Personal Growth - Learning to live
THE TEACHINGBasic literature of Madhyasth Darshan Saha-Astitva-Vaad or Jeevan Vidya has been produced in Hindi by Shri Nagraj as 10 books – 4 darshan, 3 vaad, 3 shastra.
Darshan: (living as an
SHRI NAGRAJ ANSWERSWhat is human dharma?
The extent to which I live in orderliness today, the finesse with which I live today, I can live better than that tomorrow. In this way, living with ever
It was Jeevan Vidya that motivated me to go ahead in life and become a productive member of society,” says Manish Kumar, from Uttar Pradesh, a school dropout scarred by the caste inequalities in his village. The programme enabled him to think positively and proactively. He is now a health volunteer in Asha Parivar. One can find him at Chhatrapati Sahuji Maharaj Medical University (CSMMU), Lucknow, helping the poor access the health benefits provided by the government. He is determined to take this further by opening a hospital for the poor.
“Jeevan Vidya helped me recognise that harmony is already there in existence. It does not have to be constructed. One only needs to understand it, to be in it,” says Shriram Narasimhan from Pune, who has been in the programme for many years, first as a participant and then as a prabodhak (facilitator).
“I learnt that I can achieve happiness, prosperity, relationships and a continuity of the three, by understanding what each of them are,” says Devansh Mittal, an IT professional from Hyderabad who adds that his life has become harmonious and peaceful after attending the Jeevan Vidya programme.
Shri Nagraj, founder of Jeevan Vidya What is it?
Jeevan Vidya or Madhyasth Darshan, as it is also called, is not a dictum, doctrine or an unverified interpretation. Rather, it is a set of propositions about reality. The proposals in Vidya are to be rigorously self-verified beyond doubt. The programme helps in understanding reality both in its dimension of form and formlessness.
Essentially, Jeevan Vidya identifies two distinct and independent components in a human being – the material body and the consciousness (jeevan and chaitanya). The programme aims to integrate the two. Without addressing material needs the needs of the chaitanya cannot be met, for the former are paramount. On the other hand, focusing only on the chaitanya and neglecting the material body is also imbalanced.
Jeevan Vidya points out that while the needs of the material body are fulfilled by the material world, the chaitanya’s needs include self-knowledge, and to understand the right relationship between self and the larger whole – the family, society, nature and universe. It further states that this will come to pass when one intuits that the universe is one. Understanding the innate harmony of the universe is the core of the teaching.
The focus is on developing understanding in the following areas:
Swawalamban: to equip the individual with skills to fulfil material needs. Each person’s strengths are different and are to be addressed accordingly. The underlying message, however, is to reduce these needs to the bare essentials by penetrating the egocentric needs that drive us to acquire. As Shriram says, “Like hundreds of ‘educated’ others in Indian cities in the late 20th century, one fine day I found myself with a job at an MNC; earning what my father was earning at age 55. However, my aspirations and goals kept rising. I strove, forever dissatisfied with the situation. Eventually, I realised that I did not know what I was doing, or why I was doing it. The Jeevan Vidya programme helped me realise the futility of this mad rush.”
Samajikta: to help the individual acquire knowledge of the self, the body, family, society, nature and the larger universe, and to enable him to discover the secret of living in harmony with the rest of life. Through guided classes, the individual understands the purpose of his life, the relationships that define him, and the mutual need we have for each other. Conflict resolution is emphasised as the key to a healthy life. The programme aims to enable the student to understand that both the problems and the solutions lie within. The student is also exposed to the universality of the laws of life from the micro to the macro aspects of the universe. In science, for instance, participants are taught that when the atom exists in total synergy, it is the core of creation; when split, it can lead to tremendous destruction. Breaking the innate harmony of life is therefore seen as the source of society’s discord.
The programme thus leads to a better understanding of the other, the laws of the universe and the imperative to accept complete responsibility for one’s own life.
The founder, Shri Nagraj, was born to a Brahmin family in Karnataka and had many fundamental questions on the propositions of Vedic thought. To find answers to these questions he immersed himself in intense sadhana at Amarkantak in MP, the origin of the river Narmada.
In 1974, he arrived at the realisation that a harmonious, synergetic world order was the natural law. In understanding his natural role, man sees nature, the economy, and the entire society as one whole entity. Development in one area is beneficial only when there is no harm done to any of the other areas.
Starting at the micro level, an individual can be termed harmonious only if he does no harm to his own self by vices or negative traits like anger. Similarly, a family can be deemed harmonious only when there are mutually nourishing relationships. Such families go on to create harmonious societies in villages, towns, and cities.
Sunita Pathak: committed to the philosophy Further, harmony needs to be maintained in our relationships with other humans, by understanding that we all have the same needs. All issues are examined through the perspective of harmony. With nature, harmony is to be maintained, as causing harm to yield short-term benefits could lead to major imbalance. Economics too needs to be humane and inclusive for it to be harmonious.
Collating and presenting these findings as Jeevan Vidya, he affirms that the realisation that we all are naturally interdependent on each other will create a synergetic and harmonious world.
Shri Nagaraj’s discovery is in line with what most sages and seers have discerned, but uniquely, he has created a curriculum that can help students absorb and internalise this insight, not as a dogma but through understanding and self-verification.
President Abdul Kalam has openly appreciated the programme. He said, “This scheme addresses the basic causes of major problems of violence, corruption, exploitation, domination, terrorism and war,’’ adding, “Jeevan Vidya is a teachable human value-based skill that can address inherent conflicts within the mind of the individual, within families, in organisations and in public life.”
Says Sandeep Pandey, social activist and Magsaysay award winner, who has spearheaded implementation of this module at all levels in Asha, “I believe what is needed is an education that equips one to lead life happily, and be a useful member of society and this is why, we, at Asha, adopt the Jeevan Vidya model.”
“At one level, I was taught ‘sarve bhavantu sukinaha’ and at the same time, realised sarve did not mean all but a selective group,” says Sunita Pathak whose quest led her to Jeevan Vidya. Now teaching the programme at the K J Somaiyya College, Mumbai, with her husband, Dr Surendra Pathak, she believes that imparting this wisdom is the purpose of her life.
“In India we have a beautiful word for philosophy. It is called darshan – to see. To see means to know as it is, not assuming. Human beings are seers. Our challenge is to ensure that education gives us the right drishti, to go from assuming to knowing. Seeing cannot be left to experts alone,” says Pawan K Gupta, the founder of Society for Integrated Development of Himalayas (SIDH), Mussourie.
Prof Ganesh Bagaria, Harcourt Butler Technology Institute (HBTI), Kanpur, and, Prof Rajeev Sangal, Director International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Hyderabad are some of its chief proponents, committed to taking it forward in education.
Now, it is part of the curriculum in IIIT Hyderabad, Delhi, and co-curricular in Kanpur and Manipal. In Kanpur, Prof. Ganesh Bagaria has established a Manveeya Prabandhan Santhan. It is a compulsory part of the curriculum in NIT Raipur, and all the engineering colleges of Chhattisgarh State. It has also been introduced in school education (Class 1 to 10).
Prabodhaks are willing to conduct seven-day shibirs anywhere on request, totally free of charge. The only thing that needs to be arranged is the place and logistics. “All the questions in life now have answers,” says Sunita. This pragmatic and lofty initiative is fulfilling the true purpose of education, to give the individual the skills and perspectives to live a happy and productive life. Who can doubt that in years to come the programme will fulfil its aim of transforming society, slowly but surely.
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