Shiksha and Education

Today morning a friend read out some poems of Bahinabai Chaudhuri. Bahinabai was a Marathi poet who wrote about the life she experienced in rural Maharashtra. One of her popular poems titled ‘sansaar’ starts with the lines:

अरे संसार संसार
जसा तवा चुल्ह्यावर
आधी हाताले चटके
तव्हा मिळते भाकर!

(O, life, life, like a tava on the flame, first you burn your hand and then you get the bhaakar/roti)

All the poems my friend read out used very simple imagery to show life from new perspectives. I was deeply moved!

Now, here is what Wikipedia says about Bahinabai:

“Bahinabai Chaudhari (24 August 1880 – 3 December 1951) was a Marathi language poet from Jalgaon district of Maharashtra, India. She became a noted poet posthumously. Bahinabai was born in a Mahajan family at Asode in Khandesh region of the present-day Jalgaon district on the 24th of August 1880. . . . she was married to Nathuji Khanderao Chaudhari of Jalgaon. Following her husband’s death in 1910, she led a very difficult life . . . . She had a daughter named Kashi and two sons, Madhusudan and Sopandev (1907-1982). Bahinabai composed her songs verbally in ovi (ओवी) metre in a mixture of two dialects: Khandeshi and Levaganboli. Her son Sopandev, who became a well-known poet, transcribed them. According to one account, Sopandev read the story of Savitri and Satyavan to his mother from his textbook, and by the next morning, she had composed a song of the tale. Impressed by her talent, he began writing down her songs in a notebook. Her poetry is characterized as reflective and abstract with iconic and realist imagery. It captures the essence of her life, reflects the culture of village and farming life, and presents her wisdom. After his mother’s death on 3 December 1951, Sopandev found the notebook and shared one of her poems with Prahlād Keshav (Acharya) Atre. Atre recounts calling the first of Bahinabai’s poems he heard “pure gold” in his introduction to the collection published under the title Bahinabainchi gani (Bahinabai’s Songs) in 1952.”

In the customary box giving the personal details, Wikipedia, under ‘Education’ says – None. In our current way of looking at things we would have called her ‘illiterate’.

I thought this was a good topic for some deep reflection on the difference between Shiksha and Education. What do you think?

One reply on “Shiksha and Education”

Very nice post. With institutionalization of knowledge, the masses have become uneducated in one stroke. In rural Andhra I’ve seen homes of weavers marked “unskilled” by govt surveyors.

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