Curriculum for Peace (12 March 2008, Gargi College, Delhi) - Track 2

So the whole educational system at that time was sought to be upgraded in view of the war, to prepare children better, not for peace education, so that they can fight better the Russians, this is only 1980. And you can’t say today, no nation is preparing for war. Even today every nation is preparing soldiers and can you produce good soldiers if you have to give them peace education. We are all potential soldiers of our country. It is basically after the Second World War that the ideal of peace became very prominent in the world; it’s not very far off. Second World War ended in 1945.before that there was another First World War, it ended in 1918. So 1918 after the First World War for the first time nations began to feel the horror of war. For the first time it was a world war, nations clashed with each other and therefore they began to think of peace to prevent any future eventuality of a war and they felt that world must awake to the need of peace, you should eliminate war from the whole human history. This historical background is important for curriculum making because when you give the aim of peace education these elements are to be incorporated, you have to give the perspective of peace education and how peace education became important.

Now contrary to these two historical facts of First World War and the Second World War, we had in India a corresponding event. We are making peace education syllabus or curriculum for Indian student’s therefore Indian context has to be kept in view. In India there was a big war of Mahabharata long ago, which was similar to world war considering the world at that time, nations had come together. At that time nations are called provinces today, were called nations at that time. Nations had come together, in fact the whole of India was present on Kurukshetra on one side or the other and there was a big massacre. It is said only five Pandavas remained and Ashwathama and Kripacharya, these were the only people that were left at the end of this Great War, all were exterminated. It was a huge horror of war. And even at that time, you must know the story of the very well to be able to make a good meaningful curriculum. The issues that came up at that time, which were prevalent even at that time, the issue at that time was that Mahabharata had become inevitable that war had become inevitable and so inevitable that when Arjuna wanted to go away from the war, the great teacher called Sri Krishna, he told Arjuna not to flee away and to fight and to massacre. Slay thy enemy that was the idea. It’s a issue whether Sri Krishna’s teaching is valid and if not why not? This is a very prominent question which students should ask you. If peace education was necessary, why Sri Krishna did not teach the art of peace at that time and he said that war was inevitable and even exhorted Arjuna not to run away from the battle field. Some people even criticise Sri Krishna saying, even Gandhari is supposed to have called Sri Krishna war monger and if he had to say no war, war would not have taken place and her hundred sons would not have been killed. What is the philosophy of war and peace at that time, the curriculum makers have to have a clear idea on this question? Actually not many people know that Mahabharata was written in order to establish the ideal of peace. The last chapter of Mahabharata is called Shanti Parva. These are questions to be contemplated upon critically. Why, Mahabharata is ultimately supposed to be a book of peace not of war. And if you study the story of Mahabharata you will find that this subject of peace was debated even before the war preparation was going on, it was debated. In fact it is said Sri Krishna was the greatest upholder of peace and this aspect is not brought out very easily and clearly among us, we don’t tell the story of Mahabharata properly to our own children that Sri Krishna was a great upholder of peace why, because in Indian culture the ideal of peace was advocated right from the Vedic times, Mahabharata was much later. Even today we are all aware of what is called Shanti Patha.

Om Dyau Shanti antariksha Gwam
Shant Prithvi Shanti Rapah
Shanti oshadhayah Shanti Vanas Patayah

     The whole world is supposed to be filled with peace. Avoidance of war was supposed to be one of the greatest aims of our Indian culture, right from the beginning. And yet Rama was a great fighter, a great warrior, Krishna was a great warrior and all kshatriyas had to fight. They had to be prepared, they had no peace education, it was war education. Inspite of this aspect, I am putting these issues before you not to answer these questions to make you think of these questions. And a large canvas because ultimately when you make a curriculum the curriculum makers must be quite clear as to what they want to advocate ultimately. And unless you answer these important questions you won’t be able to make the aim of peace education properly articulated and you can’t prepare children for it.  It is not known that Sri Krishna was the one who tried his utmost to avoid war.