History, Nationalism and Culture in Education - Audio

One example was that if I want to make my educational program of history, for example, very interesting, I know that some children like to study history from today to backwards, some children like to learn history systematically. Some children like to take up only biographies some teachers would like to take only important events. Some children feel interested only regarding a particular focus upon a particular period because of its immediate relevance. How many children, for example, see a film, a historical film, but our school does not tell you what was before that and after that the film is seen enjoyed very well. You see Jodha Akbar and many questions do arise in the minds of children, but nobody discusses what was Akbar, why Jodha Akbar had a problem. What was something that was new and what happened thereafter before and after, historically it's very interesting.

But what I’m saying is that a good school as a school, it should be a culture among teachers that all teachers should feel that they should exploit such a situation where a geographical or historical film is on the scene in the surrounding, your school should have a kind of a program of telling before and after, to give the exact focus of the history, and you can understand the film also much better.

We discussed more about the controversy. There was so much of controversy.

Yes, a lot of controversy is good, so similarly, you can even bring to the school some historical films deliberately, not waiting for Jodha-Akbar to be produced in the country.

All these are good things. So when I speak of contents of education, no books are available. A good teacher tells at that time, but contents of education require books which specialize in giving antecedents and sequels, such books are not available. A good school should be able to collect from very good historians and writers, three four good pages, giving sequels and antecedents of great events, like the French revolution. It’s a very big event.

Actually, a good history teacher will see that in the world history four or five events are very important. The age of Pericles is a very important age in world history, the age of monarchy of Elizabeth the first and Louis XIV in France and Akbar in India. These three great kings, their monarchy, is a very important epoch in the world history. Revolution in England in which Charles the first had to give his head and the French revolution, these two great events of world history are very important. As a result American revolution was a consequence. Similarly, when you come to Russian revolution before that industrial revolution, rise of nationalism and now the rise of internationalism, if a child knows only these six seven events, the whole world history is mastered in a way and we should have very good teaching learning material about these events, antecedent sequels, and short, in four or five pages.

Children don't have much time to read a lot but very interestingly written and there are some very good books now available on the computer, even internet. If you ask a good question: you'll get very good material. Now it’s not so difficult as it was in my time when I was a student. Now it is very easy, so a good teacher can even bring out and can multiply, and you should have good photocopier available to good teachers who can multiply things. You have got everything, so ideal.

So I stop on this subject, all right, as far as we shall continue to debate later on, but as far as this is concerned, this is the subject which I would like to place before you.

The second subject, which is important.. so we shall do nationalism, internationalism now, all right! I was already talking to her that this subject has to be dealt with at three levels: at the top level, adolescent’s level and children’s level. She has already started making a children’s level, which is very good already, but the top level, unless the top level is very clear and very resourceful we cannot do much at the lower level.

At the highest level, nationalism of India is not sufficiently known. It’s a one important sentence that we should underline. We don't know much of Indian nationalism. Take for example, we speak of nation as rashtra and we speak of India as a rashtra. Rashtravada is nationalism. We don't know the history of nationalism in India. Not many people know the word rashtra was present even in the Veda. Many people don’t know that this word rashtra occurs right in the Vedic literature, that India was one unit composite unit, it was understood even in the early stages of India.

Actually, what we are told is normally India became nation only after Ireland became a nation, and nationalism started working in the whole world, that in the beginning of 20th century the idea of nationalism began to grow and then our nationalist struggle. This is our normal idea of nationalism of India. So historically, first of all, our own knowledge of nation of India is very perfunctory. It is also maintained that India became a nation only because Britishers unified India. It is another idea which is present in India: for the first time India became united only when Britishers came to India. There is a truth in this statement, but much that is false in this statement. This also has to be clarified to ourselves.

The third is that in our conception, nationalism is only a political idea. It’s a political ideal and unfortunate, and normally, when you talk to children, we only give the political aspect of India as a nation. Now let me deal with all these questions in a more elaborate manner.

We had in India a concept of the chakravartin, chakravarti maharaja. We never ask the question: what is this idea of chakravarti? and this idea is very ancient in India. Why chakravarti at all? What is the meaning of chakravarti? Chakravarthi is not a king of a portion of a land but a king of the whole land. This is the idea of chakravarti. In fact, it was said in our Indian tradition that a good king is one has a duty to become a chakravarti, it’s a duty. It’s not left to your ambition, it’s a dharma.

Now, how can a nation like India, avoid this idea unless there was a tremendous political, social, cultural thought where it is said, it is your duty to become a chakravartin. It was imposed as a duty and why? Because a good chakravarti is a protector, it’s not to dominate, domination was not the idea for chakravarti. It is the chakravartina, the idea of protecting, because of his samarthya, of his strength of character, of his vision, of his abilities. Supremacy is to be used not for domination, but for service. This was the idea right from the beginning put down. There was an idea of swarajya and samrajya right in the Vedic verses themselves. Veda is how old? I don't know. I have been studying Veda for many years. I don't know if somebody says how old is the Veda? according to me at least 10 000 years old, at least, if not more, it is much more, but at least ten thousand years old and the idea of swarajya and samrajya is present in the Vedic verses. There are many verses which are addressed to Varuna in the Rig Veda, where Varuna is addressed as samrat. He is addressed as samrat. Now samrat can be a word of addressing only if there is an idea of samrajya, and there is also the word swarajya and it is said you cannot be samrat without your having some swarajya to be able to become a samrat. You should be first of all swarat, you should be the raja of yourself, it is a necessary condition to become a samrat.

Now our children of India should know this important fact that in India, the idea of swarajya and samrajya are as old as 10,000 years old and since there is no documentation in the world available compared to the Veda, whether other nations had this idea or not we cannot say, but about India at least we can say that confidently, because there’s evidence in terms of actual texts available where the word swarajya and samrajya are given.

It shows how much idea of nationalism was so much developed in ancient times, and so the dharma was prescribed for any good king, and if you read Ramayana, it is the one of the oldest stories of India, Sri Rama proposes ashwamedha in order to show that he is Samrat, a king of Ayodhya. He is so great, so noble, so powerful to give protection to the whole nation. He performs this ashamedha. It was a part of your duty that a good king must have this yajna. It’s a spiritual exercise. You have got to do this spiritual exercise as a good king, and you should see that the whole country is united. This idea of unity is indispensable element of the definition of nationalism. There is no nationalism if the concept of unity is absent from it, and this unifying factor was ashamedha yajna and at a lower level it was rajasuya yajna which Yudhishthira performed when he became the king of Hastinapura which was part of Indraprastha. When he became the king of Indraprastha, one of the first things he did was to create Indraprastha and to call rajasuya yajna where Sri Krishna was invited to be the chief guest. So even Yudhishthira, although he was only given part of the Hastinapura, other part was still kept by Dhritrastra as a regent and the other part was given to Yudhishthira, as in their part, one small portion, but within a short time he came so powerful and so great that he arranged a rajasuya yajna where kings of all parts of India assembled together. That is historical fact, I mean at least in Mahabharata it is written that Yudhishthira invited all the king, even if Duryodhana had to come at that time and the starting point of Mahabharata was his visit to the palace of Yudhishthira where he fell down and then Draupadi laughed at him.

So pardon me, so we can include this in culture also?

Yes, yes, you are right. That’s why I’m saying that I’m talking to everybody together, because some of the things are overarching subjects. So this rajsuya yajna was already prescribed for the good king and they were not supposed to rule, it’s very important. Rajsuya yajna is only the sign that is a protector of the whole country and he has to take a lead if there is any kind of injustice anywhere, he could take a lead. He had influence. He was to be acknowledged as the protector of the whole country.

It was our first political idea of nationalism in India. It is not a result of what happened in Ireland. It was in India a very ancient idea and our children ought to know that India was a rashtra. This concept of rashtra was present right at that time, and we had idea of integrating the nation right at that time. India must be united. It is that which gives rise to a question of what is called cultural nationalism as distinguished from political nationalism. One of the miracles of India is that India is so diverse, and yet India is India. It’s a miracle of political development and cultural development of India. There are not many countries which are similar to this development, to have large diversity in your own one country and yet to be united. How was this miracle effected? The important idea is that in India our sociologists, political thinkers, religious thinkers, leaders of thought and culture, they emphasized the necessity of cultural unity as a precondition for political unity as a precondition. You cannot sustain nationalism if culturally your people are not united.

Political unity can come about even by artificial means. Romans, for example, they overran many lands of the world, it became empire, it is called pre-national empire. Building roman empire was an empire, but it was pre-national. Nations had not yet come to develop. Although Greek developed as some kind of a nation, although Greek state was multiple 30-40 states were there in Greek city-states, some kind of nationalism was developing and before it could develop Romans conquered that area as part of roman empire, but as soon as the roman Empire, withdrew its power, Greek nation came into existence. What was embedded it flowered, because cultural unity of Greece is different from political unity and because cultural unity existed, national unity, political unity came up very easily, so there is a what is called real unity and constructed unity.

These two concepts are very important to be understood and all nationalism is connected with the problem of unity, but there are two kinds of unities real unity and constructed unity. You can have constructed unity for some time, but real unity will reaffirm itself and reassert itself. There will be constant tension. If Palestine is a problem, it’s a problem of national religion, Arabs and jews are brothers and until the two unite truly, the quarrel will not cease. We may say that you will separate them and then everything will be quiet. It will not be quiet, keep Pakistan out of India. Everything will be all right. 60 years have gone. It has not happened. Why? Because the present India is not the real unity. It’s a partitioned unity.

We must know that India’s borders started with Afghanistan. Ashoka’s kingdom included Afghanistan as the part of India and India actually culturally includes Tibet, Burma, Ceylon as a kind of appendage, even southeast Asia. You have living stories of Rama being told in southeast Asia. Even food is quite similar. So our concept of unity was much larger and sooner than later we understand this, the better for our future generations. Their vision of India should not be limited to what India is today. Our nationalism is much larger.

Now I spoke of the highest level because, unless these ideas are clear at the highest level, dealing with children, these ideas will not percolate. So the first thing that I would like to emphasize at the highest level to remember is that cultural unity of India was secured centuries and centuries before political unity of India was established by the British. Even Britishers could do it because cultural unity existed already.

Is India a constructed unity?

It’s a concerted unity at present. You can divide constructed unities and each one will be somewhat united. You can construct partial and temporary unity, there’s no doubt about it. You can construct, but constructive will gradually wear out. You exploit that unity for constructing this unity, but you are exploiting it, you can construct it no doubt, but you are exploiting it. We must understand you can construct, there’s no harm in it, but you must understand that you are actually exploiting a greater unity which exists already.

It is like a capitalist coming to a field and saying, oh beautiful harvest, I’ll pay to farmers all the labor but harvest I will take away. So you can construct, you can give to all the farmers, you can make them happy because you'll pay cash to them. They don't need to go to the market because you'll be buying at once, but you exploit it.

So you can construct many things in the world, but you must see whether you construct for the sake of real constructive activity or really for breaking the unities. Construction is a word which is very deceptive, because the word constructive is very good word, you construct, you create. It’s a very good word, but we do not know that construction also comes from the word destruction both have to do with playing with units, both are not organic. Basically, it’s not an organic unity. Even when you say if I take a constructive program, it’s a very nice word very good word. It brings all unity, all quarrelling people you bring them together, construct them together. The word constructive can also be very creative word. Very nice word it is, there are many problems of this construction, destruction, unities this disunities and so on.

But I am only talking at a general level that India became politically united more easily in the 19th century under the British, because there was already cultural unity, cultural energy and not only that, several times in India imperial unity existed, we did not call it national unity at that time, we call it empires, like Akbar was called Badshah, emperor, it’s a misnomer in a way, because at that time there are many kingdoms and he was as it were a supervisor of so many kingdoms and a leader of so many kingdoms, so he was called emperor, but actually he was a national leader, the whole nation. From a larger point of view, he was a leader.

Ashoka, for example, he united many aspects of India except southernmost tip, his empire was very large empire and he included also Afghanistan in the Indian continent. Chandragupta Maurya, for example, he was according to historians the first empire builder in India. According to me, it’s a wrong story, because chakravarti idea was not born with Chandragupta Maurya. There was earlier because earlier it existed, Kautilya thought of it when Alexander invaded India, he felt that India is now in a great danger and the system of chakravarti has gone away, so he planted this idea of creating an empire under Chandragupta Maurya and because historically we think that it is a most undisputed statement we don't regard Ramayana to be historically correct or Mahabharata to be correct. This is why I brought Veda because that is documentary and nobody can deny the documents and the idea of swaraj and samraj exists in the Veda. There are stories.

The point is these two things which are so precious for India are being disputed by the modern historians. So when somebody disputes it, a rational man as we are all, we should not make any proposition unless you have got documentary proof like historians, because today the quest the debate is at a very serious level. Like Ram Sethu for example is a subject which is being disputed so much today, whether Ram ever built a bridge or not, whether he could have built at all or not, whether there was any engineering capacity to build or not, we don't know, Ramayana speaks of it and Karunanidhi has given his view. West Bengal government has given its own view, even in the central government, so many people are given views about it.

Yes, you're right, quite right, yeah, so this it was a natural bridge, so Rama did not build. It was there already there. That is also one of the ideas. Anyway, a disputed subject in an academic field, we should respect academically the question of proof and disproof.

Let us discuss this question very important. Children should be told first of all the pure facts as they are which nobody can dispute. Ramayana is a tremendous poem. Nobody can dispute it. Mahabharata is a tremendous poem. Undisputed. Ramayana is a story. There can be historical stories or imaginary stories, so you may say it can be a historical story. It can be logically, it can be a historical story, it can be imaginary story. Historical stories sometimes are accurately historical, sometimes mixed stories like The Tale of Two Cities is a mixed story, historically partly and partly not. That such a story has been written is undisputed. There is a description of the palaces is undisputed, whether such palaces existed or not, even critics cannot say they did not. How do they know they did not exist? At least there was a poet who imagined such beautiful palaces. That much is undisputed. He could imagine such palaces. He could imagine at least the description of the whole city and the richness and the prosperity of the city.

The fact is that I am only talking now, because the question is: what do we tell children? They should know the story as told in Ramayana. Quite well. The story tells you that all this is history. Ramayana says that Sri Rama was a god. You can simply say you study the poem as it is given. Poem is not in dispute. Anyway what you can say is that what is given in the poem, the text exists. This is undisputed from historical point of view. You don't teach Ramayana as a historical document. The point is that you teach this as a poem of great importance to cultural history of India. Of that there is no question at all, that even today when the television shows you the picture of Ramayana people give up all other works and rush to the Ramayana story to listen, there’s a magic in the story that nobody can deny. It is woven into the life of people and both Rama and Krishna are loved by large number of people. This is a fact, it’s a cultural fact.

And that in culture, people believe that there really existed historically. That also is true whether people ignorantly believe it only is a different question. But the fact is that people do believe that Rama existed as you and I exist on the earth and the Sri Krishna did exist as you and I exist on the earth, and there is no historical blunder if you tell them these facts, poem regards them as living human beings, who really did all that they already described. Poem doesn't say that I am only telling a fiction, Valmiki doesn't say I’m telling you a fiction, he tells you it’s itihasa, that I am telling you the correct story as exactly as it happened, and this is all that we can say very clearly and firmly, there’s no question about it. If anybody says you are teaching something that is not educationally acceptable, you can say please tell me how do I tell the story to my children if they read the story, the story says that Rama existed. It’s a correct story of what happened to Rama. What do I say, Valmiki said I am only telling fiction? You say it’s a fiction, Valmiki didn’t say it is a fiction. I am telling my children what Valmiki said.

As they grow up let them ask the question, I will be with them in questioning whether to call it a history or not. In childhood, they have no capacity to understand what is historical, what is not historical, it really existed or did not exist. I only tell them the story of Ramayana, as it is told by Valmiki, and I am only giving them a real knowledge of what is written in the poem, there’s nothing wrong about it. Nobody can dispute about it. There are many arguments and counter-arguments against regarding historical character of Ramayana, Mahabharata, some people say Ram never existed at all.

When imagination is allowed to be historically scientific, you can have anything. You regard science to consist of doubting to such an extent that even fictions could be true in science, so you can say, Ram never existed, it’s a fictional arrangement. Fine. Who can prove or disprove it? Tell me who can disprove that Rama never existed? Tell me, I would only ask, my dear friends Rama did not exist because he could not have existed, fine, so what he could not have existed, even you could not have existed, but you happen to exist. You could not have existed, but you happen to exist. This can be told about anything in the world. It could not have been, it’s not scientific statement. Science means a statement for which you have evidence and you've proved that Rama could not have existed. If you want to say Rama did not exist, you have to prove it. I am also required to prove it, and I have got some proof with me: the poem itself. They have no such poem which says that Rama never existed. Show me one book which says: Rama never existed. He has no book to show you. I have got a book to show here is a book of so many shlokas which says Rama existed. I have better proof than other people. I am only saying to the teachers. I am only telling the teachers the strength of the statement. I mean the point is that all teaching should be scientifically valid.

One of the teachers in the Ashram school, he was Indian Foreign Service man, he was a Consul General of Pondicherry, he resigned and he became a member of the Ashram and he asked Mother, what shall I do? So Mother said now you teach history to our students, to children of class 1 and 2. So he was asked to teach. So after a week he reported to the Mother. Mother said: what did you teach? He said, I gave them the story of Ramayana. Mother said, but Rama is not history. He was cut to the size actually immediately. Mother said but Ramayana is not history, then he had a great debate in our school. There was a long debate whether we should teach Ramayana and Mahabharata a part of history, part of culture, part of general understanding as poetry, as literature, what is the place of Ramayana? how to teach? there’s a big debate whether Rama is an avatar or not? And Sri Aurobindo was asked this question. So Sri Aurobindo says Rama was an avatar but not talkative about it. Now, whether Rama existed historically or not, Sri Aurobindo said Rama was an avatar. Now was it a historically correct statement, Sri Aurobindo said when I read the Ramayana, it’s a question of a person who reads it, what do you feel?

Evidently Ramayana is a parable. Therefore, if you say here is a historical document, it will be quite untrue. It’s not history, it’s a parable, whether monkeys had got tails or not. A poet can describe human beings which have tails because of parable, but whether tails existed or not, to those human beings vanara may be only a kind of a class of people. They were called vanara, but a poet can say to bring out exactly the character of Rama, he describes in a particular manner. There are many elements in Ramayana which are purely literary, so that we must point out. Ramayana is not a historical book, but whether Rama was a historical figure or not is a different question. As I said, there are fictional history, history stories, partial fictions, partial stories which are accurate, like The Tale of Two Cities. French revolution did exist historically, and The Tale of Two Cities is a historical story. From that point of view it speaks of French revolution. It describes the condition of the people who were looking at guillotines and eating their sweaters at that time is a fact, but whether that particular woman existed or not, we don't know, it may be true, it may not be true, one doesn't know.

So to be very accurate and scientific, you should distinguish between historicity of Rama and historicity of Ramayana as a story of history. There is a distinction. Sri Krishna, for example, and Mahabharata, Sri Aurobindo definitely says Sri Krishna is an Avatar. Historically Sri Aurobindo says I have met him even now, even now I’m meeting him. These are facts of his life when he says, I have seen Sri Krishna, when Mother says Sri Krishna came into my room and talked to me is a historical fact of 1960s. She describes an event in her own life that Sri Krishna came to my room and talked to me and asked for a chair on which he sat and said now there is no place here! Mischievously. Now, this is a story which Mother tells is a historically true story in 1960s, but whether Mahabharata is a historical document or not is a question and we should ask it.

Today’s children, you see, when you say child, you have to define what is the level of child’s understanding. Today’s children are very critical. Therefore, we should tell them critically. You can tell them critically because they are capable of criticality. You should tell them critically, but for that purpose you should be sufficiently critical of your own position, because very often we are too critical not sufficiently critical, too critical is to believe the opposite side more favorably than the proponent side, which is also not correct.

Therefore the modern children should be told as Mother told the teacher but Ramayana is not history. This is the rigor of scientific character. You should be quite rigorous about it. If you really want to teach history and in history class you teach historically.
But also you can go forward not only as a poem just you should not at the same time, as I said, should not go to the other side, you should really say culturally in India people believe that Sri Krishna existed. This is a historical fact. So, while giving the view cannot say no, no, I don't want to say even that, it is also partial and many teachers they tend to be this partial, partial critically because they want to show, I am very scientific. That is also according to the fashion, which is not correct. You should tell children, for example, Sri Aurobindo says that that Sri Krishna existed and walked on the earth is proved by the fact that Chandogya Upanishad describes Krishna as the son of Devaki. It’s a historical document, it is not a story, so this is one fact. So Sri Aurobindo says that he went to a teacher is a fact, that there was Ghora rishi. He was a teacher who spoke one word, and that word also has been described, which is that word is given, which is a part of the Rig Veda, which is also a fact and when it was given to him, he became illumined. It’s an example of a student who becomes illumined by one word. This is what is described in Chandogya Upanishad.

Ramayana Mahabharata are stories, presented not as history. They themselves are not present in the history. There are stories which are told by them. They are telling a historical story. The very form is historical. It’s a story form that’s like epics. For example Sri Aurobindo writing a poem called Savitri. Did Savitri exist at all? But he writes himself in the very title: A Legend and a Symbol. He’s a modern writer. So he says very clearly, a legend and a symbol, but legends do say that Savitri existed. It’s a legendary statement. That Savitri is a historical fact. Now, whether legends themselves are historical or not a different question. Let them decide. I mean there is no need to take this side or that side. It is what exactly you should say accurately. Our children ought to know neither this way, nor that way, we should not brainwash them either one way or the other.

Why should we get into this conflict at all?

No. No. That is also not true. You should say that we should not be so very pedantic in your scholarship while talking to children, that I agree, but we should not therefore lose a rigor of it. Why should we enter into this controversy? Don’t say, don't bother about it, you should say, you should bother about when you grow up. Then what is evidence, what is not evidence, discuss it, but I am telling you the story of Ramayana only to tell you how to develop good qualities, but give this background, don't snub them saying that we are not connected with it. No, not even to discourage scientific attitude. No, knowledge has to be given in his pristine purity. Whatever is knowledge, what is not knowledge should not be given as knowledge. What is proved should be given as a proof. What is not proof should not be given as a proof. What is legend should be told, is a legend versus a story should be told story. What is history should be told historically.

Our senior children already have some preset preconceived notions,

So there also, you should be clear to them, because sometimes they also go on the other way around. No, there are many people who tell them, don't believe in all this at all, which is also wrong, don't believe in all that? Why? Why should not consider as a material is available to you? Such huge volumes are available to you and you say: don't believe it at all. How can you develop scientific spirit if you say this kind of thing that even when evidence is available, don't bother? say it is all false unless it’s Newton’s science says, don't believe it? who says so? If Valmiki is science, why should he not be accepted? What is wrong about it? That prejudice also should not be created among our children, which is also wrong.

We should be very strict about these matters, because today these matters have become very controversial. There are certain things which are weakening our culture, because in the name of science, not in real science, in the name of science, we are saying don't do that. We should be true in our own self. Therefore, the task of the teacher is to be very true to himself rigorously. You should say, I must be absolutely clear about what I want to say.

The question you raise is very important question. What to tell our children depends upon the age of the children. First of all, to controversial things should not be told to young children because they won't be able to weigh anything and whatever you say has a final effect upon them. So don't do that either. You should not exploit, you should not disturb, you should gradually develop them on the right lines. You should say kehete hain, it’s all right. It is enough for the children. Aisa kaha jata hai, that is enough. You should not say saccha hai ya nahin, kya maloom, then you are adding, because you are at present bugged yourself, but remember that for the children you are telling the children, you are training, the story for quality sake, so at that time don't bring those ideas saccha hai ya nahin, kya maloom. kehete hain is enough, you are truthful. Your attention is on developing qualities. So you emphasize that aspect. Controversial aspects need not be discussed with children because they are not capable of controversies, but whatever you say you should be convinced.

As a teacher as a teacher, for example, if I tell Gita’s teaching, if I give a lecture on the Gita, for example, I do believe that Krishna existed whether he spoke those 700 verses or not in Mahabharata war, I do not know, nobody can say, but what is said about Sri Krishna is according to me, philosophically I believe it is to be true. Why? Because, philosophically I find to be true as far as I am concerned, maybe my other philosopher friends may not regard it to be so, but I am not going to advocate his view. If there is a bigger class, where I have to present different points of view, I can say there are many people who don't believe, to be philosophically true, I believe it to be true, and I should have my own grounds for saying so. This is the way in which you should develop children’s right attitude towards things, truthfulness, but truthfulness does not require you to be either going this way or that way. Today, in the name of truthfulness, you usually take the opposite point of view as if that is the way of telling the truth, which is also not true, you should say what you after considering the problem yourself, weighing most. If you're not weighed, you can say I’m not ready, but I  tend to believe it, I’ve not weighed. You can say I don't know historically whether right or not, but I believe it to be so. Culturally you are right to say so, I believe it to be true. I may be wrong. You can say that also I may be wrong, but I believe it to be true. That’s also quite justified.

You see there are teachers who believe that today you should tell story in a neutral tone, and I don't agree with that view. You should tell whatever you want to tell according to your honest view, if you are enthusiastic about something you should say, I’m very enthusiastic about it, I do believe that Sri Rama was a great personality. I do believe, and I am prepared to defend the actions of Rama. Although the modern man questioned him and they say he inflicted pain upon women, I don't believe it. If somebody asks me the question, I will say personally because I have thought over the matter. I am convinced about it, so why should I be neutral? I must say what I really believe and I stand for it. I have examined the matter. Therefore I have got legitimate right to say what I believe, but at the same time, if you say no, no, no, no, it is not true. I say here tell the children: you are free to tell them what you think honestly, but you should be also equally honest. Have you examined your problem thoroughly? Well scientifically, have you truly come to this conclusion? What are your grounds of conclusion? If you have done say also, frankly. Our children should be exposed to true opposite views impartially.

I don't believe in neutrality of a teacher as a pedagogical method at a given stage of development. Yes, you can say it also. Neutrality is a method, but neutrality is not the final result of pedagogy. The child should know what you have found after your investigation. You have come to what conclusion.

There are biases, that is a fact. See, since you are raising the question, let me answer very briefly, because our time is up. A commander in the army is supposed to lead the army and to enforce discipline in the army. He is standing at the front line. His younger brother commits an act of indiscipline. According to the rules of army, he should be shot, supposing that is a rule, will he shoot him or not? Would you say that he became very unjust to his brother and said that he should have resigned as a commander and protected his brother? That also why? Why don't you say because you can resign?

This is the argument. What is a king? A king is a king because it is duty for him to be a king. Remember this important premise: a king is a king who is supposed to be doing his work as a duty. It’s not his pleasure. He can't say that I shall resign my kingship! This is an important question. You have been asked to be a king because of your qualities. You have been chosen by people, you are supported by the people to be a king. You can't say now I’ll resign myself because I’m not happy. It’s not your personal happiness. You are seeking to be a king when you become king you say I accept the duty of a king and I will remain to be king and I will discharge my duties as a king. As long as I am a king, it is not left to me to decide whether I should remain king or not. It’s the first premise to be established. Secondly, I am a king because I am not autocratic monarch. I am not a dictator. I am not here to impose my own judgment on my people impose, remember I am chosen by people, I’m a democrat and I believe that all kings should be democratic.

But was Ram democratically chosen?

Yes, it’s a very important point in our Indian culture. It’s quite true, but people had to consent. That was a system at that time. The important point about Indian quality was that we had democratic kingship. Our kingship was not a Edward VIII. Edward VIII was not chosen to be the king. It was his pleasure to be a king. He could resign from his kingship because it was not his duty to be a king. He could say alright, my wife doesn't accept. I will resign. It was his pleasure. Ram did not have that choice. It’s a fact which is not understood by many people when they criticize Rama, you must understand his problem and what a tremendous thing he has done.

People say we do not want such a queen. Tell me now this is a democratic decision. What is your duty? What is your answer? You can't resign. People do not want it’s democracy. I said you are wrong. Fine. I am not a dictator to impose my mind on another people. What shall I do now? You answer yourself this question.

What a great man he is. He could have chosen, he was democratic and people loved him so much. People would have tolerated it, but no, he is a righteous king.

It’s the democratic kingship, which is not understood by people of today. Manmohan Singh cannot do what he decides. He has got to go to parliament and parliament decision must be enjoined, done by him. He can't say this is my view. On prime ministership he has a choice to resign, actually he has got a freedom, but if you are chosen to be a king, it’s your duty to be a king. You can't resign.

He stood up also sufficiently well. He kept her in his palace because he was convinced at the time when Lanka was conquered.. you see our people do not read the Ramayana perfectly well, Valmiki’s Ramayana. When Ravana was killed, Sri Rama calls Vibhishana, he is now the new king and says, he was in assembly of all the courtiers, monkeys and everybody, all the people were there, and he says you go to Sita, she’s in that Ashok vana. Let her take a beautiful bath, let it be adorned with beautiful dress and bring her here. So very beautiful. He has fought the battle for her sake, when she is brought, he speaks very impartially. You are my wife. It was my dharma to rescue you and to protect you. I have done it. You are now rescued, then comes very harsh words. You are now free to marry Lakshmana. This is what is written by Valmiki. You are free now to marry Lakshmana, Bharata, my other brothers, whoever you like. You have lived with Ravana in his palace for several months. How can anybody be sure that you are pure and chaste? This is his question and he puts there.

Now is it I mean from a modern husband point of view, it is a very cruel thing he does. But understand the greatness of this man, he is addressing whom? not her, he is addressing the queen.

A chauvinist? We are all like that. Therefore, we can always criticize saying all right we have to judge, however, a story, a fact on its own merits.

I am very convinced with what we began with today, to give a clear definition and then there is a dispute regarding whether Rama is a god or not, if we can define who is a god..

Quite right, you are right precisely, you are right: definitions! We are not accustomed to define. In adolescent period, you must give definitions, you must, whatever you say. You should say precisely your concept should be clear: don't be hazy this way that way, it is our wobbliness which is troublesome in education.