KFI – Marathi Gathering held at Sahyadri, 2016

Krishnamurti’s Vision of Education and the World Today

15th – 17th October, 2016 : Marathi Gathering was organised after a long gap at the Sahyadri Education Centre. The theme of the gathering was Krishnamurti’s Vision of Education and the World Today. About 50 participants attended the gathering. Sahyadri Education Centre and the Mumbai Centre collaborated for this event.  Smt. Vasanti Padte – a senior and active member of the Mumbai Centre, the well-known Marathi educator and writer Shri Heramb Kulkarni, Dr. Parchure, Dr. Shailesh Shirali – Director, Sahyadri Education Centre, and Shri Vinay Dabholkar, who helps organizations foster a culture of innovation, spoke at the gathering. There were Question and Answer sessions after each talk.

Smt. Vasanti Padte spoke about how the present education system is directly responsible for the environmental crisis, the corruption and the terrorism and added  that Krishnamurti spoke about a completely different kind of education. She pointed out that a different approach implies facing challenges with the government, parents and teachers. Stressing the need to look at the problems at a deeper level, she urged the participants to think together during the gathering and explore ways to awaken sensitivity in the child’s mind and to bring about a radical change in the education system.

Shri Heramb Kulkarni, a well-known Marathi educator and writer, opened his talk with the statement – ‘There are schools but there is no education’. He spoke about how education today is a mirror of the present economic, political and religious situations, how education has become a tool to cater to the needs of the commercial systems and how parents are obsessed with a remunerative career for their children. Stating that the education today teaches how NOT to think and is not capable of holistic development of the child.

He spoke in details about his observations in the Krishnamurti schools – the relationship between the teachers and the students there, the openness, the learning together amidst natural surroundings, the sensitivity of the teachers – pointing out that K’s philosophy is not preached in these schools, but rather, is apparent in the living. He spoke about Krishnaji’s radical approach to education which would help to bring about free, enquiring minds – sensitive and responsible.

Shri Kulkarni stressed the need to inform teachers of other schools about Krishnaji’s vision and the various initiatives of the K Schools. He spoke about the need to connect with the parents so that they realise the importance of a sense of freedom, a sense of leisure for the children. He spoke about how Krishnamurti compels us to think, to become tremendously sensitive.

Dr. Parchure spoke about what it means to him to understand Krishnaji’s teachings. One may realise that in spite of understanding the teachings intellectually, right action does not take place, that there is no real perception. Wholeness-integrity and an approach with negation, he said, are two points at the core of the teachings. He explained how the mind atrophies the intellect by constantly thinking about the past, resulting in physical and mental illnesses. He felt that it is essential to have a strong inner urge and a passion to understand the teachings and that if we want to retain these two qualities, we need to be tremendously aware all the time.

Dr. Shailesh Shirali welcomed the participants  and extended an invitation to them to come in future as well and spend time at the study centre.  He spoke about the importance and relevance of the theme, in the light of the current state of the world around, the unrest, instability, wars, general sense of alienation in the society and said that we can address these issues only through education. The change, he said, has to be in the people themselves who are involved in this, i.e. the teachers themselves.

He spoke about how computers are taking over our work, the time then available to us is spent wastefully – the boredom and pointed out that Krishnamurti spoke about entertainment of sports, entertainment of religion etc. and had said that It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

He spoke about finding a way out. He explained that the western approach to this is to have planned economies, to plan everything out, to bring a change in the society starting from the top – more efficient utilization of resources, better  civic code, better management of cities. But the basic difficulty with this is that it is completely one sided. It ignores the fact that we are psychologically very complex beings. In the most ordered societies our inner disorder is not being addressed. Eventually that disorder begins to overpower the order outside and ultimately destroys the order outside. Hence  we are not able to make much progress in this area and that is why our societies have not changed over the last thousands of  years. Outwardly we have changed tremendously, but there is no inward change. The only approach is through education to young children. Young children offer us the possibility of moving in a different direction provided they are not already heavily conditioned by the society.

Dr. Shirali then raised some questions about whether school can be a place where,

–  one learns not only about the world around us, the world of atoms, stars, living creatures, but also about ourselves inside, why we behave, feel the way we do;

– one learns whether there a relationship which is not based on possession, attachment or domination;

– one learns what freedom is, and what order is, and how they can exist together in a natural and harmonious way;

–  one learns to function without the sense of authority, without the sense of power, without the sense of comparison – not only power and authority in the outward sense, but one submits even inwardly to authority;

– one learns the actual meaning of the word respect, where one learns to respect life- because life is sacred – where one comes into contact with the sacredness – not an artificial sense of sacredness of rituals etc, but being sacred in itself;

–  one learns about one’s desire for more;

– one learns beautifully, excellently, without the desire to advertise- which is being inherently aggressive;

–  one learns the virtue of modesty, not to boast about one’s personality, where one learns to be quiet, to blend into the environment.

Dr. Shirali stressed that all this has to be part of schooling, bur that everything is taught except this. One has to learn not only about the machinery of the world but also about the machinery of oneself, for unless we know ourselves, there is no basis for right action, no awareness about oneself.

He pointed out that all this cannot be done through curriculum. Integral to education is the role of the educator, intelligence of the educator which is not the same as the knowledge, skill of the educator; He spoke about how difficult it is to get the right kind of teachers. Setting up a school involves getting land, money, permissions, curriculum , accreditations, students; but the most critical part is the most difficult part – to get the right teachers. He pointed out that even a good teacher’s interest and concern may be  limited to finding ways to deliver a subject and very few teachers are concerned about the psychological development of the child.

He spoke about how education in its current form is terribly unbalanced. tremendous energy is devoted to the development of skills, subject understanding , honing of your talent, propagation of the talent and if the teacher is constituted with the same psychological makeup  then he or she will perpetuate the system.  He pointed out that we are caught in a situation where essentially we are all propagating the same line of thinking. He stressed the need to focus on education of the educator, to connect at a deeper level.

Listening to Dr. Shirali, the participants could get a sense of how there is an ongoing exploration into implementing Krishnaji’s vision of education in K schools.

Shri Vinay Dabholkar, who helps organizations foster a culture of innovation and has a deep interest in exploring the teachings, spoke on ‘Life – competition or a journey?’. He spoke about how, even if one does not have a competitive spirit, one has to face competition at every step in life. He elaborated how Krishnaji urges us to keep the fire of discontent burning and observe the reality. He pointed out that we keep covering the ambers of discontent and search for quick ways to contentment. To see something is the living, is the action, is the truth that Krishnaji spoke about time and again.

A concert of classical music was arranged in the evening of the second day of the gathering. Smt. Saumya Ullal gave a melodious performance. Listening to her in the quiet atmosphere at Sahyadri, was a different experience.

Participants were given a thematic compilation in Marathi, and booklets of translations from the series Krishnamurti to Students.  Videos of Krishnaji’s talks and dialogues were screened during the gathering, two of them were with Marathi subtitles. A part of the film Krishnamurti: The Challenge of Change, dubbed in Marathi was also screened. Group discussions and panel discussions helped the participants to delve deeper into life’s issues in the light of the teachings and explore various ways, initiatives which could bring about a radical change through education. This contemplation, we hope, will be carried to the  educators at large as well.