Advaita Vedanta in Indian Schools

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Wed Oct 2 16:05:35 CDT 2002

[I'm answering a couple of posts in this thread all at once.]

Krishna Rao wrote:

> I still think a fair amount of weightage should be given to
> these schools of thought.

Absolutely.  I'm not denying this at all just questioning whether a
modern school or college is the right place for it.

> I think it is more of a political strife like
> you explained. I feel history text books tend to emphasize on external
> influence and overshadow our own ancient scriptures.

...and some go the other way and try and make it look like everything
worthwhile came from India.  I object to the political right (the
so-called "hindutva" people) just as much as the left because they also
are out to pervert our dharma for political ends.

Srikrishna Ghadiyaram wrote:

> It is inevitable. Any philosophy is only for the
> society.

*which* society?  There is no universal society and likely never will be.

> The same bureaucrats and politicians have to
> be involved in introducing these and other concepts in
> Vedas and out-of vedas in the colleges and
> universities.

Why?  we've done without them for many centuries now.  What is so special
about today that we need them now?

> Just as we recognise that nastika views got into our
> curriculum under the influence of 'leftists', we must
> also bring forth a group which will include 'astika'
> views into the curriculum.

I wouldn't mind if such a thing happened but I don't think it is really
that necessary.  There is only a limited amount of time to teach.  The
amount of information is continually increasing.  I would prefer for
schools to concentrate on the basics such as literacy, critical thinking
etc. and leave everything else upto parents.  Learning can take place in
many other environments except other than school.

> And finally, an unbiased
> introduction of various views acceptable under the
> 'secular' system. It is only mis-imterpretation and
> wrong-implementation of 'secular' word that we got
> into 'irrelegious'  state instead of a non-religious
> state.

*unbiased* is the kicker. How are you going to make sure things stay that
way?  It's better to keep such an important task in the hands of those who
have proven their dedication and trustworthiness than mere time-passers.

In most European countries, there is either an official state religion or
the government subsidizes religions in other ways.  For instance in
England where I grew up, the Anglican Protestant version of Christianity
is the official religion.  Study of the Bible and other explicitly
Christian teaching were part of the curriculum as were the observance of
Christian holy days etc.  And there was none of this multicultural
political correctness (though I understand things are different nowadays
especially in areas were there are numbers of Hindus or Muslims.) you
either participated or failed.  Yet I didn't end up being affected by
Christianity and I can't think of any of my childhood friends I would call
a practicing Christian either.  Sure they would enter a church to be
married or buried and perhaps Christmas and Easter or but that's about it.

It was not until I came to America that I came across people who were
actually into Christianity.  Yet the US actually has a constitutional
seperation of church and state.  I believe this is no paradox.  My
teachers in England were competant.  they taught Religious Education at
least as well as they taught Science of History.  But they had no passion
and thus couldn't communicate it to their students.  Meanwhile religious
parents in the US cannot just foist the responsibility of passing on their
beliefs to an institution so they are more committed and energetic as a

> Leftists did not come into power or rightits come into power all the
> places. But, still the curriculum changed going in line with the present
> scientific and social and economic trends. If we do not trust and entrust
> the responsibility to fix or modify the educational system we have, who
> can can do it ?? Unless we trust those in whose hands this jewel has got
> to for implementation in "an administrative system we have chosen", there
> are no alternative ways which can reach a common man, who is the one
> that needs help.

But is the school system the only valid educational system out there?  I'm
not saying we shouldn't adjust the curriculam to our liking.  As citizens
of a democratic country it is our right as much as anybody elses.  But
let's be realistic about how much it can achieve.  Even in some modern
fields like IT a degree is not as highly regarded as say certification
from Cisco or Microsoft, or Sun.

> Yes, accept for now that I am pursuing for "dry
> intellectualism". Even this can be a purpose. That is
> the express objective of colleges and universities;
> making the people intellectually advanced in their
> chosen subjects.

Right but the objective of Advaita Vedanta is to break free from samsara.
The two objectives are not exactly at odds, but neither do they coincide.

> There are so many Sanskrit, Vedanta
> pathasalas in India, and I have not heard of all of
> them either starting their studies after "sanyas", or
> atleast taken up sanyas after their "Vedanta Siramani"
> degree.

Actually the more particular ones do.  And this has historically been the
case.  My grandfather remembered how when a branch of the RK mission
opened in Rajkot in the 1940's what a novelty people felt it was that
grhasthas were being taught upanishads.

Now it's more commonplace but the conscientious guru will teach only at
the appropriate level for the student.

> A college  student who is supposedly more under the
> impressions of the world views is obviously confused
> of the relevance of religion and scriptires. He does
> not see how it helps him to build his life. You can
> not demonstrate it either by examples from their
> immediate  society.

I don't know.  I grew up in an environment almost totally divorced from
what the shastras require.  If Hinduism turned out to be a viable option
for changing my life I think it due in a good measure to knowing there
were people who actually lived a Dharmic life.  The theories were
interesting but wouldn't have been enough to sway me.

Also I want to credit my parents especially my mother for their efforts.
They are not great scholars or anything.  But they did give me that spark
of motivation to want to know more and for that I am eternally in their

>  At this juncture it is not apt to
> leave it entirely to them. Ofcourse, Sri Jaladhar used
> "motivation"; what I suggested is a "general
> systematic exposure" to views of the "tradition" and
> wisom of the seers expresses in the scriptures of all
> origins.

According to psychologists, if you are waiting till high school or college
age for general exposure, it is probably too late.  As I mentioned I've
started my daughter on this before she can even speak.  And systematic
exposure requires their participation and attention which brings us back
to motivation.

> I recognise it is not a small task. Like
> every thing else, it needs "bureaucrats" and
> "administrators", because they are the final implementors.

No the mothers, fathers, grandparents, neighbors, priests, teachers etc.
are the implementors.  Then maybe the bureaucrats and administrators.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>
It's a girl! See the pictures -

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