Vedaaranya Heritage Arts and Healing Festival 2016

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Dr. Tejinder Walia

Vidyadan Foundation for Education, "Vimal-Tej", Taighat Wadi,
P.O. Panchagani, Dist Satara, Pin: 412805, Maharashtra.

Rethinking Education

This paper invites us to go to the etymological roots of the word Education and the Sanskrit word Vidya. It is an invitation to examine if the present day education does justice to original meaning of these words. This examination would direct one to the path where education is a way of being connected with larger and more fundamental concerns of Life.

Drawing upon the ancient Indian tradition of education from the period of the Upanishads, the legend of Nachiketa would be presented as a metaphor to illustrate two essential, universal attributes of education namely, “Shradha” and “Jignyasa”. While it is difficult to translate these two terms in English, the former relates to the realm of faith and the later to the quest for Truth. Here, the Spirit of Enquiry i.e. the Jignyasa, is born of Shradha - the faith, the love, the respect for life. The quest of the young seeker represents the universality of an inborn wish to find the ultimate meaning of Life and Death. The dialogues between the student and teacher elaborate their attributes and relationship along this journey of enquiry. Here the emphasis is on the harmony between the Physical, the Psychological and the Spiritual dimensions of life.

It is contended here that any significant efforts to revive the true spirit of education in the recent past, at least in the Indian context, have directly or indirectly drawn from this approach to education. Its universal spirit cuts across the constraints of time and space.

Instead of relegating this approach to the realm of philosophy and spirituality we have to apply it to address the crises and pathology in the present day education. The concerns of value education, the class and caste-based constrictions become irrelevant in this context. A quality education for the underprivileged too could find some direction from this approach.


Tejinder Walia is the Founder President of Vidyadan Foundation for Education, Panchgani which aims to open dialogues on significance and alternatives in education. She has a PhD in Psychology and has extensive experience in the field of research and counseling. Since 1997 she has been deeply concerned with spiritual questions. In this context, she has edited and translated commentaries on Kathopanishad  from English into Hindi. She has been involved in training teachers and developing modules on teacher’s training. She is also working towards evolving a meaningful tribal education.