Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Education has to go beyond words to meaning, beyond knowledge to wisdom

वीरेश्वराय विद्महे विवेकानन्दाय धीमहि । तन्नो वीर: प्रचोदयात् ।

Unless man increases in wisdom as much as in knowledge, increase of knowledge will be increase of sorrow says late Bertrand Russell, a brilliant intellectual and not a man of religion but a thorough-going agnostic (Impact of Science on Society, p.121)

What a beautiful idea! Now, the idea in this sentence is a modern echo of one of the great ideas in our ancient Upanishads. In the Chandogya Upanishad, seventh chapter, the opening passage presents us a highly educated student by name Narada approaching a great spiritual teacher by name Sanatkumara and saying to him: ‘O Blessed One, I am full of sorrow (in spite of all my intellectual knowledge); and  I have heard from great teachers like you that he who knows his own infinite Self alone, and none else, can cross over sorrow. So, O Blessed One, please take me across this  ocean of sorrow.’  Then Sanatkumara asks him: ‘Please tell me what you already know.’ Narada then enumerates a number of subjects which he has studied, including the Vedas, history and other positivistic sources of knowledge; and the teacher remarks: ‘Yes, you know much; but namaiva tat – ‘they are all mere words, words, words!’