Education – Creativity, Not Marks

-D K Hari and D K Hema Hari

 

Education, a Vehicle for Knowledge

An Education system is the knowledge delivery system for a civilization.

Education is a vehicle, a Vahana for Knowledge, Jnana.

An effective education should deliver comprehensive knowledge, comprising of

  • Dhi – Intelligence
  • Dharma- Values
  • Daksha – Skills.

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Unfortunately today, our Education system has been reduced to the level of just earning marks, and so much that this has is slackened the creativity of a student. There are set answers for set questions, which the student has to spill in the answer sheet.

In this light, a letter written by a student Subashree assumes significance, and closely resembles the educational thought of Rabindranath Tagore.

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These letters reflect the thoughts running through every student today. It is however to be added that it is not the teachers who are at fault for the present day mess. The education system is what we need to change.

Rabindranath Tagore

Many years back, the famous poet Rabindranath Tagore had conveyed the same idea.

Santiniketan

Santiniketan, a town in the Birbhum district of West Bengal was established by Maharishi Devendranath Tagore, the esteemed father of Rabindranath Tagore. This town was expanded by Rabindranath Tagore, who converted it into a University town of Vishva Bharati University. Reflecting the vision of Tagore, it became the first recognized university of India, deemed as such, by the Central Government in 1951.

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Rabindranath Tagore

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Having suffered from bad teaching in his childhood, Tagore’s focus at the Shantiniketan was mostly on Nature based education and open air learning.

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No Creativity – Just Robots

In the present day education system, creativity has taken a backseat while students are stressed with information, stuffed into their head from text books.

It kills the questioning mentality of the child at an early age, destroying his unique ability to think and come up with his own answers. Children are made robots.

It is the elementary education institutions in India, where mechanized or programmed learning starts for children based on the mechanized and programmed teaching done there.

People who start lives, educated in such a mechanized environment are bound to get replaced, sooner than later, with robots and Artificial Intelligent system, which have a better work efficiency and are more suitable for volume production in mechanized industries.

Solution

The solution will be to create an education system with the following focus so that the future is equipped to ask such questions and find its own answers.

Recognize the uniqueness of every child, and his aptitude

Every child is different and has his own thinking capability and interest. We need to appreciate this diversity and mould the student accordingly. This ability to think is an asset which we should not destroy by giving readymade answers to questions.

Cater to the questioning attitude

From questioning, comes thinking, seeking and discerning.

The method of education should shift its focus

  • from the storing brain
  • to a questioning intellect
  • to the thinking mind.

This will help bring out the potential of every student.

In ancient India, Questioning was given much importance. The Upanishads, the texts that accompany the Veda, came out of questions. They were the “Question and Answer” sessions between a student and the teacher or between two rishi, seers, recorded for posterity. But the questioning happened with an inquisitiveness to learn, to know, to discover the truth, than out of arrogance or desire to deride the teacher or the knowledge.

Prepare to move from Education 1.0 and 4.0

The present day Indian Education system is still stuck at Education 1.0, while the world has started exploring Education 4.0.

Education 1.0 is classroom based learning where teachers teach and students learn.

Education 2.0 and Education 3.0 are intermediary stages which focus on combining classroom teaching with digital technology.

Education 4.0 will be a move towards a wholly digital education system, as Internet has become a primary tool of information, work and lifestyle in present times.

The way hardware and software should match, the educational system should match the need of the times. We need to be prepared to make this urgent shift, if are to keep pace with the world.

But all these are only about the delivery mechanism, since an Education System is fundamentally only a Delivery Mechanism of Knowledge. It is the Knowledge that eventually matters.

What does one teach using whichever be the delivery mechanism?

Inculcate Human and Environmental Values

Ultimately Human and Environmental values need to be inculcated in our students from a young age by reviving the timeless rhymes, fables, Purana and other moral stories from folk and ancient India that had succeeded in keeping generations of Indians humane and morally responsible.

More on transforming our education system, in our book, “Future From India”.

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Thamirabarani Pushkaram

Thamirabarani is a river in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.

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Thamirabarani River

From Sahayadri to Bay of Bengal in Tirunelveli

This river starts from the southern end of Western Ghats – Sahayadri and flows eastwards into Bay of Bengal.

The shape of India narrows down in south substantially, and so the length of this river from origin to its meeting the sea, is all in one district, namely Tirunelveli.

Rishi Agastya

Rishi Agastya mentions about this river. His Ashram was located on the upper reaches of this river.

Agastiyar temple

Agastiyar Temple

Agastiyar Ghat

Agastiyar Ghat

In Ramayana

This river is mentioned in Ramayana.

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Sugreeva

Sugreeva mentions about this river.

Sugreeva dispatches a set of Vanara to the South and instructs them to search for Sita in the following locations –

“Search the Malayagir mountains, you will find Rishi Agastya there, then cross Kaveri river, then cross Tamaraparani river, then you will see the Golden Door of Kapada puram, Capital of Pandya Kings,”

Valmiki Ramayanam

– Kishkinda Khandam Chapter 41 – Sloka 14-18

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Sugreeva instructing the Vanara to search in all directions – A Palm leaf sketch

More on this in our book, Historical Rama.

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Mahabharata

In the Mahabharata, this river is mentioned in a sloka (3.88) which says, “O Son of Kunti, I shall now describe to you the Tamaraparani River. On the banks of this river, the deva undertook penance to attain Mukti.”

Sangam Texts

Many Tamil texts including the 3 Sangam literature speak of this great river.

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Tamil Scholar of Sangam period

Pandya kings ruled here

The famous Pandya kings of Tamil Nadu ruled by this river.

Temples abound

The either banks of this river abound in temples.

Nava Tirupati

There are 9 Vishnu temples along the banks of the river Tamirabarani, which make up the Nava Tirupati.

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In Vaishnava tradition, we have the famous 4000 verses called Nalayaram Divya Prabandham, sung by the Alwars.  Nama Alwar, the first Alwar sang of these 9 temples, which can be found in the Prabandham.

Similarly, many Nayanmars also lived along this river.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s visit to Nava Tirupati

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was a poet saint who lived during the 16th century.

Bhakti means “devotion” and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was a great devotee of Krishna.

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Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

In Chaitanya Charitamrita, it is mentioned that this poet saint visited the Nava Tirupati Temple.

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More on Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in our book, Historical Krishna.

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Karukkuthurai Murugan Temple

kurukkuthurai murugan temple on Thamirabarani river

Karukkuthurai Murugan Temple on Thamirabarani River

This river is in many ways intertwined with hoary tradition, culture and literature of the Tamil land.

Pushkaram every 12 years

Along this river too, Kumbha Mela / Pushkaram is celebrated once in 12 years.  It is celebrated every 12 years as one revolution of Jupiter takes 12 years, thus this Pushakaram is held every 12 years.

Thamirabarani river arthi

Aarthi being performed to Thamirabarani River

Jupiter Transit from Tula to Vrshaka

This happens during the next Guru Peyarchi.

The Thamirabarani Pushkaram is celebrated when Jupiter transits from Libra, Tula Rashi to Scorpia, Vrshaka Rashi.

It will be celebrated this year, Sri Vilambi year, “Purattasi” Month, from 26th Friday to “Ippasi” Month to 6th Tuesday.

Thamirabarani Pushkaram

In the Gregorian Calendar, the event falls from October 12th 2018 to October 23rd 2018.

It will be celebrated at Kurukkuthiruai, Thirunueveli.

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Kumbh Festival

Kumbha Mela is one of the oldest and largest congregations of Indian civilization. In a sense, it is a congregation more than a festival.

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The Kumbh Mela festival

The Kumbh festival is based on the story of creation where the Kumbh, the pot of nectar spilled out its contents and led to the formation of the Universe. This is a depiction of the profound description in the Veda of the scientific process of Creation from the cosmic egg called Hiranyagarbha, a golden hued womb which bursts open as a Brahmanda Visfotak, a Big Bang, to spew out the Universe.

More on the Kumbh – Creation connect in our book and film, Creation – Srishti Vignana.

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Mahapushkaram every 144 years

Thamirabarani Mahapushkaram is celebrated every 144 years, as 12 X 12 = 144. The coming Pushkaram is doubly significant, as it is going to be 144th year after the last Mahapushkaram.

Need to protect from Pollution

In the name of development as has happened to all other rivers in India, this river has also been substantially polluted over the last few decades.

Apart from the ceremonial congregations and rituals along the river we should take a solemn vow to clean this one large perennial river in Tamil Nadu, and bring it back to its pristine purity.

Moving away from Alcohol – The traditional way

In the Veda of Ancient India there is mention of Somapana, an elixir that invigorates. This is understood to be a non-alcoholic drink, much in use in the early Vedic days.

120 verses of Veda deal with the qualities of Soma. The divinity of Soma is also referred to as Soma Deva.

As times evolved, Moon and Shiva were referred to as Soma Deva.

The first day of the week, Monday draws its name from the moon. In the Indian calendar, it is called Somavara, again drawing its name from the moon, Soma. We see a similarity here in the naming of the 7 days of the week based on the astral bodies.

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Soma Deva, Moon Divinity

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Divinity for each day of week, a Medival European expression

The famous Somnath Temple in Saurashtra which is celebrated as one of the 12 Jyothir Linga of Shiva, where Shiva is called as Somnatha.

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Somanath Temple

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Jyothir Linga, Somanatha

Like this we see so many references to Soma. In this Vedic knowledge society, the drink Soma was not looked as an alcoholic drink but more as an invigorating drink that helps to elevate oneself.

The process of making the Soma decoction with various herbs is discussed at length in the Veda.

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Making of Soma, Courtesy S Rajam

Unavailability of Soma Pana

Some of the later Vedic verse also bemoan the fact that the pure Soma drink was not available to them. This could be because the ingredients to make Soma could well have dwindled with time and the process to make them could have been lost as it was passed onto generations.

Sura Pana – alcoholic drink comes into vogue

This over a period of time led to the making of a new brew, a new drink known as Sura Pana. This turned out to be an alcoholic drink. With the passage of time, because of the alcoholic nature of the Sura Pana, the Soma Pana being a precursor drink got the tag of being an alcoholic drink.

A careful reading of the text show that Soma Pana was an invigorating drink while Sura Pana was alcoholic.

As people migrated over the millennia, they carried with them the making of the Sura Pana.

Patents to Lithuanian brewery

An interesting sidelight story is of a similar drink that is being made for the last few centuries in Lithuania, in North West Europe. They attribute their concoction to have its origins from this Vedic drink.

Lithuanian company holds the patent for Madhu Madya (honey alcohol).

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The India Baltic Chamber of Commerce (IBCC) wants to launch the mead – this old fermented drink made from honey, water, yeast, herbs and vegetable seasoning.

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Logo, India Baltic Chamber of Commerce

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Queen Elizabeth II in 1969

On September 30, 1969, Queen Elizabeth 2 granted Stakliskes factory of Lietuviskas Midus with the patent number 1280830 to make this drink exclusively.

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Lietuviskas Midus

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Lietuviskas Midus logo

This drink with added vitamins is now made from honey, hops, lime flowers, juniper berries and other Vitamin C inputs.

It is indeed interesting to note that a faraway Lithuanian company has holds patent for this ancient drink, though not in the name of Soma Pana or Sura Pana, but as Madhu Madya.

Madhu – Honey

The word ‘Madhu’ means honey not just in Indian language but also in Russian language. The President of Russia is Dimitri Medvedev.

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Dimitri Medvedev

The word “Medvedev” is a conjunction of words, ‘Med’ and ‘Ved’. ‘Med’ means honey and ‘Ved’ is derived from ‘Vidya’, which stands for knowledge”. In the Russian language the word Medvedev signifies, ‘the one who has knowledge to make honey’. It also signifies ‘one who knowledge is as sweet as honey’.

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Traditional ways of making honey

Madhu – Across World, Across Times

From this we gather that the word ‘Madhu’, ‘Med’ as the word for honey spread all across, from ancient India to North West of Europe which leads upto Russia and Lithuania. As the word ‘Madhu’ spread across these lands with the people, the knowledge of making Sura Pana could also have spread to these lands.

Back to Soma Pana

When the world is looking for a new form of beverages, it is time for us to dwell back and see if we can once again make the Brew not of alcoholic Sura Pana but the invigorating Soma Pana. As this civilization moves into a knowledge era in the coming decades, Soma Pana which was the elixir of the Vedic knowledge era could well be the apt complementing drink to move away from alcoholism.