Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama has pitched for incorporating ‘karuna’ or compassion as a subject in modern education system in India, saying it should be taught to students “not as a religious subject” but as a way to foster inner peace and learn greater human values. In a recorded video message played during an online event on Wednesday to mark the second death anniversary of former president Pranab Mukherjee, he also asserted that India is “home of karuna” and “we can achieve world peace only through compassion”.
“Karuna is a key factor in bringing inner peace…And, I feel Karuna should be taught to students as a subject, combining the ancient Indian thoughts with modern education. And, it should not be taught as a religious subject but for them to learn the human values,” the Dalai Lama said. After a failed anti-Chinese uprising in 1959, the 14th Dalai Lama had fled Tibet and came to India where he set up a government-in-exile.
In his video message, he described himself as the “guest of India for longest time”, and said he struck friendship with various top leaders of the country in the process, from first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru to Lal Bahadur Shastri and first president Rajendra Prasad to first vice president S Radhakrishnan.
The Tibetan spiritual leader praised Gandhi for his philosophy of ‘Ahimsa’ (non-violence) that he employed also in South Africa, and said “if Gandhi ji was alive today I would urge him to talk more on karuna.” India is the land of the ancient tradition of karuna, and even Lord Buddha first meditated thinking of karuna and then found the enlightenment, he said.
Former vice chancellor of Delhi University Dinesh Singh said he “endorses” what the Dalai Lama spoke on integrating ‘karuna’ as a subject in modern education system, and this is also “in sync with the feeling of compassion that president Mukherjee would exhibit to people”. He shared an anecdote when once Mukherjee was invited as a chief guest at a convocation ceremony at the university, and how he “broke the protocol” to award a degree to a student sitting in wheel-chair in the audience, by stepping down from the dais, and the student then wept overcome by emotions.
Former Chhattisgarh governor Shekhar Dutt also recalled Mukherjee’s life and said, “Karuna element was an act of concern, he could think what all required to be done for others.” Maj Gen Anil Khosla, former military secretary to the president, said Mukherjee used to even change his travel times, thinking of “not causing inconvenience to fellow commuters”, that was his feeling of compassion for others. The event was hosted by Pranab Mukherjee Legacy Foundation, and Sharmistha Mukherjee also shared some of her memories about her father.