Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cool Judgment and Impartial Enquiry.

In a heated debate for and against ‘free gifts and subsidiaries’ on Vijay TV on Sunday, May 8th, 2011 (‘Neeya Naana’), when it came to providing education, those who were a part of the ‘against’ campaign pointed out that until the recent past (up to the arrival of British rule in India), education was sought rather than provided for all. It was also mentioned that until recent times (pre and post independence), even when education was “provided” it still was not in the hands of the government. Rather, a few philanthropists, with cooperation from others, started schools and colleges for the purpose of education.
The “for” campaign immediately pointed to the negative side of such philanthropic work, in which the suppressed and backward class people were sometimes neglected and only (the so-called ‘high’) caste people benefited.
Both sides were correct and reasonable in their points. However, neither side mentioned an important fact: that in pre-British India, education was not sought to procure some professional job to earn, but for the sake of knowledge and also as a part of a particular community need. Education was primarily considered as ‘vidya’, not to ‘get information’ as the present system of education is mostly about. Of course, there are exceptions to this even at present.
For example, it is a known fact that Brahmins run their own Gurukulam to train religious specialists to carry out their vocation as priest, prohits, acharyas, etc. This is considered receiving ‘vidya’. Kings and rich people gave land and endowments (known as Brahmadeyas) for such institutions. Apart from this there were also Gurukulams to teach special skills, mostly to the so-called high caste communities. All such institutions are considered as ‘vidyalaya’ (vidya + alaya =temple). In all this, education was not ‘certificate-oriented’ in order to get a job in government or private institutions. The East India Company initiated certificate-oriented education; the British govt. continued it to get babus (clerks) from the local people to assist in governing this country.
Before bashing any anarchy or hierarchy of the past, we must keep in mind certain historical facts and impartially point them out. This way, we can make just and correct critiques of a system, rather than insist on personal views with some bias. As Mahatma Gandhiji well said, “…Cool judgment and a dispassionate and impartial enquiry are essential to a right view of the whole matter.” 29. LETTER TO “THE NATAL ADVERTISER”. Pretoria, Sep. 29, 1893 in Collected works of Gandhiji. Publications Division. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Govt. of India. (1958), Third ed. Reprint. 1994. Vol. I. p. 63.

Dayanand Bharati, Gurukulam, May 10, 2011

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