Shantanu Prakash, CEO of Educomp Solutions, questions Sadhguru about how education has shaped him. Sadhguru shared the experience of his own formal education growing up. He went on to speak about the purpose of education and how to use it for human wellbeing.
Sadhguru: Good evening everyone.
Questioner (Shantanu Prakash): Sadhguru, to start with, one of the things that I was very curious to know from you, was when we talk about education, what has been your own experience, your own personal experience in education? Within education, what has shaped you or not shaped you, to the person that you have become today?
Sadhguru: That’s a googly.
There are no children, so I think I can share. My experience of education… people ask me, ‘What is my sadhana?’ So usually I tell them, ‘The only… my sadhana has been to remain uneducated.’ Because, when I first went to school, I had no clue why I’m going. Probably, the grown-up people just assumed that children must go to school. Nobody bothers to tell you, ‘Why is it that you have to go to this place? What’s so important about this place that we have to go?’ They were saying things, but which didn’t mean anything to me.
So my time of education… I only went there when I really had to. And even when I went there, my main problem was this - I always found people were talking about things that were not important to them. I’ve always maintained this in my life, it doesn’t matter what rubbish somebody is speaking, if it means something to them, I will listen absolutely. Whatever nonsense it may be, but it means something to that person, I’m willing to listen. If it does not mean anything to the person who is speaking, I don’t understand why I should listen. And I always found in the school, teachers were talking about something that doesn’t mean anything to them. So my ears were never there with them.
So, the less said about my ej… education better. And when I was about seventeen, I decided I will educate myself because it didn’t make sense to go to college. And, you know it’s not like today, these ideas of sabbatical, this, that did not exist. You’re racing to become a doctor. If you cannot, you become an engineer. These are only two things that are there. So, when I… when I passed my… at that time it was called PUC, the twelfth standard, and I said, ‘I’m not going to college.’ The horror that happened in the family is unbelievable. Then I thought okay, the good thing would have been, I should have failed. If… Because I passed and I say, ‘I’m not going to university’, there was such shock and such… as if tragedy has struck the family. I couldn’t believe what they were getting so upset about, because anyway I was not learning anything. I was just going, coming and just getting passing marks and going on.
So this one year, I spent in the university… you know, Mysore University has a great library; I spent my time one whole year. Every day when the library opened at nine o’clock in the morning, I was there. They closed at eight in the evening, they had to push me out. This one year, I just read just about anything, you know… Science, history, geography, literature, just about anything, from popular mechanics to Homer, I read just about whatever came my way.
This one whole year, because… suddenly I had become a… kind of a (an?) enemy in the family, because I’ve not gone to college. Everybody else is educated and you’re not going to college… and you’ve passed and you’re not going. So morning I ate big breakfast and went. This whole year I went without lunch. I came back home and ate dinner in the night. One full year. I was… when I was young, I was always hungry. I was just all the time hungry. It’s not easy for people to understand what it took for me, to sit there without eating for one year and just reading whatever I feel like. So I thought I’ll educate myself. Probably the maximum amount of reading, I… happened at that part of my life.
Why I’m saying this is, what you pursue, you will never forget. What is imposed upon you will never be useful in your life. So when we decided to… when I decided that we must start a school, people rolled their eyeballs, ‘Sadhguru, you?’ I said, ‘Yes, but this school should be different.’ And I spoke to them for a few days continuously, a few people who are involved with us as to what a school should be. I remember very well, I was in my sixth standard. The President of India died. And we went to school and they declared a holiday. That’s a good thing, you know! If it happened when you’re at home, it’s different. But you went to school and then you found out, there’s no school today and two days, no school. So we sat outside and we were discussing and we just thought, if the Prime Minister goes what will happen, if the Chief Minister goes what will happen. We… we literally killed the whole Cabinet. How many days will we get this year?
So why is school such a horrible place to go to? Something is wrong in the way we’re delivering it because, education… I mean, for what purpose we’re educating people also we need to look at it, that’s a more… much more profound thing. But essentially, at the delivery end, at the… at the last part of education system, it’s a very human thing. If that human thing is missing, I don’t see why any child will sit there and listen to somebody, who blabbers something which doesn’t mean anything to them. Because parents are psyching them, ‘Unless you go to school, you won’t make a living; this will happen to you, that will happen to you. If you go to school, I’ll send you to America.’ All this kind of rubbish, not to really educate themselves.
So when we started the school, these… When I spoke to them about how school should be, then our teachers asked, ‘Sadhguru, this is a tall vision. How do we know that we are even fulfilling it?’ I said, ‘See,’ - this is a residential school - I said, ‘Four months, they stay with us. At the end of four months, when they’re going home for their vacation, if children are crying to go home, that means you’re doing well. If they’re crying to come back to school, that means we’re not doing well.’ You won’t believe! Today you will see this in Isha Home School, when they’re leaving, they’re crying. Before the vacation is over, eight days, ten days before the vacation is over, children are back, setting up the school. So that’s good! They’re enjoying their schooling process. Because if that doesn’t happen - how, why are we torturing our children like this? For what end, what purpose?