Indian Festivals based on the Concept of Yajña (Part -I)

Sh. Anand Gaikwad

Introduction

While I was studying Varāh Mihir’s “Brihat Samhitā” and participating in the exercise of validation of his Rain conception and Rain Delivery (RCRD) theory for Monsoon -2016; the basis of Yajña concept being incorporated in some of the Indian Festivals came to my mind as a realisation. I have been thinking about it ever since the publication of the report about this validation exercise in Asian Agri-History Journal 2018 Vol.22 (2), the International Quarterly Journal of Asian Agri- History Foundation. My association with late Ashwamedhayaji Shri Nanaji Kale for  validation of Suvrushti  Project and RCRD Theory for Monsoon 2016, was a wonderful experience for me; particularly for understanding the greatness of our Ṛśis in theorizing their observations  of nature, environment, atmospheric order and the  Cosmological  System consisting of Sun, Moon, Planets and Nakṣatras. One marvels at the wisdom and expertise in interweaving these theories in social and cultural life for the common benefit of mankind.

All of us are familiar with the Indian Monsoon. The word Monsoon has its origin in Arabic word, ‘Mausam’ which means ‘season’. The word which was originally referred to wind reversals in the Arabian sea, has come to mean the whole range of the phenomena associated with the annual weather cycles in tropical and sub-tropical Asia, Australia and Africa. Therefore, the study of Monsoon weather patterns is of great importance for every Indian farmer, every student of Environmental Science and for that matter every Indian citizen, because Monsoon is the life-line of India. According to world climate patterns and regional geography of Asia and India, Monsoon climate patterns are characterized by large scale seasonal reversals of winds, giving very distinct seasons, ’Summer’ and ‘Winter’. In summer moist air is carried northwards from the Indian Ocean over the Indian sub-continent bringing rains. In winter, cool dry weather is carried southwards. Thus, the year gets divided into wet and dry seasons. In addition a short North-East Monsoon affects the south-east coastal states of India due to winds bringing moisture from Bay of Bengal. The Summer Monsoon arrives in southern India in late May or early June and gradually advances northwards and westwards reaching Jammu-Kashmir, Pakistan by early July. It begins to retreat from north western regions and Pakistan by September and withdraws from south India by November. This pattern of advancement and withdrawal gives Indian sub-continent its characteristic seasonal rainfall pattern which is called Indian Monsoon.

Our great Ṛśis and seers during Vedic Period and Post Vedic Period had studied these weather patterns and encapsulated their findings in scriptures like , “ Brihat Samhitā“ of  Varāh Mihir, “Arthaśastra“ of Kautilya  and “Kṛśi Parashar“ of  Parashar. In addition to these examples of the Science of Rainfall Prediction and Rain Conception Signals, there are many ancient texts of Astrometerology of Vedic traditions like –Parashar Samhitā, Garg Samhitā, Kashyap Samhitā, Maghmala Samhitā, Narad Samhitā etc. which have been mentioned in the reports/ books published by Shri Yogiraj Ved Vidnyan Aśram, Barshi, Dist. Solapur Maharashtra, (Vedaśram) founded by late Ashwamedhayaji Shri Nanaji Kale mentioned above. Vedaśram carried out various experiments of, Suvrushti Projects and Validation of Varāh Mihir’s RCRD Theory by performing Somyāgas, Parjanya Yāgas for establishing scientifically the relationship between Yajñas, Agriculture, Environment and Rainfall.

Varāh Mihir’s Theory of Rain Conception and Rain Delivery ( RCRD):

Varāh Mihir in his, “Brihat Samhitā” gives his theory of Vṛśṭi Garbhadhārana (Rain conception) and Vṛśṭi Prasav (Rain delivery). Chapters 21 to 28 of this book are devoted to this subject-matter. Before laying down his theory, Varāh Mihir explains the importance of the knowledge of Rainfall Prediction, Rain Conception Signals and Rain Delivery at the beginning of chapter 21 entitled “Garbh Lakṣaṇam” (Pregnancy of clouds) in the first verse as follows:

अन्नम् जगत: प्राणा: प्रावृट्कालस्य चान्नमायत्तम् |

यस्मादत: परीक्ष्य: प्रावृट्काल: प्रयत्नेन् ||१||

Annam Jagataḥ Prāṇāḥ Prāvṛṭkālasya Chānnamāyattam  I

Yasmādataḥ Parīkṣyaḥ Prāvṛṭkālaḥ Prayatnen  II1II

It means that as the food is life-giving and life-sustaining force to all living beings and the food is dependent on rainfall (Monsoon) it should be observed, investigated and studied carefully. In India only 35% of the cultivated land is an irrigated land, which means that almost 65% is rain-fed area, which is entirely dependent upon Monsoon. Hence farmer’s knowledge about Rain Conception Signals and Rainfall Prediction is of great significance.

केजिद्वदन्ती कार्तिक शुक्लान्तमतीत्य गर्भदिवसा: स्यु: |

न च तन्मतं बहुनां गर्गादीनां मतं वक्ष्ये II II

Kejidvadantī Kārtika Śuklāntamatītya Garbhadivasāḥ Syuḥ  I

Na Cha Tanmataṁ Bahunāṁ Gargādināṁ  Mataṁ Vakṣye II5II

Thus, some sages say that the days of pregnancy of clouds begins after the full moon of Kārtika month but the opinion is not shared by the majority. Therefore he further says:

मार्गशिर: सितपक्षप्रतिपत्प्रभृति क्षपाकरेआषाढाम् |

पूर्वा वा समुपगते गर्भाणां लक्षणं ज्ञेयम् ||||

Mārgśiraḥ Sitpakṣapratipatbhṛti Kṣapākareāṣāḍhām I

Pūrvā Vā Samupagate Garbhāṇāṁ Lakṣaṇaṁ Jñeyam II 6 II

The symptoms of pregnancy of clouds are to be detected / observed when Moon transits Purvāśāḍha asterism commencing from the first day of Mārgaśirsya. Varāh Mihir’s prime RCRD Theory is stated in verse 7 :

यन्नक्षत्रमुपगते गर्भश्चंद्रे भावेत्स चन्द्रवशात् |

पन्चनवते दिनशते तत्रैव प्रसवमायाति || ||  

Yannakṣatramupagate Garbhaśchandre Bhāvetsa Chandravaśāt I

Panchanavate Dinśate Tatraiva Prasavmāyāti  II7II

The rain-foetus formed during the Moon stay in a particular asterism (Nakṣatra) will be born 195 days (192 calendar days  + or – one day ) later at the time when the Moon will be again in the same asterism according to the laws of her revolution (Moon Cycle). Thus, the RCRD Theory of Varāh Mihir in simple words is that rain conception takes place during dry period (Mārgaśir to Chaitra).The rain conception signals can be observed from the first day of Mārgaśir till Chaitra Māsa. The rain-foetus conceived during this period will give rain delivery after the gestation period of 195 days (approx. six and half months later) at the time of same asterism when the foetus was conceived. The various rain conception signals to be observed are given in other verses and depending on the rain conception signals observed the rain delivery after the gestation period of 195 days  can be predicted . One can prepare a local calendar of rainfall prediction and validate the same with actual rainfall on those days. A farmer can plan his agricultural operations based on this local Agro-climatic calendar.

The relationship of Yajña with Agriculture and Environment :

When one reads the RCRD Theory of Varāh Mihir along with the gospel truth given in Bhagavadagītā Chapter 3 Śloka 14:

अन्नाद् भवन्ति भूतानि पर्ज्यन्यात् अन्नसंभव: |

यज्ञात् भवन्ति भूतानि पर्ज्यन्या: यज्ञ: कर्मसमुद्भव: ||३.१४|| 

Annād bhavanti bhutāni parjanyāt Annasambhavaḥ I

Yajñāt Bhavanti Bhutāni Parjyanyāḥ Yajñaḥ Karmasamudbhavaḥ  II3.14 II

One leads to logical conclusion that Yajñas be performed during the dry period to facilitate rain conception and rain-foetus nourishment during the gestation period. This very concept has been incorporated in our festivals which are based on Yajña/ Havans starting from Durgā Navrātri in Aświn to Rāma Navmī in Chaitra and Akaya-Ttīyā in Vaiśākha. The deities worshipped are Ādi Śakti, Puruśa, Śiva, Agnī and Surya and the offerings are preparations of cereals and pulses of newly harvested crops. Our Ṛśis have interwoven these festivals which are based on ’Suryōpasana’ and ‘Agniupasana’ in our cultural system for celebration / participation by masses.

(to be continued…..)

Sh. Anand GaikwadKrishi Bhushan Sendriya  Sheti  M. S. & Retd. Executive Director/Company Secretary

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सर्वरूप अटल : हम सब अटल, हम सबमें अटल

Alok Dwivedi

-Alok Kumar Dwivedi

अटल जी का व्यक्तित्व एवम् जीवन

अटल बिहारी वाजपेयी निहसंदेह भारतीय लोकतंत्र के प्राणपुरुष रहे। ग्वालियर में जन्मे अटल जी को कवि हृदय अपने पिता जी से विरासत में प्राप्त हुई। अटल जी के सम्पूर्ण जीवन में उनका द्रवित कवि हृदय प्रवाहमान रहा। आजकल प्रशासन में नैतिकता की विवेचना करते हुए जो सर्वप्रमुख गुण बतलाया जाता है वह है- ’सम्वेगात्मक बौद्धिकत’ अर्थात् प्रज्ञा और हृदय का सम्मिलित शासन। इस अवस्था में हृदय (भावनाओं) का निर्णयन में महत्वपूर्ण स्थान होता है। भारत में प्रधानमंत्री के रूप में अटल जी अपने इसी गुण के लिए अजातशत्रु के रूप में भी सम्बोधित किए गये। समाजिक व्यक्ति के जीवन में किस प्रकार से बदलाव लाया जाय, उनके जीवन को किस प्रकार से ख़ुशहाल किया जाय, लोकतंत्र में उनकी आवाज़ को सड़क से लेकर संसद तक किस प्रकार से गतिमान किया जाय ये सारी बातें ही अटल जी के अटल अंतस में प्रवाहित होती रहती थी। इसे मूर्त रूप प्रदान करने हेतु अटल जी ने अपना सम्पूर्ण जीवन तपस्या रत रखा। अटल जी का जीवन इतने आयामों को संजोये रहा है कि उनके महाप्रयाण कर जाने पर लोग उनके जीवन के एक-एक पक्ष को अपने में प्रतिबिम्बित होते देख रहें हैं। माता-पिता के प्रति सम्मान का भाव रखने वाला व्यक्ति अटल जी के बचपन में अपना बचपन देख रहा है, पिता से मित्रवत रहने वाला बालक अटल जी के कॉलेज के दिनो में उनमें ख़ुद को देख रहा है क्यूँकि अटल जी कानपुर के डी०ए०वी० कॉलेज में लॉ की पढ़ाई में अपने पिता जी के ही साथ एक ही कक्षा में पढ़ते थे और मित्र की भाँति हॉस्टल के एक ही रूम में रहते थे। पत्रकार अटल जी में पत्रकार देखते थे क्यूँकि प्रारम्भिक दौर में अटल जी पत्रकार थे। छात्र राजनीति में भी अटल जी कॉम्युनिस्ट छात्र विंग एस॰एफ०आई॰ से जुड़े रहे तो छात्र राजनीति में रुचि रखने वाले भी उन्हें अपने आदर्शों में मानते रहे हैं। राष्ट्रप्रेम के भावों से ओतप्रोत हो स्वाधीनता, स्वाभिमान और लोकतंत्रात्मक मूल्यों हेतु राष्ट्रीय महत्व के आंदोलनों में सक्रिय भागीदारी करने वाले लोग अटल जी में ख़ुद को प्रतिबिम्बित मानते हैं। 1930 के दशक के मध्य में अटल जी ने राष्ट्रीय स्वयंसेवक संघ में सक्रिय रूप में जुड़कर स्वतंत्रता आंदोलनों में भागीदारी दी। उन्होंने इस दौरान विभिन्न छात्र संगठनों के छात्रों को स्वतंत्रता आंदोलनों में भागीदारी सुनिश्चित की। आंदोलनों में सफलता या असफलता के पश्चात् किसी संगठन से वैचारिक स्तर पर मतभिन्नता होने पर नए संगठन की आधारशिला रखने वाले लोग अटल जी में अपना यह रूप देखते हैं। स्वतंत्रता प्राप्ति के पश्चात् कश्मीर के मुद्दे पर विचारों की सहमति न होने पर डॉक्टर श्यामा प्रसाद मुखर्जी ने जब जनसंघ की नींव डाली तो अटल जी इसके संस्थापक सदस्य रहें। जो लोग अपनी कार्यक्षमता से किसी-किसी के दिल में विशेष स्थान बना लेते हैं वे लोग  भी स्वयं को अटल जी में देखते हैं। अटल जी की कार्यशैली से अत्यंत प्रभावित होकर पंडित दीनदयाल उपाध्याय जी ने उन्हें संसद सदस्य बनाने हेतु तीन जगहों से लोकसभा का उम्मीदवार बनाया था अपनी कार्यशैली से विरोधियों को भी आत्ममुग्ध करने की शैली रखने वाले अटल जी में ख़ुद को देखते है । यद्यपि नेहरू जी के प्रधानमंत्री रहते हुए संसद में अटल जी कांग्रेस की नीतियों के प्रखर आलोचक रहे परन्तु उनकी वाक्शैली, कार्यक्षमता और जनहित के मुद्दों को प्रभावी रूप से उठाने से मुग्ध होकर नेहरू जी ने एक बार विदेश से आए प्रतिनिधिमंडल से इन्हें मिलवाते हुए कहा था कि यह लड़का भविष्य में इस देश का प्रधानमंत्री बनेगा। हिंदी, हिन्दू और हिंदुस्तान में आस्था रखने वाले लोग भी अटल जी में ख़ुद को देखते हैं जनता पार्टी की सरकार में विदेश मंत्री के रूप में संयुक्त राष्ट्र संघ में भारत का पक्ष रखते हुए अटल जी ने अपना भाषण हिन्दी में देते हुए आपातकाल के पश्चात् भारत में हुए लोकतांत्रिक स्थिरता को मज़बूती से लोगों के सामने रखा। अपनी कविता “हिन्दू तनमन हिन्दू जीवन” में हिंदुत्व के बारे में श्रेष्ठ प्रतीकों का प्रयोग कर हिन्दुत्व का विचार दृढ़ किया। जीवन जीते हुए अपने स्वाभिमान और अपने विचारों से कभी समझौता न करने वाले भी अटल जी में ख़ुद को देखते हैं। अटल जी ने जब भारतीय जनता पार्टी की स्थापना की तो संसद में इसके मात्र दो सदस्य थे परंतु अपनी राष्ट्रवादी विचारधारा और स्वाभिमान के आत्मबल से जन सरोकार के मुद्दों को निरन्तर प्रभावी रूप से सदन के पटल पर रखते हुए एक दिन सबसे बड़ी पार्टी के रूप में सामने आए और दुनिया  सबसे बड़े लोकतंत्र में सरकार बनाकर यह दिखा दिया कि यदि जीवन में निरन्तर हम नैतिकता के पथ पर चलते हैं तो निश्चित ही एक दिन सफलता ज़रूर प्राप्त होगी। व्यक्तिगत और सार्वजनिक जीवन में नैतिकता और मूल्यों को आत्मसात करने वाले लोग भी अटल जी के जीवन के एक पक्ष में ख़ुद को देखते हैं। जब संसद में सरकार को बचाने के लिए एक सदस्य की आवश्यकता थी तब भी ख़रीद फ़रोख़्त की राजनीति से ख़ुद को दूर रखते हुए अपने आदर्शो से समझौता न करते हुए विपक्ष में बैठना स्वीकार किया। १३ दिन के अल्पकालिक सरकार के गिर जाने पर अटल जी के संसद में दिए गये भाषण को लोकतंत्र के श्रेष्ठ राजनीतिक मूल्यों का आप्तवाक्य कहा जाए तो कोई अतिशयोक्ति नहीं होगी। संसद में भाषण के दौरान अटल जी ने कहा था कि “सरकारें आएंगी-जाएंगी, पार्टियां बनेंगी-बिगड़ेंगी पर यह देश रहना चाहिए…इस देश का लोकतंत्र अमर रहना चाहिए….” इन मूल्यों के साथ अटल जी राजनीति में आगे बढ़ते गये। समाज में वे लोग जो आपसी साझेदारी और सहयोग से किसी साध्य की तरफ़ गति करने को श्रेयस्कर मानते हैं वें भी अटल जी में स्वयं को देख सकते हैं। अटल जी ने लगभग २५ पार्टियों को साथ मिलाकर केंद्र की सरकार को सफलतापूर्वक नेतृत्व प्रदान किया यह स्वयं में अद्भुत रहा। इस दौरान देश के जनहित के मुद्दों को भी अटल जी ने सामंजस्यपूर्वक हल करने का प्रयास किया। कवि जो जीवन और जगत की यथार्थता को प्रकट करते हुए अपनी बातों में भविष्य के अंकुर प्रस्फुटित करता है वह भी अटल जी में स्वयं को देख सकता है। अटल जी विशाल हृदय वाले कवि जो जनसामान्य के अंतस के भावों को शब्दों के द्वारा प्रकट कर शासनसत्ता पर बैठे लोगों को उनके कर्तव्यों के निर्वहन हेतु प्रेरित करते रहे। अटल जी की ख़ूबी यह रही कि जब उन्होंने ख़ुद शासन सत्ता की बागडोर सम्भाली तब उन्होंने ख़ुद को भी काव्य के माध्यम से अपने कर्तव्यों और दायित्वों का बोध कराना जारी रखा। जो लोग एक कुशल प्रशासक के रूप में हैं वे भी अटल जी में ख़ुद को देखते हैं। अटल जी दूरदर्शी प्रशासक थे और प्रशासन में सम्वेगात्मक बौद्धिकता को अत्यंत महत्व देते थे। वे अपने पड़ोसियों से सम्बंध को सुधारने के पक्षधर थे और इस क्रम में पाकिस्तान के लाहौर तक मैत्री बस सेवा को प्रारम्भ कर वहाँ स्वयं गये और मित्रता का हाथ बढ़ाया परंतु वहीं दूसरी तरफ़ जब पाकिस्तान ने कारगिल पर हमला किया तो सेना का साहस बढ़ाते हुए भारत के पराक्रम और शौर्य को कम नहीं होने दिया। अमेरिका की तमाम पाबंदियों के बावजूद पोखरन परीक्षण विश्व पटल पर भारत की उपस्थिति का आभास कराया। सर्व शिक्षा अभियान “सब पढ़े सब बढ़े” और स्वर्णिम चतुर्भुज योजना उनकी दूरदर्शिता को प्रकट करती है। एक प्रशासक के रूप में अटल जी पंडित दीन दयाल जी के अंत्योदय के विचार को आत्मसात करते हुए नीति निर्माण करने और उसको मूर्त रूप प्रदान करने को सदैव प्राथमिकता देते रहे। एक प्रशासक के रूप में वह समावेशी विकास के पुरोधा माने जाते हैं।

Atal ji

अटल जी की विचारधारा

लोकतंत्र के प्रहरी अटल जी में स्वयं की दूरदर्शी राजनीति को प्रतिबिम्बित पाते हैं। एक बार संसद में केवल दो सदस्यों के होने पर कांग्रेस द्वारा उपहास करने पर अटल जी ने कहा था कि “आज आप लोग हमारी संख्या बल पर हँस रहें हैं, एक दिन ऐसा आएगा जब केंद्र सहित अन्य सभी राज्यों में हमारी सरकार होगी, हम सत्ता पक्ष में होंगे और आप विपक्ष में होंगे“। इस दृष्टि से अटल जी काल के चक्र घूर्णन को शाश्वत मानते थे। आज जो देश की राजनीतिक दशा है वह उनकी बातो को यथार्थ धरातल प्रदान करती हैं।

वैदिक मूल्यों के पक्षधर  ’अटल जी’ 

अटल जी इस प्रकार अन्य से भिन्न रहे। एक प्रखर राष्ट्रवादी के रूप में वह भारतीय संस्कृति और मूल्यों के उत्थान हेतु सदा प्रतिबद्ध रहे। सामान्यतः यह देखा जाता है कि राजनीतिक लाभ के लिए लोग जाति, धर्म, पंथ इत्यादि के आधार पर समाज को विभक्त करते हैं और अपना लाभ लेने की कोशिश करते हैं पर अटल जी सदा मूल्यों से युक्त राजनीति के पक्षधर रहे। मूल्य वैदिक परम्परा का आधार स्तम्भ रहा है और जब भी व्यक्ति अपने विचारों और कार्यों से मूल्यों के संवर्धन में योगदान करता है तो निश्चित ही वह कहीं न कहीं वैदिक परम्परा का ही संवर्धन करता है। वैदिक सभ्यता के इतिहास के लगभग 5000 वर्ष से अधिक के राजनीतिक इतिहास में सदा ही एक महत्वपूर्ण बात रही कि यहाँ राजनीति का धर्म रहा है, धर्म की राजनीति नहीं रही।अटल जी ने अपने कार्यों और व्यवहार से सदा ही राजनीति के धर्म की वकालत की जिसका ध्येय वाक्य रहा कि समाज में सदैव ही बिना किसी भेदभाव के समाज के समस्त वर्गों के हितो का संरक्षण करना और साथ ही समाज के वंचितो और पिछड़े तबक़ों के उत्थान के प्रयास किया जाय। एक समय देश में ऐसी स्थिति आयी जब लोग बच्चों के प्राथमिक स्तर की शिक्षा से अपने दायित्वों से विमुख होने लगे। इसके परिणाम स्वरूप देश में प्राथमिक स्तर के बच्चों में स्कूल छोड़ने की संख्या में व्यापक बढ़ोत्तरी हुयी। निश्चित ही किसी देश के लिए यह एक काफ़ी विमर्श का विषय होता है। अटल जी जैसे कवि हृदय को काफ़ी व्यथित करने वाली बात थी। इस संवेदना को महसूस करते हुए अटल जी ने शिक्षा के अधिकार को मूल अधिकार अधिकार माना। इसे मूल कर्तव्य की श्रेणी में भी डाला गया। इसके परिणामस्वरूप प्राथमिक स्तर की शिक्षा में बच्चों की संख्या में काफ़ी सुधार हुआ। भारत को परमाणु शक्ति बनाने के सम्बंध में अटल जी का संसद में यह सीधा वक्तव्य था कि देश को अपने सुरक्षा मानकों को लेकर सदा सचेत रहना चाहिए और हर प्रकार से सदैव तैयार रहना चाहिए। पड़ोसियों को लेकर भी अटल जी काफ़ी उदार रहे। वह सदा ही कहा करते थे कि पड़ोसियों से सम्बंध मधुर रखना एक कुशल रणनीति का हिस्सा है क्यूँकि पड़ोसी बदले नहीं जा सकते। इसी आधार पर उन्होंने पाकिस्तान से सम्बंधो को नया आयाम देते हुए भारत पाकिस्तान मैत्री बस सेवा भी शुरू की पर जब पाकिस्तान ने कारगिल पर आक्रमण किया तो उसका भी मुँहतोड़ जवाब देने से बाज़ नहीं आए।

अटल जी का महाप्रयाण अटलसत्य मृत्यु को साहचर्य प्रदान करने जैसा है। जिस प्रकार से संस्कृत का यह प्रसिद्ध श्लोक है-

   “ ॐ पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदं पूर्णात् पूर्णमुदच्यते। पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते॥”

अर्थात् वह जो दिखाई नहीं देता है, वह अनंत और पूर्ण है। यह दृश्यमान जगत भी अनंत है। उस अनंत से विश्व बहिर्गत हुआ। यह अनंत विश्व उस अनंत से बहिर्गत होने पर भी अनंत ही रह गया। इसी प्रकार अटल, अटल मृत्यु से समागम कर अटल सत्य ही रह गया। ना ही कुछ ह्रास हुआ ना ही कुछ वृद्धि हुई।

-Alok Kumar Dwivedi, Research scholar, Department of Philosophy, University of Allahabad

Can we improve Indian education by using technology and going back to tradition?

Rajeev Srinivasan

Prof. Rajeev Srinivasan, IIM Bangalore

Education everywhere is going through trying times. India’s education system has demonstrated particularly poor learning outcomes in primary (India ranked 43rd out of 45th in the last PISA test it took part in. PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) is a standard global test for 15 year olds. In 2013, India debuted, and ranked so close to the bottom of the rankings that it withdrew from the PISA study thereafter. In contrast, China, another debutant in 2013, zoomed right to the top position. In regards to university education, there has not been a single globally lauded invention or discovery from India since 1947.) and tertiary (Dr. Gangan Prathap, a former VC, in 2017: “India has a presence in fifteen of twenty-two subject areas in which there at least 50 institutes globally that have published more than 500 papers. It has no institution which can be counted at this level of size and excellence in seven areas: Arts & Humanities; Business, Management and Accounting; Health Professions; Neuroscience; Nursing; Psychology; and Social Sciences. India’s research base is completely skewed towards the Physical Sciences and Engineering with very little for Biological Sciences and Medicine and virtually none in Social Sciences and Arts and Humanities when excellence at the highest level is considered. Its performance is also bench marked against three nations, namely Australia, the Netherlands and Taiwan which are of similar size in terms of GDP and scientific output… It is seen that although India has the highest GDP among the four countries, its performance lags considerably behind due to the very low expenditure on R&D.”) education. In this context, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s statement of April 23rd is noteworthy: “Serious discussions on how to include the ancient Indian traditions in educational system should begin. India has the capability to combine modern education with its ancient traditions to help solve problems in the world”, said the pontiff.

education-technology

(Source of image : https://edexec.co.uk/technology-vs-tradition-creating-the-perfect-learning-environment/)

It is remarkable that technological progress has made it possible to take in elements of traditional systems including gurukulas. What we have used over the last couple of centuries is a system imposed by British imperialists, driven by their needs at the time. That colonial education system was a product of the (First) Industrial Revolution. Their factories required masses of people who were literate, and able to follow instructions. That’s it: no creativity, please.

There is a contrast between this system and what is generally believed to have existed earlier: a broad, humanistic educational system with significant customization as well as practical problem-solving. The emphasis in India has traditionally been in the practical application of theoretical ideas: eg. in the creation of Vedic fire altars with precise mathematical properties.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution, and especially the proliferation of computing power and Artificial Intelligence, negates the requirements of the First. We no longer need armies of drone workers toiling away. We need creative individuals.

Furthermore, the nature of work is changing. Earlier, people used to change jobs, but now they change careers, often pursuing three or four in sequence. Besides, the very idea of the lifetime job is looking shaky: we may instead have a ‘gig economy’ where free agent workers come together for a specific task, complete it, and move on. A large number of people may become permanently unemployable, too. The trick for each individual is to avoid that fate through choosing education wisely.

Fortunately, we can now envision truly customized education. A curriculum, lesson plans, tests, and self-paced learning that are appropriate for a specific individual are now possible through the application of AI techniques.

In addition, there is learning material out there, available to all via MOOCs (Massively Online Open Courses) and others: Khan Academy, Coursera, Udacity, TED, Wikipedia, edX, YouTube and also Indian equivalents. Much of the content is free.

There is also the tyranny of English, that is to say that English is considered the sina qua non for a person to be deemed ‘educated’ in India. Even if you are a highly-trained and skilled pundit in traditional knowledge, you will be viewed with derision by English-speakers (Ananda K Coomaraswamy on 1908: “Speak to the ordinary graduate of an Indian University, or a student from Ceylon, of the ideals in the Mahabharata—he will hasten to display his knowledge of Shakespeare; talk to him of religious philosophy—you find that he is an atheist of the crude type common in Europe a generation ago, and that not only has he no religion, but is as lacking in philosophy as the average Englishman; talk of him of Indian music—he will produce a gramophone or a harmonium and inflict upon you one or both; talk to him of Indian dress or jewelry—he will tell you that they are uncivilized and barbaric; talk to him of Indian art—it is news to him that such a thing exists; ask him to translate for you a letter written in his mother-tongue—he does not know it. He is indeed a stranger in his own land.”). There was a time when it was believed that English was an advantage for Indians; now it is apparent that it is stunting the development of independent research, not to mention killing off Indian languages.

Here too, technology can be the savior. For the first time, we can see a future where real-time translation enables people to learn in their mother tongue. If automatic translation becomes routine, then it becomes easy for our mother-tongue-speaking students to understand all the material out there in MOOCs: it will be delivered to them in their mother tongues, thanks to machine learning.

What might be useful in traditional education? The curricula documented by Dharampal as prevailing in pre-colonial India included vyakarana, tarka, ganita, rasa, darsana, arthashastra, and pramana. If you step away from the current STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) focus, these subjects would appear to help in the development of fully engaged and innovative  citizens.

Can we move to such a system overnight? Of course not. But the gradual introduction of such subjects into the curriculum will be useful for Indian students to have a competitive advantage in the future.

 

Prof. Rajeev Srinivasan, Adjunct Faculty, Strategy Area, IIM Bangalore

 

Relevance of Gandhi in Today’s World

AS

Dr. Anju Seth

Looking at the present state of affairs in India, the birthplace of Gandhi, one would probably surmise that Gandhism, whatever the term may mean, cannot have any relevance in this twenty-first century. Gandhi is rightly called the Father of the Nation because he single handedly stood up against the mighty British Empire, without any arms, and brought her independence. However, today, Gandhi is mostly forgotten and his relevance questioned even by his ardent devotees. Today Gandhi is remembered in India mostly on his birthday which is celebrated as a national holiday rather as a ritual.

Gandhiji Line Drawings (1)

(Source of Image : http://devang-home.blogspot.com/2011/08/sketches-of-mahatma-gandhi.html)

As a matter of fact, India is not following any of Gandhi’s teachings which are mostly confined to text books. In fact, since independence, the country has witnessed many violent communal riots in this multi communal country. Gandhi’s message of ‘swābalambī’, self-sufficiency with home spun ‘khādī’ cloth is not used now-a-days even as a social slogan. Statistics shows that the country is definitely not following ‘sarvodaya’, a broad Gandhian term meaning ‘universal upliftment’ or ‘progress of all’ reaching the masses. On the contrary, India today has the unique distinction of being the only country in the world which has the richest man in the world while at the same time more than 30 per cent of its population lives in dire poverty.

The above shows that today, Gandhism is a very confused ‘ism’ in India. Today many politicians in India use the term merely as a slogan and the common man make Gandhi almost out of reach of the younger groups by making Gandhi an unwilling ‘avatāra’. That may be one reason why the only photo we see of Gandhi in India is always that of an old man which brings the image of a very simple and pious man who was meek and mild like Jesus Christ. While Gandhi was not a simple man to say the least, the above does not gives the right image of Gandhi and does not bring any inspiration to the younger group, the group most relevant for Gandhi.

But Mahatma Gandhi, in this twentieth century, produced a very sophisticated approach because he implemented that very noble philosophy of ahimsā in modern politics, and he succeeded. That is a very great thing.”

And that is precisely the greatness of Gandhi and that is the message of Gandhi to the modern world. In the past century many places in the world have been drastically changed through the use of brute force, by the power of guns the Soviet Union, China, Tibet, Burma, many communist countries in Africa and South America. But eventually the power of guns will have to be changed by the will of the ordinary people. If we try to analyze the secrets of Gandhi’s success, we would probably find Faith and Action and Populism, the three most important aspects of his life. Gandhi’s extra ordinary communion with the masses of ordinary people was another of his secrets. In contrast to many of our present day leaders of this highly democratic world, Gandhi was a true leader and friend of the people. Disaku Ikeda, the Japanese Buddhist leader who takes great inspiration from Gandhi has this to say about him. “His activism is not mere action but contains many aspects of a spiritual practice that is inspired by the inner urging of the conscience”.

The phenomenal success Gandhi registered in far-away South Africa fighting for human rights and civil liberties has great significance when we find that later his teachings were adopted not only by Nelson Mandela, the South African freedom fighter, but it was also subsequently revealed that the former South African president De Klerk was greatly influenced by Gandhi’s principles. In fact, from Dalai Lama to Desmond Tutu and from Martin Luther King to Nelson Mandela, many world leaders were inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, all in their own different ways.

Gandhi left many valuable sayings for the modern man to fight for goodness in society in a non-violent way. “Good” Gandhi said “travels at a snails pace.” “Non-violence” Gandhi said “is a tree of slow growth. It grows imperceptibly but surely.” And then “Mere goodness is not of much use.” Gandhi stated. “Goodness must be joined with knowledge, courage and conviction. One must cultivate the fine discriminating quality which goes with spiritual courage and character.” The modern man can also take great wisdom from what Gandhi said the seven social sins: Politics without principles; Wealth without work; Commerce without morality; Education without character; Pleasure without conscience; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice.

It was the unique non-violent movement under his leadership that earned for India freedom from the colonial rule. In spearheading the campaign against the alien rule, Gandhiji adopted the innovative techniques of civil disobedience and social transformation, which had several exemplary features.

The Gandhian technique of mobilizing people has been successfully employed by many oppressed societies around the world under the leadership of people like Martin Luther King in the United States, Nelson Mandela in South Africa, and now Aung Saan Sun Kyi in Myanmar, which is an eloquent testimony to the continuing relevance of Mahatma Gandhi.

In India, economic development has been mostly confined to the urban conglomerates. In the process, the rural India that comprises 700 million people has been given short shrift. Gandhiji’s philosophy of inclusive growth is fundamental to the building of a resurgent rural India. He believed in “production by the masses” rather than in mass production, a distinctive feature of the industrial revolution. It is surprising, even paradoxical, that these days Gandhian philosophy should find increasing expression through the most modern technology! Now, it is possible to establish small-scale and medium-scale factories in smaller towns and remote corners of the country, thanks to the phenomenal innovations in communication and information technologies. New technologies have brought in widespread and low-cost electronic connectivity that enables instantaneous contact between industrial units and the sellers and consumers of their products. Location and logistics are no more a limitation or constraint for industrial development.

If we say that the twenty-first century is the century of the common man, then we see that Gandhism has even more relevance in this age, and Gandhi will inspire generations of individuals fighting for goodness of the society. If today we find that Gandhism is in severe test in countries like India, it is not because there is certain inherent weakness in Gandhism, but it is because we have not seen in India strong leaders with the required courage and conviction to fight the evils in society. We may borrow Gandhi’s own words on Ahimsā, and say that Gandhism is only for the courageous people.

-Dr. Anju Seth, Associate Professor, Department of Sanskrit, Satyawati College (Day), University of Delhi, Delhi, India

स्वतंत्रता की भारतीय शैली

-प्रोफ़ेसर बलराम सिंह

Independence का वास्तविक अर्थ आत्मनिर्भरता है। In का अर्थ है inside अर्थात् आत्मा के स्तर तक पहुँचना और फिर उसी पर निर्भर होना अथवा dependent हो जाना। जब व्यक्ति आत्मश: कार्यरत होता है तो उसका आत्मबल सदैव पुष्टित होता रहता है। उसके लिए सारा जग आत्मीय बन जाता है। वह ‘अयम निज: परोवेति’ की गणना लघुचेतीय समझता है। उसके अंत:करण में चिरक़ालीन उदारता झकोरे लेने लगती है, तथा ‘वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम’ के सम्मत भाव जागृत हो जाते हैं। यहाँ तक कि उनके यहाँ ‘संताने तनय व तनया’ तक न सीमित रहकर आत्मज और आत्मजा के रूप उत्पन्न होने लगती हैं अर्थात् आत्मबीज ही अंकुरित, पल्लवित, पुष्पित. व फलित होता है। ‘अहम् ब्रह्म अस्मि’ की अनुभूति सार्थक हो जाती है। ये है independence की वास्तविक महिमा! ये एक दिन में सीमित नहीं हो सकता, ये तो कल्पों का माजरा है जनाब!!

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Independence का दूसरा अर्थ है है स्वाधीनता, अर्थात् अपने को पूरी तरह से पहचान कर उसके आधीन हो जाना अथवा उसी की सत्ता के आधीन कार्यरत हो जाना। अपने को पहचानने का अभिप्राय है अपने धर्म को पहचानना, और उसी आधार पर गुण और कर्म निर्धारित करना। स्वधर्म की पहचान का तात्पर्य है अपनी प्रकृति को गहराई से समझना, बूझना, और परखना। जब व्यक्ति इस स्तर पर पहुँच जाता है तब अपनी प्रकृति को ही आधार बनाकर उसी में श्रद्धा एवं भक्ति से संलग्न होकर कर्म करता है। उसके अतिरिक्त कुछ नहीं करता। श्रीकृष्ण ने भगवद्गीता में इसका उद्धरण इस प्रकार किया है- ‘स्वधर्मे निधनम श्रेय: परधर्मों भयावह’, अर्थात् अपने धर्म के अनुसार आचरण में सबकुछ मिट जाना भी श्रेयस्कर है। यही नहीं किसी अन्य के धर्म अर्थात् प्रकृति का आचरण भयावह होता है इसलिए स्वाधीनता अत्यंत आवश्यक मानवीय दशा है जो मानव ही नहीं बल्कि पूरी समष्टि के लिए कल्याणकारी है।

Independence का तीसरा अर्थ है स्वतंत्रता अर्थात् अपना ही तंत्र होना चाहिए चाहे वो पारिवारिक हो, सामाजिक हो, आर्थिक हो, शैक्षिक हो, अथवा राजनीतिक हो। दूसरों की व्यवस्था यद्यपि उनके लिए कितनी भी उच्च एवं सराहनीय क्यों न हो किसी और के लिए तनावपूर्ण, बलाघाती, भयंकर कलह का कारण बन सकती है। अतः किसी भी देश को एक ऐसी व्यवस्था का सृजन करना चाहिए जिसके अंतर्गत हर एक व्यक्ति को सम्पूर्ण मुक्ति रहे कि वह व्यक्तिगत, पारिवारिक, तथा सामाजिक स्तरों पर अपने ही तंत्र के अनुकूल जीवन यापन कर सके। यह व्यवस्था बाह्य रूप से प्रारम्भ में अनेकता के सिद्धांत पर ही आधारित हो सकती है, अर्थात् कोई uniform civil code नहीं, कोई संविधान नहीं, कोई अधिवक्ता या न्यूनतवक़्ता नहीं, कोई AC में विराजित न्यायाधीश नहीं। मात्र धरातलीय प्रबुद्धजनो की आवश्यकता होती है जिनमे आचार विचार से आत्मबोध झलकता हो। वही सर्वभूतानाम की स्वतंत्रता सुनियोजित व  सुनिश्चित कर सकते है इसीलिए भारत ऋषियों का देश रहा है, स्वतंत्रता के लिए। आधुनिक स्वतंत्रता दिवस  को प्रेरणा का आधार मानकर स्वतंत्रता को शाश्वत बनाने के लिए संकल्पित हों, और इसी का पर्व मनायें आज and forever!! शुभम्

– Prof. Bal Ram Singh, School of Indic Studies, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA, USA

Indian Family Traditions, Laws, and Government

Prof. Bal Ram Singh

Traditions can also take ugly forms, such as dowry system, female feticide, outraging modesty of women, etc. which can make family lives of the women (and men) anguished and intolerable. Despite (and may be due to) the laws against dowry, the menace of discord continues to grow in Indian society. Government response to enact further laws to protect women has also taken an ugly turn, and is being used settle scores between families.

Clearly, enacting laws, particularly with selfish culture in mind, is not very effective approach to solve social and family problems. However, government of India has gone on with several intriguing laws to solve family problems. Interestingly, these laws are enacted only for Hindus, the majority community in India, leaving Muslims and Christians untouched presumably to exhibit government’s secular practice. An exception is a bill that was recently introduced againt triple talaq practice of Muslims.

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In addition to giving an impression of Hindu practices in need of reforms (thereby wrong), the secular principles borrowed from West where culture and practices are very different are being applied to Indian culture, many times confusing the population, and also at times at the behest of international organizations and groups.

Some of the recent laws or government positions are listed below:

  1. Government of India enacted a law that children are liable to take care of parents, and can be sued by parents if they default.
  2. Parents cannot sell inherited properties without children’s consent.
  3. Live in relationship is fine, citing Radha and Krishna as example of live in relationship.
  4. Girls and boys of less than 16 years of age can have sexual relationship even though marriage age is 18 years for girls and 21 years for boys.

Many may not know that in several states of USA there is no lower age limit on marriage, and many states have provision for marriage as young as 14 years of age!

These laws and assertions are obviously anti-family and anti-Indian culture, and unfortunately applied selectively to Hindu population. Even Supreme court judges took the government to task on the selective application of amendments to Hindus.

The Supreme court of India said  that government’s attempts to reform personal laws don’t go beyond Hindus who have been more tolerant of such initiatives (Times of India, February 11, 2011; http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/7456761.cms?prtpage=1)

“The Hindu community has been tolerant to these statutory interventions. But there appears a lack of secular commitment as it has not happened for other religions.” 

Justices Dalveer Bhandari and A K Ganguly made the observation while hearing petitions filed by the National Commission for Women and its Delhi chapter. The petitioners had sought formulation of a uniform marriageable age and complained that different stipulations in as many statutes had created confusion. 

In fact, the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 itself is fairly arbitrarily done, and has almost nothing to do with Hindu philosophy or general practices. At least no references are made to any Hindu scriptures, consultation, or consensus. Government continues to make laws for Hindus without even a shred of consideration to either the community or its religious authorities. Many a times Hindu related laws are singled out to be enacted at the behest of a few elite class experiences, international pressure, domestic politics, or to create equivalence to other communities, viz., Christians and Muslims, both communities having extensive references to the social and legal aspects in their religious books, unlike Hindu texts.

It is certainly true that Hindu texts are more of guidance at spiritual, intellectual, and social levels, and allow flexibility for time and place. Nevertheless, a secular government, with a society less inclined to be intellectually engaged at mass level, and much less being sought to provide philosophical input to the provisions, is committing a grave long term mistake in imposing Western practices on its people. This acquires more significance and importance when one considers the diversity that the Hindu community exhibits traditionally, which has continued with the many of the practices of the only living ancient living civilization.

Obviously, there is a major disconnect between the society and the rulers. India is a very large society with many of the cultural intermixes to be ruled by a single set of laws and provisions. India and Hindu represent a diversity of thoughts and practices that is integral to its existence. There is no reference in ancient India to have a constitution, judges, advocates, as wide ranging as it is currently enforced. It has been a self policing society, governed by Kuldharma, Jatidharma, Varnadharma, Rashtradharma, and paramdharama. Currently, uch things are not even seriously considered while making policies and laws for the society.

There are many ills that are creeping in the Indian society, as a result of not considering the traditions, practices, and ancient wisdom in making policies and laws by the politicians and bureaucrats, and in the enforcement by the police and judiciary. It is, therefore, essential to bring the issue of the Indian family system to at least a certain level of intellectual and scholarly debate. It is hoped that such an exercise will spill over into the policy debates and eventually in the society for charting its course for future.

– Prof. Bal Ram Singh, School of Indic Studies, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA, USA