In today’s world, education can be defined as the systematic distribution or the reception of knowledge in society, which is viewed from various perspectives based upon cultural values, language, people and religion.
In many ancient cultures, education involved a little formal education and perhaps no schools as such. In some, only one or perhaps a few sacred books were studied.
In more complex societies, such as the Vedic civilization, the sheer quantity of accumulated knowledge took many years of formal education to transmit it to the next generation, even if broken up into specialized areas of study. In this way, education differed from culture to culture – some civilizations had primitive or less advanced educational systems and other cultures such as the Romans, Greeks and Chinese had more variety within different departments in their educational system.
But, over a period of time, education has gone through a tremendous change. The ancient and the traditional educational system has been widely replaced by a new form of modern education, which came into existence in the early 16th century CE in Europe. During this time, science, art, music, philosophy and architecture went through a major change in Europe – this period was known as the Renaissance. This also affected many other cultures and civilizations around the world through the colonization by Europeans for many centuries, which introduced industrialization, English education and literature, trading and Christian missionaries who slowly usurped the traditional educational systems around the world with their new modern education. This appealed to masses due to its new age ideas such as democracy, equality, liberty and social status.
In this way, modern education became an important integral part of every race in the world in the late 18th and 19th century, where many countries aspired to become modern progressive nations, though in the process it destroyed many cultures, traditions, arts and religious systems around the world.
In this article, we will try to explain how modern education is systematically engaging in the mass execution of the jivas (living entities) through false education and how it has successfully managed to exterminate many cultures around the world.
This article is all about comparison, analysis and consequences between the contemporary educational system and the eternal knowledge and teaching of the Vedas. Thus, we strongly condemn contemporary modern education for its inability in giving real education to benefit mankind.
Modern Education and real Education
Before the advent of modern education in schools, education involved learning to read, acquiring mental skills, and developing the ability to think conceptually and develop theistic ideas – at least this was the basic common notion that was seen among most world cultures. The idea behind this traditional educational system was to prepare students with as wide and strong a base as possible for their future success and contribution to the world.
Today, modern education is nothing but a system that promotes selfish goal-fulfilling interests through the capacities of individual students. Present day schools and colleges give secular education that has neither ethical discipline nor spiritual instruction. The students have no spirituality or higher ideas in life. They learn something in order to eke out their livelihood and they study only to attain good salaries in order to lead comfortable lives – but at the end of the day, they turn out to be spiritually bankrupt.
In Sanskrit materialistic education is known as jada-vidya meaning ‘knowledge of matter’. Since people have either none or little access to actual spiritual knowledge, they only acquire jada-vidya, a materialistic education and thus a materialistic conception of this world.
Nowadays education has simply become the study of matter – the external movements of mechanical appliances and devices, or the study of protecting and nourishing this material body. But this education has nothing to offer about understanding the science of the spirit soul, who is the actual mover and doer.
Real education means to understand God. If one does not understand who is God, his education is useless, it has no meaning. Real education means to elevate us from a lower existence to the spiritual eternal existence. It is to realize who we are, what is our relationship with God and to understand the reason for our existence. The goal of life should be to develop spiritual culture within our society, which alone can help develop a force of will to make people selfless, fearless, courageous, strong, and this helps cultivate detachment from the material body. Only those who are free from selfishness can actually serve God and work in terms of unity and universal brotherhood. In this way, real education teaches students to love God and their fellow men. It teaches them that their first and foremost duty is to attain self-realization and to cultivate God consciousness. Education must be calculated to promote plain living and high thinking. It should help each student to practice right conduct, right thinking, right living, right action and self-sacrifice and to attain knowledge of the self and the Supreme.
Modern Education Fails Miserably!
A famous educationist once said, “I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of modern education. They seem to me, to be built up on the supposition that every child is a kind of an idiot who must be taught to think.”
Modern education came into being only during the transitional periods of the dark age to the modern new age of industrialization, banking, commerce and social systems. This educational system was only formulated to create more engineers, doctors and a class of businessmen who would help in the growth of large industries, corporations and banks, which in turn would make a nation progressive and modern.
After the advent of modern education, many new ideas and theories sprung up in the field of science and medicine that revolutionized the way we perceived the world. Some of the innovations and discoveries were great achievements in human history, but at the same time a great number of theories and inventions were destructive and caused great misery to the human race, both physically and spiritually. It can definitely be said that modern education has made our life much easier and more comfortable with its inventions and technology, but that doesn’t mean that prior to modern education and technology, people were unhappy and uncivilized. Technology is simply a continuous ongoing process of change in this world.
Yet we are so foolishly indoctrinated in the name of modern education that we neglect the most horrible circumstances of life, such as birth, death, old age and disease, that every living entity has to undergo and suffer – no matter how advanced we were before, are now or will be in the future. In this way, modern education creates an illusion concerning the nature of all the temporary things in this material world, rather than educating us about self-realization and God consciousness.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura, one of the most profound scholars of Gaudiya Vaisnavism, has explained that materialistic education is simply an expansion of maya. The more we advance in this materialistic education, the more our ability to understand God will be hampered. And at last we will finally declare that there is no God or even that ‘God is dead.’ This is the ignorance and darkness produced by modern education. The Isopanisad says:
andham tama˙ pravisanti ye’ vidyam upasate
tato bhuya iva te tamo ya u vidyayam ratah
"Those who engage in the culture of nescient activities shall enter into the darkest region of ignorance. Worse still are those engaged in the culture of so-called knowledge."
Due to this type of education being imparted in our educational institutions, many students all over the world have become a nuisance to their parents, teachers, society and country.
Thus Sri Isopanisad very strongly warns that the culture of nescience is different from that of knowledge. The universities are, so to speak, centers of nescience only; consequently scientists are busy discovering lethal weapons to wipe out the existence of other countries. University students today are not given instructions in the regulative principles of student life, nor do they have any faith in any scriptural injunctions.
Ancient religious principles are taught for the sake of academic name and fame only and not for the sake of practical application. Thus, there is animosity not only in social and political fields but in the field of education as well.
Those who engage in the advancement of such materialistic education will go to the darkest region of existence. Therefore, the present civilization is in a very dangerous position as there is no proper guidance or encouragement anywhere in the world for genuine spiritual education. In this way human society is being pushed to the darkest region of existence by this modern education.
Real Knowledge is Vedic Knowledge
The Vedas are the oldest books in the library of man. The truths contained in all religions are derived from the Vedas and are ultimately traceable to the Vedas. The Vedas are the fountainhead of religion. The Vedas were revealed by God to man in the earliest times and they are without beginning and without end. Ignorant modern educationists may question how a book can be without a beginning or an end, but the Vedas remain as the only exception to this rule. The Vedas emanated from the breath of the Lord and therefore they are not the composition of any human mind. They were never written, never created. The date of the Vedas has never been fixed and it can never be fixed since the Vedas are eternal spiritual truths. Mundane books may be destroyed, but Vedic knowledge cannot be destroyed. In that sense, the Vedas are eternal and speak about two kinds of educational systems.
One deals with transcendental knowledge (para-vidya) and the other with materialistic knowledge (apara-vidya). All the Vedas – the ‰g Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda, along with their corollaries, known as siksa, kalpa, vyakarana, nirukta, chanda and jyotisa — belong to the superior system of para-vidya. By para-vidya one can understand the Absolute Truth. Vedanta-sutra is also accepted as para-vidya. However, those that aspire for liberation (mukti or moksa) and introduce themselves as vaidantikas are just as materially motivated as those groups aspiring to improve religion (dharma), economic development (artha) and sense gratification (kama). Dharma, artha, kama and moksa are called catur-varga. They are all within the system of inferior, materialistic knowledge of the Vedas.
Any literature giving information about the spiritual world, spiritual life, spiritual identity and the spirit soul is called para-vidya. Srimad-Bhagavatam does not have anything to do with the materialistic way of life; it gives transcendental information to educate people in the superior system of para-vidya.
It is not that there was no materialistic knowledge or science in the Vedic age. In fact, Vedic knowledge spoke extensively about mathematics, medicine, astrology, astronomy, physics and many other subjects that has had so much influence in today’s science and technology. But the people then gave more importance towards spiritual education and knowledge of oneself and the Supreme Lord.
Vedic knowledge is not simply an individual’s speculation, word jugglery or mythology. It is the actual scientific knowledge of leading a better life in this world and understanding our constitutional position by serving the real purpose of life. And this is only possible if we receive this knowledge through disciplic succession and through a bona-fide guru. By doing this one can actually receive the real essence of the Vedas, which is to understand our lost relationship with the Supreme Lord without any interpretation or adulteration of the actual knowledge coming down from the Supreme Lord Himself.
The Real Motive Behind Modern Education and It’s Effects
The education imparted in schools and colleges today is very much controlled and influenced by psychology. The field of psychology has basically taken over modern education in terms of covert tactics, extensive corruption and setting government mandated ‘educational standards.’ Modern schools, with their emphasis on psychology, in the process of educating children, actually cause a number of ‘learning disabilities,’ which psychiatry then ‘diagnoses,’ prescribing drugs as their solution to the problem.
In the past few decades there have been many incidents of shootings in public schools and universities, where students gun down their own school friends and teachers. This is again because of the frustration faced by these students due to insecurity, discrimination and a lack of value-based education. This never occurred in the west until recently, but now this can be seen all over the world and is rapidly becoming a major concern for all institutions. This is just one of the few examples of how education has deteriorated over the last 100 years.
Educational psychology dates back to the early efforts by psychologists like John Dewey who, in the early 20th Century, began to change how teachers were taught to teach in schools and colleges. The changes were drastic as education moved away from an age-old system that taught teachers how to motivate students to accept the whole scope of academic information available. Instead, the new system explored methods to maneuver students through psychological behavior modification procedures. Rather than to instill knowledge, once such a power was established, the educational process became more of a method to instill specific agendas into the minds of children.
As per the education itself, a syllabus laid out by the government is carefully planned out, in order to suit their interests in the field of religion, economy, politics and science. Government and educationalists have been successful in manipulating history and facts from the masses in order to attain their personal interests. All the education imparted to students has been anti-God consciousness and in order to disapprove the concept of any intelligence behind the creation, they still teach students many outdated theories of human evolution and the big-bang theory etc.
Modern education is supposedly there to draw out the best from the students, but this can never be achieved by packing ill-assorted and unwanted information into the heads of the pupils. It becomes a dead weight crushing all the originality in them and turning them into mere automata. It is also true that the objectives of proper education can be successfully achieved only when it takes into consideration the abilities of a student and his interests and inclinations.
On top of this, many Christian run missionary schools and colleges are in the midst of wiping out many cultures around the world with their new fashionable educational systems which erase the cultural antiquity of many regions.
This trend can also be seen in India today – young people of India have rejected their culture, religion, moral values and ethics in order to adapt themselves to the western style of living and learning. We can see this difference in their food, clothing, music, art and dance and many more aspects of life that has gone through a huge change in the past 20-30 years, and this is because of the media, education, corporations and globalization. These factors have made people lose their pride and admiration towards Indian culture.
We are not only talking about India – this is happening throughout the world in almost every ancient culture, such as China, Japan and many South American nations. They blindly follow the western mindset of thinking and acting, which is very base and animalistic.
What Can Be Done?
Maybe it’s not even worth trying to replace the whole current system of modern education, as it is already so well rooted in our social system. All parents want to send their children to the best schools and universities as they think education provides them with security and comfortable lives, compromising the real necessity of spiritual knowledge. At least every effort should be made by modern educational institutes and parents to understand the importance of spiritual knowledge and their cultural heritage and impart it to the younger generation for the betterment of their lives.
Modern educationists should understand that human life is meant to unravel the mystery of life. This human body is invaluable and one who uses it to cultivate God consciousness is a wise man – one who doesn’t, is known as a krpana, a miser.
A miser uses his body and intelligence only to satisfy his senses, he doesn't know how to use the key that unlocks a treasure chest. This is where the educational institutions are failing to make young people understand the difference between real knowledge and materialistic knowledge. Therefore it is the duty of the father, the mother, the teachers and the society to impart spiritual education to their children, right from the very beginning of their lives. Indeed, Srimad-Bhagavatam says that one should not become a parent, teacher or government official unless one is able to deliver their dependents to a spiritual platform, which can save them from the repeated cycle of birth and death.
Instead of teaching many unnecessary science subjects, they should start teaching adhyatmika science – the science of sciences, the supreme science.
The Gita, the Upanisads, the Ramayana, the Bhagavata, the Mahabharata, comparative religion and philosophy must be taught in schools and colleges. Their study must be made compulsory. Practical instructions on ethics, yoga and meditation and control of the mind and senses should also be imparted to the students.
No doubt this type of education cannot be imparted under the conditions that exist today, but it is also part of the educator’s function to labour to change these conditions when necessary and anticipate the future. In periods of social transition, education becomes central to our future well-being. Therefore, the shaping of education is the shaping of generations and society.
In the wake of so much trouble and injustice all around, one might think that the educational system is beyond reform. But we must remember that God doesn’t change the conditions of people unless and until we strive hard for it. No doubt reformation in any field of life demands patience and consistency. Reforming the educational system is also a very tiring job and hardly appreciated. It does not give quick results either, but if pursued with patience long enough, it will certainly bear fruit. It is befitting to end here with a quote of Aristotle – “the roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet”.