literacy is the pathway from slavery to freedom: Missions to the Illiterate

Children learn to read and then they read to learn. Literacy is the most powerful weapon in the civilized world. One word can change a person’s life forever. Malala Yousafzai said: "Let us pick up our books and our pens — they are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world."

The Shudras (the craftsmen and working caste) have no right to read the Vedas according to the Hindu Scripture. This community is prohibited of hearing, studying, knowing and performing the Vedic matters. The ears of him who hears the Veda are to be filled with (molten) lead and lac, for a Shudra is like a cemetery, therefore (the Veda) is not be read in the vicinity of a Shudra. What a tragic prohibition and what an inhuman discriminative expression found in the so called holy scriptures of Hindu tradition. His tongue is to be slit if he pronounces it; his body is to be cut through if he preserves it.’ The prohibition of hearing and studying the Veda already imply the prohibition of the knowledge and performance of Vedic matters. How many of you are going to follow such an outdated, barbaric faith tradition in this post-modern scientific world. 

The untouchables are not part of above community. They are simply out-caste or outside of the caste system. The caste system consist of four different types of people such as the Brahmins, the Kshatriyas, the Vaishyas and the Shudras. In other words the outcaste are below Shudra and even the shadow of them were considered un-pure.

Literacy is also connected with the capacity to attain salvation. Jnana Marga is the path of knowledge, the philosophical and intellectual capacity to attain salvation just like Bhakthi marga (Devotion) or Karma marga (work). Jnana marga is also the meditative concentration preceded by long and systematic ethical and contemplative training (yoga) to gain a super-intellect. 

The lack of literacy is a plague that steals the confidence, closes doors of opportunity, humiliates and traps these people in low-paying manual labor jobs, sinks them into poverty, cheats them from generation to generation, and prevents them from traveling. 

There are 176 million Indian women experiencing this plague. Many girls in India grow up being told they are unwanted or a burden simply because of their female gender and illiteracy puts them at an even greater disadvantage, vulnerable, exploitation by dishonest moneylenders, land lords, shopkeepers, human traffickers and employers. Literacy is the first step towards freedom, self-confidence, brighter future, and a generational break through. 272 million adults in India are illiterate.

In the eyes of the illiterate person, I doubt even if we can walk an hour of our life. We will never be able to read the bus board, name of the medicine, no personal bank account, no possibility with the text mobile revolution, no facebook post, no internet usage, no savings or use a keyboard or calculator or calendars. There is a greater chance for not knowing birthday and not getting any proper job as well as raising up an illiterate generation. 

Literacy is the most powerful weapon and it matters.  Take part in a literacy program initiative.

Binu Peniel


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