Sri Aurobindo Institute of Indian Culture. (SAIIC) Shillong workshop, 26,Oct -7 Nov, 2006 - 20. Wisdom

Wisdom, What is wisdom? This is one of the very interesting questions. In fact Elliot has said: “in the present day information is so much expanding that knowledge is vanishing. On the other side, knowledge is so much expanding that wisdom is vanishing.” And his main idea was that we should develop in humanity – wisdom. What is wisdom? If you ask this question, what is wisdom? And if you give to the children, many examples of what is wisdom, wise people.

In Islam for example is a very famous story of camels, which had to be divided between three brothers in a certain proportion. The father has given a will, the youngest will get this much portion, second will get this much proportion. The eldest will get so much proportion. And if you find out 18 camels in that proportion, it could never be done. So they went to one of the khalifs in Islam and he said you solve this problem, so he said all right, he put his own camel into it. It's a new idea. This is called wisdom. He put his own his own camel and then he made this proportion in such a way that proportions were satisfied out of 19, not out of 18, and one remained and what was left to himself again.

This is one of the very good examples for children to understand what is wisdom. Wisdom is a kind of insight, which can come only when you are completely selfless, when you are able to give yourself fully. Here because he gave his own camel first of all, he put his own camel in it. Of course, afterwards he could take it back because he found that if the proportions that are given were given out of 19, then the proportions can be fulfilled out of eighteen and then the one will remain.

Now this insight from where does it come? Not from sattwa, rajas, tamas, it’s a new kind of insight which comes only when you give yourself so you become so wide in your consciousness. Similarly, there are many examples of wisdom. In fact, we are at present making a research in stories of wisdom and we shall publish my book on wisdom because I'm collecting stories of wisdom as a part of this integral education. If you have lots of stories of wisdom, you consider it as research, develop such stories in which you can really see wisdom.

In fact, Mother once gave a very good example of wisdom. Wisdom is a perception of universality. No wisdom comes unless you become universal in your mind, in any subject. Even if you go to a businessman and you become a wise man, there are many wise businessmen, only when they become very impartial, very universal then they will be able to give you the wise advice. Those who are cunning cannot give you wise advice. They can give you advice which will be only temporarily useful but truly wise advice, and advice which would be relevant for seven generations. That advice will come only from us businessman who has really transgressed his pure selfish interests, you have to be very universal, very wide.

Then you should have applied that knowledge, that wideness in many aspects of life. Nobody can get wise unless he has applied his wise, his illuminated knowledge in practical experience of life. When you have done these two for a long time, there is something called ripening.

Now when ripening comes, then you get what is called insight; insight can’t be developed just like that by reading books. You may read many books, but insight is something that you cannot develop, only when you become very wide, when you have developed a lot of experience and you have suffered as Sri Aurobindo has said: one who has never suffered, do not trust him. Do not trust a man, who has never been a slave or who has never suffered. It is the wisdom comes only when you suffered for certain things in life. Your knowledge was put into practice, suffered for it, if you're wrong, right and accepted it in your life, very wisely. At that time a faculty develops in you. It's a faculty which is neither sattwa, nor rajas, nor tamas. It is purely spiritual insight.

So, spirituality is not only God and soul it’s an insight also, spiritual insight. In fact, ultimately, all people who are wise, whether they're businessmen or army men or lawyers, all wise people, they begin to be spiritual, automatically, they are sages. These three examples, ‒ aim of life, I told you, experience of aim of life. If you put the question of the aim of life, if you put these three questions of what is wisdom, what is illumination and what is love and many other exercises of which I will not speak now because it will take too much of time. But I'm only giving illustrations that this is a kind of research that we have conducted for a long time, we are even now conducting.

Then comes spiritual education. This is psychic education, now comes spiritual education. Spiritual education is slightly different from psychic education. Psychic education is in education that gives you the insight into immortal soul. There's a soul in man which is immortal. The spiritual knowledge is a knowledge of going beyond space and time, all that we can see normally is space and time, spirituality consists in the knowledge of that which is spaceless and timeless, akshara, immobile. In immobility, there is a complete transcendence of space and time. When you become completely immobile then limitations of space and time disappear. Therefore the exercises by which individuals can come out of the limitations of space and time, these are the methods by which the spiritual education can be given.

Now if you integrate all these five aspects of education. Now you can see that none of these things require any special spiritual school, if you do this in schooling, whether God exists or not, whether worship is there or not, do this prayer or that prayer, is all left to individuals; in the schools you don't need to have that, this is the solution to the problem that is facing the world today. How can you give spiritual education which is independent of any spiritual doctrines, or religious doctrines, by developing the psychic consciousness and spiritual consciousness. This is a special contribution that we can make to the real debate which is going on today. You can give this to all people, whether they are Hindus, Christians, Muslims, anybody.

At home, they can practice whatever they want to practice that is absolutely allowed, nobody says don't do it. But in the school curriculum, you emphasise these exercises, these qualities, these capacities and then to develop the method of exploration. This complete movement is still, as I said, incomplete because we are still making experiments; it’s a very big work.

Ultimately, we need to produce a lot of literature which will give lot of exercises and interesting exercises to children. The methodology we have completed. I can tell you that we made a lot of experiments on the methodology of integral education. The aim of education we have been able to complete, but the contents of education, the kind of exercise that I've been speaking to you about, it's a long research work. We are still making research in it. When all this will be greatly enriched, I don't think ever we shall have said: we have done it. But when it becomes more rich, then perhaps we shall be able to tell the country and the world that now we can gift to you what we have done. In the meantime, we have one institution here for integral education. You want to do research in it and I shall be very happy if teachers in the world come here to study this aspect, how to develop personality of man ‘Learning to be’ and all the pillars of learning can be strengthened. Thank you.

Q: What did Macaulay do to the Indian system of education?

To come to your question Macaulay, what did Macaulay do to the Indian system of education? The Indian system of education before Macaulay came had one very important aspect. Sixty Four sciences and arts were developed in our Indian system of education. If you read Kadambari for example, he also speaks of Mahasweta and Kadambari, who were educated in 64 sciences and arts. Women's education had developed to such an extent that women in the education were supposed to know 64 sciences and arts, they were still continuing in India; not absolutely in fullness because many things had happened by the time Macaulay came to India but this system was known. At one stroke Macaulay decided it had no place in the system of education To such an extent that today we don't even know what are the 64 sciences and arts. All of us are Macaulayan products. If anybody asks you, tell me what were the 64 sciences and arts developed by India, we don't know because we are children of Macaulay. It is one thing he left, he massacred, this is not necessary. Macaulay wrote in his minutes that India has no real knowledge. People have not read his minutes but he has said that I have consulted wise people of India all over the country and they all have agreed that all the wisdom can be put in one small shelf of our British library which is full of knowledge.

So he said what is there from India to learn, only one shelf whereas all the knowledge that we want to give you is such a big knowledge we want to give them; this shelf can be eliminated. He did in such a way that the wealth of knowledge that we possessed in India became completely obliterated. Today we do not know what is a treasure of India. The treasure of the knowledge of India we do not know, at the most we know Panchatantra and Hitopadesh. What is our real heritage of treasure of knowledge, all was always massacred.

Third, in our system of education Astronomy was given a great importance. He just eliminated astronomy, if you see our school system of education, no astronomy at all. You study geography and in his time basically the geography of England. He wanted that English geography should be studied by every child here. Indian geography was also taught a little but basically had to study mainly the British geography; where the talk of astronomy, where the whole world and universe have to be done.

He knew that if you deal with astronomy, we shall find that India had developed very powerful knowledge of astronomy. We were the leaders of the world in astronomy, until the time of Galileo and Copernicus, until that time. So he knew that if astronomy is taught in our schools our children will go back and will find out the treasures of knowledge we don't even know at present. For example, do we know Varāhamihira,‒ a great astronomer. He had developed five systems of astronomy in India. We do not know at all, this whole heritage is gone because we have to learn only geography, not astronomy but geography, that too British geography and a little bit of Indian geography. World geography was only a kind of later, if you are in college and universities, you learned world geography.

History for example, in India we had a tremendous importance given to history. In our system of education there was a very system of history. Macaulay said we shall teach them a bit of Indian history and the whole of British history, therefore all of us know quite well who was Cromwell and who was Pitt the younger and the Pitt the elder but we don't know even if you ask any student, learned students: please tell us the dynasties of Chandergupt Maurya, from Ashok to King Harsha. We don't know, a few names we may know, Vikramaditya and a few names but if you are asked to give a kind of a genealogy we are incapable of it. Even today when now we are teaching Indian history after independence, what have you done? We are teaching Indian history in the way in which Britishers had taught us, namely ancient history, mediaeval history, Mughal period, Maratha period and British period; this is the whole history that our history had a tremendous development in the past and this is 5000 years of history. Our Children can't imagine that we had a history of 5000 years with many glorious periods of history. We don't know, even today, even today NCERT is producing books of history, they're all lukewarm studies and that too now we don't pedagogy of history because pedagogy is the one thing that was massacred by Macaulay.

What is pedagogy? We have got here principal of education and her main subject is pedagogy. And you asked Indian today in India we have not developed pedagogy. Our ancient pedagogy is gone. Nobody knows what his Indian pedagogy. We learn only behaviourist pedagogy now. Skinner's experiments, Watson’s experiments and all success to be measured in terms of behaviour. That if you learn something and if you behave properly, you have learnt, if it is not manifesting behaviour, it is not learnt, this is the only standard of education pedagogy. The entire pedagogy of spiritual education, mental education, vital education, physical education, tremendous development we had.

If today you ask anybody asking the question, what is the Indian system of physical education? Tell me, even if you go to NCERT and ask them, do you know what was the ancient physical education system? We don't know. There's a developed Dhanurvidya, Dhanurvidya was a Veda it was a very developed system. If you could make Arjuna and Karna such great archers, it must be a tremendous system of education by which you can produce such archeres that within five minutes you can produce a wall of arrows. If you want your horses to take rest in the midst of the battle, this is what Arjuna did very often in the Mahabharata. When the horses were tired, and Sri Krishna said that my horses are tired now, they require rest. So Arjuna would come out and just put arrows in five minutes time and a wall is created so in the protection of the wall the horses could rest. This was the knowledge, capacity, skills, only in physical education. Apart from the fact that if you see Arjuna’s questions to Shri Krishna, how much mental development you must have to ask those questions. Where is a system of education, where is it gone, who knows it? Even today, educationists of India do not know. They are not made a study of it. There are no resources even available today, it's all gone.