Mandir-Masjid 2: AIMPLB response

August 10, 2020

Rohit Dhankar

[In continuation from 9th August 2020]

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s statement on this occasion is an important indicator of thinking of many Muslims, I am not saying all, but very many. Similar statements from Owaisi (a popular Muslim politician), Maulana Madani, (a widely respected Muslim scholar) and Maulana Sajid Rashisi (a TV personality and President of All India Imam Association) show that the AIMPLB statement has a very wide support in the Muslim community. And many of the readers of this blog will not agree with me but the AIMPLB’s statement is a statement of Islamic supremacy, is a direct threat to Indian democracy and secularism, and to Hindus. (Please see the Appendix-1 for original Urdu Text, transcribed in Devanagari.)

To substantiate my above assessment of the AIMPLB statement we have to pay detailed attention to some portions of its text. I cannot read Urdu, therefore, am using here a transcription of the original text in Devanagari. Transcription is done by a friend, and may still have some typos, but I am sure does not change the purport and nuance of the document.

The statement undoubtedly threatens to destroy the yet unbuilt temple, convert India to Islam, declares Supreme Court judgment unjust and only tactically and grudgingly accepts the judgment. It has two threads of arguments which are intertwined in justifying these threats and declarations. One of these threads is purely theological and forms the basis of the whole declaration; the other one is about supposed to be unjust judgment of Supreme Court. Since the theological argument is the main argument and would have stood ground independent of criticism of SC judgment; I will deal first and in greater detail with the theological argument.

The theological justification of threat to destroy unbuilt Ram Mandir

The opening paragraph of the press release states the theological position clearly (rough translation, see the original in the Appendix-1): “Now that foundation of a temple is being laid down at the place of Babri Mosque, AIMPLB finds it necessary to reiterate its position (on the issue). In the light of Islamic Sharia, when a Mosque is built at any place it remains a Mosque till kayamat (the day of judgment and end of the world according to Islam). Therefore, Babri was a mosque yesterday, is a mosque today, and God willing will remain a mosque in future as well. By placing idols or starting pooja-path or banning namaaz for a long-time, status of a mosque cannot be altered.”

Note that it is an absolute (unconditional) theological statement. The validity of this statement does not depend on any court judgment or what was there before the mosque was built. It is a simple and plain ‘fact’ that ‘once a mosque, always a mosque’ irrespective of the status of the land earlier or subsequent court judgments. This is Sharia, as per the AIMPLB, pure and simple; and naked. We should thank AIMPLB for being so simple, direct, and candid on Sharia position.

The theological argument is strengthened and substantiated after a scathing critique of the SC judgment (which we will consider later in this article). It states: “… however dangerous the present situation maybe, we should not loose heart and keep trust in Allah. (We) should prepare (ourselves) to live in adverse conditions, situation does not remain the same for all times to come. The Allah has said in Quran Majid ‘व तलक अल्ल याम नदाव लहाबिनि अ‍ॅल बास. ( ये  तो ज़माने का  नशीब और फराज़ हैं जिन्हें हम लोगों के दरमयान गर्दिश देते रह्ते हैं).’ Therefore, neither do we need to be disheartened nor do we need to hide the situation. The Hagia Sophia of Istambul is a self-proclaiming picture of the truth of this ayat (Quranic verse). I appeal to the Muslims of India that they should not become at all sad-hearted (?) (दिल बर दाश्ते) due to the Supreme Court judgment and building of temple at the place of the Mosque. We should also remember that even the (Islamic) global centre of monotheism (Kaaba) was a centre of infidelity and idol-worship for a long time. After victory of the dear Nabi this became a centre of monotheism again. God willing, we have full hope that not only the Babri masjid, but this whole garden will be embellished with words of monotheism.”

We need to clearly understand three specific points in this long quote: 1. Full meaning of the quotation from the Quran, 2. Meaning of reference to Hagia Sophia, and 3. Meaning of reference to Kaaba.

The quoted portion figures in verse 3:140 in most editions, however in one Hindi translation it makes part of the verse 3:139. The literal translations of the quoted phrase use somewhat different words but the meaning remains the same. For example, The Noble Quran translates it as “And so are the days (good and not so good), We give to men by turns …”. Maulana Azad translates “We make these moments go round among men …”. Ibn Kathir translates “And so are the days, that WE give to men by turns …”. In all these and other translations the good and bad days are circulated among men by Allah. Presently we will see why he does that.

In Quran this is not a simple message of hope. It is much more than that, and that is why it relates so well with examples of Hagia Sophia and Kaaba. To grasp the full meaning of the phrase one must read carefully from verse 3:137 to 3:141.[1] This is Allah’s promise of victory of the believers on infidels and of complete destruction of non-believers. It is also Allah’s test of imaan of the believers and to ascertain their worthiness to enter the Jannat. Today the situation might be adverse, it says, but if the believers keep their faith, the Allah will “destroy the disbelievers” and believes will be victorious. Victorious in what? Well, victorious as in making Hagia Sophia a mosque and as cleansing Kaaba of idol worship; and in making the “whole garden” sing the song of Islamic monotheism.

Those who are interested in the history of Hagia Sophia can read in Britannica. In a nutshell it was built as a church in 6th century CE, Ahmed II turned it into a mosque on conquest of Constantinople, Kamal Pasha secularized it and made it a museum in 1935, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan turned it into a mosque again in August 2020. Captured Church to masque to museum to mosque, till kayamat.

About Kaaba, Britannica states that “The early history of the Kaaba is not well known, but it is certain that in the period before the rise of Islam it was a polytheist sanctuary and was a site of pilgrimage for people throughout the Arabian Peninsula.” Further “When Muhammad’s forces conquered Mecca in 630, he ordered the destruction of the pagan idols housed in the shrine and ordered it cleansed of all signs of polytheism.”[2] Thus the centre of Islamic monotheism was established on deliberate destruction of idols of disbelievers. And acts of Mohammad are ideals for Muslims, therefore, destruction of idols and conversion of others’ places of worship into mosques is legitimised by the prophet himself.

One should keep in mind the history of the above mentioned two shrines while reading the position of Sharia as understood by AIMPLB. It says: “[I]n the light of Islamic Sharia, when a Mosque is built at any place it remains a Mosque till kayamat (the day of judgment and end of the world according to Islam).”

It does not require much analysis to note that, as per these statements:

  1. Islam has the right to convert a church (Hagia Sophia) and a place of polytheistic idol worship (Kaaba) into an Islamic place of worship.
  2. Once such a place is turned into a mosque, it will always remain a mosque; thus, others have no right to turn a mosque into anything else.

This is as strong a statement of Islamic supremacy as they come, which is being issued boldly by Islamic scholars and prominent Muslims. Mr. Owaisi says the same thing in somewhat muted tones. Maulana Madani states it absolutely clearly. Maulana Sajid Rashidi says the same thing. And many more maulanas and common Muslims say the same thing.

The press release of AIMPLB is not content with its future plan to turn yet unbuilt temple into a mosque again; it says “God willing, we have full hope that not only the Babri masjid, but this whole garden will be embellished with words of monotheism.” This whole ‘garden’ of India will be embellished with the Islamic monotheism. This comes on the strength of the quotation from the Quran. In most tafsirs the quote is explained with reference to the battle of Badr in which disbelievers suffered, and battle of Uhud in which believers suffered. The destruction of disbelievers is no metaphorical spiritual victory, it is very much the kind of destruction which is wrought by battles.

The Supreme Court judgement

My views on the judgement can be read in my blog of 18th November 2019. I still think that the Muslims had as good a possession on the Mosque building as the Hindus had on the outer part within the compound wall. Muslim possession also included the right of way through the part occupied by the Hindus. Thus, considering Hindu possession as “exclusive” and continuous and not accepting Muslim possession so, does not make sense to me. However, AIMPLB is wrong in claiming that the SC accepts that no temple was destroyed to build Babri Mosque. What the court concedes is that it cannot be proved on the basis of available evidence, whether the 12th century temple was earlier destroyed, or was destroyed for Mosque or was simply collapsed because of disuse and non-maintenance. This is not the same thing as issuing a certificate that no temple was destroyed to build the mosque.

However, one must note that the theological argument and examples the AIMPLB gives in its statement to illustrate that statement are not affected by the fact of whether there was a temple earlier or not. Hagia Sophia was a church, and Kaaba was a polytheistic idol-worshippers place; they had never been Islamic places before Islam usurped them on the strength of sward. Islam was not deterred by these facts that they were places of worship of others. And present day prominent Indian Muslims consider conversion of both these places justified as per Sharia. Thus, the position of these Muslim leaders is no different from Mohammad, the conqueror of Macca; and Ahmed II, the conqueror of Constantinople.

That brings us to the issue of Kashi and Mathura, as some Hindus are raising that demand.

Continues tomorrow ….



बाबरी मस्जिद मस्जिद थी और हमेशा  ही रहेगी ग़ासिबाने (plundering/  usurping) कब्ज़े से हकीकत खत्म नहीं होती

सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने फैसला जरूर दिया मगर इंसाफ को शर्मसार किया है.

आल इंडिया मुस्लिम पर्सनल लॉ बोर्ड


नई दिल्ली 4 अगस्त 2020: आज जब कि बाबरी मस्जिद के मुकाम पर एक मँदिर की बुनियाद रखी जा रही है. ऑल इंडिया मुस्लिम पर्सनल लॉ बोर्ड अपने और  दरये यीने मौकिफ (position) को  दोहराना  जरूरी समझता है कि इस्लामी शरीयत के रौशनी में, जहाँ एक बार मस्जिद कायम हो जाती है, वो ताकयामत मस्जिद रहती है. लिहाजा बाबरी कल भी मस्जिद थी, और आज भी मस्जिद है, इंशा अल्लाह आइंदे भी मस्जिद रहेगी. मस्जिद में मूर्तियां रख देने, पुजा-पाठ शुरु कर देने से, या एक लंबे अरसे तक नमाज पर रोक लगाने से, मस्जिद कि हैसियत खत्म नहीं हो जाती.

ऑल इंडिया मुस्लिम पर्सनल लॉ बोर्ड  के जनरल सेक्रेट्री ह्जरत मौलाना मोहम्मद वलि रहमानी ने अपने एक प्रेस बयान में कहा है कि बोर्ड का हमेशा  ये  मौकिफ (position) रहा है कि बाबरी मस्जिद किसी मँदिर या किसी हिंदू इबदत्गह को तोड़  कर नहीं बनाई गई। अल्हमद अल्लह  सुप्रेम कोर्ट ने अपने फैसले (नवंबर 2019)  में हमारे इस मौकिफ को तस्दीक़ (attestation) कर दी है.  सुप्रिम कोर्ट ने ये भी कहा है कि बाहरी मस्जिद.के निचे से खुदाइ में जो आशार मिलें है  वो 12 वीं सदी की किसी इमारत के थे, यानी बाबरी मस्जिद की तामीर (निर्माण) से चार सौ कब्ल (पहले), यानी  कि लिहाजा किसी मंदिर को तविज/ तोड़ कर बाबरी मस्जिद नही बनाई गई.  सुप्रिम  कोर्ट ने साफ तौर पर कहा कि बाबरी मस्जिद में 22 दिसंबर1949 कि रात तक नमाज होती रही . सुप्रिम कोर्ट का ये भी मानना है कि 22 दिसम्बर 1949 में मूर्तियों को रखा जाना एक गैर-कानूनी और गैर-दस्तुरी अमल था. सुप्रिम कोर्ट अपने  फैसले  में ये भी  मानता है कि 6 दिसंबर की बाबरी मस्जिद कि शहादत गैर कानूनी गैर दस्तुरी और मुजिरमन फे’ल (कृत्य /action)  था। अफसोस कि तमाम वाजेह (apparent) ह्काइक (truths) को तसलीम (स्वीकार/honour) करने के बाद कोर्ट ने एक इंतहाइ गैर मुंसिफाने फैसले में हकीकतों को नज़र अंदाज़ करते हुये हिंदुस्तानी मुसलमानों के जज्बात अ अहसास पर ज़र्फ लगाते हुये मस्जिद की जमीन उन लोगों के हवाले कर दिया जिन्होंने मुजरिमाने तरीके से इस में मुर्तियाँ रखी, और इसके शहादत के मुर्तकिब (दोषी/guilty) हुये.  बोर्ड के जेनेरल सेक्रट्री  ने आगे कहा कि चूँकि ये अदालत मुल्क की आली तरिन अदालत है लिहाजा  इसके हतमी (final) फैसले को तसलीम करने के अलावा कोई चारा नहीं है. ताहम (however )  ये जरूर कहेंगे कि ये एक जुल्माने और गैर मुंसिफाने फैसला है जो अक्स रियती  जम (influenced by majoritarianism) में दिया गया, सुप्रिम कोर्ट ने 9 नवम्बर 2019 को फैसला जरूर दिया पर इंसाफ को शर्म सार किया है.

अल्हमुद्लिल्लह( praise to be on god) हिंदुस्तानी मुसलमानों के नुमाइंद (representative) इजित्मा (congregation)  प्लेटफॉर्म आल इंडिया मुस्लिम पर्सनल लॉ बोर्ड और दिगर फरिको ने भी अदालती लड़ाई में कोइ दकिके ( minute) नहीं उठा रखा. यहां ये बात भी कहना जरूरी है कि हिंदुत्व अनासिर (elements/तत्व) की पुरी तहरीक जुल्म, जब्र, धोनी (gloom), धाँधली, किज्ब (lie, Falsehood) औ इफ्तिरा (calumny/defamation) पर बनी एक तहरीक थी, ये सरासर एक सियासी तहरीक थी जिसका मज़्हब और मज़हबी  तालिमात से कोइ तालुकात नही  था, झूठ और जुल्म पर बनी इमारत कभी पायदार (durable) नहीं होती. जनरल सेक्रेटरी सहब ने अपने बयान  में आगे कहा कि हालत चाहे जीतने भी खतरनाक हो हमें हौसला नही हारना  चाहिये. और अल्लाह पर भरोसा रखना चाहिये. मुखालिफ (odds)  हालत में जीने  का मनराख बनाना  चाहिये। हालत हमेशा एक से नही रह्ते हैं. अल्लाह ताले  ने कुरान मजीद में इरशाद फरमाया है  “ व तलक अल्ल याम नदाव लहाबिनि अ‍न्नबास. ( ये  तो ज़माने का  नशीब और फराज़ हैं जिन्हें हम लोगों के दरमयान गर्दिश देते रह्ते हैं). लिहाजा हमें न तो मायूस होना है और न तो हालात के आगे सिपर (shield/पर्दा) डालना है, हमारे सामने ईंस्तबुल  कि आया सोफ़िया मस्जिद की मिशाल इस आयत की मुँह बोलती तस्वीर हैं. मैँ मुसलमन-ए हिंद से अपील करना हूँ कि वो सुप्रिम कोर्ट के फैसले, और मस्जिद की जमीन पर मँदिर की  तामीर से हरगिज दिल बर दाश्ते न हों. हमें ये भी याद रखना चाहिये कि  तौहिद (monotheism) के  आल्मी (global ) मरकज और अल्लाह के घर खाने -काबा भी एक लंबे अरसे तक शिर्क  (infidelity, polytheism) या  बुत परसती का मरकज बना रहा. बिल्लाह ख़ैर फतह मक्के के बाद प्यार से नबी ससल्लि अल्लाह अलिये व सल्लम के जरिये दोबारा मरकजे तौहिद बना. ईंशा अल्लाह हमें पूरी तवक़्क़ो ( hope) है सिर्फ बाबरी मस्जिद ही नहीं, ये पूरा चमन  नग़में तौहिद (words of monotheism) से  मामुर ( embellished) होगा . हमारी जिम्मेदारी है कि ऐसे नाज़ुक मौके पर अपनी गलतियों से तौबा करें. अपनी अखलाक और किरदार संवारे. घर और समाज को  दीनदार बनायें और पुरे हौसले के सात मुखलिफ हलात में आगे बढ़ने का फैसला करें.




[1] Read for yourself: “137. Many similar ways (and mishaps of life) were faced by nations (believers and disbelievers) that have passed away before you (as you have faced in the battle of Uhud), so travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who disbelieved (in the Oneness of Allah, and disobeyed Him and His Messengers). 138. This (the Qur’an) is a plain statement for mankind, a guidance and instruction to those who are AI-Muttaqun (the pious – See V.2:2). 139. So do not become weak (against your enemy), nor be sad, and you will be superior (in victory) if you are indeed (true) believers. 140. If a wound (and killing) has touched you, be sure a similar wound (and killing) has touched the others. And so are the days (good and not so good), We give to men by turns, that Allah may test those who believe, and that He may take martyrs from among you. And Allah likes not the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers). 141. And that Allah may test (or purify) the believers (from sins) and destroy the disbelievers.”

[2] (8th August 2020)

Mandir-Musjid 1: the Bhumi Pujan

August 9, 2020

Rohit Dhankar

We must free ourselves from mind-numbing slogans like “majhab anhin sikhaata aapas men bair rakhana”, “all religions teach peace” and “all religions are equal”. They definitely teach animosity; they certainly teach strife, often violent, and they are not equal in their bigotry and hatred for others. Presently they all, particularly two major ones in India, are spreading hatred and are attacking the constitution with impunity. Exaggerated lamentations of atrocities on Muslims, snatching their rights, and ‘dara hua musalmaan’ on one side, and underplaying of Muslim belligerence and atrocities where they are more numerous, on the other, fuel this fire further. In response to such narratives the hardliners among Hindus preach their historical grievances narrative more aggressively and more vociferously. The hardliners among the Muslims thinks that their Sharia supported bigotry is either condoned or is legitimate, therefore, pronounce their threats in a more confident and venomous manner. Unless the saner elements in the nation raise their voices in a balanced manner, condemning all atrocities and all bigotry equally, this evil duet will continue escalating.

The Bhumi Pujan

The world has seen a very loud and gaudy Bhumi Pujan for Ram temple in Ayodhya on 5th August 2020. In this hyped drama we have witnessed excessive and dramatized news coverage, the victory narrative emphasized, blowing up importance of Ram to eclipse everything else in the long cultural history of India, and equating Bhumi Pujan for a temple with the freedom of India, an atrocious comparision. This exhibits narrow imagination of India, belligerence of a section of Hindu population and did away with all possibility of spirituality in the occasion. This seemed to be a fit example of reclaiming the body by losing one’s soul. One TV channel creates a whole nautanki set of Rama Mandir in its studio. Rama was proclaimed to be in the heart of every Indian.

I never understood what this metaphor means. Yes, Ram is widely worshipped, and believers have deep respect for various narratives built around him. Ram is part of the culture, in large parts of the country even the routine greeting is “Ram Ram” among the peasants, or “Jai Siya Ram” among the more religiously rooted. Respecting sentiments of people who believe in Ram is a demand of behavior in civilized society. But does every Indian believe in Ram as an avatar? Does every Indian believe even in the historical fact of existence of Ram? The answer is an unambiguous NO. And still anyone who raised these questions was painted as an enemy of Hindus and India. Ram is one deity among dozens of similar importance in Hindu-dharma.

One can still understand that devotees of Ram must be genuinely elated and may genuinely believe that a bigotedly destroyed Ram Temple is being restored. Destroying someone’s place of worship is definitely insulting, demeaning and traumatic for the devotees. Thus, a sense of restoring one’s self-respect also may be understood. But flaunting of such an event as a victory is certainly a deed of a sallow and hateful mind.

There is an ambiguity regarding the site. There is a high probability on the basis of archeological evidence that there was a temple at this site, but it is not certain that the temple was destroyed to erect the mosque. There is no ambiguity that the mosque was destroyed deliberately in 1992. Thus, this occasion demanded a civilized reconciliatory tone from supporters of Ram Mandir, not belligerence and victory narrative. The Ram devotes would have earned much more respect through a widely reported but sober ceremony, without blowing the trumpet of victory. Frequent reference to Supreme Court judgment and heart felt appreciation of acceptance of that judgment by the Muslim population of India would have shown them in better spiritual and humanitarian light. But they chose a victory narrative with belligerence.

The Bhumi Pujan and shilanyas by the Prime Minister is a new low for Indian democracy and secularism. No, I am not singing in tune with so-called secularists that Indian democracy and secularism are dead. They have a habit of declaring Indian democracy and secularism dead on drop of a hat. By their reckoning both secularism and democracy died thousand times; one wonders how do they find them alive to die the next death a few weeks later! To me Indian democracy and secularism both are robust, alive, and kicking; the unabashed maligning of India itself is a proof of that. Yes, there are aberrations from the supporters of the ruling party, as well as misinterpreting secularists to a lesser degree, but the debate on Ram Temple itself proves strength of the democratic fabric of the nation. However, it is of concern that the Bhumi Pujan of a religious place by a Prime Minister is one more act against the secular constitution, and the most damaging so far. These acts weaken democracy and secularism; and even if they are not dead yet, they are pushed a step closer to death.

Whenever a state functionary in his/her capacity as a state representative goes to Babas, Dargahs, Temples, Mosques, holds iftar parties, celebrates religious occasions; the secularism takes a hit, and is chipped a little bit. This has been competitively going on in India since independence itself. Even the very secular PM Manmohan Singh is on record participating in a temple inauguration. But Bhumi Pujan and shilanyaas of a temple by a Prime Minister are the biggest blow so far. However, I will repeat: secularism is not dead, neither because of Bhumi Pujan nor because of Ram Mandir being built where once Babri Masjid stood. Yes, it is weakened and is under serious strain, but we can still make it all powerful. But only if we recognize all forces that have reduced respect for secularism in India, Sangh Parivar is a major culprit, but by no means the only one. Islamists and so-called liberals are no less responsible.

But we are jumping the gone, we will come to this point later in this essay.

To be continued tomorrow ….


9th August 2020

Is Social Media Messing-up Minds?

July 22, 2020

Rohit Dhankar

Someone twitted saying that there is no proof for existence of Ram. A famous person on the twitter, who usually responds to people with good documentary and archeological evidence on historical issues, names (@Aabhas24) responded: “Does anyone ask father for proof that he is one’s father?” Since it came from a person who usually comes up with evidence; and the proof of existence of Ram was posed as a historical question, it sounded very strange. So, I said (@dhankar_r): “Very illogical response. The history and mythology are two different things. And you, I am sure, know it. There is not enough proof of Rama as a prince, and there CAN BE NO PROOF OF Rama as avataar. As there can be no proof of Mohammad as prophet and Christ as son of God.”

My response soon invited a few very popular fallacious arguments. I have always been very puzzled about (1) how can people accept or rely upon obviously fallacious arguments, and (2) why people don’t understand perfectly simple point made in writing (even spoken), and choose to talk of something which was not contested? This small exchange brough these two things up almost immediately. Therefore, here I am looking at three popular arguments and ways of responding.

If it were not for the two fallacies being way too popular as ‘strong arguments’ for the people who advance them, it would have been shear waste of time to write on them. But unfortunately, they come up too often in conversation with people, especially the believers of all religions, and on social media. What worries me the most is how often young people advance these fallacies as arguments. Therefore, it may serve some useful purpose to point out why they are not only fallacies but also stupid to boot.

One of them is: “There is no proof that your/my great grandfather existed, but we accept that he did”. By this they want to imply that similarly “there is no proof that Rama existed, but like our great grandfathers he also existed”. This is obviously fallacious on several counts. First, mostly there is enough material (in terms of written records and houses build, land records, etc.) evidence of existence of most of great grandfathers. But more solid evidence of existence of our gg-fathers are we ourselves. Creation of humans takes an ovum produced by a human female and a sperm produced by human male. This has incontrovertible scientific evidence. Therefore, there existed a human male who produced the sperm used in fertilizing the ovum which made you or me. This sperm-producing male by definition was/is our biological father. But by the same logic our biological father also required a sperm to have been born. The male who produced the sperm which made our father was his biological father and our grandfather. Similarly, our gg-father’s sperm was partially responsible for production of our grandfather. Thus, the gg-father existed. QED.

Rama has no such proven chain of existing human descendants as our lucky gg-fathers have in us. Proving existence of our gg-fathers is logically a child’s play. But proving that particular individual X (Dayala Ram or Ilmuddin) was our biological gg-father will take considerably more efforts. And to do that one may have to go into DNA testing, which, as far as I understand, would require DNA samples of ourselves, our fathers, their fathers and the individual X. and that might be impossible for many or us. Thus, even if someone claims to be a descendant of Rama today proving Rama his or her biological ancestor would be impossible, as far as I understand. We should remember that legal ancestry does not necessarily imply biological ancestry. No one knows where a bit of infidelity might have crept into the ancestral line.

In the face of such simple logic one wonders how people can advance such stupid arguments and how others can accept or become wordless in facing them? Twitter and Facebook have made this stupidity way too widespread to ignore these days.

The second one is grandly quoted as “The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.” This clever statement is usually quoted in support of unjustified claims, like “Rama existed”. What is meant in such cases is: Even if there is absence of evidence that ‘Rama exited’, this by itself is no evidence that ‘Rama did not exist’. In some context this may be fair enough. But these people do not notice that there are at the least four logical positions one can take regarding ‘Existence of X” (X can be Rama, Krishna, Christ, and so on). One: X existed. Two, X did not exist. Three, it is undecided at present whether X existed or not. And four, existence of X is undecidable in principle. Thus, quoting this clever sentence in this context proves absolutely nothing.

This fallacious argument appears in other forms as well. For example, when arguing for or against existence of God. If one challenges one’s opponent: “If you think God exists, give some proof (evidence or argument)”. The opponent shoots: “you prove that God does not exist”. This is a recognized logical fallacy called “argument from ignorance” (argumentum ad ignorantiam). It cuts both ways: “since you can not prove something to be false it is true” is fallacious; and so is “since you cannot prove something to be true, it is false”. Copi and Cohen[1] give an interesting example from history of science illustrating this fallacy. When Galileo revealed through his telescope that moon has mountains and valleys; followers of Aristotle rejected the claim as Aristotle taught that moon is a perfect sphere of crystal. They gave an argument that what Galileo’s telescope shows as valleys and mountains are just wrong because the gaps are filled by transparent crystal which the telescope can not detect. Galileo countered their argumentum ad ignorantiam by his own version of the same fallacy, as Copi and Cohen put it: “The moon is not a perfect sphere, he replied, because there are surely crystal mountains—invisible!—rising high from its surface. Because my theological critics cannot prove the claim false, we cannot conclude that such mountains are not there!”. Again, in the contexts like Rama’s existence such arguments prove nothing. Therefore, one must judge reasonableness of a claim on other evidence available.

Another fallacious argument in such cases is “Appeal to Inappropriate Authority” (Argumentum ad Verecundiam). For example, someone sent me link to a video in which former President of India Dr. Abdul Kalam claims that Ramayana story actually happened seven thousand years back, or something of this nature. Copi and Cohen explain this fallacy as: “The argument ad verecundiam is committed when someone argues that a proposition is true because an expert in a given field has said that it is true. This fallacy is predicated upon the feeling of respect that people have for the famous. An expert’s judgment constitutes no conclusive proof; experts disagree, and even when they are in agreement, they may be wrong. However, reference to an authority in an area of competence may carry some weight, but it doesn’t prove a conclusion. Ultimately, even experts need to rely upon empirical evidence and rational inference.”[2]

Yet another problem in such discussions is ambiguity about what is being asserted and what is being denied. To understand this properly a few examples may help. Let’s take three assertions regrading Rama, Mohammad and Christ. First, let’s take the simple claims: (1) Rama existed, (2) Mohammad existed, and (3) Christ existed. There are counterclaims about historicity of Rama and Christ, though historicity of Mohammad as such does not seem to be controversial. One interpretation of these assertions could be simple existence as humans. That is, respectively, Rama existed as a prince and then as a king, Mohammad existed as a businessman and then as founder of a religion, and Christ existed as carpenter’s son and then as the founder of a religion. In principle history can decide these claims. Now suppose that in this sense all three existed in history, and it is proved beyond doubt.

But there could be a second sense of ‘existed’ here. That is, respectively: Rama was an avatar of Vishnu or God incarnate, Mohammad was a prophet of Allah to whom Allah revealed Quran mostly though Gabriel, and Christ was immaculately born son of the God almighty. Proving existence as historical figures of these three does not automatically prove their God-incarnate-hood, prophet-hood and God’s-son-hood. That would require separate justification or proof. To my mind in this second interpretation the existence of all three is in principle undecidable. Simply because existence of an avatar/incarnation, of a prophet and of a son of God is logically dependent on existence of the God or some kind of divinity. But that divinity itself is undecidable because its attributes are contradictory across religions, self-contradictory within each religion and this divinity is often said to be beyond the limited comprehension of human mind. Therefore, the creators of this concept of God themselves have pushed it beyond the pale of human reason. Since the existence of and characteristics of god are undecidable his incarnation, prophethood and son-hood are also undecidable. Most people when question existence of Rama, they question in this second sense; that is, his god-incarnate status.

No evidence from documents, archaeology or astronomy cannot give us any clue about the god-incarnate status of Rama. Even if there are planetary and star configurations in Ramayana that give definite dates of Rama’s birth, marriage, banavaas, war with Revana and so on, that will at the most prove, with some room for doubt, that Rama existed as a prince and kind. They can say nothing about he being an incarnate god. Lists of kings of Ishkuaku dynasty from whatever doubtful puranas will also prove existence of Rama only as a king. That too when adequately corroborated by other evidence. As I said above, there is a possibility that there was a prince and King Rama, who became famous and acquired the aura of God-incarnate. That does not prove the claim of incarnation.

In view of all this, it seems the social media is seriously messing up with the new generations’ mind. Without some learning in logic, critical thinking, and alertness of mind the bombardment of disconnected bits of information, half-truths and deliberate falsehoods certainly overwhelms a new entrant into this fast-moving world. The so-called influencers—people with big following—seem to be mostly unconcerned about truth, logic, and reasonableness. One often wonders if they themselves know anything. Their aim seems to be to push their chosen opinions by hook or by crook. The minimum requirement for survival as one’s own person in this environment seems to be a keen grasp of shades of meaning in language, sharp logic and alertness of mind. And, of course, courage to stand by one’s own judgment in the face of active opposition from all kinds of bigotries.


22nd July 2020

[1] Irving M. Copi, Carl Cohen, Kenneth McMahon, Introduction to Logic (Fourteenth Edition). Pearson Education Limited, Essex, 2014, p.131

[2] Ibid, page 133

A Practitioner’s Take on Philosophy of Education

July 15, 2020

Rohit Dhankar

A long but simple paper on practical relevance of Philosophy of Education. Written with practitioners in mind.

Dhankar_A Practioners Take on Philosophy of Education

A laboratory for mathematics?

July 7, 2020

Rohit Dhankar

[This is an old article slightly edited in response to a friends question, which also prompted me to put this on the blog.]

Many of us have heard people suggesting that mathematics should be taught through ‘experiments’ in a mathematics laboratory. These people probably believe that the fear of mathematics can be overcome by this attempt. I would argue in this short article that a good mathematics teacher should take the idea of mathematics laboratory with more than just a pinch of salt. That is, one should not, perhaps, discard the idea summarily; it may turn out to be useful in some ways and some cases. But a serious examination of: one, for what; two, how much; and three, in what manner a math-lab can be useful is called for. In this article I will try to raise a few questions that may contribute towards that end.

First, let us examine the uses of experiments we make. Here I am not talking of ‘experience’, what is being discussed at present is ‘experiments’. We shall come to experience and its role in mathematics teaching towards the end of this article, presently we shall focus only on experiments. I think all the uses of experiment can be grouped as follows:

  1. Illustration/demonstration of an idea, of a fact, or a claim.
  2. Verification/proof of a principle, rule, claim.
  3. Investigation into a phenomenon that may lead to formulation of new knowledge.

Let’s try to understand all this through some examples. Let us take our first example from science, suppose we want to study pendulums. A teacher may be interested in demonstrating to her students what is meant by ‘oscillation’ and instead of giving a verbal description first she illustrates an oscillation by actually swinging a real pendulum. Here the students are actually forming a new concept, they see a phenomenon mark it mentally, with beginning and end and give it a name. It is true that showing a swinging pendulum in this manner does not constitute a proper experiment. But a laboratory may be used in this manner, to illustrate, that’s why this example is taken here. The teacher may want to demonstrate the power of a particular magnet and may demonstrate it by lifting a weight heavy enough that her students might have found difficult to believe earlier. Here it is a simple demonstration of strength of that particular magnet. That is what I meant by illustration and demonstration. A laboratory is often used profitably in this manner.

The second group I have called verification/proof. Suppose our teacher now wants to show her children that the period of a pendulum is independent of the bob weight. (Period is time taken in one oscillation, and bob is the body hanging at the end if the pendulum string.) Now she will have to conduct a proper experiment. She will have to keep all other variables (length of the string, calmness of the air in the room…) constant and change only the weight of the bob. And each time she swings her pendulum the time period should remain the same. This would prove the time period to be independent of the bob weight. Here, no new concepts are developed. A relationship between already known concepts of bob weight, time period, length, oscillation, etc. is established and proven to be true. Knowledge is basically relationship between concepts; this it proves to students veracity of a new, perhaps for them, knowledge claim with acceptable evidence in scineces.

The third group mentioned above is investigation. Suppose some student or the teacher herself or any one, gets interested in knowing how the pendulums behave. This person may start observing pendulums, conducting experiments with them and noting down the observations she makes. It is certainly possible that this scientist of ours starts with very few and simple notions concerning pendulums; may be just pendulum, swing, string and bob. While observing the behaviour of pendulums she may feel a need to describe, analyse and explain that behaviour. This will necessitate development of concepts like an oscillation, time period, amplitude and so on. Secondly, it would need formulation of relationships between these concepts, generalisations and testing of the generalised rules/principles. Here the experiments are not done to verify something already known, rather they are designed either to observe something new or to test a hypothesis which is not yet accepted to be true.

I would say that almost all experiments and laboratory uses are covered under this somewhat rough classification. Now let us see how experiments may help in mathematics teaching. To understand it properly we will take two examples, first, study of triangles and second, learning numbers and four fundamental operations.

Let us begin with triangles. Can we illustrate any mathematical concept – as we did with oscillation? Perhaps yes, we can illustrate a side of a triangle, an angle and the triangle itself. But is there a significant difference between the ‘oscillation illustrated’ and the ‘triangle illustrated’? Or is there no difference and they are exactly the same? I think there is a difference in “illustrating” a pendulum oscillation in a laboratory and “illustrating” a line or a triangle.

To begin with oscillation is a physical phenomenon. In a laboratory we deliberately create a situation in which that phenomenon (oscillation) can be closely observed, and point out to the observer features of it we want to emphasise. This helps the learner in acquiring a concept of that phenomena and associating a name with it. The concept illustrated here demarcates a part of observable behaviour of a physical object, and that behaviour is pointed to the learner directly, without use of any symbols, signs or representations.

In illustrating a triangle, we have several choices. We may cut a triangular piece of paper, or tie string around three nails stuck on a wooden board, or place three sticks in a triangular shape, or may draw a triangle on paper with pencil and ruler, and so on. But notice that all these illustrations are ‘make believe’ in a certain sense. They are only representations of a triangle and not the triangle itself. They all are only approximate representations of the concept. A triangle is a closed figure with three straight sides. The sides have only length, unidimentional ‘shapes’, do not have breadth or thickness. They simply are good or bad illustrations of this idea. And are used to ‘abstract out what is common in all of them’, which is just the shape without any material (substance) in it. Oscillation, on the other hand is, it is the behaviour of the pendulum which is being directly observed, that behaviour does not represent something else. In oscillation we have generalisation on a universe of other physical things, and what to bring our approximation of its properties as close to the real phenomenon as possible. In triangle we want to form an abstract idea which has no physical existence, through abstracted from physical things.

Generally, we can say that in science, which is the home of the idea of laboratory, a concept is illustrated directly by the part of natural world it relates to or by an effect of that part of natural world. Oscillation is an example of direct illustration by the ‘part of natural world’ and attraction of a piece of iron towards a magnet is an example of ‘effect’ of the presumed magnetic force. In mathematics illustrations are just representations with the help of visual signs or materials amenable to manipulation, something like a ‘gharonda’ (house of sand village children make after rains) and not the real house.

The second kind of uses we identified for laboratory experiments are verification or proof of a claim. Suppose one wants to prove Galileo’s claim about pendulums that “the period is independent of the amplitude”. Let us take an actual experiment done by a group of people to verify the truth of this claim.

Their results and conclusions follow: “Scholars debate whether he (Galileo) meant that the periods are exactly the same or that they differ very little. As a test of whether they are exactly the same, two pendulums with identical lead bobs were suspended 28.9 cm. They were released at the same time from different angles. One was pulled back about 5 degrees while the other was released from about 45 degrees. The pendulum pulled back five degrees was allowed to travel through thirty cycles, and the numbers of oscillations of the other pendulum during this time were counted. The data is below.

Oscillations of 5 degree release 30.0 30.0 30.0 30.0 30.0
Oscillations of 45 degree release 29.5 29.6 29.5 29.5 29.0

The pendulum that travelled through the larger angle had a longer period. It averaged 29.42 oscillations during 30 swings of the other, and had fewer oscillations in every trial. Clearly, pendulums with different amplitudes do not have the same period. In fact, it appears that pendulums with larger amplitudes have longer periods. The difference is quite small, though. Whether Galileo’s claim is true depends on interpretation of the claim, but the interpretation that identical pendulums of different amplitudes have periods independent of amplitude is false.”

There is a significant difference in the amplitude, the time period is very close, still according to these data it is not the same. The only way to find out the truth of Galileo’s claim is to experiment. No amount of a priory reasoning can prove or disprove it. Also, even after experiment there could be doubts. Here first, the difference is too small to say that time period differs with the amplitude. Second, the design of the experiment itself begs many questions: can one really claim that bob weights and lengths of the pendulums were identical? If one measures them more accurately, they may be found to be different, that may explain the difference in the time periods. If some one else does the same experiment with only one pendulum, pulled back 5 degrees and then 45 degrees the results may be different. But answers even to these questions can be found only through experiments with the real pendulums, not with symbols or signs of pendulums. This is because the relationship between the amplitude and time-period of a pendulum is not contained in the concepts themselves, it is contingent on the properties of the physical world. Logic can not help establish this relationship; observation is a necessity.

Now let’s see how can experiments help in settling the claim that “sum of all the interior angles of a triangle is equal to two right angles”. One can draw lots of triangles and measure their angles against tight angles, one can make triangles of various kinds of material (suitable in varying degree) and again measure or compare angles, and so on. All these ‘experiments’ are bound to give differing results and the differences are going to me more in magnitude than what we have seen in the pendulum experiment above. Shall we come to the conclusion on that basis that sum of angles of a triangle is ‘not exactly equal’ to two right angles? We will not. We will simply ignore the differences and say that the original proposition was correct.

The experiments can not establish a mathematical truth, while they are necessary to establish a scientific truth. But the more important fact is that experiments are not needed to establish mathematical truths, they are through reason alone and investigating relationships between concepts is enough.

Scientists also carry their investigations through laboratory experiments. In science investigation may start with curiosity about something (where do colours come in rainbow?) or to solve some problem (how can rain water be stored for summer months?). In any case the investigation will start with a hypothesis and observation/experimentation will provide relevant data to prove or disprove or to modify the hypothesis in a certain manner. We may want to know how length of the pendulum effects its period. To investigate the matter, we will choose various lengths and measure the time periods for them and will try to see if there is a pattern. Again, the pattern available may not be formulated very neatly as a rule. And may tolerate a certain degree of inaccuracy. Compare it with investigations in mathematics. Suppose that after learning about the sum of angles of a triangle, we want to know the sum of all the angles of a quadrilateral. Do we need to do any experiments here? I do not suppose so. All we need is previously proved results and basic assumptions; and the sum of all the angles of a quadrilateral can be easily deduced from them.

Thus, we can say; if our examples are sufficiently representative, that in science experiments can help in illustrating a concept, demonstrating a fact/rule. Experiments are necessary to establish truth of principles and rules. And are also necessary to carry on investigation for generation of new knowledge. In mathematics experiments are not necessary, nor they provide the final proof of any thing. But that does not mean that the idea of laboratory in unacceptable or totally useless in teaching mathematics? Before we can say something on that issue, we need to consider the role of experience in learning mathematics and science, because laboratory experiments are only a means to have controlled and selective experience.

We know of the physical world through experience only. The sciences develop in order to describe the world, to explain how it functions and then to modify and control parts of that world, as far as they can and want. The concepts of science, therefore, need to represent the world as precisely and as ‘truly’ as they can. If they do not help either to describing the world or to explain it, they are of no value. This holds true for rules and principles of science as well. Therefore, the movement of intellectual activity in science is towards better correspondence with the physical reality. Since the knowledge in science is knowledge of the world, experiments and observations have central place in its methodology as well as in its truth criteria.

Like all forms of human understanding mathematics also begins with experience of the world. The basic concepts of mathematics (number, shapes, and quantity et al) generate out of and are dependent on experience. But once the concepts are formed mathematics has a tendency to create regular, ideal and perfect world out of them. Therefore, may be the idea of a line initially begins with something long and straight, but very soon it becomes only length and its straightness becomes perfect. It matches no reality in the physical universe. And its qualities depend on no reality in the physical world. It becomes abstract. Pure. Until it acquires that typical abstractness it is not really mathematics. Therefore, the intellectual movement in mathematics in the opposite direction: create an idea from experience and then make it perfect in its own ideal world. The mathematical knowledge is knowledge of inter-relationships between these perfected ideas. This knowledge is self-contained in these ideas and logical forms. It does not require physical experimentation; it cannot be gained through physical experimentation.

Now, perhaps, we can say something about the laboratory for mathematics. It may have a limited role. To provide children the initial experiences where they form the intuitive mathematical ideas. But should not be given an impression that any thing in mathematics can be proved through experiments. The ‘experimental verification’ should, at the best, be considered only as a hint that the idea may be worth trying to prove formally, mathematically. If it provides the use of concrete objects only as a first stage in building an understanding of a concept, that may be acceptable. But, to really ‘have’ a mathematical concept the child has to move towards working with the concept in abstract form. To take a simple example: a child who learns to add with the aid of marbles should quickly move to adding on her fingers and from there on she should quickly move to adding in her head without any physical props. If she is not doing that her mathematics learning will remain deficient. The manipulatives (or physical teaching aids) could be a very useful in the hands of a teacher who understands their proper use. But elevating that idea to metaphorical use of ‘mathematics laboratory’ generates a false impression of mathematics, of how it is leant and of how it is created. The best use of the so-called mathematics laboratory in the hands of a good teacher would be to show to the children that it has a limited use in the first steps in learning mathematics and is misleading incumbrance after that.

Bridges and leaps

In mathematics we invent or imagine the fundamental or initial elements of a system: concepts or definitions, axioms/postulates and sometimes rules of inference. After that the system becomes independent of us and has its truths built into it. We, the inventors of it, have to struggle hard to find all the true statements possible in it. And the methods at hand we have are all bound by strict logic. This becomes a self-contained world of ideas.

The laboratory prompts us to make bridges from the reality of our experience to reach this world of ideas and gives us tools of visual models to use there when we reach there. But the nature of this world is such that the bridges always fall short and visual models become limitations on our imagination rather than any help when we actually somehow reach that world. It becomes our limitation, and stops us from hearing the real music of mathematics.

The way out is not making more and more cumbersome bridges; but to learn to take a logical leap into the abstract beauties and exhilarating music of mathematics. The idea of laboratory hampers the preparation for this leap. My personal view is that use the manipulatives wisely where they help; but don’t elevate them to the status of a laboratory, not even metaphorically.


Originally written in or sometime before 2001.

Slightly edited and last section added on 7th July 2020

प्रधानमंत्री का बयान देश की क्षेत्रीय अखंडता के साथ समझौता है

June 20, 2020

रोहित धनकर

कल प्रधानमंत्री श्री नरेन्द्र मोदी ने लद्दाख में जो कुछ हुआ उसके बारे में कहा: “न वहां कोई हमारी सीमा में घुस आया है, न घुसा हुआ है। न ही हमारी कोई पोस्ट किसी दूसरे के कब्जे में है।” मेरे विचार से इस कथन का पहला वाक्य भारत की क्षेत्रीय अखंडता के साथ समझौता है।

चीन ने भारत की कई हजार किलोमीटर भूमि पर कब्जा कर रखा है। वह पूरा इलाका जहां यह सब हुआ भारत का हिस्सा है, ऐसा हमारा राष्ट्रीय दावा रहा है। पर उपरोक्त बयान इस व्यापक दावे पर नहीं है। हालांकी एक प्रधानमंत्री को बयान देते वक्त इसे भी ध्यान में रखना चाहिए था।

वर्तमान संदर्भ में उन्हों ने जो कहा इसका यह अर्थ है की चीन ने हमारी सीमा में कोई अतिक्रमण अब नहीं किया हुआ है। अर्थात चीन का जिसे फिंगर 4 कहा जाता है उस चोटी पर अपना स्थाई बंदोबस्त कर लेना हमारी सीमा में कब्जा नहीं है। यदि शेखर गुप्ता के विश्लेषण को मानें तो भारत का दावा जिसे फिंगर 8 कहा जाता है उस चोटी तक रहा है। अतः प्रधानमंत्री के कथन में भारत के दावे तो छोड़ने के संकेत हैं।

इस बात को schematic (एक खाके के तौर पर) समझें तो बात कुछ ऐसी है:


उपरोक्त रेखा में जहां “भा” लिखा है वह भारत के वास्तविक कब्जे का आखिरी पॉइंट है। जहां “ची” लिखा है वह चीन के कब्जे का आखिरी पॉइंट है। बीच की जगह में भारत का दावा जहां 8 लिखा है वहाँ तक है। और चीन का जहां 2 लिखा है वहाँ तक। अर्थात 2 से 8 तक की भूमि पर दोनों का दावा है। इस में किसी की भी चौकी नहीं थी, अर्थात स्थाई कब्जा नहीं था। पर दोनों गस्त करते थे।

अब चीन 4 पर अपने बंदोबस्त के साथ बैठा है। भारत जो दावा करता रहा है उस सीमा में उसने चौकी बना ली है। हमारे राष्ट्र के सम्मान को समर्पित प्रधानमंत्री कह रहे हैं कि “न वहां कोई हमारी सीमा में घुस आया है, न घुसा हुआ है”। अर्थात वे चोटी 4 से 8 तक की भूमि पर दावा छोड़ रहे हैं। उधर चीन इस पूरे इलाके पर बार-बार दावे की घोषणा कर रहा है।

अतः प्रधानमंत्री का बयान देश की क्षेत्रीय अखंडता के साथ समझौता है। ये बयान राष्ट्र को नुकशान पहुंचाने वाला है।

इस सारे किस्से में एक बात और भी उजागर हुई। वह है अङ्ग्रेज़ी समाचार माध्यमों का हिन्दी का अज्ञान और इस के कारण गलत प्रचार करना। प्रधानमंत्री का बयान यह है कि (1) ‘अब हमारी सीमा में कोई नहीं घुसा हुआ है’, यह नहीं है कि (2) “हमारी सीमा में कोई नहीं घुसा था”। उपरोक्त वाक्य में कथन (1) के बारे में मैंने ऊपर लिखा कि ये समझौता है, राष्ट्रीय अखंडता के साथ। पर कथन (2) अलग चीज है, और ऐसा मोदी ने नहीं कहा। अब नीचे अङ्ग्रेज़ी में बोल-चाल वाले संचार-माध्यमों और लोगों ने क्या कहा ये देखिये।

The Hindu: “neither anyone has intruded into our territory nor took over any post”. “Intruded” means in the past “did not intrude”, Modi is talking about present.

Republic TV: “Neither have they intruded into our boarder, nor has any post been taken.”

OpIndia.Com: “No one entered India, no land lost”

You can multiply such examples on dozens on Twitter.

Right wing has well as the left wing translated it wrongly. The divide here is not right or left political ideology, it is “India and Bharat”. अङ्ग्रेज़ी वालों को हिन्दी मेन कही बात ठीक से समझ में नहीं आती है।


20th June 2020

Truth, Justice and Peace

June 9, 2020

Rohit Dhankar

(TISS-Bumbai University Webinar lecture was delivered on the basis of this text. Video of the Webinar is here)


In a course unit titled “Changing Context of Education” in current COVID 19 times most people are likely to think of impact of ICT on education; possibilities and imperatives of online education like this webinar, or online teaching that is currently going on in thousands of schools in the country. However, there are also other concerns which could count under changing context, which may be as pressing as the online education, and perhaps have greater long-term significant.

In a strife torn world where increasingly guns and bombs are seen as more persuasive than rational argumentation, peace becomes a very pressing concern indeed. Today, then, we will focus on peace education. As you are aware few readings were sent in advance.

The Readings

The six readings collectively give an idea of concept of education for peace, its content and pedagogy. And the kind of issues the concept gives rise to. I am assuming that either you have read this material or you will do so in your own time. This talk will use ideas from these readings but will neither be focused on them nor will try to explain them. However, the references from these readings and other material which are likely to throw some light on the content there in as well.

Now we can proceed to the main business of today’s talk.


Peace becomes contextually significant only because there is strife, violence, unrest, and danger of war in today’s world. In such a context it is sorely missed and people start thinking of education as a means to enhance possibility of peace and avoidance of war and strife. But actually speaking, peace is also a more or less permanent concern of humanity since the dawn of civilisation, and remains so in all contexts.

All ancient cultures and religions have peace as a central concern. We here will take examples only from three major world religions but similar examples could be found in other religions as well. Almost every Hindu pooja ends with “ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः” and one can find numerous verses in Vedas and Upanishad which pray for peace. One can find dozens of verses in Bible and Quran[1] that express similar prayers and wishes for peace. I have not checked in Jainism and Buddhism but since both these religions place very high value on non-violence, it is safe to assume that one can find many discourses, prayers and wishes for peace in their scriptures too.

There is nothing surprising in all this, as peace is a necessary condition for flourishing as well as enjoying human life. But there is an interesting thing in the first three religions mentioned above. With prayers and wishes for peace, there are also prayers and wishes for complete annihilation or destruction of the enemy. That enemy is mostly another tribe or country or nation; but also, the people in the same tribe or country who do not accept the dominant religious dogma or opposing the social order lauded in the scriptures.

That means that though the peace is desired, but it is also assumed that peace and well-being of all is possible only if the view of life and social order preferred in the scriptures prevails. The very rejection of the chosen view in the scriptures is declared breach of peace, and often even evil.

That brings us to one significant difference between the idea of peace as desired in most—not all—scriptures of the three religions mentioned above, and the idea of peace we aspire for today. Today we aspire for an inclusive peace. Where all imaginations of good life, values, socio-political order are in conversation and collectively evolve a vision that is acceptable to all. This is very difficult, though. We will talk about it presently.

But what is peace?

The literature on Education for Peace talks of peace at three levels: 1. Individual, 2. Social within a nation/country, and 3. International between nation-states. Peace at individual level is especially important for Education, as all change in the social and world order that is supposed to be affected by education can happen only though individuals. Education can impact only the behaviour and thinking of an individual, changes, if at all, in the social and world order are brought about by functioning of these changed individuals. Thus, education has no direct handle on social and world order be that cultural, political or economic. Position paper on Education for Peace claims “[P]eace begins with the individual and spreads to the family, to the community, to the nation, and to the global village”[2]. NCF 2005 notes “Non-violent conflict resolution skills could be nurtured and applied constructively to disputes among individuals, groups and nations”[3]. The UNESCO 2014 document notes “By educating an individual we attempt to give him some desirable knowledge, understanding, skills, interests, attitudes and critical “thinking”. … As an individual in the society, he has to think critically about various issues in life and take decisions about them being free from bias and prejudices, superstitions and blind beliefs”[4]. Further “For people associated with education, “global awareness and international understanding should mean bringing together young people across the globe in programmes that would encourage them to believe – that other people, with their differences, may also be right”[5]. These statements and many more like these indicate development of certain qualities of character, knowledge base and capabilities which will help the individual himself being at peace, enhance chances of peace in the society and at the global level though understanding and sensitivity.

What the position paper on Education for Peace mean by peace at the individual level is “Peace of mind, or the psycho-spiritual dimension of peace”[6].

I wonder what exact meaning of the spiritual is, therefore, will look for the possible capabilities and qualities in common sense terms which may help one being at peace with himself.

At the individual level perhaps, peace may be taken as “absence of mental stress or anxiety”. Elsewhere[7] I argued that a temperament free from stress and anxiety would require harmony between one’s intellectual thought process, values, capabilities and aspirations; coupled with a good-will for people. Such a person is likely to be reasonably self-confident without being conceited. If one looks at these qualities it is immediately clear that self-awareness and critical examination of one’s judgment, values, aspirations and actions in the light of good-will for others may help develop such a disposition.

Internal harmony and peace seem to have two dimensions, that of, one, disposition, and two, knowledge and capabilities. Dispositions in education can be developed only through reflection and knowledge. That is why understanding of human rights, citizenship rights of others, cultural differences, state of social justice in the society, and environmental issues are important in Education for Peace.

And here the Peace Education faces a problem of definition: the intellectual capabilities, values, knowledge base and dispositions that are enlisted under peace education become more or less identical with the aims and content of education in general, as Page writes “However, at the same time, one problem is that peace education can be seen as encompassing all educational endeavor so that peace education merely becomes a synonym for education”[8]. Being a peaceful and peace-loving critical citizen is an important aim of education in any case. Mudaliar Commission, while discussion aims of education states “[N]o education is worth the name which does not inculcate the qualities necessary for living graciously, harmoniously and efficiently with one’s fellow men”[9]. So, what is new or additional in peace education? Perhaps the answer could be that the difference is mainly of emphasis and pedagogy.

But then, does it require a separate tag of Education for Peace? Or should be consider an important aim of education only? I would suggest that the tags like “Education for X” (where X could be Peace, Environment, Development, or any other concern) are given mainly for three reasons: 1. Pragmatic reason to draw attention to a going concern, 2. To emphasise, add or modify some curricular content, and 3. To indicate pedagogical changes. The changes in aims, curriculum and pedagogy may not be enough to conceptually define a new variety of education. But the pragmatic need of the hour may justify a tag, that seems to be the case with Education for Peace here.

That brings us to the second level at which we need to think of peace. That is, peace at the level of society. Negative peace at the level of society can be defined as absence of strife, disputes and violent protests. But that can become possible even by brainwashing people into the belief systems of the powerful and by suppressing deviant opinion by force. Prevalence of caste system in Indian society for centuries can be a near example of this. Subjugation of women throughout the world is another one.

In such a situation “peace may be regarded as the denial of the right of the vanquished to reclaim what was unjustly taken from them. A peace ideology discourages remedying or preventing injustices”[10]. That is why “the demands of justice must take precedence over the claims of peace[11].

The positive peace in society requires harmony, cooperation, tolerance and adjustments. In a diverse society like India, multiplicity of visions of good life, values and group interests will always give cause for disputes and conflicts which may develop into strife and violent clashes. Peace in such a situation would require arriving at principles and values which are more abstract and generalisable than one’s own, which are capable of adjudicating between rival values and principles. And can also accommodate the essential aspects of the group values and principles. We find such principles in the democratic ideals of worth of individual, dignity of human being, equality, freedom and justice.

Since my main point in todays talk is value of truth in social peace, I will indicate only those points in understanding justice which establish necessity of truth, the discussion on justice here will be rather truncated.

Without going into details it could be plausibly argued that a just socio-political order necessarily grants (i) equal opportunity to develop one’s reason, and (ii) rational autonomy to form one’s judgment to each citizen.[12] If some people are not allowed to, or denied opportunities to develop their rational capability and use those capabilities in forming their opinion, such a socio-political order cannot be called just in a democracy. Also, any action that deliberately hinders people’s development of reason and forming informed opinion has to be counted as hindering justice and being opposed to peace.

Therefore, lasting and just peace has to be achieved only through freely formed rational opinion of citizens on all issues of controversy and strife. Two necessary, however not sufficient, conditions of being able to form rational opinion are, having knowledge and capability for rational deliberation.

Capability for rational deliberation is more than logic alone, it involves moral and emotional commitment to truth and consistency. As Scheffler notes “[R]eason stands always in contrast with inconsistency and with expediency, in the judgment of particular issues”[13]. Reason treats evidence fairly without bias, in the interest of truth.

The second necessary condition for forming one’s own rational opinion is availability of knowledge. Often knowledge is confused with belief. Whatever one believes is deemed as his knowledge. However, knowledge is more than just the psychological process of forming beliefs. It necessarily requires epistemic criteria of justification and truth. Justification is having evidence and arguments that support the belief in question and cognitively convince one to consider it to be true.

In spite of truth being a very problematic and controversial concept in epistemology, no concept of knowledge can do without it. Scheffler has argued at length that truth can survive acceptance of fallibility and loss of certainty in empirical matters, he concludes his discussion on truth as a condition of knowledge by stating that “even if we totally reject certainty as a condition of knowledge, we need not also reject (absolute) truth. To attribute knowledge that Q[14], is not only to attribute belief that Q but also to affirm that Q—in effect, to affirm that “Q” is true, in the absolute sense of the term”[15]. Truth here survives not always as an achieved goal, but as a necessary ideal for a belief to be counted as knowledge.

I would argue that a commitment to this epistemic ideal of truth is necessary in public discourse aiming for justice and peace. But even more important for such a discourse is another related but distinguishable notion of truth, i.e. moral notion of truth. Moral truth is certainly connected with epistemic truth, but is not identical with it. Epistemic truth is concerned with judging whether a belief is correct or not, and has to meet certain standards of evidence and justification to establish it’s correctness. Moral truth is about expression or communication of the belief so formed. When one communicates a belief as one holds it, s/he is telling the truth. But when one’s communication is at variance with his/her belief, s/he is telling a lie. It is possible to have an epistemically false belief B and still tell a moral truth by communicating it as it is, i.e. by communicating the belief as one holds it.

For example, a member of Flat Earth Society may actually believe that (B) “The earth is flat”. Epistemically this may be provable as false based on available observation data. But if he (i) actually believes in this, and (ii) communicates the same to others, he is not telling a lie, as he is communicating his belief as he holds it. Though his statement that “the earth is flat” is epistemically false, but he is speaking truthfully. In such a situation we call him “wrong”, but not a “liar”. On the other hand, imagine the same person appearing for geography teacher’s interview in a school. He knows that if the interview board comes to know of his true belief about the shape of earth, he will be considered lacking in knowledge and will not get the job. When asked: “what do you believe about the shape of the earth?” He says “it is nearly spherical”. Epistemically he is correct, but is giving false information about his belief, thus is telling a lie. Moral truth is not about the correctness of the statement one makes, it is rather about the “correct communication” of what one happens to believe. Opposite of moral-truth is a lie. Intention of a liar is to deceive others into forming false beliefs, either about himself or about the state of affairs in the world. Harry Frankfurt rightly states “[I]n some accounts of lying there is no lie unless a false statement is made; in others a person may be lying even if the statement he makes is true, as long as he himself believes that the statement is false and intends by making it to deceive”[16].

In public political discourse in a democracy intellectuals, politicians and media have a responsibility to be epistemically and morally committed to truth. Deviation from truth in either sense aids injustice and disrupts peace.

As mentioned above, dignity and autonomy of individual citizens demand that a just order in society should be formed on freely formed opinion of citizens. Their agreement on the definition of common good and compromises made in their personal and group values, and interests should be arrived at of their own free will and on the basis of reasons they themselves accept cognitively.

Meeting these tough standards of rational decision making by every single individual in a society is not possible. In actual fact perhaps a majority of people do not meet the standards of knowledge and rational deliberation. However, this fact cannot be used to trample upon their dignity and autonomy. A public political discourse should aim at convincing the public with epistemically fair means, without deceit and taking recourse to lies and obfuscation. It is the job of public intellectuals, politicians and media to provide required information as well as styles of argumentation, and making sense of that information, and often actually on formed opinions. Furthermore, public political discourses, movements and agitations are a form of mass education in democratic citizenship. Dewey defines education “as the process of forming fundamental dispositions, intellectual and emotional, toward nature and fellow men”. And notes that “[P]ublic agitation, propaganda, … are effective in producing the change of disposition which a philosophy indicates as desirable, but only in the degree in which they are educative—that is to say, in the degree in which they modify mental and moral attitudes”[17].

Opinion makers (public intellectuals, politicians and media personalities) have sway over the thinking of large sections of population. When such people are epistemically careless, and disregard standards of justification and truth, they are guilty of misleading people in forming false beliefs. False beliefs are less likely to produce appropriate action to achieve the aims of justice and peace in comparison to well considered true and justified beliefs. Thus, they are harming the prospects of justice and peace in the society.

But when opinion makers deliberately tell lies or hide truth, they harm justice and peace even more. In this latter case they are guilty of manipulating people into false beliefs. Manipulation of citizens is an attack on their dignity and autonomy. It is a direct interference in their freedom of thought and expression, and in their autonomous judgment. This is deliberate corruption of their rational cognitive processes. Further, in both these cases, of epistemic laxity and moral deception, the public is being miseducated, thus harming future prospects of justice and peace in the society.

Thus, epistemic laxity and deliberate lies are inimical to truth, justice and peace.

Two more enemies of truth

In the Indian discourse today political correctness and what Harry Frankfurt calls bullshit seems to be the most pronounced enemies of truth. Both of them are much more dangerous than plain lies.

Political correctness manifests itself in two interrelated forms. One, its evolved form, is about using “language that seems intended to give the least amount of offense, especially when describing groups identified by external markers such as race, gender, culture, or sexual orientation”[18]. This form is concerned with sensitivity in civilised conversations and discourses. This may impinge on truth if taken to extremes, but is generally benign and harmless; even a demand of civility. In this article we are not talking of this form of political correctness.

The other and its original form, which is alive and kicking in all ideological discourses, is inimical to truth. This form is a gift of communist ideologues, and emerged after 1917 Bolshevik revolution. Political correctness in this form is “to judge the degree of compatibility of one’s ideas or political analyses with the official party line”[19] and publicly express only that which is most compatible. At the least in India this form is practiced by all political parties and public intellectuals supporting them. It is no more a propagation of left-wing parties alone; it is used left, right and centre, in every sense.

Political correctness in this form necessarily involves hiding, twisting, ignoring evidence and truth; and fabricating evidence, justification and lies. In addition to the above-mentioned dangers of lack of commitment to truth it also throttles freedom of expression. Not only in avoidance of speaking the truth, but also through intellectual attacks on those who express opinions against the accepted political lines. Thus, botching up debates and freedom of thinking. It is consciously directed at manipulating people into accepting the party line. Being inimical to truth political correctness in this form is inimical to peace as well.

Harry Frankfurt in “On Bullshit”[20] claims that bullshit is much more prevalent in societies than we think. He analyses the concept of bullshit, not as a term of abuse but as an expression used to communicate a standpoint in conversations. Frankfurt claims that: one, bullshitters are profoundly indifferent to truth. Two, they are not concerned with communicating information, though they may pretend to be doing so. Three, that they are fakers and phonies, as “the essence of bullshit is not that it is false but that it is phony[21]  and that what they care about primarily is whether what they say is effective in manipulating opinion.

This understanding of bullshit leads Frankfurt to the conclusion that “bullshitting constitutes a more insidious threat than lying does to the conduct of civilized life.”[22] A bullshitter is unaware of the place of truth in society and is profoundly indifferent to it; all that matters to him is manipulation of opinion to gain prominence and power.


If the above discussion has any merit, we can safely conclude that attacks on truth – epistemic and moral – happen in many forms. Some of them are a result of laxity in epistemic standards, deliberate obfuscation, plain lies, political correctness and bullshitting. All these forms are used to manipulate public opinion, often in the name of justice, peace and harmony. However, one, any manipulation of peoples’ opinion constitutes attack on their dignity and autonomy; rational and informed persuasion is the only legitimate way of creating consensus in a democracy. Manipulation, thus, is morally unjustifiable. Two, frequent use of devices of manipulation creates trust deficit in the society. Lack of trust in intellectuals, politicians, the state and any one in power in general makes smooth functioning very difficult and may invite the breakdown of law and order. Therefore, all such attempts decimate the democratic fabric of the society, even if often in an invisible manner. They are incapable of producing just peace, rather they add fuel to strife and keep power struggle and animosity alive.

In such a situation we would be justified in concluding that the most important requirements of peace education today, are:

  1. A commitment and capabilities to ascertain truth (epistemic as well as moral),
  2. An abhorrence and capability to spot lies, and
  3. Courage to speak the truth in the face of dangers and ridicule.


6th June 2020



Appendix 1

Examples of verses on peace and War in scriptures of three major world religions


Hinduism (from Vedas)

Almost everyone is familiar with this shanti-path from Shukl Yajurved Sanhita.

ॐ द्यौ: शान्तिरन्तरिक्षँ शान्ति:,
पृथ्वी शान्तिराप: शान्तिरोषधय: शान्ति: ।
वनस्पतय: शान्तिर्विश्वे देवा: शान्तिर्ब्रह्म शान्ति:,
सर्वँ शान्ति:, शान्तिरेव शान्ति:, सा मा शान्तिरेधि ॥
ॐ शान्ति: शान्ति: शान्ति: ॥ (शुक्ल यजुर्वेद संहिता 1.36.17)

Griffith translates “शान्ति” as “alleviation”, which means “the feeling that comes when something burdensome is removed or reduced”. His translation though clearly underlines peace in the whole universe but sounds somewhat broken. “Sky alleviation, Air alleviation, Earth alleviation, Plants alleviation, Trees alleviation, All-Gods alleviation, Brahma alleviation, Universe alleviation, just Alleviation alleviation-may that alleviation come to me!”[23]

Satvalekar’s Hindi translation makes better sense[24]:

The meaning of “द्युलोक” and “अन्तरिक्षलोक” seems to be the same, but “द्युलोक” is also translated as “स्वर्ग”.

The twine themes of strong wish for peace and necessary battles to achieve it are recurring themes in Rigvada in many richas. As could be gleaned from the few examples given below.

“Smashing their Vr̥tra [/obstacle], they crossed over the two world-halves and the waters and made for themselves a wide place for peaceful dwelling. The bull [=Agni], brilliant when bepoured, came to be at Kava’s side; the horse [=Agni] whinnied at the cattle-raids.”[25] (RV 1.36.08, p.143)

For Rigveda 1.66 the translators write: “The similes here alternate between images of peace and prosperity and those of turbulent combat, sometimes strikingly juxtaposed, as in the second half of verse 3 or the contrasting halves of verse 4.”[26] The verses they refer to:

“3. Delightful like a home, he maintains peace; ripe like grain, a conqueror of peoples.

  1. Having rhythm like a seer, lauded among the clans; well treated like a winning horse, he confers vitality.” (RV 1.66.3-4)

Again in 1.67: “1. A conqueror amid the wood, an ally among mortals; like a king he demands obedience without fail.

  1. Like peace that brings prosperity, like good resolve; he has become the very attentive Hotar who carries the oblations.”[27] (RV1.67.1-2)

In the same Richa 1.132, peace for us battle for them:

“3. This pleasurable offering of yours is glittering as of old, when at the sacrifice they [=sacrificers] made (you), the shield, as a peaceful dwelling for themselvesyou are the shield of truth, a peaceful dwelling. You should announce this now yet again. They [=poets?] look within (themselves?) with the (coming of) the (sun’s) rays [=dawn]. This Indra is certainly known as a seeker of cowsas a seeker of cows for those who dwell among their kindred.

  1. You two, Indra and Mountain [=mace], who fight in the frontwhoever would give battle to us, smash that very one awaywith a mace smash that very one. (Under these circumstances, even) an abyss will be pleasing to (that one,) who has fled into the distancean abyss he will seek to reach. O champion, (surround) our rivals all around on all sideslet the splitter split (them) on all sides. (RV 1.132.3 & 6)[28]

Commenting on RV 7.82 the translators note: “Indra represents the king ruling during times of migration and conflict; Varuna represents the king ruling during times of settlement, ideally times of peace. In the political structure of the Vedic period, different men may have been kings during these two times or, as we believe more likely, the same king may have exercised these complementary functions at different times of the year.”[29]

Islam (from the Quran)

The very greeting between to individuals in Islam is “As-salamu alaykum” which means “Peace be upon you”, and typically elicits a response “wa ʿalaykumu s-salām” meaning “And peace be upon you, too”. However, while the Quran constantly talks of peace among the believers its more fervently talks of cruelty, scourge, annihilation of the various kinds of non-believers. So, there is again yearning for peace as well as desire for uniformity in faith, and thus struggle, battels, war. I will give only a few example here.

“248. And their Prophet (Samuel) said to them: Verily! The sign of His kingdom is that there shall come to you At Tabut (a wooden box), wherein is Sakinah (peace and reassurance) from your Lord and a remnant of that which Musa (Moses) and Harun (Aaron) left behind, carried by the angels. Verily, in this is a sign for you if you are indeed believers.

  1. Then when Talut (Saul) set out with the army, ….
  2. And when they advanced to meet Jalut (Goliath) and his forces, they invoked: “Our Lord! Pour forth on us patience, and set firm our feet and make us victorious over the disbelieving people.”
  3. So they routed them by Allah’s Leave and Dawud (David) killed Jalut (Goliath), and Allah gave him [Dawud (David)] the kingdom [after the death of Talut (Saul) and Samuel] and AI-Hikmah (Prophethood), and taught him of that which He willed. And if Allah did not check one set of people by means of another, the earth would indeed be full of mischief. But Allah is full of bounty to the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists).”[30] (Quran, Surah 2:248-251)

“89. They wish that you reject Faith, as they have rejected (Faith), and thus that you all become equal (like one another). So take not Auliya’ (protectors or friends) from them, till they emigrate in the Way of Allah (to Muhammad). But if they turn back (from Islam), take (hold of) them and kill them wherever you find them, and take neither Auliya’ (protectors or friends) nor helpers from them.

  1. Except those who join a group, between you and whom there is a treaty ( of peace), or those who approach you with their breasts restraining from fighting you as well as fighting their own people. Had Allah willed, indeed He would have given them power over you, and they would have fought you. So if they withdraw from you, and fight not against you, and offer you peace, then Allah has opened no way for you against them.
  2. You will find others that wish to have security from you and security from their people. Every time they are sent back to temptation, they yield thereto. If they withdraw not from you, nor offer you peace, nor restrain their hands, take (hold of) them and kill them wherever you find them. In their case, We have provided you with a clear warrant against them.”[31] (Quran 4:89-91) p.124.

One can find umpteen number of verses of this nature in the Quran.

Christianity (from Bible)

Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.[32] (vol3, p.7)

Romans 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. (Vol3, p.203

James 3:18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (Vol3, p.137)

One can multiply such verses of peace in Bible. When one reads it continuously then one notices that it says a lot on love and peace. (I found these verses and many more on the Internet and then checked with the referred to authentic edition of the Bible.) However, there are also verses of war and strife in it, and when one reads it does give a strong impression of making everyone believe in the Christ.

Christ values faith in him more than harmony with one’s family: Mathew 10 “32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. 34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. 37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Vol3, p.15)

Chapter 31 of the Book of Numbers starts thus: “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward shalt thou be gathered unto thy people. 3 And Moses spake unto the people, saying, Arm some of yourselves unto the war, and let them go against the Midianites, and avenge the LORD of Midian. 4 Of every tribe a thousand, throughout all the tribes of Israel, shall ye send to the war. 5 So there were delivered out of the thousands of Israel, a thousand of every tribe, twelve thousand armed for war. 6 And Moses sent them to the war, a thousand of every tribe, them and Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war, with the holy instruments, and the trumpets to blow in his hand. 7 And they warred against the Midianites, as the LORD commanded Moses; and they slew all the males. 8 And they slew the kings of Midian, beside the rest of them that were slain; namely, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, five kings of Midian: Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword. 9 And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones, and took the spoil of all their cattle, and all their flocks, and all their goods. 10 And they burnt all their cities wherein they dwelt, and all their goodly castles, with fire. 11 And they took all the spoil, and all the prey, both of men and of beasts.” (Vol1, p.206-7)

The rest of the chapter is devoted to Moses’s order to kill all males, even the children, and to “kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him”. And then division of the war booty.

“And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.” (Samuel 15:18, Vol1, p.249)

A few clarifications:

  1. All I am trying to say is that in the scriptures of these three religions there is a wish and hankering after the peace, as well as exhortations, commands and prayers for war.
  2. In an exceedingly polite discourse on religions one often hears that no religion teaches conflict and war (मजहब नहीं सिखाता आपस में बैर रखना). A common sense and impartial reading of their scriptures does not support this claim.
  3. The next argument in the polite discourse on religion is that they all say the same thing, that they are equal in their teachings in terms of justice, equality, peace, strife and war. This is not the topic of this note, and my collecting some verses from their scriptures is not to prove that. They actually do not say the same thing on these issues. Their reasons, intensity, commands to wage war and frequency are very different from each other. But as I said this is not the issue here.



[1] For references of verses from the Vedas, the Quran and the Bible, please see the Appendix 1 at the end of this article.

[2] NCERT, Position Paper, National Focus Group on Education for Peace, 2006, p.5

[3] NCERT, National Curriculum Framework 2005, 2005, p.57

[4] Qutub Khan, Role of Education in Promoting Peace, Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship, in Education for Peace and Sustainable Development, UNESCO, 2014, p.12

[5] ibid, p.12

[6] NCERT, Position Paper, National Focus Group on Education for Peace, 2006, p.5


[8] J. Page, Peace Education, in International Encyclopedia of Education, Third Edition (2010), Academic Press, (Electronic Edition) p. 1:850

[9] GoI, Ministry of Education, Report of the Secondary Education Commission (1952-53), Page 25.

[10] Louis Goldman, Peace Education: Issues and Perspectives, in Educational Theory, 1986 Vol. 36, No. 2, p.167-8

[11] NCERT, National Focus Group Position Paper on Education for Peace, page 4

[12] In addition, a just social order also entails fair distribution of liberties and material and social goods. Here need not go into those details.

[13] I. Scheffler, Reason and Teaching, Routledge, Oxon, 2014(1973), p.76

[14] Q being the asserted proposition.

[15] Israel Scheffler, Conditions of Knowledge: An introduction to epistemology and education, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, (1965), page 53.

[16] Harry Frankfurt, On Bullshit, Princeton University Press, Princeton, (2005), page 8

[17] John Dewey, Democracy and Education, Aakar Books, Delhi, 2004 (1915), page 354

[18] 2020.

[19] Pierre L. van den Berghe, Political Correctness, in International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 2nd edition, Macmillan Reference USA, 2008, Volume 6, page 298.

[20] Harry G. Frankfurt, On Bullshit, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2005

[21] Ibid, page 47.

[22] Frankfurt, Harry G. On Truth (pp. 4-5). Random House. Kindle Edition

[23] Ralf T.H. Griffith (Translator), The Texts of White Yajurveda, E. J. Lazarus & Co., Benares, 1899, page 292

[24] Shripad Damodar Satvalekar (Translator), यजुर्वेद का सुबोध भाष्य, स्वाध्याय मण्डल, परडी, page 588

[25] S. W. Jamison and J. P. Brereton, The Rigveda, Oxford University Press, New York, (2014), p.143

[26] Ibid, p.188

[27] ibid, p.189

[28] Ibid, p. 302.

[29] ibid, p.983-4.

[30] M. T. Al-Hilali and M. M. Khan (Translators), The Noble Qur’an, King Fahd Complex for the Printing of Holy Qur’an, Madinah, p. 54-56.

[31] ibid, p.124

[32] The Bible, Authorized King James Version, Oxford University Press, 2008 (1997) (All references to The Bible are from this edition)

कक्षा में उद्देश्य 2: गणित और जादू

May 25, 2020

रोहित धनकर

[शिक्षक साथियों से बात करते हुए बहुत बार एक सवाल उठता है कि कक्षा में पढ़ाते समय—खास कर प्राथमिक स्तर पर—हमारा ध्यान सिर्फ विषय-वस्तु पर ही रह सहता है। अधिक से अधिक निर्धारित शिक्षण बिन्दुओं पर, जो स्वयं आम तौर पर विषय-वस्तु पर अधिककर, अर्थात पुस्तक में दिये प्रश्नों का सही जवाब सीखने, तक ही सीमित होते हैं। अतः प्राथमिक कक्षाओं में अपने काम को शिक्षा के सामान्य या व्यापक उद्देश्यों से जोड़ने की कोशिश करना संभव नहीं है।

आजकल इंटरनेट पर बहुत से विडियो अपलोड किए जा रहे हैं, शिक्षकों के ही बनाए हुए। इन में से कई विडियो देख कर लगता है कि शिक्षक के पास (1) समझ है, (2) विषय क्या ज्ञान है, (3)  शिक्षण-विधि भी है, (4) बच्चों का स्तर भी जो चाहिए वह है, और (5) बच्चों की रुची भी या तो है या बनाई जा सकती है; फिर भी शिक्षक अपनी विषय-वस्तु को बच्चों के विवेक के विकास या development of reason—जो कि शिक्षा का शायद सर्वाधिक महत्वपूर्ण उद्देश्य है—से जोड़ने से सिर्फ एक कदम पहले रुक जाते हैं।

जैसा मैंने ऊपर कहा बच्चों और शिक्षक की समझ/ज्ञान संबंधी सारी बौद्धिक शर्तें तो पूरी होती हैं। फिर शिक्षक साथी रुक क्यों जाते हैं? एक कदम पहले? शायद समझते हों कि आगे का कदम बच्चे स्वयं पूरा कर लेंगे? या शायद उन्हें इस बात का कोई खास महत्व नहीं लगता? यह छोटा लेख इसी चीज को रेखांकित करने के लिए है।]

इंटरनेट पर एक बहुत छोटा-सा और रोचक विडियो मिला। इस में एक शिक्षक गणित में रुची जगाने के लिए एक बच्ची को गणित का कथित “जादू” सीखा रहे हैं। विडियो सफाई से बनाया हुआ है। जहां तक देखने से पता चलता है बच्ची समझ भी रही है। मुझे ऐसा भी लगता है कि इस विडियो से जैसा “जादू” यहाँ सिखाया है उसमें रुची भी बन सकती है। यहाँ यह देखते हैं इस “जादू” का (1) गणित में वास्तविक रुची जगाने के लिए, (2) गणित की प्रकृति समझने के लिए, (3) गणित में शोध-विधि (हाँ, ठीक पढ़ा, प्राथमिक स्तर पर गणित में शोध-विधि) के लिए आधार बनाने में, (4) गणितीय चिंतन के विकास में, और इस तरह (5) विवेक के विकास में कैसे योगदान दे सकता था। पर एक कदम पहले ही रुक गया।

विडियो का वर्णन

ठीक से समझने के लिए मुझे विडियो का कुछ वर्णन करना पड़ेगा। यह  आम बात है, और सब जानते हैं। पर इस वर्णन के बिना मैं जो कहना चाह रहा हूँ वह संभव नहीं लगता। अतः कुछ आम और ऊबाऊ वर्णन यहाँ जरूरी है। (विडियो यहाँ देख सकते हैं।)

इस विडियो में शिक्षक गणित के जादू के नाम से एक आम ट्रिक सीखा रहे हैं। ट्रिक कुछ ऐसे है:

शिक्षक ने एक 1 से 9 तक की कोई एक संख्या एक कागज पर लिख कर सब के सामने रख दी। इसी तरह जिस बच्ची को सिखा रहे हैं उसे से भी 1 से 9 तक की कोई एक संख्या कागज पर लिख कर सब के सामने रखवादी। बच्ची ने 6 लिखा, जो सब को दिखा दिया। लेकिन सिखाने वाले शिक्षक को नहीं। अर्थात शिक्षक नहीं जानता कि बच्ची ने क्या लिखा, और बच्ची नहीं जानती कि शिक्षक ने क्या लिखा। फिर बच्ची से निम्न संक्रियाएँ करने को कहा गया:

  1. अपनी लिखी संख्या को 2 से गुणा करो: 6X2=12
  2. जो परिणाम आया उस में 2 जोड़ो: 12+2=14
  3. जो परिणाम आया उस को 5 से गुणा कर दो: 14X5=70
  4. जो परणाम आया उस में से 2 घाटा दो: 70-2=68

इस के बाद शिक्षक बताते हैं कि यह “जादू” कैसे हुआ। इसके लिए वे एक और उदाहरण लेते हैं, जिसमें अपनी तरफ से 3 और बच्ची की तरफ से 4 लिखा हुआ मानते हैं। और फिर कहते हैं की यह जादू करने के लिए हम पहले तीन चरण वही रखेंगे, अर्थात:

  1. 4X2=8
  2. 8+2=10
  3. 10X5=50

अब चौथा चरण समझाने के लिए वे बताते हैं कि उनहों ने जो संख्या ली (3) उसे 10 में से घटाएँ (10-3=7) और अब इस 7 को 50 में से घटाएँ:

  1. 50-7=43

यह संख्या बच्ची की लिखी संख्या को पहले और उसके बाद शिक्षक लिखी संख्या को दाईं तरफ लिखने से बनती है। आखिर में कहते हैं:

“इस तरह से आप देख सकते हैं कि मथेमटिक्स जो है वह समझने की चीज है। उसको अगर हम लर्न करते हैं तो वह नहीं आएगा। अगर हम उसको एंजॉय करते हैं उसके साथ खेलते हैं अंकों के साथ, तो मथेमटिक्स जो है बहुत ही आसान विषय है।”

विश्लेषण और संभावनाएं  

इस विडियो का पहला भाग एक कलन-विधि (algorithm) है। कलन-विधि या algorithm एक या अधिक संक्रियाओं या/और प्रक्रियाओं की शृंखला होती है जिन्हें एक निश्चित क्रम में लागू करना होता है। भाग करने की विधी, गुना करने की विधी, जोड़ करने की विधि आदि जो हम कक्षाओं में सिखाते हैं, वे कलन-विधियाँ (alogoriths) ही हैं।

इस प्रक्रिया में दो व्यक्ती हैं। निर्देश देने वाला और उनका पालन करने वाला। यह एक ऐसी कलन-विधि है जिसमें दोनों एक-एक अंक लिखते हैं। फिर निर्देश देने वाला संक्रियाओं की एक ऐसी शृंखला करवाता है जिस से वह संख्या मिल जाये जो निर्देशों का पालन करने वाले के लिखे अंक को दहाई का अंक और निर्देश देने वाले के लिखे अंक को इकाई के अंक के रूप में लिखने से बनती है। कहने का तात्पर्य यह की गुणा-भाग आदि की कलन-विधियों और इस कलन-विधि में चरणों (अर्थात संक्रियाओं) का अंतर तो है, पर कोई अवधारणात्मक अंतर नहीं है।

यह सब इस लिए लिखा की कलन-विधियों के पीछे तार्किक कारण अर्थात तर्क होता है। कलन-विधियों को उन के पीछे के तर्क को समझे बिना रटा जा सकता है, जिसे यहाँ हमारे शिक्षक “लर्न करना” कह रहे हैं। बिना तर्क समझे रटी हुई कलन-विधियों का उपयोग भी सफलता पूर्वक किया जा सकता है। और आम तौर पर यही हम हमारे विद्यालयों में करवाते हैं। सवाल यह है कि क्या बिना तर्क के कलन-विधि को याद कर लेना और  लागू करना सीखने को समझना कह सकते हैं?

यहाँ हमारे शिक्षक बंधु कह रहे हैं कि “इस तरह से आप देख सकते हैं कि मथेमटिक्स जो है वह समझने की चीज है।” क्या उन्हों ने समझाया या केवल कलन-विधि बताई? उन्हों ने ना तो बच्ची को और ना ही  दर्शकों को इस कलन-विधि के पीछे का तर्क समझाया। अतः उन्हों ने समझाया तो कुछ नहीं।

वे गणित के अध्यापक लग रहे हैं। अतः इस कलन-विधि के पीछे के तर्क को समझते तो होंगे, ऐसा हम मान सकते हैं। तो फिर उन्हों ने बच्ची को क्यों नहीं समझाया? कई कारण हो सकते हैं। पर एक कारण का संकेत उनकी इस मान्यता में मिलता है कि “अगर हम उसको एंजॉय करते हैं उसके साथ खेलते हैं अंकों के साथ, तो मथेमटिक्स जो है बहुत ही आसान विषय है”।

यह “खेलने” को परम-शिक्षण-विधि मानने का प्रचार हमारे यहाँ कुछ ना समझ कथित शिक्षण-शास्त्रियों ने डीपीईपी (डिस्ट्रिक्ट प्राइमरी एडुकेशन प्रोग्राम्म) के मध्याम से बहुत किया था। वे और उन से सीखे हुए शिक्षक-अध्यापक यह भूल गए कि खेलना बिना समझे भी संभव है। खेलना रुचि और अभ्यास की दृष्टि से तो बढ़िया शिक्षण-शस्त्र हो सकता है, पर यह समझ भी पैदा करदेगा यह जरूरी नहीं है।

जिन लोगों ने यह लेख यहाँ तक पढ़ा है, मैं मानता हूँ कि वे सब समझते हैं की उपरोक्त कलन-विधि में निर्देशक निर्देशित की लिखी संख्या को 10 से गुणा करवा कर उस में 10 जुड़वाता है। (पहले चरण में 2 से गुणा, तीसरे में 5 से गुणा, 2X5=10। दूसरे चरण में 2 जोड़ना, फिर योग को पाँच से गुणा करने पर ये जुड़ा हुआ 2 भी 5 से गिना हो गया, अर्थात 10 जुड़ गया।) अब इस तरह मिली संख्या से वह संख्या घटवाना जो निर्देशक की अपनी लिखी संख्या को दस में से घटाने पर मिलती है, अर्थात इकाई की जगह अपनी संख्या लाने की संक्रिया करवाता है।

सामान्य ढंग से उसे हम ऐसे दिखा सकते हैं:

मान लीजिये निर्देशित ने a लिखा, और निर्देशक ने b लिखा। अब:

  1. aX2=2a (2 से गुणा)
  2. 2a+2 (गुणनफल मेन 2 जोड़ना)
  3. (2a+2)X5=(10a+10) (योग को 5 से गुणा)
  4. (10a+10)-(10-b)=10a+10-10+b=10a+b (इस बार के गुणनफल से (10-b) घटना)

10a+b में साफ तौर पर दहाई का अंक a है, और इकाई का अंक b।

इस लकन-विधि को समझने का अर्थ है इस तर्क को समझना। पर शिक्षक ने तो यह नहीं समझाया। अर्थात उन्हों ने एक रोचक कलन-विधि बिना तर्क के बताई। जिस चीज के पीछे के कारणों और तर्क को हम नहीं समझते वह हमें जादू जैसी लगती है। गणित पढ़ाना जादू सिखाना नहीं होता, यह तो जादू को खत्म करना होता है। जादू खत्म होता है उसके पीछे के कारण या तर्क को समझाने से। जादू और तर्क का बैर है। गणित और जादू का भी बैर है।

गणित में रुची जगाने के लिए यह ट्रिक सिखाना तो ठीक है। पर यदि इसके पीछे का तर्क नहीं समझाया तो बच्चों के मन में गणित को एक रहस्य के रूप में प्रस्तुत कर रहे हैं। अर्थात बच्चों के दिमाग में गणित की प्रकृती का गलत रूप स्थापित कर रहे हैं।

यहाँ शिक्षक बहुत कुछ पूछ/कर सकता था, जो गणित के सही स्वरूप को समझने में, विवेक के विकास में और शिक्षा के उद्देश्यों से इस गति-विधि को सरलता से जोड़ ने में मददगार हो सकता था। नीचे कुछ संकेत दिये हैं:

  1. यह पूछना (बच्चों से) कि क्या यह 1-9 के बीच की सभी संख्याओं के लिए किया जा सकता है?
  2. इस के पीछे तर्क क्या है?
  3. क्या तुम ऐसी ही कलन-विधि कोई और भी बना सकते हो?
  4. ऐसी कितनी कलन-विधियाँ बन सकती है?
  5. क्या उन सब में 4 ही चरण होने जरूरी हैं?
  6. इस कलन-विधि में गुणा, जोड़, और घटाव का उपयोग है। क्या ऐसी ही कलन-विधि चारों संक्रियाओं को काम में लेकर बनाई जा सकती है?
  7. क्या 1 से 20 तक की संख्याएं ले कर भी ऐसी विधि बनाई जा सकती है?
  8. इसी विधि में 10 से 20 तक की संख्याएँ लेने से क्या होगा?

यहाँ 1 से 4 तक के सवाल जो बच्ची विडियो में दिखाई है उस के समकक्ष बच्चों से पूछे जा सकते हैं और उन पर आगे काम करवाया जा सकता है। 5 से 8 तक के सवाल थोड़े अधिक गणित जानने वालों के लिए उपयुक्त होंगे।

कुछ सहज निष्कर्ष

उपरोक्त विश्लेषण के आधार पर शायद हम कुछ शिक्षा में उपयोगी निष्कर्ष निकाल सकते हैं।

एक, इस तरह की गतिविधियों और आम गणित शिक्षण को गणितीय-चिंतन, गणित की प्रकृती, विवेक के विकास, कुछ मानने से पहले जांच और समझने का आग्रह, और शिक्षा के व्यापक उद्देश्यों से सहज ही जोड़ सकते हैं। यह गणित का उपयुक्त शिक्षण होगा। ट्रिक्स भर सिखाना गणित में नहीं गणित की ट्रिक्स में रुची पैदा करता है।

दो, यह सब करने के लिए शिक्षक को स्वयं गणित की प्रकृती, उस की अवधारणात्मत संरचना, विवेक का अर्थ, विवेक के विकास का अर्थ, गणितीय चिंतन और शिक्षा के उद्देश्यों को समझना पड़ेगा। जो आम तौर पर या तो शिक्षक समझते हैं या बहुत ही थोड़े प्रयत्न से समझ सकते हैं।

तीन, इस के लिए शिक्षक को अपने स्वयं के दिमाग में यह बात साफ करनी होगी कि कुछ भी सिखाने में समझ और तर्क पर बल देने से वह शिक्षा के व्यापक उद्देश्यों से स्वयं जुड़ जाती है। तर्क और समझ पर बल नहीं देने से जो सिखाया जाता है वह निस्क्रिय रहता है और व्यापक मानसिक विकास से नहीं जड़ पाता। अतः समस्या समाधान और आगे सीखने में मदद नहीं कर सकता।

चार, बच्चों की सोचने, तर्क करने और समझने की क्षमता पर विस्वास करना होगा। बच्चों में ये क्षमताएं हम जितना मानते हैं उस से ज्यादा होती हैं। हम यदि उनका इस तरफ ध्यान दिलवाएँ, इन क्षमताओं की सराहना करें और उन्हें उनका अभ्यास करने का मौका दें तो वे स्वयं ये सब करने लगेंगे। हाँ, इस में कुछ समय लग सकता है।

यह लेख उक्त विडियो की आलोचना या बुराई के लिए नहीं लिखा गया है। जहां तक इस में काम हुआ है वह बहुत बढ़िया हुआ है। लेख इस तरफ ध्यान दिलवाने के लिए है कि इतनी बढ़िया गतिविधी में थोड़ी-सी और मेहनत से हम कितना कुछ पा सकते हैं। और यह भी कि ये सब हमारी और बच्चों की क्षमताओं के भीतह ही है। बस हमारे विवेकशील-रुझान (rational disposition) और जागरूकता भर का सवाल है।


25 मई 2020