Reader: In the whole of our discussion,
you have not demonstrated the necessity for education; we always
complain of its absence among us. We notice a movement for compulsory
education in our country. The Maharaja Gaekwar has introduced it in his territories. Every eye
is directed towards them. We bless the Maharaja for it. Is all this effort then
of no use?
Editor: If we consider our civilization to be the highest, I have
regretfully to say that much of the effort you have described is of no use. The
motive of the Maharaja and other great leaders who have been working in this
direction is perfectly pure. They, therefore, undoubtedly deserve great praise.
But we cannot conceal from ourselves the result that is likely to flow from
What is the meaning of education? It simply means a knowledge of
letters. It is merely an instrument, and an instrument may be well used or
abused. The same instrument that may be used to cure a patient may be used to
take his life, and so may a knowledge of letters. We daily observe that many men
abuse it and very few make good use of it; and if this is a correct statement,
we have proved that more harm has been done by it than good.
The ordinary meaning
of education is a knowledge of letters. To teach boys reading, writing and
arithmetic iscalled primary education. A peasant earns his bread honestly. He has ordinary
knowledge of the world. He knows fairly well how he should behave towards his
parents. his wife, his children and his fellow villagers. He understands and
observes the rules of morality. But he cannot write his own name. What do you
propose to do by giving him a knowledge of letters? Will you add an inch to his
happiness? Do you wish to make him discontented with his cottage or his
tot? And even if you want to do that, he will not need such an education.
Carried away by the flood of western thought we came to the conclusion, without
weighing pros and cons, that we should give this kind of education to the
Now let us take higher education. I have learned Geography,
Astronomy, Algebra, Geometry, etc. What of that? In what way have I benefited
myself or those around me? Why have I learned these things? Professor Huxley has
thus defined education: "That man I think has had a liberal education who
has been so trained in youth that his body is the ready servant of his will and
does with case and pleasure all the work that as a mechanism it is capable of,
whose intellect is a clear, cold, logic engine with all its parts of equal
strength and in smooth working order ... whose mind is stored with a knowledge
of the fundamental truths of nature .... whose passions are trained to conic to
heel by a vigorous will, the servant of a tender conscience ... who has learnt
to hate all vileness and to respect others as himself. Such a one and no other, I
conceive, has had a liberal education, for he is in harmony with nature. He
will make the best of her and she of him."
If this is true education, I must
emphatically say that the sciences I have enumerated above I have never
been able to use for controlling my senses. Therefore, whether you take
elementary education or higher education, it is not required for the main thing.
It does not make men of us. It does not enable us to do our duty.
that is so. I shall have to ask you another question. What enables you to tell
all, these things to me? If you had not received higher education, how would you have been able to
explain to me the things that you have?
Editor: You have spoken well. But my
answer is simple: I do not for one moment believe that my life would have been
wasted, had I not received higher or lower education. Nor do I consider that I necessarily serve because
I speak. But I do desire to serve and in endeavoring to fulfill that desire, I make use of the education
I have received. And, if I am
making good use of it, even then it is not for the millions, but I can use it
only for such as you, and this supports my contention. Both you and I have come
under the bane of what is mainly false education. I claim to have become free
from its ill effect, and I am to giving you the benefit of my experience
and in doing so, I am demonstrating the rottenness of this education.
have not run down a knowledge of letters in all circumstances. All I have now
shown is that we must not make of it a fetish. It is not our Kamadhuk. In its
place it can be of use and it has its place when we have brought our senses
under subjection and put our ethics on a firm foundation. And then, if we feel
inclined to receive that education, we may make good use of it. As an ornament
it is likely to sit well on us. It now follows that it is not necessary to make
this education compulsory. Our ancient school system is enough.
Character-building has the first place in it and that is primary education. A
building erected on that foundation will last.
Reader: Do I then understand that
you do not consider English education necessary for obtaining Home Rule?
Editor., My answer is yes and no. To give millions a knowledge of English is to
enslave them. The foundation that Macaulay laid of education has enslaved us. I do not suggest that he has any such intention,
but that his been the result. Is
it not a sad commentary that we should have to speak of Home Rule in a
And it is worthy of note that the systems which the Europeans
have discarded are the systems in vogue among us. Their learned men continually
make changes. Weignorantly adhere to their cast-off systems. They are trying each division to
improve its own status. Wales is a small portion of England. Great efforts are
being made to revive a knowledge of Welsh among Welshmen. The English
Chancellor, Mr. Lloyd George is taking a leading part in the movement to make
Welsh children speak Welsh. And what is our condition? We write to each other in
faulty English, and from this even our M.A.s are not free; our best thoughts are
expressed in English., the proceedings of our Congress are conducted in English;
our best newspapers are printed in English. If this state of things continues
for a long time, posterity will- it is my firm opinion- condemn, and curse us.
It is worth noting that, by receiving English education, we have enslaved the
nation. Hypocrisy, tyranny, etc., have increased; English-knowing Indians have
not hesitated to cheat and strike terror into the people. Now, if we are doing
anything for the people at all, we are paying only a portion of the debt due to
Is it not a painful thing that, if I want to go to a court of justice, I must employ the English language as a medium. that when
I become a barrister. I may not speak my mother tongue and that someone else should have to translate to
me from my own language? Is not this absolutely absurd? Is it not a sign of
slavery? Am I to blame the English for it or myself'? It is we. the
English-knowing Indians. that have enslaved India. The curse of the nation will
rest not upon the English but upon us.
I have told you that my answer to your
last question is both yes and no. I have explained to you why it is yes. I shall
now, explain why it is no.
We are so much beset by the disease of civilization
that we cannot altogether do without English-education. Those who have already
received it may make good use of it wherever necessary. In our dealings with the
English people, in our dealings with our own people, when we can only correspond
with them through that language, and for the purpose of knowing how disgusted
they (the English) havethemselves become with their civilization, we may use or learn English, as
the case may be. Those who have studied English will have to teach morality to
their progeny through their mother tongue and to teach them another Indian
language; but when they have grown up, they may learn English, the ultimate aim
being that we should not need it. The object of making money thereby should be
eschewed. Even in learning English to such a limited extent we shall' have to
consider what we should learn through it and what we should not. It will be
necessary to know what sciences we should learn. A little thought should show
you that immediately we cease to care for English degrees, the rulers will prick
up their ears. Reader: Then what education shall we give?
Editor: This has been
somewhat considered above, but we will consider it a little more. I think that
we have to improve all our languages. What subjects we should learn through them
need not be elaborated here. Those English books which are valuable, we should
translate into the various Indian languages. We should abandon the pretension of
learning many sciences. Religious, that is ethical, education will occupy the
first place. Every cultured Indian will know in addition to his own provincial
language, if a Hindu, Sanskrit: if a Mohammedan, Arabic; if a Parsee, Persian.,
and all, Hindus. Some Hindus should know Arabic and Persian; some Mohammedans and
Parsees, Sanskrit. Several Northerners and Westerners should learn Tamil. A
universal language for India should be Hindi, with the option of writing it in
Persian or Nagari characters. In order that the Hindus and the Mohammedans may
have closer relations, it is necessary to know both the characters. And, if we
can do this, we can drive the English language out of the field in a short time.
All this is necessary for us, slaves. Through our slavery the nation has been
enslaved, and it will he free with our freedom.
Reader: The question of
religious education is very difficult.
Editor: Yet we cannot do without it. India will never be
godless. Rank atheism cannot flourish in this land. The task is indeed
difficult. My head begins to turn as I think of religious education. Our
religious teachers are hypocritical and selfish; they will have to be
approached. The Mullahs the Dasturs and the Brahmins hold the key in their
hands. but if they Will not have the good sense, the energy that we have derived
from English education will have to be devoted to religious education. This is
trot very difficult only the fringe of the ocean has been polluted and ;t is
those who are within the fringe who alone need cleansing. We who come under
this' category can even cleanse ourselves because my remarks do not apply to the
millions. lit order to restore India to its pristine condition, we have to
return to it. In our own civilization there will naturally be progress
retrogression. reforms, and reactions., but one effort is required, and that
is to drive out Western civilization. All else will follow.