The Vision Of A New Society ► 29 ►New Dimension of Education

Posted: 03.11.2019

Education is a sanskara in life. It may not have been included in the 16 sanskaras.[1] Bfut its role in bringing refinement in life is very important. In ancient times, education began in the gurukuls, where along with training in reading and writing, music, use of arms, etc. training was also given in the art of living. Training received through severe restraint and hard labour shaped an all-round personality. The aims of education have been described as follows in the Dashauaikalika Sutra:

  • Let me study so that I acquire knowledge.
  • Let me study so that I have better concentration.
  • Let me study so that I remain steady in myself.
  • Let me study so that after becoming steady in myself. I help other do the same.

If the teachers and the students both make educa­tion the medium of transmission, then the possibility of new revolution in education cannot be disregarded. But how many educational institutions follow these sacred ideas today? Education has been directly linked with livelihood. The training which is not helpful in earning livelihood does not hold any attraction. Education may not be opposed to livelihood, but education which is only based on the aim of providing livelihood cannot fulfil the goal of developing a personality. From this point of view, it is necessary to give serious thought to the form of education, its objective and the material equipment for it.

 


Education is like Thread in the Needle

Education has two forms: learning and application. The system of education which provides many-sided knowledge but pays no attention to character formation is incomplete. Education can be related to life only when its value is assessed on the basis of character formation. The student wants to learn. He would not quality himself for education as long as he does not overcome the hurdles. Conceit, anger, negligence, illness and laziness are the five big hurdles. Modesty, tolerance, carefulness, health and enthusiasm are required to get rid of them.

The usefulness of education lies in the awakening of a sense of discretion. If a sense of discretion is not aroused even after attaining innumerable degrees, how would there be any lustre in one's life? Education has been described in terms of a threaded needle:

"If the needle is threaded, it can be found even when it is lost. Similarly, the individual tied with the thread of education protects himself from going astray in the world."[2]

In the olden days, grandmothers advised that the needles should be always threaded. If unthreaded needle is lost, it is very difficult to find it. Education is like a thread. When life is linked with education, life can never be disorganized. That is why it is necessary to link life with education.

 

Need for Positive Thinking

Man possesses the developed brain. He thinks and also puts his ideas into practice. He has a long list before him of the jobs that should be done. He eats, drinks, plays, reads, follows his profession, marries, produces children, builds houses and does lots of other things, He remembers everything, but forgets humaneness. This is at the root of the problem. He finds solutions to the problems, but the problems do not get solved. This is because his solutions are only piecemeal. He plucks flowers and leaves. His eyes are constructed on the results, but he does not see his own mistakes. He does not strike at the root of the problem. If he had done it, the problems would not have held him in such a tight grip.

Before man does anything, let him for a couple of moments close his eyes and think to himself: "I am a human being." If he is constantly aware of that fact, he would also be able to think, "I am not an animal. I am not a demon. I am not a devil. I am not cruel. I am not a killer. I am not given to intoxication." Such language of neti, neti[3]may create in him a feeling of inferiority. To protect against such a feeling, he must think: "I am sensitive. I am compassionate. I am honest. I am devoted to truth. I am free from intoxication. I am free from emotional compulsions. I am alert." When man is able to think along such sacred lines he would never forget humaneness in whatever he does. He would not allow his life to be distorted. This alone is the new dimension of education which makes man into a human being before making him anything else.

 

Aim of Education

A student goes to school and college to have education. He goes to a university if he wants to have higher education. If he is asked why he is studying and what is the aim of his education, his probable answer would be that he wants to be an engineer, doctor, lawyer, businessman, teacher, scientist or something else. Hardly any student says that he wants to be a good human being. He cannot have such an answer. No educational institu­tion has any department which may give training in being humane. What is needed is that man should not forget the basis of humaneness in whatever he does. Whether he studies, writes, does business or is in service, let him not forget humaneness. Usually, it is seen that the things that should be remembered are being forgotten and the things which are not likely to bring any benefit are being remembered. The inspiring stories about the lives of great men are being forgotten and the names of actors and actresses are being recited like mantras. Political leaders are worried about being in power. Industrialists are concerned about their industries and business. Teachers are worried about their livelihood. Officers of institutions are worried about their reputation and the guardians are worried about the academic degrees of their children. What could be the future of the students in such a situation? There was a time when religious leaders used to be concerned about giving good sanskaras. But now the whole field of their concern is changing. In such a situation, there is no one to take the responsibility when man's life is becoming directionless. Everyone has his own selfish interests and his own concerns. So long as this selfish mentality is not reformed, there is hardly a chance of any big reform even through education.

 

Education and Discipline

There is one prevalent idea according to which the task of religious teachers is confined to the discussion about the soul and the Ultimate. Their field is said to be spiritual. They are supposed to be incapable of thinking about the family, the society or the nation. I too thought in such terms at one time. Many people urged me to launch an attack on social evils. I kept on ignoring their suggestion. What did people like me have to do with social conventions? Because of such ideas in my mind, I maintained silence for many years. But gradually, my ideas changed. With that, I could visualize a universal nature of religion. I realized that it was the function of religion to fight the evil and spread goodness, if the fight against the evil is not carried out on religious front, how else would it be done? The whole programme of anuvrat is the programme of striking at the roots of the evil. All the evils existing at the individual, social, political and religious levels can be eradicated through the anuvrat programme. At least they can be minimized. With that faith, I started padayatras. I got in touch with people of all communities and classes. I studied the problem concerning the social life and started the process of solving those problems.

Lack of discipline is a big problem in the world of education. Discipline has two aspects, internal and external. Disciplining oneself is the best form of disci­pline. When self-discipline dose not develop, discipline is imposed from above. When both types of disciplines become ineffective, the situation goes out of control. If the educational institutions provide training in how to bring discipline in life, and give a practical training at that, then education can be said to have been applied in practice.

 

Seeking Inspiration from Great People

There is no need to teach anyone that he should behave well with someone who behaves well with him and behave badly with the one who behaves badly with him. Man is born with certain sanskaras as part of his tradition. With the slightest development of understand­ing the surroundings, man automatically learns such things. What he needs to be taught is that even when someone does not behave well with him, he should have only good feelings for that person. He should be forgiving even when someone gets angry with him. It may be asked if it is possible to forgive a person who behaves angrily. But nothing is impossible for the person, who wishes to do something. But the person who wants to do nothing at all would not find a word like 'possible' in his dictionary. The inspiration to win anger with forgiveness is derived from Bhagwan Mahavira. So many attempts were made to excite Mahavira. The gods harassed him, human beings tormented him, birds and animals troubled him. But Mahavira was not disturbed. Mahavira must have been made of sterner stuff, although he was only a bundle of bones and muscles. His tolerance was unique. This alone is the new dimension of education which we consider the test of transformation of personality.

Everyone cannot become Mahavira. But even if a hundredth or a thousand part of his life can be learnt, it can mean a great achievement. Man's mind goes awry in the face of the slightest inconvenience. He is unable to sleep at night and he is unable to eat. At such moments, one should remember Mahavira and try to restore his own balance. One can learn from AcharyaBhiksu, Mahatma Gandhi, Jesus Christ and innumerable other great personages how to keep one's balance. They passed through terrible hardship and faced many situations, which could have excited them. They remained calm and equipoised in all situations. The science of living teaches these things to the students.

 

New Dimension in Life is Possible

The science of living is not an obstruction to the intellectual efficiency of its students. Its aim is to see that the students do not stop at the intellectual level, but go beyond it. The students have to develop at the emotional level as well. It is not the aim of the science of living that the student should be a nincompoop, coward or timid. Its aim is to develop unanimous attitude among the students. One point to be particularly noted in this connection is that the science of living is not a mere literary term and is not meant to be just talked about. Its training is given in two ways: with the help of language and without the help of language. These may be also described as dealing with the principle as well as the application of that principle. Training with the help of language is of course going on. There is no need to stop it, since that kind of training too has a certain impact. However, the training at the practical level would have a lasting impact. It is for this very reason that the science of living has been able to provide a new dimension to education.

Every individual is free to accept or not accept the idea of the science of living. But if we wish to make man truly a human being, if we wish to change the social framework, if we wish to restore India to its glory, then we shall have to adopt a programmer based on the science of living, sometime or the other. It is not our intention to prove the prevailing system of education wrong or to stop it. Whatever is there is of course all right. But it is necessary to link it with the science of living in order to do away with whatever shortcomings and limitations it may be having. It can be an independent subject for the student who wishes to be better qualified in it. Where specialization is not the aim, if the practical training in the science of living is given along with every subject, this new dimension in education would be able to give a new direction to the life of the student.

Footnotes:
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