Friday, August 14, 2009

Western and Eastern Worldviews

While the Western system of elementary education is based on materialism, theIndian elementary education is based on 'human values,' says Suki Sivam (Sun T.V. July 26, 2009). To show this, he points out the way the children were taught in the Western system of education using 'A for Apple,' whereas in India (in Tamil particularly) they were taught, 'A for "aram seyya virumbu" (have desire to do charity/dharma).' Though my aim here is to take further what he said about Einstein and the value of education based on humanitarian consideration, yet I cannot resist pointing out the inconsistency in such an example. Athichudi (from which he quoted 'have desire to do charity') was written not to teach alphabets to the children, but ethical values were written in a poetic style in which the lines were written in alphabetical order. So, when we want to teach children alphabets we cannot use long sentence (however pregnant with human values they may be) but only small words like 'A for amma' (replacing apple). Well my intention is not to take the secondary matter and point out the contradiction but to show that when we take any example to present our view, we should be careful about any inconsistency in it. Whether West or East, while teaching alphabets, only small words are used and not long slokas or aphorisms with high ethical values., Now to show how such materialistic ways of education have done huge damage to humanity, he shared about Einstein who deeply regretted his invention of atomic energy, which was used by the USA against Japan in World War Two. When he was asked about it, Einstein said that he spent sleepless nights with remorse with a guilty feeling of committed some sin., Though we need to promote an education based on humanitarian values, and however we may claim that India showed the best example for it, yet we are in no way less than anybody else in upholding materialism and unethical ways of life. But the one thing lacking in our moral values is the sense of 'remorse' and daring to confess sin and immorality openly. Of course, we have the highest ethical teaching in all our literature. It pervades in our worldview through various forms of stories, poems, slokas, sutras (aphorism) and mantras. However, what our worldview forgets to promote is the sense of 'guilt' and 'confession,' though that is also insisted upon by our literature.  Whatever might be the system of (basic) education in the West, they too have their own ethical and moral values taught to them through their scriptures and literature.  But one main reason for the lack of such 'guilt' and '(open) confession' is the way we Indians justify all our ethical and moral lapses by taking refuge in 'karma' theory. In general, the Western worldview is more dominated by the biblical teaching of 'sin-remorse and confession,' in spite of their materialistic attitude to life (we are no way less than anyone else in this too).  While we point out our strengths in comparison to others' weaknesses, we can also learn from others' worldviews in order to demonstrate our own values more strongly in practical life., I have seen some Westerners doing their given jobs without need for anyone to supervise them - because of their guilty conscience.  Whereas unless we stand along with the workers, we cannot expect Indians to do their work with the same spirit of guilty conscience (i.e. that we have to do our job sincerely for the amount that we charge).  When we are caught red-handed, then with a sense of shame we will try to explain or hide or oppose rather than to accept. The best example is President Clinton; finally he confessed his affairs with Monika Lewinsky. But when is even one politician going to confess his corruption here? Another recent example is Hansie Cronje, the South African cricketer who confessed his involvement in cricket scandals; whereas our Indian cricketers are either hiding or defending themselves, perhaps waiting for our legal and political system to save them without their having to confess their transgressions., If we too began to teach our children some level of 'guilty' conscience (which is there in our texts) along with ethical values, we will be better able to boast about our value system., Dayanand Bharati, Gurukulam, July 26, 2009.

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