Kolkata has been privileged to listen to Swami Parthasarathy, an internationally eminent philosopher, and spiritual guide, for more than three decades. Swamiji is scheduled to come to Kolkata to deliver a talk on THE ROLE OF EDUCATION on Thursday, 22-Nov-2018 from 3.30 to 5 pm at Biswa Bangla Convention Centre, New Town. In an interview, the mentor discussed how one can make the right choice at every juncture of life like course of study, career etc. Shri A. Parthasarathy is the author of the book The Fall of the Human Intellect. Excerpts:
➢ What do you envisage is the role of education?
A: Education comprises two facets. One is to impart specific knowledge as per the student’s natural interest like medicine, engineering, law etc. The other is to provide the means to develop, build, strengthen the intellect. Intellect is the capacity to think, reason, judge and decide. A strong intellect alone can help you to control your emotions and apply your intelligence in the right place and time. The intellect has been neglected to a point of fault and has plummeted the world over. The role of education is to strengthen the intellect alongside gaining intelligence.
➢ Is there a way the current education curricula/syllabi can be restructured in order to build a better society?
A: The current education is based only on acquiring information/knowledge laid down by our predecessors. That can develop one’s intelligence which is necessary for a living. But the focus need not be only on the utilitarian value of education. Alongside the intellect has to be developed. That is the crux of education. The building of the intellect is not at the expense of gaining intelligence. The ways and means of developing the intellect must be introduced along with the provision of gaining intelligence. That should build a better society, a better country, a better world.
➢ You seem to emphasize on the development of intellect. How does one develop it? Is there a structured program offered by any institute for this?
A: The Vedanta Academy at Malavali Hills in India provides continual three-year full- time residential courses for the youth. The course material constitutes eleven texts. For those who cannot attend the Academy personally can make use of the e-learning courses which provides the same material. The accent is on developing and strengthening one’s Intellect which is the means to meet the challenges of the world and establish personal growth.
➢ How is this relevant for youth?
A: The knowledge and the courses are meant and directed more for youth rather than the rest of mankind. Divorces round the world have shot up to 60/70 %. Relationships are much strained and the entire world is steeped in individual depression and external militancy and terrorism. It all stems from the lack of development of the intellect. One does not learn this technique in the evening of life. It is, therefore, necessary to introduce this training from an early age to lead a peaceful and productive life.
➢ Can you give us an example of the difference between intellect and intelligence?
There was a case more than 70 years back which was argued in the Chennai High Court. It was the case of forgery. The defending lawyer spoke for 6 hours trying to convince the judge it was not a forgery. The prosecutor was asked for his comments after the completion of the lawyer’s defense. He asked the honourable judge to put up the original document against the light
“Do u see a watermark my lord”
“Yes, it is an elephant watermark”.
“This paper with an elephant watermark was manufactured in 1932. The document is dated 1930. The document was made 2 years before the paper was manufactured.”
And he walked out!
That is a typical illustration of the intellect prevailing over intelligence.
Intelligence is a mere knowledge provided by schools and universities. Medical school provides the knowledge of medicine. Engineering school provides knowledge of engineering. But you need a powerful intellect to put this knowledge into practice. Millions of doctors have passed through medical school but one person found out the cure for tuberculosis. Millions of engineers have passed through engineering college but one person designed the Euro tunnel. That spells the difference between intelligence and intellect.