Philosophy of Value-Oriented Education -Theory and Practice - Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session


Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session



We are passsing through a critical stage of a battle between the best possibilities and the worst possibilities. At a time when forces of unity and harmony can triumph and science and technology can be used to abolish poverty and deprivation, precisely at that time, the forces of violence and gravitational pulls of impulses of the lower human nature are pressing forward on a global scale. Rationality, in which humanity has placed great trust for arriving at the fulfilment of its ideals of true knowledge and comprehensive knowledge, appears to be overtaken by the forces of Unreason. It has, therefore, become imperative to explore deeper and higher dimensions of human resources by means of which we can successfully work for the victory of the ideal dreams, which have inspired the onward march of civilization.

      It is in this context that the theme of education for character development has emerged with some imperative force. And our eyes have turned to the dimensions of values, the dimensions of will-power and the dimensions of cultural, ethical and spiritual potentialities. These dimensions have not yet been sufficiently explored, but we have begun to uncover what lies in our present framework that would meet our urgent need to uplift ourselves and the coming generations.

      In India, our Constitution has been wisely prefaced with the ideals of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity in its very Preamble. It has guaranteed certain basic fundamental rights and it has given a chapter on Directive Principles of the State Policy, which although not legally enforceable, embodies ideals and values, which are salutary for the progress of India on the lines which had come to be articulated and cherished during the Freedom Struggle.

      In 1976, realizing that apart from Rights, there is a need to emphasize responsibilities, obligations and duties of the citizens; Article 51A was inserted to lay down certain fundamental duties. It is to that Article that we have recently turned our focal attention, with the hope that its operationalization in the field of education would bring about a new climate of recovery of forces that can regenerate national ethos, unity and integrity.

      Government of India did well, therefore, in appointing a high level committee, in July 1998, to operationalize suggestions to teach fundamental

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

duties to the citizens of the country. This Committee is chaired by Mr. Justice J.S. Verma, the former Chief Justice of India, and it has recently submitted its final Report to the Minister of Human Resource Development on 31st October 1999.

      The Verma Committee has done well to highlight the work, which has been done by the International Interaction Council in drafting a Declaration of Human Responsibilities.

      This Council had a preliminary meeting in Vienna, Austria in March 1996, April 1997 and the Plenary Session was held in Noordwijk, Netherlands, in June 1997. On 1st September 1997, the Inter-Action Council proposed a universal declaration of human responsibilities, just one year before the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations. A number of former prime ministers, former presidents, and leading personalities in the fields of thought and practical action have endorsed this draft of the Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities. The basic point that has been made by the Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities is that the concept of human obligations serves to balance the notions of freedom and responsibilities. Without a proper balance, unrestricted freedom is as dangerous as imposed social responsibilities. It declares, in effect, that if we have a right to life then we have the obligation to respect life; and if we have right to liberty, then we have the obligation to respect other peoples' liberty too. In other words, the golden rule of responsibility is that we do not do to others what we do not wish to be done to us; or that we should do unto others as we would have them to do unto us.

      This draft declaration, which has now been submitted to the world community at large reaffirms that the time has come to talk about responsibilities, about obligations. It also shows that the action taken by the Government of India to set up a Committee of Teaching Fundamental Duties is timely and that while we have talked for decades of value education, we have now to take decisive action in implementing the programmes of value education.

      Let us recall that various commissions and committees of the Government of India have underlined the importance of value education and important recommendations have been made to distinguish morality and spirituality from religious creeds, so that imparting of moral and spiritual values does not come within the purview of the prohibition that is laid down in the Constitution to impart religious education in educational institutions that are financially supported by the Government. Dr. Radhakrishnan had made a distinction between a religious education and education about religions and advocated

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

that there is no constitutional disability in imparting education about religions in our educational system. The Sriprakasa Committee had advocated moral, emotional and cultural education as understood in their widest connotations. The Kothari Commission recommended value-education that is in coherence with the development of science and scientific temper. The National Education Policy, 1986, devoted one full section to value education.

      Unfortunately, our curricula, by and large, have changed little or only marginally. The main difficulty has been that there has been a long drawn out debate on what values should be promoted and what place should be given to the study of religions, which are closely connected with value systems. In answer to this debate, there is one thing which is very clear, and that is the Fundamental Duties, which have been listed in the Constitution, which represents national consensus and which has some kind of binding force.

      The Fundamental Duties include, first and foremost, the obligation on the part of the citizens to abide by the Constitution and to respect its ideals and institutions. In large terms, this would mean obligation to secure justice, liberty, equality and fraternity as also the values that are embedded in the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of the State Policy. In declaring that these duties will include the obligation to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom, we have a wide spectrum of values, spiritual, moral, economic, social and political. Again, in laying down the obligations to value and preservation of the rich heritage of our composite culture, the Constitution has stressed the wide range of values that have come to be cherished right from the times of the Veda to the present day, which has played a role towards assimilation and synthesis. Again, in laying down the duties to develop scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform, the emphasis has been laid on the value of truth, knowledge and freedom from dogmatism and obscurantism—all that is valuable in modernism. In requiring everyone to protect and improve the natural environment and in renouncing practices that are derogatory to the dignity of women and in developing compassion for living creatures, some of the most pressing problems of contemporary times in the fields of environment and empowerment of women has been taken into account. Finally, by insisting on striving towards excellence in all the spheres of individual and collective activity, a great ideal has been stressed in respect of the perfectibility of the individual and the society and their harmonious relationships.

      This is not an occasion to bring out the implications of these duties and salutary effects that the operationalization of duties in the field of education

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

could bring about. It must be said, however, that this operationalization should be regarded as a good beginning in the right direction, although the higher goals of man-making education of which Swami Vivekananda spoke will imply a still greater effort and we should not lose sight of this higher goal and the need for still greater efforts.

      There is a dimension of values, which transcends the dimension of duties. That dimension is the spontaneous perception and commitment to ends-in-themselves. If I love a friend only as a matter of duty, it is, in a sense, not as valuable as I do so out of my spontaneous appreciation and admiration for him and for his achievements and qualities. Love for my own country as a duty is inferior to the love of a patriot that arises spontaneously in his heart and soul, as he looks upon his country as the very source of his breath and life. Search for truth is an end in itself, search for goodness is an end in itself, search for beauty is an end in itself; and they have to be encouraged not as duties but as irresistible demands of our being as we begin to uncover deeper and higher depths of our Selves, which transcend the limitations of egoism.

      Self-knowledge and self-control are the true foundations of value education. As Socrates had pointed out, virtue is knowledge, and it is when knowledge is rightly pursued, that pursuit of virtue attains its right place as a spontaneous action and it has a lustre brighter than that obtains in performance of our duty.

      These reflections have two important consequences in our formulations of value-education. Firstly, value education does not merely remain a matter of do's and don'ts; it becomes a process of exploration, and it crosses the border of constraints that are felt in the performance of duties and leads us into a realm of freedom of which discipline for performance of duty is a happy product. Secondly, value education opens before us the gates of the harmony between truth, beauty and goodness, which impart to us the sources of true humanism and even our true godliness.

      It is necessary to bring out, even though briefly, these important dimensions of value education, since it will help us better to prepare our curriculum of value-education in its wider aspects, and also to prepare corresponding programmes of teacher-education.

      The role of the teacher in education is irreplaceable, and unless the teachers' programmes or training are conceived in the light of the full implications of value-education, we shall not be able to equip the teachers with the right inspiration and with the required tools. If value-education has suffered so far, it is because teachers' training programmes fall short in many

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

ways of an ideal system. We require to redesign programmes of teachers' education, both pre-service and in-service; in a certain sense, we need to overhaul our entire system of teacher-education, keeping in view that value education is absolutely imperative and unless a good teacher is himself value-oriented, we cannot fulfil the objectives of value education.

      We have to realise that methods of value education have to be different from those, which are required in respect of many other subjects. The reason is that in value education what we need is not merely the cultivation of cognitive faculties but also affective and conative faculties. One cannot merely give lectures on value education and expect to fulfil the objectives. Just as swimming cannot be taught merely by lecturing, but by leading the learner to jump into the water and help him in the practical art of swimming in the midst of water, similarly, value education requires of the teacher the ability to inspire the student to enter into the waters of life-situations and give him practical abilities and art of practising values in concrete situations of life. In a sense, it may be said that value education is perhaps the most difficult domain among all domains of education.

      Without going into details, it maybe said that we need to undertake a three-pronged exercise in the teacher education programmes:

      Firstly, our programmes must be so inspiring that teachers come to look upon the task of teaching as sacred;

      Secondly, the curriculum of teachers' training programme should have the component of the theory of value-education, both in terms of the foundations of Fundamental Duties and of the values, which lie beyond the domain of duties; and it should have also a component of practical art of the practice of exploration of values in life-situations;

      And thirdly, the duration that is normally assigned to teacher education programmes should be sufficiently enlarged. A most salutary combination would be to propose an integrated programme of teacher education of the duration of five years on the completion of class XII, leading to a qualification equivalent to post-graduation. That has also consequences for career development and other aspects relevant to the structure and framework of teaching profession. But this is an aspect, which needs to be looked into separately.

      In any programme of education for character development, we need to ask three important questions. Firstly, we have to determine with greater precision what we mean by character and how the development of character can be stimulated and nourished through the processes of communication and information, cultivation of faculties, and the methods by which the states of

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

consciousness, which express themselves in virtues can be stabilized. For character development is concerned with what may be called being or the central core of the individuality, which tends to grow into universality and sovereignty of transcendence. Indeed, the concepts of individuality, universality and transcendence can be communicated to some extent in the form of information which relates to the history of these concepts and how these concepts have been interpreted by different thinkers, scholars and practitioners and how they have been applied in life and in the development of civilizations and cultures. Indeed, this information can kindle the inner urge of the individual to grow inwardly and to fashion the processes of learning, which can properly be called the processes of learning to be. But still, the part played by communication of information in the development of character is only peripheral or of primary importance and not of chief importance.

      A greater part is played in the character development by the development or cultivation of faculties and if we study numerous faculties that human personality comes to possess, we shall find that they relate to four main groups, namely (1) those which pertain to understanding, comprehension, synthesis, universality, knowledge and wisdom; (2) those that relate to will-power, fearlessness, courage, heroism, control, mastery, power and strength; (3) those that relate to imagination, sensibility, emotional refinement, harmony in relationships, friendship, cooperation, loyalty, allegiance, and unfailing love; and (4) those that pertain to skills of expressions, patience, perseverance, endurance, love for precision, and detailed execution of command, order, system and search for perfection. Unfortunately, in our curricular framework, preponderant emphasis is laid upon communication of information, but no deliberate attempt is made to the task of stimulating the cultivation of faculties; and yet, if faculties develop among our students, they do so because faculties have an inborn stress in themselves to push forward their developments. But a more rational and careful curriculum should provide guidelines, occasions and exercises by which faculties can be cultivated consciously and systematically.

      But of even greater importance in character development is the role played by development of attitudes and states of consciousness. The depth of seriousness, which accompanies the process of search or quest will determine the quality of search or quest and its eventual success. And the states of seriousness result from the cultivation of sincerity. If we examine closely, we shall find that what we call virtues are basically manifestations of certain states of consciousness; it is virtues that constitute character; and the stability of

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

character depends upon the stabilization of those states of consciousness which constitute virtues. How to develop, therefore, virtuous states of consciousness and how to stabilize them should constitute a major constituent of education for character development.

      Closely connected with this first set of questions is the second set of questions which relate to the aim of life. The moment we raise the question of aim of life, we begin to address ourselves to something that is central in our being, in our potentialities and in what we can become and can be fulfilled. No great character can be built where the aim of life remains a matter of doubt or tends to be neglected or retained for consideration or amusement in our hours of idleness or superficial leisure. Indeed, the theme of the aim of life should become a theme of exploration, and during the process of exploration one has to pass through periods of doubts, periods of long reflection, periods of experimentation and even of uncertainty. Educational process should provide both time and scope for this kind of exploration and every student should be provided with enough material in respect of this theme. Indeed, no prefixed aim of life should be proposed and no indoctrination or dogmatic assertions should be thrust upon on the mind and heart of the student. But the educational process should allow each student a process of exploration, experimentation and reflection as a result of which a mature decision is arrived at as to what aim of life one should pursue. It will then be seen that the quality of life and the quality of character reflect the quality of aim of life that one determines to realize.

      Finally, there is a third set of questions, which are also relevant to the development of character. These questions relate to the ways and means by which students become conscious of the methods of learning and methods by which character can be developed. In other words, character development has to become a conscious process, a deliberate process, voluntary process. Students have to become conscious of the psychological complexities and how the tangles of instincts, desires, emotions, will-force, powers of thought and imagination and the powers of aesthetic, ethical and spiritual consciousness can be understood, disentangled and yet controlled, mastered and harmonized. This is perhaps the most important part of education for character development. Here we have to focus upon the processes by which students can gradually become conscious of their inner being, of their potentialities, of their own character so that students can take upon themselves the task of fashioning and perfecting what is best in them.

      Whether we are dealing with the curriculum for students or for teacher education, we need to bring forth these deeper aspects. At a time when the

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

curriculum is now being debated, it is opportune for us to delve deep into these questions and suggest those considerations that should get reflected in the framework that will emerge from the present deliberations on the curriculum.

* * *

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session



Professor Chattopadhyaya, Professor Krieet Joshi, Professor Rajendra Prasad, Professor Pradhan, Distinguished Philosophers, Educationists, Teachers, Experts and Friends.


Let me begin with the pregnant paradox stated in the Kenopanisad, which is directly relevant to all philosophers, scientists, educationists and other seekers of knowledge:

      yasyāmatarh tasya matam matam yasya na veda sah/

      avijñātam vijānatām vijñātamavijānatām// —Kenopanisad 2.3


      "He by whom It is not thought out, has the thought of It; he by whom It is thought out, knows It not. It is unknown to the discernment of those who discern of It, by those who seek not to discern of It, it is discerned."

      May I suggest that this paradoxical statement deserves deep reflection and contemplation, since it contains the secret of the culminating point of the ontology of Being, epistemology of Object, and axiology of Value, which are the essential subjects of your extremely important Seminar.

      I believe that this is the first occasion when the Indian Council of Philosophical Research (ICPR) has envisaged a series of seminars on the Philosophy of Value-Oriented Education, and I take this to be a sign of a welcome response to the contemporary India's imperative need to provide the dimension of value to our educational system. For it is only when philosophers awake and lead that the foundations begin to be built, and without foundations no programme of education that aims at a major innovation can hope for a secure guidance and lasting fruition. Let me, therefore, congratulate the ICPR for its initiative, as also all the distinguished philosophers and educationists who have assembled here.


Education is intrinsically and by definition Value-Oriented. To speak, therefore, of Value-Oriented education is, in a sense, tautologous. In fact, education is a subset of a larger setting of culture, and culture consists of cultivation of   

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

faculties and powers pertaining to reason, ethics and aesthetics in the light of the pursuit of Values of Truth, Beauty and Goodness (satyam, śivam, sundaram).Culture also consists of infusing the influences of this pursuit into physical and vital impulses, so as to refine them and sublimate them to the highest possible degrees, and to transmit the resultant fund of experience through various modes of expression, including those of poetry, music, dance, drama, art, architecture, and craft. The height of a culture is to be judged by the depth and height that are reached in terms of an ascending process of harmonization and, in that process, development of quest of spiritual inspiration and revelation and their manifestation in various domains of physical life. Every developed culture, therefore, inspires methodologies of transmission of accumulated normative lessons of culture to succeeding generations, and this process of transmission is greatly secured by a process of education, which, in turn, discovers and implements a more and more ripened system of acceleration of progress. Thus, the basic thrust of culture and education is inevitably Value-Oriented.

      The question that arises as to why we are then obliged to think of Value-Oriented education. The answer is that there have intervened, during the last 200 years and more, certain factors that have retarded the right upward impulses of culture and education. This has happened all over the world, and everywhere there is a new awakening today to infuse Value-Orientation both in culture and in education.


In India, we can see that since the 18th century, and even before that, there came about the decline of intellectual activity and freedom, the waning of great ideals, the loss of the gust of life, and, even in the moral and spiritual life, the rise of excessive ritualism. Public life began to become more and more irreligious, egoistic, and self-seeking. This entire process became accentuated by three factors, which can be summed up in terms of influences emerging from Macaulay, Materialism and Mercantile barbarism.

      As is very well-known, Macaulay had explicitly stated the purpose of the education system that was introduced under his initiative by the British in India, namely, to create a "class Indian in blood and colour but English in taste, in opinion, in morals and intellect" who would be interpreters between the British and the teeming millions that they ruled. Unfortunately, the scheme of education that was introduced has even now continued to persist with peripheral modifications. If we examine that scheme objectively, and in the light of

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

the basic foundations of Indian culture, we shall find that it knocked off four main elements with perilous consequences. First of all, it eliminated the study of poetry, music and art, which constitutes perfect education of the soul; secondly, it eliminated the study of philosophy, dharma and spiritual knowledge—three elements, which are the supreme components of the Indian heritage; thirdly, while it introduced some elements of world history and world geography and modern science, it presented the dominant British view of history and disturbed the Indian view of science, which always looked upon scientific inquiry as a part of the holistic quest in which Science, Philosophy and Yoga had a sound system of interrelationship; and fourthly, it omitted altogether physical education and skills of art and craft and others related to science of living, which were kept alive in India throughout the ages. What has been lost in terms of pedagogy and richness of contents of knowledge and skills has still not been remedied, and urgent steps are necessary to review the entire scheme so that we can provide to our students a genuine national system of education, which is at the same time open to the benefits of modern knowledge and modern ideals of progress towards Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.

      The advent of the British rule in India coincided with the high tide of modern science in the West, and along with it the extensive spread of materialism—a phenomenon of mixed blessings. While science and scientific spirit are deep-rooted in the genius of India, materialism does not fit very well with the Indian ethos, although material poverty was never a national ideal, and abundance of wealth was a high achievement of Indian culture, until our economy was greatly shattered by the British policy.

      It is mistakenly supposed that science and materialism are logically interrelated with each other, even though the triumph of physical sciences has tended to emphasize materialistic approach to knowledge and reality. In any case, the Macaulayan scheme of education does not provide the kind of scientific rigour, which is manifested in the Indian history of scientific knowledge; nor does it promote that avenue of inquiry by which the limitations of materialism can be understood and overcome.

      Materialism has promoted what can be called mercantile barbarism, and that too, even in the setting of a science-based civilization. It is barbarism because its gospel is to support and aggrandise the needs of physical life, and it seeks triumph of consumerism, which can be sustained only by supporting an unjust economic and social order, environmental disasters and by inducing people to remain confined to a perpetual bondage to increasing physical

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

wants. We have today for the entire human race a possibility to be uplifted to a higher and nobler way of life and to an order of unity and harmony, but mercantilism compels competition and strife, and we see today the horror of terrorism spreading on a global scale. We speak of globalisation today, but the dominant quest today is the quest of global markets and not the quest of global brotherhood.

      The issues that confront us relate not only to promote education widely and universally, but also what kind of education, so that India can recover her true spirit and it is empowered to stand out in the world as a leader of the future, in spirituality and science, in philosophy and art and in all fields of professions and occupations so as to be opulent and prosperous capable of fostering universal culture of peace, harmony and world unity. For this aim to be fulfilled, we need to liberate our educational system from the Macaulayan mould, we need to deal with materialism both scientifically and philosophically, as also morally and spiritually, and we need to combat forces of barbarism, ignorance and division so as to inspire among the youth a burning quest for wisdom and courage, for excellence in works and skills, and for universality and all that contributes to individual and collective perfection.

      One of the best means of achieving these goals is the task that we have begun earnestly during the last few years—the task of Value-Oriented Education.


The task is difficult and enormous, but there are several favourable circumstances, which can aid us and encourage us to undertake this task and accomplish it.

      We must first take into account the fact that during the freedom struggle, five greatest leaders of modern India, who were also educationists, challenged the British system of education and developed powerful philosophies of education so as to provide to the students not only the lessons of the Indian heritage but also to prepare them for the future greatness of India. The first leonine call came from Maharshi Dayananda Saraswati who went back to the Vedic foundations and put forth a system of education that would reform India and make it progressive. He inspired the Gurukula system of education and underlined the great role of the teacher in uplifting the talent and character of the pupil. The second great effort was that of Swami Vivekananda who spoke of man-making education and, accepting Vedan tic knowledge as the base, and

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

acknowledging the truth of every religion and a synthesis of Yoga, he opened the gates of the future before the youths, filling them with a new spirit of inspiration, heroism and dynamic action. Another line of educational experiment was initiated by Mahatma Gandhi, who emphasised the training of the Hand, Heart and Head, overarched by the values of Truth, Non-Violence, Self-Control, Non-Covetousness and Renunciation, as also equal respect towards all religions and life of simplicity that aims at reconstruction and reform of rural, social, and political organizations based on equality, empowerment of the weak and the oppressed, decentralisation and brotherhood. Gurudev Rabindra Nath Tagore, the great poet of modern India, established at Shantiniketan an experimental Institution for a new aim and mode of education where the beauty and sublimity of Nature can serve as a living partner of teaching and learning and where the values of poetry, music and art can vibrate in the rhythms of life of the development of personality and mingling of cultures of Asia and of the world that would promote internationalism and world-citizenship, and universal fraternity that transcends all divisions of race and religion in the Religion of Man. And there arose also the Nationalist call of 'Vande Mataram' that gave birth to the movement of the National System of Education with the aim of recreating the ancient Indian Spirit that was at once spiritual, intellectual, scientific, artistic and productive, and empowered now with new vigour to assimilate all that is new and progressive and to create new forms of expression and synthesis of powers of personality and knowledge and harmony of the East and the West. Sri Aurobindo formulated the philosophy of this system in 1909 and developed it further in subsequent decades so as to embody the light and power of the Synthesis of Yoga and a programme of integral transformation of human life on the earth that would lead the evolution of Nature into the birth of a new humanity and superhumanity.

      All these initiatives and experiments have been bold and great and inspiring, and all of them are still in various stages of growth and development; great lessons have to be learnt from these experiments, and we have here a great fund of educational research that can guide us in the tasks of value-oriented education and of the entire transformation of our educational system.

      We have also a favourable climate being created by some of the progressive experiments in the West, such as those promoted by Pestalozzi, Montessori, Bertrand Russell and others; the trend is towards child-centred education, and the basic idea is that the individual is not merely a social unit, but a soul, a being, who has to fulfil his own individual truth and law as well as his natural or his

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

assigned part in the truth and law of the collective existence. Happily, this Western idea agrees at its root with the profoundest and highest spiritual conceptions of Asia and it can easily play a great role in harmonizing our national effort at reconstruction of education with similar efforts in the West.

      In this task, UNESCO's initiatives are also helpful. The two great Reports: "Learning to Be" brought out in 1971 and "Learning: Treasure Within" brought out in 1996 have underlined education for values of international understanding, peace and integral development of personality. Emphasis on Complete Education for the Complete Human Being and on four pillars of learning, viz. Learning to Know, Learning to Do, Learning to Live with Others, and Learning to be points to the need for a radical paradigm shift impelling all-round reforms in aims, contents and methods of education, as also of the system of examination, evaluation and certification.

      In the wide sweep of values, which are incontrovertibly admitted universally are those contained in the Declaration of Human Rights as also those in the Declaration of Human Responsibilities. Nearer home, we have also a remarkable and unique declaration in our own Constitution under Article 51A of Fundamental Duties, which I believe, if implemented in full—as we have resolved to do—we shall have secure guidance as to what values we have to promote in our educational system, so that all citizens can be empowered to fulfil their duties.

      Contemporary explosion of information and increasing spread of sophisticated information technology have brought forth deeper issues of education and educational methodology, in the context of which value-oriented education assumes wider dimensions. Not only open system of education can now become very effective, but it will also open new channels of communication of the message of value-oriented education, since they can be at once adapted to the needs of the individual and of groups and masses. At a higher dimension, one question that will have to be answered is of the ways and means to ensure that knowledge does not get lost in information, and wisdom does not get lost in knowledge. I believe that more and more we shall have to address ourselves to the question that the Upanishad had raised, viz. what is that knowing which everything can be known? (yasmin vijñāte sarvam vijñātam, bhavati). For advancement of knowledge demands methods by which knowledge can be summed up and possessed in a state of self-possession. In this context, it may also be suggested that value-oriented education should ultimately issue from and result in the knowledge of what can be described as all-embracing Self and universal Reality.

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session


This brings us to the deepest questions that are relevant to this Seminar: questions as to what is Reality and what is the relationship between Reality and Value. And closely related are the questions of pursuit of science and pursuit of reality, and its relationship with the quest of philosophy. And underlying these questions is the question of scientific cognition and philosophical cognition, and in general, the question of the nature and potentialities of Consciousness. These are difficult questions, and I am sure that ICPR will need to organize a series of seminars to deal with these questions; or else along with these seminars, these questions will need to be taken up by eminent philosophers like my friend, Professor D.P. Chattopadhyaya, who has undertaken a very laudable project of Consciousness, Science, Society, Value and Yoga. For the present purpose, I shall make only a few brief remarks. Science, like philosophy, aims at grasping, in its own way and through its own methods, the nature of the Ultimate Reality. During the last hundred years, science has crossed rapidly several horizons, and we are now in the presence of a situation where not only Newton, but even Einstein stands over-passed in many ways. When we study the findings of recent physicists like Louise de Broglie, Schrodinger, David Bohm and others, we feel in the presence of a Great Shift and new paradigm. Michael Talbot speaks of reality of the sub-atomic particle as "omnijective", an inseparable combination of the subject and the object of knowledge. The astonishing implications of Bell's Theorem is that, "at a deep and fundamental level, the separate parts of the Universe are connected in an intimate and immediate way. We recall that a hundred years ago, the great Indian scientist, Jagadish Chandra Bose, had demonstrated the unity of matter, life and mind, and had demolished the mechanistic view of the universe. And now, the discovery made by Bell has further reiterated that the Cartesian-Newtonian approach is no more tenable.

      Study of Quantum Mechanics has also shown that not only super-luminal Connections exist but also they can be used in a controllable way to communicate messages. This study has profound implications for the philosophy of materialism, and therefore, for the materialistic system of values that counsels us to work or enjoy under the impulsions of a material energy, which deceives us with a brief delusion of life or with the nobler delusion of an ethical aim and a mental consummation. It appears that the modern science is preparing itself to overcome its preoccupation with Matter so as to look upon the phenomenon of Consciousness with flesh eyes.

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

Philosophy, which is today highly dominated by Science, is also likely to undergo a major change and enlarge itself in its scope so as to admit the phenomena of Consciousness, which are now being studied more and more at the level of microcosm as also at the level of macrocosm. In this light, it will not be difficult for philosophy to detect the logical error of Materialism involved in its attempt to derive from the premise that Matter is real, the conclusion that Matter alone is real. The circularity of the argument becomes obvious and is rendered invalid. As Sri Aurobindo points out:

"This vulgar or rustic error of our corporeal organs does not gain in validity by being promoted into the domain of Philosophical reasoning. Obviously, their pretension is unfounded. Even in the world of Matter there are existences of which the physical senses are incapable of taking cognisance. Yet the denial of the suprasensible as necessarily an illusion or a hallucination depends on this constant sensuous association of the real with the materially perceptible, which is itself a hallucination. Assuming throughout what it seeks to establish, it has the vice of the argument in a circle and can have no validity for an impartial reasoning."1

At the stage at which we stand today, the recent advances in the field of knowledge provide us sounder foundations for the philosophy of value and philosophy of value-oriented education. Already great scientists and philosophers of science have begun to acknowledge the need to bridge the gulf between science and value, just as there is a need to bridge the gulf between art and value. It is recognised that the development of science should be supplemented by enormous development of the value of human kindness. Bertrand Russell has pointed out that there are two ancient evils that science, unwisely used, may intensify: they are tyranny and war. His counsel to mankind is to avoid "cruelty, envy, greed, competitiveness, search for irrational subjective certainty, and what Freudians call Death-Wish." He further points out the remedy in the following words: "The root of the matter is very simple and old fashioned thing... the thing I mean—please forgive me for mentioning it—is love; Christian love or compassion."

      Recently, Piet Hut in one of his papers (1995) stated: "Science that does not have any ethical implication can be useful, but cannot claim in any way to describe all of reality, since clearly some form of ethics is part of our world of experience."

1. Sri Aurobindo : The Life Divine, Centenary Edition, Vol. 18, pp. 17-18.

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session


What emerges from the foregoing is that the programme of value-oriented education should emphasize the relationship between Science and Value. In our presentation of values, we do not need to be prescriptive; we should encourage methods of explorations. As we explore deeper and deeper, we shall find that there are values, which are relative and subjective; but we shall also find that there is in us a dimension of Value and that this is an undeniable objective fact. There is also the fact that the more one advances in the theory and practice of Value, the more is one obliged to overcome selfishness, egoism and subjectivity, and the more is one led to the discovery of the Categorical Imperative, the criterion of which is translatable in some kind of objectivity and universality, as Kant showed—although not entirely satisfactorily, and as shown by the Bhagavadgita in its concept of Loka sangraha. What we call good actions can be relative, and our judgement about them can be subjective; but there can be no denial that, objectively speaking, the highest goodwill for the highest good of all is the highest conceivable Value. To my mind, the first and the last message of value-oriented education should be to develop among all the highest Good Will, śiva-samkalpam.

      Let me conclude with a prayer of the Yajurveda, which describes the highest psychological powers and prays for the infusion in them of the Good Will:

      yajjāgrato duramudaiti daivarh tadu suptasya tathaivaiti/

     dūrarigamam jyotisārh jyotirekarh tanme manah śivasarikalpamastu//

      "The mind, irrespective of whether one is awake or asleep, travels to far distant corners; this far distant-moving mind is the light of lights. May that mind of mine be filled with Good will."


 * * * 

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session




Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session


That there has occurred an erosion, or some would say, a complete erosion, of values in the present-day Indian educational practice is a complaint which has become a part of our folklore, academic as well as non-academic. The complaint is made by those who are the sufferers of the erosion as well as by those who have caused it and those who can ameliorate the condition resulting there from but have no will or time to do that. Sometimes it is made more loudly by the latter two groups than by the former. It is certainly true that the erosion has occurred, but it is not the whole or complete truth. The complete truth is that the educational practice has become an agent for the inculcation of some disvalues along with its becoming denuded of some positive values. The former needs to be worried over more than, or at least as much as, the latter.

      In a broad sense of the term, as per current philosophical usage, values include both positive and negative values. A positive value is one which is worthy of being inculcated and a negative one is that which ought to be abjured and gotten rid of if already inculcated. It is a negative value, which is called a disvalue, and a positive value is, for short, called simply a value. I shall follow this practice in this essay, using 'value' for 'positive value' and 'disvalue' for 'negative value'. A disvalue is, in the broad sense, a value because it is a thing about which we must not be indifferent or casual. A con (trary) -attitude towards it is as necessary as a pro-attitude towards a (positive) value. Its importance in personal or social life is as great as that of a negative number is in arithmetic. Its inculcation by an individual lowers the quality of his life, just as the addition of a negative number to a positive number reduces the value of the latter.

      Any educational process essentially leads to the inculcation of some values or disvalues by the educatee who goes through it. If the educatee is cooperative and participative in the process and the conductors of the process conduct it with the seriousness and sincerity the norms set for it require, the process will be a success and will instil in the educatee some of the basic values he needs in order to live well as a person and as a member of his society. On the other hand, for some reason or the other, if the educatee is non-cooperative or non-participative in the process, or the process is ill-conducted, it will be a failure. It will then instil in the educatee, and through him in the larger society he belongs to, a number of highly pernicious disvalues. Some of them, for

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

example, will be instilling in him a habit of being generally careless and non-serious in whatever he does, an attitude of being disrespectful or indifferent to some of the desirable traits of character, a nagging feeling that there is no use or worth in getting himself educated, etc. The latter, one's loss of faith in the value of education itself, is perhaps one of the greatest disvalues for any country and definitely for a developing one, the majority of whose citizens are uneducated, half-educated, or ill-educated.

      By saying that an educational process is essentially, i.e. naturally, value-inculcating, I mean to highlight the fact that letting an educatee go through a process of educating him is itself a process of inculcating in him some values (or disvalues). There does not have to be two processes, one of educating him and another of inculcating in him some values, the two going together. And, to enable the process to inculcate the values it can, what needs to be done is to simply help it go its natural way in accordance with its built-in rules and norms, and strategies of their implementation. There is no need to buttress it with another, a separate, process of value-inculcation. What the managers of education are, therefore, to do is to arrange for the required human and material resources and then to leave the educational process to have its natural flourishing.

      The above has been said keeping in mind formal education. But informal education is also, by its very nature, value-inculcating. The latter is imparted in an individual's family and social setting in an unscheduled and non-organized manner and goes a great way in shaping his personality and his performance in private and public life. Formal education is imparted in a formally organized institution required to run in accordance with well-articulated rules, regulations, and objectives. The two are very closely related to each other. Each one of them can be supportive or obstructive of the other, depending on its own and the other's character. It is not unusual to find the principal of a school complaining that he is not being able to get instilled in his students respect for discipline and decorum because a good number of them come from a social setting in which flouting discipline, or disregarding decorum, is considered to be a mark of status and smartness, and they afford to do that because of the political influence of their parents. This will be a case of a polluted informal education obstructing the value-inculcating character of a well-meaning formal education. Similarly, it is not infrequent to come across guardian of a student complaining that his efforts to develop in his ward a habit of regular self-study and hard work got thwarted by his class-teacher: the class-teacher advised him to join his coaching institute, assuring him that he would get there,

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

in only three months, on payment of merely ten thousand rupees, ready-made materials for getting a first class in his final examination, and he preferred to follow the teacher's advice. This will be a case of a polluted formal education, obstructing a well-meaning informal education in the performance of its value-inculcating role. It is not difficult to imagine what will happen when both are polluted, nor is it difficult to locate instances in which they actually are. It is obvious, therefore, that to ensure an educational practice or system to be, even generally, if not unfailingly, successful, it is necessary that both informal and formal education are imparted in a balanced, healthy, manner. This will require toning up the functioning of formal institutions as well as changing the value-attitudes of a large number of parents, guardians, and many others. That would amount to preparing the social or societal background, or ground, for the proper appreciation of the value of value-inculcating role of education and for enabling the latter to perform the role in the manner it can when left to flower up in a natural way. To make even a beginning in the direction of discussing what is involved in this task will take me far afield. Therefore, I shall limit my observations here to formal education. These observations will be based more on my experience as a student, teacher and parent than on my predilection as a professional philosopher. Therefore, they claim to be only common-sensical and not in any way philosophical.

      To see how a set of values is ingrained (anusyūta) in the very process of an educational practice conducted in a formally organized institution, say, a school, when it functions in a normal way, let us look at the major components of a formal educational programme. They can roughly be designated as follows:

      1. Objectives

      2. Content

      3. Recipients

      4. Social Reality

      5. Method

      6. Infrastructure

      7. Achievement of Objectives through Normal Routine

1. Objectives

      The chief objectives of any educational process, putting them very briefly, obviously are

      i. to impart to the educatee knowledge of a chosen set of items, which he is expected to need in order to live a worthwhile life. This is done, to

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

  begin with, as per his society's understanding of his needs and of the nature of a worthwhile life. Both of them are subject to modification later in accordance with his preferences

         when he acquires the ability to understand his needs and form his own conception of a worthwhile life;

      ii. to equip him with the skill to make a creative use of his expertise in a mariner fitting with the situation he is in; and

     iii. to provide him opportunities, through curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities of the school, to develop into a cohesive member of his society and a

         discriminative individual in respect of fulfilling, or in trying to fulfil, his personal aspirations.

      The best strategy to achieve these objectives is to let the educatee imbibe the education offered to him and develop his natural potentialities in a free and tensionless but constructive and disciplined manner. It is the most natural, or practical, strategy to adopt. That is why it is likely to be boring if one argues for its viability. In this respect what is true of the strategy is also true of the objectives.

2. Content

      In every educational process there has to be some content or subject-matter. The subject-matter has to be chosen with an eye on the objectives and the strategy for their fulfilment, as outlined in (1) above. But there has to be some flexibility in selecting the various components of the subject-matter in order to suit the socio-cultural, environmental, background and imbibing potentialities of the educatees participating in the process. The selection process has also to keep in view the changing state of the craft, the explosion of knowledge in theoretical and practical spheres, and the findings of recent researchers in the science of education. Therefore, it has to be a dynamic and self-correcting process. This implies that syllabi may have to be changed more often than they are usually done and also that the selection of reading materials has to be done by educators, i.e. teachers, who impart education and are conversant with the state of the craft, and not by managers, administrators, or even financiers, of educational institutions.

3. Recipients

      The educatee is the recipient of the goods produced in an educational process, and if the goods do not reach him, or do not touch his heart and brain and muscles, the process is a failure. The entire process, therefore, is to be

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

directed in such a way that the educatee, who has gone through it, turns out to be a cultured, decent, person well-equipped to live well. His case is very much comparable to that of a diamond, which is crude and full of dross when taken out of a mine. But after having gone through a process of refining and grinding in an artist's workshop, it turns out to be a bright, well-shaped object of great beauty. Therefore, the contents of any educational programme have to be selected with this end in mind; the education imparted by means of teaching them must be conducive to making the educatee, the end-product of the programme, an individual of this type. This means that the contents cannot be selected in abstraction from the needs and initial calibre of the likely recipient. Therefore, even for the same standard or level of education, in two schools, or in schools of two areas, when the needs and initial caliber of students differ, different sorts of contents may have to be taught. The obvious implication here is that different types of reading materials, meeting the requirements of students, should be available.

4. Social Reality

      Since the recipients are individuals with a socio-cultural background, the social (including cultural) reality in which they live, or are likely to live after getting their education, have to be seriously taken note of in planning an educational programme. Some of the reasons why it is important are the following:

    i. An educatee not only comes from a social background, but he also has to work, after receiving his education, with people who come from the same, or some different, social background. Therefore, in order to do his work successfully, he must have a knowledgeable understanding and appreciation of his own social reality and at least a few other social realities with which he may have to deal.

     ii. He needs to earn his living. No society will give him a job, or like to keep him, if his method of working is not conducive to its development. Moreover, it is also one of his obligations to contribute to the development of the society in which he works. This he can do only if he has an appropriate understanding of the temper of that society, or an ability to acquire such an understanding if he does not already have it.

     iii. From the point of view of his own profiting from the programme also it is important that the programme is congruent with his social reality. He will be able to learn better, to inculcate with greater ease, the traits the programme wants him to inculcate, if the programme has been

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

planned with an understanding of his own social background. A student's finding an educational programme incommensurate with his social background, may prompt him to leave the programme and create an aversion or animosity towards joining any other.

5. Method

      What has been said above in (1) to (4) makes it very easy to conjecture what should be the method of imparting education. The goods an educational programme can produce will be properly utilized by the educatee only if they are received by him in a friendly manner, i.e. when he does not have the feeling that they are imposed on him, or drilled into his head. That is, they must enter his mind, not only without stifling his creativity, but in a manner which protects it and contributes to its flourishing. To do this, it is necessary to treat him as respectable, responsive individual, having his self-dignity and a rich stock of potentialities waiting to be helped to flower up. He is not to be treated as an electronic player in which a musical cassette is to be placed and a button to be pressed to get a good song. Many teachers do this mistake with the result that the educatee develops in himself a mechanical or stereotyped mode of thinking, a mind like that of a parrot, and, therefore, fails to see what to do when he is confronted with a new, or tricky, problem in his private or public life. Instead of improving his thinking ability, re-educating himself in life's real situations, he becomes, again due to his faulty earlier education, a cynic and starts pleading that no education is of any use. To obviate this eventuality, it is necessary to inspire the educatee to cooperate with the teacher by conducting the programme in a manner, which makes the instruction enjoyable and the school a place he loves to be in. One of the ways to do it is to whet his in-quisitiveness, encourage him to put questions, and adopt a dialogical method to satisfy his curiosity. This method will make him think that the answers he gets are not just given to him by the teacher but obtained by the joint effort of both of them. The feeling that he has played a role in getting his answers will not only promote his self-confidence but will also nurse his sense of self-respect.

6. Infrastructure

      The infrastructure of any educational programme includes the resources, human and material, necessary to enable the programme to be conducted satisfactorily and successfully. Among the human resources are included individuals from the sweeper who cleans the school compound to the class-teacher-to the principal-to the Vice-chancellor-to the policy maker-financier,

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

and so on and so forth. Among the material sources are included not only the building, library, laboratory, playground, finance, etc. but also such paltry items as chalk and duster and blackboard, etc. It is very likely that all the items, which should be there to make the infrastructure complete in every respect may not be there because it is not possible to arrange for all of them. But there is a minimum, which must be provided. It seems to me that a shortage of human resources, or supply of defective human resources, is more injurious to the programme than a supply of inadequate or defective material resources. A team of competent and committed teachers can compensate, of course within certain limits, for some of the deficiencies caused by the inadequacy of material resources. But no material resource, howsoever important, can compensate for a deficiency caused by a defective human resource. It is not very difficult to arrive at the minimum of both human and material resources required, depending on the economy of the country. But to compromise on the quality of human resources would be fatal, whatever be the case with the supply of material resources.

7. Achievement of Objectives through Normal Routine

      The language of what has been said in (1) to (6) has become sometimes explicitly, sometime implicitly, normative. But it is not preceptorial. Rather, it gives an account of what is actually considered by the common run of a teacher or educationist to be the things any educational programme is ordinarily designed to achieve in its normal, routine, working. If the present-day educational practice is not doing it, i.e. is not inculcating the values it should, it is not doing that because it is not following its own routine. To require it to be value-inculcating is not to ask it to do something extraordinary. Therefore, any one connected with it must not think that, in being asked to perform this role, an extra strain or obligation is put on his shoulders. The proposal made here, therefore, is as practisable as any down-to-earth proposal may be. Given the necessary infrastructure, a large part of its objectives an educational institution can achieve by simply implementing, with sincerity and seriousness, its regular routine in its curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. We can very reasonably, then, expect its products, the educatees, to develop into individuals with most of the values, which makes a person socially cohesive (susabhya) and personally dignified (susamskrta). Even others associated with the institution are likely to imbibe at least some of the values the institution's atmosphere will be suffused with. But in what follows I shall discuss the matter only in respect of educatees.

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

 A school has to work according to a time-table for all concerned and for whatever it does. If it is observed regularly and uniformly, the student will acquire a habit to be punctual and to respect the time schedule in whatever he does. Every student is to be considered equal to every other as a person. If this principle is followed, a sense of social equality, which is a pre-condition of liberal democracy, is likely to be naturally inculcated. Even now, when the Indian society is riddled with discriminations and fissures, friendship among classmates or batch-mates, a natural child of social equality practised in a school, has not, in spite of their caste-economic-regional-cultural-religious differences, become non-existent. The contents of a course have to be taught according to a time-frame, required to confirm to a certain standard, and the performance of a student has to be evaluated on its merit and merit alone. Doing this as a routine affair will strengthen the motivation of a student in his studies and may even generate in him a desire for the pursuit of knowledge of things not covered by his curriculum. He will also then have the faith that he will get the grade he deserves, an awareness of his right to get what he deserves and of others' right to get what they deserve. Consequently, he can be expected to have a respect for justice and a sense of pride in getting only that, which he deserves. He may thus acquire a disposition to resent an injustice done to him, or to another student, by a functionary of his school, and later to an injustice done to anybody by anybody. This disposition will be a virtue since it will strengthen his social conscience. A school has to run according to a discipline applicable to all concerned. If the discipline is enforced in a fair manner and is generally observed, even resentment against injustice is not likely to assume an ugly form. Moreover, observance of discipline generates a habit of rule-following which is a necessary condition of civilized life. Every student is free to move from one school to another, provided he fulfils the criteria of admission in the latter. This practice, not very common in the country, mostly because of economic and linguistic considerations, if made feasible, will increase social mobility and facilitate cultural and national integration.

      What I intend to show is that such values as punctuality, equality, sense of justice, awareness of rights, respect for discipline, expression of resentment against injustice in a disciplined manner, interest in the pursuit of knowledge, etc. are ingrained in the very nature of an educational practice conducted in a normal, routine, manner, provided, of course, that each segment of it performs its routine honestly and to the best of its ability. The latter is a big proviso but it is a proviso for any practice. Even when we introduce a separate stream of value inculcations, if the personnel in charge of it do not do their

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

routine work well, the stream may itself get muddied, or ultimately dry up. There are four segments of the personnel involved in the implementation of an educational practice: students, supporting staff, teachers, and the society outside the school campus. The first three come under the control of the school administration, and, therefore, the school management can do something to make them cooperative. But the fourth one, the society from which the other three groups come, has also to be cooperative and interested in helping the school to run its affairs according to its schedule. This means that there has to be a good, regular, liaison between the school and the society it is housed in.

      A word to some of my co-professionals, the philosophers, who see a serious problem, posed by philosophical controversies about some important issues in value-theory, in the way of their presenting a concrete proposal for making education value-oriented. Value-theorists are still debating whether values are subjective, objective, relational, absolute, or relative, etc. whether value judgments are descriptive, emotive, or prescriptive etc., whether or not there is any primary value, and if there is, which value is primary and which is secondary, etc., etc. Unless these debates are settled—and there does not seem to be a chance of their being settled in the near future—we cannot prepare, they say, a scheme of value-inculcation, or plead for inculcating this or that value, through an educational programme. This is a gross misunderstanding of the nature of philosophical theories of value and of philosophical disagreement. The disagreeing theories do not question the importance of a value, or the importance of value-inculcation. They present different, alternative, accounts, plans for comprehending, or analyses, of our discourse about values. To use disagreements among them as a ground for. suspending all attempts to prepare a concrete plan for enabling our educational practice to perform its natural role of value-inculcation is like using philosophical disagreements about the correct analysis of visual perception for suspending the activity of seeing anything until disagreeing epistemologists sort out their differences. Those who think this way forget that a philosophical theory operates on a level different from the level on which an activity like inculcating a value, or perceiving a thing, does. An educational practice is naturally predisposed to inculcate some values, positive or negative. Therefore, we cannot afford to be indifferent to the way it is anytime conducted. It is the kitchen, which cooks the food for, which everyone, even he who is called uneducated, eats. Therefore, a society, not keen to die because of malnutrition or ill-nutrition, cannot afford to neglect the proper running of this kitchen. To conclude, What I want to

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

emphasize cannot be stated in a better way than by quoting the following words of The Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram.1

Do not pretend—be

Do not promise—act

Do not dream—realize

      * * *

1. India the Mother, A Selection from Mother's Words (Institut de Recherches Evolutives, Paris & Mira Aditi, Mysore), p. 119

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session




Learning and education are a journey from the darkness to light, from the ephemeral to the durable, from the perishable to the imperishable. Learning is elicitative, evocative and inspirational. Education is enlightenment, attainment and accomplishment. Education is edification much more than erudition. Learning is a delightful adventure into the world of ideas and ideals. Learning is an elevating process of self-transformation. The learned is enlightened in thought and action, in attitude and disposition, full of love for all—every thing and being of this seamless universe.



Mulya, which is ordinarily said to be value in English language, is, literally speaking, what is to be obtained from mula root, or source. Whether in the context of learning or in some other related contexts to get to the root [without remaining contented with the superfinal view] of an issue is both difficult and rewarding. When the concerned issue pertains to human beings the dedicated enterprise (sadhana) required to get to root proves even more difficult and even more rewarding. To get to the root of a thing, as distinguished from that of being, is, though cognitively instructively, is not always morally elevating.

      Broadly speaking, while Science, in general, or Physics, in particular, is concerned with the world of things. Ethics (dharma) is, linguistically traceable to Grk.ethikos, [time-tested] custom, Sanskrit svadha [essential indwelling or self] and concerned with beings. But this thing/being discourse in English language smacks of a kind of dualism, as if suggesting that the world of thing is perhaps devoid of value. But if one enters into the heart of discourse via the Sanskrit-rooted languages, one easily realizes that this dualism is false and that the root (mula) of both thing and being is identical. Things also have their being, potentiality, ordharma. Even the basic elements of the physical worlds like water, fire have their svadharma or muladharma. For example, water flows downstream, quenches thirst etc., and fire burns (dahika sakti), gives heat (tapa) etc. The svadharma or muladharma of human beings, one may say, is spirituality (adhayatmikata). Manusya-atma is said to be jyotirmaya (luminous,

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

bright and obviously fire-rooted). It is evident from the bodily nature of all living beings that it requires more or less temperature (tapas) to sustain itself. The English word, spirit, is also derived from a heat—or temperature— related Latin word spiritus, which means breath, breathing. As we know, breathing imparts heat to body, i.e., tapas-sancaraka, keeping the psychosomatic system living. Inhalation and exhalation are the main two forms of breathing or heating. The exposure of any living system to, and its assimilation from, the light of immediate environment and its deep and distant sources is a veritable sort of yoga as well as tapas.



The natural view of moral education, which has its different forms, is very old but has its forceful contemporary exponents. The essence of this view may be put in this way. The world of things and the world of beings are natural in a very important sense. The essential properties of natural world, through laws of evolution,vivarta (modification) or parinama (emergence), develop and reappear, first, in the biological world. In the course of further evolution, enriched development becomes further manifest in the psychological or human development. The process of this development, continuous or marked by "unpredictable" emergence, is claimed to be essentially natural. The philosophical defenders of this view, though recognize purely for an analytic purpose a distinction between Nature (Prakrti)and Supernature (Paraprakrti) maintains telos(purpose or end) is common to all the levels of reality.

      Given this view, the theory of moral education, which emerges is teleologi-cal or purpose-oriented and spontaneous, i.e., characterized by a process, which is internally impelled and without external compulsion. Human beings become learner and can continue to learn due to their very native inclinations and motivations(vrttis and pravrttis). They do not need external or unnatural intervention from without. This spontaneous theory of learning emphasizes the necessity of allowing all learners, in general, and children, in particular, to follow their own natural light or tendency. Negatively speaking, this view strongly discourages unnecessary or excessive institutional intervention in the process of learning. Too much of rules and regulations, social do's and don'ts, tend to impede, rather than encourage, the natural educational development of the children.

      This view is found in the Vedic-Vedantic tradition of India, Aristotle and Plato of the Hellenic era. According to Plato's view, all learning and knowing

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

are recollection and recognition of the immortal traces in the soul which humans carry in themselves right from the beginning of their life. Aristotle speaks of telosworking at every level of reality—physical, biological, psychological and the beyond. But both Plato and Aristotle have a steady train of arguments in their works to the effect that what flows out of innate disposition or te/os-impelled development needs to be brought in line with the social requirements for a rational and just civil order.

      From the classical Hellenic tradition to the modern Kantian-Rawlsian position one finds this dual demands of natural development and institutional intervention for establishment of a just social order. Neither innate universalism nor institutional guidance in isolation seems to be able to provide necessary and sufficient conditions for ideal education or learning. But their combined contribution, it is argued, can possibly ensure the best way of learning.

      Among the most notable western thinkers on education in the modern period, the philosopher who has strongly emphasized the importance of the natural mode of education is Rousseau. In his book Emile (1762) he argues that the best form of education is what comes us from the nature within and around us. The learner morally develops from within, from innate seed, provided, of course, appropriate external and institutional conditions are made available to him. Though he emphasis is on naturalism or innatism, he does not deny the role of institutional circumstances and intervention. It is from this aspect of his thought, besides his version of the Social Contract Theory, that he high priests of the French Revolution drew their inspiration.

      Traces of developmental approach to moral education are evident in the writings of educational psychologists like Jean Piaget and L. Kohlbarg. Unlike Rousseau's their main concern seems to be with the characteristics and stages of moral judgements of children, not their development as such.



The received approach to value-education both in India and the west has been influenced by the consideration of desacara and lokariti, customs and uses of the country, and the norms and the virtues accepted by the people. In the Western tradition there are two main types of approach to values in general, and value-education in particular. While one tradition is basically concerned with different norms or ideals of moral action, the other attaches more importance to the virtues of human life and the ways in which those virtues can

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

be attained. Each of these approaches has several types within it. Strictly speaking, Normative Ethics and Virtue Ethics, except for analytic or pedagogic purpose, need not be sharply demarcated. Virtues cannot be attained without following some rules and regulations, which are basically normative in character. The moral question of the relation between end and means comes up here. Can end, morally speaking, justify means? The limits of pragmatism are to be recalled.

      In the Indian tradition the distinction between the said two purposes of the Western Ethics has never been a major concern. It is because of the fact that most of the Indian systems of thought do not draw a fundamental line of demarcation between theoretical reason and practical reason. All "reasons" are practical (in a very important way). Correctly speaking, the Indian traditional thought is more concerned with experience than with reason. That explains why in Indian thought there is no recognized distinction between Rationalism and Empiricism. The absence of cognitive dualism has facilitated in India an integral approach to all issues, including the issues of values and virtues, in particular. The leading Indian thinkers affirm that knowing is not only a truth-seeking enterprise (sadhana) but also an engagement with virtue-realization. In other words, to try to know is itself an act of virtue. Knowing is moving to the sphere of Light, leaving that of darkness or ignorance behind. Knowing is a tapasya for the life of immortality, beyond everything which is perishable and mortal.

      The point may be clearly explicated by reference to the doctrine of purusarthas, dharma, artha, kama and moksa. Rightly understood, each one of thesepurusarthas is both value and virtue, value to be realized or attained for a virtuous life. Dharma is an inner potentiality, which if followed and developed, not only keeps humans away from wrong-doing but also promotes whatever is good and right in them and imparts excellence to their character. Artha does not necessarily mean money (as we understand it today). In addition to its monetary connotation, artha implies meaning or meaningful-ness. The ideal life must be meaningful. In the Catholic and broad spectrum of Indian values kama also finds a place of honour. The psychosomatic integrality of human nature has been duly recognized here. If body suffers starvation, illness or injury, it cannot extend its supportive role to the self for realization its highest reaches. Somatic starvation, non-fulfilment of the needs and desires of the body not only gives rise to poverty-related debasement of the individual human beings in their life but also makes social psyche sick, entailing civilizational discontent.

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

 When humans follow the path of dharma succeeds in finding meaning in and of it, and starts becoming more and more free from poverty and illness, they become really free in whatever way we describe it, in terms of moksa, sayujya, salokya or nirvana. To put the matter from other end, while austerity as value has been recognized but its ascetic form and overtone has not met with the general approval of the mainstream Indian thought.

      All human beings, be they young learners or adult seeker of values, are always engaged in the search of purusarthas.



It is interesting to study the relation between purusarthas as value and the highest recognized values as satyam, sivam, sundaram.

      Satya stands for true, real, actual and genuine, sincere, honest, truthful, faithful, virtuous, good, successful, valid and their cognates. Clearly these nominal or adjectival forms of satya are value-impregnated. It is also name of Visnu the supreme lord.

      Siva means the God who in whom all things lie. It connotes auspicious, propitious, gracious, favourable, benign, kind, benevolent, friendly, dear, happy and fortunate. In the Hindu pantheon we find three main Gods, Trimurti, Brahma (Creator), Visnu (Preserver) and Maheswara (Destroyer). Siva is symbolic not only of destruction but also of reproduction. At times Siva has been referred to in the Epics and Puranas as Supreme God having in him all the powers of creation, destruction and regeneration. Also He is claimed to be the symbol of Status (sthiti). In contrast His wife variously named Parvati, Durga and Kali are symbolic of the Dynamic (gati) principle.

      Sundara connotes beautiful, handsome, lovely, charming, agreeable and noble. The philologists presume that this word is derived from Su-nara-handsome or beautiful man. The letter d seems to be a subsequent phonetic insertion between Su'd and nara. Monier-Williams refers to the Greek word andros derived fromaner. Semantic affinity of the word between sundara and andros is notable in this connection.

      In order to understand the spiritual root (mula) of different theories of value ontological, ethical and aesthetic one may profitably look into the inner meanings of the terms like Brahma, Visnu and Mahesvara. The intended meaning of all these words are traceable to Brhat and Mahat, vast, immense, all-pervasive, cosmic etc. Philosophically speaking, Self and the highest

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

reality, Brahma, Visnu or Maheswara, by whatever name it is referred to, are identical at bottom. True, this view of Self-Reality identity is not shared alike by all thinkers.

      The point, which intrigues any axiologist, theorist of value, is this: what is Absolute or all-pervasive is appearing alternative ways as Truth, as all-containing Status, as Beautiful. Admittedly the Supreme Reality may be credited to have its many aspects. At times these aspects are described as Gunas. The Highest Reality has been conceived both as Absolute, or qualityless( nirguna), and as qualified (gunas). To its later form is attributed ananta vibhuti, infinite powers.

      It is pertinent to remember here that according to some philosophers of the absolutist persuasion the ultimate reality itself is not value and that it is the root or source (mula) of all values. This view is associated with the idea that the ultimate reality in its intrinsic nature is impersonal, i.e. beyond any representation, which is admirable and worshippable.

      It is obvious that the highest values is not the only human values. There are many other secondary and tertiary values, which are reviewable under the above values. Dhana (deserved money, property or prize), yasas (honour, glory and renown), manaor sammana, fame, and khyati, (opinion, view, declaration and assertion) are among the worldly values. When they counted as worldly values one must not forget that these do have transcendental, mediate and self-exceeding implications. For example, honour, splendor and fame of a person spread beyond his immediate context. Often they outlive the life of the person in question.

      Other very important human values are (i) knowledge, (ii) right conduct, (iii) goodwill, (iv) sacrifice, (v) self-effacement and (vi) self-control. All these values have two sides—substantive and instrumental. Value-in-use or value-in-exchange, generally speaking, presuppose the existence of values on their own right. The realist and cognitivist theories of value assert that values like Good and Right are there on their own Right, irrespective of their being appreciated, understood or recognized, and followed or cultivated.

      These theories are not much in vogue in the Indian tradition. Because this tradition lays main emphasis on experience or consciousness of Value. This is not to suggest that the Vedanta or Nyaya are emotivist or attributivist in their approach to value. On the contrary they favour an approach which affirms that sense of valuecan be evoked in the rightly developed human nature, provided the concerned values have appropriate and objective properties in them. In other words, the primacy of ontology in axiological theories of India

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

is widespread. The Indian empiricists, unlike their Euro-American counterparts, are not phenomenalist, but objectivist, if not realist, in their axiological discourse.



Learning is itself a value. Learning is the process of acquiring knowledge, skill, valued dispositions etc. from the learner's point of view. Education is the word often used from the teacher's or educator's standpoint. Rightly speaking, one cannot be good teacher or educator unless one oneself is a perpetual learner. Openness to learning, learning new things, new ideas, etc. is a sign of good teacher. If the teacher always arrogates to himself the position or status of a teacher forgetting that he is also, perhaps more so, a learner, he cannot attain highest excellence in his practice. Unless one teaches oneself by and through the endless process of self-teaching, how can one be a good teacher? The good teacher is required to instill both in himself and in the pupils he teaches an enquiring and adventurous spirit.

      It seems to me that the best way of both teaching and learning is to be intimately familiar with the lives of great teachers, researchers and learners. Those who prove good learners in their life time prove to be great teachers of the humankind.

      When the great learners or the teachers of the humankind are not available to the learner at present, the latter would be well advised to read their lives, to hear of their lives from the informed authority. Knowing by examples prove to be more effective and inspiring than knowing from abstract principles, however lofty they might be.

      Introducing themselves as learners, the good teacher, succeed in presenting convincingly to the students the life stories of great persons in their concreteness. The method of teaching by citing examples turns out to be very efficacious.

      When, for example, Gandhi says "my life is my message", he may initially appear to be a proud person but in fact what he means is very modest. Because, in our writing or public utterances we are often found to be discharging an assumed role. But in all stages of our life, in all our actions and utterances we cannot be consistently pretender. Our life, as ordinarily lived, i.e., when it flows spontaneously, disclosing our inner nature, then our identity as available to others is genuine and authentic. It may be recalled that many teachers of the humankind, the great spiritual leaders, artists, scientists and thinkers, inspire us not so much by their style and content as by their veritable ways of life and living.

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session


      1. Fundamental Unity of India, R.K. Mookerji.

      2. History of Indian Literature, Vol. 1, Winternitz.

      3. Rig-Veda Samhita (Translated by R.C. Dutt).

      4. Life in Ancient India, P.T. Srinivasa Iyengar.

      5. Vinaya Texts, Rhys Davids and Oldenberg.

      6. Social Life in Ancient India, S. Chattopadhyaya.

      7. Hymns of the Tamil Saivite Saints, Kingsbury and Phillips.

      8. Studies in Tamil Literature and History, Dikshitar.

      9. Plato (390s-350s BC) Complete Works, ed. J. Cooper, Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company, 1996. (The Dialogues of most direct relevance are the Euthydemus, Protagoras, Meno,

          Gorgias, Symposium, Republic, Theaetetus and Laws).

     10. Emile (1762), (or On Education), trans. A. Bloom, New York: Basic Books, 1979. (Rousseau's principal work on education).

     11. Bailin, S. (1988) 'AchievingExtraordinary Ends An Essay on Creativity, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

     12. Cooper.D.E. (1986) Education, Values and Mind.'Essays for R.S. Peters, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. (Provides a good picture of Peter's formative role in the field and a bibliography of his work.)

     13. Frankena, W. (1965) Philosophy of Education, New York: Macmillan. (An account of the structure of a philosophy of education derived from J. S. Mill, and a sampling of twentieth-century theories).

     14. Kaminsky.J. S. (1993) A New History of Educational Philosophy, London : Greenwood Press. (A controversial but informative history of educational philosophy as a field of study in the education schools of Australasia, the UK and the USA).

     15. Passmore.J. (1980) The Philosophy of Teaching, London: Duckworth. (A comprehensive philosophy of pedagogy).

     16. Peters, R.S. (1966) Ethics and Education, London: Allen & Unwin. (Major statement of his early view, progressively modified in later works).

     17. Siegel, E. (1988) Educating Reason: Rationality, Critical Thinking and Education, New York: Routledge (Referred to in 3. An important account of critical thinking as a goal of education).

      *    *   *

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session


      M.K. KAW

The current debate on Value Education has raised several issues, which need to be directly addressed, if we have to make real progress in the programme of introducing value education into the educational curriculum of our country.

      First, the fundamental question of whether value education is required at all in a modern state. There are those who argue that modern life is based on science and technology, and both are value-neutral. The world is progressing fast without any values. Values are a bugbear held out by people living in the past, glued to outdated religious principles that have no relevance to the 21st century.

      Today it is not important that a young man should obey his elders. It is more important that he disobeys his elders and have the courage to launch out in a new direction. We need leaders, winners, iconoclasts, innovators. They have to be intelligent, smart, specialized and hard-nosed practical men, who can compete in today's cutthroat world. It is no use teaching them to be good, patient, submissive, cooperative, loving, non-violent and compassionate. They will just be steamrollered by the harsh forces of history.

      This is an important question and cannot be brushed under the carpet. We have to clearly understand why we need value education in today's world.

      I think that we have to begin by confessing that value education would not help a young man of today to be more successful, if success is assessed purely in terms of his ruthlessness in the pursuit of personal goals. In fact, we should accept that the violent, non-compassionate, totally mercenary and single-pointed chase of the glittering prizes of worldly life does not need any values. It is basic to the primitive, primordial man with his highly egotistical, animal instincts.

      Value education is also not required if we are complacently happy about today's world and judge progress only in terms of bigger and more profitable versions of what we already have. For example, if the level of per capita consumption of the world's resources is considered to be a reliable index of the economic advancement of a country, it will make progress only if its citizens consume more than they are doing at present. It would be irrelevant that 50% of the marriages in that country end in divorce as the quality of family life is not a factor in the calculations of national prosperity.

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

A moment's consideration would also show that values, which stem from secular sources like the Constitution of a country or the Renaissance or the French Revolution or the Communist Revolution or the Internet Revolution are transient and temporary, and change with the times. The only values that have stood the test of time and are held dear by most people around the world are the ones that emanate from the great spiritual traditions.

      That is why it is important that value education be seen in its real form as the vehicle by which the rich spiritual traditions of humanity are restated, reinterpreted and reformulated for each succeeding generation of human beings. Value education cannot, in my view, be secular alone. It has to be spiritual in the largest sense of the word that encompasses both the sacred and the secular.

      One of the main reasons why humanity is in a big mess today is the reluctance on the part of philosophers to look at the big picture in the light of all the knowledge that is now available in the natural and social sciences and in the spiritual and mystic realm. The Theory of Everything, which scientists seek in vain, can never be grasped by natural scientists working alone. Philosophy has to wear the mantle of holistic, integrated thinking and give to a benighted world a modern, universally acceptable philosophy of living.

      Such a philosophy will have to fulfil certain criteria, if it is to be acceptable to all reasonable people of the world. I would emphasize the following important ones :

      * It shall concern itself primarily with the affairs of living and not what happens after death;

      * It should teach a person about the real nature of the individual and Nature;

      * It should demonstrate that all life is a play of consciousness with itself.

      * It should relate the evolution of living species to the movement of conscious life towards increasingly higher levels of awareness;

      * It should declare the purpose of each life to be the realization of the divine potential in the personality;

      * It should teach each person the art of dynamic equilibrium, so that he never tends to extremes, but trends the middle;

      * Itshould teach us to train our mind so thatwe always live in the present;

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

 *It should teach us to exert our utmost to achieve our objectives as if everything depended on our efforts, yet simultaneously also realize that all events are divinely ordained;

      *It should make us take life as it comes, accept whatever comes as a gift from the divine and remain in a state of equipoise under all circumstances;

      *It should help us to be steadfast in our views, but not claim exclusive truth for our doctrines, to be ready to accept alternative versions of the eternal truth as equally valid assertions, and not seek to compel anyone to accept any single version of the truth;

      *And finally, it should not run counter to the modern doctrines of science, gender parity, liberty, equality and fraternity, human rights and the like.

      I am sure that if right thinking people professing different faiths sit together in an atmosphere of mutual trust, with the one-point agenda that they have to write down a common spiritual code for humanity based on the original teachings of all the great world teachers, the task is not unachievable. It is my fervent plea that the task should be attempted.

      I am glad that the Indian Council of Philosophical Research has taken up the challenge of placing philosophy back on the pedestal where it has always belonged, by relating it to the everyday concerns of the common people. It is only when philosophy is seen to be useful that it will attain its rightful place and truly become the fountainhead of wisdom.

      Thank You, Jai Hind.

*    *  *

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session





Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

I am thankful to Prof. Kireet Joshi, Chairman, Indian Council of Philosophical Research for giving me this opportunity to address this august gathering of eminent educationists, philosophers, and thinkers. I congratulate ICPR for taking lead in initiating an informed debate in the country about the need of value education in universities, colleges and other centres of higher education including technical institutions. I feel as being out of place in this intellectually rich gathering of thinkers and philosophers who will be engaged over the next three days in discussing the educational philosophy of Indian thinkers and the vision of value education for the next generation of Indians, which is presently in schools and colleges.

      The founder of Jamia Hamdard, The late Hakeem Abdul Hameed, was a visionary and thinker who dreamt of establishing a complex of educational institutions, even during the tumultuous period of India's independence. He set up the Indian Institute of Islamic Studies and the Institute for History of Medicine and Medical Research to carry out researches about the impact of Islam on Indian society as well as effect of Indian society on Islam. It is a tribute to the accommodating spirit of Indian ethos that Islam that came from Arabia did not remain a "foreign" religion and developed a unique Indian flavor, which may not appeal to some puritans but inspires common Indian Muslims immensely. This unique intermingling of Hinduism and Islam led to the development of Bhakti and Tasawwuf, which have affected the hearts and minds of millions of Indians in the last few centuries. This intermingling has also been reflected in art and architecture, music and paintings, poetry and philosophy and in almost all walks of human life.

      The interaction between Hindus and Muslims has affected them in so many diverse ways that a new culture—GangaJamuni Tehzeeb—was born. Hindi and Urdu, both are products of this interaction. Amir Khusro (1255-1325 AD) was a disciple of Nizamuddin Aulia and was the first poet of Khari Boli from, which the twin sisters, Hindi and Urdu have developed. It is said that he wrote one lakh stanzas consisting of Paheliyan, do sukhna, mukarnian, savnias etc. His genius that expressed itself in poetry, music and thought has survived for 750

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

years and many of his poems are sung even today. He was a musician, mystic, artist, and above all a devoted pupil of a great teacher, Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia. He invented Dholak in place of Pakhawaj. He made Sitar in place of Beena. He's credited with having developed for the first time six new modes of music i.e. Qaul. Qalbane, Naqsh, Gul, Tarana, and Kheyal. It's inconceivable that the genius of Amir Khursro will not be a part of syllabus of value education for our next generation.

      Introduction of value education as a subject in universities and institutions of higher education has been a subject of intense debate in the last two years. Now that the dust has setded and several institutions have already initiated modules on value education, it's worthwhile to share our ideas and experiences in a dispassionate manner. We, in Jamia Hamdard, have also initiated a course on value education. Since Jamia Hamdard offers mainly professional courses and our students are very busy in attending theory and practical classes, it decided to follow the seminar mode for value education. In these seminars, we invite eminent personalities for lectures and interaction with the students. Our syllabus includes lectures and discussions on relationship between the Creator and His creation, the concept of right path, the basic human values of honesty, truthfulness, tolerancejustice, chastity, generosity, forgiveness, gratitude, duty consciousness, straightforwardness, patience, stead fastness, modesty, hospitality, moderation and balance etc. We have also included values relating to family life like rights and duties of parents, children, spouse and neighbour, respect for elders and affection for the young and benevolence towards the relatives, the poor, the orphans and the way farers. We also proposed to expose our students to important reform movements of 18th and 19th century India. They will also be exposed to the educational contributions of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan whose vision for participation of Muslims in modern education is almost singularly responsible for educational renaissance of Indian Muslims. Hakeem Abdul Hameed also continued this mission of Sir Syed and Jamia Hamdard is a product of the same movement.

      In our institution, we realize the importance of dialogue between students of different faiths. We understand the desirability of continuous effort to gain knowledge about each other's faith and philosophy of life. We want our students to realize that there is a common thread that joins different beads representing different religions. In fact, both Hinduism and Islam teach their followers to invoke the blessings of the "Great One" or "Allah" when they begin their education. This is evident from the prayers that the Hindu pupils used to recite in ancient India; it can also be seen in the prayer with which the Holy

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

Quran begins. Thus, a devoted scholar of Upanishads in ancient India was required to say the following prayer before beginning his study:

      "May my limb (Anga), organs of speech (Vanya), vitality (Prana), eyes (Chankhus), ears (Srotra), strength (Vala) and all other organs (Indriyas) be nourished and perfected; all these are means to the realization of the Infinite. May I not deny the Great One and may not the Great One forsake me. May I acquire those virtues which reside in a person devoted to Upanishad studies." Besides being a supplication to the "Great One" this prayer also proves that the aim of education was to satisfy man's desire for knowledge by keeping in view the varied elements of human nature so that a student could develop an integrated personality and be at peace with himself and the environment around him. Another famous prayer for a student of ancient India was:

      "Lead me from the unreal to the real! Lead me from darkness to light! Lead me from death to immortality!"

      The first prayer of the Holy Quran, Al-Fatihah, also has similar sentiments:

      In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the worlds: The Beneficent, the Merciful:

      Thee (alone) we worship; thee (alone) we ask for help. Show us the straight path:

      The path of those whom You have favoured, Not (the path) of those who earn Your anger, nor of those who go astray."

      Both the prayers acknowledge the greatness of God Almighty and seek His benevolence; likewise both acknowledge that He alone can be a source of knowledge. The Upanishads can be dated from the seventh or fifth century B.C. They mark a pleasant break from the ritualism of early Vedic period. Here a tribute must be paid to the spirit of inquiry of medieval ages, and also to the efforts of Prince Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of Emperor Shah Jahan that introduced Upanishads to the outside world. He came to know about them in Kashmir in 1640. With the help of Sanskrit Scholars of Benares, he translated them mw Persian during 1656-1657. However the European Scholars took more than 100 years to translate them into French and Latin.

Educational Philosophy in Ancient India

      The most important value in ancient India, in the words of Professor Humayun Kabir, was"liberation of individual from bondage of evil." It was believed that education will achieve freedom from ignorance. Since evil was

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

thought to originate from ignorance, it was rightly believed that education will ensure man's emancipation from it. Intense questioning of teachers on all aspects of human life was the high point of educational methodology. Nothing was sacrosanct; everything could be questioned. It is a pity that this freedom to acquire knowledge and ask questions was not available to all sections of society; and over a period of time, learning by submission to authority became the dominant norm. Also acquisition of knowledge was denied to large sections of population whose intellectual deterioration was thus a forgone conclusion. It is only in tile modern age, specially after the country's independence that these sections of our population have taken to acquiring knowledge and it is our earnest hope that this will lead to their educational renaissance.

      Like Hinduism, Islam has also put a great deal of emphasis on knowledge.

      The first verses that were revealed to the Prophet (PBUH) are about learning, reading and writing. Says the Holy Quran:

      Read :          In the name of your Lord who created,

                          Created man from a clot.

      Read:           and your Lord is the Most Bounteous,

                          Who taught by the pen,

                          Taught man that, which he knew not.

      Acquisition of knowledge, thus, has been an integral part of Islam. The Arabs, who were not known for their knowledge, wisdom, value and intellectual prowess, broke the shackles of ignorance and spread far and wide in the then known world. They laid the foundations of modern world by acquiring knowledge from different parts of the world. They learnt sciences and mathematics of India, philosophy of Greece, jurisprudence of the Romans and the Jewish traditions of morality. Like the ancient Hindus, the Arab Muslims also could not continue with the Islamic spirit of acquiring knowledge from all the sources. Their 'decline' became inevitable when they gave more importance to 'taqlid'—acquiescence—than to free spirit of inquiry. Perhaps the need of the hour, both for Hindus and Muslims, the two major communities of India, is to realize the significance that their religions attach to acquisition of knowledge.

Value Education in Universities

      In the ongoing debate on the desirability of introducing value education in universities, and professional institutions, I would like to say that there's a broad consensus about the need of imparting common moral values to our

Inaugural Session

Inaugural Session

young generations, so as to enable our young men and women to grow into humane personalities transcending sectarian, castiest, communal, regional and linguistic barriers which have been the bane of Indian society for a long time. There's also a near consensus for a comprehensive approach to value education rather than a fragmented approach under which a variety of topics are discussed without a common thread joining them. In a plural society like India it's important that there's better understanding of religious beliefs, philosophy and faith of one another. In my own experience, I have seen that many of my Muslim friends know nothing or know little about the significance of 'Navratra' or 'Shradh' or even sometimes Holi and Diwali. Similarly many of my Hindu friends get no opportunity to learn about the importance of Ramzan or the significance of Eidul Fitr and Eidul-Azha. Many of them have no idea of the 'Haji' also. Very few are aware of the historical importance of sacrifice of Hazrat Imam Hussain at Karbala and the way in which this incidence effects the psyche of a common Muslim, especially if he happens to be a Shia. Similarly very few of my Muslim and Hindu friends have any idea of the Easter's importance to a Christian.

      The point that I am trying to make or impress upon you is that despite being a plural society, despite being neighbours for centuries, despite having so many linkages and networks that consciously or unconsciously bind us together, we are a divided house and know little about each other's rituals, traditions and faiths. It is as we are living in the same house but are separated by walls of mutual ignorance:

And we are to blame but ourselves, because we have erected these walls of ignorance. It needs no emphasis that these walls have to fall if we are to ensure a brighter, healthier and prosperous future to die coming generations.

      Values and ethics of all religions have striking similarities. The reason perhaps, is that man is good by nature. He likes to be good, to himself and to others. Similarly he abhors evil and wants to save others from its devastating effect. This explains why most human values are universal; why truthfulness is appreciated or why speaking a lie is condemned in all religions, traditions and civilizations. The universality of values should become a source of strength for mankind. Also this should become a part and parcel of higher education as well as a guiding principle for our life and a beacon for our youth so that they become capable of creating a balance between materialism and spirituality.

      * * *

Inaugural Session

Back to Content