It is important for us to educate Dharma to the students and if possible, the adult citizens of the country too
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]A[/dropcap]lmost everyone agrees upon the fact that 21st century is the era of renaissance for India. Yet, can we achieve it without fundamental changes in the education system in India? Further, we all are aware of the fact that in case of India, the concept of Dharma is integral to the concept of Indian Nationalism, is it possible to develop a sense of nationalism without the education of Dharma? Let us explore the various facets of Dharma and then answer the fundamental question on the introduction of Dharma Shiksha : why is it the need of the nation?
Patience, Tolerance, Concentration, abstaining from stealing, Cleanliness, Control of one’s sensory organs, Ability to gain knowledge, and the knowledge itself, Truth, and no anger, these are the ten attributes of Dharma
India is a land of spirituality. It encompasses different religious identities, culture, sects, etc. all within itself. What makes it unique and different from other countries of the world, is that India is also the birth place of many of these religions and cultures. It is the very place where Paramaatma sang the song of Vedas. Gautam Buddha, after attaining enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, laid the foundation of Dhamma Chakra Parivartana or Buddhism at Sarnath, near the holy city of Varanasi. It is possible to trace the origins of other religions to India. The concept of fire in Zoroastrianism is almost equal to that of Agni in the Vedas. Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati(1824-1883)claimed that ritual practices similar to Havan are also found in Christianity. As Manu puts in Manusmruti ,”Vedo Akhilo Dharmamoolam”, which means Vedas are the root of all Dharma existent in the universe.
However, it is important to distinguish between Dharma and Religion. Most people tend to equate both of them. However, both are actually very different concepts. According to Wikipedia, “Religion is any cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, world views, texts, sanctified places, ethics, or organisations, that relate humanity to the supernatural or transcendental.” The emphasis is laid on the system. Unfortunately, this definition doesn’t mention truth anywhere, that is why it is a very narrow concept.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he Sanskrit word “Dharma”, emerges from the root “Dhri” and joined by the suffix “man”. It has been defined as “Dhaaryate iti Dharmah”, that is, any attribute that is adopted is Dharma. For example, the Dharma of fire is to provide heat and light. Similarly the Dharma of Maanava is Manana, i.e. thinking. The emphasis is laid on the attribute. It is important to quote Manu here, as he was the one who provided the most elaborate definition of Dharma :
“Dhrutih Kshamaa Damo Asteyam Shauchamindriyanigraha
Dhirvidya Satyamakrodho Dashakam Dharmalakshanam”
“Patience, Tolerance, Concentration, abstaining from stealing, Cleanliness, Control of one’s sensory organs, Ability to gain knowledge, and the knowledge itself, Truth, and no anger, these are the ten attributes of Dharma.”
This definition suggests something important. It does not say whether we should believe in God or not. Neither it says which religion to follow and not to follow. Rather, the definition lists all the attributes one can adopt to be perfect. In other words, we may say, “Dharma is perfection.” It is a testimony to the fact that when whole of the mankind in the rest of the world were just some sort of hunters and gatherers, we, in India, laid the foundation of humanity. We showed the world the path to progress.
There are also similar definitions of Dharma by, for example, Maharshi Kanada, Rishi Vyasa, Yogiraja Shri Krishna, etc.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]his is where Dharma Shiksha becomes important. It can be translated as Education of Dharma. If we wish to achieve complete renaissance of the country, it is important for us to educate Dharma to the students and if possible, the adult citizens of the country too. We feel the need of the renaissance when we come across cases of corruption, crime, terrorism and when we see juveniles committing severe crimes. Most importantly, the Dharma Shiksha becomes a compulsion from just a suggestion when we hear anti Indian slogans being shouted publicly in prestigious universities of India.
If India wishes to achieve National Renaissance, it must give its approval to the introduction of Dharma Shiksha.
Here are the three fundamental reasons why Renaissance of the 21st century calls for introduction of Dharma Shiksha in school curricula :
Reduction of Morality among youth : This is both a reason and a warning. The government must look upon the youth of the country who are responsible for the future of India. The youth must not indulge in bad company, or get addicted to bad habits, they must be committed to country and its culture, uphold the name of its alma mater, and attain knowledge not just for marks and job but for the benefit of the country as a whole. India will achieve renaissance only when the youth will be wise, and show the world the path of progress just like the country did in the past.
Increase in crime rates : Rampant increase in crime rates, harassment of women, political scams, etc. is a cause of worry for us. It not only poses threats to internal security, but also damages our international reputation. How can one forget the Nirbhaya case of 2012? The girl was raped by four men and left to die on the road. Her intestines were damaged as if a carnivorous animal attacked her. Such an act of cruelty! Those four men can, of course, be compared with most cruel animals on the planet. And we then notice the fact that one of them was juvenile! This is an alarming trend and the government must act and it must act fast.
Prevention is better than cure. Children must be taught from the start the importance of Dharma, Truth, and Paropakaara. If it is implemented successfully, it can promise to give a more prosperous future and citizens we can be proud of. Citizens who will be known for their kindness, and at the same time they would be wise too.
The sense of nationality: Perhaps it is the major failure of our education system. It might be difficult to accept, but the truth is that the textbooks prescribed in the secondary and senior secondary curricula fail to answer the most fundamental question: Why, should we, as Indians, be proud of our country? Isn’t it a shame that after 69 years of Independence, our schools don’t teach the students the reasons that we should be proud of our country? These books are heavily influenced by western culture and seem to promote Western hegemony. Our ancient culture is also taught in a wrong way, with Brahmanas being depicted as the oppressors of other social categories, and they even go on to interpret, for example, that the ancient people designated forest dwellers who did not follow Vedic practices as Rakshasa and themselves as Aryas. This is absolutely a ridiculous claim! Let us look onto the debate of Arya and Dasyu.
The word Arya emerges from the root “Ri” which means “gati” or life. Another explanation is provided by a mantra of the Rig Veda itself:
“Vijaanihi Aryaanye cha Dasyavah Randhayaa barhishmate Shasadavratan”
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]hat means, “we know those, who are Aryas, those who are truthful, wise, simple, with good thoughts in mind, Dharmaatma and knowledgeable . Others are Dasyus”. Being an Arya, or Dasyu, according to this mantra, depends upon the attributes, it is the same according to be a “Dharmi”. The Arya people called their land Aaryaavarta, i.e. land of the Aryas. Subsequently, it was renamed Bhaarata, then Hindustan and India. During this long course of time, Indians made significant progresses in field of sciences, mathematics, technology and culture.
Thus, if India wishes to achieve National Renaissance, it must give its approval to the introduction of Dharma Shiksha. What steps are needed to be taken, what should be the medium of the language, and why Sanskrit would prove to be the best medium of Sanskrit might be discussed later on.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.