Advaita Vedanta in Indian Schools
Jaldhar H. Vyas
jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Wed Oct 2 18:25:36 CDT 2002
On Wed, 2 Oct 2002, Naresh Cuntoor wrote:
> A child first begins school at home, with the elders in the
> family acting as teachers. If an interest into a particular way
> of thinking (religion/culture included) is not kindled at this stage,
> chances are that the child won't bother to investigate into it until
> he/she becomes an adult. Sounds hackneyed? May be so.
> And once the child begins formal education (and I'm talking about the kind
> of formal education that a kid in urban India recieves today --its the
> kind that I grew up with in Bangalore), if one is not required to study
> something at school, vedanta in this case, then unless one comes from an
> 'orthodox' family, its likely that one won't take up the study of
> vedanta. The extent of work and pressure in school serves as a convenient,
> but credible excuse. Also, the disappearance of joint families has meant
> that the grandparents (who may be more religiously inclined than the
> parents) are not an everyday, direct influence.
> This does state a case for including vedanta in formal education, doesn't
Actually what it sounds like to me is it is the grownups who are in dire
need of education.
That pressure is increasing everywhere in the global middle class. Wasn't
it just a few months ago Time or Newsweek had a story about how even 9 or
10 year old children in some parts of the US are getting ulcers or nervous
breakdowns due to the high stress in their lives? Indian parents have to
learn from their western counterparts that ultimately the path they are on
Learning should be fun and for its own sake not some certificate. How can
we convince the yuppies about this? I don't think we can. I think the
system is beyond repair and we should provide alternatives and just let it
crash and burn on its' own.
> > Absolutely. I'm not denying this at all just questioning whether a
> > modern school or college is the right place for it.
> Where else? see above..
TV? Bedtime stories? The internet? I don't know. Parental involvement
is the key that much is for sure.
> How many schools, do you think teach history "the other way?" For
> instance, my peers and I studied the "glory of ancient India" for all of
> ONE chapter in ONE year of school. (in 10th standard sanskrit course,
I agree that most middle-class Indians have a poor grasp of history. The
reason is it is so politicized. In Gujarat (which is BJP controlled)
there is plenty in history books about glorious ancient India but info
about Muslim or British India is minimized. That's why I'm against
getting politicians involved.
> Errr.. how would say, an hour's class on a subject that motivates
> reasoning and thinking be out of place then? As you said, there's limited
> time .. So do you think there's time outside of school?
> see above..
It wouldn't be out of place. *If* it actually happens. That's what I'm
skeptical about. If the teachers are capable, why aren't they doing it
> Its not a question of how much it is worth or how much it can achieve. Its
> about providing the inputs to people who might otherwise not get it until
> much later!
We can keep patching up the holes in this leaky ship or we can invest the
energy and effort into a new ship.
> > Also I want to credit my parents especially my mother for their efforts.
> > They are not great scholars or anything. But they did give me that
> > of motivation to want to know more and for that I am eternally in their
> That is exactly what I'm talking about! Whats wrong if schools provide
> that motivation?
Nothing is wrong. One should just not pin hopes on schools while ignoring
other perhaps more viable (or at least tractable) sources of motivation.
Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
It's a girl! See the pictures - http://www.braincells.com/shailaja/
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