like to discuss with you this question little more intimately. I hear this complaint about children from many many parents, and it's a fact that children of today they are looking for something, they are striving to be something, and we are not able to touch their heart in the way in which you would like to touch their heart. It's a melody of our society today, not only in India but all over the world. We are not able to understand what are they looking for? What do they want? If you look truly into this problem, you will find that there is what we may call the centre of gravity.
Any society you go to any family you go to. If you want to understand a society, if you under want to understand a family or an individual or even a culture or a civilization, you must ask a question: what is the centre of gravity of the individual or the family or the society or the country or the world or civilization. What is the centre of gravity?
The centre of gravity is that towards which you normally automatically as it were you gravitate. Take, for example, the time of the Upanishads. It is one time about which we have some kind of vision. This is the greatness of our culture. If there is one good memory in our race in our India, it is a memory of the time of the Upanishads. Why? Because in a few pages, that age of Upanishads has been described in the Upanishads. What is that image? A teacher sitting in his hermitage all around in a forest, there's a great quietude, and this teacher is approached by young boys. It may be Nachiketas, it can be Shvetketu, it can be Satyakam Jabali or it can be a prince, it can be a king Ajatashatru or a great teacher like Narada coming to Sanat Kumar, the teacher may be a car driver like Reikwa. The teacher may be a great rishi, great sage, but there was a centre of gravity.
Everybody felt that he must find out a teacher. In fact, this is even today to some extent has arrived. I have met many many people in India. They say I want to have a guru, and so my guru is so and so, my guru is so and so. Even today, that tradition continues to some extent. But in that time it was a natural centre of gravity to find out a teacher, to be tested by the teacher. When you went to the teacher, the teacher used to ask you 20 questions, even to be admitted by the teacher was a great glory. It was not easy to be admitted so easily and then to remain with the teacher for years and years and years and years and years, 12 years was minimum, then they did 14 years or 36 years or 48 years. This is the measure. You become yourself a teacher in due course. So this is the centre of gravity as we had in India at one time today, our children are not asking. I want to go to a good teacher. He's not looking for a teacher. That centre of gravity is gone, there's something else. What is the centre of gravity?
If you ask this question, what is the centre of gravity? The centre of gravity today is a style or system of life in which you need all kinds of services that will make your body comfortable, your desire satisfied to the degree to which you want to be satisfied and to be able to fall into what is fashionable and rest of the time to be amused by music, by art, by cricket, sports of various kinds and company. I don't say parties because everybody doesn't have enough money to go to parties. This is the centre of gravity today, and this is all over the world. Even the poor children today are looking for this.
If you ask the question, why has it happened? It is because, first of all, the progress of scientific knowledge has made things quite easy. Science has put up before us gadgets of various kinds, and we can utilise these gadgets very easily to get certain satisfactions. Akbar took one month to organise a dance for his courtiers. If he wanted his courtesies to be happy and pleased, he used to say I will arrange one dance by a very great art dancer one day. It takes a long process of organising the dance of one dancer in one night. Today on television you can see seven dances of that kind in one single night without any trouble at all. So you can measure the time taken by Akbar, Akbar the emperor, and you just switch on a television and you can sit before the television in one night. You can see seven dances, which even Akbar could not witness in his own lifetime. Today anybody can see it. It's only one example I am giving to show why the centre of gravity has changed when facilities are available all around you, in which the needs of the body, needs of the vital force, amusements of all kinds are just available to you or can be made available to you. Then people will naturally ask for that. Of course you need money for it, the more money you have, the greater the facility for having these kinds of enjoyments, stability, security. Therefore, today there is a run for money on one side and money to be utilised for this purpose. This is the centre of gravity.
Now, if you examine in terms of human civilization, you might say that this is a return of man to barbarism. In a barbarism man seeks physical comfort, physical stability and physical enjoyment is the sign of a barbaric. He doesn't have a quest for knowledge. He does not have a real pursuit of beauty or art or music; it is simply physical comfort and this science has made it very easy. This is not a case against science. I’m only saying that science has made it easy for us. Of course, it has made science very fashionable. Therefore, if some bright student wants to do something, he wants to become a good scientist or engineer or technologist of some kind, but because all the techniques that he has got will be used ultimately for this purpose, the centre of gravity is this. It is easier for men to seek these satisfactions and therefore the seeking is all instruments by which this seeking is satisfied. What is to be done?
This is analysis of why or what is happening, and if you ask the question, then what is to be done? It is there that the teacher's roles are very important. I spoke at the beginning of four dogmas. The present centre of gravity is being served because of four dogmas which are ruling today in the whole world. It is only if you break those dogmas that this centre of gravity can be changed. I’ll explain to you.
First dogma is that there is nothing right or wrong. It is right, you do that and don't ask this question. What is right, what is wrong? Don’t even ask this question whether I am right or not. It’s a dogma. Full stop. No further questioning. You cannot know really speaking what is right or wrong, and this if you question, don't ask that question is dogma, accept what I’m saying, remain satisfied with it. Finished.
The second dogma is that, even if you ask this question, you should not, but even if you ask this question and make a big quest of reasoning, you will find that reason will only give you two ideas. One is that you can know the truth only when you become completely comprehensive, till that time you are only partially right, you have to be comprehensive and you can never become comprehensive. Therefore, that quest is finished. Don’t move in that direction. It’s a dogma. Nobody today says that you can be comprehensive. You can attain to it, nobody's saying this. Therefore, there's a dogma. You cannot be. Finished. Now, don't ask the question. This is the second dogma.
The third dogma is what comes from some section of people who believe God has told you what is good and what is bad. Therefore, it is good and that is bad, and if you ask the further question, how do you know God has said it? He said God has said it, it is in the Bible, it is in the Gita. Given. And children are told, don't ask this question, you just follow. It's a dogma. No answer is given properly, it's a dogma.
Fourth is the dogma of religion. First is the dogma of physical senses. Second, is the dogma of reason. Third is a dogma of ethics and fourth is a dogma of religion which says: God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent. How do you know? It is given in the Bible again, just as God has told you what is right and what is wrong, similarly God is also. It is to be accepted that God is omnipotent, even if you say there is an evil here and if God is only omnipotent, he should have destroyed it. Don’t ask that question, don't question it. It is given in the Bible in the Bhagavad-Gita in the Vedas. God is omnipotent and if you can't answer the question about it, don't worry believe that god is omnipotent. It's a dogma.
In the presence of these dogmas our children are now safe, they can simply say I don't accept any dogmas and let me be comfortable with what I’m doing. Why do you bother me? In other words, there is no quest. There is no promise that if you make a challenge to these dogmas, you will really come to know that knowledge is possible. Now this is the task of philosophy. Philosophy can tell you that there is a possibility of arriving at true knowledge, not dogma. The basic definition of philosophy is a pursuit of knowledge in which there is no dogma whatsoever.
At one time, philosophers believed that philosophy is possible, but these four dogmas have proved that philosophy is impossible. You may not be aware of this movement today in the modern times, but this is a very powerful instrument today, philosophy is impossible. It’s a useless task. You should not be philosophising. Therefore, the one venue by which you could have broken these dogmas is not allowed. It’s said, don't ask philosophical questions and our students find it very easy. Don’t ask philosophical questions, don't put too many philosophical questions, even the greatest scientists and thinkers say philosophy is useless. I also believe it because it gives trouble to think philosophically and I’m quite happy with my television. What is the problem? I need money for it. All right, I'll earn money. What is there in it? I’ll become a multi-millionaire? Why not? I’ll become. You continue in this particular centre of gravity.
The only way by which you can break this whole circle is when you believe, when the society assumes that true quest of knowledge is possible, this was in the Upanishads. Our centre of gravity was seeking out a teacher who will give you the knowledge and who could say: Yes, I have seen. What was the magic of Ramakrishna who could break the dogma of Vivekananda? Vivekananda had the dogma that you people talk about God, but it is all nonsense. People have not seen God, and yet they talk of God, and that was a big blockade. When he met Ramakrishna he asked him this question: have you seen god? He said: Yes. His dogma was broken. His whole life changed because there was a challenge. Somebody said yes, it can be known. I can show you. This is the real need of mankind.
You may say it's a difficult thing, but that is why I said: if you do not want to go through a period of slavery, then you have to break these four dogmas and I would like teachers really to be able to break these dogmas themselves and this according to me is a task of the teacher of today. That is why it is so difficult. I even hesitate to ask the teachers. It's a very difficult task to break these four dogmas. Unless you break these four dogmas, your children are not going to inquire into that higher realm of knowledge.
The centre of gravity will be on television and not on God, and if not on God, not on values, it has no meaning. This is the analysis of the situation and therefore this is the task. If our teachers in India do not understand this, it is very rare that such a time is available with teachers, as I am getting today, very rare. Thanks to your principal who has given me this time so that at the end of two hours and a half, I am able to tell you where exactly the shoe pinches, where precisely is the problem and where exactly you can find a solution if an effort is to be made - and that is the task to be performed by us for India.
It will be done. I have complete confidence, it will be done, but if there is a increasing number of people understanding it, it will be quicker, maybe that we shall not be required to go through that painful experience of slavery again. But if you don't do it now, we shall go through that period of slavery again 50 years, 100 years, then we shall again ask ourselves my lord: where have we gone wrong, then we shall awaken one day like this we shall put that question really truly sincerely.
Even today this question is just a kind of a good good goody goody proposition. It’s not something imperatively necessary for us today, although for me it is imperative, but in the audience this question is not imperative. We do not yet imagine that we shall have to go through that great grinding of slavery once again, that slavery may come in a different form, not in the way in which Britishers came to us. It will be the invasion of McDonald's everywhere, in every village in India. It will be the invasion of Chinese goods all over India, where people will say. I want a Chinese product, not an Indian product. I want to have a contract with Chinese. I want a contract with Americans and your young boys and girls will run after them. This is also slavery. It will happen, it's already happening, then we shall realise one day after let us say 50-60-70 years, then we shall say: is there any solution, any way out? And remember there is no other way out. This is the real path. Our teachers have to play a heroic role: they have to play a role of the quest of knowledge. They have to develop skills, they have to stop quarrelling, they have to create a new form of existence. If they don't do it today, tomorrow it will be necessary for them to do it. You can only postpone it. You cannot avoid it.
I think I’ve taken a lot of your time. It’s exactly seven o'clock now. It is already seven o'clock. No, you told me from 4: 30 to 7, so now it is already 7, 5 minutes to 7. I think many teachers must be quite tired. Now, after such a long long long hearing.
Q: In spite of putting in their best efforts, children at times are not able to achieve their aim in life, this disheartens them. How can they be specified? Should they be taught to change their aim or change their cause of action and pursue the same aim?
Different children have different problems. I cannot say one general answer, but it is true that children require today a tremendous understanding, tremendous affection, tremendous love. Today’s children are rebellious. They do not want to hear what is called higher. There is a kind of a general atmosphere in the world today which is impatient with that which is higher, that which requires a very special effort. If you can make higher very attractive, if you can pour into the children a higher aim - and I don't want to prescribe something which is very difficult, because I know how difficult it is. You require, let us say these teachers if they agree, if they agree to pursue a certain line of development for 20 years, as I told you at the very beginning, then these questions can be answered properly and truly. Otherwise, these questions are very difficult. We have to accept the children will be rebellious. We won't be able to satisfy them. There will be some kind of tug of war, little bit here little bit there, you push one way, push the other way somehow muddle out, but it can't be really solved. In fact Sri Aurobindo has said we are passing through an evolutionary crisis. It’s a crisis and the crisis is not fully understood by us. You see all around, we find everything is going on well, what is the current crisis? If you tell people, there's a crisis, people don't experience it as a crisis. Go to aerodromes, see the cinema halls, see the hotels, see the parties, schools everywhere. Everything is so nice. Everything is running so well, where is the crisis? It is only when you talk like this when you are talking heart to heart, soul, to soul and really analyse the problem and then see, and we really see a crisis, a situation where a problem must be solved and where problem cannot be solved when the two forces together, the tug of war of the Impossibility and must, then there is a crisis and truly when we analyse the situation, you really find there is a crisis. It is in that context alone that all that I have spoken has a meaning. Otherwise, all that I am talking many people may regard it to be useless basically, and I would understand it, it is useless if you are not concerned with the future of this country, if you are not concerned with the true satisfaction that should come to your children if you are not concerned with your own fulfilment truly speaking, then all that I have said is beside the point. The world is moving.
As one of my teachers said. Look Kireet, the sun is shining. Today the sun will set, tomorrow it will rise, waters of the oceans are flowing in tide and ebb, the moon will rise, moon will set, gardens will flourish, the flowers will come, they'll wither, fruits will ripen and they will wither. This is the law of life. Why do you want to change anything? It will be like this. Always. Why are you worried about the world? It’s also one view of life. I can understand it. It is only the teachers among all the sections of the world, it is teachers because teachers are dealing with children and children have these problems and teachers are asked to deal with them properly and therefore you feel you are not able to do justice, and if you want to do justice, then we have to grapple with these problems in an intense manner, in a real intense manner.
So we shall come again. I will come again if you like, and we shall pursue this matter, and there are three four very important questions, but I think we shall keep them for the next time. Is that all right? I’m permitted now?