Sthiti and Gati

(The following is the script of the audio-visual component of chapter 8 of the SIDH online course – ‘Understanding Modern Education -An Indic Perspective’)

Our experience of reality has two aspects: The stable, unchanging, intrinsic, unseen, intangible, BEING part. We are calling it the STHITI. And the changing, sensorial, tangible, manifested, DOING or behaving part. We are calling it the GATI. STHITI and GATI are like two sides of the same coin.

We have already talked about some sthiti/ gati pairs in previous chapters. Let us first look at the ‘I’ and ‘We’ identities. The ‘I’ identity is gati-centric. It is mostly about quantitative aspects like wealth, status, income, degree, clothes, material possessions etc. All these can be compared. In contrast, the ‘We’ identity is sthiti-centric. It is mostly about qualitative aspects like honesty, integrity, courage, and pride in one’s culture and traditions etc. For example, it is possible to hear someone say that ‘No one steals in our samaaj’ or that ‘we are brave people’.

We have also earlier looked at word and meaning. You can now easily see that word is the gati aspect and the meaning is the sthiti aspect. Words are external symbols that are IN a language, whereas meaning is always an inner process that is BEYOND language. Knowing the word and not the meaning is no good but knowing the meaning and not the exact word may still serve our purpose. The word is a symbol which is different in different languages whereas meaning is existential.

Let us look at some other Gati/ Sthiti pairs to make the distinction clear.

We can start with hearing/ listening that is directly connected to word and meaning. We hear a word but we listen to the meaning. So hearing is the gati aspect and listening, that is to do with understanding the meaning, is the inner, sthiti aspect.

Another important distinction between Information and knowledge is being ignored in present day education. Information is something that keeps changing both with time and space. It doesn’t remain the same. Information needs to be remembered or stored to be retrieved later. Knowledge on the other hand is something which once gained becomes ones own and does not need to be memorised. Strangely, any book of general knowledge today is only full of information. This adds to the confusion and information is unknowingly ASSUMED to be knowledge.

Finally let us look at the distinction between getting influenced and getting inspired. Influencing or impressing is always with the outer veneer, the gati, whereas inspiration is always an inner process, to do with sthiti. Getting influenced leads to imitation and comparison. On the other hand we get inspired by the intrinsic, qualitative aspects which cannot be copied. The quality gets manifested in different individuals naturally and in their unique manner.

Modern education and modern systems are almost entirely gati-focused. If you are only focused on gati, you are prone to be manipulated. Because gati, like fashion, keeps changing and the people in control of setting these trends are faceless. Once these parameters are accepted almost unconsciously by us, we end up constantly comparing ourselves with the other, leading to irresolvable tensions. Education needs to be sthiti focused and gati needs to be treated the way it is, subordinate to sthiti. The decision-making if it is sthiti-centric, then the doing, the manifested, gati part would naturally follow taking into account the circumstances. In the process of education, the shift of focus from gati to sthiti will help create grounded children with Nirapekshsa Atma-Vishwas and authentic, sahaj behavior.

The above can be summarised in a table as shown below:

(Wealth, status, income,
degree, clothes etc.)
(Honesty, integrity, courage,
pride etc.)
WORD (Hearing)
IN language/ symbol
MEANING (Listening)
Beyond language/ existential
ASSUMED to be knowledge
No need to memorise
Leads to imitation
Cannot be copied

– The other posts on this blog about the SIDH online course are here, here and here.
– The course is available here.)

A good education

My schooling happened in Delhi, where I grew up playing cricket and football with the neighbourhood children and paying minimum attention to academics. After my 12th class, I studied furiously for an year and got through the IIT entrace exam. I ended up at IIT Kharagpur, where, after four years of hanging around aimlessly creating some life-long friendships, ingesting tea and other more harmful things, paying a minimum attention to academics, reading a lot of fiction from the institute library, and in other ways having a very memorable time, I was thrown out into the world with a job and with no idea of what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

All-in-all, I think I had a good education. (You will notice that ‘paying minimum attention to academics’ runs through my school and college experiences. 🙂)

Samdhong Rinpoche, in the video linked on the blog post dated 27/6/2022, says:
“Right now people are all intoxicated, like someone asleep after taking opium, or in an alcoholic stupor. People are dazed, unconscious, in the intoxication of modern civilisation.”

Another way to look at my educational journey is that it introduced me to types of intoxication and taught me how to maintain the basic level of intoxication required to function well in the modern world.

I have been thinking about what a good education for India can look like…

A batch-mate of mine is from a big business family and his folks were very unhappy when he decided to join IIT. Their argument was – but these are the people we hire, why do you want to waste your time hanging out with them? Getting through the IIT entrance exam is a ticket for a seat on the privilege-bus in India. You can get tickets many other ways too, including being born in a privileged family. Almost all my friends form IIT, who came from middle-class backgrounds like mine, took the offered privilege-bus-seat and became part of the privileged class (Dharampalji in his essay ‘A question of backwardness’ says what seems to symbolise this class most is foreign trade and travel). Unfortunately, I was otherwise occupied and I missed this bus.

The privileged classes, who decide the fate and direction of all the modern systems that are running India, are a small minority (Dharampalji thought that, including their helpers and assistants, they are 15-20% of the population). It seems obvious that a good education for India must be something that leads to the good of all (or most of) the people of India. This is difficult because the people who take decisions and run the education system belong to the privileged classes and they naturally work towards maintaining and growing their privilege.

I was thinking that a good education for India can:
a. Be designed for the not-privileged people of India, celebrating and nurturing their strengths.
b. Show the students the hollowness of the intoxicated stupor of modern life.

A costly personal transport vehicle

(Disclaimer: All the following facts and figures are obtained from the internet, you should do your own internet search to verify the facts.)

– A petrol or diesel car (say, a Maruti Swift) uses what is called an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE).
– As the words show, an ICE operates by exploding fuel. The explosion in a cylinder is channelized through a piston to become the motion of the car.
– Efficiency of an Internal Combustion Engine is very low. Wikipedia says that 18-20% is the average efficiency of an ICE.
– This means that when you buy petrol for Rs 100, Rs. 80 is going waste because of the limits inherent in an ICE.

– In spite of the limits, a Maruti Swift can go 20 kilometres by exploding one litre of petrol.
– Which means that the petrol that fits into a water-bottle-sized container has the power equal to a person pushing the Maruti Swift, weighing 875-905 kilograms, for 20 kilometres.
– Imagine that! Fossil fuels have miraculous superpowers.

– The 875-905 kilograms of the Maruti Swift is holding all the paraphernalia required to move 4 people comfortably and fast.
– At an average of 70 kilograms per person, that is 280 kilograms of people. So the Maruti Swift has a self-weight 3.2 times the weight of the people it can carry.
– In a Maruti Swift with 4 people inside, out of every Rs. 100 we pay for petrol, Rs. 76 is being used to carry the self-weight of the car and only Rs. 24 is used to carry the weight of the 4 people.
– If you combine the data above with the efficiency of an ICE, every Rs. 100 you spend on petrol gets you only 24% of Rs. 20 or about Rs 5 worth of personal transport. (If you do the maths with one person in a Maruti Swift, for every Rs 100, Rs. 98.5 is going away as heat or is carrying the self-weight of the car)

– A solar cooker is a simple device. It is made of a box painted black inside with a glass lid on top. Water boils easily inside the cooker.
– The Maruti Swift with its windows rolled up behaves like a solar cooker. And then we burn more of our miraculous fossil fuel to cool the interior of the solar-cooker-like car. Further reducing the efficiency of the car.

Wikipedia says:

“The origin of fossil fuels is the anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms. The conversion from these materials to high-carbon fossil fuels typically require a geological process of millions of years.”

This is what we are squandering unthinkingly!

Bharat: A vyay-pradhaan samaaj

(The following are the points covered in the video of Dr Harsh Satya talking about how the paramparik samaaj in India was expenditure-centred. The video is linked below.)

Harsh’s teacher at IIIT Hyderabad, Navjyothi Singh, had a sudden insight that the experiences that Guruji Ravindra Sharmaji used to relate were all about a Vyay-pradhaan samaaj. An expenditure-centred samaaj. (As opposed to modern society which is Aay-pradhaan or income-centred)

Harsh shared this with Guruji Ravindra Sharma and he liked this formulation and incorporated it into his talks.

Harsh once told Nagarajji, the saint-propounder of Madhyasth Darshan, that Bharatiya gram vyavastha was Vyay-pradhaan and not Aay-pradhaan. Nangarajji asked, son how can we have Vyay without Aay? Harsh had no answer. Then after a pause Nagarajji shared the insight that in a Vyay-pradhaan vyavastha man will not do sangrah (accumulation or hoarding). Nagarajji told Harsh to do more research in this direction.

Harsh realized later that actually man’s Aay comes from Prakriti’s Vyay. Like the fruits, flowers, leaves of the trees are its Vyay and this becomes man’s Aay. Or the earth’s minerals that are on its surface are its Vyay and they become man’s Aay. Farming is also a good example – A farmer’s Aay is coming from the earth’s Vyay plus the effort put in by the farmer.

So, with this background, it looks like Guruji Ravindra Sharma’s conception that in the samaaj if everyone is doing their Vyay according to their responsibility, it ensures the Aay of everyone, appears correct. Or, Vyay is the cause of the Aay. In this, Vyay meant all our giving including our action in the world.

In the paramparik samaaj it was understood that my Aay was because of someone else’s Vyay and this brought in an element of gratitude. In modern society an individual thinks his Aay is a result of his skills and effort.

When Sri Ram gives his khadau (wooden slippers) to Bharat, he also tells Bharat that it does not matter who sits on the throne, but the Purohit being taken care of would ensure a well run samaaj. This matches with observations by many Indian and English writers that the Indian samaaj was largely unaffected by who the current ruler was. The breaking of the institution of the Purohit probably was a major factor in the decline of the Bharatiya samaaj.

For a Vyay-pradhaan vyavastha it is important that the people are not unhappy letting go of things. And it is probably the primary responsibility of the Purohit to use various rituals to develop this maanas of letting go in the people of the samaaj. For example, in our festivals we create something beautiful, a rangoli, a statue of Ganesh etc. and then we immerse the statue and let go of this beauty without sadness.

The full video is linked below:

Why is Dharampal Ignored?

Question from Pawanji:
It seems like the Indian academic world has not opposed Dharampal but has ignored him. What do you think?

Rinpocheji’s answer:
In this regard, it appears like people have treated Gandhiji and Dharampalji the same way. To be in opposition you need logical arguments. The academic world doesn’t have any. Whatever opposition can arise will be superficial. On a rational ground neither Gandhiji nor Dharampalji can be opposed. They (people who ignore Gandhiji and Dharampalji) only say – but how do we stop development? Development is such a big thing, whether good or bad, and it needs to be allowed in. With such hollow talk they put their ideas forward and ensure their livelihood inside the developmental paradigm. Not having the capacity or the logic to oppose Gandhiji and Dharampalji, they ignore them.

And they do not agree to what Gandhiji and Dharampalji are saying because that is uncomfortable and not acceptable. Nehruji must have surely understood the ideas of Gandhiji. In the beginning he did some minor opposition to Gandhiji but quickly realized that he could not oppose Gandhiji logically. The solution Nehru found was to continue to do the things he wanted to do after putting Gandhiji on a pedestal and making him a Mahatma. It is true that if Nehru had opposed Gandhiji a process of dispute and dialogue would have started and Gandhiji’s ideas would have reached a wider audience.

Gandhiji, Vinobhaji, Dharampalji – people have not opposed them, in fact they have only praised them. They were made Mahapurush. But their ideas were not accepted and were wholly ignored. But how long can they be ignored? A time will surely come, a limit will be reached, beyond which we will not be able to live in the current paradigm. Then, possibly, the ideas of Gandhiji and Dharampalji will be paid attention to. Right now people are all intoxicated, like someone asleep after taking opium, or in an alcoholic stupor. People are dazed, unconscious, in the intoxication of modern civilisation. What opposition can one do then? They will not accept the ideas but will also not be able to oppose them.

Chennakeshava Temple at Belur

“Belur is situated on the banks of Yagachi River and was one of the capitals of the Hoysala Empire. The Chennakeshava Temple (also called Vijaya Narayana Temple) at Belur, built by Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana in 1116 AD, is a star shaped temple believed to have taken around 103 years to build. The temple stands on a platform and has exquisite artwork on its outer walls adorned with bracket figures depicting the Puranas and Epics.”
From the Karnataka tourism website

My civil engineering batchmate who works in a company that makes luxury hotels and apartments has been urging me to go and visit Belur. He has travelled extensively in India and abroad and claims that he has seen nothing as spectacular as the Belur temple. I got a chance to go there recently and the dominant memory is of the densely and intricately carved figures on the temple walls. Figures that depict an unbelievable level of detail covering both earthly and divine themes.

For example:
– There are numerous women figures in various postures, dancing, singing, hunting, combing their wet hair, looking at a mirror etc.
– The women have details like carved necklaces that hang in front of them and, in one figure, a bangle that moves freely on an arm.
– The divine themes include Ravana lifting mount Kailasha, Narasimha killing Hiranyakashyap etc.

The inner sanctum is a large hall with 42 unique, apparently lathe-turned, pillars. The Narasimha pillar and the Mohini pillar are special. There is a story that the Narasimha pillar, covered from top to bottom with carved miniature idols, has stone ball bearings that allowed the pillar to be rotated at some time in the past. The Mohini pillar has a five-foot image of Mohini wearing a crown through which light can pass. The magnificent main statue of Lord Vishnu in black stone is around 14 feet tall from the bottom of the pedestal to the top.

The well-informed local guide who showed us around said two very interesting things:
– That the temple and its figures frozen in time were not only a sacred place of worship but also of education. Walking around and telling stories that were depicted on the walls was a deeply immersive learning experience.
– That the Belur temple was buried under sand by the local people when Islamic invaders were sweeping through breaking temples. The statues are largely intact because of this precaution, the guide said.

I don’t know if the second story above is true or just something that the guides make up to add spice to their stories, but I am glad that so much of this exquisite temple is left untouched, that the temple is still fully functional and that we can go and get a glimpse into the minds of our ancestors who could dream something like this into existence.

There is a lot of information about the temple available online. Here are some links you may find useful:
Karnataka tourism page on Belur is at:
The Wikipedia article is at:,_Belur
A brief video tour of the temple is available at:

Samdhong Rinpoche on Paramparagat Shiksha

The main points made in the 3-part video are as follows:

Part 1: Adhunik Vs Paramparagat

Modern education makes us slaves in all respects. It snatches away our swaraj. In particular, today’s education makes us a slave to greed. It makes us lead our lives in the pursuit of the pleasure and convenience of our physical bodies. Even on our deathbed, we die enslaved.

The paramparagat shiksha used to make man swatantra (‘swa ke tantra ke saath chalne waala’ and not ‘independent’ as it is translated today in English). It taught man to minimize his needs. It taught how within limited means one could live a large, rich life.

Part 2: Five Mahavidyas

When the Buddhist parampara started in 600 BCE the categorization of the vidyas (sometimes counted as 64 etc.) was reworked into the five mahavidyas.

  1. Shabd-vidya – This encompasses language and literature.
  2. Nyaya-Vidya – Relates to logic.
  3. Chikitsa-vidya – All medical sciences.
  4. Shilp-vidya – Art, architecture etc.
  5. Adhyatma-vidya – Relating to Dharma and Darshan

Part 3: Details of Paramparagat Shiksha

Going by the 5 mahavidyas, paramparagat shiksha starts with language, the medium to learn all the other mahavidyas. The second step is nyaya – proofs, logic etc. This is to ensure that a student does not get caught in blind assumptions but rather uses rationality/ logic to move towards knowledge. Bhasha and nyaya are considered to be the foundation stones of shiksha. Once this is in place, the student is given some basic grounding in chikitsa, kala, adyatma etc to broaden his perspective. That is the end of the basic education. The student, according to his interests, may then specialize in one of the mahavidyas and go into the depths of a particular subject.

There was no clear demarcation between primary and specialized shiksha. You could spend 10 years doing primary shiksha or you could finish it in one year. When you developed the competency to start on a specialization you would be out of the primary shiksha phase. Moving up one class every year or making one age-group sit together was not a practice that existed in the paramparagat shiksha.

The alienated elites of India

“एक भाग है उन आधे प्रतिशत लोगों का जो अपने सहायक तथा सेवक वर्ग के सहारे, जो कि लगभग १५-२० प्रतिशत बैठता है, भारत के तंत्र और साधन क्षेत्रों को नियंत्रित करते हैं। दूसरा भाग उन ८०-८५ प्रतिशत लोगों का है, जो अपने अति सीमित साधनों और अवशिष्ट बल से ही जी रहे हैं ।. . . . लेकिन बृहत् समाज को हीन मानकर, उनका उद्धार और कल्याण करने की युक्तियां देते हुए, राष्ट्रीय साधनों स्रोतों पर नियंत्रण रखना तो हमें छोड़ना ही होगा। ऐसे न्यायपूर्ण विभाजन, संयोजन और समन्वय द्वारा राष्ट्र में २०-३० वर्षों के लिये दोनों हिस्सों का शक्तिपूर्ण सह अस्तित्व रह सकना सम्भव है। ऐसे सह अस्तित्व की अवधि में, हमें कुछ अधिक साहस और शक्ति मिली तो हम मिलकर आगे का भी सोच सकेंगे और ऐसे रास्ते व व्यवस्थायें बना सकेंगे जिनके द्वारा हमारा यह टूटा बिखरा समाज फिर से एक होकर आगे बढ़ सकेगा।”
– धर्मपाल, ‘हमारे सपनों का भारत?’

I recorded a zoom meeting with Pawanji where we talked about the above quote by Dharampalji and what it meant for people like us – the 15-20% elite class of India. I have edited a relevant video clip and uploaded it on the SIDH Youtube channel.

This is a conversation that we at SIDH are very eager to engage in. I hope that you find it thought-provoking and useful.

An arts and crafts mela

Yesterday, I went and visited a large arts and crafts mela. There were 140+ stalls of craftsmen from 20+ states of India and their work in cloth, wood, metal, terracotta, stone, leather, folk art etc. was being showcased and sold. Yesterday was a Sunday and the mela grounds were very crowded. Also, all my recent reading of Dharampalji’s works has probably undone some circuits in my mind and rewired some new ones.

Let me try to tell you what I noticed:

  • The car parking covered a larger area than the mela. These car owners, well-off people with money to spend, were the target customers.
  • The stalls were mostly being run by English-speaking people. So, it was English-speaking customers interfacing with English-speaking intermediaries.
  • The craftsmen, where seen, were more like animals in a zoo, something to be seen and marvelled at. For example, a potter was running a pottery workshop for children.
  • The crafts on display, cut off from their roots and their utility, were only nice decorative things that money could buy. For example, Kerala mural art that decorates temple walls was drawn on canvas to decorate living rooms.
  • It felt that the craftsmen had no option but to please these people with money and in the process their traditional art and its lineage was cheapened.
  • Another phenomenon seemed to be college-educated, alternative type people who were selling cool things like recycled material, organic food etc.

The feeling I came away with was of deep sadness that our craftsmen and their beautiful work has also been recycled, sanitized, and become neatly packaged into a form that can attract the wavering attention of our modern moneyed class. What do you think?

Another elephant

Middle-class people of my generation (I was born in 1966) have seen constant improvement in our material wealth over our lifetime. We have gone from lower middle-class to upper middle-class and in some cases to the rich. Our children, who are now in their twenties, have grown up pampered. If people of my generation think about it at all, they think the lives of their children will follow the same trajectory of increasing material wealth. All the advice we give our children about the future has this assumption built into it.

Let us examine this assumption with some anecdotes:
– My friend who grew up in a barsati in Delhi today owns a posh 3-bedroom apartment and drives a Jaguar.
– When another friend joined his company in 1994, it had 4 thousand employees. Today I think it is more like 4 lakh, a 100 fold increase. My friend rose to the top of this company and created a lot of wealth for himself.
– When my uncle bought a plot of land around 1970, he paid Rs 4 thousand. Six years ago, a builder bought it and gave my uncle 4 flats out of the 10 he built on the plot. The flats are notionally worth Rs 4 Crores, a 10,000 fold increase.


You will also have stories like this to tell. Is it reasonable to assume that this kind of growth will also happen in the lives of our children? It seems very unlikely.

Here are some events that can make the upward graph change for our children:
– America having a large economic downturn or a stock market crash and the dollar losing its position as the reserve currency of the world.
– Fossil fuels becoming more difficult to extract and hence costing substantially more. (In other words, the end of the cheap, subsidised energy era)
– Environmental and personal health issues that make us fall out of the mainstream.
– A rearrangement in geo-politics, for example, a multi-polar world with many civilizational centres as opposed to the uni-polar world we live in today.


You can add to this list or create your own. Some honest contemplation on our experience will tell us that our children will live a different kind of life from ours.

If this is so, should we not be thinking about this now? If education is preparing children for the future, an uncertain future, should we not have a different conception of what we have to do in school? Is the frantic activity that goes on in schools, both mainstream and alternative, perhaps a way to postpone thinking about all this?