Present social panorama
Today when a child is born, his fate is pre-destined. Some children are born in rich families & some are born poor. The poor can get neither nutritious food nor good education nor can they wear good clothes. They cannot enjoy all the amenities the rich kids are able to get.
Children up to 4 or 5 years are very much cared by their parents. They are also admitted to school at this age. Poor children do not go to school. They roam here and there and play.
The government provides free education from class 1 to 12 (Intermediate). Moreover, private sectors are also allowed. However, Primary education in government schools is very poor. The poor and rural children read in these schools. The rich and the middle class families spend according to their financial condition. But they admit their children to private schools due to good environment, discipline, accommodation, good education, learning English and other facilities. Like boys, girls also go to schools in cities, but villagers hardly take interest in girls’ education. Usually they are less oriented towards education and girls are always neglected by them.
There is a long list of subjects for education like Hindi or Regional languages, English, Mathematics, Science (Physics, Chemistry, Zoology, Biology) Social Science, History, Geography, Moral Science, Fine Arts, Music, Sports that have been mentioned in the curriculum. But there is not much co-ordination among them. Today parents, teachers and students always pay heed to the subjects that can help them financially in the long run. So they neglect the subjects like music, arts or social science. Children sing songs without knowing anything about tune and rhythm. They never get acquainted with the musical instruments. Those who feel interested start learning it privately. They learn drawing only, not the other fields of fine arts. The different zones of fine arts and the other fields have not been referred to in the curriculum. The teachers, parents and students are totally aloof to this subject. Especially the teachers of this subject are inefficient. Though the subjects like Moral Science and Social Science help in building the character of an individual, these subjects are hardly given any importance. Today the objective of education is not knowledge, but commerce. Education is governed towards vocational courses more and more. Consequently, the citizens are financially more successful but the level of good citizens is reducing day by day. Now the target of the educated citizens is to earn more and more money. But they are not at all bothered about how to utilize the money or how to contribute to the society. The proper mindset is lacking and corruption is increasing day by day. I think a student with a good mindset only can utilize his education in the right direction.
Good citizens can serve better and can share in the development of the society. They can pave the way to prosperity along with the social development. Today society demands good citizens, but does not try to make them so. The society is feeding the concept of building smart, shrewd, deceitful and upstart children who can become financially successful in this world. Those who are honest, empathetic and are genuinely interested to help their fellow beings are treated as weak and unsuccessful. The so-called successful people are forgetting the basic human values like forgiveness, truthfulness, kindness and benevolence and are digging grave for social structure. This type of mindset can transform the human beings to the old wild form and they can become enemies to each other. After a long turmoil man has been able to gather all the good qualities like kindness and generosity, else he was basically cruel, selfish, illiterate & barbaric. They would lose all the good qualities they have achieved so far forever. Thus, today it is a great challenge to preserve these good qualities in human hearts.
Secondary education comes after Primary education. High School education consists of class IX and X. Class XI and XII are known as Intermediate. The schools organize their examinations up to Secondary level. After that a separate independent Board conducts the High School and Intermediate examinations. Education is divided into three major parts from High School level only. They are as follows:
1-Arts 2-Commerce 3-Science
Today Arts sector has lost its hold on the society as it has less commercial value. These subjects are opted by the weaker children or those who wish to be graduates only. Usually girls opt for these subjects mostly. But situations vary with girls. In a middle-class society, a girl is expected to know more about cooking, fine arts, music and household chores. So they opt for Arts under their guardian’s pressure. Girls have to share the household work. If they choose the other disciplines, they cannot offer more time to their studies. So they feel uncomfortable with science or commerce streams.
From this class onwards, education plays a significant role in our lives. Government is also paying a lot of attention to this. After intermediate many students try for Entrance examination to get admitted to Technical Institutes. But most of the students complete graduation. A graduate is accepted as an accomplished person in the society and the society demands so from a citizen.
A student falls in the category of a youth or an adult after graduation. He can opt for Master’s degree (M.A, M.Sc., M.Com), Doctorate degree, Ph.D or Research after completing his graduation. It is left on the student’s own wishes whether he would be admitted to these classes. All avenues for job are opened after graduation. So people prefer to complete graduation.
The education after graduation is a specialization of a particular subject. It has no utility in normal life. This level of education is not much useful for ordinary people and most of them are common people and do not need specialization.
Most of the people opt for master degree just because they are unemployed. They spend time on increasing their degrees and it is a better option to achieve degrees instead of doing nothing. Very few students feel interested to improve their knowledge in a particular subject and for that do the Master’s degree. In this whole system of education, technical education and vocational education are dealt with separately.
The students take separate entrance tests for this type of education and get admission in separate institutions. Consequently, those who are non-technical but are graduates wait till they get any job without having any initiative for business. After the age of 30 years when they lose the opportunity to join any government job, they start thinking about doing business. Such cases mostly happen with middle class families. This education system does not comprise of certain practical issues like norms for doing a business, type of business and facilities available for them, banking and loaning system, govt. policies and planning etc. Many other factors like law, sex, foreign are also unknown to them. Students have only theoretical knowledge. The practical knowledge is least according to the society, but the students are regular in touch with the society. Thus their understanding towards society purely depends upon their surroundings.
This education system does not consist of any Gurukul system or Hostel facility like ancient times. This is an open education. However one of the shortcomings of this open system is that the students become young and fall prey to emotional upheavals after the completion of class X and at the beginning stage of Intermediate education.
In the ancient times, the boys and girls used to stay separately in the ashrams till the age of twenty -five years. They were hardly affected by anything causing emotional excitement. They had neither those openings nor had they any straight road to follow their excitement. Brahmacharya was given much importance at that time. So they were less excited by these feelings at that time and all these things seldom affected their education and health. But today students are living in a complex society and films or the media that plays most important role in influencing such kind of emotions, excite them too. Their health and education are also affected by this. Many metropolises have experienced the ill effect of this. Children at very young age feel attracted to and are indulged in physical relationships. In America, many cases of Child-Sex have been brought to light. If this system continues, these cases of sexual abuses would continue to be in the society and I strongly protest against this at this tender age.
This education system also prefers the coaching system. The students belonging to rich families start opting for tuition from the very beginning whereas the middle-class children take it at the High School or Intermediate level. Coaching institutes are growing like mushrooms in the cities. The school teachers also prefer to do coaching classes as extra source of income. There are private coaching centres too. The students get into tuition not only for their weakness in the subject or for improving it, but there are other reasons also behind it. Taking tuition has become a trend. Tuition is one of the factors why students do not wish to pay respect to their teachers. Coaching centres are there in the cities in such large numbers that sometimes we wonder why the schools are there, what is their significance when students are completing their studies in coaching classes only. Are they there to distribute certificates only?
This education system has a great flaw that it does not provide equal opportunity for all. Education has become optional, but it should be compulsory. The poor children are unable to get education. There are different boards, various grades and separate criteria for marking. If all get the opportunity of equal education, there would be hardly any need for reservation. However, a student completes his graduation by the age of 18 and the supposed Brahmacharya ashrama remains till this age only.
After this the Grihasthya ashrama is started. People start looking for job or begin their own business after completing graduation. They become self-dependent and get married. They are married at the age of 25 to 30 even if they are not self-dependent or do not have a job. The government allows a girl to marry at the age of 18 and a boy to do so at the minimum age of 21. In India, a boy can make a physical relationship with a girl of his age after his marriage only. Hardly there would be ten cities in India, where this rule is not applied and the youngsters are fortunate enough to have physical relation with a girl after getting adult and before marriage.
The parents usually arrange the marriage of their son or daughter. The son’s approval is required in most of the places except in remote villages, but the daughters are neglected. The girls have to accept wherever or whom they are married though they do not like him or his family. She has to be contented with that. The marriage of a boy depends on his financial background and the girl has another criterion other than her monetary condition. This refers to her physical appearance and other talents. Dowry is very much in vogue. Government has abolished this dowry system and it is legally a crime for the giver and the taker both, yet it is not observed anywhere in the country. Dowry is fixed after judging the status of the bridegroom. Whatever a person wishes he can give or take as dowry, but a value has been fixed for the men folk from each sector of the society and services. It can be from lakhs to crores.
Very few women in the society are self-dependent. They are expected to be dependent on men. Before marriage, they are dependent on their father and after marriage, on husband and in old age on son. Whatever they get as dowry from their parents is also transferred to their husbands’ account. They do not have equal shares in the paternal property. If they are unmarried or are widowed, they have the right to the property. But usually they do not take it. In that case, she depends on her brother and the brother mostly considers her a burden, but anyhow looks after her. The society has made women financially paralyzed in whatever condition she is. This is the reason why her whole life becomes totally dependent on the wishes of men and seldom they pay heed to the wishes of women.
Presently much attention is being paid towards girls’ education in cities. Boys already had this privilege. In this way, they obtain equal opportunities like boys and can progress equally. However, it is not the same in rural areas. Thus, the girls who became self-dependent wish for husbands with sound financial background. The husband should have either a job or a business. They do not wish to marry an unemployed person. Despite being self-dependent they start depending on their husbands due to tradition and other socio-economic reasons. In some cases they even leave their jobs for marriage.
In today’s world, the reason behind not marrying an unemployed person is serious. If the girl is employed and the boy is unemployed, the girl has to do everything inside and outside home. The boys mostly are egoists and they hardly do any domestic work. However, they are never ashamed of their unemployed state and compel the wives to do all the household work too. The wife feels exhausted after doing all the work. He hardly co-operates. If the man had to look after the house and the office both, he would not be able to handle both the situations. Thus, he would neither solve any domestic issue nor earn bucks by doing any work. It would let him feel infra dig to support his family.
The society has separate mindset for different works. Some professions are denoted for lower class and some are for middle and upper. It is not possible for a single man to change this mindset. If somebody works in a lower profession than his wife, the society starts criticizing him and he has to bear this humiliation throughout the life. Hence, it is considered better to stay unemployed than to do a work of lower dignity. So men prefer to stay unemployed than to get criticized. A row crops up in the domestic front due to these circumstances and women have to bear everything as they live in a male- dominated society. Indian society can encourage an unemployed man to marry, but it would never tolerate a man doing the household work. Women are not so keen about divorce in case of indifference or domestic violence. Only one marriage is allowed in the society and the process of divorce is also difficult. Moreover, remarriage of a divorcee is tough; people seldom agree to marry a divorced girl. All these circumstances compel her to somehow manage the situation and accept it as her destiny. In India, cases of divorce are lesser than abroad. It is not that women are happier here. It is because women never try to escape their miseries. An unemployed man is allowed to marry, as there is no free access for a boy to form physical relationships with a girl. Unemployment is another reason. There are very less opportunities for getting jobs.
After a year or two of marriage children are born. Today people are mostly having two or three children, but less literate & villagers believe in giving birth to six or seven children. Thus, women lose their identity in bringing up the children only.
In the beginning by a year or two of marriage, men frequently spend time with their wives. Together they enjoy themselves. But it is after two or three years of marriage the wife is imprisoned inside home. Her daily chores include cooking, cleaning, washing and looking after the children and time passes with a blink of an eye. The couple are married in youth but just after a child, they look like mature aged people.
Women usually do not care for their physiques after giving birth to their first child. Then throughout their life, they look like pregnant women with protruding tummies. It seems their youth or their excitement has been imprisoned within the foremost years of marriage. The women belonging to middle class and poor class have to bear more responsibilities than the women belonging to upper class. Their life is restricted within the four walls of the house. They have neither any time for new thoughts and opportunity nor do have permission and freedom.
Today the retirement age in government jobs is 58 to 60 years. He or she gets pension if it is a government job. In private sectors, they can work up to 40 to 65 years according to their ability. However if it is needed they have to work up to a very old age. The lives of such people are very difficult. Those who work till this age can hardly relax and enjoy life. Usually employees get P.F. after retirement and spend this money on daughter’s marriage, building their own houses or the education of their son. They proceed to the onward journey of their life on the pension they get after retirement. The rich never bother for money and work. They work till they can and then take rest. They do not have any financial stress. But the middle class and the poor people have to suffer in the old age. They are bound to work at this age even if their health does not permit them to do so. The government do not bother much for poor people. The mantra of smooth governance is to keep intellectuals satisfied so as to avoid any uproar. Remaining have such a strong belief in God that they do not blame to the government and compromise with their destiny.
This is also because there is a saying “who has spent his life in miseries, never feels miseries”. And Indians have bore such a lot of miseries that they do not feel it any more.
Old age needs love & support from the family. Old people from each and every class wish to live with their son and daughter-in-law. They love to find the children of the family staying with them. They do not like any serious work and wish to spend time together with their spouse. This is because they do not have anybody else to share with. They feel lonely most of the time. In a poor family the son and the daughter –in-law become busy in earning their livelihood. They hardly have time to pay attention to their parents, so the parents feel neglected and complain. Poor couples have so much miseries and burden that even some small issue may create big problems. To avoid clash the parents also try to help their children by doing some job to lighten the burden on them, else they may have to lead their own separate life. There is no childhood, no youth and no old age for poor people. They have to work, work and work throughout their life to fill their stomach. The other things of the world do not have any significance for them.
The percentage of poor people is far more than the rich people in this world. We can consider God as “Honest” if He could have offered a balanced proportion of happiness and sorrow. But it is not the same; instead the amount of sorrow is more than happiness. More and more people are unhappy, but still they worship God. Don’t know why! They think he can lessen our sorrows. This statement is for those who believe in God. Those who are atheists think that Nature has endowed us with great amenities. It is we, who have exploited her too much and have made it barren.
Loneliness is the main social issue in old age. The old people feel bored, as the other members of the family cannot give sufficient time. If they have time, their interests and topics do not match. This is the reason why youngsters do not pay much attention to children too. This often results into making best match of older person and children. The young generation ignores not only the old but also anything that is not of utility. Now with whom would the children share? Many a times they are scolded and they cry. Again and again they repeat the same mistakes and scolded by their parents and once again they forget all the happenings. They do not have any ego. Many a times parents forgive them and support them. Moreover, the love for children and kids is eternal, whereas it is not the same with parents or older ones. Old men are mature and have self-esteem. If anything is said to them, they do not tolerate and start keeping distance from them. The young men also are egocentric and they suffer from ego- clashes.
In the young age when they have to live their life, to experience it, and to make their career, young people cannot be compelled to share their entire time with older people suppressing their wishes. No one would like to do that even the aged ones. However, they can spend some time and share a few thoughts with old ones. This is the point where they make mistake.
Once, the old generation had been young too. They also did the same with their older members as today’s youth are doing. It is an open secret that all have to grow old, yet no one changes his behaviour towards old people. There must be something reasonable, something right, something eternal behind such king of negligence and behaviour with the old. What can be that? I feel that everybody, young or old, wants to fulfill his or her desire. Those who can fulfill them have no remorse and those who cannot sulk and blame others. Another fact, we share a deep affection with our children but not with our parents in old age, I feel it is eternal. It is a deliberate attempt by Nature or God so as at the time of separation/death we do not feel much pain for losing them. So the scenario is not going to change. We have to find a way to cope up with these factors.
I am of the opinion that we should not suppress our desires. Every individual should have the freedom to enjoy his life in his own way. So we have to elaborate a system so that the old people do not depend on their children for their livelihood and can be self-dependent. You may not agree with me, but it seems that in ancient times the concept of Sanyas came into being only to avoid all such issues of old age. Most of you can think that this system was made to attain God and spiritualism and it was not right for them. So it is no more followed. But I feel it was a right decision. Your personal opinion may contradict with me but think millions of our ancestors had followed these norms in the ancient times. If you think Sanyas is a wrong practice to follow and it is an attempt to separate our parents to avoid burden, don’t forget I and other young men also have to bear with these rules in future if it is once again implemented.
At present old people make friends with other people of their age to avoid the loneliness they face in their homes. So old men prefer to stay out of the house most of the time spending time with their friends. They prefer doing a few light domestic works like bringing vegetables, looking after kids etc. to spend their time. In India, comparatively fewer people have passion for reading books. Women here seldom go out and they have to spend most of the time within the four walls of house. So they often read Gita, Ramayan, Quran, Bible and other religious books as per their religion and faith. They repeat the same religious books but hardly read other types of books. They even do not have the knowledge about other books. They spend most of their time in worshipping, as they are less educated orthodox and blind follower of religion. The society has made them like this, as higher education will lead them towards freedom, towards liberty. They will then demand for their rights and equality with men and in a male- dominated society very few men support equality of women. It is easier for men to dominate women if they remain illiterate. Let me share a few examples. Muslims ruled India for longer period than Christians did, as they never bothered about education. Even when they became weaker, no common man revolted against them. But The English paid attention to education, may be for their own selfish ends. Consequently, they ruled over India for a shorter period. The whole society stood against them and fought for freedom.
The old people like to work occasionally and do not have the strength to do hard work. If the environment of the house is good, they do not have to do much work. Old men also do not like watching TV most of the time. They also cannot go for sports as they become physically weak. Sport is neglected in India because of excess pressure of work, lesser time and lack of interest. This is not good for health. Sport has its importance in every step of life.
The aged people, who are not rich enough and also do not have a son, have to face humiliation for their young unmarried daughters. Usually they marry their daughter with an unsuitable groom.
Therefore, the main issues of the old age are to get rid of loneliness, to receive co-operation, to spend time with their contemporaries and to stay stress -free.
Thus in today’s life there is no co-ordination among the different stages of life. The Ashrams (stage of life) have no importance. People have become trendy. Whatever traditions, rituals or customs remained left are followed by the people to keep up their social status. Traditions and customs are not based on reason. They live life as it comes to them. Whatever a man enjoys in this short period of 70 years becomes his treasure and he lives that life to meet the end. However, this tenure of 70 years can be stretched up to 700 years with its experiences and life can be longer even in this short span.
The basics of the new social norms being suggested to form were established in the ancient times only. The social system that was followed earlier in Vedic era was as follows. –
1- Brahmacharya ashram
2- Grihasthya ashram
3- Vanaprastha ashram
4- Sanyas ashram (renunciation)
Each ashram was divided in four segments of 25 years and the human age limit was assumed to be 100 years. Thus, the stages of life were also related to these ashrams. The human life was divided into childhood, youth or adulthood and old age and senility. The childhood was related to Brahmacharya ashram. The adulthood was connected to Grihasthya ashram. The old age was referred to Vanprasthya and the senility was associated with Sanyasa. There was specific demarcation of each way of life corresponding to the various stages of life. Previously age and life-style were complementary to each other.
The childhood that was known as Brahmacharya consisted of 25 years after the child was born. By the age of ten, a child was looked after by his parents with all care. During this period of life, the child was not burdened with any kind of responsibilities. Parents used to share all their affection with the children by this age. After attaining the age of 10 years, a child had to leave his parents and had to go to Gurukul (school) for studies all of a sudden leaving a placid environment. The life was tough there. In Gurukul he had to manage all his necessities himself and had to take lessons besides this. He could seldom connect with his family and relatives after going to Gurukul. Though these rules were in vogue among the rulers and affluent classes the poor used to be poor as usual. Their parents were their teachers. So the son of a potter used to be a potter and a cobbler’s son had to be a cobbler only.
Gurukuls were established in far away jungles and not in the cities. In this Gurukul the students were the helping hands for each other. The external atmosphere of Gurukul helped to cater the qualities like self-dependence, tolerance, seriousness, polity and courage in a student. The education provided there was able to develop the good qualities of a person and they were able to earn their livelihood as well. The main objective of education was to make good citizens and to let their potentials grow to earn their livelihood. However, this system did not allow the girls to get educated. In ancient times, very few women could be found highly educated. The women were educated at home only. The mother was their only teacher. Thus, they did not have to stay in ashrams. So the boys and girls had no relationship till 25 years. During the educational period of boys, they did not become a victim to the feelings usually developed in youth. So it did not affect their education adversely. The reasons to encourage certain sexual emotions were almost nil. There was less scope to affect the education system with wrong notions. The poor and the women were not offered any education in this system, which was its shortcoming.
The child used to come back home after completing 25 years after he attained youth. In this period, he entered Grihasthya ashram. Then he used to join some job or business and then he had to marry. Polygamy was allowed in society. Kings, emperors and the rich used to keep several wives but common man generally have single wife. The society was male dominated. The men earned and fetched money to bear the expenditure of the family. His wife and children were depended on him. The wife cooperated her husband, looked after the children and the family. During this period, man was acknowledged as the Karmayogi and the woman was considered as the idol of art & beauty. The women had freedom, but in limit.
Most people were involved in farming. This needed a lot of manpower. So, joint family was much in vogue. Everybody in the family used to work according to his capacity and the earnings were distributed as per the necessity of the family. The most aged person in the family was respected the most. In reality, this form of the family was financially the most suitable form of communism or else it may be said that family is the smallest unit of communism. However, we cannot deny this fact that the younger generation had to suppress their desires in this system and they did not have all the liberty to fulfill their wishes. But at that time when the communication was not as good as now wishes of most of the people were limited to a small circumference or to the village only. They were as if imprisoned in the small village or in a small area. Freedom was not so important at that time as it is now.
Knowledge is the source of discontent. As they did not know much, they were less discontented. If they had not been contented, the joint family would start breaking during that time only. However, this system had continued for a long time and is prevalent at present too.
Today many mediums of communication are available. People have become knowledgeable too. The world has become smaller for them with the help of Internet, transportation and other mediums of communication. So people are more discontented. Joint families are breaking. Nuclear families are cropping up and in future single parenting would not be an exception too.
People earlier used to enjoy family life from 25 years to 50 years. They were materialistic, but under control of religion. They tried to get everything that was available at that time to make life luxurious. The dancers and prostitutes used to entertain men and slavery was also in practice. The spiritualism was also important in the society, but that came after youth that was full of materialism.
A person entered Vanaprastha or old age at the age of fifty years. His children were of 25 years at that time. He used to get them married and settled. Then as the name suggests he gave all his property to his children and went to the forest (Vana) with his wife after carrying out all other social obligations. There he made preparations for Sanyas till 75 years in the lap of Nature. However, this stage of life was not followed as accurately as it had been devised and it was not very important for them. It seems that they used to worship more in this stage staying at home only. They used to go to forest during Sanyas only. They spent their adulthood being simple, controlled and peaceful with good characteristics. They enjoyed an idealistic life far from materialism and luxury. The life we spend after retirement at present was spent in Vanprastha at that time. Today life is limited to Vaanprastha only. Sanyas is extinct in common life.
The 75 years to 100 years were considered as Sanyas (renunciation). In reality, a person used to go to forest at this age. He used to spend this period in the lap of nature with flora & fauna and same aged people. Even in this age he was self dependent and did not depend upon their children. During this period his appetite was mostly satisfied by roots, fruits and vegetables. He used to either build his own hut with leaves & wood or ensemble him with other ashrams. He used to do yoga at this time and became mature enough in all those practices.
Thus, the childhood was without any stress, youth or adulthood was for enthusiasm, the old age was for speculations and devotion and senility for renunciation. The life used to be lonely in old age and he started thinking more and more. That is why the saints of our country have contributed many books on Mathematics, Medicines, Religion and Literature. Most of the great books have been written in old age. At this age the person is able to ponder over the ideas and can take out more prudent conclusions. A Philosopher needs all these to think over. That is why it is said that philosophy is for old age. In young age, a person used to be busy with materialistic needs and other related things. He did not have enough time to think over any other thing. He kept on working only. Thus, the books written by old people are beneficial for the young generation as these authors can share their treasured experiences gathered throughout their life.
What an idea proposed by God! A paradox – eh? First, you do your work and then you can judge, if it was right or wrong – what we did and what had been remained to do. So the experiences of old people are valuable as whatever they have done in their life can be a lesson for the next generation. Thus, Sanyas ashram was the source behind the spiritual growth of India.
The old men used to pass away while staying in the forest. Anytime they could die. There are a few examples of Samadhi. This proves that they had a great control over their sense organs and they could die as they wish. Thus they spend the hundred years of life in all moods & emotions like happiness, sorrow, sensitivity, torment, attraction, possession, fear, etc. etc.