Synthesising Western and Eastern System
   18-Jun-2019
It is time to go back to the age of Gurukool, if Bharat were to practise a holistic approach to the Education founded on the ennobling qualities of Education of the Vedas and our ancient scriptures
Dr Gayathri Narendran

ऋचोअक्षरेपरमेव्योमन्यस्मिन्देवाअधिविश्वेनिषेदु:।
यस्तंनवेदकिमृचाकरिष्यतियइत्तद्विदुस्तइमेसमासते॥॥८॥
— श्वेताश्वतरोपनिषत् चतुर्थोऽध्याय:
 
(Vedas which stands as a tall proof for Dharmic education says, just by repeating a phrase like a parrot, one cannot be called completely educated and fulfilled. Proper understanding and practise will teach you more.)
 
For education to be holistic and practical, it has to have the following characteristics.
  • It has to enhance the inquisitiveness for learning
  • Induce the creativity
  • Raise right questions in our mind
  • Prepares us for a life filled with experience
  • Helps us to derive answers on our own rather than simply giving us answers to by rote-learning
Ramayana, the most educative scripture of Sanatana Dharma starts with such inquisitive questions where the teacher with a pleasant smile encourages his students प्रहृष्टोवाक्यमब्रवीत्।।1.1.6।।). Valmiki, the disciple asks his Guru Narada,
 
‘चारित्रेणचकोयुक्तस्सर्वभूतेषुकोहित: ।
विद्वान्क: कस्समर्थश्चकश्चैकप्रियदर्शन: ।।1.1.3।। ’’
 
Who is the epitome of vitures? Who lives for the sake of others? Who is a great scholar? Who knows the practical applications well? Who is loved by all? As an answer, Guru refers to Shri Ram, who is hailed even today as a great king and who stands as a role model for many successful warriors and kings of Bharat such as Arjuna, Shivaji Maharaj, Ranapratap Singh, Samudra Gupta etc.
 

 
 
 
Education shapes a man into a cultured human being
Ramayana says this about Ram:
 
सम्यग्विद्याव्रतस्नातोयथावत्साङ्गवेदवित्,- He is well educated.
नविगृह्यकथारुचि: - He didn’t commit any useless deeds. He is a man of worthy actions. Ramayana further gives a detailed account of his educational background.
Our children should understand the roots of Sanatana Dharma with pride. Our Sastras have to be given from the primary source and not from the secondary quotations of scholars who do not even have the culture of Santana dharma. 
सर्वशास्त्रार्थतत्त्वज्ञस्स्मृतिमान्प्रतिभानवान् – Shri Ram is well-versed in all the sciences, its meanings and its purport. He learnt Vedas and all scriptures in order to gain the complete knowledge. He has a good memory. He is intuitive.
 
वेदवेदाङ्गतत्त्वज्ञोधनुवेर्देचनिष्ठित:-To understand the Vedas well enough, the ancillary sciences should be known such as the pronunciation (through shiksha sastra), their grammar (vyakarana), their metre and their utility (chandas), their practical utility in day to day rituals (kalpa) has to be known well. Shri Ra,m the great scholar in Vedas, learnt it all holistically.
 
धनुवेर्देचवेदेषुवेदाङ्गेषुचनिष्ठित:- Other than that, he learnt military sciences i.e., archery which was very helpful to him as king.
 
वैहारिकाणांशिल्पानांविज्ञाताऽऽर्थविभागवित्। आरोहेविनयेचैवयुक्तोवारणवाजिनाम् – Shri Ram is good at sports (वैहारिकाणा) and architecture (शिल्पानां). He is an effective resource manager. He is skilled in riding and humbling horses and elephants.
 
गान्धर्वेचभुविश्रेष्ठोबभूवभरताग्रज:- He isproficient in arts like music, dance, painting.
अभियाताप्रहर्ताचसेनानयविशारद:- He is an expert in commanding the troops.
राजविद्याविनीतश्चब्राह्मणानामुपासिता: - He is a humble scholar of Political Science (Raja vidhya vineethashcha). He adores learned men. Here, Ramayana says dU³fe°f›, humbled student of political studies, not a Master of Arts or Science as the present western education claims.As per the Indic system, one who is humbled by his education is the master.
 
विद्या ददातिविनयंविनयाद्यातिपात्रताम्।
पात्रत्वात्धनमाप्नोतिधनात्धर्मंतत:सुखम्॥
 
Knowledge leads to humbleness which in turn leads to good characteristics. With the basis of good virtues riches and by such riches one obtains happiness.
 
Here by calling Rama dU³fe°f, humbled, it doesn’t mean he is a poor or an average student in Political Science. 100th chapter of Ayodhyakanda stands as solid proof for Rama’s deep knowledge in Kingly Polity. By the way of questioning his younger brother on administrative things, he enormously proves his ability and management skills. Rama is a management Guru. But he is addressed by Ramayana as Rajavidhya vineethaH. That is the degree Indic system of education gives to its students.
 
चतुर्णांहिवय:स्थानांतेनतेतमनुव्रता: - He is loved and iconised as role model by people of all 4 castes.
So, it is evident from the above references about how well educated Rama is. How did he get time for all this? What was the basis of his education such that he was an able and most sought after leader of his times and beyond? How he remains as a role model for the kings who came long after him? Is it anything special in the education he received?
 
WHAT IS MISSING IN TODAY’S EDUCATION
To understand about the greatness of Rama and all the other great people of Sanatana Dharma, the Indic education system has to be understood properly.
 
यतो अभ्युदय नि: श्रेयस सिद्धि: स: धम्: – Maharishi Kanaada in Vaiseshika sutra.
Dharma is that which gives social welfare and spiritual welfare, says the atomic science of Sanatana Dharma. Here the study of physics talks about the definition of morality and humanity. The consequence of such education will always be a boon to the society. Those students of atomic science who grew up learning about morality along with their secular science subject will not create or entertain anything that harms the society and their individual spiritual harmony. Thus, even secular studies in our Indic studies emphasised the importance of social and spiritual welfare. The consequence of such an education will always be useful to the society.
 
Education was not based on speeding up in terms of scores, or in terms of placing ourselves better than others, or in terms of what we earn later in life. Such motivation for education is very constrained and will lead to stress. Our Indic system was based on Dharma, Dharma which opens up the mind and cultures the individual.
 
PRACTICAL SOLUTION TO SCHOOLING – AMALGAMATING THE 2 SYSTEMS
To quote our own personal example, in the present scenario of Indian education we can witness the students are forced towards scoring with the expectation of high numbers in mark-sheets and in pay scale. In such a rat race creativity and passion are being over looked and to an extent being destroyed. Students are always under constant pressure of scrutiny from peers, parents, peers’ parents, teachers and society. They undervalue or overestimate themselves by looking through others’ glasses. The joy of education is killed. From the above references from Valmiki Ramayana, we can see how Rama had learned and achieved more, still had a stress free life and he was a role model.
 
So what do we miss these days after all those extra hours of study and extra coaching? Are we taking them in the right direction? Are we missing something? These questions coupled up with frustrations of our children by the western education system gave rise to an answer called Sitalakshmi Gurukulam by our organisation WEBOLIM. In this Gurukulam, we give the children both modern education in the Indic way. We have adopted the ancient home schooling method. Our children actually do and learn more now than those days when they attended formal schools. Gurukulam education is stress free and more emphasis is given to the moral education which the great Indian hero Rama himself had. Students of Sitalakshmi and our another Vedic Gurukula, ShruthiRama Gurukuala have a life filled with rituals, practices, learning, discussions, contemplation, fun plays etc. By opening and relaxing their mind with Indian scriptures like Vedas, Ramayana, Patanjali Yogasutras, they now feel more light and swift to take up much more lessons. Their concentration and confidence are improved by regular practice of yoga, pranayama and lectures on Indian Epics like Ramayana.
 
Guidance for character building from the scriptures give them strength and practice pacifies their stress levels, learning arts like dance, music and instruments enhances their creativity and proper daily routine harness them to their commitment. Tailor made lessons by subject experts’ helps them to progress in education according to their own pace. It is only then children learn and grow happily.
 
SAMSKRITI THROUGH SAMSKRIT
Based on this model followed by our Gurukulam, I wish to drive home my point which is, education shouldn’t be mechanical and it should give confidence and enhance the character.
 
My spiritual Guru Dr. Rangan ji, founder president of WEBOLIM, who is a great educationist with a varied background in both western education (MBA and Ph. D) and eastern background (Vedanta, Vyakarana and Sahitya sastras), often says Indian history should be made known to our children in a proper way. Not the one written by foreigners and by those who don’t even know sanskrit. Since our sastras are in sanskrit, they have to be taught the language which will give them the direct access to our scriptures.
 
Our children should understand the roots of Sanatana Dharma with pride. Our Sastras have to be given from the primary source and not from the secondary quotations of scholars who do not even have the culture of Santana dharma. He says, “Give the correct history based on primary evidence! Our children will be more motivated and culture themselves automatically with the strength from our roots”.
 
(The writer is a member of WEBOLIM, an organisation dedicated to spread Vedic values and culture through Ramayana)