Advaita Vedanta in Indian Schools

Srikrishna Ghadiyaram srikrishna_ghadiyaram at YAHOO.COM
Sun Sep 29 17:50:25 CDT 2002

Hari Om !!

--- KRISHNA RAO <braos at YAHOO.COM> wrote:
> Greetings Jaldhar,
> Thanks for the elaborate update. I can see the truth
> in your statements.

I do not see so much truth in those statements. A
closed mind and 'doubt' about others  can not support
any truth.

> While your heart is obviously in the right place I
> don't think this is a
> good idea. For a start it is the fact that schools
> in India are highly
> centralized and rife with politics. When leftists
> come into power
> curriculums are written to suit their views and when
> rightists come into
> power they are rewritten to suit them. Would you
> want such a precious
> jewel in the hands of bureaucrats and politicians?

It is inevitable. Any philosophy is only for the
society. The same bureaucrats and politicians have to
be involved in introducing these and other concepts in
Vedas and out-of vedas in the colleges and

Just as we recognise that nastika views got into our
curriculum under the influence of 'leftists', we must
also bring forth a group which will include 'astika'
views into the curriculum. And finally, an unbiased
introduction of various views acceptable under the
'secular' system. It is only mis-imterpretation and
wrong-implementation of 'secular' word that we got
into 'irrelegious'  state instead of a non-religious

> Secondly it is a fact that most people are only
> interested in a formal
> education to the extent that it will help them get a
> job. This isn't just
> an Indian phenomenon. Here in America the number of
> people studying the
> liberal arts is plummetting while enrollments in e.g
> business or technical
> fields is growing. Advaita Vedanta is not at all
> "practical" in fact it
> involves the negation of this world!

Why are you restricting into 'advaita vedanta' ? Why
do you want to impose that for learning 'advaita
vedanta' you must negate the world explanation. We
must be open minded to consider the explanation of
'advaita vedanta' and some other school of vedanta, as
an explanation of the 'universe' along with darwinian
theory of evolution. For studying advaita vedanta, no
one is asked to wear an ocher robe. For that matter
you or I did not do that, but still study vedanta. If
it is good for me, it is good for anyone. Infact, I
argue for the contrary; if we believe that 'advaita or
xxx vedanta' has solution for human problems, we must
introduce it into the curriculum, whatever may be the
obstacles. The good of the Vedas must supercede the
impending obstacles of bureaucrats.
What we must encourage is 'religious education' not
'religion' in our colleges and universities. If out of
such education those students want to practice
'religion' it is upto them.

> The above observations can be combined to make a
> third. In a democratic
> country, the government has to provide education for
> all--even if they are
> unsuited for it or don't want it. Schools tend to be
> factories for the
> mass production of facts. This works pretty well for
> some kinds of
> knowledge and less so for those that require talent.
> Just because you put
> 1000 random children into intensive music classes,
> doesn't mean you'll get
> 1000 master musicians. Some will show great ability,
> some will be
> horrible, and most will be somewhere in the middle.
> In the same way in
> any given sample of people, many will not be able to
> really understand
> Advaita Vedanta. Brahman is in everything, in a rock
> as much as
> Shankaracharya.

I could not understand a bit of Organic Chemistry
taught to me as part of my compulsory 1 semester
curriculum in Engineering. Nevertheless, I had to do
that course to complete my Electronics Engineering. Do
you see the point. It was felt by the bureaucrats in
education, that some chemistry is needed for an
engineer. So, I learnt it some how.

If we consider that this Engineer is going to work in
the society, the necessary social skills have to be
part of basic education.

I believe that study of mind has been neglected. The
right place of mind has not been included in the
curriculum of our basic education. It is in this light
that we have to introduce 'advaita vedanta' into our
basic education; not because it has inspired me or

>But a rock will have much less
> ability to get moksha
> because it has much less chetana and viveka. It
> would be sheer folly to
> force this sublime thought on those who are not
> prepared for it.

Who is after Moksha ???? Atleast not many of us  have
givenup every thing for moksha, before starting
reading vedantic works ??? It is only that life has
posed a puzzle, and vedanta seems to provide some
solutions. It will certainly help some premier
institutes to start offering some courses in that

To be frank, now I feel that some amount of religious
thought should have been an essential component of my
Engineering curriculum along with Physics, Chemistry,
economics, biology, workshop techniques, basic
accounting subjects, host of math courses, optional
psychology course, optional philosophy course,
optional symbolic logic etc.

It is very surprising, because I studied in Birla
Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani. For all
the background of Birlas, they have not influenced the
college education a bit in that direction. If they
could not make it a compulsory component, 'religious
studies' can be an optional paper to choose from among
tens of other subjects required to complete the
curriculum. It is so sad that the premier institutes
which produce the 'bureaucrats' neglect this basic
need. If you can not produce such 'bureaucrats' we
will remain just complaining for some more centuries.

> A motivated
> person will seek out facts for themselves. They will
> start asking
> questions and that's when they can benefit from
> advaita-l. "ancient
> heritage" always reminds me of some dusty old
> museum. It is more
> motivating I think to show your beliefs are lived
> right here and now.

You do not want to leave it to a 'confused mind' to
seek and search out facts. It will be as effective as
your 'leftist' or 'bureaucrats' contribution. It is
more wise to provide a proper platform to learn basics
and leave it to their internal urges to seek the
ultimate truth. But, atleast to the extent that the
society runs smoothly using the wisdom of the sages,
leaving aside moksha, is our responsibility. That is
the only way to 'dust off'.

> school or college age she will be motivated to seek
> in earnest and that
> will be the right time to introduce her to Advaita
> Vedanta.

By introducing the curriculum in the school, we are
not saying that the parents are left out of the loop.
It has a greater and universal message when introduced
in colleges than when a child sees such things
practiced at home alone.

> > strongly oppose that notion and somehow wish that
> by germinating these
> > seeds of wisdom early in a child would maintain
> the sanctity and legacy
> > of this rich tradition. Let me know your thoughts.

It is obviously a wrong notion. But, we are in such
company. Because of this fact alone that the elders
need religious/spiritual education more than the

> Our sages have recommended life be divided into the
> four ashrams for sound
> psychological reasons. How will you convince a
> teenager that samsara is
> full of death and suffering? They think they are
> immortal and every
> experience is new for them. There will be a few
> exceptional ones (like
> Shankaracharya himself) and I'm not suggesting they
> should be held back.

It will be a foolish attempt to 'convince' someone. It
is only 'exposing' one to such and other views, which
is the duty of education in colleges and universities.
Even now can you convince everyone in society to
'Sankaracharya's theory' ?? So, it is true and a fact
that divegent views exist for ever. But, effort never

Colleges should be a  learning ground to theories and
principles for religious thought, just as they are for
any other scientific thought. Colleges are not
'temples' or 'churches'.

> Because Brahman is all, its' realization cannot be
> bounded by time. But
> most young people will not be ready.

College based 'religious education' should not be
'realisation' in a specific path by 'force'. But, it
should be an option to explore and minimum exposure
should be given when one is growing up for the benefit
of social harmony. If not for realisation, atleast for
the purpose of presenting various social thought
pattern to a budding bureaucrat, the
religious/spiritual education should be part of our

Om Namo Narayanaya !!


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