Advaita Vedanta in Indian Schools

Srikrishna Ghadiyaram srikrishna_ghadiyaram at YAHOO.COM
Sun Sep 29 21:10:52 CDT 2002

Hari Om !!

--- Vaidya Sundaram <vaidya_sundaram at HOTMAIL.COM>
> Namaskaram.
>  I think all of this is a matter of "how one wishes
> to see" ... let me
> explain.

Yes, while all of us have our own opinions, when it
comes to public policy on education that is imparted
to children, our individual opinions can count only to
such extent. There we are seeking a more just and
equitable platform which considers more contemporary
scientific thought than subjective personal feelings.
People in the US now know the debate about the
controversy about the school pledge, and text book
material on creation theory. To that extent I only
expressed that we need a more inclusive approach where
everyone has an opportunity to pursue what they want.
We only need to sow the seeds for a religiously
tolerant and spiritually elevating life's pursuits.

> > I do not see so much truth in those statements. A
> > closed mind and 'doubt' about others  can not
> support
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> > any truth.
> ^^^^^^^^^
> Care to elaborate the protions I have underlined
> with ^ ?
>  The way it reads presently is more in the nature of
> a personal comment ...
> I hope list members know where to draw the line
> between accepting/rejecting
> someones "opinion" on the one side with suitable
> refutation if needed, and
> outright vidandavadam on the other.

The original sentence in Sri Jaladhar's posting that
prompted me to write the above statement is:

"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?"

Leftists did not come into power or rightits come into
power all the places. But, still the curriculum
changed going in line with the present scientific and
social and economic trends. If we do not trust and
entrust the responsibility to fix or modify the
educational system we have, who can can do it ??
Unless we trust those in whose hands this jewel has
got to for implementation in "an administrative
system we have chosen", there are no alternative ways
which can reach a common man, who is the one that
needs help.

To that extent we have to be open minded and willing
to "trust" their contribution to the system. Should we
seek and desire changes which are "supposedly" more
appropriate, these thoughts have to start at "premier"
institutes. IITs, IAS training centers, Medical
universities, Law colleges are some of the places
where the people who "influence" the masses come out
from. To that extent I said we should be "open minded"

> I don't about you, but I had "moral science" as part
> of my curriculum in
> school until my 8th standard. It gave me a good
> grounding in morals. So,
> more of it does not hurt.  But if you think it is
> absent, I would say you
> are mistaken.

Your personal experience or my personal experience is
not to be a yard stick of measurement for a subject as
large as "public education". Yes, basics in Moral
science is essential, and helpful. I do not know how
much of it is included now in "public education". I
went to local elementary school and high schools in
Andhra and there was never a subject, except for what
I learnt from my family. But, you know how many
parents have developed family social and stable
economic background to teach children about morals of
life. That is why it becomes a public interest.

> > >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 ???
> If you are not after moksha, what are you doing
> trying to pursue vedanta -
> dry intellectualism?

Yes, accept for now that I am pursuing for "dry
intellectualism". Even this can be a purpose. That is
the express objective of colleges and universities;
making the people intellectually advanced in their
chosen subjects. There are so many Sanskrit, Vedanta
pathasalas in India, and I have not heard of all of
them either starting their studies after "sanyas", or
atleast taken up sanyas after their "Vedanta Siramani"
degree. What starts as "dry intellectualism" itself is
a greater pursuit if you compare with those who pursue
chemistry or other material science.  all the time.
(No complaints against Chemistry ...). To this extent
Sri jaladhar has said enough about 4 stages (asramas)
of life.

>or do you think vedanta will
> help you deal with
> "reality" - if so, please take a tep back and think
> aobut it. According to a
> lot of teachers (and I paraphrase here) - trying to
> use vedanta to solve (or
> deal with or cross) the problems of samsara is like
> trying to hitch a ride
> across the river on the back of a crocodile.

You are entirely wrong here. You got the example and
anology wrong. It is said in Vivekachoodamani that one
who wants to cross the Samsara being in the
attachments is like one who tries to cross the ocean
on a back of a crockodile; one will get eatenup in the
middle, and can not reach the shore. So, one who wants
to cross the Samsara should give up all bondages etc.
(example in  support of vairagyam)

Interestingly, Vedanta which teaches oneness of all is
a potentially true medicine, it is the only technique
taught in Vedanta. After all Bhagavan Srikrishna
taught Arjuna all the meta-physics to "deal with" the
"Reality" only.

I pursue Vedanta only for this express purpose,
because all Beings are "One".

> > It is only that life has
> > posed a puzzle, and vedanta seems to provide some
> > solutions.
> please see above.

please see above.

>vedanta is only tangentially going
> to help you "deal" with
> "stuff";

It does not matter how it helps whether "tangentially"
or "directly". It is good that it helps. This is what
society needs. Atleast as of now "educational system"
has not found "one tool" that helps people "deal" with
"stuff". If you have discovered one, you deserve a
PhD. Please explain to all of us.

>vedanta will tell you to abandon the
> pursuit of money. You simply
> choose to ignore that part of it. If you got into
> vedantic studies for the
> solutions, why do you ignore this aspect of vedanta?

Who says that I am ignoring one aspect or the other
??? Moreover, it is a mis-interpretation. What if I am
pursuing all the money for the larger welfare of
"people". I am aware of what Vedanta teaches and hope
to learn more, and put the same thing to practice
whatever is "convincing" and "helps" the "goal". I
understand the usefulness of what Vedanta teaches as
pre-requisites and those I do not understand now, I
will try and understand them with the help of teachers
who walk the similar life. Please be assured. My
"goal" is sacred, and does not need any "false"
justification, for me.

> OK - it is a fair question to ask why I am in this
> for? well, I am in this
> to learn where the road I have taken will lead me.
> The firm grounding I got
> in the karma kanda from an early age tells me I am
> on a road. I want to know
> where it will take me. And more importantly, what I
> should really be setting
> my sights on!

How different is this from "dry intellectualism" ? Why
do  you/I not become a monk and pursue what it has to
offer. Similarly everyone in the society have their
own limitations, and the primary reason behind this
thread was that this widom of "Sruti" should reach the
"common man" in some basic form, so they can benefit
from it.

> > It will certainly help some premier
> > institutes to start offering some courses in that
> > direction.
> A lot places do - it is not complusory; it is
> optional.
> > 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.
> I don't know which time frame you went to BITS
> Pilani - I went there too.
> And, yes, the five years I spent there opened my
> eyes.

Looks like, the primary objective of me bringing in
BITS or Birla's is missed here. I wanted to quote a
premier modern education center which I know. We
should count on IITs and BITS and other premier
institutes who produce the "mass intelligentia" to
have a platform for their students to reachout to the
wisdom of Vedas and whole essence of "indian cultural
past". Past should help the present otherwise we are
in the same darkness, and same level of

I referred to Birla's because they are very wellknown
supporters of religion and philanthrophists. Because
they are the backbone of BITS, their social
could have influenced in designing this aspect into
the curriculum.

Just to set the reference: I went to Pilani in
1982-86. Prof. VK was the only one who used to take
some time privately to talk about Indian philosophical
thought, Gita etc.  (For example), Now I discover some
books like "Manual of Self-Unfoldment" by Swami
Chinamayananda which teaches the essence of Veda and
Vedanta in a modern style. Such is the education
needed in colleges. I do not mean to say that you must
include "Chandogya Upanishad" in toto in our regualr
basic college education.

> > 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.
> See above. They are optional already.

You need to make certain components optional and
certain components essential just like my "workshop
techniques" etc.

>And besides,
> just offereing a course
> as an optional element in college does not mean
> people in general will take
> it.

Do we really need to pre-judge ?

>And even if one does, why do that person do it?
> make an "A" and start
> believing he/she is better off for that?

Do you think after gaining "A" grade in say "Vedanta"
he will remain equally ignorant of the "vedic" wisdom
Is he not better off being exposed to those "sublime"
thoughts as advocated ??

>I never
> took courses for fear of
> being judged in the end. That does not mean I never
> studied. I did. And
> still do ... The discussion here is (and should be)
> about starting kids off
> in the right direction.

That is what I am also talking about.

>Kids would by definition
> mean some descisions are
> made for them, and in addition the environment they
> mostly interact with is
> rather moderated as well. Colleges cannot come under
> that category.

Then design curriculum that suits the less-moderated
envirinment than that meant for kids. Incidentally, I
happened to sit one day in a Yuva Kendra class (for 12
th grade I believe) in Chinmaya Mission, and the
technique of group discussion was pretty effective to
involve the students and make them think, atleast be
participative. We never had such environment in Pilani
or other good Jr college I went to.

> > You do not want to leave it to a 'confused mind'
> to
> > seek and search out facts.
> I am losing your argument here. Who is a confused
> mind? What are we leaving
> to them?

My statements was in reply to specific points raised
by Sri Jaladhar. You are reading them out of context
and that is why you are losing my point here. Here is
the original from Sri Krishnarao and Sri Jaladhar:

"> If we need to preserve the
> ancient heritage and see to it that there is a
continuous propagation of
> thoughts it is important that the young Indian minds
be given the right
> ingredients at a very young age itself.

I agree but the kind of high-level topics discussed
here are not the right
ingredients. What is needed more than facts is
motivation. A motivated
person will seek out facts for themselves. "

A college  student who is supposedly more under the
impressions of the world views is obviously confused
of the relevance of religion and scriptires. He does
not see how it helps him to build his life. You can
not demonstrate it either by examples from their
immediate  society. At this juncture it is not apt to
leave it entirely to them. Ofcourse, Sri Jaladhar used
"motivation"; what I suggested is a "general
systematic exposure" to views of the "tradition" and
wisom of the seers expresses in the scriptures of all
origins. I recognise it is not a small task. Like
every thing else, it needs "bureaucrats" and
"administrators", because they are the final

>The way I look at it, giving too much
> information to kids can also
> be very very confusing. One must be moderate about
> it.

We are not talking about "too much information". First
of all we want to address "lack of information".

> > It is
> > more wise to provide a proper platform to learn
> basics
> > and leave it to their internal urges to seek the
> > ultimate truth.
> precisley. See my thought above.
> I am not going to comment any further on this
> subject, because I think where
> one draws the line as to enforced education and
> suggestive exposure is very
> subjective. As I noted in the very first line of
> this message, it all
> depends on how one wishes to see education on
> religious matters and how much
> is needed.

I am clear: we do not want "religion" in education,
but we need "religious thought/education".

Om Namo Narayanaya !!


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