Sri Aurobindo Institute of Indian Culture. (SAIIC) Shillong workshop, 26,Oct -7 Nov, 2006 - 28. Core Program for Value-Education

And we find the time is too short, and it should be so because education is a very vast subject with many aspects. Since this is a concluding session, I would like to refer to three important points, not only connected with what Dr Banerjee and Dr Bhattachar ji have said, but also what Dr Das, many others who have participated; I would like to sum up by saying first that, in order to project for the future, we need to have very sound data of the history of education, right from the early times of the present day. Unfortunately, that historical perspective, we do not have in all the required details, and that is why much of our thinking is still lame. Today, what professor Bhattacharya ji said was very illuminating, because many facts which were there in the time when Macaulay introduced education were unknown to me, at least up to today and this has been very, very revealing and very profitable to me. Even though Dr Bannerjee said many things I did not know till today, the theory that Gandhi, educated complementarity, is, to my mind, a new element. I did not know that Gandhian economics was advocated as a complementary economics to the capitalistic or other forms of economy. These are all new facts which are coming up, which I was not aware of till now, and therefore I feel enriched and whatever little… That is a criticism that, of course, we can discuss quite a lot, and I will not deal with such a question because it will take us into the whole philosophy of economics.

Anyway, my concern is with education as Professor Bhattachar ji has said, whatever little data that I have collected throughout many, many years, I have come to the conclusion that in India we had a very sound view of education for centuries, not only from 6th century B.C. to 12th century A.D., but even much before. As I said once, if India could produce one Vyasa, I would salute a system of education which produced that great genius. If our Rishis could write those Upanishads which have remained unrivalled to the present day, even Tagore's Gitanjali is Upanishadic, basically, and it has made such an impact that it brought the Nobel Prize to this great poet. If this has been produced by India, surely there is a great secret? We have lost it.

I would, therefore, first of all make a very important statement that we need to recover that. In fact, one of the greatest needs of India, which all great educations have spoken of, is to see that our heritage is not lost, and that is extremely important. But when we speak of heritage, I must say that I have met thousands of educationists in India. There are so many views of heritage and so confusing, unless we get the thread of that heritage, the basic thread and my first statement is ‒ recovery of the old spiritual knowledge, recovery, in its fullness and amplitude will give us a real thread of our heritage. It was because we have lost that basic old spiritual knowledge that we are floundering now. You do not really know what exactly was the Vedic knowledge, which is our first fountain even before Upanishads.

When I make a study of Veda, for example in fact, I am so much indebted to Sri Aurobindo's book, The Secret of the Veda, if that is the Veda which Sri Aurobindo's has described, is the Veda and, to my mind, because he has now proved it, to my mind thoroughly. One wonders what kind of heights of consciousness the Vedic Rishis had developed, and it is that which has to be recovered thoroughly. That’s the first point I would like to make. Secondly, I would like to say that, after the Upanishadic period and with the rise of Buddhism, our education system got bifurcated, ‒ a Vedic system of education and Buddhistic system of education, in fact, trifurcated, because Jain system of education also developed simultaneously. So three systems of education developed simultaneously, then this system of education became further fragmentedly developed with the rise of philosophical schools, and each school established its own school, its own system of education. If you are a son of a Nyayika, then the Nyayika father sent his son to Nyayika School, where right from the beginning, we will start with Nyaya sutra, even in the childhood. The philosophical culture that developed in India was so vast. Today we cannot even imagine, it is only when we study even the modern Nyayikas, when V.K. Mukhopadhyay, one of the Nyayikas of the Jadavpur Universities, you sit with him, you marvel at the philosophical acumen that this one man possesses today, which summarises a tremendous philosophical culture of the Nyayika, and it's only one school. In other words, if a Nyayika had to study Sankhya, it would be done after he has finished first over the whole Nyaya, complete literature, then he would go to Sankhya and then if he has to make all the systems of philosophy comparative study, he would go from school to school.

It is said, for example, Kumārila Bhaṭṭa, for example, who wanted to criticise Buddhism. He went to Buddhist schools, he had a mastery of Purva Mimamsa then he went to Buddhists and learned Buddhism from them, for years and years and because he criticised his teachers and a scathing criticism of Buddhism, he could now make, because you are sure of what Buddhist doctrine was; and to study one Buddhistic doctrine, he had to take years to study for a man like Kumārila Bhaṭṭa. What kind of education system there was that required years of understanding, one doctrine as against the other.

Shankaracharya, for example, when he came on the scene, he came soon after Kumārila Bhaṭṭa. In fact, Shankaracharya had gone to Kumārila Bhaṭṭafor discussion with him. Even there Shankaracharya was not fully aware of Purva Mimamsa. If you see the dialogue between the two great masters, not Kumarila Bhatta, because he was doing prayaschitta and he had put small slow fire around himself, to do prayaschitta, but he asked that he should go to Maṇḍana Miśra for a dialogue. And then Maṇḍana Miśra was about to be defeated and his wife intervened, and she said I will discuss with you and ask questions to Shankaracharya and Shankaracharya said: ‘I do not know the answers to your questions; I have myself to undergo a kind of transmigration of my soul. I have to enter into another body of a dying king and experience and then come back to dialogue.’

I mean this is the kind of way in which education was developed in India, to what extent and all this nobody in our country takes trouble to correlate. These facts are known, but what is lacking is correlation. Now this correlation unless we do what a tremendous movement, then we have to remember that side by side with these schools, which are developing, ‒ astronomy, was developing in India. In fact, all the Vedangas and all the Upvedas ‒ Arthveda, Gandharvaveda, Ayurveda all these, and Dhanurveda, all these also were being developed tremendously. And I am quite sure that these Upvedas also were being taught. Otherwise, how could anything develop unless there is a transmitted of knowledge from a generation to generation? And if you, even the Ayurvedic texts, you are surprised at what tremendous literature it has.

Today when we sit down for education all this is forgotten. I must say that even when we see the best educationists of the country today, require to be educated, if they really want to create a new system of education. It’s a fact, actually, I’m telling you with all humility because I myself would like to study what this great system of education was in India. Similarly, astronomy was an extremely important development in India, so surprising that we were masters of astronomy when the West hardly knew anything about astronomy or very rudimentary in their astronomical knowledge. It is Will Durant who has brought out in his Oriental Heritage, so much of material which we are surprised to know that he has put out, how much India had developed both in physical sciences, chemical sciences, astronomical sciences, metallurgy, all kinds of sciences and technologies were developed.

How did that happen and how much it was spread in the country; we have no measurement of it, we do not know yet. Then came a period of decline, there is no doubt about it that there was a big decline. We lost many habits of philosophical thought, habits of scientific thought, habits of technological capacities and skills. Apart from this, there was also tremendous development of art, painting, music, architecture. All this also was developed on a very high scale. This also, we have to take into account, and then we also had a system, where it was said that every woman in the country should have a good basis in 64 sciences and arts. People think it's a fairy tale, but it's not true. There are already details of what were the 64 sciences and arts, details are already available. If a woman has to be a good housewife, it was required of her to study 64 sciences and arts. Some inkling of it you get in Bāṇabhaṭṭa’s Kadambari. If you see the character of Kadambari and Mahashweta, what a tremendous characterization of these two women, they stand out, as it were tremendous heights with these two women had culturally. It is true once again that this has declined over years, centuries, but even then, up to the 18th century, in fact, we have recently published a book Indian Philosophy up to the 18th century, and we discovered even recently that philosophical development in India continued right up to the 18th century. It was said by the 14th century it was all over, but it is not true. Philosophical development continued right up to the 18th century. If Dayanand Saraswati, for example, came in the 19th century and he could speak to the people in public lectures in Sanskrit. It was only Keshavdutta Sen, who told him not to speak in Sanskrit and to turn to Hindi, but otherwise he was speaking in Sanskrit and people were responding. So you can see what a condition of our educational background existed right up to that time.

It is in that context that what Dr Bhattacharji said, how Macaulay came, what he did and how it is today? For example, when you come to the modern educationists ‒ Gandhi, Tagore, they have done tremendous work. We do not know how, day and night all these great educationists toiled to see that this India gets a new system of education, appropriate to the heritage of India, to the genius of India, to the needs of civilization of today and civilization of tomorrow.

Now all this has to be kept in our view, while planning for the next step. As you see, the whole vast scope is tremendous. There are three important points, which I would like to make, therefore, in conclusion. First, we have to recover the old spiritual knowledge, but that is not enough. We have to see that this knowledge percolates in modern philosophy, because during the last two centuries, our philosophical development has not stopped, but we have been able to assimilate a lot. Today no good Indian philosopher is ignorant of Plato, Aristotle right up to Hegel, right up to Derrida, postmodernist. Most of our Indian philosophers are aware, and quite well done. I must tell you, I have known philosophers from across the country. Even today some of the modern students of philosophy are experts in Derrida. My own colleague in the Indian Council of Philosophical Research, who just recently passed PhD, made a thesis on Buddhism and Derrida, a comparative study.

What we need to do is that this vast movement of old spiritual knowledge should percolate into modern movements of philosophy, science, technology and critical knowledge. Whether it's literary criticism, or philosophical criticism, or pure humanistic criticism, whatever it is, it has got to percolate into it, powerfully, then only we can regenerate. If you want that our heritage is not lost, this is the basic task which has to be done.

In our educational system even now, when we plan should already look into this aspect, as a Professor Bhattacharji pointed out that we are concerned with education, not merely with training, training is also important, but education if you really want our children to develop, to create one genius or even an ordinary good critic of art, like Nandal Bose, who could recreate now in modern Indian art, the motives of the ancient Indian art, is not a joke; today, because it has happened we simply don't even take note of it. But that such a galaxy of people Tagore could collect around him and produce a new kind of music, new kind of literature, new kind of drama, new kind of techniques of presentation, new kinds of stories and art, it’s a tremendous work for one man to produce the all this and to bring modern India right up to the present day. It’s a gigantic work which has been done and all this has to be assimilated, but it should not stop.

My only worry is it has stopped with Gandhi, Tagore, Dayanand Saraswati and Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo. Unfortunately, and that is why I appreciated what Dr Bhattacharya said: Macaulay has been so powerful that, even today, the sting of poison is being cast into the veins of India. If you start anywhere, what is the greatest difficulty that policy makers of India, those who have been advising the Government of India, are quite ignorant. I’m, sorry to say, but I must be brutal in my statement, because it's very important, are quite ignorant of our heritage in its true aspect, they are not aware as to how our students are to be developed for the future, because the vision of the future should be looming large for all people. In which commission report, I would say even including Radhakrishnan, is that vision of the future present and presented to the country, what kind of future has to be made? Is there a discussion in Radhakrishnan of Gandhian view of economics, modern view of economics? None at all, that aspect is totally absent and it is on that basis that our whole University Grants Commission and all our programs have been built. Where are we, and now nobody is going to repeat, nobody is going to report, nobody is going to revise, it's all gone. Radhakrishnan's report is a professor's report, who studied in a university, who taught in the university system and his propositions left out of consideration, all that Tagore has done or that Dayanand has done, or that Vivekananda has done. I’m. Sorry to say, but if you want a real critical estimate of what is happening, it must be said truthfully scientifically. Why, why did this philosophy not come into the picture when basic education was tried out on a national scale, it was distracted and failed, on what grounds did you first prepare the teachers for it? None, just introduced, because government policy has decided to introduce, now onward basic education. Is this scientific? We are building with an important doctrine of education? It’s a pure farce. Why has it happened because those who advise the education ministry do not know what basic education is? What is the spirit behind it that this country is an agricultural country, that this country is a craft oriented country, and this country has a culture which is based on the development of the body, the hand, the heart and the head? The three important points of which you had spoken last time: does any book on education, any report, does it expound this philosophy in detail, none, none at all. This is our poverty.

I would very much urge, as a result of this long 12 days of our experiment of calling so many people who have come, I have been extremely benefited. I would therefore in conclusion say that having done it, there has to be a great vision of the future, and what that great vision is a time has come when the needs of material civilization and materials of spiritual realisation have to be wedded together. You can't avoid one or the other. This is inevitable, not only inevitable, but it's a right, annam brahma is also announced in Taittiriya Upanishad anandam brahma was also announced in Taittiriya Upanishad. It is perfectly in consonance with our ancient message about the needs of the modern day and therefore, unless we turn to the great synthesis, great integration, when Sri Aurobindo speaks of integral education is with that vision. We have to create a new humanity which will have within its compass, both the material and spiritual realisation and Mother defines spiritual, integral education, as matter fully developed but under the sovereignty of the spirit. This word sovereignty is very important. The sovereignty should not be reduced, not juxtaposition of material and spiritual, something of material you do, something or spiritual you do, no, that's not the case, there should be real integration. Integration means always going higher. Two elements are brought together and by integration you go to a higher level, that higher level is a spiritual level. But spiritual level also should be brought down on the level of the matter, so that the two are interlocked but the sovereignty of the spirit, so that matter is fully developed. But this is the integral system of education as I understand it, and I think, as a result of all this development that you have seen here during the last 12 days, I must thank Dutta very much, very heartily. I am a student, I am still studying and I would like to study even more and sit at the feet of great masters, who have come here and study still further, so that we can really serve our country and take care of the children. In all our controversies the one thing which is lost is our children. I was very happy when Dr Verma said children should be the centre of our attention.

Thank you.