Indian Knowledge Systems (part-1)

Thank you Sri Sri University for hosting the first ever FDP on Indian Knowledge systems online and reaching us such precious and rare knowledge. The speakers who imparted the sessions were true stalwarts in their field and it was a great delight to be in company of such wise people for fourteen days. I would like to thank Dr. Richa Chopra Ji and her entire team for making this event a reality. May this event get us one step closer to Gurudev’s vision of making India an educational hub again. The seed is sown and God willing with many such important sessions in future these seeds will sprout into beautiful shade giving trees. Sharing a few learnings & highlights from the sessions.

In the first session of FDP Prof. Michel Danino shared that the Economic model of development needs to change. “You own only what you use. Let Human be in centre and not consumption.” I personally think that the quick industrialisation brought a huge shift in the human mindset. From need based use of natural resources, to production for profits & exploitation of natural resources for earning more and more. What we need is limited but profit making is not. And this shifted the human mindset, from using natural resources mindfully to becoming mindlessly greedy for more profits. And so this one line from Prof. Michel meant a lot. He also added that in IKS (Indian knowledge systems) “Unity does not imply Uniformity.” Often we mistake one for other. The professor said that Self exploration is the central legacy of IKS.

University locations in India

Let me share with you what I call – ‘a did you know fact’ – As per the research done by Prof. Shailendra Raj Mehta Universities first got invented in India. Difficult to believe but it’s true. Out of the 24 innovations that define modern universities 18 came from India. Taxila, Vallabhi, Nalanda, Vikram Sheel, Odantapuri, Jagaddala, Somapura are names of some of these universities found in ancient India. Taxila being the oldest was a confluence for Indian, Persian & Chinese civilisation. Freedom of speech and academic freedom were the core values practiced in these educational hubs. Admission based on mental ability and not on the financial ability attracted the most deserving students to these universities. Vallabhi was founded in 535 CE was first of it’s kind University founded by a Woman for Women in the whole world. Princes Dudda was the founder of Vallabhi. Wow! Isn’t it..

Professor Kapil Kapoor is a walking talking Encyclopedia of IKS. When he speaks you want to continue learning more and more and more… Hearing him made me feel that there is so little that I know about IKS. One lifetime seems very short to acquire even an iota of this knowledge. He defined the Indian knowledge tradition based on Oral communication as the most democratic culture of knowledge in the World. Because all that one requires to gain knowledge is ears and no other gadgets. And so knowledge is accessible to all. Creating knowledge by reflection- Smriti/memory, pryog/implementation, Vimarsha/dialogue. Unlike modern education as per IKS Knowledge is a condition of awareness- what we see, hear, touch, feel, taste etc and what happens inside our mind and heart. Indian civilisation is perpetually modern as human is in the centre and reasons are it’s means. India became modern ever since Rig Veda times. The Bharamic or the Vedic is a cafeteria approach to God. Unlike the Abrahmic culture which propound existence of one personal God.

Prof. Kapoor marked a basic difference that distinguishes IKS from other systems I.e. we do not value knowledge to gain power over others. We value knowledge to gain power over oneself. The three civilisational values of IKS are Saiyama/restrain, Niyama/ethics & Shraddha/reverence. Relationships and emotions are a part of education. Indian culture is a repairing culture we repair relations. And the western World has a lot to learn from this.

Another astonishing fact shared by prof. Kapil – 1833 survey for measuring literacy rate in India revealed that 97% of our population was literate. With two lakh fifty seven thousand schools countrywide and only 12% teachers being Bhramans. After the English Act of 1835 by Macaulay it dropped to 16% in 1882. Because English was made primary mode of learning. The mode of imparting knowledge was local languages before this. McCauley assassinated Indian languages. The act made India into two nations. Those who know English and those who don’t know. 90% don’t know and only 10% know. But those 10% are policy makers. It generated upward mobility in India. You get respect, jobs via English. It got value conflict where Young people built Ignorance and contempt for their own culture. Further it made the Indian mind derivative and colonised. And thus the key for reviving IKS would be to impart education in local language. The professor described richness in Indian languages as Amazonian. With 22 languages in schedule & 37 still in waiting. He drew attention on Andal, Guru Gobind singh, Meera bai, Kabir, Kalidas, Hala, Mirza Galib & others for their rich contributions in Indian lit.

To be continued..

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