Value Education: The Indian Tradition by Prof. D.P. Mukherjee, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 218 pp, Rs 210.00
This book is an extended and revised version of Prof. Mukherjee'sdoctoral thesis on the ?Impact of Traditions on Socio-moral Education of the Populace in Ancient India?.
Civilisation is based upon certain enduring values which can be called civilisation values. With our history dating back to thousands of years, our major values are enshrined in the spiritual classics, particularly the Upanishads. Subsequently, our later works like the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Panchatantras, the Hitopadesha, the Thirukkural and the Kannada Sangam literature have articulated these basic values.
Prof. Mukherjee feels that our society has seldom lived up to them, and our recent education system has been singularly lacking in any coherent value orientation. Hence he attempts to study value education by going back to ancient texts to identify broad objectives that the education then aimed at:
- Fulfil duties towards family and community.
- Reinforce social bonds and mutual understanding.
- Ensure economic rehabilitation.
- Promote individual and community health.
- Promote a meaningful philosophy of life for cultural enrichment and harmonious development of an individual'ssocial, emotional, moral and spiritual self.
The author begins by describing the jati and varna system in the ancient society. The objectives and nature of value education of the people in ancient India are listed, as the necessity was felt for moral education of its members for socialisation as well as individual development and character building. This gave birth to the concept of Dharma.
The objectives delineated are as follows: * Duties towards one'sfamily and community. The socio-moral values conforming to these objectives are:
- One should establish and maintain loving relations with family members and perform duties accordingly.
- Unity is strength, hence, it is desirable to desist from quarrelling with relatives.
- Parents are to be protected, respected and taken proper care of.
- Man should respect his own wife as well as other womenfolk in the family.
- The greatest of all ashrams is grihasthashram and the greatest meditation is rearing of wife and children.
- One should look after his family members as also his distant relatives.
- One must consume home-made food and share with other family members and relatives.
- Provide shelter to destitute relatives and to old and sick people.
- Protect those who seek shelter.
- Both husband and wife should not transgress the norms of their social relations.
- Chastity and devotion to husband by the wife.
- A guru (teacher) should be respected and served as parents.
- Abstain from sinful activities and commit auspicious deeds.
* The other objective is eradication of superstitions that create rifts between castes and groups:
- Never look down upon caste or class of a person. Greatness or meanness is based on karma, i.e. actions and deeds.
- Tolerance of others? religions.
* Ensure economic rehabilitation and raise the standard of living:
- Earn livelihood by honest means.
- Stick to a traditional occupation and switch over to a new one when necessary.
- Avoid unjust intentions from loan or take bribes or adulterate consumer goods.
- Never spend money recklessly but according to bare necessities.
* Develop the habit of community health and sanitation.
- Keep the home clean.
- Do not pollute drinking water.
- Sinking of wells, afforestation, providing water and homes to destitutes should be undertaken.
* Promote cultural enrichment for a harmonious development of the spiritual self of an individual:
- Avoid bad company.
- Observe moral principles.
- Observe moral norms in speech and behaviour.
- Exercise restraint in sexual pleasures.
- Have a clear mind.
- Act properly and timely.
- Exercise diligence and virility.
- Ingratitude is a sin.
- Make right friends.
- Be contented.
- Abide by the promise made.
- Karma is the only way to emancipation.
- Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
- Avoid indulgence and prosperity at the expense of others.
- Killing of embryo is a sin.
- Pride and insult to others are wrong.
- Forgive, if the situation merits it.
- Adopt falsehood if the situation demands.
In the monarchic ancient India, both the king and the society were governed by Dharma?its scriptures, precepts, values and rituals. Undeniably, even at present, different religious precepts, rituals, mores play a dominant role in the life of the people. It is ultimately exposure to socio-moral values that helps people to cultivate a virtuous conduct that enriches the minds of the people and the society as a whole. (Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Kulpati Munshi Marg, Mumbai-400 007.)