Shiksha in the Indian tradition – Part 2

This is the second part of the talks I had with Dr Prabhakar Pandey, a professor at Sanchi University. The first part is available here. The main points made by Dr Pandey are:

– The Upanishadic sutra says – ‘sa vidya ya vimuktaye’.
– Vidya or gyan is the goal and shiksha is the technique to move towards it.
– The sutra says that vidya is what liberates. (from the three Rin’s dev-rin, pitr-rin and rishi-rin)
– Dev-rin is our indebtedness to sacred nature and we work it out by doing yagya.
– Pitr-rin is our indebtedness to our parents and we work it out by nurturing our children.
– Rishi-rin is our indebtedness to our teachers and we work it out by growing the knowledge that comes to us.
– Vidya also liberates us from avidya (the confusion about what is real) and develops the drishti that tells us what to do and what not to do (All of Bhagawad Gita is about this. In the beginning Sri Krishna is saying what is right and what is wrong but at the end he tells Arjuna that since he has understood the difference between right and wrong he should now choose for himself. This, in a compressed form, is the philosophy of what Bharatiya shiksha is designed to do)
– Holistic development as advocated in Indian thought means development of all the 5 koshas (Annamaya, pranamaya, manomaya, vignananmaya and anandamaya)
– Gurukul, indicates that it was the ‘kul’ of the guru or the family of the guru that was considered important.
– The idea of a kutumb or parivar is central to Indian thought.
– Common words like chandmama, billimausi etc. show us that the idea of family was not limited to our close relatives but was very extensive.
– Life at the gurukul WAS the curriculum (not something like the academic transaction that goes on in schools today).
– Dattatreya speaks of his 24 gurus. These include the sun, sky, ocean etc. To prepare a person who can learn from everything around him was the objective of Indian shiksha.
– The activities connected to real life (not making thermocol models) at the gurukul were the main focus. This along with the availability of the guru and the ability to learn from everything ensured shiksha.
– The practice of tending to the agni at the gurukul and of bhiksha, begging for alms, were very powerful learning practices.
– The practice of begging for alms ensured that the student was directly connected to and aware of the contribution that society made towards his shiksha. This practice also kept the ego of the student from getting bloated by the knowledge he was gaining.
– Graduation from the gurukul was based on the guru’s assessment of the student’s understanding. There are stories of gurus who did not graduate their students but put them back to work more.

– Today, we have no understanding of the form and objectives of shiksha. Looks like the new motto is ‘sa vidya ya niyuktaye’. 🙂

The full video is available at:

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