Bodhi for Educators – A Participant’s Account Darma Arjunan from Malaysia shares her experience of the Bodhi course

Share now!

Bodhi was a five month long course offered in 2021 for those passionate about the Indic philosophy of education. With participants from all over the globe, the program was designed to bring out the educational philosophies that have their roots in India. Darma Arjunan, a participant from Malaysia shares her experience of the course.

This five month long Executive Programme was an eye-opening experience for me. As a Malaysian who lacked the necessary Indic foundation, this course provided much-needed exposure to the fundamentals of Indic thought process and education models. 

Initially, I was involved in projects encompassing education, policy and my postgraduate dissertation. These projects were funded wholly or partially by persons who were not well-versed in Indic knowledge systems. On top of that, Malaysia’s legal system was molded by its colonial masters. Malaysia did not have a Dr. B.R. Ambedkar to draft her Constitution. Therefore, the initiation towards indigenous knowledge was not thorough. National curriculums are still designed to keep its post-colonial construct and Anaadi Foundation’s course helped me bridge this divide. I included varied input in my presentations to the Malaysian public and it was met with a welcoming response from all ethnicities in Malaysia. 

Similarly, for my postgraduate thesis, I produced a critique on the European Union Draft Directive on Corporate Due Diligence and Corporate Accountability. In my thesis, I proposed a recommendation to align the Indic Purushartha framework with the EU’s objectives for corporate leadership and sustainability. In spite of the EU’s shortcomings, the faculty members were grateful for the Indic contribution to achieve their social justice ideals. Presently, this proposal has garnered more interest and I am keen to pursue my Ph.D. in the field to promote human rights, the environment and good governance.

Recently, I took a step forward to enroll for the Rashtram School of Public Policy’s Sri Aurobindo’s online course. This was wholly due to my exposure to his thoughts in the Bodhi Programme and proved to be a significant step for me because it unearthed the Global South balance which was missing in my Global North education model. It is of the participant’s humble opinion that the missing links in today’s challenges are solutions that Indic thought leaders can verily provide for. Unfortunately, due to negligence or human error, their contribution is not reflected in the international agenda for multilateralism. Presently, I am following tutored lectures on his books, The Human Cycle, The Ideal of Human Unity, War and Self-Determination. His overarching ideals are sorely lacking in present day international trade law lectures. Therefore, I intend to look into his literature in the future as part of my postgraduate contribution to the field.

Purely, in the area of self-development, I explored Sanskrit and its roots with Latin. To my surprise, the Indic aspects are firmly acknowledged in their literature. From there, I decided to dig deeper on both sides by enrolling for a simple starter course in Sanskrit and Latin to find common threads that bind these civilizations together. In the same vein, these efforts will be documented for my postgraduate ambitions in the future.

In other spheres, my knowledge of the Gita and Vedanta is enhanced by incorporating it in my weekly classes with the Global North. It provides clarity to the intellect which translated to action, creating meaningful change. These actions are a healthy combination of the Bodhi Programme and the interactions with my classmates in London. I am blessed to have authentic input from other parts of the world that celebrates the values and teachings of India’s treasure to the world at large.

Further to that, the study of neuroscience and its effects were explored in this Course. I do not have a background in this field of study. However, the Course speakers made the subject approachable to the layperson. I learnt to make the mind, the most important tool, to seek out improvements in my daily life. Epigenetics is a field that caught my interest during the pandemic. Its importance became clearer after the speakers completed their slots for the Course. Naturally, the multi-dimension of the faculties of the mind was the focal point in Bodhi’s course structure.

As an educator, policy analyst and legal representative, the biggest realization after completing five months with Anaadi Foundation was the lack of philosophical and educational acumen among influential personalities in education, policy and in the Malaysian Parliament. Despite their mass following on social media and in the Malaysian Press, their actions imply lack of foundational skills that is part and parcel of their Indic heritage, particularly in the services they offer.

As a conclusion, I fervently hope this body of knowledge reaches other corners of the world, similar to that of Bollywood celebrities’ influence. Indic culture should be uplifted through its various thought leaders’ prisms. Its significance should be celebrated in publications and included in the education syllabus for others in the world to pick up and find a meaningful purpose in their lives.

I thank the facilitators and course participants for making this course an inclusionary process for a Malaysian national to understand her heritage better. The benefits were warmly received by recipients of my projects. Likewise, this online course brought much clarity to many Indic controversies that appeared in the Malaysian lens. It is crucial for Indic narratives to reach others who may have been led astray by other lenses that seek to drown out the Indic voice.