Hindu society rightly condemned the undue liberty taken in the name of art by Sri M.F. Hussain in drawing the pictures of Mata Saraswati, Mata Sita and Mahavir Anjaneya in nude, made him come to his senses, and openly apologize for the blasphemous act. But, how could they sit silent and witness their own brethren, especially those who claim to be the guardian angels of our spiritual culture and heritage make the very Mother Vidya stand naked in the open market and auction Her for the sake of money?
Hindu tradition proclaims that knowledge is the greatest wealth and gift of knowledge is the supreme gift one could make. Bharat, the Land of Knowledge, since times immemorial, has gifted to the world the highest knowledge and wisdom not only in the spiritual realm, but also in all the fields of human knowledge. In the ancient gurukulas, the children from all strata of the society came with samid – the sacred fuel – in their hand to symbolically offer themselves into the fire of wisdom kindled by their preceptors. Irrespective of their caste, class or other distinctions based on birth, the seekers of knowledge were imparted the highest wisdom by the Acharyas. Not only education was free, but even the necessities of the wards were taken care of by the Masters who considered themselves to be the guardians of the students till the end of their studies. Whatever was offered as Gurudakshina by the disciple at the end of the studies was gladly accepted by the preceptor, that too to enable him to continue his services to the new-comers into the Gurukula. The most ancient universities like Nalanda and Takshasila were also ideal centres of learning where seekers of knowledge from all over the world thronged to drink the nectar of Bharatiya Vidya. These institutions were also residential universities where the students were provided free education apart from their physical needs.
Today what is the condition? The advancement of science and technology has brought in more material well-being, comforts and pleasures in human life and the world has also shrunk in size. However, along with that the world of human values have also shrunk. Standard of living has gone up, but the standard of life has gone to the abysmal low. The Vedic Rishis declared, Yaa Vidyaa saa vimuktaye – “that which liberates is education”. But today, education is only a means for livelihood, a passport for a higher standard of living. It makes human being a machine to produce maximum possible comforts and sensual pleasures in life which the producer himself has no time to enjoy.
In the Muslim period of Indian History, not only the sacred temples of the Hindus, but also the temples of learning, the ancient universities along with their vast libraries, were destroyed and Madrasas came into existence to brain wash those who were forcibly converted to Islam to carry on the Jihad or war in the name of Allah against the Hindus who were condemned as “Khafirs”.
When the British introduced their system of education in this land, their main objectives were to produce a class of white-collared slaves who will help the white man to perpetuate his empire in India and to convert the masses into alien culture and religion so that they will ever remain his loyal vassals. Christian missionaries were pumped into the educational field to achieve these two objectives and they succeeded to a great extent in destroying gradually all that was noble and great in the Bharatiya or the Hindu way of life.
After hundreds of years of struggle and suffering, when Bharat was seeing the dawn of Independence, 92% of the Mussalmans in this country refused to co-exist with their Hindu brethren in this nation and demanded partition of the country. The country was divided and Muslims got their Pakisthan, which was proclaimed as an Islamic nation. However, the rest of the country was not declared a Hindu Nation, because the vested interest of the political leaders who grabbed power immediately after independence prompted them to pursue a policy of appeasement of the so-called minorities in this country. They declared this country a “Secular Nation” and allowed the so called minorities to continue to live in this land with some special privileges. There is no uniform civil code for all the citizens of this land. The Muslims can follow their own shariat. The minorities can set up their own educational institutions to preserve their religious rights and interests. Thus, the educational institutions set up by the so called minority communities were given special rights to preach and propagate their religion in their institutions, whereas the educational institutions started by the majority community were made into secular institutions where no religious teaching could be imparted. Even the use of the premises of these institutions by Hindu social, cultural and religious organisations would invite the wrath of the “secular” government! The minority institutions can give preference to their community students in the matter of admission in their schools and colleges and sell the remaining seats for a hefty price to members of other communities. Aristocratic Hindus who could be easily weaned away from their culture and heritage because of their attraction to alien culture are easily drawn towards these institutions. But a Hindu institution cannot give preference to the Hindus in the matter of admissions. In the British period as well as in the post-independence India, some great souls did think of the fate of the Hindu race and made sincere efforts to promote out culture, heritage and national spirit. However, unfortunately, in the course of time, these institutions have also turned into market places selling degrees and diplomas. They have lost their vision and are able to see only those who walk into them with a hefty amount to be paid as capitation fee, tuition fee and special fees. The poor and deserving Hindu students cannot think of higher education, especially if they happen to be from the so-called forward communities. At least, the scheduled caste, scheduled tribe and backward communities could hope to get admission because of the reservation policy of the Government. Private individuals, businessmen and politicians are competing with one another in setting up the so-called “self-financing” educational institutions to build up their coffers. Now the religious institutions, Maths and Missions have also joined the race. The excuse that all of them make for fleecing the students is that they need money to put up buildings and infra-structure. All of them are auctioneers of Mother Sharada!
The crying need of the day is a class of Acharyas – true preceptors who live a humble and simple life with high thinking – setting themselves as examples before the younger generation and imparting to them knowledge in all fields of learning and highest wisdom without expecting anything in return, and motivated only by the goal of making men with capital ‘M’. If the Maths and religious organisations cannot afford to run institutions that could provide secular education free or at a nominal cost, and also provide religious instruction to the students, let them better hand over the schools and colleges to the Government and concentrate on their main mission, i.e., imparting spiritual knowledge and wisdom by setting up ideal Gurukulas. The very purpose of a spiritual or religious organisation is defeated when it runs institutions which create only graduates and post-graduates who run after money-earning jobs, material comforts and sense pleasures without any higher goals or aspirations in life.
The rich Hindu culture, heritage and spiritual values are captivating the attention of the people all over the world who are fast getting fed up with the nauseating materialistic civilizations. They are all looking towards Bharat for solace and inspiration. There are also children of the Bharatiyas settled abroad who are attracted to the higher values of life propounded by their forefathers and they all want to come and sit at the feet of the Acharyas of this land and learn the meaning and purpose of life. They want to learn Yoga, Ayurveda, music, art and dance of this most ancient land. Our educational values and the whole system of education must change if Bharat is to emerge as the preceptor of the world. Our philanthropic and religious minded businessmen, instead of pumping their resources into meaningless rites, rituals and religious tamasha, must concentrate on promoting Bharatiya Vidya and our religious leaders and spiritual institutions, instead of running after accumulation of wealth and properties, concentrate on discharging their duties to the nation and to the world as messengers of Mother Saraswati. Let our educational institutions be true temples of learning.
Author: Professor Sadhu Rangarajan