ADDRESS AT THE INAUGURATION OF THE NATIONAL CONVENTION ON HUMAN VALUES IN EDUCATION THROUGH JEEVAN VIDYA, IIT, NEW DELHI
22-05-2007 : New Delhi
Evolution of enlightened citizens
"An Honest man is the Noblest Work of God"
I am delighted to participate in the National Convention on Human Values in Education through Jeevan Vidya organized by IIT Kanpur and IIIT, Hyderabad. It is inspiring to find that Professors from institutions like IIT Kanpur, IIIT Hyderabad and NIT Raipur are laying emphasis on integrating value based education as part of the total education system. Spreading of this movement in all the institutions in the country will certainly facilitate creation of an enlightened society. My greetings to faculty members, practitioners of Jeevan Vidya, organizers, students and other distinguished guests. During the last few years, many citizens from India and abroad have expressed the need of intensifying the promotion of value systems as a part of education. I have come across many good minds working on our youth through a value based education system. Jeevan Vidya is a unique effort in this direction. I am glad that you are taking up education with value system as the major subject of discussion in your convention today. When I am with you I have chosen the topic "Evolution of Enlightened Citizens" for discussion.
Jeevan Vidya experience: Jeevan Vidya pioneered by Sri. Nagaraj-ji and propagated by Prof Ganesh Bagaria, IIT, Kanpur, Prof Rajeev Sangal, Director IIIT (Hyderabad) and their teams. This scheme is concerned about addressing the basic causes of major problems of violence, corruption, exploitation, domination, terrorism and war. It has been found that violent and anti-social behaviour, unless dealt with intensive care and with professionalism, could aggravate the extreme behaviour. I understand Jeevan Vidya is a "teachable human value based skill" that can address inherent conflicts within the mind of the individual, within families, in organizations and in public life. Inner conflict is the very essence of violence.
Jeevan Vidya develops tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty in human conduct by enabling self-knowledge that understands harmony in the self and in the entire existence. The experts could bring about marked change even among the inmates of jails through the use of these techniques.
It has been found by imparting Jeevan Vidya skills it would be possible to reduce the overall period of secondary education from 25,000 hours of teaching to less than 20,000 hours, since the children become more responsible and productivity conscious. These experiments can be outreached to influence many people by developing networks using ICT through our educational system that needs to pay increasing attention to this aspect of human development.
This process of imparting self-knowledge would promote a learning atmosphere, where this whole movement of inquiry into knowledge, into oneself, into the possibility of something beyond knowledge would bring about naturally a psychological revolution. From this comes inevitably a totally different order in human relationship and therefore society as a whole. The intelligent understanding of this process itself can bring about a profound change in the consciousness of mankind.
Conscience is the light of the Soul that burns within the chambers of our psychological heart. It is as real as life is. It raises the voice in protest whenever anything is thought of or done contrary to the righteousness. Conscience is a form of truth that has been transferred through our genetic stock in the form of the knowledge of our own acts and feelings as right or wrong.
Conscience is also a great ledger where our offences are booked and registered. It is a terrible witness. It threatens, promises, rewards and punishes, keeping all under its control. If conscience stings once, it is an admonition, if twice, it a condemnation. Cowardice asks, "Is it safe?" Greed asks, "Is there any gain in it?" Vanity asks, "Can I become great?" Lust asks. "Is there pleasure in it?" But conscience asks, "Is it right?" Why have we become deaf to its voice? Insensitive to its pricks? Callous to its criticism? The result is Corruption.
Corruption is an assault on consciousness. The habit of taking bribes and seeking favours has become very common. People holding important positions are inconsiderate to their conscience. They pretend everything is all right. Do not they have idea of the law of action and reaction? Have they forgotten how impressions of the subconscious mind and their force work? If you take bribes, your thoughts and actions are registered in the subconscious mind. Will you not be carrying forward your dishonesty to your next generations causing them great suffering? It is a painful reality that corruption has become a way of life affecting all aspects of living, personal as well as social. As said by Alexander Pope ?An Honest man is the Noblest Work of God?. Can value based education lead to Honesty?. When I was studying the Jeevan Vidya programme, certain events come to my mind which reveals the practical philosophy of life. I would like to share some of the events with you. Can the impedance of these events be matched with the teachings of Jeevan Vidya.
Unity of Minds
I was studying the classic "Dialogues of Plato", written 2400 years ago, where Plato brings out "our aim in founding the State was not the disproportionate happiness of any one class, but the greatest happiness of the society as a whole". Similarly, Almost the same period, Tamil poet Saint Thiruvalluvar said,
That is, "the important elements that constitute a nation are: being disease free; wealth; high productivity; harmonious living and strong defence". We have to find how we can provide all these elements to all the citizens of the nation on an equitable basis for happiness for all. This may result in an extremism free world, a peaceful world. I would like to first discuss with you my personal experience in exploring what brings happiness to the human beings.
Tawang message: During the year 2003, in the beautiful Arunachal Pradesh, I visited a Buddhist monastry at Tawang 3500 m. altitude. I stayed and spent some time nearly for a day. I observed a unique situation in all the villages nearby where young and experienced were all radiating happiness in spite of severe winter environment. Then, I visited the 400 years old Tawang monastery itself and there also I saw monks of all age groups in a state of serenity. I was asking myself what is the unique feature of Tawang and surrounding villages which makes people and monks to be at peace with themselves. When the time came, I asked the Chief Monk, how in Tawang villages and monastry, I am experiencing peace and happiness being radiated by everyone. There was a pause, the chief monk smiled. He said, "You are the President of India. You will be knowing all about us and the whole nation. Again I said, "It is very important for me, you please give me your thoughtful analysis".
There was a beautiful golden image of Lord Buddha radiating smile and peace. The Chief Monk assembled nearby all his nearly 100 young and experienced monks. The Chief Monk and myself were sitting amidst them. The Chief Monk gave a short discourse, which I would like to share with you. Chief Monk said, "In the present world, we have a problem of distrust, unhappiness transforming into violence. This monastery spreads: when you "Remove "I" and "Me" from your mind, you will eliminate ego; if you get rid of ego, hatred towards fellow human beings will vanish; if the hatred goes out of our mind, the violence in thinking and action will disappear; if violence in our mind is taken away, peace springs in human minds. Then peace and peace and peace alone will blossom in the society". I realized the meaning of beautiful equation for peaceful life, but difficult mission for the individual is how to remove the ethos of "I" and "ME". For this, we need the education inculcated in the young age as propagated by Indian philosophers.
Search for truth: In my search for evolving a peaceful and prosperous society, I got part answer. My search for real truth continues. I saw an ancient Christian monastery in Bulgaria, where I had a discussion with highly experienced monks on the message of Tawang. The Monk added that forgiveness is also the foundation of good life. Now coming nearer, in the birth place of Swami Vivekananda, I explained the Tawang experience to the disciples and they too felt the Tawang experience indeed is beautiful and they added "Trait of Giving " will add to peace and happiness. Then I visited Ajmeer Sharif where I participated in the Friday Namaz. Here, the Sufi expert told me that Almighty's creation, the man, has been challenged with another powerful creation of Shaitan. Only good deeds lead to good thinking, good thinking results into actions radiating love as commanded by Almighty.
Dialogue among cultures: I would like to recall one incident which commonly occurs in many parts of our country. I have witnessed this event when I was a young boy (10 yrs). In our house, periodically I used to see three different unique personalities meet. Pakshi Lakshmana Shastrigal, who was the head priest of the famous Rameshwaram temple and a vedic scholar, Rev Father Bodal, who built the first church in Rameshwaram Island and my father who was an Imam in the mosque. All three of them used to sit and discuss the islands problems and find solutions. In addition they built several religious connectivities with compassion. These connectivities quietly spread to others in the island like the fragrance from the flowers. This sight always comes to my mind whenever, I discuss with people on Dialogue of religions. India has had this advantage of integration of minds for thousands of years. Throughout the world, the need to have a frank dialogue among cultures, religions and civilizations has been felt now more than ever.
Mother's advice to Gandhiji: While talking about good deeds, I am reminded of the advice given to Gandhiji by his mother. She says:
"Son, in your entire life time, if you can save or better someone's life, your birth as a human being and your life is a success. You have the blessing of the Almighty God".
A great advice indeed at the right age for the young to have.
Radiating message on Giving: During the 100th birthday of His Holiness Sree Sree Shivakumara Swamiji of Sree Siddaganga Math, Tumkur, Karnataka, - a message of "Giving" came to my mind celebrating his contribution, which I would like to share with you:
"Radiating message on Giving"
"O my fellow citizens,
In giving, you receive happiness,
In Body and Soul.
You have everything to give.
If you have knowledge, share it.
If you have resources, share it with the needy.
Use your mind and heart,
To remove the pain of the suffering,
And, cheer the sad hearts.
In giving, you receive happiness.
Almighty will bless all your actions."
The experiences which I have described above give us insight that human beings can attain lasting peace and happiness only when they rise above their selves and work towards serving others without external temptation. Probably, Jeevan Vidya can lay the foundation of education in the young age for evolving a conflict free, happy life resulting in an attitude of "giving" and "giving". I have come across many incidents where people have, irrespective of their normal professional affiliations, have come forward for great societal missions by giving. Let that tribe multiply.
Conclusion: Righteousness is the beginning
What we need is a conduct of eternal goodness and wholesomeness in human conduct, which is "Righteousness"
As said in a divine hymn:
Where there is righteousness in the heart
There is beauty in the character.
When there is beauty in the character,
There is harmony in the home.
When there is harmony in the home.
There is an order in the nation.
When there is order in the nation,
There is peace in the world.
When we need peace in the world, we need order in the nation; we need harmony in the home. Wherever we may be in the planet Earth, the origin is righteousness in the heart. How do we evolve righteousness, in the hearts of every citizen of the world? Jeevan Vidya programme is one of the unique experiences which can lead to righteousness in every heart leading to the evolution of enlightened society.
With these words, I inaugurate the National Convention on Human Values in Education through Jeevan Vidya and my best wishes to all the participants in their mission of evolving an educational system which will help in the evolution of an enlightened society.
May God bless you.
Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam