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Reservation for girls || Acharya Prashant, at AIIMS Nagpur (2022)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
13 min
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Questioner (Q): Acharya Ji, the meaning of reservation is providing equal opportunities in every sector to those who don't have proper resources or enough resources. So, you also said that you had a batch of three hundred and fifty students and there were only thirteen girls.

In 2020, the government of India decided to have a twenty per cent reservation for girls in IITs. So, why give a reservation to the girls in IIT? I was thinking that they are not capable of cracking JEE or are we just creating a good number in these institutes?

Acharya Prashant (AP): See all these are ad-hoc measures, reservations and all. I think reservation, the very concept, militates against the dignity of the human being, be it in any form, at any place, or for anybody. I would rather empower the person, but instead, I pick up a person who has been disempowered and disabled for various reasons and I put that person in a particular institution without challenging the fundamental reason that caused him or her to feel weak. Then I am not doing much.

So, I take this very idea that women or girls should have more reservation as not very dignified. What we rather need is that girls and women should know who they are. Their energy, their power has to be unlocked and a point has to come where there is no need for this concept of reservation. It's an ad-hoc thing, I said it's a temporary solution. It's not even a solution, it's a temporary treatment that will not cure anything. But just for the temporary duration, it may have some utility. It has to be remembered that it must be temporary, and it has to be remembered that the real solution lies elsewhere.

Q: Acharya Ji, does this temporary solution harms men also? Because if a boy gets a six thousand rank and a girl gets a rank of eight thousand, she will get admission, but the boy will not.

AP: This kind of thinking is not good. Let's say, they have one hundred seats. And if you very well know that twenty per cent have been reserved for a particular section, why do you still assume there are a hundred seats? Fight for the remaining eighty; raise your own level. Why crib later on that, you know, “I had more marks than the ones who were in the reserved category, and I didn't get admitted.” First of all, be it a man or a woman, you have to stop energizing the victim within you. We take great pleasure in feeling victims because once you feel victimized you feel authorized to claim compensation and this is such a bad road. Don't go down this road, even a lot of feminist narrative includes the story of victimization — I am a victim, so you had better compensate me. The fact is, we all are indeed victims at some point in our lives, but it's not very dignified to claim compensation. It is against the human spirit to play the sissy baby and say, “Oh! The world has messed up with me, things have gone wrong with me, now come and correct those things.” What happened to your own strength? Where are you? Rise and challenge, and that's why, I don't, even if I try to, agree with stories of victimization and oppression.

How can somebody ill-treat you for centuries without your passive consent? Please, tell me. You surely had a stake in the system, why don't you want to talk about that? Your real oppressor is not the other, but your own inner fear and greed and insecurity and ignorance. But you don't talk of your inner oppressor, you talk of the external oppressor, and you can talk of that and when you talk of that you do get certain advantages. Somebody will come and say, “So many wrong things have happened, so much has to be paid to this person,” but that does not build up your capacity and you are not born to live on compensation money.

Why do we take birth and go back to the first principles? Why are we born, why do we exist at all?

We exist for the sake of liberation. We do not exist to seek compensation. And so much of our behaviour, whether as men or women, is determined by this kind of reactionism — “Somebody has done me certain wrong, so now I get the right to turn the tables on him. You messed up with me, so I'll mess up with you.

History tells that you have denied me of certain things, so now I deny you of certain things.” This takes you nowhere. Only the realization of your true nature awakens a power that no privilege or compensation can match. You better awaken that power.

See, these are the two sides of the same coin. A group of people comes and says, “We are the victims, so you give us reservations” and the moment you give them reservations, another group stands up like this and says, “Oh, the seats have been all taken away and our cut-offs are way higher than their cut-offs, so now we are the victims.” So, what do we want now?

We want compensation, and who will come to compensate you? If everybody is to be compensated, who exactly is the one making the compensation? We don't go into these questions. Don't ask for compensation even if you feel somebody has wronged you, take it in your stride. Tell yourself, “You have taken away so much from me, now I'll show you who I am. You have taken ten units away from me, and that further awakens my spirit to earn one hundred units. In fact, I thank you for snatching away those ten units of whatever. Had you not challenged me that way, I would not have awakened to the potential, I would not have taken up the challenge and then become bigger.” Have that approach in life, that’s a bit of advice.

Q: As this year's women's day team stands for gender equality. There still exists a general equality in every aspect of society. So, sir do you think that education can bridge the gap of gender inequality and what are the changes that we can make in our education system to move towards a more right and equal society?

AP: No, I'll repeat that. See you're coming with a pre-prepared sheet of questions and that's why gender equality is a very ordinary objective. I'm repeating that it's a very, very ordinary objective.

Gender equality is much the same as saying since he is the male chimpanzee, so I want to be his equal as a female chimpanzee. How glorious does that sound? Please, tell me. Do not ask for equality. Men are stupid, why do you want to be equal to them? Why do you want to even proceed in the same dimension as they have? Political power has been with men, economic power has been with men, don't you see what they have done with their power? Please, do you want to go down the same road as enlightened women? Please, tell me. Do you want to be female copies of men? Remaining females biologically, but trying to become men psychologically — is that what you want to become?

No, so just don't try to seek parity with men, in fact, you can learn from all the misdeeds of men and vow to not repeat them. That's the only thing you can look towards men for. Look at men and say, “I don't want to be equal to him, being equal to him is an insult.”

Gender equality is a very, very ordinary objective. You need liberation from your gender identity because gender comes from society and sex comes from biology. To begin with, kindly seek liberation from gender identity and as you progress in life, see whether you can also be liberated from your sexual identity. That is what we are here for, that is the purpose of life. The purpose of life is not to fall in the same well as generations of men have been doing. That's not what we are here for.

Q: Sir, this liberation of women is such a new concept to me, even the basic need like gender equality, which is much less than the liberation of women, and I came to know about it at much a later age. So, I want tomorrow's children to know about this at a much younger age than myself, so how can that be brought about?

AP: Education is the key. Unfortunately, our education focuses almost completely on the material; the physical dimension of living is all that we address in our education. We need to address the real, inner dimension of life. That which I am talking of is fundamentally Vedanta. Vedanta is not some abstract stuff in arcane Sanskrit that you cannot make head or tail of. Vedanta is a very living thing. It tells you what your next decision in life should be, it tells you how to live, it tells you who you are. That education needs to be there in our schools, colleges and universities and if our formal system fails to provide that or accommodate that, so there needs to be an informal way. And then by informal, I mean something outside the formal governmental system. I'm trying a bit of that. The things that are happening here, the books that you're seeing in front of you are all that. I just hope that such books were rather present in our formal syllabus when we were in class eight or class ten. That's the time when these books must have been read, but better late than never. Now, we are trying to disseminate the message of Vedanta and to the extent I can see that is the only way, that is the only way.

Q: So, the idea of including sex education in a primary syllabus to cut down criminal rates, etc., what is your take on that?

AP: See, it's just that we call ourselves cultured and civilized. Therefore, we call certain behaviours unacceptable and criminal. But irrespective of how we label those behaviours, they have largely continued. Because those behaviours are commonplace in the jungle. I'll keep going back to the jungle because that's where these behaviours are really coming from. You're holding that sheet of paper, if I snatch it away from you, you will say, “See, this is a crime. My property has been taken away.” But is that not happening all the time with monkeys? You go and observe monkeys, they continuously keep snatching things away from each other. Because we are monkeys, we too do that, and as long as we are monkeys, crime will remain. Because all crime is nothing but an attempt to extend the material self. That's the Vedantic definition of crime — an attempt to extend the material self at any cost.

When you do not know who you are, then you take your welfare as completely divorced from the welfare of the other, then it's a zero-sum game. She has something, then I don't have that thing. For me, to have that thing, I must take it away from her. That's the material approach to life. Do you understand a zero-sum game? Plus one, minus one — if I have it, I have plus one; if she has it, then it is a minus one for me. You flip the sides, it is still plus one and minus one, and the sum remains zero.

That's how Prakriti operates. If you have it, then I don't have it. If I have it, then you don't have it. And that's the thing that applies to all materials. “If I have this, how can you have this?” and then there will be a crime because you too want to have it, that is called desire. “I, too, want this” and desire cares for nothing but itself, and desire is what is cleaning this planet. Everybody wants to have a good life, and all of us want to have lots of this, but the planet does not have enough to give us, or give each of us enough of this.

And desire is saying, “No, I, too, want this. I too want this.” We too want to have the same kind of per capita consumption that the United States has. We too want to have the same kind of per capita usage of electricity that Germany has. I want to have the same number of kids as my neighbour has and that's what is bringing us to total destruction. That is a crime to care for the material beyond the worth of the material. To think that the material can give you what it really cannot is a crime. That is the real definition of crime, but we do not have that definition because that definition is too much for us to handle.

So, we define crime in a very narrow way — we make certain rules, certain laws and if somebody violates them, we say that fellow is a criminal. The fact is, everybody who lives only in the material dimension of life is a criminal. Just that the crime might not have yet come to light, just that the crime is not yet recognized by the rule books, but the fellow is a criminal, no doubt. Therefore, the only real way to eradicate crime is to wean the man and the woman away from only the biological material self. Otherwise, crime is the reality of our biological existence.

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