The modern educational system is not “holistic” and leans towards materialistic acquisition of knowledge, Tibetan spiritual guru The Dalai Lama said on Thursday as he argued that there is a need to include secular and human values like compassion in the educational curriculum.
He was speaking at the launch of noted journalist Arun Shourie’s latest book, Two Saints: Speculations Around And About Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Ramana Maharshi.
Pointing to senior BJP leader L K Advani, who was present on the occasion, the Dalai Lama said, “Advani once told me…according to Indian understanding, secular means respect all religions and also respect non-believers. Since I heard that from you…I want to consider you my teacher.”
Speaking about drafting a curriculum based on secular ethics, he said, “Within this year, we will finalise that.” He went on to add that some schools should start using this draft curriculum.
“Then we will see what effect this curriculum (has) after one year, two year, three year…in America, two cities…I can’t remember the name… but the city they developed as city of kindness, city of compassion…within the city, more activities referring kindness and compassion… as a result, the schoolchildren become more compassionate…It is quite pity, in this country… ahimsa… karuna is always said, but no city with the name of karuna,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, jurist Fali Nariman said, “…Arun (Shourie) has chosen with deliberation in these spiritually troubled times these two individuals and no others in order to make a point. And the point is this…to express his anguish that the age-old Hindu tradition of tolerance is showing signs of strain…The strain of religious tension fanned by fanaticism and that the true Hindu faith is not being followed in present day India…by a larger number of his countrymen.”
Former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said wisdom is important but wisdom without compassion is of no value. “…what Shourie has talked about is precisely that,” he said.
Shourie, on his part, said the Dalai Lama is the only religious leader who has said Buddhism must face facts so that if there are new discoveries in science and they contradict something that is written in the ancient scriptures, the part of description is to either reinterpreted or cast away.
“This shows both open mindedness and great confidence in the traditions…And by contrast, in our case, we are so protective of our Gods, of our godmen, of our scriptures that we just do not allow the examination and even when the slighest question is raised…then an avalanche descends upon you…” he said.