AN INVITATION

God manifesting in human form as Sri Sathya Sai Bhagavan, has, like in earlier Avatars, not only made His life His Message but also blazed many new trails. While Swami's monumental Missions in Healthcare and Drinking Water Schemes have understandably attracted much attention, it is through His Mission in Education that Swami is sending His most profound and revolutionary message to mankind.

Swami constantly reminds us that character development must be the backbone of all educational systems, whatever their worldly objectives might be. Values occupied, until recently, the foremost place worldwide in the grooming of students. Lately, however, education has been reduced, with alarming rapidity, to a marketable commodity with heavy focus on specialised skills rather than on fundamental human values. On the face of it, such a shift of emphasis seemed a smart way of adapting to changing times, and churning out whiz kids became the order of the day, especially for the so-called brand institutions. However, the realisation is slowly beginning to dawn, at least in some quarters that knowledge without compassion can lead to inhuman behaviour, with dangerous consequences to Society as a whole.

For over forty years, Swami has created single-handed, a miraculous and seamless blend of ancient values and modern curriculum, to give new meaning to higher learning. Indeed, Swami's achievement in the area of value-based education is both remarkable and path breaking. Yet, it has received little global attention even though it has become almost indispensable for the survival of humanity today. H2H has therefore decided to create an OPEN FORUM on Value-based Education and invites all who are seriously interested in the future of education to use our space to air their views. What we are looking for are not mere blue prints of do's and don'ts but scholarly reflections on the road mankind has tread in the past, where we are today, where we should go in the future, and what fate awaits us if we choose not to.

Elsewhere, we offer a brief thumbnail view of the journey of humanity thus far and the cross roads at which it finds itself today. Hopefully this would help readers to do their own introspection and inquiry.

Dear Reader,

- Please go carefully through our survey, incomplete though it might be.
- Please spend some time reflecting intensely on what we have written.
- Look out into the world of today, and examine how, in your view, value-based education can help.
- Look up web sites dealing with various socio-economic issues relating to poverty, crime, exploitation of children and women, gross social injustice, excessive and reckless consumption, huge and wasteful military expenditure, unwanted polarisation of Society based on narrow sectarian views, economic exploitation, etc.
- Collect statistics related to the above and mull over it. And then examine how value-based education can produce better citizens who would open the floodgates of love, sacrifice, and compassion, leading to the mitigation of misery the world over.
- Finally, give expression to your thoughts and conclusions via a scholarly essay prepared for our Forum, so that you can share your views with large audience. Before you send your essay, first critically examine it please, and may be, you could try it out on a limited circle of friends to check it out.

This is a great opportunity for you to make your views known and be heard by the world. To the extent possible, we would do our best to use H2H and Radio Sai to share your views with the world at large.

The time has come to speak out forcefully in support of Dharma (righteousness) and tell the world in no uncertain terms about what Swami is doing to strengthen the practice of Dharma in innumerable ways, especially by reshaping and giving new depth to modern education.

Hoping you would respond to our appeal.


The following overview is an attempt to stimulate and steer your thoughts towards the issues that confront humanity today. It is our perception that the future of humanity depends crucially on how individuals relate to Society and Nature, a relationship that could prove disastrous unless based on basic human values. In practical terms, it is our belief, that unless education everywhere is based on Swami's model, unless Educare is taken seriously and made the basis of all educational systems, humanity is in deep trouble. Right now, humanity is faced with troublesome issues like terrorism, poverty, AIDS, exploitation and so on. Yes, there are concerned people and organisations that seek to address and fix the problems listed above and many that have not been. But unless all individuals have a universal outlook and mindset rooted in Sathya, Dharma, etc., and unless our lives both at the individual and collective levels are firmly based on Swami's teachings, we just would not be able to really solve in any substantial measure the problems facing modern society; anything else would be at best a band-aid approach.

H2H wishes to make people come out and express themselves so that the world becomes aware of the urgency of reshaping education everywhere and giving it a firm foundation, without which, we would at best drift to more and more chaos and insecurity. H2H hopes all concerned devotees would take advantage of this opportunity and give strong expression to their views on this subject.

A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF MANKIND'S PROGRESS THUS FAR

When man first appeared on earth, his preoccupation was almost entirely with individual survival and security. He had to personally take care of all his needs related to food, water and shelter. In due course, thanks to God-given intelligence, man learnt to go beyond himself and his family to develop association to form tribes, communities and societies, leading turn to increasing diversity, structure and stratification in mankind. Man then realised that for smooth functioning of a stratified society, there had to be appropriate rules and codes of conduct. Guided by inner instincts, rule of law slowly came be based, to some degree or other, on principles of fair play and justice. With the emergence of religion and philosophic thought, primitive and intuitive regulation gave way to more sophisticated and organised rule of law, often with strong moral overtones.

Over the centuries, even as human society became progressively more and more complex, specialised activities began to take root. For example, there came a stage when agriculture had to be supplemented with facilities for trading and bartering. From the middle-ages onwards, the growth of complexity and the emergence of specialised sectors have become increasingly rapid. Thus, within the last thirty years or so, thanks to the revolution in microelectronics and the consequent communication revolution, the world has seen the emergence of a new sector, the Information Industry, which, incidentally, is beginning to dominate our daily life in increasing measure.

The communication revolution , rapid growth in air travel, the exponential growth of population [with population currently standing at 6.5 billion and threatening to become 10 billion by 2050], the emergence of terrorism as a disruptive force, the ugly scramble for natural resources, the devastation of the environment and the eco-system, the increasing signs of global warming - all these are sending strong danger signals. Red lights are flashing and alarm bells are ringing, but like Nero of history, humanity seems to be steeped in supreme indifference, oblivious to the threats round the corner.

Many say: "Why bother? Have a great time and let future be damned."? If our ancestors had behaved this way and if they had not worried about future generations, would we be where we are today? Did God create humans so that they could sink low in selfishness, self-indulgence and sense gratification? Is the human body designed for such high-speed and reckless living? Is it necessary to sustain a life style, which makes even two-year olds get sucked into the rat race by attending tough pre-kindergarten schools, so that their parents could admit them into "good" kindergarten schools? Should family give way to people living together to suit their convenience and are old people to be discarded the way old socks are? Have compassion, forbearance, tolerance and selfless love become wholly irrelevant? Can Society really survive without them?

Swami says that without love, we cannot survive. Indeed, while a calf can stand up almost as soon as it is born to drink milk, human babies have to be picked up and fed by the mother for almost a year; otherwise they would be dead. Later the baby may become a whiz kid, win the Nobel Prize and all that, but when young, it is as helpless as anyone can be. Yes, it is mother's love that has kept us all alive and seen us through childhood. Should we now create a new order in which the sacrifice of the mother is conveniently brushed aside with a variety of false arguments, so that we can be "free"? and do we as we please?

The issue of indifference to the physical mother is closely related to the indifference that is being increasingly shown to Mother Nature as well. Is Nature a mere repository from which we draw as convenient and as we please or is it our collective Mother? The time has come to give serious thought to these and related questions.

Irrespective of religion and political philosophy, the hard fact of the matter is that

1. The amount of land available on earth is fixed.
2. The amount of water available for humanity is fixed.
3. And the population is constantly growing.

The time has come to seriously ask:

- Can we go on forever as we are doing now?
- Is the future to be decided by a competition between the various specialised sectors of modern society and a related struggle for survival?
- Can we live intensely in the present ignoring the future?

Many have been concerned about such matters and all sorts of solutions are even being proposed. However, they are all localised solutions. For example, some are concerned with fighting the spread of AIDS. Some are concerned with moving away from fossil fuels. Some are concerned with elimination of child abuse. Otherwise are fighting hard to eliminate poverty, and so on. All these efforts are welcome and are to be commended. But from an overall perspective, they represent a patchwork with plenty of rough edges. Harsh though it might seem, the fact of the matter is that it is like trying to treat a badly wounded man with band-aids.

The problems mentioned above are interlinked, and any solution must therefore be a comprehensive one. If one examines carefully, the problems all arise because of a variety of human weaknesses and the propensity of the Mind to follow the senses. In turn, this implies that unless one takes Swami's teachings seriously, one cannot really hope to find lasting solutions and escape from the slippery slope on which one now finds oneself. Which brings us to our theme: Go back to basic values, and make sure all education is based on these fundamental and primordial values.

It is well to realise that Truth, Righteous conduct etc., are basic to human nature and came much before religions did. Sathya, Dharma etc., cannot therefore be dismissed as mere "Hindu value system"? as some are prone to do. Love, forbearance and compassion reflect the spirit of the Soul latent in all humans. The question we are raising is: "Does life really have a meaning if the Soul which is the very core of our being is shut out?"

For centuries, in the name of sense gratification, the Soul has been denied self-expression. That in turn has allowed the ego aspect of humans to dominate, causing all the problems we now face. Allowing the Soul to express itself and guide our lives is what really Educare is all about. How can our lives be complete if the Soul is denied expression? How can there be light if all doors are shut?

Dear Reader, what we have presented might not represent a scholarly editorial. We hope, however, it has enough substance to make you take a minute off to reflect on the issues we have raised. They are crucial to your own future, the future of your family and community and indeed to humanity as a whole. As a matter of fact, they touch upon the very existence of this beautiful ship given to us by God, called Planet Earth.

Remember, there is only one ship and this one has no life-boats! Should we not preserve it? How to, is the question, and our view is that making Educare a universal philosophy is the answer. Think about it and write about it!

Best wishes.


A WORD TO INTENDING CONTRIBUTORS

As mentioned elsewhere, this is an Open Forum and we welcome serious contributions. To prospective contributors we would like to say:
- Please make sure you give your full name and address.
- Please include some details about your educational and professional background, including where you are employed .
- Please include proper references, like the websites which you have consulted, the books and articles you have quoted from etc. We need this information because later we might like use those sources ourselves.

If you need any further details or clarifications, we are at your service. As always, we can be reached at: h2h@radiosai.org

Thank you. Jai Sai Ram.

H2H Team.

For any comments, suggestions or queries, please write to us at h2h@radiosai.org

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