Dr. Savaysachi dasa:
Itâ€™s sad, but also common knowledge, that slaughterhouses kill thousands of helpless
cows daily. But are you aware that there is another kind of slaughterhouse, many
times more numerous, that kills children even more brutally than cows?
Generally it is understood that slaughterhouses are places where innocent animals
are mercilessly killed for satisfying the taste buds of men with a demoniac
mentality. Today we also have similar places to systematically slaughter innocent
children in a sophisticated manner. These â€śchild slaughterhousesâ€ť are the schools
and colleges of the modern educational system.
â€śWhat?â€ť you may ask. â€śThis sounds very harsh and unreasonable.â€ť Please read on and
see for yourself the sad reality.
From the perspective of modern man, HiraĂ«yakaĂ§ipu (â€śone who accumulates gold and
enjoys material comfortsâ€ť) was a thoroughly successful personage. His life was
conducted solely by unrestricted lust and greed, the primary qualities required for
becoming a success today. He wanted his son PrahlĂ¤da to follow in his footsteps, to
become lusty and greedy and achieve material success. So he sent PrahlĂ¤da to the
renowned teachers of that time, Ă‘aĂ«Ă˛a and Amarka, the sons of Ă‡ukrĂ¤cĂ¤rya (one
meaning of this name is â€śexpert in imparting sex educationâ€ť).
PrahlĂ¤daâ€™s teachers tried their best to kill all the devotion for the Supreme Lord,
ViĂ±Ă«u, that PrahlĂ¤da had imbibed (while in the womb of his mother) from his
spiritual master, NĂ¤rada Muni.
Each child born has received a precious giftâ€”after having passed perhaps through
millions of other speciesâ€”in the form of the rare human birth, whereby one can
perfect his existence by reviving his forgotten relationship with the Supreme
Personality of Godhead, and thus end once and for all the cycle of repeated birth
and death. The Vedic literature enjoins:
gurur na sa syĂ¤t sva-jano na sa syĂ¤t
pitĂ¤ na sa syĂ¤j jananĂ© na sĂ¤ syĂ¤t
daivaĂ na tat syĂ¤n na patiĂ§ ca sa syĂ¤n
na mocayed yaĂą samupeta-mĂĄtyum
â€śOne who cannot deliver his dependents from the path of repeated birth and death
should never become a spiritual master, a father, a husband, a mother or a
worshipable demigod.â€ť (SB 5.5.18: â€śLord Ă…Ă±abhadeva’s Teachings to His Sonsâ€ť)
Parents and teachers have an immense responsibility to ensure that the soul sent to
them is properly trained, that is, to be able to overcome saĂ skara by reviving his
spiritual identity. But is this taught in the modern educational system? Not at all.
Rather, students simply learn to unlimitedly increase their desires and to work like
asses to fulfill them, and to indulge in sensual enjoyment till the last moments of
lifeâ€”at which time one is ruthlessly robbed of all that he has earned by his hard
work, and possibly transferred to the body of an ass (more suitable for hard labor).
In this way, all hopes that an innocent child will perfect his life are mercilessly
destroyed in the present-day schools and colleges; therefore they are no better than
The characteristics of a true educational system were nicely described by Ă‡rĂ©
PrahlĂ¤da MahĂ¤rĂ¤ja in Ă‡rĂ©mad-BhĂ¤gavatam:
kaumĂ¤ra Ă¤caret prĂ¤jĂŻo
dharmĂ¤n bhĂ¤gavatĂ¤n iha
durlabhaĂ mĂ¤nuĂ±aĂ janma
tad apy adhruvam arthadam
â€śPrahlĂ¤da MahĂ¤rĂ¤ja said: One who is sufficiently intelligent should use the human
form of body from the very beginning of lifeâ€”in other words, from the tender age of
childhoodâ€”practice the activities of devotional service, giving up all other
engagements. The human body is most rarely achieved, and although temporary like
other bodies, it is meaningful because in human life one can perform devotional
service. Even a slight amount of sincere devotional service can give one complete
perfection.â€ť (SB 7.6.1: â€śPrahlĂ¤da Instructs His Demoniac Schoolmatesâ€ť)
From the primary level, a child should be instructed exclusively in the teachings of
Ă‡rĂ©mad-Bhagavad-gĂ©tĂ¤ and Ă‡rĂ©mad-BhĂ¤gavatam, which include all knowledge necessary
for living happily in this life and beyond. One may question, â€śWill studying
Bhagavad-gĂ©tĂ¤ teach one how to earn his bread?â€ť But if one thinks that schools and
colleges are necessary for learning how to earn bread, he is less intelligent than
even the animals, who earn their bread without undergoing any such official
By natureâ€™s arrangement, all creatures born in this material world know how to eat,
sleep, mate, and defend. Only the most evolved modern man needs a rigorous training
of twenty-five to thirty years (forty to fifty percent of oneâ€™s life) to be able to
begin earning his bread!
For hundreds and thousands of years prior to the modern educational system, even the
so-called primitive human beings have been growing their food, constructing their
houses, and defending themselves. So to claim that the modern educational system is
designed to teach human beings how to earn their bread is actually an insult to that
A more apt laudation of the modern educational system would be how it trains human
beings to snatch bread from the mouth of its fellow being, man and animal alike, in
effort to satisfy the insatiable lust and greed fuelled by the system itself.
Thus hard struggle and cutthroat competition ensue in human society, with the result
that a few powerful men exploit the weaker masses, who earn their bread only by
great struggle. Yet we think that without the modern educational system we would
starve. This mentality is the product a society wherein peopleâ€™s means of earning
their livelihood are directly or indirectly dependent on the modern educational
system; in other words, â€śthe degree earns your bread.â€ť
Although for eternity it has been only the land that provides bread, on the plea of
â€śadvancementâ€ť a very complicated economic system has been designed, wherein degrees
earned after years of hard labor are needed to transport this bread (grown from the
land) to our mouth. Thus the notion â€śno schooling, no breadâ€ť has been instilled in
the mind of modern man.
The sole purpose for which the modern educational system exists is for increasing
oneâ€™s desires to enjoy this world through his senses, which in turn makes him more
and more lusty to do so. They who are able to fulfill their lust become greedy and
thus remain unsatisfied forever, while those who are unable to fulfill their lust
become frustrated. Thus immersed in lust, greed, and frustration, oneâ€™s chances to
contemplate a higher aim in life become null, what to speak of actually
systematically pursuing the path for overcoming birth and death. Hence the child is
spiritually â€śslaughteredâ€ť in modern schools and colleges.
In the Vedic tradition, formal education was never necessary for earning oneâ€™s
livelihood. Education was meant for building character and imparting higher moral
values, leading ultimately to the studentâ€™s becoming fully self-realized. The
responsibility of growing food for society was undertaken by a section thereof, and
the necessary skills for farming, cow protection, construction, and crafts were
learned through apprenticeshipâ€”from oneâ€™s father, uncle, or neighbor.
From the age of five, the child would be sent to a guruâ€™s ashram, the gurukula,
where under strict discipline he would learn about the ultimate aim of human life
and the means to attain it. After a few years of primary education, only those with
brahminical and kĂ±atriya inclinations would continue formal educationâ€”to thoroughly
study Vedic textsâ€”while the others, who would be returning into society, would learn
the skills necessary for their livelihood through apprenticeship, and would start
earning their livelihood by the age of twelve or so.
In a nutshell, the traditional Vedic education trained one to overcome the base
animalistic instincts within usâ€”lust, anger, greed, envyâ€”whereas the modern
educational system aims at develop;ing these instincts.
Although one might appreciate the innate weakness of modern education, he finds
himself so much entrenched in the current socio-economic system that to escape it
seems practically impossible. Therefore His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
PrabhuapĂ¤da, the founder-Ă¤cĂ¤rya of ISKCON, directed and guided his disciples to
establish farm communities based upon Vedic socio-economic guidelines, to enable all
humans to live according to the fundamental elements of ideal Vedic society.
(Savyasachi Das holds a degree in medicine from Madurai Medical College, Dr. M. G.
R. Medical University. Presently he oversees ISKCONâ€™s 100-acre farm community
located at Kathwada village, near Ahmedabad, Gujarat)