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Relevance of Ancient Indian Knowledge in Contemporary Society
January 25, 2014
On January 25, 2014 IHAR, organized it’s first Webinar drawing about two dozen participants in an interactive session centered around a presentation rendered audio visually by Br. Sivatma Chaitanya from Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, Anaikatti, India. The topic was “Relevance of Ancient Indian Knowledge in Contemporary Society”. Sivatma ji presented this vast subject in a comprehensive framework, choosing to elaborate a few aspects, while the listeners framed appropriate questions and comments after the 45 minute presentation.
Contemporary educational frameworks relate to Western paradigms of society that view education as the means to material success. Globalization of this model has caused attrition and weakening of the foundations upon which a more evolved Indic Educational system had thrived for millennia. Traditional Indic Education was not conditioned upon selective development of practical career oriented skills only, but instead, also included worldly skills within an inclusive framework of man-making, emphasizing a total developmental model that did not see the need to partition knowledge or skills between the worldly and the otherworldly, external and internal. Man, as a subject of inquiry was as valid as Man who inquired into the nature of his world, through the sciences or the arts. The curricular year was split into two parts of 4 ½ and 7 months – the former focused on learning of Vedas, while the latter on Vedangas, upavedas and usual curricular subjects. Therefore, the human developed in his individual capacity, as a social being, and as a man of the world with skills that were valued to make him prosper and fulfill both his basic needs and ambitions. The development of students was holistic grounded in social responsibility. Sivatma ji presented historical data around curricula, skillsets, indigenous arts and crafts, cultural accomplishments, and economic activity in a society that was ahead of most of its contemporaries.
Invasions followed by economic, religious and well-crafted social imperialism had subverted, annihilated or diluted a well-established societal working order which cannot be reclaimed without rebuilding the Indian Educational System on its own tested indigenous foundations. Pointers to revival were presented including the indispensability of Sanskrit as a medium of learning.
Sivatma ji was an apt speaker, whose personal journey has spanned the presentation topic. He has very much been a successful product of the Western Educational System and yet he chose to go back to the roots of his own ancient heritage to achieve a holistic fullness that enables him to straddle so effortlessly, between boundaries of East and West, Worldly and Spiritual, Individual and Universal. The audience was equally keen, and framed questions and comments that probed the practicality of creating and executing a vision that would be of immense value to India and Indians and through them to the rest of humanity. This valuable session attracted audiences from the US and India. IHAR remains grateful to Br. Sivatama Chaitanya for his experiential insight and thanks the erudite audience for its participatory spirit. It hopes to carry forward the discussion to more focused exploration that would guide meaningful action.