Vidya Dadaati Vinayam

TRADITIONAL LEARNINGS

S. Ainavolu

6/14/2022 5 min read

Introduction

In Sanskrit, Vidya means right education and Vinayam is the quality of humbleness/humility. Often not focused is the synergetic relation that exists between these two. In the traditional educational system, Vinayam was essential to approach to request Vidya. When Vidya was learned, it was supposed to get reflected in the quality of Vinayam possessed. So, in earlier times ‘arrogant educated’ would have been an oxymoron. To approach Vidya seeking, one needed Vinayam and post-Vidya one is bestowed with more Vinayam. It was expected that proper education shall give and inculcate a deep sense of humility and humbleness in the seeker. Right education makes one know the bounds of his/her knowledge and awareness of limitedness makes one conscious of unknown/yet-to-be-learned vast knowledge. Hence, humility was the natural partial-outcome.

Vidya here stands for holistic education, the right education of the body, mind, and soul. One often sees higher ‘operating levels’ and a sense of entitlement in the educated around. The confidence that almost borders on arrogance are not uncommon to be found in the ‘highly educated’ or ‘higher educated’ these days. Then are we desiring a counter-intuitive possibility by expecting Vidya and Vinayam to co-exist? The answer is simple and straight; our wisdom of the ages clearly defined and pronounced hierarchy in human accomplishments. And, these two have to co-exist.

Education is expected to bring in refinement and polish. An educated person is expected to be more grounded and sophisticated. In terms of interpersonal interactions and the conduct one displays during social occasions, we expect a level of elegance on the part of the educated. Any misbehavior may be condoned if committed by the less educated. Even if the uneducated or semi-educated misbehave, there may be an element of excusability saying that these are not aware of the proper conduct. One may run out of options to defend when an educated misbehaves. Unfortunately, as the elders observe, of late educated are turning more arrogant and the same gets displayed in their conduct.

Education refines

Rousseau is quoted as ‘Man is born free..’. We know that institutions and conditioning matter. Borrowing from James’s notion that nurture decides the outcomes, definitely institutions, and conditioning shape up. However, there is an element of intrinsic element that decides the conduct. It s, an inherent sense of right and wrong, the moral compass. On top of this, there shall be moral/ethical filters that allow or dis-allow the conduct. The ethical frameworks can be an outcome or result of socio-economic level and/or social values (including community/family) that allow or dis-allow certain sets of behavior.

Is man free? The answer is a possible yes if the persons are not bound. Interpreting the freedom and rights of man from Sanatana dharma indicates that humans may pursue anything if they are not bridled by the levers of ‘Values’. It is said that Ahara, Nidra, Bhaya etc. are common to both humans and animals. These are basic instincts. If the instinct is same, possibly the response to that instinct too may be similar. Often we find that the unrefined human response to the above basic instincts is similar to animals. Often gets quoted is the jungle law, meaning that the mighty rule and might decides the justice. However, such a pessimistic scenario has limited applications if a lot of ‘value-add’ happens in society.

Value-driven

The right education and conditioning may bring humaneness to the surface. Then the responses shall be qualitatively different from that of animals. What trains and helps humans stand apart is the right education, the ‘Vidya’. Vidya may tell one what is right and what is wrong. However, the choice of choosing rests with the individual. Inner moral compass helps one decide the course of action. How good is the calibration of the moral compass is a function of desha (place), kaala (times), pratha (precedence). What gets passed as “right” at a place, at a time, and context may be judged as “wrong” in a different combination.

Values are equally important. Vidya empowered humans are intellectually and often instinctively superior to others. If the right ‘Values’ won’t restrain, their actions may become potentially damaging and outcomes collectively worse. It may be an instance of set of few micro gratifications leading to macro devastation/deprivation. In such cases, unsustainable Charwaka shall be proven right! Hence, there is a need for humility/humbleness on the part of the educated so that empathy comes to the fore and helps one take sustainable decisions.

Education and entitlement

Our traditional wisdom doesn’t approve of an arrogant ‘sense of entitlement’. It tells us that the ‘Vidya’ (holistic education) has to give one ‘Vinayam’ (humility/humbleness). We have seen that probably to gain access to Vidya one may had to display the Vinayam then. An educated without the quality of humility is like the wrong side of the knife. Can cut unintended and cause damage. Surprisingly, wisdom says it is Vinayam that give Patrata (eligibility), and not education by itself. Thus, it is said that it is the ‘Vinayam’ that is given by the Vidya that gets one the ‘Patrata’ (eligibility to seek or expect any). Patrata is claiming the “rightful dues”. We often assume that education gives us the straight right to expect and even demand. But the moderating factor as per our traditional wisdom is Vinayam. Thus, Vidya moderated by Vinayam gives one Patrata. Patrata is the characteristic that manifests in the educated displaying modesty/humbleness that helps one expect or seek any.

Recognition and money shall follow the deserving is the reasonable belief. One who is rightly educated and conducts himself/herself with humility/humbleness shall definitely be in the consideration zone and gets blessed by the deserving rewards/recognition. Monetary benefits are part of such package. These shall follow. Then the most important aspect that is shared by our wisdom is, one is expected to conduct and operate along the ‘Dharma’ when one is gifted with the monetary rewards as result of the education and humility combination. It is rightful conduct that has to follow when one gets money. Thus, it is said that finally it is the dharmic conduct of the individual that gives on ‘Sukham’.

On a closing note

Logical flow, linkages, and points discussed are highly noteworthy as current times are pushing individuals to pursue Pleasure (Sukham) immediately and at any cost. Hedonistic tendencies around make the society short-sighted and conduct, in general, is driven by ‘what is there immediately for me?’. An orientation towards Dharma makes one medium-term and long-term oriented. Mutual damage-causing schemings shall be less in vogue, collaborative projects may happen frequently, and individuals with ‘gold-rush’ tendencies shall be lower in number. This can only happen if the realization dawns that well-deserving riches earnt need to be spent in a Dharmic manner and that shall alone give one sustainable ‘Sukham’.

Short-run individual interest maximization efforts need to give way to long-run collective value optimization. Wrong lane driving to climate concerns shall be taken care if the medium to long-run orientation is given weightage compared to myopic pushing for quick gains. One has to accept the reasonable gestation periods. Time crashing has limitations. The beginning of such realization lies in education. When the right education gives proper attitude to individuals, collective good shall happen can be the expectation. An unbiased coverage of different times, and historical events including recent century developments, consumerism growth, and prevailing development models need to find space in our academic syllabus. STEM is fine but roots too are important. Then there shall be a welcome behavioral change from anthropo-centric entitlement attitude and expectations. The beginning, as is said here, is the proper Vidya that inculcates the proper attitude of Vinaya. Then shall come a major course correction.