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  Indian Ideal of Education

Two things our students need, knowledge and feeling. Knowledge of India: and a feeling for India. And by feeling I mean aspiration to serve her and, if need be, suffer for her. India needs Indian education.

The Indian ideal of education may be expressed in the few simple words: -Education is fellowship!

The forms of fellowship are indicated in Aryan books. One is fellowship with the Guru. And by "guru" is meant not "an infallible superman" but an elder brother, a soul who can help in drawing out the powers of the pupil. The guru was the great purifier: his presence purified the pupil. The guru was not a task master: he was an elder brother in the school-family named the asrama. The emphasis in Indian systems of culture was not on text books or buildings or school functions, but on fellowship between the teacher and the pupil. The truth was recognised that every student was a soul: and the teacher - the guru was one who, by his life rather than his teachings, drew out the soul of the pupil.

Education is a problem in consciousness. It is a problem in soul-culture. This aspect, training of the soul, the atman, is much neglected in many of the modem schools! India has, through the ages, recognised the truth that every student is a soul, that beyond everyone lie experiences of many lives, that a teacher must be a man of moral power and spiritual intuitions in order to be able to help the student to evolve by disciplining his vehicles (koshas).

These "vehicles", "koshas" are five. There is anna-maya kosha, the kosha of matter, the physical vehicle. There is the prana-maya kosha, the kosha of prana, the "vital" vehicle. There is mano-maya kosha, the kosha of manas, the mental vehicle. There is the vignana-maya kosha, the kosha of vignan, the vehicle of Higher Reason. There is the ananda-maya kosha, the kosha of anand (joy). And when that vehicle is well developed there is that self-realisation which involves emotional experience of Unity with All.

Emotion for India, for humanity, is what the current system has not developed. This emotion will not come until the students have fellowship with some great teachers. Such a fellowship will draw out the pupil's personality. In the old culture-centres called asramas, the guru sat on the ground and students sat with him and he, drawing out their hidden powers, impressed on them the truth recorded in the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Gita, the truths of life! The bond between the teacher and the pupil was not that of text books: it was the closer bond of mind and heart.

Many "national" schools and colleges were started in different parts of the country. Gujarat, in recent years even started a "national university". Have they solved the problem of education? Money, buildings, external equipment will not solve the problem. The problem will not be solved until you get teachers of the guru-type. Fellowship with the guru, the Teacher, was the centre-point of Indian education in the past. In the knowledge, which the students had through such a fellowship there was the beautiful humility which we miss in the current system. There is pride of knowledge today: how many have the humility of true culture?

A feature of Indian education in the ancient asramas was a beautiful blend of discipline and emotion. What nobler discipline than brahmacharya? And discipline flowered into emotion. In the current system of education there is little room for culture of emotion of the ideal. In our schools and colleges students receive information but not much training of their emotions. The sense of the beautiful, the wonder-sense is not much developed. Yes, wisdom grows out of wonder-sense. Our students receive "knowledge" but do not have opportunities to rejoice in Truth!

So many of our schools and colleges are situated in localities dominated by crowd-vibrations. The ancient asramas were situated in places blessed by nature's beauty. Indeed there is no culture of the soul without this fellowship. To commune with Nature is to grow not simply in physical but, also, in moral health. It is to grow in beauty and to know intimately; the true moral sense is connected with a sense of beauty. To be pure is to be beautiful. Discipline gave form and nature's communion gave colour to the student's life in ancient India. Therefore did that life become truly beautiful.

Out of this feeling for Nature grows that love for the country which is the very heart of true patriotism. To love India is to love her hills and rills. The very dust of the Motherland becomes sacred to him who has fellowship with Nature.

And to him the records and traditions of his country's past have a meaning which makes his daily life rich and strong. What a thrill comes upon me as I read in the records of the long ago, that Emperors of China sent ambassadors to India, from time to time! India was, then, the Holy Land of the East, the place of Buddha's birth and the Mahabodhi tree and the Dharma! And mine eyes are touched with tears as I read that Huen Tsiang, that Prince of Pilgrims, came to India "to pay worship to the Bodhi-Tree" where the Buddha had attained to Nirvana, that he returned to China with 657 volumes of Indian Culture and later translated some of them into Chinese, thus carrying Indian culture to his people! India was then a teacher of the Nations.

- Sadhu Vaswani

Sanathana Sarathi, September 1997, pagg. 250-251

Sanathana Sarathi in the monthly magazine published by the Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust Prasanthi Nilayam: http://www.sssbpt.org/Pages/Trust/SanathanaSarathi1.htm

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