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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)


The Foundation for New Education (formerly known as The Rishi Valley Trust) has schools and Colleges at Rajghat - Banaras, and at Rishi Valley in South India. J. Krishnamurti delivered these Talks at Rajghat - Banaras, on the banks of the river Ganga, during the month of December 1952, to boys and girls, of the ages of 9 to 20.

I suppose most of you understand English, because I am going to talk, as you know, every morning at 8-30, and we are going to talk over the many difficulties that are involved in education.

Have you ever thought why you are educated, why you are learning history, mathematics, geography? Have you ever thought why you go to schools and colleges? Is it not very important to find out why you are crammed with information, with so-called knowledge? What is all this so-called education? Your parents send you here because they have taken certain degrees and have passed certain examinations. Have you ever asked yourselves why you are here, and have the teachers themselves asked you why you are here? Do the teachers themselves know why they are here? So, should you not try to find out what all this struggle is to pass examinations, to study, to live in a certain place, to be frightened, to play games and so on? Should your teachers not help you to enquire into all this and not merely teach you to pass certain examinations?

Boys pass examinations, because they think they will have to get a job, they will have to earn a livelihood. Why do you girls, pass examinations? To be educated in order to get better husbands? Do not laugh; just think about this. Or, are you a nuisance at home and, therefore, your parents send you away to a school? By passing examinations, have you understood the whole significance of life? Take for instance, a boy who passes a certain examination, some stupid examination - because you people are very clever in passing examinations - this does not mean he is a very intelligent person. Some people who do not know how to pass examinations may be very intelligent, may be capable with their hands and with their minds: they may think out more than the person who merely crams and learns some subject very well in order to pass examinations.

Some boys pass examinations to get jobs and their whole outlook on life is the getting of a job. What happens afterwards? They get married, they have children and they are caught in a machine, are they not? They become clerks or lawyers or policemen. They are caught in that machine for the rest of their lives. They keep on being clerks, lawyers; they have an everlasting struggle with the women they marry, with their children, a constant battle; and that is their life till they die.

As regards you girls, what happens to you? You get married, don't you? That is your aim or concern: your parents get you married and you have children. You marry a clerk or a lawyer and for the rest of your life, if you have a little money, you are concerned about your saris and how you look and what people will say and about the quarrels between you and your husband.

Do you see all this? Are you not aware of this, in your family, in your neighbourhood? Have you noticed how it goes on all the time? Must you not find out what is the meaning of education, why you want to be educated, why your parents want you to be educated, why they make speeches about education - as you heard the other day - elaborate speeches about what education is doing in the world? You may be able to read Bernard Shaw's plays, you may be able to quote Shakespeare or Voltaire or some new philosopher; but if you yourself are not intelligent, if you are not creative, what is the point of education?

So, is it not important for the teachers as well as for you, students, to find out, to enquire, how to be intelligent? Education does not consist in being able to read; any fool can read, any fool can pass examinations. If you know how to read, are you educated? Surely, education consists, does it not?, in cultivating intelligence. Must you not find out what it is to be intelligent? I do not mean cunning, I do not mean trying to be clever to outdo somebody. Intelligence is something quite different, is it not? Intelligence obviously comes when you are not afraid, when there is no fear. You know what fear is? Fear comes when you think what people may say about you or what your parents may say, when you are criticized, when you are punished, when you fail to pass an examination, when your teacher scolds you, when you are not popular in your class, in your school, in your surroundings. Fear gradually creeps in, does it not?

So, fear obviously is one of the barriers to intelligence, is it not? Is not the essence of education to free the student - that is you and me - from fear and to make him aware of the causes of fear, so that he can live free from it? Is it not one of the essential aims of education, from the very beginning of your life, from childhood till you go into the world, to help you to be free so that you are able to understand fear and the causes of fear?

Do you know that you are afraid? You have fear, have you not? Or, are you free from fear? Do you know what fear is? You do not know? Are you not afraid of your parents, of your teachers, of what people might think? Suppose you do something of which your parents do not approve, of which the society around you does not approve. Would you not be afraid? Suppose you did not marry a person of your caste or class; you would be afraid, would you not? Of what people might say? Would you not be afraid if your future husband did not get the right amount of money or position or prestige? Would you not be ashamed? Would you not be afraid if your friends did not think well of you? Are you not afraid of death, of disease? So, most of us are afraid. Do not say `no' so quickly. We may not have thought about it; but if we do think about it, we will notice that almost everybody in the world, grown-ups as well as children, has some kind of fear gnawing at his heart. And, is it not the aim, the purpose, the intention of education to help each one, each individual, to be free from that fear, so that he can be intelligent? I do not know if this school is going to do that, or is doing it. That is what we want to do here, which means really that the teachers must be free from fear. It is no good teachers talking of fearlessness, and themselves being afraid of what the neighbours may say, afraid of their wives, or women teachers being afraid of their husbands.

If one has fear, there is no initiative. You know what initiative is? Is it so difficult to find out? To have initiative is to do something original, spontaneously, naturally, without being guided, forced, controlled; to do something which you love. You often walk in the streets and you see a stone in the middle of the road and a car goes bumping over it. Have you ever removed that stone? Or, have you, as you walked, seen the poor people, the peasants, the villagers, and have you done some- thing spontaneously, naturally, kindly, out of your own heart, instead of being told what you have to do? You see that if you have fear, then all that is shut out; all that goes out of your life; you are unconscious of and do not observe what is going on around you. If you have fear, you are bound to follow tradition, some person, some guru. When you follow tradition, when you follow a husband or wife, you - as an individual, as a human being - lose your dignity.

Is it not the purpose of education to free you from fear, and not merely make you pass some examinations, which may be necessary? Essentially, deeply, is it not the vital aim of education to help you from childhood till you go out into the world? Should not such education help you to be completely free inwardly from fear, so that you are an intelligent human being, full of initiative? Initiative is destroyed when you are copying, when you are merely following a tradition, following a political leader or a religious Swami. To follow anybody is surely detrimental to intelligence. The very following creates a sense of fear, shuts out the understanding of the extraordinary complications of life with all its struggles, with its sorrows, with its poverty and riches and its beauty, the birds and the sunset on the water. When you are frightened, all this is shut out.

It is the function obviously of every teacher to help each one of his students to be completely free from fear, so that he is awakened to do things of his own accord without being told, without being guided.

I have talked for twenty minutes and I think it is enough. If I may suggest, you should ask your teachers to tell you what we have been talking about, to explain it. Will you do it? Find out for yourself if the teachers have understood what I am talking about; it will help them to help you to be more intelligent, not to be frightened. Because, in subjects of this kind, we want teachers who are very intelligent - intelligent in the right sense, not in the sense of passing the M.A. or B.A. examinations. If you are interested in it as students, discuss this with your teacher, have a period during the day in which to talk about this. Because you will have to grow up, you will have to have husbands, wives, and children; you will have to know what life is, the struggle to earn, starvation, death and the beauty of life - all this you will have to know. And this is the place to find out all these things. If the teachers merely teach you mathematics and geography and history and science, that is not enough.

So, if I may suggest, during the time I am here for the next three or four weeks, set aside a period to talk over what I have said, so that, tomorrow when you come, you may ask questions and find out more about it, so that you are awake, so that you want to question, you want to find out, so that your own initiative may be awakened.

December 10, 1952