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A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
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© 2004 - Hansadutta das
| [Posted April 18, 2007]
Overintelligent, Uncommonly Stupid Hansadutta das
Education begins with one thing, first of all, to know thyself. That begins with distinguishing myself from matter. First I have to ascertain what I am. Am I matter? Or am I some other thing? And if I am another thing, what is that other thing? And so on. If this fundamental question is not solved, then just assuming, accepting blindly that I am this body and on the basis of that assumption forging ahead with one's intelligence to create comforts and other amenities for the satisfaction of this body is the greatest foolishness. Because I am not the body, so I am wasting my time. That is like I keep putting money into the bank, but I keep putting it into the wrong account. Instead of putting it into my account, I am putting it into an account which belongs to some other party. I may have amassed so much, but when I go to collect, my account is empty! Why? "Well sir, you kept putting the money into Mr. X's account." more
"Simply slaughterhouse, this so-called school is called slaughterhouse. Yes, slaughterhouse."
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami (Srila Prabhupada) spoke these words in
1973, he was referring to the misdirection of modern education, which
back then was churning out hippies, but now we see the literal truth of
his words. Schools are troubled by an upsurge of violence which has
36 or more shooting incidents across the USA since the Moses Lake
shooting in 1996 to the Columbine High killings 8 years ago almost to
the day and up to yesterday's rampage at Virgina Tech. 108 killed, 134
injured in connection with school shootings.
Rival news anchors are materializing experts in front of TV cameras who can answer in 2 minutes or less, "Why do you think this happened?" The anti-gun lobbyists have seized the moment to agitate for gun control measures. The parents are calling for the sacking of the college president and chief of police for failing to alert the students and staff and shut down the campus. There's talk that the killer took anti-depressants, was subjected to abuse as a child, was seething with anger. While we talk ourselves out of breath over the underlying causes for the school shootings, and blame it on diaper training gone wrong, a bad gene pool, mixup of meds, jealous rage and so on, all the way back to the first Big Bang, nature has already decided who is at fault and meted out justice for each and every one of the persons whose lives have been touched by what appears to us to be random killings. Karma has the final say.
Schools are supposed to be safe places, our President preaches in his national broadcast of condolences. And why do we expect that schools should be safer than anywhere else? There is more violence than what has been reported. Apart from the toll on human lives, there's the carnage in the cafeterias and campus eateries. Who is keeping count of the number of lives lost, recycled into Big Macs, Burger King Whoppers, Denny's Steak & Eggs that are consumed by students and faculty? Nature is. Then there's the widespread use of contraceptives. Abortions. Violence is answered by violence. Nature views school campuses, government buildings, gang-ridden neighborhoods, airplanes, war zones, beaches, towns and farms without prejudice. Shootings, bombings, knifings, crashes, IEDs, tsunamis, floods, tornadoes—death by any other name smells just the same. No one is exempt from the laws of karma, not even children, for the children have brought with them the reactions from previous lives to this life.
In fact schools are part of the problem. How so? They're missing the point of education: the making of the human being. Absent from modern mainstream education is systematic instruction as to 1) who and what we are—spirit soul, not this body, 2) the importance of controlling the mind and senses, for this is what distinguishes man from lower species, 3) the laws of action and reaction (karma), 4) the purpose and potential of human life to awaken one's spiritual awareness or Krishna consciousness, and 5) the place of each and every individual in the context of a cooperative, spiritually progressive society in the service of God. Schools deal in indoctrination, piecemeal, but what is needed is a holistic approach. As a child I enter school in a state of bewilderment and ignorance and emerge an adult no better off if I don't know who I am and what life is about. Everything else is taught: the 3 R's up to and past the theory of relativity and black holes, and I learn more besides: how to bully, how to smoke, how to have sex, how to take drugs, how to plagiarize, how to bluff research results and win large federal grants, how to become a politician, or simply how to find a job to pay the food bill, home mortgage and car loan. But the most essential facts are being ignored or deliberately sidestepped all the way from kindergarten up through graduate school.
If the educators examine the pages of Bhagavad-gita, they will find all these topics are covered there, scientifically. Take A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami's Bhagavad-gita As It Is, for example. With its authentic, poetic translation and elaborate purports that bring out the relevance to this day and age, it is a veritable handbook or "how-to" guide for life itself.
Some persons might argue that bringing Bhagavad-gita into the schools will not serve to counter violence, insofar as the Gita was spoken to persuade Arjuna to go to war. To this line of reasoning, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami (Srila Prabhupada) responded that there will always be killing and war, and that in some instances war is necessary and not immoral, but worse than this is violence of a spiritual order.
Prabhupada: In some years ago at Jhansi I was, not in the sannyasa days. I went there, and, by invitation of some friends, and they wanted to give me some lectures. That was Gandhi's birthday, and they asked me to speak on some nonviolence. So I spoke that violence means to check a person from the discharge of his duties. That is violence. That was my viewpoint.
Devotee: To interfere with another's course.
Prabhupada: Yes. Now, every man has got his prime duty of life. If that duty is checked, that is violence. So I wanted to place, and that is a fact from Vedic literature, that human life is meant for realization of God consciousness or reestablishing his relationship, lost relationship, with God. This is the claim of every human being. Human being... I have several times explained to you. The human being is distinct from animal life in this way, that animal, they do not know what is the aim of life. The human life is meant for realizing, self-realization. If any civilization, that is checking people's progress in the matter of self-realization, that is the most virulent type of violence because people are being checked from the natural advancement of life. This human life is the point when one has to end all the miseries of material existence. That is the aim of human life. If people are not educated to that light, if people are misled in other ways, that is the greatest violence committed to the population. And according to the scripture, they are called atma-han. Atma-han means the greatest violence committed to the population. And according to the scripture, they are called atma-han. Atma-han means suicidal, suiciding.
There is a nice verse that just like this material world is accepted as a great ocean. Now, to cross over a great Atlantic Ocean from New York to, I mean to say, Portugal... Just like Columbus came. Now we have got great big ships, but he had to face many dangers. Just it is very difficult to cross over the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, but if you have got a very good vehicle, ship or anything else, you can very nicely cross over, similarly, the example is given that this material life is a great ocean, and this human body is a good boat. This human body is a good boat for crossing this ocean. And the spiritual master is a good captain. You see? And the instruction of Lord Krishna, or a similar instruction, Vedic instruction, are favorable wind. Just like if you want to cross the Atlantic Ocean from New York, if the wind is blowing westward, then your journey becomes very favorable. So the favorable wind is blowing by this instruction of the Vedas, and there are many stalwart acharyas who are just like the captain, and this human body is just like a good ship. Now, the living soul who is seated in such a favorable condition, if he does not cross over the material ocean, then he is making suicide. He is making suicide. Sa eva atma-han. So we have to take advantage. We have to take advantage of this favorable condition to end this miserable material existence. And if anyone does not take the advantage, then he is committing suicide. That is the version of Bhagavata. Or... Either he is personally committing suicide or any civilization which is checking this process, that is also violent, the most virulent type of violence, because people are misled. So this is the idea of the scriptures, that human life should be utilized only for spiritual self-realization. " — Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 3.21-25, New York, May 30, 1966
light of these words, then, schools are scenes of the worst kind of
violence, where young people are being deliberately and systematically
molded to perform and conform to the standards of materialistic
existence, without a clue as to what human life is about.
If we want schools to be safe and free from violence and to serve as model communities for higher learning, then why not agitate for introducing this subject matter in the schools? Prahlada Maharaja has said:
kaumara acharet prajño
dharman bhagavatan iha
durlabham manuñam janma
tad apy adhruvam arthadam [Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.6.1]
He recommends that from the age of 5 years a child should be educated what is the value of this human life, what he is, what is the aim of life. Not wait for old age. Without this knowledge, the whole life is built on a mistaken premise.