In this conversation with actress Manisha Koirala, Sadhguru speaks about education for India’s youth and the different paths offered by Isha Foundation. In Isha Vidhya schools, children are prepared for employment, giving them a way out of the economic pit of rural agriculture. Isha Home School provides quality education in a home-like environment, while Isha Samskriti offers training in Classical arts and focuses on building the body and mind to fullest capability.
Manisha Koirala: I spoke to you in the morning and you were sharing about Isha Foundation’s ground work that you’re doing with children because children are our future tomorrow and to… I would want you to share what you have told me, about the teaching that you were training the children, to the audience because I think that’s brilliant, what you were sharing. Can you please repeat that, Guruji, about the work Isha Foundation is doing in educating the children?
Sadhguru: See, when we say education, what is the purpose of the education that we’re doing? At different stages of evolution of a culture or a nation, we need to educate people differently. Suppose we were at continuous war, we would be training our youth to fight. Right now, we are in an economic pit and we see a possibility, right now we’re talking about entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship everywhere. So like this, at different times, we need to train them for different things. Having said that, we know that sixty-five to seventy percent of the Indian population is in rural India. I don’t know what images people who live in cities, have about rural India, but it’s a pathetic life today. It’s not a peaceful, countryside living. It’s bad, okay? Nourishment is bad, infrastructure is bad, everything is bad. Life in rural India is no more that idyllic, poetic stuff – it is not – because we tried to shift from what is called as subsistence farming to commercial farming. It should have been done in a planned way, in a time-bound manner. We have this problem about not having timelines for anything. Whatever it is, we don’t have timelines. We think we can do it eternally.
Manisha Koirala: We don’t plan.
Manisha Koirala: We don’t plan, focused planning (Sadhguru laughs).
Sadhguru: They’re having their clock ticking. No, there is no timelines – when… when is this job going to be complete? We think we can do b… See, we’re talking about being a developing country. We’re developing, developing, developing. Tell us, when will we be developed country (Laughter)? If we are developing, at some point we must become developed, isn’t it? Is there a target timeline? Okay, by this year, we plan to be a developed country and these are the goals – there is no such thing. We’re going on developing. Like this, agriculture moving from subsistence to cash farming, it should have been done in a planned time-bound way. We just let it be like that. So these people, who had one acre, two acres, three acres of land, they were growing what they need on their land and they were eating well. They had no money, they were in rags, they had no drinking water, no electricity, but they were robust. A village person means he was robust. Today, you go into the village, they have drinking water, they have electricity – some villages still don’t have but largely they have – everybody has a cellphone, they have internet kiosks. But you will see sixty percent of the rural population in India has shrunk like this (Gestures). Their skeletal system has not grown to full size because they’re malnourished. When they were eating food grown on their land, they ate variety of things. Today he is growing sugarcane, he gets cash in his hand, he comes and watches your cinema (Laughter) or gets drunk. Not wrong, I’m saying that’s the only entertainment he has, let him watch (Laughter). There’s nothing else in his life – either a cricket match, or a cinema, or drink. There’s really nothing else. I mean, what else is there in the village? A cricket match, or a cinema, or drink – these are the only three things, which make it worthwhile living for him (Laughs). Otherwise, everything is dreary, hard work, no result. When we did agriculture as subsistence farming, they… If we, today, we are ploughing means there is a ploughing song. To… Tomorrow, we are weeding means weeding song. Planting means planting song. Like this, there were… Harvest means harvest songs and dance. There was a community. With that, they were doing agriculture. Today, you go into the village, two-two acres are all barbed wire fenced. “My land is my land, your land is your land. I won’t let you step into my land and I… you… I can’t step into your land.” You can’t run agriculture like this for this kind of population. It needs a community, it needs a certain joy, it needs a certain involvement and relationship. You just want to do commercial thing, then you should have done something else. You should have merged everybody’s lands and run big farms. Unless your land tract is large enough, there is no way to make agriculture profitable. There is no way. And if it’s large enough, you need a community. “Today, everybody comes and ploughs in my land, tomorrow all of us go… go and plough in your land” – this is how things were happening. Now for everything, I have to pay money. When I pay everything, in the end all I have is debt. So, the education for them is only to get out of this economic pit. So at six, they will start English language and computers. Within one year, all of them (Laughs) are speaking fluent English in our schools. Sixty percent of them are going to school. This’s the first generation going to school but they are fluently speaking in English. You should see the joy on the parents’ faces because they think their children have been to another planet (Manisha Koirala laughs). They come and they start talking in English (Both laugh). It’s an unbelievable scene, it’s something you must see. Tears will come to you if you enter the school. That is one form of schooling, where mainly towards employment, mainly towards moving them out of that situation. Another form of education is we have Isha Home School, which is for the affluent, which is run by highly trained volunteer teachers. And this is a household kind of school, where every twenty children live with a committed couple, who bring them up till… from age of six to a certain point. All schooling happens largely in the home, except for labs, playgrounds and libraries. From eighth standard, they move to the high school, which is there. Our eleventh and twelfth is not two years, we made it three years because we are bringing so much talent into them in terms of music, art, theater, leadership, business, various aspects, so that when they step out into their undergrad, they are very mature and competent people. So I said, “One year extra. If you want to do schooling with us, it is not twelve years, it is thirteen years.” So you cross the bad number also (Both laugh).
Manisha Koirala: It’s really brilliant, Guruji.
Sadhguru: And another form of education is where there is no academics. These children come at six and they have to commit for twelve years’ stay. Here, we teach only yoga, kalaripayattu (Referring to an ancient Indian martial arts tradition from Kerala),
classical music, classical dance, Sanskrit language and English language. This is focused just to build a human body and the human brain to its fullest capability, without any intent. This’s… The most stupid thing is asking a three-year-old child, “What will you become? What will you become” (Few laugh). “I want to be a doctor” – at the age of three (Laughter)! So, without thinking what I will become, just growing this body and growing this brain to the fullest capability, with utmost balance. You will see these children, if you come and see them, they can sit like this (Gestures) unmoving for five, six hours, okay? Age of twelve-fifteen years of age, they will simply sit like this (Gestures) unmoving for five, six hours at a time. That’s the level of stability we brought into them (Laughs).
Manisha Koirala: Wow! I… Guruji, actually…
Sadhguru: Most adults cannot do it.
Manisha Koirala: I know, I know (Sadhguru laughs). I mean, forget five, six hours, I think for one minute is also difficult (Both laugh). Two minutes is difficult.
Sadhguru: Hey, one minute is a bad case (Laughter).
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