Levels of Enlightenment


Bangalore, India

(On the occasion of Kannada Rajyotsava, Art of Living founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar gave a message encouraging all to take pride in the language and culture of Karnataka. He insisted that primary education should be in Kannada He also emphasized the need for parents to communicate with their children in Kannada (mother tongue) during their formative years. Below is the transcript of the same: )

I always used to feel that those who did not know Kannada have been deprived of reading great literary works, poems and knowledge. Kannada is a simple and sweet language. However, people are forgetting this language.

I remember, about 40 to 45 years ago, when I used to go to school in a bus, there was a bus conductor who never used any other language except Kannada. We invited and felicitated him. People used to like the way he spoke in pure Kannada, and this encouraged the children, youth and adults. No one sitting in the bus had a serious face, everyone had a smiling face, waiting to hear what the conductor would speak next.

My message to the 6 crore Kannadigas (people from Karnataka) is, talk to your children only in your mother tongue. A lot of psychologists across the world say that if children are given education in their mother tongue for the first few years their talents will blossom in a much better way.

Just as it is our duty to preserve our culture, it is our duty to preserve and spread our language. Do you know I still count using the numbers in Kannada? Although I have toured many countries in the world, I never count in English, my counts and thoughts originate in Kannada. I also keep track of the time in Kannada. This is because I have studied in my mother tongue from a very young age. I used to read and write in Kannada.

My first experience with English was in the seventh standard. We do not spell English the way it is pronounced and do not pronounce it the way it is spelt. For instance, we pronounce ‘know’ as ‘no’; this used to confuse us a lot. So we used to write English words in Kannada. In Kannada we pronounce words the way they are spelt, that is the beauty of Kannada. I have heard that Tamil does not have this. I speak Tamil, but I don’t have much experience in reading or writing in Tamil.
In Tamil they use the same alphabet for ‘Ka’ and ‘Ga’; Kanapati and Ganapati are the same in Tamil. However in Kannada, the alphabet is complete. One who has learnt Kannada is capable of speaking and understanding other languages also.

My message to the 6 crore Kannadigas (people from Karnataka) is, talk to your children only in your mother tongue. As much as possible till the fifth or sixth standard, ensure that children receive their education in the mother tongue. Nowadays we start with ‘Baa baa black sheep’ at a very young age. When children start counting in a different language, their talents don’t blossom as much. A lot of psychologists across the world say that if children are given education in their mother tongue for the first few years their talents will blossom in a much better way.

When I went to school, the medium of education was Kannada. My message to the people of Karnataka is to have pride in Kannada and teach it to children. Use only the mother tongue at home. There are a lot of moral teachings associated with the language.
There is a saying in Kannada, ‘The Vedas may go wrong, but proverbs will never go wrong’. This is a proverb about proverbs. Nowadays, people have forgotten about proverbs. Children don’t even know what proverbs are. If this is the case, how will children become aware of moral values?

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