Advaita Vedanta in Indian Schools

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Wed Oct 2 17:48:46 CDT 2002

[Forwarded message from Naresh who is having DNS problems.]

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Naresh P. Cuntoor <cuntoor at>
To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
Date: Wed, 2 Oct 2002 17:53:07 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Advaita Vedanta in Indian Schools

A child first begins school at home, with the elders in the
family acting as teachers. If an interest into a particular way
of thinking (religion/culture included) is not kindled at this stage,
chances are that the child won't bother to investigate into it until
he/she becomes an adult.  Sounds hackneyed? May be so.
And once the child begins formal education (and I'm talking about the kind
of formal education that a kid in urban India recieves today --its the
kind that I grew up with in Bangalore), if one is not required to study
something at school, vedanta in this case, then unless one comes from an
'orthodox' family, its likely that one won't take up the study of
vedanta. The extent of work and pressure in school serves as a convenient,
but credible excuse. Also, the disappearance of joint families has meant
that the grandparents (who may be more religiously inclined than the
parents) are not an everyday, direct influence.
This does state a case for including vedanta in formal education, doesn't

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

Where else? see above..

> > 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.

How many schools, do you think teach history "the other way?" For
instance, my peers and I studied the "glory of ancient India" for all of
ONE chapter in ONE year of school. (in  10th standard sanskrit course, i

> > 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?

Because the world has changed after 9/11?! :) (Sorry.. just couldn't
resist that .. )

> 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.

Errr.. how would say, an hour's class on a subject that motivates
reasoning and thinking be out of place then? As you said, there's limited
time .. So do you think there's time outside of school?
see above..

> not saying we shouldn't adjust the curriculam to our liking.  As
> 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.

Its not a question of how much it is worth or how much it can achieve. Its
about providing the inputs to people who might otherwise not get it until
much later!

> > 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
> of motivation to want to know more and for that I am eternally in their

That is exactly what I'm talking about! Whats wrong if schools provide
that motivation?

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

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