Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Gap Year College and Jeevan Vidya

One of my long-standing friends from IIT, Vinish Gupta, has started an experiment in alternative, informal education for literate adults. He calls this a "Gap Year College", where one spends a year not acquiring a professional degree or furthering one's career but having stimulating discussions, experiencing differing ways of life and learning creative arts.

This program is being run under the auspices of SIDH (Society of Integrated Development in the Himalayas), which is closely associated with the doctrine of Jeevan Vidya. This doctrine has impressed many, including President Kalam and the Magasasay Award winner social activist Sandeep Pandey.

However, having interacted with its practitioners, and having read many of the articles written by its exponent and his close people, I consider it (I may be wrong) an idealistic philosophy of natural balance, agrarian prosperity and a harmonious, communal living. The writings are very abstruse and hard to decipher and there are regular retreats held to disseminate its ideas. I do not think the doctrine considers human instincts, feelings of being a self and conditioning as the primary causes of human suffering and it hopes to change one by intellectual arguments.

It invents new meanings for common words and considers itself non-spiritual despite considering "Life" as a non-material process.

I will be very interested in comments from people who have attended a JV program or have thoughts to share about this.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Your observations and comments are valid, considering that you havent go a chance to explore the subject by means of a workshop or shivir - which takes 7 days. It is only then would you get a basic chance to peek into it. Else, for every comment I make you can make another one, and that is where things would stand! The subject is far more intense than can be discussed in the written word - is all i can say. It also has repercussions beyond what we can imagine.

Shriram Narasimhan said...

We are working out on putting material into the sites, for now, here you are:

Anonymous said...

JV does not address Causes of Human Misery at all. It is based on a root belief that the Universe is in a steady, non expanding state, a belief that has been long been proven false(since 1960s). Therefore it advocates that humans being part of the Universe should also seek to create this steady state in relationships rather than create a disturbance in this state. The point that JV misses out is, a steady stable state is not an absolute term, both stable and unstable are terms defined relative to each other. It just does not address or acknowledge the fact that a steady stable state is achieved after transition from an unsteady or unstable state.In fact it does not talk of the transition at all. So it talks of calm but does not talk of the storm that happens before the calm. This is where it is an incomplete philosophy. What is worse is no one except its propounder is considered to have understood this philosophy and is the sole authority. So talking to anyone except him is a complete waste of time. The standard answer you will get is "You must attend a shivir". Yet all those who attend the shivirs will never dare claim to have understood a thing themselves!!
What its primary teaching is "Live without making a nuisance of yourself, just live peacefully without disturbing the order of things,then you will have eternal happiness". How to do that you must figure out yourself, by analyzing your relationships based on a valuation system. Now how hollow this advice is, depends on how one perceives it. That is all that can be said.

Shriram Narasimhan said...

well, there is an updated website now. see www.madhyasth-darshan.info

responsibility implies that we study a subject before commenting or concluding on it.

there are url redirects from
www.jeevanvidya.info and

- do let me know should you have questions. - shriram.jv@gmail.com