Friday December 15, 2017
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Is the India education system colonized?

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By: S. Geetha

imagesRalph Waldo Emerson delivered his Phi Beta Kappa lecture laying down the principles for the emerging the American scholar (the qualifier “American” to show that he is a scholar different from the British or the Classical ones) compelled by his growing patriotism for the new born country in the controversial ‘newfoundland’ discovered by Colombus. This was vehemently opposed by the Native Americans who have lived there for millions of years before the whites could occupy. The irony is that all the ideas expressed in his speech which are camouflaged as the quintessential American thought, are ideas, principles, philosophical stances which he had devoured from his exhaustive reading of all available knowledge of several strands of Eastern Philosophy including the Advaitic Vendantic philosophy available to him in French translations. His veiled reference to the ‘Varna dharma’ which he happily calls a “fable” has been the essence of our faith, and states that all created human beings in a community are like organs in a body each performing one’s duty with a realization that each one is but a part of the whole – that is the human community.

Naturally Indians have been a race of people who intuitively knew about the inter-connectedness of every aspect of creation and therefore had reverence for them, be it a mountain or a plant. For this the ‘Hindoo’ was insensitively condemned as “heathens”, ‘pagans’ or ‘pantheists’; but he was taught to begin the day with a prayer, a sensitive apology to the divine spirit hidden in this ‘prithvi’ – our mother earth saying “pada sparsam kshmaswa me meaning mother earth forgive me for stamping on you.

Henry David Thoreau, the ardent follower and the disciple of Emerson includes a reference to Damodara in his essay ‘Where I lived and What I lived for,’ in which one finds a classic representation of the everyday life of any ascetic or monk commonly found in India. The simplicity and life attuned to nature is so common among our ascetics that either we ignore and take it for granted or do not make much sense of. Both Emerson and Thoreau have always been treated as canonical writers of American Literature and any teacher with the vague knowledge of Eastern thought would have recognized the reference to the Vendantic philosophy and Lord Krishna in their writings. Emerson makes no pretence in openly titling his other essay ‘Over Soul’ where he refers to Brahma as the Creator, as is addressed in the Indian philosophy.
For decades the English lecturers have been teaching T.S. Eliot’s Wasteland (without the bias or fear of teaching a Hindutva text), which ended with the quotation fromBrihadaranyaka Upanishad’ explaining the need for Da, data, dayadhvam and damyata the three principles man must follow if man has to escape this Wasteland of the Post war society – “Give. Sympathize. Control.” Taken from the first line of the ‘The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad,’ which is considered to be the most important of the thirteen Upanishads composing the Vedanta, the three main imperatives from which originates “The Three Principal Virtues” of Hinduism are articulated by the thunder. None criticized T.S. Eliot of following Hindutva or being a Hindu fanatic. Nor was it referred to as the Hindu text.

Neither the British scholar nor the Indian teacher of English could condemn him for the “saffronizing” of knowledge for today any reference to a Sanskrit verse would immediately trigger a remark that it is the expression of Hindutva by a Hindu fanatic.

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Macaulay, is the father of the current Indian education system, particularly the higher education in India. He questioned the validity of knowledge confined to Sanskrit and Arabic and said it was a synonym of education imparted to Indians in the Pre Independent India. He made a strong recommendation for the introduction of English writings:
“…by literature the Parliament can have meant only Arabic and Sanskrit literature; that they never would have given the honourable appellation of “a learned native” to a native who was familiar with the poetry of Milton, the metaphysics of Locke, and the physics of Newton; but that they meant to designate by that name only such persons as might have studied in the sacred books of the Hindoos all the uses of cusa-grass, and all the mysteries of absorption into the Deity. This does not appear to be a very satisfactory interpretation.”

He not only made fun of the knowledge of Vedas in Sanskrit and ridiculed the customs but also proudly proclaimed that “I have no knowledge of either Sanskrit or Arabic” and still had the audacity to echo the conclusion of the so called Orientalists that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia. The intrinsic superiority of Western literature is indeed fully admitted by those members of the committee who support the oriental plan of education.
He went out of the way to condemn the Vedic knowledge of which he had scant or no knowledge of whatsoever and pledged to educate the ‘Hindoos’… “by teaching him those foreign languages in which the greatest mass of information had been laid up”
Much do I grieve to think of all the damage done by the ignorant Macaulay who has equated the usefulness of knowledge with the remuneration one gets for it and who has called all Vedic knowledge false, for according to him Sanskrit
“…. is barren of useful knowledge. We are to teach it because it is fruitful of monstrous superstitions. We are to teach false history, false astronomy, false medicine, because we find them in company with a false religion.”
(quotes from Minute by the Hon’ble T. B. Macaulay, dated the 2nd February 1835. )

Even a smattering of knowledge of Sanskrit would give one the understanding of the nobility of the minds of the thinkers and philosophers, the rishis and sages of yore, who lived in the sub-continent of Bharatrha varsha. Of course the argument that Vedas are scriptures brought into this land by Aryans who are non- natives is equally contested. Granted that they came from somewhere else, where is the trace of their race in any other part of the world other than India? This ought to have been the logical query. Recent researches by the Westerners themselves show that those arguments are untenable.

It is Thiongo who in his ‘Decolonizing the Mind’ raises certain pertinent questions about the atrocities that happened in the name of English education. In his mature years he decries the crude, uncivilized assumption that mastering the English language is the only indication of mastery of over-all knowledge; and he goes back to his roots and masters Gikuyu, his native language which contains the wisdom of the natives. Further Achebe in his ‘Home and Exile’ sarcastically talks about the sly invasion into their unguarded territory and consequential Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

Just as the “cultural imperialism” and the religious monopolization of the West in the African heartlands, Macaulay’s academic imperialism gave birth to Higher education in English in its present form in India.
It is the same English education that gave birth to some of the Nobel Laureates in Africa who have all, however, mourned the loss of the native language and culture. They have been pained by the way things fall apart due to the impact of the European Colonization. Ironically enough, the Anglophiles in India considered it below their dignity to even teach a paper on Indian Writing in English when it first got introduced in the 1979 as one of the papers for post-graduate students in English. Thanks to the Autonomous statuses, many colleges have revamped their syllabi and now English literature courses include many other Literatures in English like Post-colonial literature, Literature of the Diaspora and the like.
The fact remains that there are unanswered questions like – why do we continue with a course on English language and literature? We teachers and learners of English have various consolations to offer ourselves that English is the gateway to the understanding of world thought and a passport to some of the prestigious jobs. Some who possess a Ph.D in English language or linguistics have been at the helm of affairs with the American corporates. Undoubtedly we would still rave about the relevance of English language and literature and the need for continuing in our centers of Higher education teaching in English.  This, however, is no more the British R.P. but General Indian English, G.I.E. i.e. General Indian English and the multifarious dialects coloured by the local languages like Tanglish –Tamilized English , Tenglish- Telugu Variety, Mallus English 0f the Keralites and numerous Indian varieties with the influence of the local tongues.)

My concern is why we have still not taken steps to indigenize our education system. The so called Arts and Sciences colleges offer courses on sans arts with a variety of courses in humanities and pure sciences with the only aim of facilitating the learners to get a space in the job market. The mushrooming of Professional colleges have not produced one engineer who has envisioned a structure anywhere parallel to one of the ancient monuments or temples in India.
These men in the power centers need to soul search in order to revamp this albatross of Macaulay’s legacy and bring about some radical changes. Why not make the Arts colleges have courses in the real Indian Classical and folk art forms whether they are from Sanskrit, Arabic or even some of the local traditions. Can we not introduce ‘yoga’ in schools and colleges before they get patented and marketed by the American Fitness Firms?

students leanring traditional education in ancient times
students leanring traditional education in ancient times

Why can’t we link the institutions to the locale where these centers of learning are placed? Many learners pass out of their colleges and universities with absolutely no knowledge of the history, culture and heritage of their localities. It is a pity to see the ignorance of our so called ‘literates’ who sport faded, unwashed American jeans (which are perfect symbols of a land with faded imagination) with their nose stuck in the air as if they have reached the zenith of fashion and mastered all the necessary cultural traits necessary to be a member of a so called civilized race.
Going back to the roots consciously, would throw light on the richness and the variety in every aspect of life whether it is cuisine, dress, cultural fests, music, dance forms, pottery, wood work and the like. Wherever we turn the mind boggling variety is evident in our culture.

It is time we Indians also ‘decolonized’ our minds and went back to our roots. Gained knowledge from our local traditions and showcased our native talents to the wider world. We need to win back the reputation that the Sanskrit language is deserving of. It is acknowledged as the mother of all the Indian languages instead of swallowing the lie that it is just a deva baasha or a dead language as Macaulay would have wished it.

The tragedy of higher education is that the pendulum has swung to the other extreme, taking it to the complete exclusivity of all knowledge that are available either in Sanskrit or Arabic. We so called “Indians” have to travel to Chicago and learn about our customs as did the character in the short story ‘Annayya Anthropology’ had to do. Annayya the Kanndiga Brahmin takes his customs and culture for granted at home and learns all about them from a well-researched book by Fegusson. Annayya spent time in his very home and bought all the information including the photographs of the corpse of his dead father and the altered self of his tonsured widowed mother from his greedy cousin, who sold all the niceties of our culture for a few dollars!!!

 

 

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Sins in Hinduism: Facts, Meaning,Philosophy,Types & Atonement

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Sins in hinduism
The sins in Hinduism can be washed away with devotional means. Pixabay.
  • Sin is regarded as an impurity arising in one’s body as a consequence to his own evil deeds. It is an effect that can be neutralised through various practices to lead your life into Moksha or liberation.
  • A liberated being or Jivanmukta is purified of all his sins who does not have to go through any further sins and rebirth. In order to make your soul pure and sinless, practice every deed with God’s grace.
  • The Sins in Hinduism, sinful conduct and their remedies have been referred to in Hindu Scriptures such as in Upanishads, Bhagavadgita, Yoga Sutras, Manu Smriti and Garuda Purana. 

As stated about sins in Hinduism, sin may form up with disobedience to God’s divine laws of Dharma. It may however be difficult to follow, but is considered obligatory for humans. The sins in Hinduism can be forgiven if Dharma is upholded as a service to God through self-effort and pure devotion to God.

Sins in Hinduism
Meditation is considered as the easiest from of removing sins in Hinduism. Pixabay.

What is the meaning of Sins in Hinduism?

The word Pāpam (paap) is often used to describe sins in Hinduism as mentioned in the Vedas and Hindu scriptures. Punyam (punya) is the opposite (antonym) of sin. It does not acquire an equivalent word in English since the concept of sins in Hinduism is different in western culture and Christianity.

Separating the word, ‘Pa‘ means to drink, inhale or absorb. ‘Apa‘ means water, combinedly meaning consuming or drinking impure water or poison. Pāpam also denotes evil, wicked, mischievous, destructive, inferior, corrupt and guilt.

It is believed that the sins of Hinduism manifests in the body with the impurities of worldliness (vishaya-asakti). The human body becomes subject to various poisons (visham) such as egoism, greed, ignorance, selfishness, desires and so on, which emerge with our attachments with worldly things (vishayas). These poisons of sins make the humans to take rebirths and deaths until they are removed completely. In the Hindu culture, Lord Shiva is regarded as the destroyer and the healer who gets invoked by devotees prayers and can remove or destroy such poison or sins to grant them liberation.

Sins in Hinduism
The sins in hinduism have been depicted in the scriptures. Pixabay.

What is the Philosophy of Sins in Hinduism?

The sins appear from physical, mental or oral actions, due to the impurities or poisons pertaining to Dharma and Hinduism. The poison of sin is stimulated if one harms intentionally to others or oneself by way of pain and suffering continuing the cycle of rebirth and death.

The repurcussions of sinful acts or karma are fault or mistake (aparadha), worry or anxiety (cintha), impurities or imperfections (doshas), evil intentions (dudhi), evil qualities (dhurta lakshana), immorality (adharma), demonic nature (asura sampatti), chaos or disorderliness (anrta), mental afflictions (klesha), destruction (nirtti), karmic debt (rna), sorrow (shoka), darkness or grossness (tamas) and suffering (pida). Others include: inferior birth, birth through demonic wombs, downfall into hells, increased suffering to ancestors, adversity, loss of reputation.

Sins in Hinduism
Visit Pilgrimage shrines to erase your sins in Hindusim. Pixabay.

What are the types of Sins in Hinduism?

The Dharmashastras of the Hindu scriptures denote sin as Pātaka which represents the causes of one’s downfall or destruction (patanam).The following are the three types of sins in Hinduism: Mortal Sins (Mahapatakas), Secondary Sins (Upa Patakas) and Minor Sins (Prakirna or prasangika Patakas)

The Mahapatakas

These are the gravest and darkest sins in Hinduism leading to the worst downfall of the mortals into the darkest of hells. They can neither be neutralized or washed away without suffering. Some Puranas and Vedas indicate to devote oneself purely to God to remove such sins. The Dharmashastras have stated such five gravest sins termed as the Pancha Mahapatakas. In Hinduism,the company of sinners is also not advisable as associating with sinners will lead you to the same consequences.

The Upa Patakas

These secondary sins may emerge out of minor offenses that include incompetency to perform sacrifices regularly, displeasing the Guru, selling harmful and intoxicating drinks, disbelief in God, giving false witness, making false acclaims, and performing a sacrifice for an unworthy person or unworthy cause and engaging in illicit sex.

The Prakirna Patakas

These type of sins in Hinduism form the minor offenses committed intentionally or unintentionally out of ignorance or carelessness which can be removed or washed away by performing sacrifices (prayaschitta) or by punishments and requesting forgiveness. The law books regard more than fifty minor sins in Hinduism such as selling the wife, making salt, studying forbidden Shastras, killing a woman, marrying the younger son before marrying the elder one, killing insects and other creatures, ignorance to parents, accepting gifts without performing sacrifices,adultery etc.

What are the solutions to overcome Sins?

Fines and punishments

The Dharmashastras render both corporeal and monetary punishments for various offenses or sins in Hinduism, apart from the sufferings in hell or rebirth. According to Hindu scriptures, the ancient era saw immense difference in the application of punishments from caste to caste.

Confession

The best path to deal with sins of Hinduism is to surrender yourself infront of God and seek forgiveness with your own confession of the sin committed. The king was regarded as a similar figure to God who demanded a public confession (abhishasta) from the sinner.

Austerities and Atonement

By performing Vedic traditional rituals, the sins in Hinduism are removed by fasting, virtuous conduct, self-control, practice of nonviolence, truthfulness, austere living, practice of silence, concentration and meditation.

Sins in Hinduism
Your sins in Hinduism can be removed by Devoting yourself to the grace of God. Pixabay.

Rituals and sacrifices

The Vedas have recommended various rituals or sacrifices to wash away the the impurities (dhosas) arising from one’s birth, karma, relationships, place or direction related issues, vastu defects, dangerous diseases and evil conduct.

Prayers and Mantras

Vishnu Purana of the Hindu scriptures pronounce the effective importance of the continuous chanting of names of God (japam) in the Kaliyug. Some mantras and hymns are considered more significant than meditation and sacrifices to clean the impurities of the body.

Recitation of the Vedas and other Sacred Books

Knowledge (jnana) has the eternal power to remove the sins in Hinduism. It can be derived with regular reading up and learning from the scriptures of sacred importance.

Visiting pilgrimages

To grant your devotion and gratitude, Hinduism seeks to commit to Dharma by visiting holy pilgrimage place. It is a divine form of self-cleansing and experiencing peace and happiness.

Bathing in the sacred rivers

The sacred pilgrimages are mostly located near the banks of the rivers that are also treated as purifiers. Hence, bathing in those rivers lead your life into devotional worship as a purification rituals to overcome sins in Hinduism.

Yoga and Meditation

Pranayama and meditation are the suggested methods to practise peace and overcome past sins. They also form a major part of the austerities to cleanse the internal mind and body.

The blessings of saints and gurus

Saints, sadhus and mahatmas have been given a special status in Hinduism because of their respectful purity and virtue. They acquire divine knowledge and supreme powers, with which they cleanse those who approach them for blessings.

Sins in Hinduism
Worshipping the saints remove the sins in hinduism. Pixabay.

Virtuous conduct

Sinful karma can be countered with huge efforts into virtuous karma. The sins in Hinduism are washed away with kind and healthy conduct to everyone equally.

Charity

Dana (gift giving) or charity is very significant in Hindu Dharma. By conducting sacrifices and spiritual practices one must conduct charity as well. As a part of Vedas, the higher castes are under obligation to perform five daily sacrifices including offer food to gods, ancestors, sages, humans and creatures.

-Prepared by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram. Twitter @tweet_bhavana

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World Suicide Prevention Day: Bollywood celebrities Hrithik Roshan and Karan Johar lend their support to suicide prevention

Hrithik said, "On World Suicide Prevention Day, make a pledge to listen, and save a life"

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Hrithik Roshan and Karan Johar support suicide prevention
Hrithik Roshan and Karan Johar support suicide prevention. IANS
  • Hrithik shared a link of a video which depicted that one should listen to a person for saving lives
  • In honor of World Suicide Prevention Day join the #EarForYou movement. Listen it can save a life
  • Empower individuals and their families dealing with mental health disorders

Mumbai, September 10, 2017: Bollywood celebrities Karan Johar and Hrithik Roshan have come out in support of preventing suicide in the country on the occasion of World Suicide Prevention Day 2017.

Hrithik on Saturday shared a link of a video, which depicted that one should listen to a person for saving lives.

“On World Suicide Prevention Day, make a pledge to listen, and save a life,” Hrithik captioned the video.

Karan also shared the same link and wrote a similar caption for the video. He also tagged Neerja Birla, Founder, and Chairperson of Mpower, The Aditya Birla World Academy, and The Aditya Birla Integrated School.

Neerja Birla has started with the campaign and wrote on her Twitter account: “In honor of World Suicide Prevention Day join the #EarForYou movement. Listen it can save a life.”

According to the official page of Mpower, their aim is “to empower individuals and their families dealing with mental health disorders by raising awareness, alleviating stigma, advocating prevention, fostering education, and providing world class holistic services, so that they can lead meaningful and productive lives, with respect and dignity.” (IANS)

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Assam Government signs a MoU with Google India to expand Internet Connectivity

It will provide Internet connections to 26,000 villages and 1,500 tea garden areas in Assam

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Assam Government has signed MoU with Google India to expand Internet Connectivity
Assam Government has signed MoU with Google India to expand Internet Connectivity. Pixabay

Guwahati, Assam, September 8, 2017: The Assam government on Thursday signed a MoU with Google India to take Internet connectivity to the remotest part of the north-eastern state.

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said the government would work to provide Internet connections to 26,000 villages and 1,500 tea garden areas in Assam under the MoU and thus increase digital literacy.

Information Technology Secretary Nitin Khare and Google India Country Head (Policy) Chetan Krishnaswami signed the Memorandum of Understanding in the presence of Sonowal.

“Technology rules the roost in the 21st century and the state government has upped the ante to use technology to carry forward the fruits of development to the remotest parts of Assam,” the Chief Minister said.

He said the ties with Google was a way forward to strongly pitch Guwahati as a natural gateway to the South-East Asian countries.

Sonowal said his government in sync with the Centre was working for the success of Startup initiative but the success of such programmes sans technology would be a distant dream.

“The MoU will be used as a launchpad to achieve the state government’s vision of women empowerment, skill development, and universal education,” he said.

The Chief Minister asked the Information Technology Department to take steps to make technology acceptable and favourable among the rural populace so as to catalyse rural development. (IANS)