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.)

Understanding modern education – Online course

Registration: Visit -> Signup -> Verify email (Check spam folder if email not in Inbox) -> Login -> Buy course -> Launch course

For bulk registration (more than 10 participants):

For other queries: Email us at

Course details are as follows:

Time investment: 6-8 hours (40 minutes of audio-visual presentations, around 3 hours of reading material and around 3 hours of contemplative writing exercises)

When: The course has NO facilitator interaction and you can go through it at your own pace.

Chapter index:

Chapter 1: The problem with modern education
Chapter 2: Historical background
Chapter 3: Introduction to Asli Shiksha
Chapter 4: Drawing the attention or dhyaanakarshan vidhi
Chapter 5: Principles of Asli Shiksha
Chapter 6: Modernity and tradition
Chapter 7: What modernity does to us
Chapter 8: Sthiti and Gati
Chapter 9: Stepping-out

Each chapter has 6 segments:

Segment 1: Introspect (Self-reflective questions to set the context)
Segment 2: Listen (3-5 minute audio-visual presentation. Some samples of the listen segment are available on our YouTube channel here)
Segment 3: Contemplate on ‘Listen’ (Writing down takeaways)
Segment 4: Read (Reading material to deepen understanding)
Segment 5: Contemplate on ‘Read’ (Writing down takeaways)
Segment 6: Know (Some points to read and ponder)

If you go through the course and like it, please share it in your circles.


Drawing the attention or dhyaanakarshan vidhi

Last week I shared an extract from our soon-to-be-launched online course on understanding modern education. Today I thought of sharing some more information on how it works. The course is meant for parents, teachers and other interested adults. It will take some 6-9 hours to go through (depending on whether you follow or don’t follow the links for extra study) and is divided into 9 chapters:

  1. The problem with modern education
  2. Historical background
  3. Introduction to Asli Shiksha
  4. Drawing the attention or dhyaanakarshan vidhi
  5. Principles of Asli Shiksha
  6. Modernity and tradition
  7. What modernity does to us
  8. Sthiti and Gati
  9. Stepping-out

Each chapter has 6 segments:

  1. Introspect (Self-reflective questions to set the context)
  2. Listen (3-5 minute audio-visual presentation)
  3. Contemplate on ‘Listen’ (Writing down takeaways)
  4. Read (Reading material to deepen understanding)
  5. Contemplate on ‘Read’ (Writing down takeaways)
  6. Know (Some points to read and ponder)

Here is a sample, work-in-progress audio-visual to give you a glimpse of what the course looks and feels like…

I hope you liked the presentation. Namaste!

The problem with modern education

This week’s blog post is extracted from an online course that we will be launching soon. The course is designed to make a participant contemplate on his/ her educational experience and connect the dots to better understand modern Indian education. The course is made up of short audio-visual presentations, reading material and self-reflective writing exercises. A relevant screen-grab from the audio-visual part of the course is shown below.

And, here is an extract from the online course…

Pawan Gupta, the co-founder of SIDH, has a favourite story about the fundamental problem with our education system. When they moved to Mussoorie, some village women seeing that Pawanji and his wife Anuradhaji seemed to have a lot of free time and seemed to be educated, asked them to start a village school. When some time had passed and the village women got comfortable with him, they told Pawanji that this system of education was destroying their children. “What is your education system doing to our children?” they asked. They felt the education seemed to be alienating the children from their families, villages, culture and their ways of doing things. The children started developing a sense of shame towards whatever was their own. An old woman seeing the effect of education on young boys, who now preferred to move around with their hands in their pockets, told Pawanji that he should teach children to ‘Be’ rather than focus only on the appearance. “Hona sikhao,” she said, “dikhna dikhaana nahin.” Pawanji considers this his mantra in education and he says that this was the turning point where he became aware of his hidden assumptions and his real education started. Pawanji says that another lady had asked him about the objective of the modern education system. “Was it,” she asked, “designed to take the village boys to Delhi and the Delhi boys to America?”

Ananda Coomaraswamy, the great philosopher and scholar, criticizing the British education system in an essay written in 1909, titled ‘Education in India’, gives us indications about this problem when he says:

“The system of education set up by the British creates anti-national tendencies by ignoring or despising almost every ideal of the Indian national culture. Most students lose all capacity for the appreciation of Indian culture and become strangers in their own land. The education is really based on the general assumption- nearly universal in England- that India is a savage country, which it is England’s divine mission to civilize.”

The problem started much earlier. This can be seen in what William Bentinck the governer general of India wrote in a letter to the secretary of state in 1827. This was 3 years after the rebellion by the Indian soldiers at the Barrackpore cantonment rattled the British empire. In the letter he said:

“There is nothing to worry now as the educated Indian has started leaving his ways and stopped giving alms to mendicants and sadhus and, with the money thus saved, is busy entertaining the British and imitating their ways.”

Mahatma Gandhi has spoken eloquently about the alienation that this type of education brings to us. In an article titled ‘The present system of education’, written in 1916, he says:

“An impartial English writer has said that as long as there is no continuity between schools and homes in India, the pupils will not have the benefit of either. Our youths learn one thing from parents at home and from the general environment, and another at school. The pattern at school is often found incompatible with that in the home. The lessons in our textbooks are regarded as of little relevance to conduct. We cannot put the knowledge so acquired to any practical use in our daily life. The parents are indifferent to what is taught at school. The labour spent on studies is considered useless drudgery which has to be gone through that one might take the final examination, and once this is over we manage to forget as quickly as possible what we had studied. The charge levelled against us by some Englishmen that we are mere imitators is not entirely baseless.”

The problems in modern Indian education, which began 200 years ago under the British rule, have not been addressed till date, as fundamentally nothing much has changed from those times. And the problems seem to afflict all types of people whatever be their linguistic, social or economic background. So, the first generation learners begin to look down upon their illiterate parents and their local culture. And the children of affluent educated parents despise the very idea of India without knowing anything very much about it.

We go through an elaborate, time-and-life-consuming, expensive process of national education that finally results in us becoming mindless imitators, self-conscious about who we are, losing our real confidence and becoming asahaj. Do you not think that it is time that we did something about it?