Sunday, August 16, 2009

Has India Become A Hindu Country?

Title: The yoni and the cock and bull story - Has India become a Hindu country?

The Hindustan Times 17 August, 2009 reports a story written by Padma Shastri on how beggar children in one of the Jyotirlinga pilgrimage places in India - Omkareshwar have been gathered by Ma Anandmayee Ashram there and have been converted from a life of no dignity to a life of vedic education, music, art and songs. These children were begging on the streets only a few decades ago, but from the kind intervention of the Ashram since 1986, they have been admitted in the Ma Anandmayi Tripura Vidyapeeth. Here they are taught to read and write and learn music along with the Vedic slokas. Thus, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes which used to be a way of life for most of these kids before they entered school, has changed dramatically and been replaced by finer values of life.

The children receive free education, food, clothing and books to complete their studies. Many of these children have also found new ways to earn their living by visiting abroad doing music shows.

Parents of these children say that they are happy. " We did not want to send our children to Government schools because of poor standards of education".

However, the children of the nearby tribesmen village told the Monks at the Vidyapeeth - " We earn Rs 4000 every forth day by selling weapons. If you are able to guarantee that our children will earn that much and more by attending your school, then we are willing to send our children."

Swami Gurusharan Anand, the American convert and Principal of the Vidyapeeth remained tongue tied.


My questions are very simple:

(1) Has India become a Hindu Country? By focusing on teaching the Vedas at School level, is it not contributing to children growing up with non-secular thoughts as well as ill begotten thoughts that only Hindu religious texts are right?

(2) Is it worth bringing out children from poverty only to make them "blind believers"?

(3) Must education not perform its main duty of giving quality education without placing layers of religious toppings?

(4) Finally, is it not the duty of any education institute to promote the real spirit of India - diversity of thought, religion, peoples in its true sense? By teaching Vedas and not the Quran or the Bible, the Zenavestha or the religious text of the Sikhs, the teaching of the vedas amounts to telling a bed(Read: bad) time story of the yoni and the cock and bull story.

Reference: The Hindustan Times, Bhopal edition, 17 August, 2009



Amrita said...

Dear Julia, glad to hear from you and feel honored that you invited me to respond to this post.

I am sure scores of enlightened and intellectual people will respond to this article. I would like to read the responses.

First of all I must applaud all the charibale work done by religious societies. Our country is so needy and if anyone is performing an act of kindness in the name of their God, it is a good thing and much needed.

In my opinion the ashram should give an all round modern education to its charges.
They can have their religious classes side by side.
Only focusing on vedic instruction and not providing the basic modern education is robbing them of the full experience of life.
Once they pass class 12 they can choose to enter into a religious school if they want to pursue it.

In our Christian institutions we provide modern education to all as well as Biblical instruction to those who wish to receive it.There is no compulsion.
Our religious schools and seminaries accept students who have passed High School upwards.

If madrasa type schools start mushrooming in India, certianly it will turn pro-hindu.

Yes, plucking hapless children from poverty and only providing religious education to them will only help them become bigots later on.

Q3 Yes, religious instruction should not replace or undermine quality education.
Religious instruction should be given on another level.

Q4 Yes children should be taught the basic tenets of all religions as we live in a multi religious society and must respect all religions even if we don 't adhere to their teachings.

The tribals are bitter with the government for neglecting them that is why they have taken up arms.

Julia Dutta said...

Dear Amrita,
Thanks for that response. The response is so profound I will not say anything over it. I hope more people read and respond to the post and we have a healthy debate on this.

As such, I think and will always hold it that if religious teaching have to be imparted, then all religions must be included and not one or two. There is a danger of bigots arising from all over the place later I think.

Thanks for your comment,


Amrita said...

I agree with you . Youth should be taught the basic tenets of each major religion.

In our Christian groups and conferences many times we are taught world religions and given knowledge about cults too. This has been very helpful.

If we are to live in a tolerant society we ought to teach this.

Mridula said...

All relevant questions Julia and unfortunately I have no answers to any of those.

Sharodindu said...

All questions are very valid...
I was stunned when I found the news that in UP some School declared themselves as Madrasa to get extra funds...students were attending classes with tie and skull caps...In my opinion education should be free from any touch of religeon.
I am not an expert in these thing but surely moved by the questioned discussed here...there are lots of disturbing truths in it

Julia Dutta said...

Hi amrita,
I was overjoyed when I read this morning that Kapil Sibal has banned all prayers in school. But my joy was only too short lived - this ban was because of swine flu scare!! He did not want children to gather in great numbers in one spot.

Either include all religions or do away all. Anyway the children are born in some religious families and what is taught at home/or not taught should be enough.

Julia Dutta said...

Dear Mridula,
Always a joy to see you here. I believe a traveller belongs to the world, so must you and hence you probably had no answers to any/ or did not want to say anything. Silence on the subject, so to say, eh?

Julia Dutta said...

Welcome to my blog! Gosh! You don't say! I know that education in India is one of the most corrupt departments but this is too much - Hindu schools calling themselves madrassas just for funds. Why can they not work towards including more Muslim children in their schools so that they are not called Hindu schools.
Education must remian free from religious tenets. A free mind is the best mind.
Thank you for dropping by. See you soon:)))