INDIA’S SYSTEM OF FREE EDUCATION – Its Relevance in the Present Context of Increased Corruption and Cheating

The following is an excerpt from a lecture given by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in Chicago on July 6, 1975. This lecture will also give an insight to the readers about the reasons of the degradation of the so-called big personalities, which includes heads of state, ministers and industrialists, who are supposed to lead by example. Recently the IMF chief has been taken into custody for allegedly raping a hotel attendant. A host of reputed industrialists, a telecom minister, bureaucrats and the kin of chief ministers, have been recently caught in the Indian 2G telecom scam. The list of scams can go on and on.

“First-class man means brahminical class. Their occupational duty is that first of all they must become very learned scholars in the Vedic literature (veda-pathād bhaved vipro). After becoming a scholar, it is not that that the brāhmana will enjoy the knowledge himself. No. He will distribute the knowledge to others. First of all he himself must become a learned scholar because if he is not a scholar, what will he teach?  He will teach nonsense. So the first position is that he must become a learned scholar. And the next business is to teach others, to make disciples. Formerly even fifty years or sixty years ago in India, a brāhmana would not accept anyone’s service. He would sit down anywhere, underneath a tree or in the corridor of somebody, and would invite the small village children, whom he would teach a little grammar, little mathematics. And the children would bring various stuffs from their father and mother. Somebody would bring rice, somebody dāl, and somebody something. So he had no necessity of making any contract, that “You give me so many dollars. Then I shall teach you.” No. Free. Free education. In this way India had the system of free education. (pathana-pāthana yajana-yājana)

Then next business of the brāhmana is that he should be a devotee, worshiping a Deity, either Visnu or sometimes other demigod (yajana-yājana). He would personally worship, and also teach others how to. As far as his livelihood was concerned, he would accept whatever people would give by voluntary contribution. People used to give to the brāhmanas (dāna-pratigraha). People were very honest and their mentality was, “This man is teaching our children. He is even teaching us how to worship, how to become well behaved. He does not even charge. So we should give voluntarily.” Thus the brāhmana had no scarcity. He would simply use as much as he required; the balance he would give in charity. Not that, “keep in stock for tomorrow”. No. That is not brāhmana ‘s business. “Whatever has come today, I use it for my necessities of life, and the balance, I give to the poor or somebody else or arrange some festival.”

Everyone requires some income for his maintenance. So this was the brāhmana’s business. There is no question of doing some business or adopting some profession or going to the office or going to the factory. This is not a brāhmana ‘s business.

Then kśatriya is the next class, or the second-class man. So what is his livelihood? His livelihood is to take tax. The kśatriyas were entrusted certain villages, whose duty was that they look after those villages, and ensure that the people are well behaved. So kśatriya’s business was to see whether brāhmana is actually acting as brāhmana, a kśatriya is actually acting as kśatriya and so on.  This was the ruler’s business to see. And to see that nobody is unemployed, nobody is a devil’s workshop. Because, if you have no business or occupation, then your brain will plan something. This plan is cauryam (theft) and cheating. They had no opportunity to plan all these things. So kśatriya’s income is to take some tax. What is that tax? That tax is not in money but in the form of agricultural produce. Since people are engaged in agricultural work, so whatever one has produced, he gives twenty-five percent of it to the ruler. That’s all. That includes income tax, this tax, that tax. No more tax. “Take. Whatever I have got, you take twenty-five percent.” So this is kśatriya’s occupation, second class.

And the third class is the vaiśya (the merchants). Vaiśya’s occupational duty is krśi, or agriculture – to produce food grains, not produce food in the slaughterhouse. No slaughterhouse. Even the fifth class men, the aborigines in the jungle, who did not know how to produce food and how to live, were hunting one animal and then eating. They were not having organized slaughterhouse, like the so-called civilized nations. Oh, how horrible it is. If you want to eat an animal, then you go to the jungle, kill one animal, and eat. The government is not going to maintain a slaughterhouse for you. You see? This is the civilization. So our eatables should be food grains and milk (krśi go-rakśya). krśi means the agricultural process, by which you can produce fruits, flower, vegetables, rice, wheat, and pulses… and you have got milk. Then where is your want or scarcity? This is civilization.

Meat-eating is meant for the lower class of men who do not have knowledge, who remain naked, and they can neither produce food neither cloth in the jungle. It is for them. They also were not very much expert to maintain a slaughterhouse. When you need, you can kill one lower animal, not cow. The cow is not available in the jungle. You can have some deer or some boar. So these unimportant animals were killed by them. That is the fifth class, not the first class, second class, third class or fourth class. No. One who cannot not utilize his brain as first class, second class or third class of men, then he becomes fourth class (śudra), an ordinary worker, whose business is to help the higher three classes.

So in this way everyone must have his means of livelihood. And I have already described that this is the way of livelihood. First-class man, this is livelihood. Second-class man, this is livelihood. And third-class man, this is livelihood. Fourth-class man… And below the fourth-class man, the fifth-class man, the jungle man, whose livelihood is by hunting.

But there is another class of men, who do not accept any of these livelihood means, but they cheat you. We find them nowadays. So many cheaters in big, big cities, and so many pickpockets, so many thieves, rogues, and now the present society is perplexed, “Crime: Why and What to Do?” You are maintaining sixth-class, seventh-class men. Your education is meant for that. Why you are afraid of crimes now? This is the result. Now enjoy the result. As you sow, so shall you reap.

Therefore this Hare Krishna movement is specially meant for making first-class, second-class men at least. Or even third class and fourth class. But what is this? You are producing sixth-class, seventh-class, tenth-class men, and you expect that there will be no crime, people will be happy, it will be peaceful? That is not possible.

If you want to be happiness and peace, then you must take this movement, Krishna consciousness, and try to create at least a group of men who are first class. Just as we are doing. People will see their behavior, their character, their mode of life, and at least they will be attracted.”


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2 thoughts on “INDIA’S SYSTEM OF FREE EDUCATION – Its Relevance in the Present Context of Increased Corruption and Cheating

  1. That is a super-peachy-keen post. Thanks for really blathering on like that! Seriously, I don’t think I could have spent more effort wishing for something heavy to fall on me to erase that nonsense from my mind!


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