29 September 2004 (Academic Centre Butler Palace Lucknow ICPR): A critical review of concept of complete person - Audio

[Ms. Chitwan's Presentation]

[Comments and Discussions]

I think this is a good comment and we can perhaps conclude by that. Maybe Chitwan if she wants to answer she is free to answer. If she wants to because it’s already 7:30 now and I don't know if people are ready to stay on but if you permit me to say a few things, even before you may like to answer, I would like to make a few comments.

One very important question which has been raised is regarding framing a system of education which could be valid with one sampradaya, one framework. I think an argument was presented that ideals of education are ideals for a given point of view and therefore they may be valid in that framework but not valid in other framework and I think there is a great substance in that. Actually if you study the history of education in India, we find this prominently illustrated. There was a time when there was what was called only one system of education, the Brahmanical system of education or Vedic system of education. When Buddhism started then one was required to have another system of education and the two did not mix with each other and therefore another system of education and the two did not mix with each other. And therefore another system of education started—Buddhistic school of education. When Jainism also began to flourish we had also Jain system of education. In India we have gone even further. I think nayaika philosophers prefer their children or the adherents of Nyaya to go to nayaka for education. The Vedantic would like Vedantin teacher to teach his children. I think this has happened in the history of India today and this went on until Britishers came and they put a steamroller as it were and Macaulay tried to introduce a system of what is now called public school system where everybody has to be admitted irrespective of their sampradaya or their doctrine or their beliefs whatever they may be.

I think this is a question to be asked by all of us. In fact in the west today there is an assumption which is threefold—pluralism, democracy and openness to all. Now this assumption has been made so universal and with the pressure of the value dimension of which we are all very much concerned a very serious question has arisen in the west itself. If it is only a question of learning language or mathematics or history or geography or physics or chemistry or even physical education, you can have all three assumptions accepted and you can give education. But the moment you involve the idea of value, the situation becomes very difficult.

In fact I would refer to the statement which was made by Chitwan in the first paper day before yesterday. She has quoted one philosopher called Mclauglin and she said it's a penetrating question that he has raised in the name of controversy in regard to values and in order to meet the controversy we are thinning down the content of values and therefore he says are we really sure that we are doing real justice not only to the value system as such but to education itself. I think this is a very serious question and I don't think that.. At least I am not able to answer readily it requires a lot of thinking in fact, a lot of consideration by all educationists and philosophers of education, in India particularly because of the pluralism is so acute. In the west pluralism exists but it's not so acute as in India and I think it's a very serious question which we have to discuss and then in the context of that when you speak of complete person the Buddhist will object to it, Jains will object to it, Vaishnavas will object to it, Christians will object to it, Islamic people will object to it. What are we to do?

And many questions which have arisen here, they are not so acutely articulated from that point of view but still one can immediately see the assumptions behind many questions which have been raised and for me at least I feel it to be a very acute problem and although we would like to put under the carpet saying don't bother, don't ask such deep questions, I think educationists owe to the nation to raise these questions very sharply. Now in that context the way in which I see her paper is in a sense a kind of a balm. I think she has tried to define five words and says you mean whatever you mean by these words and she has provided various meanings in different contexts. I don't know whether she's aware herself of what she has done. Sometimes self-consciousness comes afterwards. But she has tried to accommodate as much as possible different shades and says even if you are an atheist, even your questioning is valuable and if you want to be a complete person deal with the question of god in one way or the other. You need not believe in god but unless you deal with the question of god I will not call you complete. I think this is the message that comes out of what she has said.

Now from a larger point of view I feel that in England there is a very important problem which empirical philosophers of England, particularly in the field of education, they are now grappling with because of the following fact. An education act has been passed by the parliament and which says mandatorily education must provide, among other things, for spiritual education. In England an act has been passed saying that education must provide spiritual education. Now this is a tremendous challenge to English world in fact. There's a big pressure. I think she was London university student and I think I can see the impress of that pressure. The thinkers in the universities now in England are very much harassed by this question and in England the law has a greater effect than in India. In India you may pass a law but no teacher bothers about it, you can go on. But in that country or in many other countries of Europe, a parliamentary decision has a tremendous effect and they like to fall in line in some way or the other, if possible.

Now considering that aspect of the question I think similarly in India also we are facing a similar problem. Somebody spoke about samatavam, sambhava—sarvadharma sambhavam. it's a very important question in India. If you read Kothari Commission report, you see the tension in that report. On the one hand it declares very clearly we should follow the system of education under the guidance of the great motto – “Sa vidya ya vimuktaye”. It says very clearly “Sa vidya ya vimuktaye”. I think Kothari should have congratulated Chitwan today because she has incorporated that basic motto in terms which are not exactly in consonance with whatever different religions might proclaim to be vidya and vimukti. But the force of it is taken care of in this formulation. Now secondly Kothari commission report says that you have to have value education. There's a distinction made between vidya and value; vidya and mulya. So apart from vidya which is for liberation, he said we should have also value system in India. And they were very troubled; the moment there is a value system the question of multiplicity of religions and each religion having its own value system comes into the picture and they could not answer the question. So therefore they define the following thing and there is a third aspect. It said value system which is in consonance with science. Now you see, you give concession by one hand and try to take away from the other, so that you are not criticized in any way. This is the trouble with all reports which are made including UNESCO report.

She made a comment that UNESCO has decided learning to be on the basis of the convergence of thinking which is going on in the world today and it deliberately avoids the word spiritual in the entire report. The highest it speaks of is ethical— aesthetic, intellectual, ethical. But the word spiritual is omitted because they know the moment the word spiritual is used, there'll be a huge trouble about it.

But England has now gone forward because the pressure is so great because in England today now there are many religions flourishing at the same time and the pressure of religions in England is much greater than in India. In India we are not so vociferous, we are still under the mentality given to us by Macaulay which simply allows this kind of dilution, this kind of what is called secular education and so on. But in England, the Christians are pressing for Christian values, Hindus are pressing the Hindu values. It's a fact, I have been in England, I’ve lived there for some time and I find there Hindus are not so very quiet as we are in India. They want Hindu dharma to be taught. There are textbooks now in England in which all the religions are expounded to the students, all the religions. Same thing from Islam, Islamic scholars in England are not quiet, they want children to be bred in Islamic culture. Judaism also is very powerful there and the conflict between Judaism and Christianity is very sharp. Therefore they are obliged I mean by the very pressure of people and there to come to parliament is a very important victory for an individual and unless you please your voters, each one belonging to different religions, they will not leave you and therefore this is my analysis of why in England this law has been passed— spiritual education has been made mandatory.

Now it is in that context now that the question of complete person and spiritual dimension and even the UNESCO also is sometimes worshipped because of that reason. Learning to be, why for example the law? learning treasure within. He speaks of living together and while describing living together he has what you just now expanded here, he's also emphasized. He's not really living together neighborly-hood, He's much deeper, at a deeper level, he's not maybe of coexistence living together is to live like brothers, much more deeper, at a deeper level.

So I think since the time is so short I will only make this one comment. It was in that context I would like to congratulate the speaker because she has done a marvellous work and bold work considering the background that an individual at his or her level could have. I think is a very very good work and there are many questions which Rakesh has raised which Rastogi-ji has raised. Many of us have raised many questions and I think we can legitimately demand answers. These questions and comments have been very stimulating and I don't want to keep anybody any longer but we could discuss them maybe if anybody's going to be here. Oh yes, everybody's invited for dinner and we could probably discuss it one to one there. I don't want to take everybody's time. Alright, so thank you very much.