Friday, September 4, 2009

Yoga - A way of life

Yoga - A way of life
Dr. Satya Pal Singh
The word Yoga means to join, to yoke, to combine together or to bring together. And hence the term Yoga conveys a sense of union. But union to whom ? It is linking of an individual self to the Higher universal self or the infinite God, which is the source of all the goodness, all bliss and all the knowledge. He is supreme and absolute. But, unless we recognise ourselves - the inner self, how is it possible to go in the closest  proximity of God ?  Yoga also means connecting the individual consciousness with the common, collective or cosmic consciousness.
YOGA is all pervasive in every part of the world. Starting from human body to the ever extending and expanding universe, where there is Yoga, there is addition, there is union, there is bonding, there is birth and a beautiful creation. Where there is no Yoga meaning there is a Viyoga,(separation), there is death and there is dissolution of the universe. But, this is not an occasion to discuss and deliberate on such a comprehensive Yoga, but I will be sharing my ideas, my understanding of the aspect we are generally aware of.
As we all know Yoga is a system dealing with the Science of mental behaviors and control of mind. There are many systems in this country of Yoga. But the Rajyoga expounded by Patanjali stands supreme. In Patanjali' s Yoga Sutras, Yoga has been defined as a Nirodh (inhibition) of the Vrutti (functions) of the Chitta (mind), brought about by practice (abhayasa) and freedom from attachment (vairagya), but English renderings of the technical terms are not very suitable.  (ªÉÉäMɶSÉ ÊSÉiiÉ ´ÉÞÎiiÉ ÊxÉ®úÉävÉ Yogashcha Chitta Vritti Nirodha)
Yoga is a science basically related to inner world. There appears to be so much of tension in our day-to-day life because internally and externally we are not the same. There is no harmony as such. What we teach we don't practice, what we expect from others we do not do to others. We expect others to be honest and spiritual, but inside we are dishonest and much away from spirituality. It gives tension to us and leading to all kinds of bodily and mental disorders. It is the cause of communal disharmony in the society.
As I stated earlier, Yoga is a science of inner world, though it is formally connected to our day-to-day mundane life. It is a science dealing with intangibles and so it is subtle and much more difficult to comprehend. The subject of Yoga is getting increasingly popular and that is not always without risk as it tends to become cheap. So it is absolutely necessary to return to the basics or the fundamentals of the system. Many people claim and complain that they have been practicing Yoga, doing meditation for last many years, but they are yet to have the experience of bliss, or to have the much sought after self-realization.
Yoga is an extremely difficult and profound science to understand and practice. At the same time, the result of the practicing Yoga is unparalleled, the highest attainment, the highest sublimation and the highest achievement. It is a discovery of self. It is self-realization - realizing one's pure self and nature. Who ever does it, he enjoys it but cannot explain it to others. It is an indescribable feat.
VÉÉä =ºÉä ºÉ¨ÉZɱÉäiÉÉ ½èþ ´É½þ ºÉ¨ÉZÉÉ xɽþÓ ºÉEòiÉÉ *
VÉÉä ´É½þÉÄ {ɽÖÄþSÉ VÉÉiÉÉ ½èþ ´É½þ JÉɨÉÉä¶É ®ú½þiÉÉ ½èþ *
Whoever reaches this height the knots of his heart is loosened; all doubts are cut off, all actions cease.
As Mundak Upanishad says-
ʦÉtiÉä ¾þnùªÉ OÉÎxlɶSÉ, ÊqùnùxiÉä ºÉ´ÉÇ ºÉƶɪÉÉ :*
IÉÒªÉxiÉä SÉɺªÉ Eò¨ÉÉÇÊhÉ, iÉκ¨ÉxÉ où¹]äõ {É®úÉ´É®ú :*
Bhidate Hridaya Grinthisch, Chhidante Sarva Sansayaa
Kshiyante Chaasya karmani, tasmin driste praavare :
Such a science is beyond the reach of modem science, beyond the frontiers of measuring fetters and beyond the graduates of today’s education.
To realize such a state is not an easy task. Unfortunately, now-a-days hundreds and thousands of Yoga teachers are available in India alone. But that is why it has become necessary to be doubly cautious to understand the basics.
One can be a scientist of a very high repute without necessarily being a theist or a man of morals. one can be a musician, a professor or a poet either without believing in God and without adhering to His moral code.  Similarly, one can be an engineer or architect of eminence without following the social moralities, but to be a Yogi, the first essential requirement is to follow a moral code. Therefore, the Yoga of Patanjali prerequisites for an ethical conduct in personal or social life, It also takes note of all human shortcomings and weaknesses, but the system is based on the higher moral values.
Let us follow the practice of Yoga in our day-to-day life and remember that there are no short cuts. The first step in the ladder to meditation and super consciousness are Yamas and Niyams. As many would know there are five Yamas. Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya    ( Control of senses), Apariagraha (non-avarice). We can call these five Yamas as Mahavratas, or great vows or obligatory pledges. They are not be violated under any conditions or circumstances. These are the universal code of conduct and compulsory and obligatory under all circumstances. They constitute the social code or the social discipline for human beings.
Patanjali  also enumerates the five Niyamas (rules) or auxiliary virtues. As-
Sauch (internal and external cleanliness or purity)
Santosh or contentment.
Tapas or austerity.
Svadhyaya or self-study and self-evaluation.
Iswara Pranidhana or surrendering and dedication to God.
After the Yama-Niyams, Patanjali makes it obligatory that one should practice Assans (meditational, comfortable postures), Pranayam or control of breathing, then Pratyahara or chanelisation of mental activities which leads to Dharana or concentration of mind, then to Dhyan (contemplation) and lastly Samadhi the transcendental super consciousness.
Without this ethical or moral code nobody can progress in the line of Yoga. We have to become Upayogi (useful) for becoming a Yogi. When one becomes Upa-Mantri, chances are there one would become Mantri. When one is Vice­ President, chances are that he/she would have an opportunity to become a President. So before becoming a Yogi, we must try to become Upayogi­  (useful).  Not just for ourselves, but for the society.
Constructing a building on the ground is far easier and cheaper as compared to constructing a building underground. Digging a hill is easier than unearthing the underground mining. Similarly, building a ship is far more easier than building a sub-marine which operates under the water. Therefore, it is very very difficult to discipline oneself than building a disciplined system outside.
Suppose you go to meet the Prime Minister of India and now you are standing at the Reception, with 100% surety that you would be called any moment to have an audience. It is a period of thrill on one hand and anxiety on the other. You will take care of your clothes, you would require to be well dressed, you will comb your hair. You would be afraid that none of your weaknesses is revealed to the Prime minister. If you have one you would like to cover it with many excuses. You would be rehearsing in your own mind how to start a dialogue and put up things across. But when you have just five minutes to meet him you would try to be at Your best. Preparation is started a few days before.
We know that water flows always to a lower level. Suppose a farmer wants to irrigate his field, water is already there in the canal. The farmer has just merely to open the gates and remove the obstacles, water will automatically flow. Similarly, if we remove obstacles between us and the higher self, the spirituality will automatically flow. How to do away these obstacles, these perturbations, these vices, these stances, how to be humble and pure. Since centuries our seers have practiced and preached that if you want to realize peace and happiness in life, try to realize yourself.
We have also to remember that for an aircraft taking off is difficult, but once it is at a comfortable height, the navigation is smooth and easier.  Similarly, the space craft, a satellite, has first to make all efforts to go beyond the earth's gravitational domain but once it goes out of the earth's gravity, its journey becomes for easier. Now it is subjected to the Moon's or Mars gravity wherever it is directed, which in most natural course draws it to the Moon's / Mar's surface. On the same analogy if we want to get in the closest proximity of the God, if we want to realize ourself, we have to break the barriers of bad habits nurtured so far. Once we are pure, we are close to God. There will be automatic attraction and automatic realization.  But to become pure and remaining pure we have to keep on doing dusting off and washing ourselves every day and every time like an idol or statue, kept in open, has to be cleaned every day.  In other words, Yoga is the process and practice of purifying ourselves.  Any purity reflects automatically scattering light and bliss all around.  

Monday, August 31, 2009

Vision for A Universal Religion

Vision for A Universal Religion
- Dr. Satya Pal Singh
          Vision is the ability to see beyond the present. It is the foresight to see clearly through walls of years, decades and sometimes even centuries. It is an attribute, not just to predict, but to lay ahead a map of the future. Can we have such a vision for a universal religion? All the technologies and knowledge in the world are converging. Today we have a single Chemistry, Physics, Maths or Astronomy for ourselves. How can then one humanity have different religions? During 2001, the U.N. convened a conference for World Peace - a congregation of World religious leaders. More than a dozen of major religions were represented, leave aside hundreds of sects and personalised cults.
          It raises one basic question - being mooted for more than hundred years. Are these different religions, sects and cults opposed to each other? If the answer is in affirmative then to have World Peace through religions is hoping against hope. But if these religions are not against each other and equal in all aspects, especially the welfare of man, then what is the need of so many religions? The fact is that all these religions echoe almost the same righteous conduct - truth, non­violence, non-stealing, etc. but differ belligerently in their rituals. Rituals are unfortunately being given the real face or the core of present day religions. Our dress, mode of worship and the language of rituals have become the symbols of our purity.
          The common experience of all people is the foundation of our knowledge. The basic instincts and requirements of man are the same throughout the world. Hunger, fear, sex, sleep, etc. are common to all. So is the penchant for honesty, and fraternity. The code of conduct for progress and peace underlies the importance of patience, tolerance, control of mind and senses, non-stealing, purity, honesty, wisdom, knowledge, truth, non-anger, non-violence for entire human society professing any religious belief. This is the core of all religions. This core is called Dharma. Dharma is pure religion bereft of any rituals. It is the essence of human progress.
         There are four essential attributes for a universal religion. Equality, universal brotherhood, harmonious development and scientific base.
         Equality means treating everyone equally and good behaviour with others without any fear or favour. This principle of equality removes the barriers based on age, community, gender, area and the country in all matters, temporal or terrestrial.
           In the field of religions, the "tenet of equality" flows continuously, breaking all barriers of time. The Universal Religion begins with the very inception of human race on this earth. It is co-existensive and contemporary with the birth of the first human on this planet. This religion cannot originate hundreds or thousands of years later, with the advent of a 'great man', incarnation, Rasul or Paigambar (God's Messenger). If it being so, then there could be only two reasons for it. Either, the God has not acted with equality (or equity). He has done injustice to all those millions and billions of people who were born, lived and died, before its inception. Or in the beginning God was not mature or knowledgeable enough. Like a worldly man, He was gaining experience to launch His religion. God can never be thought of as being partial and unjust to millions of people. Secondly, looking into this perfectly designed world, only an insane person can think about the inexperience or lack of knowledge of God. In a similar manner, the religion preaching equality, cannot be partial to some particular countries, people or places.
           The religion, accepting Universal Brotherhood, instructs everyone in the world to interact with others with a feeling of amity, fraternity and affinity, as amongst brothers and sisters. It cannot selectively provide education and instructions and divine messages to some and not to others. The religion, following this principle cannot be partisan, by calling some people of its own, and insult and denigrate others by calling them atheists and nonbelievers or inferiors or calling them criminals and hence saying that they deserve punishment.
         The third golden speciality of Universal Religion is Hannonious Development. It desires an all round progress and flourishing of the entire humanity. Such a growth must be in equilibrium and tune with the powers and forces of nature. "It means harmony in development and development in harmony". It speaks of the necessity for a well-developed life science, which can produce harmony among the body, the mind and the soul, and can provide a long, full and healthy span of life. A religion that can stand this third test will lay down a code of division of labour, depending on the physical and mental capabilities of a person irrespective of birth or race.
         The last criterion of a Universal Religion is its scientific basis. In all its principles, beliefs and tenets and practical working procedures, scientific temper or attitude must pervade. None of its beliefs and preachings should be contrary to the laws of nature. All its sacred God-given books and tenets must be in harmony with the universally accepted scientific principles.
          The aforesaid elaboration proves that there is a common thread linking all four tests together, and there is a mutual interdependence or symbiotic relationship. These tests cannot be shut away in isolated and separate compartments. In each of these unique specialties, the other three are inseparably linked and one embraces the other three.
           Such a Universal Religion alone can be the Religion of the present technological era. Thus, Universal Religion and Scientific Religion cannot be distinct from each other. Acceptance of such a religion will ensure the end of all kinds of racial and religious conflicts. Will the leaders, saints and intellectuals of all major religions come forward, by shedding their egos and interests, for universal peace and progress ?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Lord Ganesha

Lord Ganesha
The foremost presiding Godhead
                                                                                                                      -Dr. Satya Pal Singh
             Almost all the religions, all over the world have faith in the very existence of the God and have accepted Him as the creator, controller and also the dissolver of the universe.  The Supreme Power has been designated or addressed with various names.  However, in the history of the world, in the ancient most literary document or literary record, the poetic sacred text, the Vedas, the central or prime name assigned to the Godhead is said to be Om.  All the seers and sages, the wise men since thousands, nay millions of years, have been reciting and repeating the same.  All the scriptures, philosophies say Upnishads, and the like begin with Om or the sacred pharse “ atha”  (let now, henceforth).  The Om of the Vedic, people, later of Hindus turned into Amen in Christians, Amin in Islamic people.  Origin of speech or language, according to Skanda Purana, is om as the root syllable (akshara – undecayable i.e. eternal).  In Om (Aum) the combination of akāra, ukāra, makāra and half unit of nasal sound make the speech – world (lingual creation) accomplished.  A is the first letter of Om,( AUM ).  In the akāra, the whole speech (the language) is accomplished as – akāra indeed is all the speech (Taittiriya – Aranyaka).
             Since about 2000 years in the past the tradition of creating idols has begun.  Thereafter, it has taken even the concrete form of the temples.  It was easy to carve idols of incarnations, leaders of the ages (Yugapurusha), the great personalities, simply due to the details available about them in the histories, puranas and stories – their physical, physiognomical information to some measures.  But when it came to formulate the image or idol of that divine personality who is the controller of the universe, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient but formless, then our great thinkers, great intellectuals – the sculturers, on the basis of prime name Om of the lord, visualizing its form carved the idol – whose name was kept as Ganesha – Ganaraya – that too, undoubtedly for the sake of concrete form – that of Ganapati  – conceived as the most worshipworthy Godhead.  Untoubtedly, he was accepted as a symbol, a mark, a token.   
                He was regarded as the bestower of knowledge and intellect, because whole knowledge of the universe, including the speech, the language and its words and meaning - all have been issued forth from the Supreme godhead. According to Yoga Shashtra “ he is the Guru, of all the ancient (teachers) not being obstructed by the Time.”  The Lord indeed is, thus, the teacher of teachers – the first and foremost of the man.
 He is reckoned also as Ganesha and Ganapati because the word, is the noun and is derived from the root Gan – in the sense of counting, grouping, categorizing that forms the word Gan.  Ganesha and Ganapati means he who is the master (owner) of all animate and inanimate in the creation.  Also the controller, the guardian of all. 
               Ganesha is the creator of happiness and is the destroyer of unhappiness and misery.  The divine Lord, who, for the welfare of human race, has offered a beautiful, coherent, full of noble intention a scientific universe, fully equipped in every respect  - also granted us the knowledge for knowing it and has provided freedom to carry out our actions.  Who could indeed then be superior to Him as the creator of happiness and destroyer of pain and afflictions ?
            Ganapati, is the remover of all the obstacles and hindrances.  Therefore, His scientific image or idol echoes the grand one message – Oh ! people of the world, if you wish to remove obstructions, then behold me, look at me, stare at my bright, shining, open eyes, those see far far in the distance; look into the big ears that can hear from a pretty long distance; also have a glance at my amazing nose whose smelling power is simply extra ordinary – not only can it smell the present but also the future.  In fact it has already smelt it.  My memory ! is just like that of the elephant, is rather comparable to the Computer itself.  My big belly ! is the symbol of justice, equality and unity.  It is also the storehouse of information which is sent to concerned on need to know basic.  My knowledge is also like that of millions of the suns.
              Dear devotees of the Lord Ganesha ! Walk on the ideals of the Lord Ganapati, acquire the knowledge, and increase your memory by proper, adequate and sumptuous diet and capacity to carry out all the activities and behaviour.  Keep healthy your eyes, ears and nose all the while and keep them open all the time.  Keep walking on the path of justice, equality and unity – the hindrances would wither away.  And above all the society would certainly remain cultured, beautiful and also would be maintained well guarded or protected.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

De-stressing the Mind

De-stressing the Mind
Dr. Satya  Pal Singh
            The disease of stress has become the biggest killer of modern times. The psychosomatic disorders and diseases are spreading around and taking a heavy toll of valuable human lives every day. The medical doctors, the clinical scientists, and the psychologists are trying their best to stem this menacing trend. However, as the adage goes the manifold attempts have made the disease hydra-headed. Here are some of the tips gleaned from the time tested treasures accumulated over many millenniums.
1. Start loving yourself:          Let us know that the human being is the greatest and the final creation of Almighty God.  Our body is the embodiment of 7 seers and 8 chakras (energy circles) and a seat of gods. How can we desecrate or spoil it? Would we neglect the best gem or diamond, we have in our possession? Body is more precious than the most precious gem in the world. If a man does not love himself, how can he love others? Also, one cannot be healthy without caring for oneself. Even if an unhealthy person claims to love others, it is all temporary and myopic as well.
2. Believe in God -  the Almighty  Just and Kind -    The God is the most powerful (omnipotent,yet without any physical attributes ),  all knowledge (omniscient) and all Bliss and beatitude. We believe in God but do not know about Him so it is must to know the real form of formless God. Let us know that any thing in physical form is subject to birth, decay and death. Secondly, physical things are mostly visible and visible things are run and controlled by the invisible   which is more pervasive and powerful. See the amazing power of invisible mind and intellect. The unflinching faith in the eternal, omnipresent, omniscient and all bliss God is the most potent stress reliever
3. Believe in the justice of God -        If we believe in God, we have to believe in His domain of justice. This world is governed by eternal and immutable laws. And whoever violates these laws is bound to suffer the consequences. Whatever we get is the fruit of our actions. Result or consequence of our actions is inevitable and unavoidable.  But we expect so much. Many of us believe more in gambling rather than in right actions. So get worries,  get frustrated and disappointed. We get treatment from a famous doctor, purchase the best medicines and use them but derive no relief. Sometimes then start disbelieving the doctor and likewise. Consequently we get stress and further damage our body and psyche. Many a times man proposes and God disposes. The consequences of our past deeds is called destiny and we know it also plays a significant role in day to day life. We have to cultivate a habit of never to curse God and his forces during the phases of our misfortune and extreme griefs.
4.         Prayer, Meditation and Upasana – We profusely thank others even for small obligations but hardly remembers and thank God for his unmatchable gifts of life and inexhaustible means to sustain us. Try to be near God, thank him daily and always for His abundance, for all the happiness and pleasure he has given to us -  a beautiful world, nice family and perfect human body – unique in all respects and only the golden opportunity when we can acquire knowledge and try final emancipation. Whom we love and respect, we imbibe his/her attributes, follow his examples and obey his instructions. Let us be fair, just and kind to all beings as the God Himself. We can not become true devotees unless we follow and internalize His qualities in our thoughts and actions.
5.         Be spiritual:    All human beings are alike. As Rousseau had said, ‘According to the order of nature, men being equal, their common vocation is the profession of humanity. It matters little to me whether my people is a soldier, a lawyer or a divine. Let him first be a man”.
            “Treat others - the way we would like to be treated by others” is the core of spiritualism. It believes in the uncountable finite eternal souls and one Universal Soul who oversees the deeds of finite souls. A spiritual person links his or her individuality to collective consciousness.
6.         View the world through the eyes of a child –            Believe in the adage that Child is the father of man. Child only graduates to become an adult. A child lives in present—neither in past nor in the future. Frequent falls or failures do not make  a child fearful or frustrated. He enjoys equally the efforts made and achievement fulfilled. Then why to get disenchantment and disappointment in life on small and trivial setbacks.
     Children are thrilled when they are taken out of home. They keenly observe and experience the uniqueness, the wonder and beauty in every thing. They are eager and curious to know more and enjoy the sight and melodious sounds. Let us look at every tree, flower, sun, star, sea, cloud and human being as a child would and we will be in a regular state of wonder, joy, surprise, learning and enlightenment. Eternity speaks but no one listens - thus had lamented Yogi Aurobindo. Let us listen to the silent sound of mother nature, it will fill us up with ecstasy.
 7.        Develop and nurture a hobby :-
            Depending on one’s nature, inclination, opportunities and facilities available one must develop and nurture a hobby distinct from his/her profession or occupation.  It could be anything from reading books, writing one’s thoughts, any faculty of art, craft, or fine arts (music, singing, dance, drama, painting, sculpture, carpentry or pottery etc.), tourism or travel, some kind of social work.  Hobby has to be absorbing the mind.  It must give satisfaction or fulfillment.  Hobby should satiate the unquenchable thirst of man.  Taking recourse to drink and drugs has not helped anybody permanently to have mental satisfaction or peace.
8.         Practice gratitude and appreciations:  People and the Society around us have given us so much, we can’t repay it during our life time.  Had there been no parents – we would not have come into being. Had there been no schools or teachers, farmers or doctors- what would have happened to our day to day existence?  Pick up the gems even from the mud. : Looking into the faults, the lapses, the shortcomings or evils in others, criticizing them, without any valid   reasons, create negative impulses, vibrations and energy in our mind and body leading to unconscious stress. Practice to see the qualities and positive attributes in others, we come across. Who would not like to pick up a shining diamond lying in a dirty mud? Seeing the weaknesses in others is indicative of a weak character. Let us not criticize or condemn any person or organization or a concept unless we are well versed in it
 9. Internal and external personality should be close to each other. When they are alike - it indicates a state of light, love, consciousness and pure peace.  Let us try to be same on both fronts. If we want to be happy, let us make others happy. We want ourselves to be dishonest but expect others to be honest. We know that we are telling lies, still claiming to be truthful. Outwardly sometimes we show to be close and loving to someone but inside we are so jealous to him or her. Such split and dual personality and hypocritical behaviour  leads  to great stress in life. As far as possible let us be truthful in our thoughts and avoid any act which is to be done clandestinely or  openly and may bring us shame, fear or tension.
10.       Douse the fire of anger:         The worldly fire burns anything which comes in its lap. The fire, the flames or the fumes of anger inside us would certainly scorch our inner self. It irreparably damages the neurons in brain leading to steady decline in our memory and analytical capacity.
Getting angry unnecessarily on trivial things creates heavy stress in mind. “Those whom the gods would destroy they first make them angry” is a Greek saying.
11.       Physically also one has to be healthy: An unhealthy and sickly person is prone to get more stress and tension.
            Eat simple and natural food, do take daily exercise and have proper sleep. Practice Yoga Asanas and Pranayaam - the best bodily and mental exercise.
12. Control of Mind - It is the most important requirement for de-stressing the mind and control the environment.
            Mind (Mana) should be cleansed first. If we want to give a new coat / painting to a wall we first wash it out, remove the old colour / paint, put primer or white, then only new paint is applied.
            The field we want to cultivate and raise crop is to be first ploughed, dug and made fertile then only sowing could be done.
            When Swami Dayanand approached Swami Vrijanandji for learning and discovering himself, the later had asked Dayanand “Go to the Yamuna river and throw all your books you are carrying. Also forget everything you have learnt so far. Then only I will start teaching you. Then only the Aarsha knowledge (the knowledge of seers, the visionaries) will be absorbed in your mind and give the spark of life.”
            So the first requirement is to cleanse the mind from all the impurities, hates, intrigues, evils, vices etc.  One has to practice truth in thoughts, speech and deeds, Mana satyen shudhyate Mind is purified by truthfulness.
            And if we practice satya --the truthfulness,  speak truth in our day to day conduct and behavior with others, we don’t need to remember what did we speak yesterday or day before. We have to manage our mind if we indulge in falsehood and hypocrisy. .
            Now control of mind. According to scriptures and the ground breaking revelation of our visionary forefathers, our body is just like a chariot, the sense motor/action organs are its horses, the mind is the chains controlling the horses. The intellect is the driver (charioteer-saarathi) having mind (chains) in his hands. The soul is the real charioteer.
            Life, in fact, is the combination of 4 entities – body, mind, intellect and soul.  Kahtopanishad says very correctly “ Atmanam rathinam vidhi  shariram rathmevacha,  budhi tu sarathi vidhhi  man pragramevcha .
            If we want to control the mind, (the reins of horses), it can be done only by the driver (sarathi) - the intellect.
Therefore, to cleanse and control the mind we have to take recourse to intellect (Buddhi). And intellect would be capable to control and cleanse the mind only if intellect itself is clean and clear. That’s why the seers declared “Buddhi gyanen shudhayati” the intellect is purified through knowledge only.   This learning is not provided by our modern schools and colleges . It requires right knowledge, scientific temper and miles away from superstitious beliefs and rituals.
            And then comes the techniques of controlling mind as contemplated ,/documented and given to world by the great seer Patanjali – the techniques/ the eight-fold path of Yoga  are known as the Yama- Niyamas Asanas, pranayaams, pratyaharr ,(withdrawal of senses from its subjects), dharana (contemplation), dhayan (concentration) and Samaadhi ( state of super consciousness) . However, the most significant is the practice of Pranayaam. It is said that by controlling the praana (breath) , we can control the mind. The praana is the link between animate and inanimate world.
The task is arduous and much challenging. It takes years of regular practice with a sense of dispassion,. It is a learning we may equate with post-doctorate classes and research. Not everyone is eligible to graduate to this high standards.
13. Live each day as though it were our last.  Then we will be living in a state of light, love and unconditional contribution. What would we say to the people we care about. The story of saint Eknath is quite revealing and enlightening.
            During the stay in a village, the saint Eknath used to traverse the same path everyday while gong out of the village. Everyday a man would ask him, “Guruji, tell me something special so that I could be at peace.”  The saint was ignoring him for many days but one day he ultimately told the man, you would be going to die on the 8th day from today, A true saint‘s statement  is a gospel truth. The man believed it would happen. All of a sudden he changed completely from an angry, abusive, unloving husband and father to a more sober, sweet, serene and loving husband and father. Next day when he was going to the market to buy vegetables for family, he paid salutations to his neighbours and asked them if he could bring something for them from the market. The neighbours were astonished at his changed nature. All seven days passed like this. The call and fear of death irreversibly transformed a devil into angel. On eighth day saint Eknath, knocked his door and asked his wife how had he spent the last seven days. The wife said, she saw a miracle happening, and narrated the unbelievable transformation in her husband’s behavior.  The man died as destined.
Can anyone of us say when, where and how the death will ring its bell? The death is the greatest certainty but is uncertain and so unpredictable. It defies the greatest minds.
            If we remember that the time of death can come any day, any time and anywhere, then we would not, no longer, indulge in intrigues and evils. The fountain of love will sprout from within. Where there is love, there is peace and stress will vanish  for  ever.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Growing Literacy, Falling Education

Anti-Darwinian Development-
Growing Literacy, Falling Education –
Dr. Satyapal Singh *
* Commissioner of Police Pune, ( Maharashtra )
The simple concept of human development has been lost to the sophisticated vanity and complicated language of economic planners. The education and health-the acquisition of knowledge and the bodily strength have always been considered the building blocks of human personality. The harmonious development of a human society, according to me, must encompass the six but inseparable activities. Education and experiments, safety and security, health and environment, economic prosperity, entertainment and the last, but not the least is the harmony and hope in the society.
Out of the above six parameters of development, the education and experiments constitute the core of human development. Starting from individual growth to social sustenance and national progress or the global peace all are dependant on quality education. The Indian seers and visionaries of yore regarded education as the purifier and the first and foremost attribute (of Purushartha Chatustaya) of human being. The education alone separates him from the animal-species and elevates him on a higher pedestal. The Indian National Policy on Education, 1986 reverberated the same thought by stating that education is the foundation and an investment not only for socio-economic progress but for human development also. In today's world of global competitiveness knowledge is the key resource and the harbinger of human-progress.
In India, after independence, there have been major achievements in the field of education as outlined by Dr. Vedprakash (2006)1.
· A considerable expansion in the number and spread of educational institutions.
· Incremental expansion in the number of teachers.
· Rise in enrolment at all levels of education.
· Decline in dropout rates.
· A move towards gender parity.
· Reduction of regional disparities in literacy level.
· Social mobilization generated by literacy campaigns which impacted other sectors like women's empowerment, health and environmental awareness.
· Expenditure on education shows a continuous upward trend since independence.
· Trend registered a sharp increase after education was brought on the concurrent list of the Indian Constitution.
· Expenditure on overall education increased from 0.68% of GDP in 1951-52 to 3.86% of GDP in 2004-05.
· Expenditure on secondary education has increased from 0.13% in 1951-52 to 0.89% in 2004-05
· Indian professionals working abroad in the fields of computer, engineering, medicine and science have made the country proud.

Inadequacy of the System
However, despite official recognition by the Govt. of India that education constitutes a crucial investment for national survival, the pattern of allocation of resources to education remains far from satisfactory, if judged in terms of adequacy, efficiency and equity - infrastructure, quality and socio-economic equality. According to the Human Development Report (2001)2 India ranks 104th among the 143 countries of the world on which data are available about the share of public expenditure on education in GNP. India is spending about 3.5% of her GNP to education. In comparison, a large number of countries have been spending more than 6%, some more than 8% and a few more than 10%. Some of the countries which spend more than 4% of GNP on education include countries which are economically poorer than India (Tilak, 2005)3. The Indian government had set a long time ago a target of 6% of the GNP to be spent on education. However, this target is not yet achieved and may continue to elude in the future. In fact amongst the countries with a population of 100 million or more, India figures at the bottom except Bangladesh.
According to the experts, a country has to cross the thresfold level of 20% access to higher education if she wants to become a developed nation. Unfortunately in India the access to higher education is about 9%. What to talk about the higher education when 46 million children in India do not have even access to primary schools. About 20 million children are working as child labourers in ghetoo-industries. And for the children attending schools, the dropout rates from 1st to 5th standard are 35%, from 1st to 8th standard is 53% and from 1st to 10th it is 62% (NIEPA)4. It means that about 38% students only pass out 10th. Out of around 260 million students who pass out 12th standard, about 20% do not even get admission in colleges due to inadequacy of infrastructure (number of seats, class rooms etc.). We really do not know how many years it will take for India to become a developed country and reach the thresfold level of 20% access to higher education.
According to a study conducted by the Indian Merchants' Chamber, Mumbai5 the portfolio of Education has been devalued both at the level of Centre and the States. As a result, literacy in the country has been limping at around 65%.
There is a shortage of trained manpower. The current educational system is woefully inadequate to train our youth to become qualified human resources. This shortage is likely to worsen as systemic initiatives to address such a serious issue are absent.
There is a lack of synchronization between what the industry requires and the kind of education that is offered by the system.
A few key statistics can illustrate the major ills that are prevailing in our present system.
· Drop-out rate in schools from KG to 10+2 ranges from 90 to 94%.
· China has about 1.80 million schools as compared to India's 0.95 million schools.
· About 7 to 8% of the youth who finish the 10+2 stage enter the 17,600 colleges of India. Most of the so called graduates are not­ employable.
· China has about 900 Universities, Japan 4,000 while India has only 354 Universities.
· The coaching business is getting bigger than the education business.
· While 75 to 85% of the youth in developed and developing countries learn a skill or competence or trade between the ages of 14 to 35 through vocational education and training, in India the vocational training hardly covers 3 to 5% of the population.
· India has about 5000 ITIs (Ministry of Labour) and 7,000 vocational schools (Ministry of HRD) as compared to China's about 5,00,000 senior secondary vocational schools.
· India has 300 million able bodied people between the ages of 18 to 50 but are bereft of skill sets and are, therefore, not employable.
· Only 1 in 4 Indian graduation is deemed as employable.
The above mentioned scenario has unfortunately emerged at a time when India is on
the threshold of carving a highly prominent niche for itself in the global arena.
Presently India is the fourth largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing Power, next to USA, China and Japan. By 2010, India will emerge as the third Largest economy overtaking Japan.
With the 21st century economy being largely knowledge driven, India has the potential to carve a prominent niche for herself in knowledge and service industries.
This is a serious situation when we look at the national scenario on quantitative plane.
Education is getting devalued
(i) Modem education system only guarantees the degrees by collecting fees. It is commercialized like mere shops or industries. So, it has been vulnerable to all kinds of unfair means in Examination, leaking of question-papers, manipulation of marks etc.
(ii) Sole reliance on degrees/diplomas for employment has led to a different breed of crime- fake marksheets, degrees, mushrooming of shady/unrecognised colleges and universities.
(iii) There is a big question mark on the quality and relevance of our higher education. In the survey of world's top educational institutions, conducted in year 2004, only our two IITs figured in top 500 institutions, that also quite below in the list.
(iv) Emphasis is on bookish knowledge alone, not to build the health or character of a student. Hardly or no input about life­ values, morality and enduring happiness.
(v) Modern education's emphasis is on money and materialism and pleasure
hunting. Educated people are becoming more and more self-centered.
Enjoyment, not knowledge and peace, is becoming objective and leading to all sorts of deviant behaviour. Among girls prostitution, call-girls, live in relationships, unwed mothers are emerging as a serious concern for social stability.
(vi) More education has led many to frustration and tension. The number of rising suicides among youth prove it; diseases like B.P." diabetes" heart-attacks are now assailing the younger generation.
(vii) Modern education is leading to more crimes. Commercial/financial/
complicated crimes are committed by highly educated people. This country is being looted by educated and rich; more damaging to national economy and security. Comparison of tribal and developed societies prove it.
(viii) Modern education has created some wrong notions - Man and Women are equal. They are not equal. Woman, in fact, is more important and superior. A mother is the builder of the family and nation; she is the cradle of culture. A father can be replaced by a simple injection now - in the 21st century.
(ix) This erroneous concept of man-woman equality has led to irreparable damage to society. Same kind of education is being imparted to both boys and girls. A girl may or may not become engineer, doctor, C.A., bureaucrat, scientist; police officer or a business-woman but almost everyone would become a wife and mother. Are we teaching our girls to become good wives and better mothers?

Other Challenges:
The Indian education system faces a lot more other challenges ahead like:
· Universalization of elementary education.
· Bridging the gap in resources provided to urban and rural institutions.
· Focus on gender and equity - and how to cope up with reservations in higher and technical education.
· Operationalization of 86th Constitutional Amendment-Right to Education Bill, 2005 and the recent Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill (2009).
· Challenges of moving towards universal secondary education.
· Promotion of alternative delivery system to respond to the needs of children with diverse background.
· Bridging the knowledge gap between English medium, computer equipped urban schools and rural school-madarsas.
· Unity in diversity and respect for all.
· Institutionalization of work and education interface.
· Reinventing school curricula to meet emerging challenges. Also to stop the falling graph of life values.
· Increased role of NGOs.
· Public spending in education to be raised to 6% of the GDP.
· Teacher development - key to quality.
· Quality education-relevant to industries and development needs.
· Corporate partnership with social responsibility.
· International collaboration in developing professional institutions.

Need of the Hour
If social thinkers, development-planners, educationalists and political masters wish to make a real contribution and make education as the key to human development then we will have to
(1) Redefine the role of education. We have to return to the basics:
What is education? A seer answers
lk f’k{kk ;k foeqDr;s Saa Shiksha yaa vimuktaye.
Education is that which liberates us - from all kinds of ignorance, injustices and deprivations. It solves all difficulties, cures all diseases and dispels all distress. In fact, the former Union HRD Minister Murli Manohar Joshi while speaking to the UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education, asserted the centrality of education to the Indian heritage. "Pursuit of integral knowledge and liberation, which has been a constant endeavour of Indian culture, is also the central objective of education," Joshi told the conference (1998)6, He further addressed the connection between education and the preservation of culture:

"Education is also visualized as an evolutionary force so that each individual is enabled to evolve from purely material consciousness towards superior planes of intellectual and spiritual consciousness. Education is also perceived as a bridge between the past, present, and the future and as a means by which the best of the heritage is transmitted to the generations for its further progression (Joshi, 1998)."
Education- a real education must teach 4 things or we can say that the entire educational edifice is based on the following four premises :.

(i) ( Vidya ) Knowledge - bookish knowledge starting from earth and bio sciences to
space science; from self consciousness to universal consciousness; from individual growth to social progress and world peace- all have to be the part of bookish knowledge.
(ii) (Sabhayata) Civilization - control of nature external-through use of technology
and engineering; to control the forces of nature for common weal and sustained development. Education (knowledge) must lead to experiments. Knowledge is proved and patented only through experiments. Our civilization-­infrastructure developments - application of technology and engineering - the trains, planes, medicine, surgery etc. all are the products of experiments. Where experiments cease, knowledge dwindles and becomes a burden and not a benedictor. Experiments involve the society, invigorate its members, infuse harmony and improve the capacity of all participants.
(iii) (Dharmikta) Righteousness moral conduct and courage to follow the truth.
Individual purity and social discipline (Truth, non-violence, non-stealing, non-hoarding etc.) Spiritualism ­treating others like our own self.
(iv) ( Jitendriyata ) Control of mind & senses - a balanced and healthy life style;
controlling anger, passions, greed; faithfulness between husband and wife and so on.
(2) Design new curriculum incorporating therein compulsory courses which are vital
for human health, happiness and social development. Dr. Radhakrishnan- our philosopher President ­had said "the future of India will be shaped in her classrooms.”
(3) Planning of human being should be our focus - so the role of mother is crucial. A woman has to be placed on higher pedestal. Education of girls must be of paramount importance. The first teacher and inspiration for a child is always his/her mother. Therefore, the first step in the arduous journey of human development must focus on girl child education, health and preparation for motherhood. What kind of major and subsidiary courses should be there for girls - we have to think seriously.
(4) Girl-students should be persuaded, inspired to join innovative,
creative programmes (not conventional courses as is the case now). Innovative courses are like Mass media, Bio­technology, Ayurveda, bio-chemistry, Astrophysics, MBAs, Maths, Architecture etc.

The 21st Century needs visionary leaders in the crucial sectors of education. A school/college teacher has traditionally been a manager ­managing class and a status-quoist. 21st century needs teachers who can bring out change, foster change, innovate and lead. Such minds only can give a clear vision, transform a society and create a better world. There is an urgent need to stem the rot in the field of education. Literacy and education must go hand in hand and so should be the case with knowledge and life values Knowledge without moral values is not an education at all.
True education combines the qualities of head, heart and the hands. It is logical, rational and in tune with the laws of nature. It has the feelings of compassion, love and respect not only for other human beings but also for other non-claimant stake holders. True education teaches the dignity of labour and strongly opposed to the exploitation of man by his stronger counterpart. Let our education be rooted in culture and oriented to development. Let us remember, in a globalised world today-one good model of education will be followed up throughout the globe. The whole world is watching .
1. Dr. Vedprakash, "Education in India Achievements & Challenges”
22nd March, 2006. NIEPA, New Delhi.
2. Human Development Report, 2001 (UN).
3. Tilak J.B.G. “ Financing Education in India ” (2005); NIEPA, New Delhi.
4. Dr. Vedprakash, (2006), NIEPA, New Delhi.
5. “ Education – empowering the youths ” address by Shri NayanPatel, President, Indian Merchants’ Chamber, Mumbai (July 18, 2006).
6. World Education Encyclopedia, Page 596.