n by M Venkaiah Naidu
Ever since I became the vice-president, I have been visiting various universities to attend their convocations. I keep reflecting on the glorious Indian heritage, the heights to which education had reached in the past and the ways in which we can re-infuse that spirit of excellence in our education system. We have a rich tradition of debate and dialogue in the pursuit of knowledge. The Upanishads are an eloquent testimony to the constant, constructive dialogue between the teacher and the taught. Thanks to innumerable thinkers, researchers and teachers who absorbed the best in the world and charted out a path on their own, India emerged as a global centre of learning and was described as “Vishwaguru”. The world looked up to India.
“We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made,” said Albert Einstein. Mark Twain described India as “the cradle of human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great-grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only.”
Ancient India was home to some of the famous centres of learning like Takshashila, Nalanda and Pushpagiri, which attracted knowledge seekers and savants from across the country and the world. The Vedas and subjects such as agriculture, philosophy, mathematics, archery, military arts, surgery, medicine, astronomy, futurology, magic, commerce, agriculture, music and dance were taught at these centres of higher learning. In the 7th century AD, Xuanzang, a Chinese scholar, studied with many famous Buddhist masters at the famous university at Nalanda. When he returned, he carried with him some 657 Sanskrit texts. With the emperor’s support, he set up a large translation bureau in Xi’an with collaborators from all over East Asia. Chanakya, the author of Arthashastra and Charaka, famous Ayurvedic physician, were products of Takshashila.
The excavations of urban settlements and buildings at Harappa and Mohenjodaro have proved that India was ahead of others in the world at that time. India’s priceless contribution of the zero and decimal system and its advancements in the fields of metallurgy speak of its greatness as an early world civilisation. Kanad spoke of “anu” and its indestructible nature long before John Dalton propounded the atomic theory. Sushrutha is known as the father of plastic surgery. India could achieve this excellence because it valued learning. It is also a country that welcomed good ideas from everywhere and said in the Rig Veda: Aano bhadraah krathavo yantu vishwathaha (Let noble thoughts come to us from all sides). This assimilation, acceptance and adaptation, leading to ideation, lay at the heart of India’s progress in the realm of ideas.
n by M Venkaiah Naidu