Vedantic Democracy, Education and Peace

EDUCATION, 6 Feb 2023

Dr. Surya Nath Prasad – TRANSCEND Media Service

All men tend to be free. Freedom is the birth right of every man irrespective of caste, creed and color. Rousseau asserted, “Man is born free”, however, he realized also, “but he (man) is everywhere in chains”. And the great ancient Indian saint Tulsidas, the author of the popular book Shri Ramcharitmanas felt, “There is no peace and happiness in slavery even in dreams”, and Lord Mahavira, a great saint of Jain religion suggested that anybody who was capable to help should make the people free, because the greatest charity among all charities is to make the people free and fearless. And the Tehran Declaration Signed by Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin declared as their aim, “a world family of democratic nations, whose peoples in heart and mind are dedicated, as are own people, to the elimination of tyranny and slavery, oppression and intolerance.”

In the introduction of the book entitled: Democracy, Education and Peace, Dr. Surya Nath Prasad compares the teaching of Vedanta with the teaching of democracy. It is the Vedanta that the super existence of God once was absolute one. There was a danger for him to be autocrat and tyrant. So, he desired to be many, and He became. It is also said that the will of one’s own self is the will of soul or spirit, while the will of selves of all are the will of God. It means that our own selves separately are souls, but selves of all collectively are God (Apni Atma Atma Hai, Sabki Atma Paramatma Hai). And it is said that people are God (Janata Hinn Janardan Hai).

Thus, Vedanta or democracy is the non-dynamic side of education, and education is the dynamic side of democratic or Vedantic philosophy. Whatever Vedantic or democratic philosophy has, education must inculcate in the minds of all to be evolved and progressed utmost as human beings. Therefore, there is an urgent need of Vedantic democracy to be implemented and practiced everywhere for sustainable freedom, development and peace for all. It is also the fact that there is harmony in all religions in the sense of God in all people (for examples: Aham brahamasmi – I am the God – Vedantantic Hinduism, Kingdom of God is within you – Christianity, Insan Alah ka Ek Kunba Hai – People are the family of God – Islam), because people are abode God. Swami Vivekananda told us excellent integration between Vedanta and Islam, when he once said, ‘Vedanta brain and Islam body’, which he preached unique religious harmony.

King Ashoka desired that all religions should co-exist at all places and increase in their inner strength. He hoped that the followers of all religions would learn much from each other and follow the auspicious path. Ashoka enjoined on all his subjects the duty of mutually respecting each other’s religion, for this only, he said, ‘one can increase, or spread one’s religion and help others’ religions. He who reverences his own religion, and disparages others’, destroys his own religion.’ (Edicts of Ashoka)

Followers of one religion are not superior to people from other religion. Knowledge and learning about others’ religions only can make people to be tolerant towards each other that can lead them to live in peace and harmony. Everybody should have the religious freedom. This is the core of religious secularism, and one of the four pillars of democracy, viz. sovereignty, socialism, secularism, and democracy itself.

But in reality, we as people are neither sovereign nor socialist nor secular nor even democratic. In democracy, real sovereignty should lie with people. But people are dependent on elected persons for everything. They rule them, they decide their fate. People as nation are also not socialist because there is disparity between high and low, rich, and poor. It means people are discriminated socially, economically, and politically in practice. We are not democrat also except we practice democracy to some extent in election only when we elect our representatives to serve the nation who are the people of the territory, but they fail to do so after being elected acting as our masters. We as India, the people of different sects are not secular also because we have not learnt to live in harmony with each other following our different faiths – rather we fight each other for our narrow beliefs forgetting we all belong to the same species – Homo sapiens. For more details in this regard, one may refer to the article of the author of these lines Dr. Surya Nath Prasad cited below:

Restructuring Education Based on Spiritual Secularism for Kindness, Tolerance and Nonviolence


Dr. Surya Nath Prasad, Former President, Executive Vice President & Secretary-General of the International Association of Educators for World Peace (IAEWP); associate professor of education emeritus, the Graduate Institute of Peace Studies, Kyung Hee University, Republic of Korea. Founder and editor-in-chief of Peace Education: An International Journal.



This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 6 Feb 2023.

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