Monday, April 2, 2007

No Sex for us please - Ban on Sex education

An old debate of implementing sex education in Indian schools has raised its head again with couple of state government banning sex education in schools even before it could be implemented. We Indian have a strange connection to this topic of sex. On one hand we have produced masterpiece like Kamasutra, on other hand, we squirm in our seats at the very mention of word sex. The debate as such is not new and has been happening for quite sometime even in liberal western countries where topic of sex is not a taboo and where sex education has been implemented for quite sometime. Even after that, they have had their own problems with teen pregnancies and unwed young mothers and this is something we need to learn from. On the contrary, in our Indian society, which is largely conservative, we tend to take a very moralistic and idealistic approach even though we know that we hardly live in ideal conditions and that man by nature is fallible. As always, the solution could be somewhere in middle, but for that to happen there needs to be a healthy open minded discussion based on facts and reality and not on just moral and high sounding cultural arguments and preconcieved notions which are are set in distant past. We can not teach kids in school that go have sex and produce babies but we can not keep pretending that they think that it is really about birds and bees and that babies fall from sky. In the whole debate on whether sex education in Indian schools is needed or not, there are couple of arguments which are extremely annoying. Those who vehemently argue against implementing sex education in schools usually say that:

  1. It is against Indian culture
  2. We need to implement yoga education and not sex education.

1. My reservation against first argument is that it is a big debate killer. The moment we don't want to confront a subject or even want to talk about it, we hurriedly term it as against Indian culture and want everybody to keep quite. It could be anything. It could be a movie showing an ugly slice from our past or it could be a festival celebrated by young couples. And nobody, I mean really nobody can perhaps substantiate what this Indian culture is, especially those who use it at drop of their hat. Has this so called Indian culture documented anywhere, engraved anywhere? Is this Indian culture a solidified object which has not changed since it was created, whenever it was created! What is the starting point of this culture? 5000 year back or 100 years back? Has this culture not changed since then! I believe that culture is like a flowing river and not like a pond where water stagnates and starts stinking. If there is anything which is part of Indian culture, it is that we are argumentative. We induge in arguments, we question, reason and try to understand things. This is how our ancestors were able to create some magnificent piece of philosophical literature many thousands of years back. Why do we now don’t deal with the questions just because they are little uncomfortable to our sensibilities? Is khajurao not part of Indian culture! Is kamasutra not part of Indian culture? If Indian culture is about beating young couples who are merely holding hands in public, if it is about vandalizing shops which are selling cards and flowers because young couple wants to buy them, if it is about honor killings where daughters are killed by their own fathers in full view and support of village because they married guys from lower or other caste, if it is about dowry killings, if it is about wanting to have sons and killing unborn daughters, if it is about a being piously hypocritical, if it is about trying to be a saint and not being a human, if it is about being poor yogi sitting in Himalya then I will happily say that I would prefer to be a westerner.

2. What makes us think that Yoga education and sex education are complimentary! Do we think that yoga education in schools would turn all children into spiritual gurus and sex education would turn them into sexual perverts! One of self acclaimed protectors and flag bearers of Indian culture, Ashok Shingal of VHS said on TV, on debate on same subject that "In Indian culture, we should remain celibate (brahamchari) for first 25 years of life, The Virya (semen) needs to be saved and not wasted and through yoga this Virya can then be transported internally to the mind converting it into spiritual energy". Fantastic as his views might sound to anyone, and without commenting whether there is really a truth in what he says about power of Virya, as I am sure he himself hasn't never tried that, I would have asked him if this is really what Indian culture is about, then how is that we are culture of 1 billion people! Obviously these many people could not have been born without Virya doing its bit. In fact on the contrary, it seems that we are in such large number because of over-active groins and juices that flow from there. In Hinduism, we have 33 million gods in the pantheon and some of them were sexually quite active. If one reads some of religious books, one soon gets confused about who was whose sons, like God A married God B and they had 4 children (they were also Gods obviously), A also had children from Z but A never slept with Z and used his spiritual force to make Z pregnant, like Lord Surya (sun) made Kunti pregnant in Mahabharata and she gave birth to a son called Karna. I am not trying to belittle our mythology which for most part is about allegorical stories and rely heavily upon symbolism with deeper meanings. The whole notion of Virya being needed to be conserved and abstinence might be good for those who decide to tread on the path of Indian yogic traditions (sanyas) but it is a choice made by an adult at a stage in life when he/she has understanding of such abstract things as God, religion, nirvana etc. Not everybody in this country is trying to become sadhu and sanyasi. We can not expect that by teaching yoga to children in school, they will grow up into sexless spiritual beings. It is like saying that if we teach math to all the children in school, they will grow up to become mathematicians. There is no reason why children can not be taught both sex education and yoga education. Purpose of Sex education is to teach scientific facts about sex to children who are otherwise prone to acquiring false notions and impressions about sex in the world where (mis)information is available at drop of hat. Yoga education teaches them how to keep physical fit and control their mind. Later when they grow up to be adults, they would be equipped to make better, informed decisions. May be some of them would grow up to become Swami Vivekanandas and rest of them would be happier being lawyers, engineers, doctors and enjoying a healthy sex life.

In a way, this whole topic of sex education is intersting from another perspective, in the sense that it is perhaps only topic which unites people who are otherwise always at loggerheads. For example from the mullahs to padri to pundits, all three of them would speak vociferously against implementing sex education. In thier eyes, somewhere, sex is a sinful activity which takes a man away form path of God, and hence it is not to be spoken about or indulged in and certainly not to be taught in schools. The unity of all religions on matter of sex raises a very interesting question...Why is that? For a later post.


Anonymous said...

nice toon...

Gaurav said...

I am glad that you liked it.

Digvijay said...

“Song of the Soul” by Sri Sankaracharya Ji ('Atma Satkam')

I am neither ego nor reason, I am neither mind nor thought,
I cannot be heard nor cast into words, nor by smell nor sight ever caught:
In light and wind I am not found, nor yet in earth and sky-
Consciousness and joy incarnate, Bliss of the Blissful am I.

I have no name, I have no life, I breathe no vital air,
No elements have moulded me, no bodily sheath is my lair:
I have no speech, no hands and feet, nor means of evolution-
Consciousness and joy am I, and Bliss in dissolution.

I cast aside hatred and passion, I conquered delusion and greed;
No touch of pride caressed me, so envy never did breed:
Beyond all faiths, past reach of wealth, past freedom, past desire,
Consciousness & joy am I, and Bliss is my attire.

Virtue and vice, or pleasure and pain are not my heritage,
Nor sacred texts, nor offerings, nor prayer, nor pilgrimage:
I am neither food, nor eating, nor yet the eater am I-
Consciousness and joy incarnate, Bliss of the Blissful am I.

I have no misgiving of death, no chasms of race divide me,
No parent ever called me child, no bond of birth ever tied me:
I am neither disciple nor master, I have no kin, no friend-
Consciousness and joy am I, and merging in Bliss is my end.

Neither knowable, knowledge, nor knower am I, formless is my form,
I dwell within the senses but they are not my home:
Ever serenely balanced, I am neither free nor bound-
Consciousness and joy am I, and Bliss is where I am found.
!!So-ham, Ham-sa, Shiv-ohm, Sat-chid-anand-ohm, Aye-atma-brahm!!