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103

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PUBLICATION

VOL. 103, No. 12 ISSN 0042-2983 A CULTURAL AND SPIRITUAL MONTHLY OF THE RAMAKRISHNA ORDER

Started at the instance of Swami Vivekananda in 1895 as Brahmavâdin, it assumed the name The Vedanta Kesari in 1914.

For free edition on the Web, please visit: www.chennaimath.org

CONTENTS DECEMBER 2016

EDUCATION: PERSPECTIVES & PRACTICES MReflection Editorial MLearn to Learn Articles MEducation and Its Perennial Value Swami Gautamananda MEducation: A Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Perspective Swami Abhiramananda MEducation: Awakening the Real Man Swami Nityasthananda MCritical Enquiry: A Vedantic Perspective Swami Atmapriyananda MSwami Vivekananda and a New Pedagogy Swami Atmarupananda MThe Changing Classroom Student-Teacher Interaction in an Increasingly Virtual World Swami Narasimhananda MThe Upanishadic Ideal of Education Swami Japasiddhananda MAn Education in Acceptance Pravrajika Divyanandaprana MEducational Lessons from the Gita Dr. N.V.C. Swamy MSister Nivedita and Indian Education Prema Raghunath

443 444 446 451 457 463 468

473 478 484 487 491


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MIndian Culture and Indian Education Pramod Kumar MBuilding a Resurgent India Dr. R Balasubramaniam MInternet Addiction: The Undoing of Education Dr. P.N. Ravindra MNational Policy on Education in India Dr. E Vasantha Kumar MHolistic Education Compiled from The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda MPancha Shila of Education Swami Jagadatmananda MPearls of Wisdom MA Flourishing Boon Swami Satyajnanananda MLandscape of Quality Education Dr. R. Mythili MGrowing from Within Swami Budhananda MAwakened Citizen Programme – A New Approach to Value Education Swami Shantatmananda MInvoking Human Excellence Swami Sarvasthananda MNurturing Excellence Swami Bodhamayananda MHuman Excellence in Fiji Swami Vedanishthananda MEducation: The Vivekananda Way T. Chakravarthy MThe Study Circles MInspiration from a Voice without Form Dr. V.V. Subramanian MAlumni Voice MAnnual Index

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496 501 505 509 516 522 524 532 535 540 545 550 554 557 560 565 568 570 573


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The Vedanta Kesari Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Chennai 600 004 h (044) 2462 1110 (4 lines) Website : www.chennaimath.org For all authors and contributors : thevedantakesari@chennaimath.org For all subscription related inquiries: magazine@chennaimath.org TO OUR SUBSCRIBERS

N You can subscribe to The Vedanta Kesari from any month. N On your address slip, the number RQWKHOHIWRI WKHÀUVWOLQHRI DGG ress is your subscription number. Always PHQWLRQWKLVLQ\RXUFRUUHV pondence. N If you do not receive your copy by 2nd week of a month, please intimate us. Complaints Vedanta Kesari Subscription Rates (inclusive of postage)  ‰ India  ‰ Other Countries All overseas dispatch by Air Mail.

reaching us before this or after one month (for overseas subscriptions, WZR PRQWKV  RI  SRVWLQJ RI  WKH MRXU nal are not entertained. N To ensure continuity, please renew your subscription well in advance. N )RUIUHVKVXEVFULSWLRQVUHQHZDOVSODF ing advertisements in The Vedanta Kesari, please write to The Manager, 7KH9HGDQWD.HVDUL2IÀFH†

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We invite our readers to liberally contribute to the Vedanta Kesari Permanent Fund. This will go a long way in placing this 103 years old magazine on firm financial footing to continue its service to the cause of a holistic and meaningful life. Your contributions (minimum of Rs.1000/- or US$ 25) by Cheque/DD/ MO should be sent to Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Chennai, along with a covering note stating that it is meant for Vedanta Kesari Permanent Fund. Every contribution will be gratefully acknowledged and the donor’s name will be published in the Vedanta Kesari. All donations to Sri Ramakrishna Math are exempt from Income Tax under section 80G of the [Indian] I.T. Act, 1961. We accept online donations also.


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Vedanta Kesari Library Fund Scheme Do you wish to join in spreading the message of Vedanta and of RamakrishnaVivekananda to larger number of people?

D o you feel that India’s timeless heritage

of spirituality, values and culture need to reach a wider section of youth?

You are welcome to join us in these efforts by contributing to our Library Fund Scheme.

Your initiative in promoting this scheme will help a noble cause. And the cause awaits your involvement. I

I

I

I

The Vedanta Kesari Library Fund Scheme aims at a wider reach among the youth, especially in high schools, colleges / universities and other institutions of learning in India. Sponsorship for one library is Rs.1000/-. Under this scheme, donors can sponsor libraries, including public libraries, which would receive The Vedanta Kesari for ten years. The sponsors can mention the libraries which they wish to enroll, or The Vedanta Kesari would select the libraries on their behalf. The name of the sponsors, along with the libraries enrolled, will be published in The Vedanta Kesari. This scheme is valid for libraries in India. We invite you to join hands with us in this valuable scheme. You can send your sponsorship by cash or through a DD drawn in favour of ‘Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai’ and send it with a covering note to The Manager, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Chennai - 600 004 Email : thevedantakesari@chennaimath.org Website : www.chennaimath.org

‘Doing is very good, but that comes from thinking. . . . Fill the brain, therefore, with high thoughts, highest ideals, place them day and night before you, and out of that will come great work.’ —Swami Vivekananda


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N Special Issue N Transforming human nature from animalistic tendencies to human and finally to divine is the true purpose of education. This evolution in consciousness is also the real measure of civilizational progress. This special issue on education presents some Vedantic perspectives on education and records the attempts made by institutions, small groups, and individuals to put into practice the man-making ideas of Swami Vivekananda. We thank the team of The Vedanta Kesari volunteers–Sri M.Mukundan, Sri K.Srikanth, and Sri V.Raghunandan, and our staff Sri D. Sekar for their tireless efforts in bringing out this issue. Our very special thanks to Mr William Page who is settled in Thailand and has been associated with the Ramakrishna Vedanta Society of Massachusetts since 1960 and is a member of the Ramakrishna Vedanta Association, Thailand. We also thank Mr Timothy Crawford, an old devotee from The Vedanta Society of Southern California, now residing in Thailand. Both have diligently helped in editing and proofreading the articles.

T HE V EDANTA K ESARI P ATRONS ’ S CHEME We invite our readers to join as patrons of the magazine. They can do so by sending Rs.2000/- or more. Names of the patrons will be announced in the journal under the Patrons' Scheme and they will receive the magazine for 20 years. Please send your contribution to The Manager, The Vedanta Kesari by DD/MO drawn in favour of Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai with a note that the enclosed amount is for the Patrons' Scheme. (This scheme is valid in India only).

The Vedanta Kesari Library Scheme SL.NO. NAMES OF SPONSORS

6156. M/s. Merino Panel Products Ltd., 6157. -do6158. -do6159. -do6160. -do6161. -do6162. -do6163. -do6164. -do6165. -do6166. -do6167. -do-

AWARDEE INSTITUTIONS

Visvesvaraya National Inst. of Tech., Nagpur, Maharastra - 440 011 NITTE Inst. of Tech., Yelahanka, Bangalore, Karnataka - 560 064 R.S.I. of Tech., Bangalore North, Karnakata - 562 157 Annamalai University, Chidambaram, T.N. - 608 002 Laidlaw Memorail School, Coonoor, Nilgiri Dt., T.N. - 643 215 The Rajkumar College, Rajkot, Gujarat - 360 001 Thriveni Academy, Kancheepuram dist., T.N. - 603 204 Vidya Niketan Birla Public school, Pilani, Rajasthan - 333 031 Vikas Vidyalaya, Ranchi, Jharkhand - 853 217 Central Secretariat Library, Ramakrishnapuram, Newdelhi - 110 066 Dayal singh Public Library, Near I.T.O., New delhi - 110 002 University of Delhi, Faculty of north campus, New Delhi - 110 007 To be continued . . .


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VOL. 103, No. 12, DECEMBER 2016 ISSN 0042-2983

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Reflection

One attains the Absolute by going beyond the universe and its created beings conjured up by maya. By passing beyond WKH1DGDRQHJRHVLQWRVDPŅGKL%\UHSHDWLQJ 'Om' one goes beyond the Nada and DWWDLQVVDPŅGKL –The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, p. 263

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Editorial

Learn to Learn ‘As long as I live, so long do I learn,’ declared Sri Ramakrishna. Echoing a similar approach to education the two UNESCO education commissions Learning to Be (1972), and Learning: The Treasure Within (1996) advocate ‘lifelong learning’ as a principle on which the overall organisation of the educational system is to be based. Learning is a lifelong process both in terms of duration and diversity. A key element in lifelong learning is receptivity or openness. It is to retain a youthful mind even when the body continues to age. It is a mind that is ready to learn new things, relearn and improve the known things, and unlearn the out-dated things. Lifelong learning also has, in a sense, a spiritual dimension. It lies in the humility to accept that there is no end to learning. It lies in the courage to fearlessly question one’s pet beliefs and come out of the know-all, holierthan-thou attitudes. When we are ready to learn and our power of receptivity is awakened, the whole world becomes a school and every life experience a teacher. The Chandogya Upanishad narrates the story of Satyakama Jabala whose guru sends him to the forest with four hundred feeble and famished cows. Satyakama vows not to come back until there are a thousand of them. In the forest he tends them with great affection and leads an austere and meditative life. One day, a bull informs him that the herd is a thousand strong and it is time to return to the gurukula. The bull then teaches him one aspect of Brahman. And on the way back, the fire, the swan, and the diver-bird each teach him the other aspects of T h e

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Brahman. He returns to the gurukula shining like a knower of Brahman. 1 The Srimad Bhagavata narrates the story of the Avadhuta who learns from 24 gurus widely drawn from nature such as air, water, pigeons, bees, fish and the elephant.2 While reminiscing about Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Brahmananda says, ‘Once I was meditating in the Panchavati at noon while the Master was talking about the manifestation of Brahman as sound [ShabdaBrahman]. Listening to that discussion, even the birds in the Panchavati began to sing the Vedic songs and I heard them.’3 Today, technologies are rapidly evolving and changing life patterns within a lifetime. New ways of inexpensive printing, internet, and multimedia are ushering in radical changes and creating new complexities and contradictions in individual and social life. This flux in social groupings, economics, technology and Nature necessitates a regular re-evaluation and re-framing of our thinking on education and learning. And indeed, from individual to international level people are engaged with questions like ‘What is education?’ ‘What should our children learn?’ ‘How best can we teach them?’ ‘Are they developing the insight to understand and resolve their personal and national problems?’ ‘Will they have the foresight to visualise the challenges of the future and adapt to changing skill requirements?’ Various national and international education commissions are making serious efforts to answer such questions by redesigning the goals of education, the curriculum, and the tools of delivery. In

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September 2015 the United Nations adopted seventeen Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty and ensure sustainable global growth by 2030. The fourth goal is education, and for its successful implementation, a Framework for Action was adopted at Incheon, South Korea. This Incheon Declaration seeks to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education, and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030. The Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, has now presented a draft of the National Education Policy 2016 for public debate. Educational institutions and NGOs too are seriously reflecting on the subject of education. At the individual level, a growing number of parents across the world are directly participating in the process of education by home schooling their children. Passing on to the next generation the cumulative knowledge of sciences, technology, arts, fine arts, ethical values and spiritual realizations, in short the whole of civilizational heritage, depends in the widest sense on education. Therefore education is the greatest force for civilisation. In fact, the survival of

References:

1. Chandogya Upanishad 4.5-9

human society depends on education. Experts in education have begun to emphasise that we should teach our children to be learners, rather than providing them occupational training, because the jobs that are available today may not exist tomorrow. Therefore, we must make learning about education itself a lifelong endeavour. The policy makers in the field of education must themselves continue to learn and relearn their ideas of education. Only then will they be able to revaluate and reorganize their perspectives, priorities and practices in the education system and cater to the contemporary needs. Apart from learning to accumulate information, students must be trained in the art of inner assimilation through openness of the mind, power of receptivity and above all, the humility to be lifelong learners. At a deeper level, this signifies an awakening to the truth within us. Studying and contemplating on the different perspectives and practices in education therefore warrants continuous effort from all thinkers and policy-makers in the educational system. So let us learn to learn!

2. Srimad Bhagavata 11.7-9

3. God Lived with Them, 82

You see, no one can teach anybody. The teacher spoils everything by thinking that he is teaching. Thus Vedanta says that within man is all knowledgeâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;even in a boy it is soâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and it requires only an awakening, and that much is the work of a teacher. We have to do only so much for the boys that they may learn to apply their own intellect to the proper use of WKHLUKDQGVOHJVHDUVH\HVHWFDQGÂżQDOO\HYHU\WKLQJZLOOEHFRPHHDV\ â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Talks with Swami Vivekananda, p.450

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Article

Education and Its Perennial Value SWAMI GAUTAMANANDA

There is a Sanskrit proverb, svarājye pūjyate rājā vidvān sarvatra pūjyate’ which means ‘A king is honoured only in his kingdom, whereas a learned man is honoured everywhere.’ Thus learning, or education, has the perennial value of raising a person above all others, who, despite possessing wealth, power, beauty, etc., are bereft of education. Without education, one may not be worthy of being called a human being. We read in the Chandogya Upanishad that Rishi Aruni told his son Svetaketu, ‘Go to a teacher and get educated, because none in our family remains uneducated.’1 In the same Upanishad, Narada approaches Sanatkumara as a humble student with the prayer, ‘O Revered One, please instruct me.���2 Thus the thirst for knowledge, or education, has to be in every cultured person. In India, this education was given in two ways. One was in the form of secular knowledge. This is described by the Mundaka Upanishad as ‘study of the Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, Atharva Veda, phonetics, rituals, grammar, etymology, metre, and astrology.’3 We can add all the sciences, humanities, technology, etc., to this list. All this was called apara vidya, lower knowledge. Quite distinct from this is the para vidya, higher knowledge, by which the Imperishable is attained. This higher knowledge can be attaine by approaching a proper guru and attained

practicing detachment and other virtues under his guidance to experience spiritual truths. It is being and becoming divine. Thus a complete education was considered to be knowledge of external nature called secular knowledge, together with the knowledge of the Imperishable (the Divine Self of man), which is called spiritual knowledge. Here we may ask why knowledge of the Divine Self (Atman) is brought into the picture of education. This is because it is from the Atman that all creation has emerged, in which it continues to exist, and to which it finally returns. Without knowing the cause, we can never properly know the effect. For example, if we do not know the property of clay, we can never know the property of the cup, plate, and pot made out of clay. Thus, if we want to know creation, we should know the Creator from Whom it has emerged. Swami Vivekananda astonished Western educationists by declaring that education was the manifestation or drawing out of something that is already inside the student, and not something thrust into the student from outside. All knowledge is in the soul. Only it is lying covered up by nature. To uncover or discover is the work of education. It is like grinding oil seeds in a mill to extract the oil from the seed. This grinding is the process of education, which brings out the knowledge already in the student. That is why Swamiji says in his book on Raja Yoga, ‘Each soul

A senior trustee of the Ramakrishna Math, Belur and a member of the Governing Body of the Ramakrishna Mission, the author is the Adhyaksha of Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai. T h e

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is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this divinity within by controlling nature external and internal.’4 Education is the training of the various faculties of our body, senses, intellect, feelings, and will to manifest our divinity, the Atman. This divine Atman that we are, is a perfect entity which is of the nature of infinite existence (deathless, eternally living, and fearless), infinite knowledge (and infinite power), and infinite bliss (and love). When a child receives proper instructions from a good teacher, it develops confidence to use its body and senses better and better. Thus it gradually manifests perfection in its physical personality. Similarly, on being instructed in controlling the mind through concentration, cogent thinking, and objective observation, the child manifests its mental perfection by arriving at logical conclusions. The child thus grows to become a great thinker, writer, or scientist. His logical mind leads him to the strong conviction that truth shall ultimately prevail. This enables him to manifest a strong will to arrive at and live in truth. Thus manifesting the power of thought and will, he can be a leader in his field of work. When properly instructed about the interdependence of the individual and society, he manifests his moral perfection by sacrificing his individual wellbeing for the welfare of society. Thus he presents a moral ideal for society to follow. This helps society to be at peace by rising above corruption, exploitation, and class and caste struggles. When, through moral perfection, one serves society, one’s spiritual perfection begins to manifest. Love towards all, sacrifice and service to all, irrespective of caste, creed, T h e

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colour, and gender, are manifested in such a person. He then becomes a lover of humanity like a Buddha or a Vivekananda. Through such holy souls, the message of God that He is ever among us, that the whole of creation is one in Him, hence we should all live in peace and harmony and not fight, is brought home. Thus one can become a spiritual force and serve society. We see such noble souls in some of the western disciples of Swami Vivekananda, like Sister Nivedita, Sister Christine, Mrs. Sevier, Captain Sevier, and J.J.Goodwin. All great people have been deep thinkers. They applied in their own lives what they read and learned from other people. That is, they churned their learning to get wisdom from it. Wisdom is digested and assimilated knowledge that helps one to lead a life in the light of righteousness, Dharma. A wise man separates the good things, sreya, from pleasurable things, preya. ‘Good’ leads to immortality, whereas ‘pleasures’ lead to annihilation. The Katha Upanishad declares: ‘Immortality comes to him who accepts the good, and he who selects the pleasurable falls from the true end.’5 Even a little deep thinking empowers a student to select the path of life which leads to success, name, fame, service, peace, and joy. Thus we see that wisdom, an eternal value, is achieved through concentration and deep thinking, which are part of a good education. Spiritual illumination, called moksha, or absolute freedom, God-realization, Selfrealization, is also the result of the power of concentration applied to one’s own mind. Such concentration reveals the various obstacles in our subconscious mind which prevent us from knowing our true Divine Self as Existence-

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Knowledge-Bliss (Sat-Chit-Ananda). The path of spiritual illumination leads to the highest knowledge of God, Soul, and nature. The knowledge of nature, which belongs to the domain of science and psychology, stands revealed to a man of spiritual enlightenment. Sri Ramakrishna explained this in his own inimitable way. He said that one ‘should somehow meet the master of a house and become acquainted with him; then he himself will tell you … all about his gardens (nature)…’6 Therefore one should first know the owner (God) of the garden, and then, if necessary, learn about nature. In other words, if one is first established in spiritual knowledge, then all other knowledge will be added. No true saint or sage has ever lacked knowledge of the world. In fact, history shows that men of spirituality have advised emperors and kings on how to conduct their worldly duties in the best possible way! We have the example of Sage Vasishtha advising King Dasaratha, Vidyaranya Saraswati helping princes Hakka and Bukka to build the mighty Vijayanagara empire, Samartha Ramdas and Sant Tukaram helping Chhatrapati Shivaji to build the Maratha empire, and in our own times Swami Vivekananda awakening India to throw off its slavery and march ahead as a free nation equal to other advanced nations. Here we notice that the basic values which help us to lead a successful secular life are also useful in our spiritual progress. For example, truthfulness makes a person very trustworthy. He is loved and welcomed by one and all. It is in the character of every successful leader. We expect our political leaders to be honest, our subordinates to be honest, our children, parents, friends, and others to be honest. Sri Ramakrishna tells us that the people of a village went all the way to a distant village and brought an honest T h e

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middle-man to settle a dispute. According to Sri Ramakrishna, truthfulness is the greatest spiritual value for a spiritual aspirant. He says, ‘One who always speaks the truth is already sitting on the lap of God.’ Furthermore, he says that everything can be given up for the sake of truth, but truth cannot be given up for anything, however great. In education, truth always gets the highest priority. In the Chandogya Upanishad, the guru Haridru-mata Gautama praises his disciple: tvā upaneṣye na satyādagā iti–I will initiate you (into learning) because you have not deviated from truth.’7 In the epics of India, we have Satya Harischandra, or Truthful Harischandra, the king who sacrificed his wealth, kingdom, wife, son, and his caste itself to maintain his truthfulness. To keep his word given to his third wife, Dasaratha, the king of Ayodhya, sent his son Sri Ramachandra to live in the forest. And Sri Ramachandra gave up his right to the throne to help his father keep his word. In the Taittiriya Upanishad, God Himsatyaṁ self is called Truth– 8 jñānamanantaṁ brahma.’ Whatever lasts forever is Truth. Change leads to decay and death; hence Truth must be beyond all changes of time, space, and causation. Vedanta speaks of creation originating from the Atman tasmādvā Itself – etasmādātmana ākāśassambhūtaḥ—Space indeed issued forth from the Atman.’9 Therefore the Atman is the primal cause of all creation. To know the Atman is to know all creation, just as by knowing a lump of gold one can know the property of all gold ornaments. This knowledge of the Atman holds the key to infinite knowledge of all beings and things of the past, present, and future. True education can thus lead us to infinite knowledge, unlike intellectual know-

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ledge, which leaves our spiritual and moral personalities undeveloped or underdeveloped. Consequently, all our planning and projections often remain unsuccessful, because they are based on incomplete knowledge. To acquire this infinite knowledge, there is the time-tested path of yoga, or mental concentration. Through concentration, we focus our mind’s energies to develop a powerful intellectual force which can reveal everything, however tiny or huge it may be; we thus get complete knowledge of the thing. It is with such a penetrating power of the mind that our ancient sage-scientist Panini, the great Sanskrit grammarian, gave the world an almost perfect language in Sanskrit. As we know, information technologists across the world opine that Sanskrit may be the best language for computer science. Similarly, the near-perfect art of Bharatanatyam, the classical dance form, was expounded by Sage Bharata! So were the discoveries in maths, algebra, geometry, and astronomy by men like Aryabhatta and Gadadhara. They did not have microscopes or telescopes; but they acquired all the knowledge of astronomy, physics, and chemistry of later times! That was through the power of their yogic minds. The magic of good education which could produce such brilliant men of art, humanities, science, medicine, and astronomy was known to dedicated teachers. These teachers were men of intuition (not merely intellectuals); their minds were free from greed for money or creature comforts. They were pure and holy in their social lives. They loved their students as their own children. They not only taught them knowledge, but gave them food and lodging in their own homes. There was thus a close relationship between the teacher and the taught. The teachers taught out of love, and the students T h e

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led an austere life under their guidance. Austerity and the simplest way of life kept the minds of the students away from mundane distractions and physical pleasures. It was commonly accepted that good education can be imbibed only through an austere life. Hence the proverb sukhārthī vā tyajedvidyāṁ vidyārthī vā tyajet sukham – The student who wants comforts has to forego learning, and the one who wants learning should forego comforts.’ Here we get a perennial value of education: knowledge can be acquired only through hard work. In olden times, the student had to serve the teacher as a member of his family. He had to observe strict rules of chastity and obedience to the teacher. The teacher, thus pleased, would teach him out of love and compassion. The transfer of wisdom from the teacher to the student was through pure love. Money or any other form of gifts had no place in education; the worthiness of the student was the only consideration. The teacher was above sin, immune to greed for money and gifts, and was a master of the highest knowledge. No wonder that teachers were hailed as Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwar (God) himself! The knowledge imparted by such a guru transformed the student from a man into a god. From the blindness of ignorance, the guru gave the vision of knowledge to the student –

ajñānatimirāndhasya jñānāñjanaśalākayā cakṣurunmīlitaṁ yena tasmai śrīgurave namaḥ’

We know that knowledge is power. Scientific knowledge gives power over external nature. By controlling nature, we have discovered quicker ways of travel and communication, improved food production and preservation, and enhanced preventive

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and curative medical care. Similarly, the knowledge of our Divine Self, that we are Infinite Existence, Knowledge, and Bliss, will make us most loving and compassionate beings, most daring and free men and women, to face all odds and help and serve one and all without any distinction of class, colour, race, religion, or gender. This is real freedom, which all saints and seers sing – freedom from the senses, not of the senses. The present system of education stresses the freedom of the senses, whereas ideal education points to freedom from the senses. ‘That is education which gives us o sā vidyā yā vimuktaye.’10 freedom— Extolling the glory of knowledge, the Bhagavad Gita says, ‘Even if you are the most sinful of all sinners, you shall cross over all sins by the raft of knowledge.’ Again, it says, ‘As the blazing fire reduces fuel to ashes, so does the fire of knowledge reduce all karma (sins) to ashes. Verily there is no greater purifier in this world than knowledge.’11 An ideal education should make the student grow more and more in self-confidence. This happens when the guru has great faith in the hidden powers of the student and the student has immense faith in the words of the guru. As a result, the student implicitly obeys the orders of the guru, completes difficult assignments successfully, and thus develops great self-confidence without any vaunting of ego. This draws the heartfelt blessings of the god-like guru, and the student stands enlightened by Infinite Knowledge.

The above picture may look too idealistic for modern man—especially to those educated in western ways. If one reads the lives of Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, his brother disciples, and others, one can see living examples of the ideal education prevalent even now in India. The purpose of Sri Ramakrishna’s advent was to re-establish the Eternal Religion or Sanatana Dharma. We see in his life every detail of a good education, an all-round education, a complete education –whatever the name! The good student should be able to say, with full faith in his Divine Self, as Swami Vivekananda writes:

kurmastārakacarvaṇaṁ tribhuvanamutpāṭayāmo balāt kiṁ bho na vijānāsyasmān rāmakṛṣṇadāsā vayam

We shall crush the stars to atoms, and unhinge the universe. Don’t you know who we are? We are the servants of Shri Ramakrishna.’12 Thus we can see numberless eternal values that can accrue from a good education. As long as these values are not given up and are practiced in any educational system, that education would be considered the best. People of the world would come thirsting to learn that education. May these perennial values attract all lovers of knowledge, especially the younger ones now in colleges and higher secondary schools, and make them ideal men and women of the new era that is dawning, when lasting peace and prosperity for everyone shall reign!

References 1. 2. 3. 4.

5.

Chandogya Upanishad, 6.1 Ibid, 7.1 Mundaka Upanishad, 1.1.5 The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata, Mayavati Memorial Edition, [hereafter CW] Vol. 1, p 124 Katha Upanishad, 1.2.1 T h e

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6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

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The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, 374-375 Chandogya Upanishad, 4.4.5 Taittiriya Upanishad 2.1.1 Ibid. Vishnu Purana, 1.19.41 The Bhagavad Gita, 4.36-38 CW, 6.275 D E C E M B E R

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Article

Education: A RamakrishnaVivekananda Perspective SWAMI ABHIRAMANANDA

Students of the present day have an infinite amount of information, if not wisdom, available to them at the click of a mouse. But the credibility of the information they get is questionable, as is their ability to analyze and utilize the information for their particular purpose and level of understanding. As such, the role of the teacher, as a source of wisdom and as a mentor to channel, filter, and adapt the information to each student’s level of understanding, is indispensable. Needless to say, since education in recent times has become a mere commodity, the resulting change in perspective has led to a loss of the respect that teachers ought to receive from their students. What really needs to be done is to re-infuse the system with ancient values which are sometimes regarded as old-fashioned. The need of the hour is an educational system that can revive the guru-shishya parampara in the true spirit of the term, though with a modern touch, where the teacher epitomizes knowledge, morals, values, ethics, love, and concern, and the student is a keen and respectful learner who trusts the teacher to lead him on the right path. The Ideal Teacher-Student Relationship – The Key to Education Swami Vivekananda said, ‘My idea edu of education is personal contact with the

teacher—Gurugriha-vasa. Without the personal life of a teacher there would be no education.’1 The guru, the venerated teacher, is often adored in our tradition because he imparts meaning and value to existence. The shishya, the humble student, is expected to be an avid learner who can assimilate the teacher’s thoughts, ideas and insights. It is the teacherstudent relationship that primarily governs education, whether in a secular, moral, or spiritual context. The ideal teacher-student blend is a prerequisite for any educational system to achieve its objectives. The guru-shishya relationship, a divine link that holds together the past and the future, has been the foundation of our educational system since ancient times. Many instances of great men emerging from such noble teacherstudent relationships have been extolled in our scriptures and exemplified by Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Swami Vivekananda in recent times. Sri Ramakrishna was a teacher par excellence because he practiced what he preached, and he preached only after rigorous experimentation, intense practice, and self-realisation. Swami Vivekananda, the Messiah born to teach the world as his Master had ordained him, was an ideal student who sat patiently at the feet of his Master for five years to transform himself from Narendra, the aspirant, into Swami Vivekananda, the

A trustee of the Ramakrishna Math, Belur and a member of the Governing Body of the Ramakrishna Mission, the author is the Secretary, Ramakrishna Mission Vidyalaya, Coimbatore, Tamilnadu. T h e

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spiritual luminary, a patriotprophet and the harbinger of a unique educational philosophy that has man-making as its objective. Swami Vivekananda said, ‘That new life-force which he [Sri Ramakrishna] brought with him has to be instilled into learning and education, and then the real work will be done.’2 The circumstances that led Swami Vivekananda to make this statement will be understood through a brief analysis of how Sri Ramakrishna the teacher and his student Swami Vivekananda regarded each other, and how Swami Vivekananda evolved. This will also help teachers, students, and educationists to gain inspiration and encouragement in their respective roles. Swami Vivekananda had all the hallmarks of an ideal student—self-sustaining perseverance, enthusiasm, humility, and the scientific temper to test every belief and claim that he encountered in the course of his quest for knowledge. When he met Sri Ramakrishna for the first time, hoping to get some private instruction, he was surprised to find Sri Ramakrishna shedding profuse tears of joy upon seeing him and addressing him as though he was quite familiar. All-knowing teacher that he was, Sri Ramakrishna instantly identified the student as that ancient sage Nara, the incarnation of Narayana, born on earth to remove the miseries of mankind. But the student had to pass through some preliminary stages before he could realise the power, influence, and potential of the teacher and comprehend his invaluable teaching. At first, Narendra considered Sri Ramakrishna stark mad for addressing him thus. T h e

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During their next meeting, noting the Master’s behaviour and his simple language, he wondered, ‘Can this man be a great teacher?’3 When he heard Sri Ramakrishna assert that he had seen God and that religion was a reality to be perceived in an infinitely more intense way than one can sense the world, Narendra was impressed. He believed that the Master was speaking ‘not like an ordinary preacher, but from the depths of his own realizations.’4 Yet he could not reconcile the Master’s words with his strange conduct; he concluded that Sri Ramakrishna must be a monomaniac. Nevertheless, he acknowledged the magnitude of the Master’s renunciation and thought that, even if insane, this man was the holiest of the holy. On their third meeting, when Sri Ramakrishna by a mere touch shattered Narendra’s strong mind and gave him a novel experience in which the whole universe seemed to merge in an all-encompassing mysterious void, Narendra began to wonder if Sri Ramakrishna could be so easily dismissed as a lunatic. He was unable to ascertain the Master’s true nature. The next five years saw Narendra testing his Master every inch of the way, putting

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his every word and every action to the test. Sri Ramakrishna heartily approved. He was always pleased whenever his disciples tested his statements or behaviour before accepting his teachings. In fact, he forbade his students to accept anything without repeated verification. He used to say: ‘Test me as the moneychangers test their coins. You must not accept me until you have tested me thoroughly.’5 Sri Ramakrishna was always patient, forgiving, humorous, and full of love. He never asked Narendra to abandon reason, and faced his arguments with patience. Narendra’s final test was at the Cossipore garden house, when the Master was in imminent danger of passing away. He thought, ‘If he now says in the midst of the throes of death, in this terrible moment of human anguish and physical pain, “I am God Incarnate”, then I will believe.’ No sooner had Naren thought this than the Master turned towards him and, summoning all his energy, said, ‘O my Naren, are you not yet convinced? He who was Rama, He who was Krishna, He himself is now Ramakrishna in this body.’6 At this Narendra was struck dumb. Years later, at the house of Navagopal Ghosh, a householder devotee, Swami Vivekananda composed the salutation verse on Sri Ramakrishna, wherein he declared the Master to be avatara varishtha, the greatest among all incarnations. Thus we see Narendra, the student, passing through several phases of evaluating the teacher and his teachings before deciding on the real nature of his Master—first considering him to be stark mad, then a monomaniac, then a very holy person, and then years later finally declaring him to be supreme among avataras. But the Great Master was able to identify the character, traits, and personality of his student at their very first T h e

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meeting, and consistently maintained that outlook. There are many lessons we can draw from this exceptional teacher-student relationship. We find that Sri Ramakrishna encouraged Naren to be independent in his thinking. The student was led from doubt to certainty, from darkness to light, from anguish of mind to peace of vision and bliss of Spirit, and from the pale of a little learning to omniscience. All this was in gradual yet steadily advancing steps. The teacher’s love and faith in the student worked as a restraint upon the latter and became a strong shield against the temptations of the world. Occasionally, Sri Ramakrishna would also not hesitate to reprimand Naren, though it was only to facilitate the student’s progress in the right direction. On the training that he received, Swami Vivekananda once remarked, ‘As the master wrestler proceeds with great caution and restraint with the beginner, now overpowering him in the struggle with great difficulty as it were, again allowing himself to be defeated to strengthen the pupil’s selfconfidence – in exactly the same manner did Sri Ramakrishna handle us . . . He would keep us under control by carefully observing even the minute details of our life. All this was done silently and unobtrusively. That was the secret of his training of the disciples and of his moulding of their lives.’7 Perfect teacher that he was, Sri Ramakrishna never laid down identical disciplines for his students, whom he very well knew to have diverse temperaments and backgrounds. But he kept a strict eye on their practice of discrimination, detachment, self-control, and meditation. Sri Ramakrishna often used to get involved in absorbing group discussions with his students, exchanging ideas and views with them without any inhibition and letting them

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share their distinctive views quite openly. If differences of opinion arose among them, invariably Sri Ramakrishna would reconcile their differences in a very convincing manner. Thus we see that the teacher identified the aptitude and level of each of his disciples individually, and raised them from their own standpoints. Swami Vivekananda said, ‘His very method of teaching was a unique phenomenon…. He never destroyed a single man’s special inclinations. He gave words of hope and encouragement even to the most degraded of persons and lifted them up.’8 The result was that all his students became holistic personalities, each in his own unique way, and contributed immensely to the welfare of society. A wonderful teacher in every sense of the word, the Master’s thoughts, words and deeds were all in harmony. Although the relationship between Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda flourished in a spiritual context, it should be noted that the approach is equally applicable, if not more so, in a secular context. As we explore this divine relationship further, we discover some distinctive characteristics that are fundamental for our approach to education, but are completely ignored in the present-day materialistic approach. Education – A Life-long Process of Learning Swami Vivekananda, quoting a profoundly insightful statement of Sri Ramakrishna, once said, ‘There are many things to learn, we must struggle for new and higher things till we die—struggle is the end of human life. Sri Ramakrishna used to say, “As long as I live, so long do I learn.”’9 To the common man the process of learning is completed with graduation from college; but for the true aspirant to wisdom who possesses T h e

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a broader perception of knowledge, learning is a lifelong process. In reality, real education commences only after one gets a degree! Life is a continuous progression of learning through experiences, both good and bad. Great teachers like Sri Ramakrishna could make bold declarations from their experiences of a lifetime, which have today enriched the lives of millions across the world and will continue to do so in centuries to come. A glance through The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna or The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda will amply confirm this truth. The texts are replete with anecdotes, parables, stories, conversations, etc., which are based on mundane experiences. Many of us may have undergone such experiences. They may seem like mere incidents to us, whereas for seers like Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda, they were pointers to subtle truths. To observe ordinary events, to draw profound conclusions from them, and to pursue them in life is the hallmark of the truly learned. Interestingly, we need to distinguish being ‘literate’ from being ‘educated’. A ‘literate’ person knows how to read and write, may perhaps acquire a degree, and then use that knowledge to earn a livelihood. He can do nothing more. An ‘educated’ person, on the other hand, has acquired insight, wisdom, the power of discrimination, and the ability to lead a blissful life, despite the inevitable trials and tribulations he will encounter. Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda lived as exemplars to show us that education is such a life-long process of learning—and, more significantly, a life-enriching process. Education – A Means of Self-Discovery Conversations with Sri Ramakrishna often evoked the spirit of inquiry in Swami Vivekananda. Sri Ramakrishna’s influence

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on him was subtle and steady; he often let his disciple discover the truth for himself. This process of self-discovery enabled Swami Vivekananda to declare with conviction in later years that knowledge is inherent in every human being and requires self-effort for its manifestation. He declared, ‘What a man “learns” is really what he “discovers”, by taking the cover off his own soul, which is a mine of infinite knowledge.’10 This suggests that the task of the teacher is only to help the child to manifest his knowledge by removing the obstacles in his path. Swami Vivekananda further said: ‘Within man is all knowledge— even in a boy it is so—and it requires only an awakening, and that much is the work of a teacher.’11 To drive his point home, he refers to the growth of a plant. One cannot do anything more to a plant than provide it with water, air, and manure. It grows and absorbs all that it needs by its own nature. Even so is the case with a child. We find that the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda exemplar of imparting education is a reflection of the selflearning process expounded in our scriptures by the method of shravana, manana and nididhyasana. These correspond to listening to the teaching; reflection upon the teaching; and a deep and repeated deliberation, through a rational and cognitive process, on what has been taught. As he understood human limitations very well, Sri Ramakrishna never imposed his views directly on others. He wisely adapted his teaching to the mindset of his students, who included both scholars and illiterates. He taught even the most abstract and complex ideas in the simplest of terms, interspersing them with healthy doses of humour, and aroused his students’ capacity to think for themselves. T h e

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Religion – The Innermost Core of Education The next significant aspect of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda perspective on education is the perception that religion is the innermost core of education. Swami Vivekananda said, ‘Education, intelligence, and thought are all spiritual, all find expression in religion.’12 Certainly no particular religion was meant, for Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda personified the harmony of religions. ‘Religion as the innermost core of education’ therefore signifies that learning should enable students to identify the divinity inherent within themselves. Education should provide the essential training that enables them to lead lives that manifest their higher nature. All impulses, thoughts, and actions which lead towards this goal of manifesting their higher nature are naturally ennobling and harmonizing; they are considered ethical and moral in the truest sense. Swami Vivekananda reminds us time and again that religion does not consist of dogmas or creeds or any set of rituals. It is in this context that his idea of religion as the basis of education should be understood. We note that, in Swami Vivekananda’s interpretation, religion and education share an identity of purpose. The reason why religion forms the very foundation of education becomes clear in his own words: ‘In building up character, in making for everything that is good and great, in bringing peace to others and peace to one’s own self, religion is the highest motive power and, therefore, ought to be studied from that standpoint.’13 Swami Vivekananda believed that if education with its religious core can invigorate man’s faith in his divine nature and energize the infinite potentialities of the human soul, it is sure to help man become strong, tolerant, and sympathetic. It would also help man to extend

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his love and good will beyond communal, national, and racial barriers. The educational process should therefore strive for a synthesis of spirituality and science; as Dr. Albert Einstein averred, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Science without religion is blind, and religion without science is lame.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Human Excellence â&#x20AC;&#x201C; The Target of Education The spirit of true education is found in the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda perspective which maintains that human excellence is the objective of education. It thereby signifies a simultaneous and harmonious development of body, mind, and soul. It affirms that education becomes complete when knowledge rises to the level of wisdom. The art of educating a person lies in the method of investigating the powers of the inner man, and in the knowledge of his inherent potentialities. These are capacities which are also responsible for the objective investigations of scientists. Modern methods of education can never be satisfactory so long as the development of inner culture and the central facts governing life are ignored. Education should develop moral strength and

inner toughness through a well-regulated and disciplined life. In the present-day scenario, when all indicators of social and economic development are showing an upward trend, we should be cautious that these material achievements have not been gained at the cost of our inner growth, culture, values, traditions, and human relationships. Physical health, mental purity, intellectual acuteness, moral power, and a spiritual outlook on life should go together if perfection is to be achieved. Education should enable students to be adherents of satya and dharma, observers of continence and followers of a righteous mode of living. As Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru fittingly pointed out, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Men like Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, men like Swami Vivekanandaâ&#x20AC;Ś.areâ&#x20AC;Śgreat constructive geniuses of the world not only in regard to the particular teachings that they taught, but (in) their approach to the world; and their conscious and unconscious influence on it is of the most vital importance to us.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;14 Let all stakeholders in education respond dynamically to the call of educational renaissance so perfectly exemplified in the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda model.

References 1.

2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Mayavati Memorial Edition, January 1989, 5.224. (Hereafter, CW) Ibid, p. 370 The Life of Swami Vivekananda, by His Eastern and Western Disciples, 6th edition, 1.77 Ibid, 1.77 Ibid, 1.97-98 Ibid, 1.183

7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14.

Ibid, 1.131-32 CW, 7.171 Ibid, 4.477 Ibid, 1.28 Ibid, 5.366 Ibid, 5.519 Ibid, 2.67 Great Thinkers on Ramakrishna-Vivekananda, p.121

If Keshab possesses one virtue which has made him world-famous, Naren is endowed with eighteen such virtues. I have seen in Keshab and Vijay the divine light burning like DFDQGOHĂ&#x20AC;DPHEXWLQ1DUHQLWVKLQHVZLWKWKHUDGLDQFHRIWKHVXQâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;Sri Ramakrishna T h e

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Article

Education: Awakening the Real Man SWAMI NITYASTHANANDA

There is a beautiful saying in English: ‘If an egg is broken by an outside force, life ends; if broken by an inside force, then life begins. Great things happen from the inside.’ Material growth takes place by adding something from outside; but the growth of life is always from inside—it is a manifestation of inner potentialities. Now, when we consider man’s growth and development, it means the real inner man coming forth and expressing himself in every dimension of his life. Who is this real man? There are certain characteristics which distinguish mankind from other living species. It is only when man fully develops these qualities, by rising above his animal nature, that he can be called a real man. One is reminded of Swami Vivekananda’s saying, ‘Man is man so long as he is struggling to rise above his nature.’1 Education must help the individual to manifest the characteristics unique to human nature. The purpose of education is to facilitate and catalyse this process of manifestation. Now let us consider what these characteristics are.

1. Subjective Quality of Experience There are innumerable activities occurring in the human personality which are controlled by neurological processes. Behind all these activities, there is one thing which is common to everyone: subjectivity or I-consciousness, as in statements like ‘I do’, ‘I

see’, ‘I suffer’, ‘I enjoy.’ Doing, seeing, etc., are different processes, involving different organs and neural connections. Even though these are all mere activities, they become experiences in man. Machines and computers also work, perhaps better than man, but there is no experience in them; there is no subjectivity, no I-consciousness. Only in man does activity become experience. Now, the question is, To whom does it become experience? Who is the experiencer, the conscious agent? This subjective factor cannot be explained objectively; for it cannot be subjected to investigation as an object; the subject always remains different from the object. ‘There is an absolute qualitative abyss between the objective facts of neurophysiology and the subjective experience of being a conscious self, and so a method capable of providing a model of only the former can never produce an adequate causal narrative of the latter.’2 The same idea is expressed in the Upanishads in the form of a question: vijñātāramare kena vijānīyāt—‘Who can know the knower?’ However, we are seldom aware of this subjective factor of experience, because we are lost in the current of events and thoughts, which makes our lives mechanical. This is especially true in modern times, which are dominated by an all-consuming commercialisation and technocracy. Another influence is the materialistic view of life,

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born of certain atheistic theories that consider man to be nothing more than a sophisticated machine, and consciousness to be an epiphenomenon of matter. This mechanistic way of thinking must go, and man must live consciously, with full awareness of what is going on around and within him. This alone will help him to gain mastery over himself. Self-control and self-awareness always go together. When we consciously control ourselves—our senses, desires, negative emotions, thoughts, etc., as a natural corollary our self-awareness will increase. Along with imparting knowledge, education must help students to gain control over themselves. This will enable them to function with full self-awareness, instead of merely moving and working like robots. According to Swami Vivekananda, it is better to live as an imperfect man rather than as a perfect machine. In modern psychology, too, this concept of self-awareness is now gaining importance. Daniel Goleman says, ‘Our minds deploy self-awareness to keep everything we do on track: meta-cognition— thinking about thinking—lets us know how our mental operations are going and adjust them as needed; meta-emotion does the same, regulating the flow of feeling and impulse. In the mind’s design, self-awareness is built into regulating our own emotions as well as sensing what others feel.’3

2. Sense of Fulfilment Activities of machines are not associated with a sense of fulfilment, for they do not function on their own or for themselves. They exist to fulfil the purposes of others. The

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human will is always directed towards some purpose or intention. This intentionality is another important aspect of consciousness that plays a dominant role in human beings. All the great achievements of man, as also his destructive and reprehensible activities, can be traced to this intentionality. A sense of fulfilment is, however, associated only with the positive achievements of man, because they are expressions of his inner potentialities, which alone can give a sense of fulfilment. A seed can be used for cooking, playing, and other such purposes. But the real purpose of its existence is fulfilled when it is allowed to germinate and grow into a huge tree that manifests its inner potential. Similarly, man derives a great sense of fulfilment by bringing out his inner potentialities through physical, intellectual, aesthetic, moral, philanthropic, and other such activities. As a human being, he must aspire to derive happiness from a sense of fulfilment, rather than through sense-enjoyment. This concept of fulfilment will effect an important change in our attitude towards work. The general concept of work is that either it is a type of bondage, or it is done to acquire something—wealth, power, objects of sense-enjoyment, etc. But we have to consider work as a means of self-expression, which, as stated earlier, gives a sense of fulfilment. We have to work to express something, rather than to expect some result from it. Our inner capacities and talents, innate goodness, love and charity, are all itching to rush out and express themselves. This expression is called growth. Here it is worth remembering the insightful statement of Erich Fromm: ‘Every neurosis is the result of a conflict between man’s inherent powers and those forces which

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block their development.’ 4 Education can play an important role as leverage against these blocks. As Mahatma Gandhi points out, ‘Real education has to draw out the best from the boys and girls to be educated. This can never be done by packing ill-assorted and unwanted information into the heads of the students. It becomes a dead weight crushing all originality in them and turning them into mere automata.’5 In fact, the literal meaning of education is to draw out something.6 And the focus, as Gandhiji says, should be ‘to draw out the best from the boys and girls.’ Many educational institutions encourage and provide opportunities for students to express their hidden capacities and talents. Still, it seems that a life of fulfilment is a far cry in many cases. So the best must include other possibilities, such as goodness, purity, love, charity, and, lastly, divinity. Without manifesting these higher dimensions of personality, mere expression of talents and capacities gives only temporary satisfaction. In many cases, it will also adversely affect the students’ personalities by inflating their egos and leading to unhealthy competition. This is especially so in our present-day competitive world, where the aim of self-expression turns out to be getting something from the outside in the form of rewards and adulation, rather than inner fulfilment. That is why education must aim at the total development of students, without which they are cast adrift in this world of fierce competition.

3. Conceptualisation Conceptualisation is another important distinguishing characteristic of man. Though animals perceive things, those perceptions do not transform themselves into concepts. On T h e

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the other hand, man not only perceives, but also conceives; and this capacity is the basis of reasoning, rationality, the accumulation of enormous amounts of knowledge, and the development of the arts and sciences. Through his ears, man perceives sounds. He has developed language and music out of these sounds. His eyes bring in colours and shapes, out of which he has produced paintings and other works of art. So man is capable of going beyond what is given. All progress in every area of human activity is due to this wonderful capacity for conceptualisation. In it, different senseinputs, information, and ideas are collected, consolidated, classified, and synthesised; and new concepts are formed out of these processes. We analyse the concrete details of sense-perception and select some aspects which we then combine to form a new whole. For example, every day we read newspapers. As a result of this regular reading—and depending upon our capacity to think, our experience, our knowledge, and our ideological background—we form our own concepts of the prevailing political situation or social condition of the country. This kind of conceptualisation takes place continuously in our minds; often we are unaware of it. Edward De Bono explains this process with an example: ‘A landscape is a memory surface. The contours of the surface offer an accumulated memory trace of the water that has fallen upon it. The rainfall (information) forms little rivulets which combine into streams and then into rivers. Once the pattern of drainage has been formed then it tends to become ever more permanent, since the rain is collected into the drainage channels and tends to make them deeper. It is the rainfall that is doing the sculpting and it is the response of the

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surface to the rainfall that is organizing how the rainfall will do its sculpting.’7 Now let us turn our attention to education to see how it is related to this most invaluable gift possessed by man. Education is now mainly concerned with imparting knowledge of various subjects and giving training in different skills. There is hardly any scope for strengthening, refining, or finetuning this process of conceptualisation, which is responsible even for the art of learning and the training that students receive. All great thinkers on education agree that education does not mean simply stuffing the brain with information. Daniel Goleman quotes Herbert Simon, the Nobel Prize-winning economist as saying, ‘A wealth of information creates poverty of attention.’8 Not only that, it also creates poverty of knowledge and wisdom—two factors which can transform personality. When money is collected, it is classified into different denominations, counted, and put in a bank, where it will pay rich dividends in the form of interest. Similarly, information is to be collected, classified, evaluated, and stored in the memory bank, where it will pay a rich dividend in the form of knowledge. The processing of information takes place in different ways. In the taxonomy of Dr. Benjamin Bloom, they are classified as follows: 1. Knowledge: Collection of information either from outside or through recollection. 2. Understanding: Knowing the meaning of the information thus collected, interpreting it, and putting it in one’s own words. 3. Application: Relating such knowledge to one’s own life and applying it in practical situations in a relevant manner. 4. Analysis: Dissecting and studying various aspects of an information. T h e

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5. Synthesis: Combining different pieces of information to form a whole. 6. Evaluation: Judging the merit and demerit of information; assessing its value. The problem is that if students do not develop this capacity for conceptualisation from within, then without the ability to think for themselves they may remain clueless and purposeless in life. As a result, they will, like machines, only work to fulfil the purposes of somebody else. They will demean themselves by becoming the tools of political, religious, or some other organizational machinery, and their lives will become mechanical and devoid of vitality. Swami Vivekananda says, ‘Doing routine work like a machine, one becomes a lifeless machine.’9

4. Freedom and Bondage There is a pithy saying in the Vishnu Purana: is that which liberates.’ That is to say, knowledge must lead to freedom. Swami Vivekananda says, ‘The only value of knowledge is in the strengthening, the disciplining, of the mind.’10 When the mind is strong and thoroughly disciplined, then one can be free from servitude to the senses, desires, emotions, and various kinds of temptations. The capacity to be aware, to feel the bondage and aspire to be free from it, is another unique characteristic of man. As Swamiji says, ‘To advance oneself towards freedom—physical, mental, and spiritual—and help others to do so, is the supreme prize of man.’11 Every living being wants to be free. No human being is so degraded as to be happy in jail; even if he happens to live there comfortably, he will seize every opportunity to escape and be free. Our most basic human nature makes us aspire to freedom as spiritual

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beings. This urge to freedom expresses itself through our actions and behaviour. We may rebel against authority, break laws, destroy, run about, tell lies, steal, and indulge in all sorts of reprehensible acts, violating all rules of decency as an expression of freedom. And at last we find out in dismay that it is not possible to have freedom on the physical level. Then, looking within, we find ourselves exasperatingly bound by innumerable fetters of desires, emotions, and old impressions. This intense awareness of bondage and the desire to be free are signs of spirituality; they are signs of manliness, too. However, on the psycho-physical level, there is no freedom in any real sense. Let the body be dependent, let the senses be dependent, and let the mind also be dependent. But ‘I’ should not be dependent upon the body, mind, and senses. I should not dance to their tunes. I must take care of them as my servants and try to do good to others through them. What is the use of an education which, instead of making man free and a master of himself, binds him in fetters and contorts his personality? Freedom really means mastery over oneself, not power over others; it means conquering oneself, not others. One who is a slave within tries to make slaves of others— or desperately aspires to do so. Therefore self-mastery is an important characteristic of freedom, and this naturally involves selfdiscipline. He is not fit to be free who resents self-discipline and misconstrues discipline as bondage. Freedom without discipline is harmful to others and ultimately ruinous to oneself. Another important characteristic of freedom is self-responsibility—taking the entire responsibility for what we are and what we have, without blaming other T h e

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people, or circumstances, or even fate. One more important characteristic of freedom is respecting the freedom of others. A man of real freedom, a man who loves freedom, will never encroach upon the freedom of others. As he enjoys freedom, he allows others to do the same. There is a story of a man who was released from jail after a long period of imprisonment. He went straight to a shop where caged birds were sold. He purchased them and set them all free. When asked the reason for this strange behaviour, he said, ‘Now I know the value of freedom.’ Man Is Divine We all feel that we have a self-identity. What gives us this sense of self-identity, however vague it may be? According to Swami Vivekananda, it is the divine consciousness. As the core of human personality, consciousness gives wholeness or integrity to our personalities. This depends upon its manifestation, which varies from person to person according to the level of their spiritual growth. And this divinity is the wellspring of all the unique characteristics of man highlighted above. Though divinity exists in all living beings, man has an edge over other beings in that there is a greater manifestation of it in him. That is why it is often said that man is the crown of creation. The divinity within requires to be fully expressed. Indeed, it is waiting to be expressed. But we suppress it by desiring various things like money, power, and sense-pleasures. Our lives will not really be meaningful until our essential nature is expressed. Therefore, development of personality requires this spiritual growth— gaining freedom from the limiting confines of our psycho-physical personality and becoming established in our spiritual nature. Having

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this spiritual ideal in mind, if we strive to attain spirituality, we will have greater mental peace and stability, and we will gain mastery over our personalities. We may not reach the ultimate goal of our sadhana in this life; but the attempt to do so will make our lives fulfilled. In any sport, not everyone becomes a world champion. Still, sports are good for both body and mind. Similar is the case with spiritual practices. It is the duty of parents and teachers to impart this spiritual culture to children. In their homes parents should follow certain religious traditions like worship, japa, and prayer. Then their children will imbibe that tradition. Moral and religious disciplines will help children to improve in their studies,

avoid many mental problems, and gain inner stability. This idea needs to be explained to them with great emphasis. Swami Vivekananda says that we want man-making education. We donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want that education which produces only doctors, engineers, lawyers, and others devoid of the human characteristics mentioned above. That is the ideal education. It produces educated people endowed with all the unique human characteristics. This is the supreme need of the day: to make India greatâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;not militarily, not even economically, but culturally, morally and spiritually. It is this kind of greatness for which India was renowned for ages, and for which we pray that it will be renowned in ages yet to come.

References 1.

2. 3. 4. 5.

The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Mayavati Memorial Edition, 1989. 2.64-65. (Hereafter, CW) The Experience of God, David Bentley Hart, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2013, p. 157 Focus, Daniel Goleman, New Delhi, Bloomsbury, 2014, p. 77 Man for Himself, Eric Fromm, p. 222 Harijan, 1 December 1933 & Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, 56.295

6.

The word comes from Latin, ex ducere, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;to lead (duc-) out of/from (ex-)â&#x20AC;&#x2122; 7. Lateral Thinking, Edward De Bono, Penguin Books, 1990 8. Focus, Daniel Goleman, New Delhi, Bloomsbury, 2014. 9. CW, 7.317 10. Ibid., 6.64 11. Ibid., 5.147

Self-expansion should be the end and aim of true education and that can only come when it enables us to disentangle ourselves completely from the meshes of the body. â&#x20AC;Ś What is it that binds, limits and weakens us? Desire, and not the body which is rooted in it. â&#x20AC;Ś by controlling the senses alone, we can control desires and controlling the latter again we can get rid of them and thus expand ourselves in all ways, so that the whole XQLYHUVHPD\IRUPDSDUWRIXVLQVWHDGRIRXUEHLQJPHUHLQVLJQLÂżFDQWSDUWLFOHVRILWÂŤ We require a strong desire to control our desires for seeing, touching, tasting, hearing, smelling, thinking, feeling and willing. As a thorn is required to extricate the thorn that gets into the body and causes trouble to it, so an intense desire is necessary to extricate all those desires that have rooted themselves in the man to cause him various miseries, says Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna and when thus one desire extricates other desires, he should throw away both of them, like the thorns. The Complete Works of Swami Ramakrishnananda, Vol.3, p. 390 T h e

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Article

Critical Enquiry: A Vedantic Perspective SWAMI ATMAPRIYANANDA

om asato mā sadgamaya tamaso mā jyotirgamaya mṛtyormā’mṛtaṁ gamaya Om, lead me from the unreal to the Real; lead me from darkness [of ignorance] to Light [of Divine Knowledge], lead me from death to Immortality.

Modern science has progressed because of critical enquiry—an open-ended quest fuelled by a passionate longing to arrive at the truth behind the phenomena of nature. For example, if we go to the higher realms of physics, we get trained to look at the world differently. We realize that this world of matter is not exactly what it appears to be. Readers of the famous old book by Sir Arthur Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World, might remember how he begins by saying that he is writing his book on two kinds of tables: the physical table and the ‘scientific’ table. The ‘scientific’ table is not the conventional material table perceived by the senses in the daily life of so-called reality. So physics dovetails into metaphysics, in a sense; and a true physicist just cannot look at the worl wo rld d anymore as a concrete object ‘out there’. world

Here I am not referring specifically to the principles of quantum physics. But even from a common-sense viewpoint, if we look at the world outside and understand the composition of the world of matter, then physics will tell us that it is something so mysterious that we cannot really know or define what matter truly is. This is something that physics does not yet know: what matter is, exactly, what indeed a particle is. One definition given by Eddington was ‘Matter is something which is known by Mr X.’ But physics would not accept this as a definition. ‘Knowableness by Mr X’ is not a sufficient or acceptable definition of matter from the viewpoint of physics. But to human beings interacting with the world of matter, it is immediately apparent that without a knower (Mr X) and knowableness (by Mr X) as essential attributes, matter itself has no meaning or relevance. If there is no knower to know the world of matter, and if knowableness by the knower is not an essential attribute of matter, of what use or relevance is all that matter existing ‘out there’? So this is a fundamental question physics has been struggling with: ‘What is matter?’

The author is a sannyasi of the Ramakrishna Order and Vice Chancellor, Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University, Belur Math, West Bengal. T h e

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What are its nature and composition? What are its attributes? Interestingly, physics does not yet know the answers to these very simple and fundamental questions! And physics rejoices that there are no answers to these questions yet, because if all questions are answered, then life ceases! The passionately inquiring mind prods us to keep asking perpetual questions, to continue to find tentative answers, and to keep moving forward, exploring further and further. This critical inquiry is the core of education, ancient and modern. There is a beautiful Sanskrit word used in our scriptures, like the Upanishads and the Bhagavad-Gita: purana. Shankaracharya, the great commentator (bhashyakara), commenting on this word, gives a wonderful new insight: he says purana is pura api nava; that is, it is ever new while being ever ancient at the same time! How is this possible? This is the beauty and wonder of things—not only of things in the spiritual realm, but also of things so familiar to us in nature. For example, nobody would say, looking at the golden orb of the rising sun, that it looks old and pale. Instead, one exclaims in joy: ‘Ah, what colour, what beauty, what wonder!’ When the full moon floods the earth with its golden rays, nobody feels bored, thinking that after all it is the same old moon seen day after day. There is a quality of what science and philosophy and psychology would call ‘self-renewal’ that characterises these purana objects—‘ever new while being ever ancient’. This is because they are eternal. Even Nature is in a sense eternal—beginningless, anadi. It is from this sense of wonder that scientific discoveries, path-breaking and breath-taking, have emerged. This sense of overwhelming wonder, welling up in the heart and fuelling critical enquiry in the mind, brings about the merger of the two, the T h e

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heart and the mind, resulting in an explosive synergy of the two—mano hṛdi nirudhya, as the Bhagavad-Gita says.1 Literally translated, this means: ‘mind arrested in the heart.’ This in fact is the core of spirituality, popularly called religion—this sense of wonder, this sense of amazement. As Albert Einstein famously said, ‘My religion consists of a humble adoration of an Illimitable Intelligence that our dull faculties can only comprehend in their most primitive form.’ He said further, ‘The most profound and the most sublime emotion that one can feel is the mystical. It is truly the sower of all science. He who is a stranger to this emotion, who can no longer wonder and stand in rapt awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable really exists, manifesting itself as the highest Wisdom and the most radiant Beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend in the most primitive form—this feeling is at the core of spirituality. This cosmic spiritual and mystical consciousness is the mainspring of all scientific research.’ Interestingly, this critical enquiry with the heart-mind synergy has always been at the core of education in the ancient Indian philosophical tradition, particularly in Vedanta. There is a famous story in the Taittiriya Upanishad in which the guru, who is also the father, tells his son to explore into Brahman. The son asks, ‘What is Brahman? How do you define Brahman? What is it that you are asking me to seek?’ The guru replies:

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yato vā imāni bhūtāni jāyante yena jātāni jīvanti yatprayantyabhisaṁviśanti tadvijijñāsasva tadbrahmeti That from which all the beings arise [initially], in which all the beings rest [in the state of D E C E M B E R

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manifestation] and into which all the beings merge [finally], that is Brahman: seek That. That is Brahman.2

But how to seek Brahman? What is the means? tapasÄ brahma vijijĂąÄ sasva tapo brahmeti. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Know, realize, Brahman through tapas.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; What is tapas" $ ZRQGHUIXO GHĂ&#x20AC;QLWLRQ TXRWHG RIWHQ by Shankara, is as follows: manaĹ&#x203A;ca indriyÄ áš&#x2021;Ä áš ca haikÄ gryaáš paramaáš tapaḼ â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;The concentration of the mind and the focussing of the senses [inward] is supreme tapas.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; That is the bedrock of education in the Vedantic tradition: you learn anything through tapas, concentration of mind, profound inward focus. Tapas is the most important practice in Vedanta as well as in all the Indian traditions. We need tapas, austerity, we need to control and IRFXV RXU VHQVHV RQ WKH REMHFW RI RXU TXHVW The mind is constantly outgoing, the senses are outgoing, they need to be restrained and brought inward in the course of our higher LQQHUTXHVWTapasa brahma vijijnasasva, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;realize the Supreme Truth, Brahman, through WDSDV¡³DQG LW LV DGGHG YHU\ VLJQLĂ&#x20AC;FDQWO\ tapo brahmetiâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;tapas itself is Brahman. This is also a very interesting ideaâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the means to realizing the Supreme Knowledge, the means WR WKH *RDO LV LWVHOI WKH *RDO Âś7KH Ă&#x20AC;UVW VWHS is the last step,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; as J. Krishnamurti would say in modern times. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Unite the means with the end,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; as Swami Vivekananda taught. There DUH QR ÂśVWHSV¡ OHDGLQJ WR WKH Ă&#x20AC;QDO *RDO 7KH steps themselves are the Goal. Each step is the immediate goal, leading to the ultimate Goal. Then the lad started doing tapas, controlling his senses and concentrating on something he knew not what. All he knew ZDV WKDW KH KDG WR Ă&#x20AC;QG 7KDW IURP ZKLFK DOO beings arise, in which all beings rest, and into which all beings go. He performed intense T h e

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tapas; and at the end of that meditation, he came back and said: â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Sir, I have now found out what Brahman is. It is only a sea of matter.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Then the father smiled, but did not say yes or QR7KDWLVWKH,QGLDQWUDGLWLRQRIHQTXLU\DQG investigation. He didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t say, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Ah, you have found out something! Good, I will give you a prize for it.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Nor did he say: â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;You fellow, you havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t found That.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; He only smiled and said, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Good, go ahead. You will know Brahman by tapas, for verily tapas itself is Brahman: tapasÄ brahma vijijĂąÄ sasva tapo brahmeti.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; What the father meant was: â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;You have found out just one layer of Brahman; now go and meditate again.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; The young aspirant then understood that there was something which the father was hinting at. So he went back and meditated, performed intense tapas. He then discovered a higher layer of Brahman, which is life energy, prana. Everything is vibrating with prana, is animated. The world is not simply matter. There is hunger for food, thirst for water. There is something, some vital energy, which is animating the entire universe. This universe is full of animated beings. This animation, called prana, is one of the greatest discoveries of Vedanta. It is the bridge between Consciousness, which we call chaitanya, and matter, which we call jada. In the Western worldview, life and Consciousness are mixed up, they mean the same thing. But in the Indian tradition, life and consciousness are two distinct entities. Life is a manifestation of Consciousness, just as even jada, pure matter, is also a manifestation of Consciousnessâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;but at a very low level of manifestation. Prana is the link between this pure jada (matter) and chaitanya (Consciousness). After discovering the next layer of Brahman as prana, the young seeker came

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back to his father and said: â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I have now found out that prana is Brahman.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; The father once again sent him back to do tapas without saying anything, positive or negative. This is WKH ,QGLDQ WHFKQLTXH RI GLVFRYHU\ VFLHQWLĂ&#x20AC;F investigation. Nothing presumed, nothing taken for granted, nothing pre-supposed: there is no bias, no pre-conceived notion. There is only pure, objective investigation, with suspension of judgment, with eagerness to arrive at the truth as it actually is: yathÄ bhĹŤtadarĹ&#x203A;anam, as it is called in Vedanta. The young lad went back to performing tapas because he had experienced the joy of discovering new truths about Brahman. There is a growing awareness today that the joy of discovery sustains the whole of the educational SURFHVV ,I D VWXGHQW RU DQ HQTXLUHU GRHV QRW IHHO WKH MR\ RI GLVFRYHU\ WKH MR\ RI HQTXLU\ spurred on by curiosity and the urge to do research, then education is dead. Therefore, education now lays emphasis on research, LQQRYDWLRQDQGHQTXLU\PRUHWKDQHYHU6RWKH lad, who was rejoicing in his inner exploration, was excited about repeatedly returning to tapas. Sa tapoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;tapyata sa tapastaptvÄ â&#x20AC;&#x201D;he meditated, performed tapas, and as a result of his intense tapas, he realized that there is another dimension of Brahman beyond prana. He found that the whole universe is nothing but waves of thought. Although it appears to be concrete, solid matter, it is in reality thought. What is called jada or matter is only a concretisation, through prana, of a thought which has arisen in the mind. The whole world is realised at this stage as waves of thought. It is called the bhÄ varĹŤpajagat, the universe of feelings, sensations, emotions, and thoughts. It is a subtle vibration, spandana, as a thought-world, a world of ideas. Then he came back to tell his father of his discovery of the Supreme Reality, Brahman, T h e

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as manomaya, a sea of ideas and thoughts. 7KURXJKWKLVUHSHDWHGHQTXLU\WKURXJKVXEWOHU and more intense tapas, he realised that he was uncovering deeper and deeper layers of Brahmanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s swarupa or real nature. His father, as before, said: â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Good, you have come so far, now go back and meditate again.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; The boy went back to perform tapas even more intensely and discovered a deeper dimension than even the mind. He saw that beyond the saáš&#x2026;kalpavikalpÄ tmakaáš manaḼ, the mind oscillating between thesis and antithesis, between â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;to beâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;not to beâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, there is a determinative, intuitive faculty called vijnana. Vijnana is a faculty of the higher mind or intuition that is determinative. In Vedanta it is called niĹ&#x203A;cayÄ tmikÄ buddhiḼ. This buddhi is not the intellect, but a deeper faculty which may be called intuition, transcending the intellect. This faculty opens up spontaneously when the intellectual faculty, the mental faculty, is transcended; it does not awaken at the end of a dialectical process of analysis of pros and cons leading to a decision, but arises when analysis stops and the mind is stilled: no waves, no FRQĂ LFWLQJ WKRXJKWV QR RVFLOODWLRQV RFFXU LQ the mind. This is the intuitive faculty called vijnana, which is called sÄ tvikÄŤ buddhiḼ (pure intelligence) in the Gita. The Yoga Sutra calls it prajna; it is also known as medha. It is the dhi that is spoken of in the famous Gayatri mantra, which is a prayer to the Supreme Being symbolized by the Effulgent Sun for the awakening of dhi: Dhiyo yo naḼ pracodayÄ t. Vedantic wisdom in the ancient Indian tradition has explored the psyche of man, the mind of man, the inner world of thoughts and consciousness, so profoundly that it describes every bit of the inner world with supreme subtlety. The disciple thus reached a level of understanding of the Atman called vijĂąÄ namaya

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Ä tmÄ , and from there he entered into the macrocosmic aspect of this vijnanamaya, the vast expanse of the world of Hiranyagarbha (called Mahat in the Sankhya philosophy), the Cosmic Intelligence, the Saguna Brahman, often called Brahmaloka or Satyaloka ,W LV WKH Ă&#x20AC;QDO station among the manifested worldsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the subtlest, the purest. The most sattwik (shuddha sattwa) is the technical term used in Vedanta to describe this state of Consciousness. The spiritual truths at the higher levels cannot be grasped by the senses or by the unawakened mind. But they may be intuited, directly and immediately (sÄ kášŁÄ daparokᚣat), by a SXULĂ&#x20AC;HGVXEWOHFRQFHQWUDWHGSHQHWUDWLQJDQG illumined mind. The boy went back to his father and said, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Sir, I have now realized Brahman as vijnanamaya.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; The guru was delighted at this progress made by his disciple, who had discovered layer after layer of Brahman, coming almost to the end of his sadhana. He again sent him back to perform tapasya. With LQĂ&#x20AC;QLWH SDWLHQFH DQG GHHS IDLWK LQ WKH JXUX¡V words, the disciple again plunged into tapasya. He came back after realizing Brahman as anandamaya, Bliss Absolute: â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;He knew Bliss as Brahman; for from Bliss, indeed, all these beings originate; having been born, they are sustained by Bliss, they move towards and merge in Bliss.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; What a remarkable way of guiding and training the disciple, educating him with great patience and love! Never giving him DQ\GHĂ&#x20AC;QLWHDQVZHUEXWJHQWO\OHDGLQJKLPWR each discovery, empowering him to discover the truth for himself, to joyfully go through the spiritual journey of uncovering layer after layer of Brahman.

References T h e

1. Bhagavad Gita, 8.12

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This is the Vedantic method of education LQWKH8SDQLVKDGV,WUHTXLUHVLQĂ&#x20AC;QLWHSDWLHQFH LQĂ&#x20AC;QLWHSHUVHYHUDQFHLQĂ&#x20AC;QLWHSXULW\DV6ZDPL Vivekananda said, to be able to succeed in this education in subtle spiritual truths. And the most important thing is tapas, contemplation, meditation, inwardness, looking within with an eager longing to discover the inner ,PPRUWDO7UHDVXUH(YHQWRDVNDTXHVWLRQRI the guru, one needs years of tapasya, so that the answer, when given by the guru, ignites the heart of the disciple, sets it aglow with GLYLQHĂ&#x20AC;UH In the Chandogya Upanishad there is the famous story of Indra, the king of the Devatas, going to Prajapati, called Brahma or Hiranyagarbha to learn about the Self, knowing which one could attain all the worlds and all desires. It was only after Indra stayed for thirty-two years as a brahmacharin practising tapasya, that Prajapati took notice of his arrival and asked, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;For what purpose are \RXVWD\LQJKHUH"¡7KHLGHDLVWKDWTXHVWLRQLQJ is a serious business, and when the answer is given by the teacher, the disciple should have VXIĂ&#x20AC;FLHQW VSLULWXDO VWUHQJWK ERUQ RI WDSDV\D to assimilate the teaching. Parajapati then taught Indra about the Self. But when Indra returned again and again to learn more about the Self, he was asked each time to practice tapasya. Finally after practising tapasya for 101 years Indra understood the truth about the Atman.3 The point is that teaching is imparted RQO\ ZKHQ WKH GLVFLSOH LV Ă&#x20AC;W WR UHFHLYH WKH instruction, so that the teaching will bear fruit. 7KXV WKLV SURFHVV RI FULWLFDO HQTXLU\ through a heart-mind merging synergy, was at the core of education in ancient India as it is QRZLQPRGHUQVFLHQWLĂ&#x20AC;FHGXFDWLRQ

2. Taittiriya Upanishad, 3.1

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3. Chandogya Upanishad, 8.7.2

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Article

Swami Vivekananda and a New Pedagogy SWAMI ATMARUPANANDA

Central to any discussion of Swami Vivekananda’s educational vision is his famous definition: ‘Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man.’1 This has become such a popular slogan among the followers of Swami Vivekananda— printed on countless posters and in mountains of souvenirs, on the covers of books and in commercial advertisements—that to begin an article with it is to risk losing the reader: people have heard it so many times that they want something new. That’s the problem with slogans: they become cliches, repeated so often that our eyes glaze over at the sight of them. But repetition does not equal understanding. Yes, most readers know that the philosophical meaning of Swamiji’s definition is the core truth of Advaita Vedanta: everyone is the Atman, perfect already, the essence of existence itself, knowledge itself, bliss itself; and so education is the process whereby that inner perfection is realised. Yes, very good. But what does that have to do with actual education? Oh, we say, convinced that we know quite clearly: it means that knowledge comes from inside, because it is already there. And we can cite the example given by Swami Viveka Vivekananda himself: Newton saw the apple fall fa ll,, but bu the idea of gravitation came from fall,

within him; it didn’t pop out of the apple and jump into his mind. Okay, very good. But still we ask: what does that have to do with education? In other words, how do you apply that idea in the classroom? And here we realise that most of us have no idea, just some vague philosophical ideas. But vague philosophy is not a pedagogical method. The Swiss clinical psychologist Jean Piaget (1896-1980) began to realise, as he observed children, that there are definable stages in the child’s mental development. The child experiences the world differently, understands it in different terms, and interacts with it differently, from stage to stage; and the development is progressive, from more primitive and limited to more complex, inclusive, and expansive. From this, Piaget deduced that education should be adapted to the stage of development: a child at the stage of concrete thinking cannot yet deal with abstractions, and so the education at that level must be concrete. The example of Piaget demonstrates the usual path towards the development of a pedagogical method in the modern world: the scientific process of observation of children’s behaviour, discovering patterns in the ways that children learn, and then developing a model of pedagogy that fits the observed

The author is a sannyasi of the Ramakrishna Order. After many years in our centres in America, he now serves at the Headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, Belur Math. T h e

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patterns. That is, it is an inductive process, starting from observation, then finding patterns in the observed data, and working up to conclusions based on those patterns. And yet Swamiji has started with a philosophical principle, and our task is to deduce a pedagogical method from the principle, seemingly the opposite of the scientific approach. The task before us, however, is not contrary to the scientific method for two major reasons. First, the principle, ‘Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man,’ is not a philosophical principle in the Western sense, where philosophy is a result of the disciplined thinking of an intelligent but otherwise ordinary mind. Rather it is an experiential fact to the illumined mind. Admittedly, it isn’t the direct experience of most people, but it is a profound truth realised in the depths of spiritual experience. And it is realised to be true of everyone right now, even if we don’t know it. Moreover, though the principle is foreign to the thinking of ordinary people, it can be understood by ordinary people, because, again, it is the truth of our own being. Second, to develop a pedagogical method from this principle, we still need the experience of how children learn in order to apply it. The principle can’t be applied in the abstract: it has to be applied to actual children in a learning environment, which requires knowledge of actual children and how they learn, the same as with Piaget or any modern educationist. Neither do we need to reinvent the wheel. As Swami Vivekananda often said, man doesn’t move from error to truth, but from truth to truth. It’s not that every idea that has gone before us is wrong, and now we are coming with the truth. No, we have a core truth, an experiential truth, but we then make use of the experience of other educationists to T h e

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Swami Vivekananda, February 1897, Chennai

form a harmonious model of pedagogy. Yes, all knowledge is already within; but children still follow a developmental pattern, and there are the truths that Piaget and many others have discovered. Let us now sketch out a very brief outline for what such a pedagogical method might look like, using Swamiji’s core definition plus some of his supportive ideas. Here, in this short article, we must limit ourselves simply to pointing in a general direction; but in time this is to be worked out in detail with the help of classroom experience and the accumulated wisdom from the field of education. First, let us begin by expanding the core definition: ‘Education is the manifestation of the perfection already within.’ The common-sense understanding is that education is the transfer of useful information from external reservoirs of knowledge, such as books and experts, into the minds of students,

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so that they become well-functioning members of society who know how to navigate their way through life. The common-sense view, in other words, holds that knowledge is outside, and must be transferred into the person. Swamiji’s view, based on the direct perception of the Self of man, is just the opposite. All knowledge is already within. ‘Teaching’ makes that knowledge manifest, conscious; it doesn’t ‘put something in’. Swamiji himself explains the essence of it through the example already referenced, of Newton and the apple. The idea of gravitation was not in the apple or in the earth to which it fell. Suddenly Newton saw a new relationship of ideas within his own consciousness which explained the phenomenon outside. We have all had similar experiences, what are popularly called ‘light bulb’ moments, when suddenly we understand something that we had previously been unable to understand, as if a mental light bulb had been switched on. There’s a sudden flash of understanding, and we see how things fit together, whether it is a mathematical problem or how to cook a new dish. Most learning is more gradual, without sudden flashes of insight; but the process is the same. This is true even in learning a language. The language isn’t put into our heads from outside: rather the linguistic structures in our mind are stimulated in a new way until we begin to ‘get it’; we learn to express ourselves and to understand others through new linguistic patterns in the mind, the potential for which was already there. Had there been no capacity for language latent within us, no amount of exposure would teach us anything. And according to both Swami Vivekananda and the ancient Sanskrit grammarians, that capacity for language is not just a T h e

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physical feature of the brain—a part of its wiring, as Noam Chomsky and other linguists have postulated—but is a manifestation of consciousness itself, at the root of mentality: thought is linguistic. Therefore, Swamiji said, he was convinced that even the babbling of a baby was an effort to express the highest truth. The Swami explains the same idea from a different angle in Karma Yoga. He defines work thus: ‘Like fire in a piece of flint, knowledge exists in the mind; suggestion is the friction which brings it out. . . Every mental and physical blow that is given to the soul, by which, as it were, fire is struck from it, and by which its own power and knowledge are discovered, is karma, this word being used in its widest sense.’2 That is it. That is how we learn. Karma Yoga is not primarily about doing things: it is the great yoga of experimentation with reality—not primarily experimentation with the mind, which is Raja Yoga, not primarily experimentation with the sense of self, which is Jnana Yoga, not primarily experimentation with the Object of Love, which is Bhakti Yoga—but experimentation with experiential Reality itself at all levels, from the workings of matter to the highest consciousness. And that is the process of learning. The baby begins life by discovering the world: learning to recognize patterns, putting everything in its mouth—including its own hands and feet—to experience it, finding out where its body ends and the environment begins, discovering that some things hurt and others feel good, eventually learning that others smile when it smiles, that others laugh when it laughs, that others make faces when it makes faces. But the learning is all within. The external is only a stimulus used by the mind for its own understanding. The baby, then, is a natural-born karma yogin.

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This has to be deeply understood first. Then we can begin to see how to teach on this basis. Education shouldn’t mean stuffing the mind with information: Swamiji spoke repeatedly against the harm of such learning. Education is a process of discovery where the external world is used as a stimulus for bringing out the understanding which exists within us. Going further with Swamiji’s definition of work, education is not just discovery, but also an awakening: it awakens us to who we are, what the world is, what our relationship to the world is, and what is of value. Awakening is the result of discovery. History, for instance, should not be taught as a list of dates and names and pre-packaged understanding of historical happenings. History is the study of how we got to where we are now, so that we see a direction, and can look from that basis into the future; we don’t know who we are if we don’t know where we have come from, and how. History explains the present, and its study gives the present its proper context and depth. Yes, that’s an abstract way of putting it, but it can be put in terms understandable to children. Swami Vivekananda once said that ‘if I had to do my education once again, I would not study facts at all. I would develop the power of concentration and detachment, and then with a perfect instrument, collect facts at will.’3 This follows from his definition of education. If knowledge is already within, the central task of the educator is to teach the child—in age-appropriate ways—how to call out that inner understanding, through control of the mind and senses. Children are naturally inquisitive, and this inquisitiveness must be stimulated, not punished or thwarted. Swami Vivekananda said that we should never use fear to conT h e

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trol children. No, encourage their natural inquisitiveness; their natural desire to experiment by playing with things and, later, with ideas; their natural tendency to take things apart to see how they work. We shouldn’t provide answers so much as provide positive challenges. Obviously, learning does also include the acquisition of information, but that should not be the focus: that, as far as is practicable, should follow from the process of discovery. As Swamiji said, if the child’s mind is properly trained, it will then be able to acquire whatever information is needed far more easily and quickly. If education is a process of discovery and awakening, then an important aspect is teaching students how to ask questions, not giving them answers to memorise; and then they must be taught the skill sets necessary to pursue their questions. One of the amazing features of the Upanishads is the exquisite beauty and profundity of the questions asked, like ‘What is that, by knowing which everything here becomes known?’ 4 And, ‘Willed by whom is this mind directed towards its objects?’5 How wonderful must have been the education in Vedic times, that students could ask such questions—questions which the modern world with all its learning cannot even formulate! So children must be taught how to query, and then how to pursue their queries. But that doesn’t mean that the development of memory has no place. Unfortunately, even in India nowadays one hears students ask, ‘Why should I memorise anything when I can look up all I need to know in seconds on the Internet, through my mobile?’ No, the power of memory is extremely important, because it trains the mind to store and retrieve information; and if the mind has been properly trained, it will also categorise and relate

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the information. What we have properly Until recently it was generally undermemorised becomes a part of us in a way stood in societies around the world that there that information stored on the Internet does is an intangible part of experience which not. Memorising worthwhile texts integrates canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be expressed as objective information. those texts into our thinking. And the retentive Therefore elders in the family and society power developed through proper memorising were respected, as they held the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;wisdomâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; develops the power of sustained thinking, component of experience that could be the power to hold a train of thought, which communicated only person to person, not modern students in East and West have largely book to person or video to person. And so lost. Swamiji wanted the gurukula system to be Let us draw to a close by recognising reinstated, in a form suitable to modern life. here that children are naturally idealistic, To institute these ideas in a modern and that natural idealism must be stimulated secular state is not easyâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;not because there and fostered. Character-building is the most is something inherent about secularism that important part of education, in Swamijiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s view. militates against it, but because, if government All else should have that aim. There is much funds are received, then government control is talk nowadays in India about value education. expected; and a modern secular government Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s good, and the experience now being canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be expected to experiment with Swami garnered in teaching value education will be Vivekanandaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s revolutionary ideas. Therefore useful in a new pedagogical model. But it has it will be easiest if these ideas are first tried and to form an integral part of the educational matured in small private schools that donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t experience itself, not be just an add-on. It depend upon government funding. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Privateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; must be the aim of every educational shouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t mean â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;exclusiveâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, meant only for process. And for that, living exemplars are rich kids. Starting small is ideal, so that it is needed. The teacher must be seen not as the dependent neither on the government nor on conveyor of information, nor as the dispenser rich parents. If it succeeds, then it can spread, of discipline, but as the flame that lights other and the government itself will recognise its flames. value. But we must make a start. vvv The author wishes to express his indebtedness to Swami Anuragananda, present Secretary in charge of the Ramakrishna Mission, Cherrapunji. It was he who first made the author aware of the need to develop a practical pedagogical method out of Swami Vivekanandaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s definition of education, and who pointed to Piaget as an illustration. References 1.

2.

The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Kolkata: Advaita Ashrama, Mayavati Memorial Edition, 1989, 4.358. (hereafter, CW) CW. 1.29

3. 4. 5.

CW. 6.39 Mundaka Upanishad. 1.1.3 Kena Upanishad. 1.1

In the beginning of his mission Vivekananda had said, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I am a voice without a form.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; 7RZDUGVWKHHQGKHVDLGÂľ,WPD\EHWKDW,VKDOOÂżQGLWJRRGWRJHWRXWVLGHRIP\ERG\ â&#x20AC;&#x201C;to cast it off like a disused garment. But I shall not cease to work! I shall inspire men everywhere, until the world shall know that it is one with God.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; T h e

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Article

The Changing Classroom Student-Teacher Interaction in an Increasingly Virtual World SWAMI NARASIMHANANDA

The baby was crying. The lunch was on the stove. Bills were piling up. Limari Colon was struggling to manage her household as a single mother in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Thinking about various options, she finally started working from home as a social media manager. But she needed more skills and turned to an online course platform, took several courses, and ended up with a course on content strategy from an established university. Soon, she evolved from her small income to a bigger advertising job, a great job title, and exposure to big brands and a fabulous life. Eventually, she gave up that too to become a freelancer. Now, she has all the time and money to look after her son and also to create new music on her guitar.1 This is just one story out of the countless tales of life transformations that are taking place around the world today. Students with minimal or no access to conventional schooling are getting benefited by the evergrowing online platforms or massive open online courses (MOOCs). Premier institutions of learning like Stanford and Harvard universities are offering many courses through such platforms, which have actual course starting and ending dates, assignments, evaluations, and an interactive classroom setup. The key difference lies in the fact that the student has the power to pause and play. These courses are being used to fast-track the regular education

given in schools, colleges, and universities; to enhance employment skills; and even to completely replace conventional education. The truly staggering impact of these online courses can probably never be assessed because of their very nature—being on the Internet. Any one of the major organisations providing such online learning has on record millions of students who attended thousands of courses. And the numbers are growing exponentially. The freedom from the closed nature of conventional education is helping and will continue to help many. In this scenario, statistics really don’t matter. The New Teacher The face of teaching has changed forever. Diligent students are not content with the black, white, or digital boards in front of them and want more. Every infant of this information age is brought up more on digital feed than on the cereal kind. It is not shocking, therefore, that today’s infants grow up into kids who are at home with boards that talk or that they can talk with. How can teachers cope with these challenges? There are many online teaching platforms that enable teachers to present course material with audio, video, animation and post assignments, multiple-choice questions, polls, surveys, feedbacks—all in an automated setup that takes away the burden of correcting test

The author is the editor of Prabuddha Bharata, another English monthly of the Ramakrishna Order T h e

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papers. These online platforms do it for the teachers! Most online teaching platforms are open-source and free of cost. The only limit to the classroom is the teacher’s imagination. Even in remote hill regions of India, where even phone connectivity is absent, not to speak of the Internet, many teachers make a list of the content they need from the Internet and download it when they are on a visit to nearby towns that have Internet connectivity. Just putting all available information on the Internet is also an easy way to ensure that students get the material. Many premier universities have long started the practice of videoing all their regular classes and uploading these videos to the Internet. So you can attend a course on advanced calculus at Stanford University just by sitting at home and probably munching your favourite snack! Many organisations have become large enterprises by merely uploading short, witty, and easily understandable videos on school subjects taught worldwide. Enthusiastic students can say goodbye to the tutor and get all guidance and, for all we know, much better teaching, on the Internet. Of course, they would have to miss chatting with friends! Some organisations have started online global groups of teachers. So a chemistry teacher fumbling with a conversion problem of organic chemistry in a distant village in Himachal Pradesh, India, can contact a peer in New York or Paris for solutions. Since the sun is always up in some part of the globe at any given point in time, this means that teachers can work at their convenience. The interesting part is that they don’t have to go through embarrassing periods of silence or assert false information when confronted with questions from sincere and eager students that they can’t answer. All they have to do is to shed the ego and ask the students to ‘look T h e

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it up on the Internet’ and come back with answers that can be vetted for authenticity. The teacher also doesn’t have to wait for textbooks or reference books to be updated to bring the latest information into the classroom. Of course, the new classroom has many challenges, as some researchers have pointed out: ‘When moving towards teaching online, teachers are confronted every day with challenges such as online moderation, establishing social presence online, transitioning learners to online environments and giving feedback online.’2 One big challenge is that the classroom becomes invisible, and it becomes really difficult to gauge the mind of students. However, many learning management systems (LMSs) have developed intricate webs of artificial intelligence algorithms that help to track the learning curve and the psychological response of students. Motivating students can be challenging. One online educator says: ‘Motivating students online is a high-stakes endeavour. A lot can go wrong, and you can’t fall back on your engaging classroom persona to pull students back in once they go astray.’3 The New Student The digital student is a liberated learner. Freed from the clutches of endless queues for admission, the never-ending length of courses, laborious note-taking, and the distance from one’s online avatar, the digital learner has an option to pursue as many courses as possible during the entire cycle from admission to examinations, and also the awarding of a degree, completed literally in clicks. More good news is that the virtual learning space has not swallowed the camaraderie associated with schools and colleges. Students have the luxury of discussing difficult topics at any time, day or night, with any other student

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from any part of the world. They can also have traditional physical study groups that meet regularly. When present-day students miss a class, they can just ask classmates to instant-message their notes. Numerous competitive exams are now being taken by young students who prepare with guidebooks or notes shared by Good Samaritans on the Internet. Internetconnected eyeglasses enable students to look at an object and receive a plethora of information about it just next to the eyelid. Such eyeglasses not only provide the information, but also give the students the experience of being present in a particular location, albeit not in real-time. Social networking websites have doubled as platforms for sharing problems and solutions on different coursework. The market is full of smart wearables like wristwatches that can give all information ranging from one’s personal data to what is happening right now at the other end of the world. These wearables have now evolved into tattoos that glow and act as doors to mines of information. As some pioneers of technology opine, the learning curve of present-day or future learners will be very different: ‘The most important pillar behind innovation and opportunity—education—will see tremendous positive change in the coming decades as rising connectivity reshapes traditional routines and offers new paths for learning. Most students will be highly technologically literate, as schools continue to integrate technology into lesson plans and, in some cases, replace traditional lessons with more interactive workshops. Education will be a more flexible experience, adapting itself to children’s learning styles and pace instead of the other way around. Kids will still go to physical schools, to socialize and be guided by teachers, but as much, if not more, learning T h e

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will take place employing carefully designed educational tools.’4 The biggest saving grace of the modern learning scene is that students can almost instantaneously figure out errors in the content being taught by accessing the many resources available on the Internet. Many online learning platforms have successfully initiated peer evaluations among students. Virtual-learning assistants have even been able to provide an ‘out-of-hours version of the support provided by university employability service staff.’5 New Avenues for Outreach As it is very easy to learn and teach in the digital world, it is also easier to help. Thousands of busy professionals around the globe are increasingly volunteering to teach and provide their fellow human beings with life-changing skills. This has become possible because they can connect over the Internet—or, better still, create content and post it on the Web for others to access at their leisure. The Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University runs an information and communications technology (ICT)-based service of educational outreach, Vivekadisha, where teachers from around the globe come together with interactive and innovative material and coordinate with monks to deliver quality education to urban and rural areas of fifteen districts of two Indian states, the U.S.A., the U.A.E., and Germany, covering twenty schools, two colleges, and more than 10,200 students. There are several such organizations, and still more people, who share their knowledge with many students, mostly underprivileged. Will the Academy Die? Does this all mean that our good old schools, colleges, and universities have no

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value anymore? Not at all. However, the way the classroom is perceived, both by students and teachers, would undergo a major paradigm shift, as it has already done in many places. The focus would be on enabling students to make the best use of technology to concentrate on the essentials and achieve excellence in a particular discipline of study. It would also free up considerable time for both students and teachers to engage in meaningful interactive critical thinking that would eventually further the cause of that particular discipline. One need not be afraid of online learning as something that can get out of control. The entire scenario would evolve, according to one researcher: ‘as MOOCs become increasingly common and online students become more knowledgeable about the potential of online learning, their tastes will become increasingly sophisticated, and they may choose between MOOCs based partly upon the design of the MOOC.’6 However, all is not rosy in the digital learning world. When education is governed by technology, it also gets concentrated in the hands of the powerful few, who can then direct it to their vested interests. Information about a particular faith tradition can be decimated, access to some websites blocked, ‘unfavourable’ posts brought down, and Internet usage patterns altered. Already, search engines have started tinkering with

search results for the same keywords for different people. E-book publishers show the lines in texts marked by earlier readers, thereby psychologically influencing later readers to mark those very lines. These can be major deterrents in the free environment of digital education. But, with that word of caution, in digital learning the mind determines everything, echoing the Upanishadic statement: ‘The mind alone is the cause of bondage and liberation of the human being.’7 What one can do and not do with digital learning tools is restricted only by one’s mental abilities. Recent research has shown that a balance between the conventional and digital classrooms can lead to a ‘very positive’ result. Both teachers and course coordinators evince keen interest in a method called SCAI, which ‘represents a combination of the initials of the poles defined for each of the three dimensions considered, namely Social, Conceptual, Authentic, Individual, Instrumental and Integrated.’ 8 We have to further explore how best to use the technology we have, and further develop it to both enhance and preserve the free flow of education. We have to remember Swami Vivekananda’s emphasis on education as the solution to all social evils. Let us use all the resources at our command, technological and otherwise, to get rid of all social evils.

References 1.

2.

3.

See Limari Colon’s story at Coursera Blog http:// coursera.tumblr.com/post/143188732577/whenlimari-became-a-mother-she-knew-she-needed. ‘Introduction: From Teacher Training to SelfReflective Practice’ in Developing Online Language Teaching: Research Based Pedagogies and Reflective Practices, eds Regine Hampel and Ursula Sticker, (London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, 1. Michelle D Miller, Minds Online: Teaching Effectively T h e

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4. 5.

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with Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 2014, 179. Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, ‘The New Digital Age,’ London: John Murray, 2013, 21. E-Learning, E-Education, and Online Training: Second International Conference, eLEOT 2015 Novedrate, Italy, September 16–18, 2015—Revised Selected Papers, eds Giovanni Vincenti, Alberto Bucciero, Carlos Vaz de Carvalho, Cham, D E C E M B E R

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6.

Switzerland, Springer, 2016, 107. Sarah Porter, To MOOC or Not to MOOC: How Can Online Learning Help to Build the Future of Higher Education? Waltham, Chandos, 2015, 25.

7. 8.

Amritabindu Upanishad, 2. Ana Balula and AntĂłnio Moreira, Evaluation of Online Higher Education: Learning, Interaction and Technology, Cham, Switzerland, Springer, 2014, ix.

My Children are having their Exams The gracious Divine Mother Karpagambalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sanctum sanctorum. The Devi was resplendent. There were no other devotees present there. Yet, Sudhira hesitated to approach the priest. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Why are you standing there? Please come. Do you want to do archana? Tell me the namesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, said the priest. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Will the priest accept my request? Will he perform the worship whole-heartedly?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; wondered Sudhira. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Amma, tell me the names.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Swami, I have a request,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; said Sudhira softly. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;A request with me? It is the Divine Mother who grants everythingâ&#x20AC;Ś..â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Swami, please listen to my request and perform the archana to the Divine Mother.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; The priest gently enquired, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Any problem at home?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;No Swami. Please pray to the Mother that the children who will write the +2 exam today should perform well in their exams.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;All right. Tell me the names of your children.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Swami, let me tell you the purpose of this archana,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Sudhira insisted. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;What else? To score high marks, isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t it?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; asked the priest. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not just that. My children will write the exams today. First of all, they should be SK\VLFDOO\ÂżWZKLOHJLYLQJWKHH[DPÂś¾Âś â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Secondly, they should not get nervous thinking that they will not do well in the exam.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; The priest gave her a puzzled look. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Only two more points Swami. My children should remember everything that they have read. And completing the exam in time, they should come out happily with a feeling of IXOÂżOPHQWÂś The priest exclaimed, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Great! I have seen mothers who just want their children to score high marks; but you are different.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; He noticed that Sudhira wore a pendant with a photo of Sri Sarada Devi. Skipping the usual preliminary mantras, like, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;saha kutumbanam.....â&#x20AC;&#x2122;, he said, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Divine 0RWKHU ZLOO GHÂżQLWHO\ JUDQW \RXU ZLVKHV $OO ULJKW QRZ WHOO PH WKH QDPHV RI \RXU WZR children.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Praying to Divine Mother, Sudhira replied, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Not two children Swami,â&#x20AC;Ś..â&#x20AC;&#x2122; and drew out a sheet with a list of names. The priest started to read it. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Abhijit, Amala, Mohana, Ranjanâ&#x20AC;Ś..â&#x20AC;&#x2122;, it started off with, and ended with â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Syed, Stephen.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; The amazed priest exclaimed, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;What is this? Who are all these children?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;They are all my children.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Even the last two?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Yes Swami, these 52 children in my class should study well, become noble and accomplished, and bring a good name to our society,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; said the government school teacher, Sudhira. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Swami Vimurtananda T h e

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Article

The Upanishadic Ideal of Education SWAMI JAPASIDDHANANDA

The very word Upanishad brings to mind a picture of the ancient forests of India where education was imparted—the teacher seated in the lotus posture with an air of authority about him; the disciples engrossed in his blessed words; trees laden with flowers and fruits; the sweet aroma of sacrifices wafting in the air; animals, birds, trees, and shrubs entranced by Vedic chants, and a dynamic peace all around! This charming environment seems he Upanishadic to have entered into the em today in the texts. When we study them context of a bustling city, the texts still evoke in us the peace and blessedness experienced in the hermitages itages of the ancient forests. Besides learning philosophy, ethics, and spiritual culture, ulture, it is interesting to study thee system of education pro-pagated in the Upaniishads. What was thee he currimethod of teaching? the culum? the admission criteria? the mode of assessment? When approached with such questions, the Upanishads yield a wealth of information. However, we have to steer clear of two mistakes when we begin to study these marvellous books. First, reading the Upanishads through the lens of western civilisation. This is a blunder committed even by some learned pr ofess f professors of the West, who eventually end

up grotesquely misrepresenting Indian values by trying to fit them into the western frame of thought. Secondly, trying to fit the entire Upanishadic model, lock, stock, and barrel, into the context of the present without making the time-necessitated alterations to accommodate the contributions of the modern age. Timely adjustments in the ancient ideals can lubricate their alignment into the current course, we should be guided scene. Here, of cour sense coupled with by a strong common com loyalty to our spiritual culture. Swami Vivekananda ccalled for a harmonious blending of our ancient spiritual culture with modern v values. ‘Can you become an occidental of occidentals in your equality, freedom, work, spirit of eq and energy, and at the same time a Hindu to the very backbone Hn Hi in religious culture and instincts?’1 ‘In our sight, here in India, there are several dangers. Of these, the two, Scylla and Charybdis, rank materialism and its opposite arrant superstition, must be avoided.’2 These words serve as a beacon. The concept and goal of life being different in different nations, thinkers are naturally led to divergent conclusions on crucial matters like education. Savants across the continents nonetheless admit the blessed influence of Indian thought on humankind. Regardless of the medium through which

The author is a sannyasi of the Ramakrishna Order now serving as Head of Sanskrit Department, Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University, Belur Math. T h e

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it is spread—be it Dara Suko’s Persian translation of the Upanishads or Max Muller’s rendition of the Rig Veda—every influx of Indian thought has invariably brought about momentous benefits to the world and bestowed blessedness unasked. From the vantage point of the Indian spiritual heritage, modern philosophical developments by and large appear as malformed replicas of Vedantic ideas framed in the modern idiom. Hence an unbiased study of the Upanishads assumes prime importance in the revival of institutions like education. Although Upanishadic texts do not directly discuss the subject of education, they nonetheless shed much light on the matter through legends and conversations. Captivating accounts of learning found in this ancient lore convey ideas that may lead to revolutionary innovations in modern times. Case Study # 1 In one of the Upanishads3 six pupils approached the great teacher Pippalada, understandably to learn the eternal truths of life. The six were Sukesha, Satyakama, Sauryayani, Kausalya, Vaidarbhi and Kabandhi. They came with sacrificial firewood in hand, as was the custom in olden days. They were knowledgeable, diligent men in the phenomenal realm, but ignorant of the transcendent. Instead of putting on airs of erudition or lapsing into cosy complacency, they set out as humble seekers of more knowledge. This is noteworthy – the perpetual search for knowledge! Before they could ask anything, the great sage told them, ‘Practise again greater control over the senses and live here for a year in a fitting manner with continence and faith. Then put questions as you please. If we know, we shall explain all that you ask.’ The students T h e

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did as instructed and after a year posed their queries and got illuminating answers. Here, two things catch our attention: 1. The prescription of greater control of the senses and continence. 2. The absence of arrogance in the guru, who humbly said, ‘if we know.’ Nowadays discipline in body and mind is seldom seen even in teachers, not to speak of pupils! Sense control and continence are mocked. Humility is regarded as obsolete. Obviously, where arrogance becomes a postdoctoral adornment, humility can only leave the place for atonement! When humility goes out, vices come in. And with that begins the great fall of the individual or institution. Therefore more and more sense control, continence, and humility should be infused into the present system. Unless such root-level changes are carried out, all talk of educational reforms will remain mere empty words. Case Study # 2 The Taittiriya Upanishad presents another situation. Varuna was the guru, and the disciple was his son Bhrigu. Bhrigu approached his preceptor with the formal request, ‘O revered sir, teach me Brahman.’ Varuna replied, ‘Seek to know well that from which all these beings take birth, that by which they live after being born, that towards which they move and into which they merge. That is Brahman.’ The disciple contemplated with concentration and realized that it is food from which beings originate, in which they subsist, and into which they merge. But not satisfied with this he again approached the guru and was sent back with the same advice—practice more concentration. Subsequent to his austerities, his faculties become clearer and keener and he was in a better position to grasp subtle principles. He progressively discovered

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Brahman as the vital force, mind, knowledge and finally as at the supreme truth of life, the unitary principle referred to as Absolute Existence-Knowledge-Bliss. Here the Upanishad presents a wonderful methodology–a graded course of meditation. The teacher assists the pupil by giving graded assignments in contemplation and inspires him to evolve inside out. The faculty of reasoning is nourished by exercises in meditation, and the lesson plan is to facilitate the maturation of the acquired knowledge, and thereby to ensure the falling-off of misconceptions by themselves. No dogmas, no contradictions, no theological red tape, but only proper thought and reasoning. The ascent here is 1. from the known to the unknown 2. from the grosser to the subtler 3. from the lower truth to the higher truth The student in the Taittiriya Upanishad was not thrust forward to the next grade automatically as it is done nowadays. Whatever the reasons, the modern trend is patently detrimental to the welfare of students. It forces incompetent students to take on heavier loads when they are unable to carry even the lighter ones. Peer pressure, parental pride, and the misguided notion that advancement to a higher grade/class will provide motivation are some of the flimsy grounds on which this debatable system pushes a student to higher learning before he is ready for it. This cannot be a good educational policy. Education is a noble and sacred pursuit which cannot be diluted for the sake of peer pressure management and the like, which are basically psychological issues. This is the difference between the Upanishadic and the modern ideas of education. The Upanishadic ideal is austerity.4 Education is regarded as a holy pursuit, a form of worship5 that bestows blessedness on both T h e

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the teacher and the taught. It is a way of life and a means to moksha, the ultimate goal of human life.6 Hence it is said, ‘That which leads to liberation is knowledge.’7 This might sound too idealistic for some. But a beginning has to be made somewhere, keeping in mind that education is definitely not a mere profession, much less a business, as it has regrettably come to be now! The Upanishads provide both the right outlook and the means to reach the end. It is a path paved with morals. Certain common disciplines and requirements like truthfulness 8 and continence9 are prescribed as essential for all learning. If universities can ardently adhere to ethical culture, many of the modern evils can be avoided. Unless basic morals are put in place, social problems like corruption and violence are bound to persist. No amount of conferences and international seminars on educational and social reforms will really help. The state education policies are turning most of our institutions into square pegs in round holes. Until policymakers stop running after the European pattern in everything and until the mad race to jump onto the American bandwagon is given up, no original educational system can ever evolve in India. This is not meant to sound conservative, it is just to emphasise actual laws of natural growth. Absorb good things from all and grow in one’s own way – this is the Upanishadic way! India is the nation that taught the world ‘let noble thoughts come from all directions.’ 10 This open-mindedness gave unfailing resilience to the race; this progressive mind-set allowed innovations to be grafted on the original spiritual core; this is the secret behind the consistent Indian influence on other civilisations! Any attempt at bartering this time-tested spiritual principle for dubious

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versions of the imported western model is bound to prove fatal. Case Study # 3 Indra, the king of the gods, and Virochana, the king of the demons, wanted to achieve something great, by attaining which they would have all that is in this creation and fulfill all their desires. This is no less than ultra-consumerism! They heard that Prajapati, the Creator, had spoken of the Self, which has no sin, no decrepitude, no death, no sorrow, no hunger, no thirst; which unfailingly fulfills all desires; and which is of infallible will. This Self had to be known. He who, after knowing the Self, realized It, would attain all the worlds and the fruits of all desires.11 Allured by the benefits of knowing the Self, Indra and Virochana came with sacrificial firewood in hand12 to Prajapati, seeking the knowledge of the Self, the Atman. There they lived under him for thirty-two years in celibacy. Then Prajapati said, ‘The Purusha, the being, that is seen in the eye, is this Self, the Atman. This Self is immortal, fearless; this is Brahman.’13 They took a mirror and a vessel of water to see their own reflection. They asked the teacher whether the reflection was the Self he intended to teach them. Prajapati thoughtfully said ‘yes’, but asked what they actually saw. This question is very significant. They answered, ‘We see this self of ours as a reflection in its fullness, from top to toe.’ ‘Now dress your hair, pare your nails, adorn yourselves well, look into the plate full of water, and tell me what you see,’ said the teacher. They found that the reflection had changed accordingly. Prajapati said, ‘This is the Self, Immortal, Fearless. This is Brahman.’ On hearing this, they thought their learning was over and went away with satisfied minds. T h e

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Alas, they had missed the point! Virochana became convinced that the body is the Self, and hence thought that it is to be adorned and attended upon. He went back to his kingdom and taught the same to his subjects, the demons. Indra, on the other hand, pondered the traits of Brahman described by Prajapati. When he was on his way back home, he realised that he had missed the point. He approached Prajapati again and again, lived for a hundred and one years as a celibate student, and eventually became pure and strong enough to realise Brahman. Dogged perseverance and undaunted research is the lesson we receive from Indra’s experience. Virochana’s case offers a negative lesson – it warns us against a materialistic lifestyle. Equal lessons and opportunity were provided for both, but the knowledge earned was in accordance with the inner stuff of each. This teaches us that, at least in the case of learning, competence should decide who deserves what, and not factors like caste, creed, and culture. Education should not be influenced by politics or financial or social status. Points to ponder The four key points—the subject, the scope, the purpose, and the methodology of the Upanishads—is what fascinates wise men. Every Hindu scripture,14 for that matter, states four essential components in the beginning: 1. The competence of the pupil 2. The subject matter 3. The relationship between the scripture and the student 4. The purpose of the study When these are made clear, any study becomes effective, result-oriented, and hence productive. The Peace Chants: The outlook and approach matter a lot in any pursuit. ‘May we

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proclaim the greatest truth with heroic pupils’ was the prayer of the Vedic sages – 15 Such prayers show that there was no room for any laziness or namby-pamby approach on the Upanishadic campuses. Further, the joint prayers made by both the teachers and the students of the Upanishadic age are wonderful lessons fit to be inculcated on present-day campuses. The Shanti mantras, and are like also excellent autosuggestions that boost the spirits of young learners and hone their mental faculties for efficient learning. The strategies of contemporary educational psychology are only poor replicas of those powerful mantras improvised by the seers, who were spiritual stalwarts. The Unique contribution: The extraordinary gift of the Upanishads is the idea of paravidya. The Mundaka Upanishad says, ‘There are two types of knowledge to be acquired – the higher and the lower.’16 In the Chandogya Upanishad, this idea is illustrated by a story.17 The divine sage Narada approached Sanatkumara and sought the knowledge of the Self, the Atman. Sanatkumara wished to assess the pupil and asked his curriculum vitae. Narada gave his exhaustive resume. It was as if he knew everything under the sun. But he admitted that he had not yet attained peace, he had not known the Atman. Moved by his humility and sincerity of purpose, the great Sanatkumara blessed him with the knowledge of Atman. In the Upanishadic scheme of learning, all endeavour should have this end in view. Every science has its own goal, but the educational system should have this Ultimate Goal in view—because, without it, there cannot be any order or discipline in campus life. Without the idea of paravidya, ethics and morality will lose their significance. For it is on T h e

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the ground of the Atman, the spiritual Essence of man, that all virtue and sublime culture stands explained. The Present Status Today education is defined in several ways. A lot of research is done on its methodology. Innovative techniques and multimedia presentations have revolutionised knowledge communication. MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) and the like have changed classroom concepts. The efforts to wipe illiteracy off the face of the earth are really laudable. All these hold a bright future for human civilisation. At the same time, there are also areas where urgent attention is necessary. Issues like juvenile crime and the student suicide rate indicate that something somewhere is seriously wrong. Want of basic morals and self-respect, sometimes even among the educated, is a source of worry. The current system suffers from the lack of a mechanism for the propagation of values. Devoid of morals and integrity, a learned man is a dangerous entity. The percentage of literacy has no doubt gone high, but the wisdom quotient has fallen steeply. Universities and colleges seem to have veered away from their actual purpose. Maybe that is one of the reasons why innumerable educational philosophies have mushroomed over the decades. Never-ending reforms and ever-increasing amendments have become a virtual occupation for policymakers. ‘It is man-making education all round that we want.’18 The policies and methods of education should aim at making men—valiant and long-

This is the Indian way of education! Lesson plans, module structure, and study material

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should be designed in such a way as to inspire confidence, power, and intuition in pupils. A thorough overhaul is necessary before contemporary education can achieve this. A reorientation of attitudes and approach might save the situation. This, however, is not to be taken as a condemnation of modern developments. We should have in mind the immortal message of Kalidasa the greatest poet of India, which reads, in effect: ‘Neither is the new despicable nor is the old adorable altogether. The wise scrutinise and accept either of the two.’20 The Remedy Useful elements from both, when well blended and well implemented, will make for the progressive march of civilisation. The thoughtful, therefore, want more and more to study the ideas and ideals of Upanishadic India! Sane, sound, progressive paradigms of thought are the dire need of the day, and

study of the Upanishadic ideal of education is the panacea for the modern age. For ‘the Upanishads are the great mine of strength. Therein lies strength enough to invigorate the whole world; the whole world can be vivified, made strong, energised through them.’21 The Upanishadic ideal of education is an excursion of the soul on a path paved with morals and values.22 It is a smooth ascent of the soul mounted on the escalator of sound common sense tuned to the highest perfection. The sooner the nation turns towards the Upanishadic ideal, the better for it! The mandate has gone forth—only the takers are yet to come: ‘Go back to your Upanishads— the shining, the strengthening, the bright philosophy... Take up this philosophy; the greatest truths are the simplest things in the world, simple as your own existence. The truths of the Upanishads are before you. Take them up, live up to them, and the salvation of India will be at hand.’23

 References

1. 2. 3. 4.

Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, [hereafter CW], Vol. 5, p. 29 CW, Vol. 3, p. 278 Prasna Upanishad 1.1 Taittiriya Upanishad 1.9

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Veda 1.89.1 11. Chandogya Upanishad, 8.7.1 12. Carrying firewood signified humility, obedience, and devotion towards the teacher. 13. Chandogya Upanishad 8.7 14. Here Hindu means the race that practises the mandates of the Vedas and the Upanishads. 15. Medhasuktam of Taittiriya Aranyaka 10.39.1 16. 1.1.4 17. 7th Chapter 18. CW, Vol 3, p. 224 19. Patanjali's Mahabhashya, Ahnika 1. The quoted line means: “Those who study (any scripture that has an auspicious beginning) shall become valiant men, long-lived.” 20. Malavikagnimitra, 1.2 21. CW, Vol 3, p. 238 22. Mundaka-Upanishad 3.1.6 23. CW, Vol 3, p.225

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Article

An Education in Acceptance PRAVRAJIKA DIVYANANDAPRANA

One of the truly edifying aspects of education is the broadening of outlook, which should ideally lead to an all-inclusive vision. In practice, this would mean the ability to accommodate all possible mindsets. Acceptance of mutually exclusive minds is a great challenge in any workplace. It is an arena where our educational training turns shy and deficient, even archaic. In today’s scenario, specialisation vociferously advocates a narrow focus that borders on rigidity. We can find it in our everyday lives, where we may encounter intense minds which have unfortunately lost the inclusive component. A narrow focus is sometimes accompanied by a stringency and stiffness that defeats the purpose of education. The reason for this is not difficult to see—the focus generated by our concentration excludes all but one object from its range. And the focus refuses to budge even when the contextual parameters of space and time change. However, as we all know, a broad attitude and inclusiveness is the mark of true education. Some of the world’s most creative minds have intuitively felt that the borders separating them from others sometimes tend to fade. The mind is able to generate an integral vision which incorporates all degrees of variation into its fold, and somehow understands something quite different by ‘another’. Einstein once made a remarkable st tatem t m statement: ‘I feel myself so much a part of

everything living that I am not the least concerned with the beginning or ending of the concrete existence of any one person in this eternal flow.’1 Educators across the world have been building models in value education that

incorporate a philosophy of acceptance at all levels. The actual key to acceptance, however, lies in being able to ‘feel myself so much a part of everything living.’ The fading of the sense of personality and the unfolding of higher consciousness and super-inclusivity seem to be synonymous.

The author is a sannyasini of Sri Sarada Math and currently Principal of Nivedita Vidya Mandir, a school run by Sarada Mission in New Delhi. T h e

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Even as the ego-system in individuals can lead them to destruction if uncontrolled and unsublimated, so also the collective psyche of humankind imbued with a corrosive ideology of differentiation can destroy in gigantic, terrifying proportions. World history records the effects of a philosophy of non-acceptance or partial acceptance. Crass imperialism and dominion leading to colonisation and slavery, class and power struggles, unhealthy competition and stratification of societies, have all been rooted in a philosophy of non-acceptance. It is the shameful face of a hidden claim to either racial superiority or cultural hegemony. A philosophy of acceptance, then, is as much a philosophy of basic survival as it is of peace and prosperity. It follows that the model of resurrecting values will work only if, as hinted by Einstein, it touches the spiritual reality of human existence. Without this, the model is at best a theological representation of sorts, and may in practice turn into a tragic travesty of errors. If one has experienced an underlying unity, one does not need a model to relate to. Fortunately for us, a small section of humankind has had this experience. They have dared to plunge into uncharted waters and bring home ‘the pearl of great price.’ They can afford to dispense with theories and models. One of the best ways to add value to our education is to study the lives of these exalted personalities, who perceive as much unity in all life as we perceive difference. With them, universal acceptance becomes the natural result of their mighty realisations. The power of their realisations brushes aside the merely cogitating mind, which is as ready to catch fire as it is to turn cold. Men and women of realisation impact our minds in unforeseen ways, as no book T h e

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can, and they stir our thoughts to action, as no pedagogy can. The burning issue of adding ‘value’ to our education and ‘acceptance’ to our ideologies can be addressed easily if we can follow in the footsteps of a glowing exemplar of these ideals. The one factor that moves every human heart is the touching inspiration of an exalted life. In this sense, Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi is truly a master educator, in that she teaches tremendous lessons through the most commonplace incidents—and without even having to open her mouth! Let us take one example: When Nivedita and others sang resurrection hymns to the accompaniment of a small French organ, Mother understood them with great appreciation and a knowledge which as Nivedita put it, ‘only some high and arduous form of scholarship can vouchsafe.’ Mother had no previous exposure to such hymns, but found nothing ‘alien’ about them. Her great mother-heart gave her an education in acceptance which no formal system could ever give. The obnoxious counsels and repulsive scruples of the orthodox, which prevailed in her circumscribed environment, could not divert Mother’s mind from what she perceived to be true and right. In fact, in her life, acceptance always superseded custom, and universality outwitted every convention. This can be possible only with one who has transcended her little self and found the higher Self which holds the common thread of unity that runs through everyone. As Sister Devamata observed: ‘She [Holy Mother] lived as they [the others] did, performing the same homely tasks, making no effort to differentiate herself from others save by greater modesty, greater gentleness and humility. . . By her outward manner she was the most obscure of all the household, yet beneath the veil of simplicity which enveloped

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her there was a lofty majesty of bearing which caught the heart. . . The human covering was too thin to hide the radiance of divine consciousness beneath. She never taught, seldom ever counselled. She merely lived.’2 Here we have the praxis of a mighty ideology. It is the fruit of the highest education, the consummation of all learning. When one touches one’s true awareness, one acknowledges the presence of the same in others. Even as a ripple or bubble cannot claim identity apart from water, the individual is

never separate from ‘others’. In fact, in the final analysis there are no ‘others’! As a consequence, a natural philosophy of acceptance follows. One does not need to be taught to accept oneself! So also one will no more have to be ‘taught’ to accept the ‘others’. It will be a spontaneous outreach, a natural growth and a fulfilling consummation of human life. Indeed, it is the spirit of complete acceptance that will assuage our hearts, clean our vision, erase our borders, mobilise our energies towards genuine development, and create a radiant sapphire of our beautiful planet.

References 1.

Historical and Cultural Perspectives, Albert Einstein, Princeton University Press, p. 231

2.

‘She Merely Lived’ Sri Sarada Devi The Great Wonder, Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata,1994, p. 303-304

Holy Mother taught a naughty little girl who had given her family a great deal of trouble how to love. Once, when Holy Mother was about to leave for Jayrambati, she said to the girl: "Darling, you have been visiting me a long time. Do you love me?" "Yes, I love you very much." "How much?" The girl stretched her arms as wide as she could and said: "That much." Holy Mother asked: "Will you still love me when I am away at Jayrambati?" "Yes, I will love you just the same. I shall not forget you." "How shall I know it?" "What should I do to make you know?" "I shall be sure of your love for me if you can love everyone at your home." "All right, I will love all of them. I will not be naughty anymore." "That's very good. But how shall I know that you will love everyone equally, and not some more or some less?" "What should I do to love everyone equally?" "Let me tell you how to love everyone equally. Do not demand anything of those you love. If you make demands, some will give you more and some less. In that case you will love more those who give you more, and less, those who give you less. Thus your love will not be the same for all. You will not be able to love everyone impartially." The little girl promised to love everyone without demanding anything in return. Her family reported that from that time forward her behaviour was exemplary. —Sri Sarada Devi and Her Divine Play, p.650 T h e

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Article

Educational Lessons from the Gita DR. N.V.C. SWAMY

The Vedic religion abounds in scriptural texts. One lifetime is not adequate to study them all. Three of them are considered canonical – the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita. The Upanishads are the source for the other two. While it is difficult to understand the Upanishads and the Brahma Sutras without explanatory notes, the Bhagavad Gita is within the comprehension of the common man. In a simple language it expounds profound concepts that are directly relevant to our everyday life. For this reason, the Bhagavad Gita is popular with both scholars and laypeople. The Gita is an unusual scriptural text. Its setting, the teacher, and the student are extraordinary. The setting is not a hermitage, but a battlefield where one of the most terrible battles in the history of mankind is about to be fought; and that too between cousins. The teacher is the Divine Lord in human form; the student is the greatest archer of his time. The discussion between them includes the highest reaches of Vedanta. The subject is so profound that from Shankaracharya of the seventh century CE up to the present, some of the greatest human minds have written scholarly commentaries on it. But these learned commentaries have given rise to various ‘isms’ and in some ways have confused the average reader about the real purport of the Gita. The challenge is to present the text to ordinary challen

readers in a way that will enable them to organise their lives beneficially in the light of its truths. The Bhagavad Gita is a text that gradually develops it’s theme and the characters evolve gradually until the revelation of the Lord’s Cosmic Form and Arjuna’s total surrender to Sri Krishna. Each of the eighteen chapters in the book is called a yoga. The first chapter sets the stage with the description of the battlefield and the warriors on both sides. Seeing the two vast armies, Arjuna gets excited, and with supreme confidence asks his charioteer Sri Krishna to station his chariot between them so that he can see his opponents. But when he realises that he has to fight his own relatives and friends, he loses his composure. He comes up with all sorts of excuses for not fighting, and then he lays down his arms. Sri Krishna listens patiently and, as seen at the beginning of the second chapter, gives Arjuna a strong tongue-lashing. It is only when Arjuna surrenders to Sri Krishna and pleads for advice that the teaching commences. Sri Krishna begins his teaching at the highest Advaitic level; but, seeing that Arjuna is not able to appreciate it, he introduces the practical concept of Karma Yoga. This second chapter is, in essence, a synopsis of the entire Gita. But Arjuna gets confused, and at the beginning of the third chapter he asks Sri Krishna to tell him whether he should fight the

A former Director of IIT, Madras, the author is currently the Dean of Academic Courses at the Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana, a Deemed University in Bengaluru. T h e

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battle or withdraw. Seeing that his student is ready to listen, the teacher begins the teaching in a systematic manner. He first discusses Karma Yoga and gives an example which is a great lesson for humankind. He says: ‘The Creator in the beginning created mankind together with sacrifice and said, “By this shall you multiply. This shall be the milch cow of your desires. Cherish the devas with this, and may those devas cherish you. Thus cherishing one another, you shall gain the highest good. The devas, cherished by sacrifice, will give you desired objects. He who enjoys objects given by the devas without offering something in return is verily a thief. The good, eating the remnants of sacrifice, are freed from all sins. But those who cook food for themselves alone eat only sin.”’1 Ecology, or environmental science, is a hot subject today. Air and water pollution have had a damaging effect on the quality of life, and have also led to global warming. It is interesting to see the connection between the verses quoted above and ecology. Who are the devas or gods that the Vedic sages talk about? For us, the most important of them are Indra, the god of rain; Agni, the god of fire; Vayu, the god of air; and Varuna, the god of water. The ancient Vedic sages perceived nature as an inclusive phenomenon in which all living and non-living entities have a proper place. We know that the entire atmosphere is a thermodynamic engine, with heat-exchange processes going on continuously. It is a finely tuned process that can be upset easily. Unfortunately, human intervention has today upset this balance. Sri Krishna’s advice to us is: ‘Live in such a way that you do not upset nature’s balance. Then you will be assured of clear air and water, as well as rain at proper times.’ One need not elaborate on this point, T h e

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since the problems and solutions are all around us. The ancient sages of India, it seems, foresaw the alarming condition of nature that we see today. The fourth chapter introduces the concept of reincarnation, which gradually induces in Arjuna a greater sense of respect towards Sri Krishna. But it is in the sixth chapter that a strong focus is on yoga and meditation. There is a very interesting connection between this sixth chapter and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. They appear to complement each other, and also contain some important lessons to students of yoga. Two examples will suffice. Patanjali does not describe asana in detail. For him sukhasana is more than adequate. But Sri Krishna elaborates on this theme by describing the posture, the food habits, and the moderation in all activities prescribed for yogis. On the other hand, in answer to Arjuna’s question about the fickleness of the mind, Sri Krishna answers in brief that controlling the mind is possible through abhyasa (practice) and vairagya (dispassion). These two preliminary instructions about yoga, which are of great value, are elaborated on by Patanjali. It is

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therefore profitable to study the sixth chapter of the Gita together with Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Another important teaching occurs in the tenth chapter, in relation to the Cosmic Form. Arjuna wants to know the forms through which the Divine can be worshipped. In reply, Sri Krishna describes in detail His various emanations, and ends with the statement, ‘Wherever you find anything great, there you find a part of me.’2 This answer does not satisfy Arjuna. At the beginning of the eleventh chapter, he tells Sri Krishna, ‘I accept all that you have said. But I would like to see these emanations with my own eyes.’3 It is then that Sri Krishna reveals His Cosmic Form. Initially Arjuna is thrilled, and is ecstatic. But gradually it dawns on him that there is another aspect of this vision: a terrifying form, the form of destruction. Arjuna starts trembling, and asks the Divine Form, ‘Who are you, and why have you taken this form?’4 The Cosmic Form then replies: ‘I am the mighty world-destroying Time, here made manifest for the purpose of destroying the world. Even without you, none of the warriors arrayed in the hostile armies shall live. Therefore arise, fight and acquire fame. They have all been slain by me. You are merely an instrument thereof, O Arjuna.’5 This passage holds a very important lesson for all humankind. The Divine accomplishes Its work through the creatures of this world, although they think that they are working by their own volition. In another passage, in the twelfth chapter, Sri Krishna elaborates on this and says: ‘Fix your mind on Me alone; let your reason penetrate into Me; without doubt you will then abide in Me alone for ever more. If you are unable to fix your mind steadily on Me (even at the start) then try to reach Me through the systematic practice T h e

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of concentration, O Arjuna. If you are not capable of practicing systematic concentration then devote yourself whole heartedly to works of service to Me. Thus working for Me, you can attain to perfection. If you are unable to do even this, then taking refuge in Me, and thus controlling the mind, abandon the fruit of all actions. Than (a mere formal) practice of disciplines, a clear intellectual understanding (of the doctrine) is better. Than such understanding, meditation is better. Even better than meditation is the abandonment of the fruits of action. For, such abandonment (of the fruits of works and sense of their agency) is immediately followed by peace.’6 If the second chapter is a synopsis of the Gita, the last and the longest chapter can be considered its summary. Here Sri Krishna says: ‘Hear from Me the final truth about renunciation. This has been declared to be of three kinds. Works like sacrifice, charity and austerity should not be abandoned. They should be performed; for sacrifice, charity and austerity are indeed purifying for the wise. Even these works are to be performed without attachment and desire for their fruits. This is my settled and decisive view.’7 The Gita abounds in so many teachings that it is almost beyond the capacity of a lay reader to study the entire text in detail. One should engage in continuous contemplation of the text to truly understand and imbibe its teachings. Swami Vivekananda often refreshed himself with the Gita. When he was staying at Camp Percy in New Hampshire with the Leggett family for three weeks in April-May 1895, he would go for long walks all by himself, sit under a tree, and read the Gita. One would do well to choose some verses, study them thoroughly and contemplate them. In the eighteenth chapter there is a set of shlokas which summarise the entire teaching:

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â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Endowed with a pure intellect, subduing the body and the senses, relinquishing all senseobjects, abandoning attraction and hatred, resorting to a sequestered spot, eating but little, controlling body, speech and mind, ever engaged in meditation and concentration, possessed of dispassion, forsaking egoism, power, pride, lust and anger, freed from the notion of ego, and always tranquil â&#x20AC;&#x201C; such a person is fit to attain the Divine.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;8 And then there are these two shlokas where Sri Krishna says: â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Let your mind be engrossed in Me. Offer worship to Me. Be resigned to Me. . . You shall come to Me alone. Truly do I promise unto you beloved as you are to me. Relinquishing all Dharmas, take refuge in Me alone. I will liberate you from all sins. Do not grieve.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;9 What can people of modern times learn from the Gita? According to Swami Vivekananda, the Gita deals with the following yogas â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Jnana, Bhakti, Raja and Karma Yoga. The early commentators on the Gita, emphasised the paths of knowledge, devotion, and meditation. But for modern society

Swamiji advocated a harmonious blending of the four paths, with an emphasis on Karma Yoga. It was the considered view of Sri Ramakrishna and Swamiji that the path of action is as much an independent path to perfection as any of the other yogas. Modernday commentators on the Gita like Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi have also emphasized its Karma Yoga aspect. Hence, the most significant lesson one can learn from the Gita is Karma Yoga. This is Sri Krishnaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s greatest contribution to the spiritual literature of the world, and is certainly the need of the hour. Realising this fact, some educational institutions have now made the Gita a compulsory subject in their courses, including engineering and medical courses. The potential of the Gita is yet to be recognised. The day it is done, the Macaulay system of education imposed on India from outside, will undergo a sea change. May that day soon arrive by the grace of Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi, and Swami Vivekananda!

References 1. Srimad Bhagavad Gita, 3.10-13 7. Ibid, 18.4-6 8. Ibid, 18.51-54

2. Ibid, 10.41 3. Ibid, 11.3 9. Ibid, 18.65-66

4. Ibid, 11.31

5. Ibid, 11.32-33

6. Ibid, 12.8-12

Special Object of my Worship In his travels, Vivekananda met the maharajas of Khetri, Alwar, Mysore, Ramnad, and many other dignitaries. He boldly told them that the prosperity of India depended upon uplifting the masses by introducing good education, modern science, and industry. +RZHYHUWKH\GLGQRWVKRZVXIÂżFLHQWLQWHUHVW/DWHUKHH[SUHVVHGKLVIHHOLQJVÂľ0D\,EH born again and again, and suffer thousands of miseries so that I may worship the only God that exists, the only God I believe in, the sum total of all soulsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and above all, my God the wicked, my God the miserable, my God the poor of all races, of all species, is the special object of my worship.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Swami Vivekananda

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Sister Nivedita and Indian Education PREMA RAGHUNATH

‘We all talk glibly about education, but how many of us have asked ourselves the question, what is education? What are its ideals? Where are the truest educators to be found?... What, then, do we mean by this word? Evidently we use it to denote a training of the minds as such, in which…we look to produce, not so much a familiarity with certain definite facts, as a trained power of attention and concentration, an ability to think connectedly and persistently about a given subject and a capacity for willing rightly and efficiently.’1 Do these words strike a chord? Are they an excerpt from one of the Indian National Policy on Education documents? No. These are the questions raised by Margaret Elizabeth Noble, later to become world famous as Sister Nivedita, a name given to her by her guru Swami Vivekananda when he initiated her into Brahmacharya on 25 March 1898. The Beginning Born Margaret Elizabeth Noble on 28 October 1867, she first heard Swamiji in London in 1895. She had been searching for a true guide, and realised when she heard him speak that here was her future of service and sacrifice: a complete change from what she had so far been doing. Unbeknownst to her, her life was going to take on a new meaning. She had been a teacher in England from age 17 and,

by the time she met Swami Vivekananda, had already established herself in local circles as a great teacher and a powerful writer. Swamiji, too, instantly recognised her potential. He wrote to her in a letter: ‘Let me tell you frankly that I am now convinced that you have a great future in the work for India. What was wanted was not a man, but a woman – a real lioness – to work for Indians, women especially. India cannot yet produce great women; she must borrow them from other nations. Your education, sincerity, purity, immense love, determination…..make you just the woman wanted.’2 Following his words, Margaret Noble – soon to be reborn as Sister Nivedita – set sail and arrived in India on 28 January 1898. Meeting with the Holy Mother No account of Margaret’s contribution to the earliest attempts to revolutionise the Indian educational system can be complete without an account of her meeting with Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi. Margaret herself called 17 March 1898 her ‘day of days’, when she was first granted an audience with the Holy Mother. The Holy Mother was a wondrous person who epitomised the essence of ideal womanhood at its very best; it would underestimate her personality to define her multifarious qualities as just ‘Indian.’ Appearing at first sight to be the quiet, shy,

The author is Assistant Secretary, RKM Sarada Vidyalaya, Chennai, Editor, Learning Curve, Azim Premji Foundation, Bengaluru. T h e

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retiring consort of Sri Ramakrishna, she had untold depths of love, understanding, intelligence, and practical common sense which defied classification. She had not travelled the world as Margaret had done; but she showed herself to be the Universal Mother in her acceptance of not only Margaret, but also others to follow, like Mrs Ole Bull and Josephine MacLeod. On that historic day, Margaret was accepted as Holy Mother’s own daughter, and received the affectionate name ‘Khooki’ (little girl), a name by which she came to be known. Equally significant was what followed. Encouraged by Swamiji, she set up a girls’ school in Bosepara Lane, Kolkata. The school and its curriculum were set up in accordance with the national ideals of India as delineated by Swamiji. The school was finally opened on 13 November 1898 by none other than Holy Mother herself. After worship, she consecrated the school and blessed it: ‘I pray that the blessings of the Divine Mother may be upon the school and the girls, and the girls trained from the school may become ideal girls.’3 Momentous words, these, because Holy Mother had shown the way for women’s education. She emphasised training and, through that training, the ideal that that school—or any school—must bear in mind. Mother’s idea was that each girl must be trained to be, and do her best as a woman. Mother set a great example through her own life, of combining in herself modesty and courage, patience and intelligence, and being a great student and an equally great teacher. All was not plain sailing, of course. She had to fight orthodoxy and conservatism— reluctant parents who were unwilling to challenge the status quo by educating their daughters. She had to convert them to the new thinking. T h e

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The Curriculum The curriculum reflected Sister Nivedita’s own thinking. Convinced that India’s educational system must reflect its own culture and tradition, she set about teaching them history, geography, natural science, a bit of English, sewing, drawing, handicrafts, and above all a sense of their own value and heritage. In her essay ‘The Place of Foreign Culture in True Education’, she likens an imported system of education to a child living in a rich stranger’s house as a guest, as opposed to living in his or her own home, where so many things are intuitively understood. In the same essay she writes: ‘The American child can learn truthfulness from George Washington; the Hindu had far better learn it from Yudhisthira.’4 She specifically chose her curriculum so that it remained in line with Indian culture. For instance, history and geography were taught because of their close relationship with each other. It is now a well-accepted fact that the geography of a country is a major factor in its history. Then again, Nivedita was certain that every girl must learn to use her hands, and find a tactile relationship with the objects of the world in order to rightfully find and claim her own place in it. Every aspect of life found a place in the curriculum she recommended—not just for her own school, but also as a general prescription to further true learning. Thus, learning mathematics was to see the natural order of the universe, to develop the learner’s underlying logical thinking, the natural causeand-effect relationship. The sciences were part of the curriculum in order to promote the scientific temperament. Interestingly, the NEP 2016 reiterates this, as we shall see later, because one of the hallmarks of progress is pragmatism.

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In her curriculum, as in all things, Sister Nivedita showed a practical sense that was in tandem with her high idealism. She was one of the first to think globally, yet act locally. What she taught had a very clean, well-thought-out relationship with why she was teaching it. She included it because it would enhance the content of the end result, which was, and remains, the refinement of the mind, thoughtfulness in action, and the betterment of the world around us. This means that education hones a person’s sensibilities to think better, act better, and be better. In Nivedita’s own words: ‘We must think strongly about education. We must know what are its highest results…. Education in reality means training of the will.’5 Her Contribution to Women’s Education in India That Sister Nivedita was one of the pioneers of women’s education in India is now an accepted fact. Her different nationality proved to be an advantage, in the sense that she had a new outlook and brought a new perspective to the process. This is not to say that other women, such as Pandita Ramabai, Sister Subbulakshmi, and Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy, did not. These were only three of the many brave women who thought ahead of their times and changed the course of history for many millions of women who followed. But it has to be admitted that Sister Nivedita had left a country, Britain, which had already passed through the Industrial Revolution and had created the concept of leisure. Where people had to work with their hands from morning to night, machines finished the job in a fraction of the time. As a result, the pursuit of reading and writing created a public which wanted to be taught the pleasures of both. This meant that formal T h e

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educational methods came to the fore and women’s emancipation became a clarion call. However, this educational approach in a colonised land had its own pitfalls. It would take the Indian girl out of her own culture and train her to appreciate what would please a girl from another culture. Sister Nivedita felt that it was a crime to ‘an Indian girl to be an ornament of English or French society.’ To her, education was a means to awaken national feeling, because it included the whole nation in its ambit. When she spoke of women’s education, she meant an education that rooted every culture in its own past, created national pride through awareness of the country’s glory, and equipped every girl to look at the future with unwavering courage and a sense of purpose. The main disadvantage of a westernbased education, she believed, was that it created a section of the population who admired everything foreign and denigrated and dismissed as superstition all traditional beliefs without subjecting them to the light of pragmatic examination. Nivedita wanted Indian women to show their Indianness even while building upon the scientific order of the western world. Nivedita was clear in her approach to girls’ education. She wanted to begin at the beginning by asking the right questions. She asked: ‘What is it we would teach our girls? What do we want them to be? What do we want them to avoid?’ and

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continued: ‘We must fearlessly give them the discriminating eye, the testing heart.’6 This is of course equally applicable to boys. Today, more than ever, discrimination between and examination of options has become the touchstone of the educated person. The idea of the world being a global village is everywhere apparent. Jet travel has made distant countries accessible within hours; the Internet and TV have brought diverse cultures into our homes. Nationalistic pride has sometimes degenerated into xenophobia, and on the other end of the continuum lies a blind acceptance of anything that is foreign. Obviously, one of the hallmarks of the educated mind is the ability to examine and think deeply before either accepting or rejecting change. The question that arises, among others, is: ‘Are we training our girls to do that?’ The Holy Mother had talked about a training that creates ideal girls—ideals that do not change, even if the details do, from generation to generation. Children need this training from their earliest years. One of the major features that Nivedita brought into the Indian system was the introduction of the idea of the kindergarten, founded by the German philosopher and educationist Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852), whose keen observation of early childhood development led to the idea of maximizing the possibilities of education during this vital period. Conclusion Education was the way to get out of centuries of slavery. It is also the way to overcome slavish bowing to current fads and fashions in thinking. Alive to the vital place education has in a country’s progress, and aware of both its short-term and long-term gains, the Ministry of Human Development T h e

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is constantly reviewing reforms. The National Educational Policies began with the Kothari Commission Report in 1968. It called for ‘radical reconstruction of education…essential for the economic and cultural development of the country’, and pointed out that ‘one of the aims of education is to produce young men and women of character and ability committed to national service and development. Only then will education be able to play its vital role in promoting national progress.’7 This is not very different from Nivedita’s notion that ‘We have to think, then, of the concentration of the Indian mind on the Indian problem….But whereas at present the great bulk of our popular mind is pre-occupied with schemes of instruction for the purpose of earning livelihoods, we now desire to consider the best means for bringing about a conscious unification of the mind in order that we may be better able to compass thereby the common weal, the good of the whole.’8 This is echoed in the National Policy of Education 2016 document, which has set out the four core components of education: building values, awareness, knowledge and skills. The last is obviously specific to employment; but, as Nivedita emphasised in all her writings on Indian education, the aim should be to develop citizens’ pride in their country and their involvement in the process of its development. Born in faraway Ireland, growing up in England, her meeting with Swamiji on a cold winter’s day in London was not a matter of random chance. It would seem that it was predestined. Just as she recognised that she had met her guru, Swamiji, too, instantly knew with certainty that she had a heart brave enough to cross the seas and make a new and strange country her home and love it as dearly as he did. What Sister Nivedita did for Indian education, and particularly for women’s

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education, by changing patriarchal attitudes, is immeasurable. In truth, it is she who prepared

the ground for the education that we receive today.

 References

1.

2.

3.

Complete Works of Sister Nivedita, Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata, 2012, [hereafter CWSN] Vol 5, p. 51. The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata, Mayavati Memorial Edition, Vol. 7, p. 511 Nivedita of India, Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Kolkata

4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Hints on National Education of India, Sister Nivedita, Udbodhan, Kolkata, p. 42. CWSN, Vol. 5, p. 73. CWSN, Vol. 5, p. 28. Report of the Education Commission 1964-66: Education and National Development. Hints on National Education in India, Sister Nivedita, Udbodhan, Kolkata, p. 13.

Sister Nivedita’s constant efforts were to impart to her girls ‘certain ideas and impulses’ which would build their character. And this she achieved while teaching in the school and in the outings to the Zoo, Museum etc. She took pride in the work of her students and exhibited them at many places including at the Swadeshi Exhibition of the Congress in /HDGLQJDSXUHDQGVLPSOHOLIHVKHZDVDPRGHORIVHOIVDFUL¿FHLQWKHFDVXHRIKHU students. One of her child-widow students named Prafullamukhi had to fast on Ekadashi days according to the religious custom. On these days Nivedita invited the girl and fed her with fruits and sweets. But on one Ekadashi, after a busy day in the school, Nivedita went to Dr. Jagadish Chandra Bose’s house for dinner. There she suddenly remembered that she had not given Prafullamukhi anything to eat. Perturbed, she immediately rushed home, and sent for the girl. Feeding her she repeatedly apologised: ‘My child, my child, I quite forgot! How unjust of me. I did not give anything to you to eat but ate myself, how unthoughtful of me!’

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Indian Culture and Indian Education PRAMOD KUMAR

Whither Indian Education? The Ministry of Human Resource Development of the Government of India constituted a committee for providing inputs for framing the new National Education Policy. The committee submitted a report in April 2016. The report opens with the following introduction: The educational system which was evolved first in ancient India is known as the Vedic system. The importance of education was well recognized in India: ‘ñdamÁ`o nyÁ`Vo amOm {dÛmZ² gd©V« nyÁ`Vo& svarājye pūjyate rājā vidvān sarvatra pūjyate’—A king is honoured only in his own country, but one who is learned is honoured throughout the world. The ultimate aim of education in ancient India was not knowledge, as preparation for life in this world or for life beyond, but for complete realization of self. The Gurukul system fostered a bond between the Guru & the Shishya and established a teacher-centric system in which the pupil was subjected to a rigid discipline and was under certain obligations towards his teacher. The world’s first university was established in Takshila in 700 BC and the University of Nalanda was built in the 4th century BC, a great achievement and contribution of ancient India in the field of education. Science and technology in ancient and medieval India covered all the branches of human knowledge the major m

and activities. Indian scholars like Charaka and Susruta, Aryabhata, Bhaskaracharya, Chanakya, Patanjali and Vatsayayna and numerous others made seminal contribution to world knowledge in such diverse fields as mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, medical science and surgery, fine arts, mechanical and production technology, civil engineering and architecture, shipbuilding and navigation, sports and games. The Indian education system helped in preserving ancient culture and promoting cultural unity and infused a sense of responsibility and social values. The ancient Indian education system has been a source of inspiration to all educational systems of the world, particularly in Asia and Europe.1 During a televised discussion on the National Education Policy, Dr. T S R Subramanian, who headed the committee, without mincing words expressed his concern about what ails Indian education. He said the education system is on the verge of collapse owing to the rampant politicisation of educational institutions in India.2 Sixty-eight years after Independence, achieving acceptable quality and outreach even in basic education continues to be an unfulfilled dream. More than a hundred years ago, Swami Vivekananda gave us what was a possible blueprint for modern India’s first National Education Policy when he warned his

The author is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cultural Education at Amrita University, Coimbatore. T h e

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countrymen of the pitfalls of the colonial system of education, which had replaced the Indian system. In his famous lecture on ‘The Future of India’ given in Madras on February 14, 1897, at the Harmston Circus Pavilion, Swamiji waxed eloquent on the need for redefining India’s education policy: We must have a hold on the spiritual and secular education of the nation. Do you understand that? You must dream it, you must talk it, you must think it, and you must work it out. Till then there is no salvation for the race. The education that you are getting now has some good points, but it has a tremendous disadvantage which is so great that the good things are all weighed down. In the first place it is not a man-making education, it is merely and entirely a negative education. A negative education or any training that is based on negation is worse than death. The child is taken to school, and the first thing he learns is that his father is a fool, the second thing that

his grandfather is a lunatic, the third thing that all his teachers are hypocrites, the fourth that all the sacred books are lies! By the time he is sixteen he is a mass of negation, lifeless and boneless. And the result is that fifty years of such education has not produced one original man in the three Presidencies. Every man of originality that has been produced has been educated elsewhere, and not in this country, or they have gone to the old universities once more to cleanse themselves of superstitions. Education is not the amount of information that is put into your brain and runs riot there, undigested, all your life. We must have lifebuilding, man-making, character-making assimilation of ideas. If you have assimilated five ideas and made them your life and character, you have more education than any man who has got by heart a whole library— “The ass carrying its load of sandalwood knows only the weight and not the value of the sandalwood.” If education is identical

Vidyarthi Homa at Ramakrishna Vidyashala, Mysuru

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with information, the libraries are the greatest sages in the world, and encyclopaedias are the Rishis. The ideal, therefore, is that we must have the whole education of our country, spiritual and secular, in our own hands, and it must be on national lines, through national methods as far as practical. Of course this is a very big scheme, a very big plan. I do not know whether it will ever work out. But we must begin the work.3 If only our politicians had listened to the sane advice of Swami Vivekananda and other Indian visionaries like Sri Aurobindo Ghosh, Mahatma Gandhi, and Rabindranath Tagore, who were all unanimous in their appeal to decolonise the education system, perhaps Indian education and Indian civilisation would be in a completely different state today. But that was not to be; and we continue to grapple with problems which should have been resolved long ago. A ‘Mercenary’ System Perhaps this is not the right place to delve into the topic of what ails our educational system. But it is important to understand the roots of this malady, since it is deeply cultural; and any positive reformation of Indian education will have to involve a cultural transformation of its content and approach. Indian education today fits the description of a ‘bread-winning’ education, as Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa called it more than century ago. It is largely driven by the requirements and pressures of industry; and only those skills and disciplines which are highly valued by industry tend to find buyers in the ‘educational market.’ For example, software professionals were in great demand till a few years ago; students from all degrees tended to gravitate towards the T h e

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software industry by honing their computer programming skills through crash courses. In this industry-driven system, there are no (or very few) takers for important disciplines like literature, history, archaeology, sociology, and other branches of the humanities. Many colleges have shut down history departments because there are no takers anymore! How much emphasis Swami Vivekananda placed on the rewriting of Indian history in his talks and conversations! If an ancient civilisation like India does not value the learning and teaching of its own history, and demeans it in favour of a shortsighted careerism, then we are doomed as a civilisation indeed. No wonder thinkers like Sri Aurobindo called this a ‘mercenary’ system! There was a time when Swami Vivekananda poignantly asked the young men of Bengal whether becoming a barrister was the highest goal of life they could aim for. Perhaps today Swamiji would ask the youth of India if becoming a software professional is the highest goal they can aim for! This job-oriented approach of Indian education would not be such a problem if there were at least a basic emphasis on man-making and character-building, as Swami Vivekananda wanted. The Voice of Voiceless Students In 2008, I had the good fortune of being part of an NGO called International Forum for India’s Heritage, which conducted a survey on cultural content in the school curriculum. The survey revealed that while the major stakeholders in education—students, teachers, and parents—wanted more cultural content to be included, our politicians will not allow this to happen, to keep their vote banks intact. Commenting on the striking results of this survey, Michel Danino, a French historian

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and educationist under whose initiative the survey was conducted, writes thus: We first questioned students on aspects of Indian heritage: arts, science, festivals, traditional sports and games, literature, inspiring historical or mythical characters, yoga and spirituality. The results were striking: 91% of all students felt that they would benefit from learning elements of Indian culture. Among the aspects of Indian culture that students would like to learn, art comes first, followed by asanas and pranayama, physical games such as kabaddi, and meditation. Coming to values, only 38% of the students felt that they were acquiring some values at school – an unflatteringly low proportion; 7% specifically stated they were acquiring no values at all, 11% gave intermediate replies, and 44% did not reply at all. As regards the values which students said they would most like to practise in their own lives, honesty came first, followed by truthfulness, brotherhood and friendship, duty and dharma, reverence for / inspiration from one’s parents, self-perfection, courage and simplicity, and finally non-violence. When asked which values they felt they had acquired from stimulating stories from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Panchatantra, etc., the categories and proportions were very similar, which reflects on the inspirational potential of such texts and stories when used as educational tools. . .

Cultural Refinement: the Most Important Goal of Education As a member of the teaching community in India, I cannot but deplore the crudity which is all-pervasive today—not only on educational campuses, but in our private and public spaces. One only has to look at the average Indian’s behaviour in public spaces, while driving or while at a shopping mall, to see how low we have stooped as a civilisation today. The great scientist and visionary Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam often used to comment that India is an advanced civilisation in an advanced state of decay. Swami Vivekananda spelled out the highest goal of education when he said, ‘Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man.’ Swami Ranganathananda, the 13th President of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, elaborated further on the importance of cultural refinement in education. He said:

Indian culture has been kept out of sight of our children, and they are asking for it to be restored to them – a legitimate demand. When their British, French or German counterparts are imparted something of their country’s culture at school, it is baffling why Indian students should be denied access to Indian culture and the world-acclaimed values that it has nurtured for millennia.4

The new National Education Policy should address this cultural vacuum in schools and colleges. It is eating into the very roots of Indian civilisation. T h e

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We have refineries in India now, we take crude oil and refine that oil, and out of that refinery we get beautiful petroleum products. Even fine scents you get out of it. Refining is essential so far as crude oil is concerned. Similarly, nature has given to man a wonderful refinery of experience within the human system. Take crude experience, refine it, and then send out beautiful products of character—love, compassion, peace, efficiency of work, dedication—out of the crude energy that you get in yourself. This is the subject which every youth must think about and work out in life. How to refine my experience? Today, in the concept and practice of education all over the world, there is very little of this refining of experience. The crudity that has come to our life is appalling. Crudity in the ordinary human relations, crudity in politics, crudity everywhere; education is there, but no refining; that crudity is the sign that we have not used our body-mind complex as a refinery of experience.5 D E C E M B E R

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The revival and renaissance which Swami Vivekananda predicted for India must start with a cultural transformation of Indian education. This transformation is the surest way to resolve the major ills afflicting our society today. Moving towards a Dharmic Education One of the biggest collective failures of India in the post-independence era has been the sidelining of the true understanding of dharma in education and all other spheres of our individual and social life, in preference to the shallow western notion of ‘secularism.’ Sixty-eight years after Independence, we are still debating the unfulfilled agenda of decolonising Indian education to reflect the dharmic values of Indian civilization instead of taking a giant leap to achieve a cultural renaissance as envisioned by Swami Vivekananda. The Indian educational system must reflect on the core values of Indian culture. Proposed below are four new purusharthas which every educationist in India should strive for, in order to fulfil Swami Vivekananda’s ‘plan of action’ for Indian education:

1. Skill and career development are an important aspect of education, but these cannot be the only goals or the highest ideals of education. Man-making and character-building should be the primary cultural goals of Indian education. 2. A child’s career choices should not be unduly influenced by parental or peer pressure or the popular choices guided by the demandand-supply flow of industry. Education should help a child discover his or her innate cultural talents and allow him or her to pursue them to the fullest possibility. 3. It is the birthright of every Indian child to know about the positive aspects of Indian culture through Indian literature, art forms, epics, and spirituality. We cannot suppress or deny this right for any reason, political or otherwise. 4. The core of Indian culture is spirituality. Yoga, meditation, and the benefits of such Indian spiritual practices are being accepted worldwide today. The United Nations has declared 21 June to be the International Day of Yoga. Yoga, meditation, and spirituality should be an integral part of the school and college curricula in India.

References 1.

2.

Report of the Committee for Evolution of the New Education Policy, National Policy on Education 2016, Ministry of Human Resource Development, www.nuepa.org/New/download/NEP2016/ ReportNEP.pdf The Big Picture - New Education Policy: Highlights and Hitches, Rajya Sabha TV, Guests: T S R Subramanian, former Cabinet Secretary and others, 1st July 2016.

3.

4.

5.

The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata, Mayavati Memorial Edition, Vol. 3, pp. 301-302 School education: what students say. http:// www.teacherplus.org/2008/novemberdecember/school-education-what-students-say Universal Message of the Bhagavad-Gita, Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata, Vol. 1, pp.193-194

It is culture that withstands shocks, not a simple mass of knowledge. You can put a mass of knowledge into the world, but that will not do it much good. There must come culture into the blood. —CW, 3.291 T h e

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Building a Resurgent India DR. R BALASUBRAMANIAM There were many good things in the ancient times, but there were bad things too. The good things are to be retained, but the India that is to be, the future India, must be much greater than ancient India.- Swami Vivekananda

India is now going through a momentous phase of transition. While we race to catch up with a world being connected seamlessly through digital technology, we can find new ideas and new ideologies bombarding us from all sides. It is at times like this that we need to pause and ask ourselves whether we are going in the right direction and at the right pace. We need to explore as a nation whether we are building our future based on the lessons of our past or are getting caught up in the mindless pursuit of mere economic growth. This is also the time for us to revalidate the relevance of the message of Swami Vivekananda and his vision for India. Vivekananda dreamed of seeing Mother India in all her glory on the resplendent throne where she rightfully belonged. If we are to translate this vision into reality, we first need to understand where we are today and what the challenges are ahead of us. We also need to understand where we were in the past and what lessons we can learn from the rich history of our culture and civilisation. India of Today The whole country is agog with the ex cit ite excitement of change. Everyone seems

obsessed with our growing visibility around the world and is increasingly focusing on economic growth and the trappings of visible development. We seem to be overlooking the fact that despite this constant progress and growth, 50 per cent of children under five years of age suffer from undernutrition.1 While on the one hand we are making rapid strides in space and defence technology, on the other hand a large part of our rural population still lacks basic amenities, including clean drinking water and sanitation facilities.2 37% of our young people drop out of school by the time they reach the tenth grade.3 Gender and caste inequities are very real and distressing. Despite all our scientific attainments, close to 75% of our graduating youth lack employable skills.4 What we are building today in our children and youth is mere cognitive growth and not the overall social, emotional, and spiritual evolution of a balanced person. As a society, we are seeing a rapid erosion of our social capital, with visible manifestations of trust deficit, lowered interdependence, and vanishing reciprocity. Monetisation has become the metric of human success and attainment, while other dimensions of human achievement are getting marginalised. While one can argue that the benefits of our growth will trickle down and most of our citizens can indeed aspire to a better life, we need to recognise the challenges ahead of us.

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The Challenges Ahead India’s progress is going to be determined by how well we can manage three major challenges facing us. The first is the increasing intolerance that we are seeing and the growing reality of religious fundamentalism. Religion has now become a political tool. Not a day passes without evidence of this threat in some part of the world or the other – whether it is India, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Russia, Afghanistan, Egypt, or the United States. The second major challenge that is becoming more evident is growing economic inequity. The gap between the rich and the poor is the widest in our recent history. The top 10% of Indians generate and control more than 75% of India’s wealth, while the bottom 20% are generating and controlling less than 1%.5 The increasing economic tensions are having social ramifications, and outbursts of violence are no longer the exception. The third major issue is the manner in which technology is rapidly disrupting everyday life, manufacturing, and services. This makes demands on our youth to acquire skills that are not easily available and that are out of the reach of most of our rural population. Our ability to resolve these vexatious issues will eventually determine whether we are able to place India on the world stage and give our people the life that they deserve. What can we do to confront this reality and find realistic and pragmatic solutions? It is here that the message of Swami Vivekananda and his plan for building India’s future give us a solution. Swamiji strongly believed in learning from our past in order to build our future. While he was a passionate lover of everything Indian, he was also pragmatic enough to identify the ills that we had T h e

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accumulated over the years and that had to be mercilessly discarded. Our Rich and Hoary Past An objective assessment of the India of the past in multiple dimensions demonstrates how advanced we were as a society. The work of the English economic historian Angus Madison conclusively proves the wealth of our nation from the beginning of the Christian era up till 1600 CE. He mentions how the Indian civilisation, with its enormous intellectual, trading, and manufacturing capacity produced 35% of global GDP and was possibly the richest country in the world during those 16 continuous centuries.6 It was also during this time that India contributed the binary system and the concepts of algebra, trigonometry, and calculus. Metallurgy and the chemical sciences were far advanced, and knowledge of astronomy, physics, democracy, and political science was at its peak. Apart from the sciences of the ‘external’, Indian scriptures were rich in their understanding of the ‘internal’. From psychology to spirituality, our thinkers made contributions that the rest of the world had yet to discover. One can safely say that this was the glorious era of Indian civilisation. The focus was on increasing the human and social capital of India. This obviously resulted in enormous economic benefits. The Way Forward Swami Vivekananda strongly believed in the control of man’s inner nature in order to ensure the optimal utilisation of resources and effective functioning in the external world. He could see how a colonised and conquered India had lost her moorings, and he felt the urgency to rebuild her human and social capital. Swamiji understood that

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a full expression of human potential would happen only when man constantly expanded his physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual capabilities. Only then could he have the capacity to lead and sustain his life. He understood that ‘education’ had to go beyond mere schooling and result in the expression of the inner perfection already inherent in man. He could also relate physical growth to mental and emotional growth. He asked young Indians to make their biceps stronger before embarking on the study of the Gita. For him, interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence were as critical as social intelligence for man to progress and grow. He gave a new meaning and dimension to the pursuit of spirituality by making it practical and socially pragmatic. His call to serve the God in man as a means of spiritual evolution is possibly the most practical means of connecting man’s inner nature with the outer world. Swamiji’s message of working for the poor and the marginalised and the call for inner evolution and not an outer revolution further strengthens this argument. His thoughts on organising people and building institutions reflect the emphasis he placed on social capital. He knew that a country could not be built on sand and that democratic institutions can be created and sustained only by people of mettle. And what India needs today is to revisit this concept of building a complete man, who can in turn create and manage institutions and thus build a great country. We need people with the qualities of compassion, humanism, a spirit of enquiry, humour, mindful existence, positive thinking and the intent to be good and do good. Imagine a nation that is led by a type of humankind that is responsible in its consumption, respectful of all of nature’s T h e

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creation, constantly striving for both internal and external peace, harmony, and good will. Such a country would be wonderful indeed, where sharing and caring would be second nature to humankind and the mad rush to acquire everything for just oneself would be a thing of the past. Imagine such a nation where these self-evolved humans are interconnected and live with the awareness of mutual trust, interdependence and reciprocity! That is the social capital that India badly needs if it wants to stop hurtling towards self-destruction. India now needs a new narrative that talks about creating and expanding this human and social capital based on Swamiji’s vision. Sustainable development will then not be a mere slogan or a fashionable statement that is talked about, but a practical and realistic attempt to build this New India. In that new vision for India, development will be seen in terms of increased security and liberty for communities and individuals. This means that people will have the political space to voice their problems and choose the solutions that best represent them. Dominant players in development – whether they are the government, or civil society, or the corporate world—will then take the time to listen to people with respect and provide them with the platform to articulate their just and legitimate aspirations. India needs to become a pioneer in translating this vision of development into concrete reality, where the rule of law is the norm rather than the exception, where no Indian will go hungry, where human rights are not a mere slogan but a way of life, where democratic participation is not a fanciful aspiration but an everyday expression of citizenship, and where food, nutrition, livelihood, infrastructure, education, health care, and religious freedoms are not

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mere political promises but entitlements of an empowered citizenry. This is the India that

Swami Vivekananda spoke ofâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and the India that we need to create.

 References

1. 2. 3. 4.

https://dhsprogram.com/pubs/pdf/OD56/ OD56.pdf https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_supply_ and_sanitation_in_India https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/ PMC3662127/ http://monitor.icef.com/2015/10/indias-

5.

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employability-challenge/ http://www.thehindu.com/data/indiasstaggering-wealth-gap-in-five-charts/ article6672115.ece https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_ history_of_India

$SUHDFKHURIWKH&RZ3URWHFWLRQ6RFLHW\RQFHDSSURDFKHG6ZDPLMLIRUÂżQDQFLDOKHOS +H WROG 6ZDPLML WKDW WKH 6RFLHW\ KDG VHW XS FRZ LQÂżUPDULHV LQ GLIIHUHQW SDUWV RI WKH FRXQWU\WRSURWHFWPRWKHUFRZVIURPWKHKDQGVRIWKHEXWFKHU6ZDPLMLÂżUVWJDYHKLPD patient hearing, then he said, 'A terrible famine has now broken out in Central India. The Indian Government has published a death roll of nine lakhs of people. Has your Society done anything to help them ?' The preacher answered in the negative and said that their organization was exclusively for the protection of mother-cows and that they did not see any reason why they should help the famine-stricken people, for it was their karma that had invited the calamity. This atrocious explanation angered Swamiji, but he controlled his rage and said in a TXLHW \HW ÂżUP YRLFH , KDYH QRW WKH OHDVW V\PSDWK\ IRU WKRVH RUJDQL]DWLRQV ZKLFK GR not feel for man, which do not offer a handful of rice to save the lives of their starving brothers while distributing piles of food to birds and beasts in the name of charity and love. I believe they are of no use to society. If one goes strictly by the theory of karma, then all efforts, all struggles for anything on earth, including your drive to save the cows, become utterly meaningless. It can be well argued then that the mother-cows fall into the hands of butchers and die according to their own karma and we need not do anything about this.' The preacher did not know what to say, but to bolster his argument, he replied: 'Yes, Swami, what you say is true ; but the scriptures say that the cow is our mother.' Swamiji said sarcastically, 'No doubt you are right; who else could give birth to such accomplished children!' The preacher failed to understand what Swamiji meant and once again begged for IXQGV IRU WKH &RZ 3URWHFWLRQ 6RFLHW\ :KHQ KH KDG ÂżQLVKHG 6ZDPLML VDLG , DP D sannyasin, a penniless fakir. How can I give you monetary help ? But if some day I have PRQH\,VKDOOÂżUVWVSHQGLWLQWKHVHUYLFHRIPDQ0DQLVWREHVHUYHGDQGVDYHGÂżUVW+H must be given food, education and spirituality. If any money is still left after attending to all these human needs, perhaps something could be given to your Society.' â&#x20AC;&#x201D;CW, 6: 449-450 T h e

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Article

Internet Addiction: The Undoing of Education DR. P.N. RAVINDRA

Introduction Swami Vivekananda envisioned a magnificent philosophy of education. His core statement: ‘Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man’ encompasses all the attributes involved in the process of being educated. The two important psychological skills an individual needs to cultivate, harness and develop to absorb knowledge are: (1) ability to concentrate and (2) development of character. William James, the renowned psychologist, also echoes the same idea when he says that the ‘faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgment, character, and will. No one is compos sui (master of oneself) if he has it not. An education which should improve this faculty would be the education par excellence.’1 Truly, the skill to acquire and control the power of concentration and the development of character are the most basic premises of education. It is an undeniable fact that electronic gadgets and Internet are today the most used and trusted benefits of technology. They have become a part of the daily and even hourly activities of life. They bring huge advantages by offering immediate access to information, new methods of learning and easy communication. They save us time which can be used to increase our potentials. However, when handled by an untrained

mind these technological advances open up the possibility of abusing our potentials. They can also weaken the mind. One of the most misused technological marvels is the Internet. Unfortunately, our educational system has not provided any scope for cultivating the skill of self-management let alone for the skill necessary for Internet use. Hence, untrained minds bereft of critical thinking skills are bound to misuse the Internet and can develop the behavioural compulsion, i.e., Internet Addiction. Internet Addiction (IA) Internet addiction is an increasingly prevalent behavioural addiction. ‘There is consistent evidence that violent imagery in television, film, and video, and computer games has substantial short-term effects on arousal, thoughts, and emotions, increasing the likelihood of aggressive or fearful behaviour in younger children, especially in boys.’2 Impulse Control Disorder is observed among 13-18% of the adolescent population. It hampers their academic performance, social and family relationships and their sense of values. And, over time they develop psychological problems like depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive behaviour. A responsible parent, teacher or wellwisher must look for the following traits if they suspect Internet Addiction:

The author is Professor of Neurophysiology at Gadag Institute of Medical Sciences, Gadag, Karnataka. T h e

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1. A preoccupation with the Internet, 2. The need to use the Internet for increasing amounts of time, 3. Unsuccessful efforts to stop using the Internet, 4. Mood change when attempting to stop or cut down Internet usage, 5. Staying online longer than intended, 6. Jeopardizing important relationships or opportunities due to excessive Internet usage, 7. Lying about Internet use, 8. Using the Internet as an escape from problems or seeking to relieve bad mood states. If any of these behavioural changes is observed for over three months and/or if the individual uses Internet for more than six hours a day, then IA needs to be suspected.3 Five primary types of addiction-behaviour have been identified: 1. Compulsive web surfing, 2. Addiction to programming or game playing, 3. Compulsions towards online auctions, 4. Compulsive gambling or trading, 5. Addiction to cyber-sexual-relationships. Individuals with any of these types of behavioural addiction are likely to develop lf esteem depressive moods, suicidal low self-esteem, thoughts, and p phobic anxiety. Specifically, computer g game addiction is closely a s s o ciated with shyness, T h e

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introversion, and social withdrawal. Individuals with personality traits like aggression and narcissism are more prone to become online-game addicts. Parenting Styles and Internet Addiction One of the studies in Internet Addiction notes that authoritarian parenting drives children to use the virtual world as an occasion to express their emotions.

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Parent-child relationships shape the identity and personality formation of an adolescent. Lower levels of parental monitoring, lack of discipline in the family, family violence, and/ or ineffective parenting style is associated with problem behaviors in adolescents, such as substance use, dysfunctional risky behavior, precocious sexual intercourse, and Internet addiction. Demandingness and responsiveness are two categories of parenting. These two categories form at least four types of parenting styles viz., authoritarian (high demandingness, low responsiveness), authoritative (high demandingness, high responsiveness), permissiveâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;indulgent (low demandingness, high responsiveness), and neglectful or uninvolved (low demandingness, low responsiveness). Among these, authoritative parenting leads to development of positive psychosocial behavior, good academic performance and lower degree of deviance during adolescent period. Parental behaviour with low emotional warmth (low responsiveness), high on rejection and overinvolvement (high demandingness), high punishment (authoritarian) and neglectful families are more likely to foster Internet dependency. It is also observed that when parents overindulge children with material needs, expect too much in their school performance and pay little attention to childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s inner feelings it makes way for the children to become behavioral addicted, perform poorly in life and human communication.4 D E C E M B E R

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Impulsiveness and Loss of Decision Making There are many psychological research studies which point out that the brain mechanism could be the probable cause for Internet Addiction. Inability to control the impulses is considered to be the common converging psychological and neurological attribute of an individual with Internet addiction. Brain imaging studies have demonstrated that the neurotransmitter dopamine that is involved in reward processing and impulse control mechanisms is lower among Internet addicts. Reduced neurotransmission translates into insensitivity to punishment, and enhanced sensitivity to rewards; this diverts attention towards pathological web browsing. These findings are similar to any other drug dependent craving. Further, brain mapping studies have demonstrated that addicted web browsers suffer from decreased ability for conflict detection, reduced information processing, and impaired cognitive control.This psychological cloudiness impairs the clarity of forethought and leads to impulsive behaviour which is a tendency towards rapid, unplanned behaviours repeated despite potential negative consequences. Failure in self-regulation is accompanied by preoccupied self-talk about what could be happening online when the individual is offline. Decreased ability for conflict detection leads to impaired decision-making when deciding between short-term pleasures versus long-term negative consequences.

Also, the connection of the regions in the brain associated with learning and memory is weakened with Internet addiction. This results in poor ability to concentrate and recall. In addition, to all this stunted psychological growth, there are many physical ailments associated with the musculoskeletal and nervous systems and with obesity and its associated by-products of a sedentary lifestyle.5 & 6 There is a growing awareness for change in our education system. Swami Vivekananda’s statement ‘We want that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one’s own feet’7 provides the chronology of the psychological attributes which a person needs to grow as an independent, responsible individual. Present day positive psychology also recommends that in the educational environment and policy making, there should be interventions for promoting resilience, positive emotions, engagement, meaning, curiosity, and social connectedness.8 These psychological attributes are known to strengthen the brain which is the biological substrate for learning. Training in acquiring skills to alter the content of thinking is the most basic foundation of education. Such training will increase positive mental content like optimism, determination, and empathy. Such positive emotions are ‘fuel’ or ‘nutrient’ for achieving high grades, wealth, health, relationship success, and a purposeful life.

References 1.

The Educational Philosophy of William James. Randolph Crump Miller. Religious Education; 86(4):1991:619-634. T h e

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The influence of violent media on children and adolescents: A public-health approach. Browne KD,

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3.

4.

5.

Hamilton-Giachritsis C., Lancet, 2005 Feb 19-25, 365(9460):702-10. Determinants of Internet Addiction among Adolescents: A Case-Control Study. Artemis Tsitsika, Elena Critselis, et al., The Scientific World Journal, 2011,11: 866–874. Mental Health, Personality, and Parental Rearing Styles of Adolescents with Internet Addiction Disorder. Huang Xiuqin, M.Med., et al., Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking. Volume 13, Number 4, 2010. Molecular and Functional Imaging of Internet

6.

7.

8.

Addiction. Yunqi Zhu, Hong Zhang, et al., BioMed Research International, Volume 2015,1-9. Dimensionality of Cognitions in Behavioral Addiction.L. S. Morris & V. Voon. Current Behavioral Neuroscience Reports 2016 3:49–57. The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata, Mayavati Memorial Edition, Vol. 5, p. 342. Contextual Positive Psychology: Policy Recommendations for Implementing Positive Psychology into Schools. Joseph Ciarrochi 1, Paul W. B. Atkins, et al., October 2016 ; Vol.7; 1-16

One day after praying at the temple of Lord Ranganatha, Sri Ramanujacharya and his congregation were returning to their ashram. As they walked through the streets, they were stopped by some children who were ‘play acting.’ The children had erected a temple and drawn an image of Lord Ranganatha on the sand. Each one of them assumed different roles associated with the temple administration. One child pretending to be an archaka (temple priest), went up to Sri Ramanuja and held out some sand as prasadam. Sri Ramanuja held out his upper garment and received the sand with reverence. He then prostrated in front of the sand image of Lord Ranganatha with humility. Sri Ramanuja then thanked the children and proceeded on his journey. His followers were bewildered by their Guru’s behaviour. They asked him what he saw in that sand image and children that made him take their play-acting so seriously. Sri Ramanuja simply smiled and replied, ‘Our scriptures say that God resides in the hearts of His pure devotees. I saw our Lord of Sri Ranganatha in the pure hearts of those children and in the sand image made by them.’

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Article

National Policy on Education in India DR. E VASANTHA KUMAR

Pre-independence: Committees and Commissions on Education During British rule, as many as ten committees and commissions were constituted with regard to education in India, beginning with the Hunter Commission in 1882 and ending with the Sargent Report in 1944. The British, at the beginning of their rule, did not intend to introduce English education. Much later, English was introduced as a medium of instruction. Some commissions promoted the traditional Indian system of education which had existed before colonial rule began. They encouraged the study of Sanskrit, Arabic and Persian. But other commissions introduced the British system of education, which totally ignored the native culture, language, and literature. Some scholars opine that the traditional education in India had been one of the best systems in the world; in some areas of knowledge, like science, arts, and language, it was of the highest standard. But this native knowledge degenerated during colonial rule. Drawing attention to this, Swami Ranganathananda, the thirteenth President of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, said in his convocation address at IIT, Madras, in 1984,

India had developed a high level of civilisation, beginning with the highly sophisticated urban civilisation of the Indus Valley… down to about 1800 A.D. . . . Our national scientific mind and scientific activity started experiencing a decline about 800 years ago, after a flourishing period of over 3000 years, and became lulled into sleep after the establishment of the British Empire in India, which took every conceivable step to stifle and destroy… India’s age-old scientific, technological, educational, and socio-economic structures and systems.1

In his well-researched and authentic account, The Beautiful Tree: Indigenous Indian Education in the Eighteenth Century, Dharampal states: ‘In 1931, Mahatma Gandhi created a controversy among the British by observing that literacy in India had actually declined during the preceding century and that the colonial rulers were squarely responsible for this state of affairs. “Instead of taking hold of things as they were,” Gandhi said, “they began to root them out. They scratched the soil and began to look at the root like that, and the beautiful tree perished.”’2 Dharampal reports the result of analysing the educational surveys of Indian education in the 1820’s and 1830’s:

The first truth that our people in India have to realise is that our country has contributed substantially to the development of the physical sciences and technology during the 5000 years of our long history. No civilisation can develop without the development of technology. And

The number and proportion (of children) attending institutional school education in India in 1800 is certainly not inferior to that in England then; and in many respects Indian schooling seems to have been much more extensive (and, it should be remembered, that it is a greatly damaged and disorganized India that one is

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referring to). The content of studies was better than what was then studied in England. The duration of study was more prolonged. The method of school teaching was superior and it is this very method which is said to have greatly helped the introduction of popular education in England but which had prevailed in India for centuries. . . Men like Thomas Munro had observed that every (Indian) village had a school. England had few schools for the children of ordinary people till 1800. Even many of the older Grammar Schools there were in poor shape at the time. School attendance especially in the districts of the Madras presidency, even in the decayed state of the period 1822-25, was proportionately far higher than the numbers in all variety of schools in England in 1800. The conditions under which teaching took place in the Indian schools were less dingy and more natural; and it was observed, the teachers in the Indian schools were generally more dedicated and sober than in the English versions.3

Education in Ancient India: In Vedic times – from unknown antiquity to about 3000 B.C. – society was well advanced and the language was well formed. Education was given, as a rule, by the father to his son at home, on the field, or in the workshop. The arts and industries followed by the former were learned by the latter by actual doing. The various arts and industries were practised by particular families. Craftsmanship was making its appearance, yet it was not very specialised. Agriculture was the main source of income. Arithmetic was known and learned by pupils during the course of practical dealings. Education was oral. It consisted of three things – the actual world, the ideal world, and the use of one for the other. In Puranic times, various dynasties of kings ruled in different regions of India without any political cooperation among T h e

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them. There were two systems of education – in Brahmanic ashramas and gurukulas, and in Buddhist monasteries. Education was more oral than bookish, more practical than theoretical, more pragmatic than utopian. The subjects taught were: Sanskrit language and literature, ethical fiction, religious education, puranas, philosophical works, astronomy, astrology, medicine and dietetics, weather prediction, Natya Sutra, and music – vocal and instrumental. All-round development was central to the educational system. Physical exercise and military drills were also included in the curriculum. There was primary education, higher education, and adult education. Primary education consisted of reading, writing, counting, story-telling, drawing, modelling and singing. Higher education included Sanskrit lexicon and grammar, recitation of Vedic hymns, smritis, puranas and classics. There was a good deal of specialisation in various branches. The education of girls was liberal and practical. The Brahmins went for higher education, the Kshatriyas for administration and fighting, and the Vaishyas for arts and industries. Teachers were honoured for their depth of learning and purity of character. There was the diksha guru who initiated students into religious texts, and the shiksha guru who gave secular education.4 The world’s first university was established in India in Takshila in 700 B.C. The University of Nalanda, established in 400 B.C., was one of the world’s first great universities. In its heyday it is said that there were some 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers.5 Post-independence: Education for National Progress After Independence, leaders of the Indian freedom movement realised the importance

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of education in national development. They wanted it to be relevant to real life. Gandhiji, in formulating a basic educational system, sought to harmonise intellectual and manual work. After Independence in 1947, the Government of India tried to give education its due attention, acknowledging it as being vital to national progress and security. Problems of educational reconstruction were reviewed by several commissions and committees. The Government appointed the University Education Commission in 1948-49, under the chairmanship of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, to report on Indian university education and suggest improvements and extensions that might be desirable to suit present and future requirements of the nation. The report of this commission is over 700 pages long and serves as a benchmark to evaluate the present state of university education. In a passing reference to the quality of secondary education, the commission pointed out that it was the weakest link in our educational system. So the Government appointed the Secondary Education Commission in 1952-53, under the chairmanship of Dr. A. Lakshmanaswami Mudaliyar, to review the existing system and make recommendations for its reconstruction. A determined effort was made in 1964-66 by appointing an ad hoc commission, with Dr. Daulat Singh Kothari as the chairman, for a comprehensive review of the educational system and to advise the Government on a national pattern of education and on policies for its development at all stages. On the basis of the recommendation of these commissions, the Government announced the first national policy on education in 1968. Highlights of this policy document are given here, as it is considered to be a significant step in the history of education in postT h e

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Independence India. It formed a basis for subsequent policy documents and action plans. National Policy on Education, 1968 (NPE-1) (1) Free and compulsory education for all children up to the age of 14 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; plans to enroll children and to see that they complete the programme. (2) Protecting the status of teachers by creating good working conditions and paying them decent wages. Creating in-service training facilities for teachersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; education. (3) Development of Indian languages to rejuvenate the creative energies of the people for their educational and cultural development. Using local languages as media of instruction to reduce the gulf between the intellectuals and the masses. Promoting the teaching of Sanskrit, given the importance of the language. (4) Equal opportunity for education to all in rural and backward areas, for backward and tribal classes, for the physically and mentally challenged, and especially for girls. Admission on merit, free scholarships and a common system of education to promote national integration and social transformation. (5) Identification of talent at an early age and providing stimulus and opportunity for its development in diverse fields. (6) Work experience and national service to bring schools and communities closer through programmes of service and support; integrating them into the educational system to build self-help, character formation, and a sense of social commitment. (7) Emphasis on science education and research, which is needed to accelerate the growth of the national economy. Science and mathematics should be an integral part of general education till the end of secondary education.

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(8) Education for agriculture and industry. There should be least one agricultural university in each state on a single campus. It can have affiliated colleges on different campuses. The agricultural university may assist other universities in developing strong departments to study one or more aspects of agricultural science. In technical education, training in industries should be an integral part, and technical education and research should be related to industry. Educational and industrial personnel should should maintain close communication with each other. There should be continuous review of agricultural, industrial, and other technical manpower needs. Balance must be maintained between the output of educational institutions and employment opportunities. (9) Production of books. High-quality textbooks and childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s books must be produced at affordable prices and should be written by scholarly writers who should be recognised and rewarded. (10) Examinations. Examinations should be continuous. Reliability and validation should be so improved that, instead of simply measuring studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; performance at a given point of time, examinations should contain questions which teach something new. (11) Secondary education. As it is a major instrument of social change and transformation, secondary education should be extended expeditiously to areas or classes which have lacked it in the past. Technical and vocational education must be provided at this stage. (12) University education. Admission of students should be related to the assets available, such as laboratories, libraries, classrooms, and the number of teachers. Research in universities should be supported. Special attention should be paid to organising PG courses and research programmes. Centers T h e

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of advanced study which maintain the highest standards of research and training should be established. Institutions of research should function within the universities or must be closely associated with them. (13) Part-time education and correspondence courses should be developed on a large scale at the university level and should be open to secondary-school students, teachers, and agricultural and industrial workers. (14) Spreading literacy and adult education is necessary for people to participate in the workings of democratic institutions and to accelerate programmes of production, especially in agriculture. Teachers and students should be actively involved in organising literacy campaigns as part of social and national service programmes. Also, youths should be trained for self-employment. (15) Games and sports should be developed on a large scale to improve physical fitness and sportsmanship among students. There should be a national programme for providing sports facilities. (16) Education of minorities. The rights of minorities should be protected and their educational interests promoted. (17) Educational structure. The 10+2+3 pattern should be uniformly adopted in all parts of the country. The Kothari commission affirmed: â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Reconstruction of education on the lines indicated above will need additional outlay.

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Increase in investment in education to 6 per cent of national income. Education, science and research have a key role to play in developing material and human resources of the country. Hence, the Government of India, while undertaking programmes in the Central sector, will assist state governments in developing these programmes. The government will review every five years the progress made and recommend guidelines for future development.’6 National Policy on Education, 1986 modified in 1992 (NPE-2) The second NPE was drawn up in 1986 and was modified and tabled in Parliament in 1992. This policy document picked up from the first policy’s implementation end. The new thrusts in this policy were: (1) Removal of disparities and equalising educational opportunities, especially for women, scheduled castes and tribes, backward sections and areas, minorities, and the handicapped. (2) Expanding scholarships. (3) Adult education and continuing education. (4) Women’s studies and child development education. (5) Rural education programmes. (6) Informal education and prevention of school dropouts. (7) Vocational education. (8) Secondary education. (9) Higher education. (10) Technical and management education. (11) Media education.7 Impact of NPE-1 and NPE-2 Emphasis on equality of educational opportunity across all classes of society, T h e

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and the relationship between education and development, have been the backbone of both national policies. NPE-1 envisaged a common educational structure (10+2+3), which has been accepted across the country. It advocated the use of mother tongues as the medium of instruction in the early school years, and the strengthening of research in the university system. NPE-2 focused on the role of information technology in education. It paid more attention to restructuring teacher education, early childhood care, women’s empowerment, and adult literacy. NPE-2 was better implemented than NPE-1. In NPE-1, the programme of action was not properly planned, and its implementation was hamstrung by shortage of funds. 8 However, due to the impact of NPE-1, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) was established in 1961, and five Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT’s) were established in the 1960’s. There were as many as 15 committees on technical education in India between 1945 and 2011.9 National Policy on Technical Education and Information & Communication Technology (ICT) The National Policy on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) was published in 2012 by the Ministry of HRD. The initiative ICT Policy in School Education was inspired by the potential of ICT for enhancing outreach and improving the quality of education. This policy endeavours to provide guidelines to assist the states in optimising the use of ICT in school education. The ICT policy aims at preparing youths to participate creatively in the establishment, sustenance, and growth of a knowledge society for allround economic development of the nation and global competitiveness.10

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New National Policy on Education (NPE-3) The latest committee on education, with T.S.R. Subramaniyan as its chairman, submitted its report on 27 May 2016 in two volumes. The first, with 230 pages, contained 95 recommendations. The second had 124 pages of annexures listing the institutions and individuals consulted. Both the volumes are now in the public domain. The committee has identified and addressed seven key challenges: (1) Access to and participation in education. (2) Quality of the education imparted. (3) Equity in education. (4) System efficiency. (5) Governance and management. (6) Research and development. (7) Financial commitment to educational development. The top ten recommendations of the committee are: (1) An Indian education service should be established. (2) The outlay on education to be raised to at least 6% GDP. (3) Eligibility for entry to B.Ed. course should be minimum 50% marks at graduate level, and a/the Teacher Entrance Test should be made compulsory for the recruitment of all teachers. (4) Licensing or certification for teachers in government and private schools should be mandatory. (5) Pre-school education for children in the age group of 4 to 5 years should be declared as a right. (6) The ‘no detention policy’ must be continued until completion of class V. (7) On-demand board examinations should be introduced. A national level test open to every student who has completed T h e

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class XII from any school board should be designed. (8) The mid-day meal scheme should be extended to cover students of secondary schools. (9) The UGC Act must be allowed to lapse once a separate law has been created for the management of higher education. (10) The top 200 foreign universities worldwide should be allowed to open campuses in India and give the same degree which is acceptable in the home country of the said university. The Government invited suggestions on this draft of the national education policy till September 30, 2016. Conclusion In India, after Independence, around 100 commissions and committees on education were formed. Policy serves as a framework, a broad direction, for the development of education in the country. It shows where we are and where we wish to reach – reality and aspiration – in education. The vision statements in the national policies also indicate the problems the Government was facing regarding education at the time of policy-making. Probably the biggest problems the Government realised soon after Independence were those of illiteracy and inequality in educational opportunities. The nation still grapples with the problem of illiteracy and lack of education among the masses. Our university education looks like mass education, and research most often lacks independent thinking. It is observed that Indian education lacks Indian-ness. The cultural and spiritual ideas of India can help mankind in moving towards a sustainable, equitable, peaceful, and happy world. But these unique treasures of India find no place in its education system! We are

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great consumers, not producers, of technology! More than hundred years ago Swami Vivekananda analysed the problem of backwardness in India and proclaimed that education and education alone was the solution to all our problems. But this education, he said, should be a harmonious blend of traditional thinking and modern scientific

research. He declared, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;What we want are Western science coupled with Vedanta, Brahmacharya as the guiding motto, and also Shraddha and faith in oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own self.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;11 He showed us the ways and means of educating our masses. His message resonates in the thinking of all thinkers on education after his time the world over.

II

References 1.

2.

3. 4. 5.

6. 7.

â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Science and Human Values in Modern Indiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, Eternal Values for A Changing Society, Swami Ranganathananda, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay, 1995, Vol. 3, p. 609-610 The Beautiful Tree: Indigenous Indian Education in the Eighteenth Century, Dharampal, Other India Press, Goa, 2000, Vol.3, p.6 Ibid, p. 18-20 The History of Education in India, Part I (Aryan Period), Bokil, V.P., 1925, p 221-252 Some Inputs for Draft National Education Policy, 2016, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. p.3 National policy on education, 1968 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; MHRD: mhrd. gov.in/NPE-1968.pdf. National policy on education, 1986 (As Modified

in 1992) â&#x20AC;&#x201C; MHRD, mhrd.gov.in/NPE 86 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; mod 92.pdf. 8. Simply Put: How Indiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s National Education Policy Evolved Over the Years, Ritika Chopra, Indian Experess, June 23, 2016, Indian Express.com 9. Commissions & Committees on Technical Education in Independent India: An Appraisal, Saha, S.K. and Ghosh, S. Indian Journal of History of Science, (2012), 47, pp. 109-138. 10. National Policy on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in School Education (2012), Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of HRD, Government of India. 11. The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata, Mayavati Memorial Edition, Vol. 5, p.366

Brahmaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Advice: â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Da, Da, Daâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Brahma, once instructed Devas, men and Asuras. He rendered the same advice, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Da, Da, Da,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; to all of them. The Devas, as a rule, are given to enjoyment of sense objects. Hence, they thought that Brahma wanted them to practice self-control. That is, they LQWHUSUHWHGÂľ'DÂśDVFRQQRWLQJÂľ'DP\DWDÂś FRQWURO\RXUVHOYHV +XPDQEHLQJVDUHVHOÂżVK by nature and hoard wealth for future use. They comprehended the word â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Daâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; to mean â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Dattaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; (perform charity). Asuras are cruel by nature. So they understood the utterance â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Daâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; to mean â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Dayadhvamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; (be compassionate). In his commentary on this story which appears in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Sri 6DQNDUDFKDU\DFODULÂżHVWKDWWKHVWRU\GRHVQRWQHFHVVDULO\UHIHUWRGHYDVPHQDQGDVXUDV considered separately. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Devasâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; here refers to people who have a predominantly sattvic nature but are tainted by tendencies of enjoyment and conceit. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Asurasâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; are hard-hearted SHRSOHZLWKDQLPDOLVWLFÂżHUFHLQVWLQFWV7KHUHIRUHPHQDQGZRPHQVKRXOGFXOWLYDWHVHQVH control, charity and compassion.

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Article

Holistic Education COMPILED FROM THE COMPLETE WORKS OF SWAMI VIVEKANANDA

What is Education Education is not the amount of information that is put into your brain and runs riot there, undigested all your life. We must have life-building, man-making, character-making, assimilation of ideas. If you have assimilated five ideas and made them your life and character, you have more education than any man who has got by heart a whole library. If education were identical with information, the libraries would be the greatest sages in the world and encyclopaedias the rishis. The end of all education, all training, should be man-making. The end and aim of all training is to make the man grow. The training by which the current and expression of will are brought under control and become fruitful, is called education. What our country now wants are muscles of iron and nerves of steel, gigantic wills which nothing can resist, which can penetrate into the mysteries and secrets of the universe and will accomplish their purpose in any fashion, even if it meant going down to the bottom of the ocean, meeting death face to face. It is man-making religion that we want. It is man-making theories that we want. It is man-making education all round that we want. All knowledge therefore, secular or spiritual, is in the human mind. In many cases it is not discovered, but remains covered, and when the covering is being slowly taken off, we say ‘we are learning’, and the advance of knowledge is made by the advance of this

process of uncovering. The man from whom this veil is being lifted is the more knowing man; the man upon whom it lies thick is

ignorant; and the man from whom it has entirely gone is all-knowing, omniscient. Like fire in a piece of flint, knowledge exists in the mind; suggestion is the friction which brings it out. All knowledge and all power are within. What we call powers, secrets of Nature, and force are all within. How to Learn There is only one method by which to attain knowledge, that which is called concentration. The very essence of education is concentration of mind. From the lowest man to the highest yogi, all have to use the same method to attain knowledge. The chemist

— a Monastic Sojourner T h e

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who works in his laboratory concentrates all the powers of his mind, brings them into one focus, and throws them on the elements; the elements stand analysed, and thus his knowledge comes. The astronomer concentrates the powers of his mind and brings them into one focus; and he throws them on to objects through his telescope; and stars and systems roll forward and give up their secrets to him. So it is in every case: with the professor in his chair, the student with his book, with every man who is working to know. The more the power of concentration, the greater the knowledge that is acquired. Even the lowest shoeblack, if he gives more concentration, will black shoes better. The cook with concentration will cook a meal all the better. In making money, or in worshipping God, or in doing anything, the stronger the power of concentration, the better will that thing be done. This is the one call, the one knock, which opens the gates of Nature, and lets out floods of light. The power of concentration is the only key to the treasure-house of knowledge. In the present state of our body we are much distracted, and the mind is frittering away its energies upon a hundred things. To me the very essence of education is concentration of mind, not the collection of facts. If I had to do my education once again, I would not study facts at all. I would develop the power of concentration and detachment, and then with a perfect instrument, collect facts at will. Positive Thoughts Make a Great Character I beg you to understand this one fact, no good comes out of the man who day and night thinks he is nobody. If a man day and night thinks that he is miserable, low and nothing, T h e

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nothing he becomes. If you say ‘I am, I am’, so shall you be. That is the great fact you ought to remember. We are children of the Almighty, we are sparks of the infinite, divine fire. How can we be nothings? We are everything, ready to do everything; we can do everything. The character of any man is but the aggregate of his tendencies, the sum total of the bent of his mind. As pleasure and pain pass before his soul, they leave upon it different pictures, and the result of these combined impressions is what is called a man’s character. We are what our thoughts have made us. Each thought is a little hammer blow on the lumps of iron which our bodies are, manufacturing out of it what we want it to be. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far. And so take care of what you think. If a man thinks good thoughts and does good work, the sum total of these impressions will be good and they in a similar manner will force him to do good in spite of himself. When a man has done so much good work and thought so many good thoughts, there is an irresistible tendency in him to do good. Even if he wishes to do evil, his mind, as the sum total of his tendencies, will not allow him to do so. He is completely under the influence of the good tendencies. When such is the case, a man’s good character is said to be established. If you really want to judge the character of a man, look not at his great performances. Watch a man do his most common actions; those are indeed the things which will tell you the real character of the great man. Great occasions rouse even the lowest of human beings to some kind of greatness, but he alone is really great whose character is great always—the same wherever he be. When a large number of these impressions is left on the mind, they coalesce and become a habit. It is said, ‘Habit is second

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nature.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; It is first nature also and the whole nature of man. Everything that we are is the result of habit.... That gives us consolation because, if it is only habit, we can make it and unmake it at any time. The only remedy for bad habits is counter habits. All the bad habits can be controlled by good habits. Go on doing good, thinking holy thoughts continuously. That is the only way to suppress base impressions. Never say any man is hopeless, because he only represents a character, a bundle of habits, which can be checked by new and better ones. Character is repeated habits and repeated habits alone can reform character. How to Face Life We commit mistakes because we are weak, and we are weak because we are ignorant. Who makes us ignorant? We ourselves. We put our hands over our eyes and weep that it is dark. Take the hands away and there is light. The light exists always for us, the self-effulgent nature of the human soul. Do you not hear what modern scientific men say? What is the cause of evolution? Desire. The animal wants to do something but does not find the environment favourable, and therefore develops a new body. Who develops it? The animal itself: its will. Continue to exercise your will and it will take you higher. The will is almighty. If it is almighty, you may say: why cannot I do everything? But you are thinking only of your little self. Look back on yourself from the state of the amoeba to the human being; who made all that? Your own will. Can you deny that it is almighty? That which has made you come up so high, can make you go higher still. What you want is character, strengthening of the will. Physical weakness is the cause of at least one-third of our miseries. We are lazy; we cannot combine. We speak of many things T h e

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parrot-like but never do them. Speaking and not doing has become a habit with us. What is the cause? Physical weakness. This sort of weak brain is not able to do anything. We must strengthen it. First of all our young men must be strong. Religion will come afterwards. Be strong, my young friends, that is my advice to you. You will be nearer to Heaven through football than through the study of the Gita. You will understand Gita better with your biceps, your muscles, a little stronger. You will understand the mighty genius and the mighty strength of Krishna better with a little strong blood in you. You will understand the Upanishads better and the glory of the Atman, when your body stands firm on your feet and you feel yourselves as men. The ideal of all education, all training, should be this man-making. But, instead of that, we are always trying to polish up the outside. What use polishing up the outside when there is no inside? The end and aim of all training is to make the man grow. The man who influences, who throws his magic, as it were, upon his fellow-beings, is a dynamo of power, and when that man is ready, he can do anything and everything he likes: that personality put upon anything will make it work. We also know that the greatest power is lodged in the fine, not in the coarse. We see a man take up a huge weight, we see his muscles swell, and all over his body we see signs of exertion, and we think the muscles are powerful things. But it is the thin thread-like things, the nerves, which bring power to the muscles; the moment one of these threads is cut off from reaching the muscles, they are not able to work at all. These tiny nerves bring the power from something finer stillâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;thought, and so on. So, it is the fine that is really the seat of power. Of course we can see the movements in the gross; but when fine movements take

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place, we cannot see them. When a gross thing moves, we catch it, and thus we naturally identify movement with things which are gross. But all the power is really in the fine. We do not see any movement in the fine, perhaps because the movement is so intense that we cannot perceive it. But if by any science, any investigation, we are helped to get hold of these finer forces which are the cause of the expression, the expression itself will be under control. There is a little bubble coming from the bottom of a lake; we do not see it coming all the time, we see it only when it bursts on the surface; so, we can perceive thoughts only after they develop a great deal, or after they become actions. We constantly complain that we have no control over our actions, over our thoughts. But how can we have it? If we can get control over the fine movements, if we can get hold of thought at the root, before it has become thought, before it has become action, then it would be possible for us to control the whole. Now, if there is a method by which we can analyse, investigate, understand and finally grapple with those finer powers, the finer causes, then alone is it possible to have control over ourselves, and the man who has control over his own mind assuredly will have control over every other mind. That is why purity and morality have been always the object of religion; a pure, moral man has control of himself. And all minds are the same, different parts of one Mind. He who knows one lump of clay has known all the clay in the universe. He who knows and controls his own mind knows the secret of every mind and has power over every mind. Place of Religion in Education Religion is the innermost core of education. I do not mean my own or any one elseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s opinion about religion. The true T h e

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eternal principles have to be held before the people. The old religions said that he was an atheist who did not believe in God. The new religion says that he is the atheist who does not believe in himself. But it is not selfish faith. It means faith in all because you are all. Love for yourself means love for all, love for animals, love for everything, for you are all one. It is the great faith which will make the world better. The ideal of faith in ourselves is of the greatest help to us. If faith in ourselves had been more extensively taught and practised, I am sure a very large portion of the evils and miseries that we have would have vanished. Throughout the history of mankind if any motive power has been more potent than another in the lives of great men and women, it is that faith in themselves. Born with the consciousness that they were to be great, they became great. Infinite strength is religion. Strength is goodness, weakness is sin. All sins and all evil can be summed up in that one word: weakness. It is weakness that is the motive power in all evil-doing. It is weakness that is the source of all selfishness. It is weakness that makes man injure others. But no scriptures can make us religious. We may study all the books that are in the world, yet we may not understand a word of religion or of God. We may talk and reason all our lives, but we shall not understand a word of truth until we experience it ourselves. You cannot hope to make a man a surgeon by simply giving him a few books. You cannot satisfy my curiosity to see a country by showing me a map. Maps can only create curiosity in us to get more perfect knowledge. Beyond that they have no value whatever. Temples and churches, books and forms are simply the kindergarten of religion, to make the spiritual child strong enough to take the

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higher steps. Religion is not in doctrines or dogmas, nor in intellectual argumentation. It is being and becoming. It is realisation. We may be the most intellectual people the world ever saw and yet we may not come to God at all. On the other hand, irreligious men have been produced from the most intellectual training. It is one of the evils of western civilization—intellectual education alone without taking care of the heart. It only makes men ten times more selfish. When there is conflict between the heart and the brain, let the heart be followed. It is the heart which takes one to the highest plane, which intellect can never reach. It goes beyond the intellect and reaches what is called inspiration. Always cultivate the heart. Through the heart the Lord speaks. How to Avoid Failure Our great defect in life is that we are so much drawn to the ideal, the goal is so much more enchanting, so much more alluring, so much bigger in our mental horizon, that we lose sight of the details altogether. But whenever failure comes, if we analyse it critically, in ninety-nine per cent of cases we shall find that it was because we did not pay attention to the means. Proper attention to the finishing, strengthening, of the means, is what we need. With the means all right, the end must come. We forget that it is the cause that produces the effect; the effect cannot come by itself; and unless the causes are exact, proper and powerful, the effect will not be produced. Once the ideal is chosen and the means determined, we may almost let go the ideal, because we are sure it will be there, when the means are perfected. When the cause is there, there is no more difficulty about the effect, the effect is bound to come. If we take care of the cause, the effect will take T h e

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care of itself. The realisation of the ideal is the effect. The means are the cause: attention to the means, therefore, is the great secret of life. That man alone will be able to get the best of nature, who having the power of attaching himself to a thing with all his energy, has also the power to detach himself when he should do so. The difficulty is that there must be as much power of attachment as that of detachment. There are men who are never attracted by anything. They can never love, they are hard-hearted and apathetic; they escape most of the miseries of life. But the wall never feels misery, the wall never loves, is never hurt; but it is the wall, after all. Surely it is better to be attached and caught, than to be a wall. Therefore the man who never loves, who is hard and stony, escaping most of the miseries of life, escapes also its joys. We do not want that. That is weakness, that is death. That soul has not been weakened that never feels weakness, never feels misery. That is a callous state. We do not want that. At the same time, we not only want this mighty power of love, this mighty power of attachment, the power of throwing our whole soul upon a single object, losing ourselves and letting ourselves be annihilated, as it were, for other souls—which is the power of the gods— but we want to be higher even than gods. The perfect man can put his whole soul upon that one point of love, yet he is unattached. How comes this? There is another secret to learn. Education for Life We are all the time, from our childhood, trying to lay the blame upon something outside ourselves. We are always standing up to set right other people, and not ourselves. If we are miserable, we say, ‘Oh, the world is a devil’s world.’ But why should we be in such a world, if we really are so good? If this is a

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devilâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s world, we must be devils also, why else, should we be here? â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Oh, the people of the world are so selfish!â&#x20AC;&#x2122; True enough; but why should we be found in that company, if we be better? Just think of that! We only get what we deserve. It is a lie when we say, the world is bad and we are good. It can never be so. It is a terrible lie we tell ourselves. This is the first lesson to learn: be determined not to curse anything outside, not to lay the blame upon any one outside, but

be a man, stand up, lay the blame on yourself. You will find that is always true. Get hold of yourself. We are to take care of ourselvesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;that much we can doâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and give up attending to others, for a time. Let us perfect the means; the end will take care of itself. For the world can be good and pure, only if our lives are good and pure. It is an effect, and we are the means. Therefore, let us purify ourselves. Let us make ourselves perfect.

One winter Swami Vivekananda went to Deoghar with a brother disciple and stayed as the guest of a gentleman. One day while taking a walk he saw a man lying helpless by the side of the road writhing in pain. Swamiji moved closer to the man and found he was suffering from acute dysentery. He felt the man needed immediate medical WUHDWPHQWEXWÂżUVWKHPXVWEHPRYHGIURPWKHURDGVLGH+HKHVLWDWHG to take him to the hostâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s house. But then determined to help, he brought the poor man to the hostâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s house. He placed the patient on a bed, cleaned him thoroughly, clothed him and began to apply hot fomentations. As a result, the man soon recovered. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Ramakrishna As We Saw Him, p. 86 A Vaishnava Pandit spoke to the Swami in Sanskrit and raised some knotty point in the Vedanta for discussion. The Swami patiently heard the Pandit, but then began addressing the audience in English. He said he did not care to waste his time in mere fruitless wranglings on doctrinal details which had no practical value in life. The Pandit then asked the Swami to tell him in precise language whether he was an Advaitin or a Dvaitin. The Swami replied again, in English and in a tone and voice still ringing in my ears, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Tell the Pandit that, so long as I have this body, I am a Dvaitin, but not afterwards. This incarnation of mine is to help to put an end to these useless and mischievous squabbles and puzzles which only serve to distract the mind and make men weary of life and even turn them into sceptics and atheists.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; The Pandit then said in Tamil, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;The Swami's statement is really an avowal that he is an Advaitin.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; The Swami rejoined, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Let it be so.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; The matter then dropped. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Reminiscences of Swami Vivekananda, p.91-92

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Article

Pancha Shila of Education SWAMI JAGADATMANANDA

The chief purpose of education is to acquire/impart knowledge and skills and make them fruitful in life for one’s own welfare and the welfare of other people. For the attainment of this purpose five minimum principles known as Pancha-Sila are to be followed. 1. Jijnasa or desire to know The desire to exist, the desire to know and the desire to enjoy are the three basic desires of a human being. Of these, it is the desire to know that governs the other two desires. Hence the proper cultivation of the desire to know occupies a primary place in education. By jijnasa is meant not mere curiosity but (a) Love of knowledge for its own sake and (b) Longing to know the ultimate truth. 2. Sraddha or Faith By faith is meant not mere belief but ‘trust’ in the following : (a) In one’s higher self (Atman) and in one’s own potentialities. (b) In God. (c) In Dharma or moral order in the universe (that virtue will ultimately triumph).

3. Sakti or Strength By strength is meant not brute strength or strength to fight and destroy but— (a) Physical strength to discharge one’s duties properly. (b) Mental strength to bear adversities (which are unavoidable) in life. (c) Strength of will to exercise self-control (samyama) in all forms of enjoyment. (d) Capacity for one-pointed application or perseverance in any form of work under-taken (including higher meditation). 4. Niti or Morality This includes : (a) Personal moral principles such as truthfulness, chastity, non-violence. (b) Social moral principles such as respect for elders, respect for women, dignity of labour, non-exploitation etc. and (c) Collective moral principles such as patriotism, harmony of religions and international understanding. 5. Seva or service Service should not be restricted to some special kinds of activities but should become a ‘way of life’, that is a basic attitude towards social life. Service as a way of life includes at least four special forms of service: (a) Service to one’s parents.

The author is a senior monk of the Ramakrishna Order, and lives in Sri Ramakrishna Sharadashrama Ponnampet, Coorg. T h e

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(b) Service to holy men and teachers. (c) Service to the poor and the sick, and

(d) Service to humanity through the work one does.

Note: All these five principles known as Pancha-Sila are to be understood in the light of Swami Vivekanandaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s concept of education as the manifestation of the perfection already in man. The Holy Mother was at Jayrambati. She was over 60 and not well. It was the dead of the night, about one-thirty. My sleep broke and I saw a light in the courtyard from my room. Out of curiosity I came out and saw someone doing something with the help of a kerosene lantern. I went down and saw the Mother digging with a spud [spade] and picking up broken pieces of earthen vessels and bricks and putting them in a basket. Dumbfounded, I asked, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Mother, what are you doing?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Embarrassed, she replied, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I am cleaning this courtyard by picking up these broken chips.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Why are you doing this?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;My son, speak softly; otherwise othersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; sleep will be broken.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Then she said in low voice: â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;You see, my son, some children have come from Calcutta. They live in the city and donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have the habit of walking barefoot. Here people walk barefoot. Today someoneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s foot was cut. So I am cleaning up these broken chips so that they will not get hurt.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; I said: â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Mother, we can do this work. Why are you doing such a thing and giving up your sleep?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Yes, my son, I know you can do it. But you are tired from doing so much work in the household the whole day, so you need sleep. I have no work. So when you went to sleep, I came to clean the courtyard.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; I said: â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;All right, now you can give me the spud [spade] and I shall clean the courtyard. You go to your room and sleep.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Mother said with a gentle tone: â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;My son, I shall do it because I am the Mother. A mother does many things for her children. I do very little for \RXDOO0\VRQ\RXJRDQGVOHHS,KDYHDOPRVWÂżQLVKHG²RQO\ a little is left.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; I could not say anything more. Tears trickled from my eyes. I thought: This is why she is the Mother of all. Without sleep she is not only cleaning the courtyard, she is also clearing the obstacles of her children from the path of their journey and she will continue doing so.

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Pearls of Wisdom - 1

I will initiate you into learning because you have not deviated from truth. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Chandogya Upanishad

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Pearls of Wisdom - 2 But higher than reading is hearing, and even higher than hearing is seeing or realising. The hearing of the truth from the lips of the preceptor makes a greater impression on the mind than the mere reading of books; â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Sri Ramakrishna

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Pearls of Wisdom - 3 Listen, L isten,, one shou should uld m mix ixx w with ith cchildren hildren iin n a vvery ery simple m anner and ta alk ffreely reelyy w ith tthem. hem m. T hey sshould hould be allowed manner talk with They to play play with h children ch hild dren of of same same age. age. If If they they are scolded and beaten much mu uch theyy will will shrink shrink with with fear fear and and maintain a They will understand they distance. The ey w ill eeasily asily u ndersttand if th hey aare re instructed Their questioning nature should with ith love. love l e. T heir que estioning n ature shou h ulld d nott be be suppressed. . . . They will willl bee afraid afraid d to to askk anything anythingg iff they th hey are scolded and frightened. frigghten ned. The Thee natural nattural growth grow wth of of their their mind d will will be be hampered. hampered. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Holy â&#x20AC;&#x201D;H Holly Mother Mother Sri Sri Sarada Sarad da Devi Devi

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Pearls of Wisdom - 4 Karma in its effect on character is the most tremendous power that man has to deal with. Man is, as it were, a centre, and is attracting all the powers of the universe towards himself, and in this centre is fusing them all and again sending them off in a big current. Such a centre is the real man - the almighty, the omniscient - and he draws the whole universe towards him. Good and bad, misery and happiness, all are running towards him and clinging round him; and out of them he fashions the mighty stream of tendency called character and throws it outwards â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Swami Vivekananda

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Pearls of Wisdom - 5 If education means expansion of mind by knowledge, can we call that education which, instead of expanding, narrows and confines the individual to this precarious and transient duration which goes by the name of human life. True education consists in the sacrifice of vanity and the manifestation of the God within. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Swami Ramakrishnananda Swami Ramakrishnananda Mandapam, Mylapore, Chennai

IIff eeducation ducation means means expansion expansion of of mind mind b byy kknowledge, nowledge, ccan an we we ccall all that that education education which, which, instead instead of of expanding, expanding, narrows narrows and and cconfines onfi fin nes tthe he iindividual ndividual tto o tthis his p precarious recarious aand nd ttransient ransient duration duration which which goes goes by by the the name name of of human human life life --- The The C Complete omplete Works Works o off SSwami wami R Ramakrishnananda, amakrishnananda, V Vol.3, ol.3, p p.. 3380 80

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Pearls of Wisdom - 6 There is one way, and one way only. It is, throughout the early years of education, to remember that there is nothing so important as the training of the feelings. To feel nobly, and to choose loftily and honestly, is a thousand fold more important to the development of faculty than any other single aspect of the educational process. The lad in whom this power is really present and really dominant, will always do the best thing possible under any given circumstances. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Sister Nivedita

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Pearls of Wisdom - 7 The end of all education should surely be service, and if a student gets an opportunity of rendering service even whilst he is studying, he should consider it as a rare opportunity and treat it not really as a suspension of his education but rather its complement. —Mahatma Gandhi The fundamental purpose of education is not merely to enrich ourselves through the fullness of knowledge, but also to establish the bond of love and friendship between man and man. —Rabindranath Tagore That alone will be a true and living education which helps to bring out to full advantage, makes ready for the full purpose and scope of human life all that is in the individual man, and which at the same time helps him to enter into his right relation with … the people to which he belongs and with that great total life … of humanity of which he himself is a unit and his people or nation a living, a separate and yet inseparable member. It is by considering, the whole question in the light of this large and entire principle that we can best arrive at a clear idea of what we would have our education to be and what we shall strive to accomplish by a national education. —Aurobindo Ghosh T h e

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VIDYA

CARE & SHARE

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Article

A Flourishing Boon SWAMI SATYAJNANANANDA

‘Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man,’ said Swami Vivekananda. This involves the discovery by each individual of his or her innate potential. We can further say, elaborating Swamiji’s ideas, that education: (1) should build character. (2) should create a society of men and women endowed with physical, intellectual, and moral strength. (3) should be a combination of the wisdom of the East and the scientific and technological advances of the West. (4) should enable students at the end of their educational career to stand on their own feet. The Ramakrishna Mission Students’ Home, Chennai, tries to actualise each of these ideals while serving orphan and poor students with free education, food, and accommodation. It has three free educational institutions: a residential high school, a residential polytechnic college, and a primary day school, all serving over 670 students. The Students’ Home was started in 1905 by Swami Ramakrishnanandaji. Swami Brahmanandaji, a direct disciple and the spiritual son of Sri Ramakrishna, inaugurated it on 10 May 1921, Akshaya Tritiya day. Initially the purpose was to provide free board and lodging for destitute and orphan boys and enroll them in a nearby school. Later, for a fuller realisation of the

gurukula ideal, a residential high school was started in 1922. But to help boys who could not complete their matriculation, workshop practices, such as a smithy and a foundry, were introduced in 1925. In 1932 these became a technical institute imparting a diploma course in automobile engineering. Following a government directive, in 1958 this course was changed into a three-year diploma course in mechanical engineering. In 2005, to commemorate the centenary of the Students’ Home, and to serve a greater number of orphan and destitute boys, two new courses were started, offering diplomas in automobile and computer engineering. The Students’ Home combines the ancient gurukula system of Vedic culture with western applied sciences. Under the supervision of the monks of the Ramakrishna Order and dedicated teachers, the Home inculcates character-building and man-making education in its students. Formation of Character Character is the aggregate of a person’s tendencies, the sum total of the bent of his or her mind. We are what our thoughts have made us. Education should therefore aim at sublimating the evil tendencies in our minds. Swami Vivekananda said: ‘We want that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, intellect is expanded, and by which one

The author is a sannyasi of the Ramakrishna Order, and Secretary, Ramakrishna Mission Students’ Home, Chennai. T h e

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ca n st can stan stand and d on one’ one’s ’s o own wn ffeet.’ eet.’’ Education ee must mu st b uild ui ld character cha haraact cter er and and manifest man a if ifee our real build nature. From 4.30 a.m., when they wake up, till 10 p.m., when they go to bed, the boys in the Students’ Home are engaged in a well-regulated set of activities. Besides their regular upkeep, such as bathing and washing clothes, the routine consists of timely meals, study, religious classes, prayer, gardening, play, etc. Every morning and evening, the boys participate in prayers, bhajans, and Vedic and Bhagavad Gita chanting. They are looked after by monastic wardens and ward masters. Teachers too live in the residential quarters adjoining the Home and participate in the activities of the Home, thus setting a pattern for the gurukula system of education. Development of Personality The practical aspects of life must not be ignored in any scheme of education. Only then will it be possible to make the individual independent and the country prosperous. Swami Vivekananda insisted that it would not do to merely preach or listen to great ideas. They always had to be applied in the practical field. Almost all the activities of the Home—like cleaning, washing, upkeep of the surroundings, serving of food in the dining halls, maintenance of the gardens, management of the stores, maintenance of electrical installations, computers and water pumps, and library management—are carried out by the boys under the overall supervision of the wardens and teachers. This helps the boys to develop respect for manual work, and it inculcates a sense of brotherhood among them. T h e

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The Ideal of Service Swamiji called upon the youth to serve their fellow human beings, especially the poor, the miserable, the ignorant, and the downtrodden. As such, the students of the Home are trained not only to take care of themselves, but also to look after the welfare of people around them. In the early days of the Home, there were frequent fire accidents in the numerous huts surrounding the campus. On such occasions, under the leadership of the teachers, the boys would rush with buckets of water in hand to quench the fire. This habit of help during drought, fire, and flood disasters has become part of the Home’s culture. During the 2015 Chennai floods, teams of students and staff rendered remarkable service to the affected people. With the guidance of monks and teachers, students cooked food day and night, prepared meal packages, and distributed them in the flood-affected areas. This ideal of service to humanity follows Swami Vivekananda’s dictum, ‘Service to man is service to God.’ Active Learning Learning through activity should be the guiding principle of any scheme of education. The Students’ Home gives opportunities for activities like music, dance, and drama. Interschool and inter-collegiate competitions are also conducted. Every day, boys participate in physical exercises and yoga classes between 4.30 a.m. and 5 a.m. In the evening they play sports and games. There is also a gymnasium and indoor-games room. The Home has wellequipped libraries with books on various subjects suited to different age groups. The

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Home has a serene ambience where the inmates are cheerful and the surroundings clean. The Home has received the highest Platinum award from the Indian Green Building Council. The Alumni Since its inception, the Home has touched the lives of thousands of students and their relatives. Most of the students have achieved self-fulfillment both materially and in the finer graces. Insofar as they feel and declare that their stay in the Home was not only happy, but also one that shaped their attitudes for the betterment of their lives, the Home considers its efforts to have been amply rewarded. Helped by the Home at a crucial stage in their lives, and by the dint of their efforts, the alumni have not only advanced in life, but have also, in the spirit of social service learned at the Home, selflessly helped others. We have among our alumni a galaxy of eminent men who include internationally renowned professors, scientists, defence officers, philosophers, senior administrators, engineers, technicians, and also monks of the Ramakrishna Order. Recognising their honesty and devotion to duty as well as their technical expertise,

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many important companies all over India have recruited our students of mechanical, automobile, and computer engineering. Students of the Home later even receive preference in any selection for admission or appointment in service. According to Swami Vivekananda, a nationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s greatness is measured not only by its parliamentary institutions and activities, but also by the greatness of its citizens. But the greatness of citizens is possible only through their moral and spiritual development, which education should foster. While inaugurating the institution in 1905, Swami Ramakrishnanandaji Maharaj said that there are three important charities to be observed by man: Annadanam or offering food, Vidyadanam or giving education, and Jnanadanam or imparting spiritual knowledge. The Studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Home in its long life of more than 110 years has been providing all these three charities effectively till the present time. The supreme need of the hour is to counteract emotional, moral, and cultural decay. Only a good system of education can bring about a healthy political and social life. This is what Swami Vivekananda stands for, and his message is for all time.

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Article

Landscape of Quality Education DR. R. MYTHILI

tāmagnivarṇāṁ tapasā jvalantīṁ vairocanīṁ karmaphaleṣu juṣṭām durgāṁ devīṁ śaraṇamahaṁ prapadye sutarasi tarase namaḥ1 In this article we will discuss the salient aspects of the curriculum we are using at Sri Ramakrishna Vidya Kendra (SRVK), drawing from Swami Vivekananda’s philosophy. The pedagogic implications of Swamiji’s vision on education will be the basis for a critical look at the school practices. As Swami Bhajanananda says, ‘Swamiji’s ideas lie scattered like nuggets of gold in this vast and varied Complete Works. A lot of intense research and experiment is needed in order to convert these ideas into a powerful philosophy for socioeconomic change.’2 We are but at the very beginning of this research, and our experiment is indeed at a minuscule level. Context Sri Ramakrishna Vidya Kendra, Shivanahalli, was started in 1985 under the aegis of the Ramakrishna Mission, Bangalore. The school is located around thirty kilometres from Bangalore, and is surrounded by Bannerghatta National Park. Adjoining the school are over eighty acres of forested land, developed by

the Mission. The school runs classes from Nursery to Class 7, catering to children from Shivanahalli and its neighbouring villages and hamlets. The guardians of these students are mostly farm labourers and quarry workers. Many children, especially in middle school, are first-generation schoolgoers. In the lower classes there are some children whose parents are alumni of SRVK but discontinued their schooling at class 7. The school provides breakfast and mid-day meals to the students and supplies one uniform and all the necessary books and stationery. A major curriculum revamping exercise was taken up in 2008-09, after studying the then-existing curriculum and its implementation for two years. Subsequently, together with SRVK teachers, a number of resource persons in the field were consulted to renew the curriculum. The National Curriculum Framework, NCF 2005, 3 was the basis of the renewal. To provide education to the rural children comparable to international standards, documents such as the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (1993) Benchmarks for Science Literacy were also used. An attempt was made to integrate values into the curriculum. In order to overcome excessive dependence on textbooks by teachers, workbooks were developed for children. Systemic evaluation of the school was taken up. The Quality Council of India 4 certified the school processes. SRVK was

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the first and so far the only rural school in the entire country to get this certificate. Internal reflections and periodic observations indicated that much more had to be done to better align curricular intent with teachinglearning practices. The children’s learning levels, as revealed by external assessments and outgoing students’ performance in high schools, were also a cause for concern. To address this, a rigorous early-literacy and -numeracy programme was started three years ago. Young teachers who had just completed their Diploma in Education programme were recruited and provided with an intense orientation programme to understand the pedagogical practices expected of them at SRVK. Subsequently, discussions and reflections on Swami Vivekananda’s ideas, the NCF 2005, and related write-ups have been held on an ongoing basis over the past three years. This article discusses the efforts taken up since 2013. Philosophical Underpinnings and Pedagogical Implications Any school’s curriculum and practices emerge from a certain understanding and beliefs about children and the processes of learning, knowledge, and knowing. Ours is based on the following: 1. Learning Requirement: A broad landscape rather than narrow pathways. 2. Making meaning: Primary importance in learning. 3. Values in thought, action, and feeling. 4. Work: An important component of education. Learning Requirement: A broad landscape rather than narrow pathways. T h e

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Learning requires creation of a broad landscape rather than narrow pathways. Swami Bhajanananda provides the concept of Reality Orientation5 in his enumeration of Swami Vivekananda’s vision of education and differentiates between empirical and transcendent reality. In the context of empirical reality, the current understanding of the processes of teaching-learning indicates that they resemble a landscape with goalposts marked to signify ‘big ideas.’6 Sri Ramakrishna has shown that the conception of landscapes can be used for transcendent reality as well. In his inimitable style he says, ‘God can be realised through all paths. The important thing is to reach the roof. You can reach it through stone stairs or wooden stairs or by bamboo steps or by a rope. You can also climb up by a bamboo pole.’7 The current idea of charting out a narrow pathway for all children must be altered to this richer conception of a landscape that allows children to explore a given subject in different ways. This kind of exploration is essential, especially in the initial stages of schooling, if all children are to learn meaningfully. More importantly, learning a subject means learning the methods of enquiry that are used to generate knowledge in that discipline, alongside understanding the key concepts and ideas and rules that form its foundational knowledge. The narrow path may appeal to some, but risks allowing many others to fall by the wayside. In a different context, Swamiji said: ‘There has been a tendency to bind everyone down by the very same laws as those by which the sannyasin is bound, and that is a great mistake.’8 The same mistake is being committed in education. Schooling that was once a privilege of a few is now the right of all children (the RtE Act, 2009).9 Schools must therefore become vibrant spaces to meet the

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needs of diverse children and help every child perceive reality in a way that is meaningful to him or her. At SRVK, with a view to creating landscapes of learning, teachers are helped to adapt to the curriculum and assessment processes; to be flexible in planning, classroom organisation, and management; to use a wide variety of resources, activities, and strategies; and to allow children to explore, thus inculcating in them a spirit of enquiry. We have yet to chart out a meaningful, nonsectarian trajectory to enable children at the elementary level to embark on an enquiry into transcendent reality. Making meaning: Primary importance in learning. Making meaning is of primary importance in learning. Swami Vivekananda was highly critical of rote learning. Rote learning cannot awaken the spirit of enquiry. The NCF 2005 defines meaningful learning as ‘a generative process of representing and manipulating concrete things and mental representations, rather than storage and retrieval of information.’ 10 Building on Immanuel Kant’s idea of the human mind using perception and conception to make sense of the world, Piaget infers mind as a dynamic set of cognitive structures that evolve when we attempt to coordinate our thoughts, actions, and feelings to make meaning of what we experience. This inference is now well supported by observations of children’s T h e

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learning.11 The cognitive structures are not static points in the landscape. They evolve, change and strengthen as the child embarks on the journey of learning. Such a view of learning emphasises conceptual learning as opposed to factual learning. Concepts and the ‘big ideas’ in the subjects that children study at school help them to deepen and enrich connections with what they already know; they thus acquire richer meanings. Instead of giving children discrete facts or algorithms in mathematics, teachers at SRVK attempt to build on children’s ideas and give them adequate hands-on and minds-on experiences and opportunities for asking questions and engaging in discussions. For language learning as well, teachers build on what children are familiar with and provide them opportunities to express themselves through objects, orally, and in writing. Teachers plan their lessons collectively, using a common theme as a peg to connect concepts, skills, and values chosen for a particular class for that month. Learning experiences are planned and a number of resources are created to ensure that all children are actively engaged and learn meaningfully. Children who are not on a par with the rest of the class are given additional support in small groups, for an hour before lunch. This support is tailored to the particular requirements of the group and meaningful activities are planned. Frequent assessments augment this process. Collective reflections at the end of the month

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help identify problem areas and possible solutions, which feed into the subsequent month’s planning. Values in thought, action, and feeling. Values need to permeate every thought, action, and feeling. To Swamiji, inner strength and faith in oneself defined ethics. Integrating the moral and epistemic purposes of education, he said that assimilating five ideas and making them one’s life and character is worthwhile education. His powerful metaphor of growing a plant applies to both intellectual and ethical development, as does his exhortation that teaching is not instructing but communicating; communicating not static information but inspiration. The NCF 2005 also points out that ‘ethical development does not mean the imposition of do’s and don’ts ... but devising means to help children make choices.’12 Children at SRVK are encouraged to have faith in themselves and to regulate their behaviour on their own. Teachers believe in the inherent worth of every child and strive to bring out the best in them. Individual virtues like integrity, diligence, and honesty, as well as social virtues like tolerance and compassion, are inherent in the learning experiences that are organised for children, both inside and outside the classroom. Collaboration in the form of group activities, collective games,

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discussions where everybody’s ideas are valued, sharing resources that are available, taking responsibilities, collective prayer and dining are some of the experiences that provide opportunities for children to practice and reflect on values. Violence in any form—physical or verbal—is strictly avoided in school. However, given that violence is a reality in most children’s homes, due to rampant alcoholism and physical abuse as well as exposure to television, there have to be more collective deliberations involving parents as well. Better understanding and greater efforts are needed to bring about internal and external harmony, within concerned individuals and across relationships. Work: An important component of education. Work is an important component of education. Training of the mind through concentration and work is the basic ingredient of Swami Vivekananda’s vision of education. Swami Ranganathananda says, ‘Knowledge gained through life and work, through experiment and investigations, is alone vigorous and fruitful, especially in the early stages.’13 Experiments and investigations are an integral part of the learning experiences designed for children at SRVK. Craft work is also an inherent part of the curriculum, integrating learning of language and subjects.

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In order to prioritise manual work, teachers and students at SRVK engage in gardening, apart from keeping the premises clean. However, we need to further strengthen the work and education component in the school to truly bring in the dignity of labour. The school has been striving to bring about a holistic development in children’s

personalities through a variety of learning experiences. These have been designed to challenge children and allow their creativity and natural sense of wonder to expand. It is through such experiences that the joy of learning increases14 and we believe that ‘as joy expands, one’s perceived need to exploit others or nature contracts.’15

References 1. 2.

3.

4. 5.

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Rig Veda, 1.99.2 Swami Vivekananda’s Discoveries about India, Swami Bhajanananda, Prabuddha Bharata, October 1997, p. 433 NCERT revises the National School Curriculum framework periodically. Constitutionally this is binding on all schools to follow, as per the RtE Act 2009. The NCF 2005 is an academically robust document which has suggested changes of far reaching consequences. As can be seen, the guiding principles of NCF 2005, especially the first three are aligned with Swamiji’s vision: connecting knowledge to life outside the school; ensuring that learning is shifted away from rote methods; enriching the curriculum to provide for overall development of children rather than remaining textbook centric; making examinations more flexible and integrated into classroom life; nurturing an over-riding identity informed by caring concerns within the democratic polity of the country. The document is built on these principles with sound theoretical perspectives and suggestions for practice. Subsequently NCERT brought out well designed, vibrant textbooks. QCI accredited the school for a period of 5 years, till 2015. Integral Education, Swami Bhajanananda, Sri Ramakrishna Vidyashala, Mysore. Bhajananandaji has delineated eleven concepts of Swamiji’s vision of education. These ideas are based on theories of learning propounded by Jean Piaget, a Swiss psychologist T h e

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12. 13.

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and Lev Vygotsky, from Russia. The metaphor has been used by Catherine Fosnot, a teacher educator who has researched and written extensively about teaching and learning. The NCF 2005 draws from these theories of learning. The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, 2012, p.111 The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata, Mayavati Memorial Edition, Vol. 3, p,150 It has taken the country more than six decades to enact a legislature making education free and compulsory for all children, at least in the age group of 6-14 years. National Curriculum Framework, National Council of Educational Research and Training, New Delhi, 2005, [hereafter NCF 2005] p.14 In Search of Understanding: The Case for Constructivist Classrooms. Brooks, JG & Brooks, MG. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Virginia, USA. 1999 NCF 2005, p. 62. Eternal Values for a Changing Society, Swami Ranganathananda, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay, 1995, Vol 3, p. 48 NCF 2005 talks about the need for challenging children’s thinking through the learning experiences provided in schools. Jane Sahi in her essay ‘Peace and Education’ points out the importance of keeping alive curiosity and wonder. Eknath Easwaran in his commentary on the Taittiriya Upanishad.

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Article

Growing from Within SWAMI BUDHANANDA

‘Don’t run away! Wait a minute! Come here,’ yelled a novice brahmachari as the young children were running away after stealing fruit from the trees in the Math campus. It was a regular activity with the boys to steal fruit and devotees’ footwear. They earned some money by selling them. The children lived in the slums which surround the Math on three sides. The moment the mischievous children noticed that they had been seen or were being chased by a monk, they would run away, only to come again the next day! They feared the monks and were smart enough to escape being caught. Finally, one day a brahmachari somehow caught the boys’ attention. Very gently, he asked them to come near. When they came with great hesitation, he affectionately asked, ‘Would you like to listen to nice stories?’ Though greatly surprised at this offer, they readily agreed. Real human development involves invoking the innate divinity through sympathy, unselfish love, and kindness. Physical punishment only makes a child ruder, more aggressive, and inconsiderate. ‘Growth from within’ is the crux of all education and training envisaged by Swamiji; this requires patience and love. The mischievous children slowly began to visit the monk daily. Their confidence in the monk also grew with their knowledge of him. With inspiring stories and touching concern, the monk convinced

the boys not to steal anymore, anywhere. He entrusted these mischievous children to guard the fruits and footwear of the devotees. In return for this, the monks of the ashram often fed the boys with prasadam. Responsibility combined with trust kept the boys away from misdeeds. It soon became a matter of great honour and pride for the children to be the guardians of the Math! Day by day children from the slums started coming to the Math, not as miscreants to steal and run away, but as eager students ready to learn something from the novice brahmachari. Listening to stories about Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi, Swami Vivekananda, singing bhajans and patriotic songs, playing games, sitting under a tree chitchatting and cracking jokes was the routine in the initial days. Thus the Swami Vivekananda Balak Seva Sangha started at Ramakrishna Math, Pune, in an informal way in the summer of 1991. After a few months, the monks came to know that some of the boys were very weak students. So they started teaching Mathematics, Science, English, and other subjects to these children. Lessons in decent dressing and hygiene were also imparted to them from time to time. The making of children into men and the character-building ideas of Swamiji were used by the monks as the guiding light for the development of these students. Shraddha, self-esteem, was to be invoked. Swamiji

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believed that loss of shraddha was the cause of India’s ruin. He said, ‘We have had a negative education all along from our boyhood. We have only learnt that we are nobodies. Seldom are we given to understand that great men were ever born in our country.’1 In the Balak Sangha special care is taken to develop shraddha by presenting the history of India through stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharata, and through the lives of Maharana Pratap, Shivaji Maharaj, Subhash Chandra Bose, and others. Stories from great lives help in developing shraddha in the children, giving them a firm positive example for their character development. The boys gradually became enthusiastic in developing good habits. When their interest grew, Bhagavad Gita chanting was also added to the daily routine for the boys. All the monks in the Math heartily took up the responsibility of developing these children. With great enthusiasm, they joined these young children in chanting, sports, studies, campus cleaning, and other services. The fundamental principle of this Balak Sangha throughout its glorious history of the last 25 years has been ‘Each soul is potentially divine.’ 2 Man is divine in his essence, and every struggle strengthens the sleeping divinity within. This progression toward the divine is the central note around which the activities of the Balak Sangha are woven. According to Swamiji, the purpose of education is to prepare man for the struggles of life. He said, ‘Educate our people, so that T h e

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they may be able to solve their own problems. Until that is done, all these ideal reforms will remain ideals only.’3 If education fails to invoke the inner strength for the struggle of life, then it is not worth being called education. In the Balak Sangha, special care is taken to awaken morality-based strength among the students. This manliness empowers the young students to fight against evil in society as well as in their personal lives. Once in 1994, an 11-year-old boy of the Balak Sangha observed, while playing on the unfenced campus of the Math, that in an adjacent lane a man was running carrying a small child. The child was crying desperately and trying hard to escape the man’s clutches. The Balak Sangha boy immediately understood the situation and immediately sprang into action. Shouting for help, he chased the kidnapper. The frightened kidnapper left the baby in a side lane and ran away. Instead of fear, the Balak Sangha boy exhibited the courage to face the challenge. Over the last 25 years, the Balak Sangha has turned out hundreds of students as good citizens with strong moral character. Most of these students are from very poor backgrounds. But with intense character-building training, they have developed a strong moral sense and have often achieved material prosperity as well. More than a hundred times, boys have returned purses, costly mobiles, or other gadgets found in the temple, on the Math campus. or on the roadside. The temptations to which young boys generally succumb do not easily tempt the Balak Sangha boys. In 1995, a Balak

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Sangha student became an auto-rickshaw driver. Once, with great presence of mind and bravery, he saved a person carrying a huge sum of money from being kidnapped by the group of criminals. He drove the autorickshaw straight to the police station! The police commissioner of Pune honored this youth for his boldness and honesty. Coming from the slums, where abusive language and physical altercations are common occurrences, the boys would often trade abuse while working or playing in the Sangha. The novice then in charge of the Balak Sangha, who is now a monk of the Ramakrishna Math, Pune, explained how he stopped this abusive behaviour among the boys. ‘For the first few months it was really very difficult. I had no other choice than to punish them physically whenever they used vulgar language. But, later when children gained confidence in me, instead of giving physical punishment I would stop talking with that particular boy who used abuse and even avoided him for some days. Boys feared this silent rejection where I would not talk with them. This brought amazing and long-lasting results. All the boys slowly gave up this bad habit.’ Another characteristic feature of the traditional Indian education system is to use a personal touch with each student. It helps to develop an individual. The monk in-charge narrated a touching story: ‘A very young boy who was close to me once misbehaved with another boy. The complaint reached T h e

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me. I told him with concern and pain, “My dear brother, I had never expected such bad behaviour from you.” Before I completed the sentence, the boy started crying profusely. He begged my pardon with great sincerity and promised never to repeat the mistake again.’ ‘Change from within’ is the mantra for training students. An inner urge to change should be developed in them by placing an ideal model before them. This is a key factor for holistic development. There is a proverb that says, ‘Values are caught, not taught.’ A very interesting incident depicts how subtle ideas were unknowingly ‘caught’ by these young boys. As a part of the Balak Sangha activities, during summer vacation the boys sell RamakrishnaVivekananda literature from door to door. One evening when one of the boys was submitting accounts, a volunteer of the Math asked,‘How was the dhandha (business) today?’ The boys promptly and firmly replied, ‘Sir, we are propagating the message of Swamiji. We are not doing any business, please.’ Those present were stunned by the answer. Boys catch the spirit and intention behind any

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endeavour very quickly and perfectly. The young chap had very precisely caught the difference between doing Swamiji’s work and commercial activity. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1992, the monks described the painful conditions faced by people in the disintegrated small countries. It touched the hearts of the young, innocent Balak Sangha boys. They felt the thirst and hunger of the Russians and decided to help them. Though penniless and coming from poor backgrounds themselves, the boys started earning money through menial jobs like cleaning houses, toilets, gardens, car washing, etc. Thus these soldiers of Swamiji worked a little over three weeks and the collected amount was sent to Russia through the Headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission. The amount was not much, but the ideal of service and sacrifice that inspired the boys was priceless. Swamiji tells us that inspiration to work for others comes from the heart that has learnt to feel for others. ‘Feel, my children, feel; feel for the poor, the ignorant, the downtrodden; feel till the heart stops and the brain reels and you think you will go mad—then pour the soul out at the feet of the Lord, and then will come power, help, and indomitable energy.’4 The mother of a Balak Sangha boy had organized a party to celebrate his twelfth birthday. She brought her son what food she could afford for the group. Just before the party started, the boy started crying bitterly. When the monk in charge asked why he was crying, he replied: ‘Maharaj, in our country so many people live without food and clothing. In such a condition is it right to celebrate my birthday?’ The monk was left dumbfounded and elated. Swamiji wanted that education which develops intelligence and also expands the heart. He says, ‘It is one T h e

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of the evils of your western civilization that you are after intellectual education alone, and take no care of the heart. It only makes a men ten times more selfish, and that will be your destruction….Intellect can never become inspired; only the heart when it is enlightened, becomes inspired. An intellectual, heartless man never becomes an inspired man. It is always the heart that speaks in the man of love; it discovers a greater instrument than intellect can give you, the instrument of inspiration.’5 The Vivekananda Balak Seva Sangha of Pune, the unique character-building and non-formal school, has completed nearly 25 years of its service to slum-dwelling children. Looking at the needs of different times and with the passing of years, new methods, techniques, and courses have been added. Psychologists have been appointed to help students who need special care. All students are trained in using the computer. Every year students are encouraged to take part in various competitions like Gita chanting, drawing, and sports organised by different organisations: at times they win prizes too. In 2014, two boys of the Balak Sangha won the first prize in a Gita-chanting competition organised by the Sri Sringeri Sharada Peetham, Sringeri and they were each awarded Rs. 20,000/- cash prize. Almost every year, the Vivekananda Balak Seva Sangha wins the first prize in the competition hosted by police administration of Pune for organising the most disciplined procession in the annual Ganesh festival in Pune. Swamiji said, ‘My idea of education is personal contact with the teacher—GurugrihaVasa. Without the personal life of a teacher there would be no education…The idea of the sacrifice for the common weal is not yet developed in our nation.’6 How true these words are! Six boys of the Balak Sangha

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who were in close contact with monks for some years and continuously listened to the ideal of sacrifice and service were so deeply influenced that after completing their university education, they joined the Ramakrishna Order as renunciates. The most characteristic feature of the training imparted at the Balak Sangha is the relationship between the monk and the student, which is considered even closer than that between father and son. Rarely do we find such an ideal relationship. If the fire of ‘manmaking and character-building’ is ablaze in the young, then it empowers them to take bolder steps in following Swami Vivekananda’s ideals. A specialty of the Balak Sangha is that from the beginning, boys have no boundaries of religion, caste, creed, or class. Boys from different religions, castes, and sects have joined the Balak Sangha and the flow is still continuing. They together enjoy kheer-korma, prepared in connection with the Id festival of

Islam; cake, prepared for Christmas Eve; and modkam, prepared on the Hindu festival of Ganesha Chaturthi. This religious harmony based on the essential divinity of man is deeply imbibed if learned at a young age, and it becomes stronger as they grow in character and age. In conclusion, we can say that every human being can achieve an all-round growth if he or she is taught with the idea of oneness based on the essential divinity of man. If the idea of ‘growth from within’ is spread everywhere, then we are sure to have an allround development of humankind. People will learn to value themselves as well as others. This is the true purpose of education as envisaged by Swami Vivekananda. The Swami Vivekananda Balak Seva Sangha is a sincere and significant step in shaping character as planned for and expected by Swami Vivekananda.

References 1.

2.

The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata, Mayavati Memorial Edition, [hereafter CW] Vol.5, p. 332 CW, Vol.1, p. 124

3. 4. 5. 6.

CW ,Vol.5, p. 215 CW, Vol.4, p. 367 CW, Vol.1, p. 413 CW, Vol.5, p. 224

Sri Ramakrishna had always been very particular about cleanliness and Swamiji followed his example. He would check the beds and rooms of the monks, and asked that they be kept clean. Once the sweeper was sick and the privy was not cleaned for three or four days. Swamiji noticed this and decided to clean it himself. One morning at four o’clock, without informing anybody, he began scrubbing the privy. Some young monks saw him in the dark and rushed to him, asking that he return to his room so that they could FOHDQLW%XWKHGLGQRWVWRSXQWLOKHKDG¿QLVKHGWKHWDVN$QLGHDOWHDFKHULVWKHSHUVRQ who practises what he teaches. —God Lived with Them, p. 64

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Article

Awakened Citizen Programme – A New Approach to Value Education SWAMI SHANTATMANANDA

Swami Vivekananda’s extraordinary definition of education offers wonderful scope for a new kind of value education. He was one of the greatest patriots ever born in this country. When he visited Belur Math in 1921, Mahatma Gandhi wrote in the visitors’ book, ‘I have gone through his [Swami Vivekananda’s] works very thoroughly, and after having gone through them, the love that I had for my country became a thousand fold.’ Swamiji dreamed day and night about the regeneration of our Motherland, so his ideas are extremely relevant for our country. He defined education as the manifestation of the perfection already in man. A deep understanding of this idea brings about a paradigm shift in the student-teacher relationship. This definition signifies that knowledge, power, glory, etc., are inherent in children, and education means only the manifestation of these qualities or abilities. With this understanding, a teacher can never look upon any student as dull or incompetent. The teacher would ever be alert, looking for opportunities to help each child manifest that which is special in him or her. In the same way, every student, irrespective of his or her academic abilities, would no longer feel inferior to any other student, including even the brightest brii br the student in the class.

At present, around 50% of the students are disengaged from what is going on in their class. They might find the subject matter boring or the method of teaching unimpressive. But with even a rudimentary understanding of Swamiji’s idea that education will help to manifest the perfection within them, the students will feel more connected to the class and thus more interested in coming to school. The micro-picture of education in our country is appalling, to say the least. Every year, close to 15 million students pass the class XII or Higher Secondary examination. Barely 2% of them get a chance to pursue their education further. The rest are left clueless as to where to look for their future. In big cities even a helper to a mason or carpenter earns a daily wage of around Rs. 1,000/- in spite of being a school dropout after class III or IV. But those who pass class XII and belong to the ‘educated’ class can neither get a white-collar job nor do manual labour as they are unskilled. This is one of the major reasons for large-scale juvenile violence and other social evils. The fault lies with our present educational system. Unfortunately, we are still carrying the legacy of a system left behind by the British and have not been able to develop a new system aligned to our own rich heritage,

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culture, etc. Children are relentlessly driven, by their parents and the society, to become careerists. It is too much to expect the educational system to radically change in the near future. But certainly something can be done to improve this system; even a non-formal value infusion can make a difference. It is true that a large number of institutions are working to impart value education to schoolchildren. But most of these efforts have not been very fruitful because of the methodology adopted. Many of these programmes are largely based on Dos and Don’ts and are attempts at instilling values into the students from outside, i.e ethical behavior taught as a subject. It is high time that we adopt a different approach to value education. Further, Swami Vivekananda’s idea of education was man-making and characterbuilding, by introducing the right ideas to children so that they can realise their complete potential and intrinsic greatness. Swamiji was emphatic that education should instill atmashraddha, or self-confidence, in students to help them face the challenges of life. The Ramakrishna Mission has been working for more than a century in the field of education. Although the Mission’s institutions impart value education in a general way, a major effort was made in this direction when the 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda was celebrated during the period 2011-2014. The Ramakrishna Mission, New Delhi, first initiated a pilot project of five modules

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(largely multimedia-based), which was very successfully conducted in 50 schools. This encouraged us to develop a larger programme, titled the Awakened Citizen Programme (ACP). This is a three-year programme of graded value education for students in classes VII, VIII, and IX. While it is ideally suited for these classes, it can also be run for classes VI, VII, and VIII. It was developed with the help of Illumine Knowledge Resources Pvt. Ltd., Mumbai, and was launched nationwide by the then-Union HRD Minister Smt. Smriti Irani on 14 February 2015. Structure of ACP The programme consists of 48 modules of about 40 minutes each, with 16 modules for each class. Although deeply rooted in Swamiji’s spiritual ideas, the programme has no religious overtones and can be termed as absolutely secular. Basis of ACP Each child is unique and has infinite potential, strength, and possibilities. All these can be manifested as excellence in every walk of life. The aim of the programme is to empower students in a real and tangible way and help them develop as enlightened citizens who can stand on their own feet. Such students will not only do well for themselves, but will also have the larger interest of society at heart. Content In this programme, Swami Vivekananda’s idea of perfection has been linked to

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the idea of human possibilities. The infinite power and strength within gets manifested as various possibilities. The more one consciously develops or manifests these possibilities, the more faith one develops in oneself. This power can be felt every time one says ‘I can.’ The ACP is designed to help each student discover and manifest the infinite power within. The human possibilities have been broadly classified into two categories: 1. Universal Possibilities: The most fundamental of our possibilities are universal, such as being heroic, expanding oneself, living in harmony, recognising the sacred (shraddha), seeking perfection, and seeking truth. These are open to each one of us, irrespective of religion, caste, age, gender, etc. 2. Unique Possibilities: The next level of manifestation, or unfoldment, is unique possibilities. This can be developed based on one’s talent, interests, environment and selfeffort. These are once again divided into: a. Knowledge possibilities, such as learning in all parts of life, actualising a creative vision, inventing new things, developing solutions to complex social challenges, working with collective intelligence, and extending the limits of human knowledge; and b. Possibilities on the physical plane, such as expanding the limits of our world, expressing ourselves, creating value, engaging with culture and society, adapting to the environment we live in, and playing games and sports, which are the most visible level of manifestation. Through various explorations, situation analyses, discussions, and real-life examples or role models, the students are enabled to discover the tremendous impact of manifesting these possibilities and the means to do so. The emphasis is on opening the minds of T h e

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the students, giving them a framework for decision-making, facilitating the discovery and acceptance of values, and bringing about an inner transformation. In the first year, the students are given a broad exposure to the ideas of universal and unique possibilities. In the second year, the ideas relating to universal possibilities are deepened; and in the third year, the students are shown the pathways to help them manifest the unique possibilities. Approach Unlike conventional value education programmes, a structured discovery approach developed after years of research by Illumine Knowledge Resources Pvt. Ltd. is being used. The teaching, methodologies, and curriculum framework have been carefully designed to facilitate a deep and enduring transformation in children. Assimilation Strategies 1. Expanding the vision of oneself from a narrow and limited idea to a broad one, encompassing the community, the nation, and the world, as one evolves. 2. Developing new ways to think positively. 3. Learning from inspirational role models and the ideals they embody. 4. Engaging with life/experiential narratives. 5. Exploring the consequences of one’s choices through discussion and analysis of real-life situations. These result in: 1. Discovery and peer learning rather than top-down learning. 2. Free, active, and informed choices rather than passive and controlled learning.

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3. Transformation of attitudes and behaviour rather than conformation to existing norms of society. Training The Ramakrishna Mission, New Delhi, has conducted two-day training programmes for teachers for three consecutive years. The entire training programme is conducted free of charge, and includes the supply of facilitation materials (in Hindi and English), such as CDs and manuals necessary for running the programme in schools. However, private schools are charged a nominal support fee of Rs. 1,000 per year to ensure their commitment. Government schools and Kendriya Vidyalayas are exempt from this. Apart from the initial training given to teachers, Ramakrishna Mission resource persons visit every school two to three times every year to observe how the programme is conducted and to measure its impact on students. Further, they are ever ready to help and counsel the teachers by telephone or email. Implementation Successful implementation of the program requires: Regularity of classes: A fixed time slot in the timetable is essential, because 16 modules are to be completed in 40 minute sessions in one academic year. The child discovers and internalises new ideas with the teacher facilitating this process. Infrastructure: Availability of smartboards or projectors and laptops is essential. To be conducted over three consecutive years: Completion of the previous year’s modules before starting the current year is mandatory, as this is a graded program. Presently, nearly 5,000 teachers from about 1,500 schools have undergone various T h e

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phases of training. The programme is being implemented by schools in Delhi NCR, Bhopal, Bengaluru, Chennai, Mysuru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Baroda, Mumbai, Ranchi, and Varanasi. Very recently the Rajasthan government arranged for the training of 75 teachers from about 40 government schools in the Jhunjhunu district as a pilot project. Based on the impact of this training, more schools will be brought into the fold the coming year. Similarly, the Haryana government arranged for the training of about 200 teachers from 100 schools in Faridabad, Gurgaon, Jharjhar and Palwal districts. This was again a pilot project to study the impact with a view to implementing it in more schools the following year. The Impact of the Program: A Glimpse Teachers, students, and parents have given extremely positive feedback about the transformational qualities of the programme. Many teachers have indicated that they themselves are more willing to participate in school activities, indicating that they are enjoying their vocation more. They have also reported that their social and family relationships have shown marked improvement. Impact on Children: Increase in atmashraddha: ‘Children understood through this program that they are special and are capable of special things. This brought about a considerable change in their thinking process.’ – Teacher RSKV, Moti Bagh, Delhi. ‘Earlier I thought I could do only one or two things. But now I know I can do many things. I have the possibility to become great.’ – Student, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Vidyashram Hyderabad. Being Heroic: ‘Girls in my school were frightened to come to school alone.

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After seeing this programme, they come to school even if their friends are absent.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Headmistress, Babe Ali School, Bhopal. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Earlier I did not talk, because other children would laugh at me. After seeing this programme I have started talking without any fear or shame.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Student with speech impairment, Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya, Ghitorni, Delhi. Living in Harmony: â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I am amazed that after being part of this program, children are resolving conflicts themselves by creating a non-threatening and open environment, where they listen to others.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Headmistress, AES Pushp Vihar, Delhi. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Now I mingle with children of other religions â&#x20AC;&#x201C; play games, sing, and share food.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Student, Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya, Delhi. Developing Shraddha: â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;After going through this program, many children said they no longer want to live abroad. They want to live in India.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Bharati Vidya Public School, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad. Impact on Teachers: â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I no longer ask â&#x20AC;&#x153;why me?â&#x20AC;? when I am given additional work. I think of additional responsibility as an opportunity to learn and grow.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Teacher, Boys Senior Secondary School, Najafgarh, Delhi.

â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I am a primary school teacher. When I was asked to teach senior classes, I was very nervous. When I listened to the â&#x20AC;&#x153;I CANâ&#x20AC;? module, I found courage and am now teaching senior classes successfully.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Teacher, Banjara School, Hyderabad. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Previously, I thought the best way to teach children was to drill things into their heads. After seeing this programme, I realise that the best way is to discuss and then leave it to them to think and choose to follow.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Headmistress, Gurukul School, Ghaziabad. Impact Observed by Parents: Parents have noticed â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;magical changesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; in their children. One such example: â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I observed significant changes in my daughterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s attitude to everything she does. She is always doing her best.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Parent, Apeejay School, Kolkata. More details of the programme and its impact can be seen at the website theawakenedcitizen.org. Our earnest desire is that this programme will develop deep roots throughout the country and will enable every child to grow to his or her potential and become an awakened future citizen of the country. Then and only then will Swami Vivekanandaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s prophecy that the future glory of India will far surpass her past glory, come true.

One day when Rakhal returned from Calcutta, the Master asked: â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Why canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t I look at you? Have you done anything wrong?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;No,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Rakhal replied; because he understood â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;wrong actionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; to mean stealing, robbery, or adultery. The Master again asked, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Did you tell any lies?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Then Rakhal remembered that the day before, while chatting and joking with two IULHQGV KH KDG WROG D ÂżE 7KH 0DVWHU WROG KLP Âľ1HYHU GR LW DJDLQ Truthfulness alone is the spiritual discipline in the kaliyuga.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x201D;God Lived with Them, p.82

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Article

Invoking Human Excellence SWAMI SARVASTHANANDA

What is human excellence? It may be described as a confluence of two streams: excellence in one’s work or study, combined with excellence as a good human being. This ideal comes from Swami Vivekananda’s vision of man-making and the spread of manmaking and nation-building ideas throughout our country. But it is important to recognise that approaches used in human excellence programmes for youth originated from the Vedantic axiom that inside each one of us lies an infinite source of strength, goodness, and divinity. The aim of all education is to help individuals (1) to recognise this infinite dimension within themselves, (2) to consciously and systematically develop this higher dimension of their personalities, and thereby (3) realise their full potential as human beings—or, as Swami Vivekananda would say, ‘manifest the divinity within.’ Over the past several years, Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama, Rajkot, has undertaken several human excellence programmes, and has been involved in important initiatives related to the spread of values. Four major initiatives undertaken have been: 1. Contributor Personality Programme 2. Vivekananda Service Corps 3. Self-esteem Programme 4. Human Excellence Discovery Programmes

1. Contributor Personality Programme On being requested by the Vice Chancellor of Gujarat Technological University (GTU), Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama, Rajkot, along with its knowledge-intervention partner Illumine Knowledge Resources, decided to design and offer a Contributor Personality Development (CPD) Programme for all GTU students as part of the academic curriculum (over 400 Engineering Degree/Diploma and Pharmacy colleges across Gujarat, with a total intake of approximately one lakh students every year). The CPD Programme is based entirely on Swami Vivekananda’s vision of nationbuilding through man-making education. This involves a synthesis between spiritually inspired human values and effective action. Effective action without spiritually inspired human values can lead to personal benefits for individuals, but at a long-term cost to both nation and society. On the other hand, human values without effective action can lead to an inability on the part of the individual to perform and flourish in today’s environment and have a positive impact on society. Most of us spend long hours at work and try to do our best in everything we can. But does that mean we are making a contribution? How is contribution different from mere excellence in work? Swami

The author is a sannyasi of the Ramakrishna Order, and the Adhyaksha of Ramakrishna Ashrama, Rajkot, Gujarat. T h e

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Vivekananda said, ‘The national ideals of India are RENUNCIATION and SERVICE. Intensify her in those channels and the rest will take care of itself.’1 Our nation needs both ideals and capabilities or skills. Ideals tell an individual the ‘why’ of life, while capabilities teach the ‘how’ of life. The CPD Programme, through ten well-designed modules, helps the students to adopt a career-based strategy based on contribution to oneself, to one’s institution, and to society. The idea is to make a difference, rather than merely to acquire wealth and other assets for selfish purposes. To implement this across a large scale, a comprehensive Programme Intervention was designed. This involved training 1000 teachers across GTU, providing them with online and offline support in teaching methods, creating direct channels of support, and giving them periodic engagement with students. The programme has reached out to more than four lakhs fifty thousand students over the past few years. Since then, the CPD Programme has been adopted by Amrita University, Kerala; D.S. University, Bengaluru; and some other institutions. The programme has further evolved into the Design of Life Intervention, involving an online resource platform for teachers and digital support to students. The Design of Life Programme has been adopted by IIT, Delhi, for its first-year students. Many other universities have also approached us

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for similar programmes, suitably modified to complement their existing syllabus. 2. Vivekananda Service Corps The goal of the Vivekananda Service Corps is to systematically develop selected youth who have undergone youth counseling sessions in the practice of ‘Service of God in Man’ with the motto ‘Be and Make.’ This activity was started by the ashrama in January 2011 with a selected group of about 60 boys under its Vivekananda Centre for Youth Counseling and Positive Thinking. Every youth goes through two or three years of intensive training under the guidance of monks and other trainers (preferably on Sundays and public holidays). During this period the youths are given multi-dimensional personality training covering five key areas: (1) Development of mindsets and attitudes in terms of strengthened self-esteem and expanded vision of self. (2) Development of physical strength and endurance through physical exercises, parades, yoga, etc. (3) Development of service capabilities such as training in first aid, hygiene, preventive health care, disaster management fundamentals, etc. (4) Development of intellectual and academic skills in areas like communication, mathematics, accounting, general knowledge, world awareness, etc.

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(5) Development of financial self-reliance (especially for needy students) through opportunities to earn sufficient money for their own education and other expenses through noble activities, such as disseminating Ramakrishna-Vivekananda literature by going door-to-door. The VSC works on the basis of four key principles: (1) The entire operation is self-managed by the cadets (aged 12 to 20 years). This develops in them the qualities of self-reliance, effective leadership skills, and ability to take up larger responsibilities. (2) The cadets get an opportunity to earn money. This is to compensate for any loss of income due to the time invested in VSC work. (This is necessary because the cadets come from economically poor backgrounds, and many have to lose a day’s valuable earnings in order to work for Swamiji’s cause). (3) The cadets are assigned activities and duties which will not only help them to develop physically, morally, and intellectually, but will also make them more employable and capable of passing competitive exams. (4) The engagement between the cadets and the ashrama is consciously developed so that the entire family of the cadet is involved in the programme. 3. Self-esteem Programme The foundation of all human development is atma-shraddha or self-esteem, faith in oneself. How is atma-shraddha to be developed? This self-esteem programme offers the ‘Personality as Strength’ model. It enables us to develop strength – physical, mental, and spiritual strength – by approaching all actions and choices we make with the right point of view. This knowledge model is derived from T h e

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the book The Universal Message of the Bhagavad Gita, Volume 2, by Swami Ranganathananda. He refers to bahu-balam, buddhi-balam and atma-balam as the essential qualities to be progressively inculcated in the children and youth so that they can stand on their own feet when they grow up. The workshops are designed as Peer Counseling Sessions by professional counselors in educational institutions and private centres teaching life skills. These are interactive programs that train and encourage the participating youths to think seriously about the possible goals of their lives, the ways and means to achieve those goals, the strength needed to face the struggles of life, and finally the means to develop that strength. The programme has been developed using the Precision Knowledge Intervention Methodology (designed by our knowledgeintervention partner Illumine Knowledge Resources (IKR)) to bring about longterm shifts in the way people think about themselves and the work they do. The tool kits, specially designed by the IKR facilitate ‘self-awakening’ or ‘self-discovery’ (rather than teaching). This methodology is easy to deliver, rapidly scalable with very little training, and measurable in its results. 4. Human Excellence Discovery Programmes The Human Excellence Discovery Programmes aim to help young people in the age group of 12-16 years to engage with some powerful teachings of Swami Vivekananda. Some of these are ‘Be a Lion’, ‘Face the Brute’, ‘Find the Truth Yourself’, ‘Develop Concentration’, and ‘Be Open-minded.’ Human Excellence Programmes are specially designed with audio-visual materials and workbooks to promote ‘engagement’ with ideas. Through engagement, many of

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our tacit objections, resistances, and mental models are brought to the surface and laid open for examination in a non-threatening manner. Interacting with the ideas exposes us to multiple perspectives, and thus helps in opening the mind. The Discovery Programmes are based on small Human Excellence workbooks. Value educators can use these books and run 60- to 90-minute discovery workshops for groups of 10-20 students. To run the discovery workshop effectively, teacher resources are provided to the value educators. The programmes are short, modular in format, and self-contained. These allow the value educator, or the

trained resource person associated with the ashrama, to conduct these programmes in a flexible manner, based on the number of students. Another interesting modification in the way the programme is being conducted is allowing the parents of the children to participate in the sessions along with our resource persons. This enables the parents to conduct the sessions in their homes, using the audio-visual materials and workbooks. This is very important, as parents often neglect their role in developing the character of their children and expect schools and formal academic education to fulfil this need.

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References: 1.

The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata, Mayavati Memorial Edition,

Vol. 5, p,.228

In Chicago, Swamiji met Robert Ingersoll, the famous orator and agnostic. One day Ingersoll said to Swamiji, ‘I believe in making the most out of this world, in squeezing the orange dry, because this world is all we are sure of.’ Swamiji replied: ‘I know a better way to squeeze the orange of this world than you do; and I get more out of it. I know I cannot die, so I am not in a hurry. I know that there is no fear, so I enjoy the squeezing. I have no duty, no bondage of wife and children and property; and so I can love all men and women. Everyone is God to me. Think of the joy of loving man as God! Squeeze your orange this way and get ten thousand-fold more out of it. Get every single drop!’ —Swami Vivekananda

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Article

Nurturing Excellence SWAMI BODHAMAYANANDA

The Vivekananda Institute of Human Excellence, Ramakrishna Math, Hyderabad, came into existence to bridge the gap between the ideal and real—to bring a balance between knowledge-centred pursuits and value orientation. So the need which VIHE addresses is to engender the social and spiritual wellbeing of an individual in addition to physical and mental well-being. Skills should be combined with values and ethics. VIHE teaches communication and other skills along with proper contexts where they can be used for self-expression in an unselfish manner. Some of the areas in which VIHE has achieved remarkable results are: leadership with self-motivation; stress management with a deeper understanding of the cosmic blueprint and faith; work ethics for teachers, doctors, managers, and policy makers; teamwork, community work, and training to think right and act right. In addition to usable skills, foundational skills from the life and message of Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Sarada Devi, Swami Vivekananda, and other great personalities associated with the Ramakrishna Movement are brought to the fore at VIHE. These models leave an indelible mark on the minds of youngsters who are rudderless in the present ethos and always seek someone or something that will show them a proper direction in life. Many y participants who have never come to

the Ramakrishna Math before are encouraged to visit the shrine and develop the habit of inner reflection. In addition, meditation and yoga classes serve different aspects of human excellence. The primary objective of VIHE is to create a generation which has excellence as its characteristic feature. To achieve this, the institute conducts regular summer camps, residential youth camps, youth conventions, and numerous other programmes. Forums like Yuva Jagruti Vedika and volunteer work for special occasions builds confidence in the youth and instils in them some core values which will result in a meaningful life. That the Institute is able to attract and train a few lakh students—both youth and elders—is a testimony to the fact that there is a thirst for achieving excellence. VIHE has been doing this successfully for the last 16 years and hopes to continue the good work. VIHE is also collaborating with some schools in Hyderabad city to spread the message of love, service, and excellence. Two such schools are Bhavan’s Vidyashrama Public School and Meridian School. Bhavan’s Vidyashram Public School, Hyderabad VIHE has inspired the teachers and students of Bhavan’s Vidyashram Public School to take up nation-building programmes.

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The powerful idea ‘A fistful of rice with a heart full of love’ has touched the hearts of the Bhavanite students, and we have adopted this service activity with great joy. Selected students have been delegated the task of collecting rice from the other students. They go to each class during the zero period to collect rice from those who have brought it. Once in a fortnight they hand it over to the teacher-in-charge of this activity. The rice is then packed in bags and distributed among individuals, orphanages, and old-age homes. Sometimes it is cooked and served to people at different places in the city. Recently our students served cooked food in front of the Indo-American Cancer Hospital, Hyderabad, apart from donating money to the hospital. They also actively participated in the Annadanam programme at the Ramakrishna Math, Hyderabad. Under the Joy of Giving programme, the school reaches out to the poor and needy sections of society. Our school has adopted two villages in the Nalgonda district. We provide computers to the schools and nutritious food, education kits, and clothes to the students in those villages. The school administration, staff, and students participate in all these activities. Meridian School Under the Art of Giving initiative, Meridian School has adopted 13 government T h e

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schools in the Mehaboobnagar district. This project also seeks to bridge the urbanrural divide. Students from classes 8, 9, and 10—which have six sections each—actively participate in this outreach programme once or twice a year. Students first surveyed the government schools and identified the areas where we could intervene and help. Some of the things they observed were that children did not have any play equipment; the schools needed furniture; children drank water directly from the tap, as they did not have tumblers, thus wasting water; and the washrooms and drains had to be repaired. Subsequently, the students and the school administration distributed among the students school bags, books, stationery, uniforms, steel plates and tumblers, and cricket, badminton, and football kits with all the necessities. Teaching aids, water storage facilities, steel drums, maps, and other essential materials were given to the schools. Toilets have been renovated as part of the Swatch Bharat program. This initiative has helped to reduce the rate of girl students dropping out for lack of proper sanitary facilities. The visits to the villages are having a great impact on our city-bred students. They have experienced how village families grow the vegetables they require in their own backyards; how instead of just a pet dog, village children have chickens, goats, and cows; how strenuous it is to plough the field; and how generous the villagers are even in poverty. Our students have realised that the poor children in the villages are joyful despite having so little. A second aspect of the outreach project is to bring the village students to participate in our in-house four-day camp at Banjara Hills. Our faculty and senior students teach them

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communication skills, computer basics, and also some games. The village students are taken to the Ramakrishna Math, Hyderabad, to participate in personality-development programmes conducted by the Vivekananda Institute of Human Excellence. Our student volunteers have one-to-one interaction with their rural friends and make sure that their stay is comfortable and memorable. One of the boys from Mudwin village, while sharing his experiences at our camp, said that he had never imagined he would ever leave the boundary of his village. He also shared that it was the first time in his life that he had three meals in a day. His final statement was: ‘It is not a crime to be poor, but to remain so without struggling to overcome it is criminal; and education is the only way out of poverty. Once I finish my education, I will serve the children in our village and help them to have a better future.’ Service means giving of oneself without expecting anything in return; inner happiness

lies in giving more, not in taking more. Giving is indeed receiving. When we give, we increase our sense of connection and feeling of oneness with all people and all things. The transformation of selfishness to selflessness is the transformation of one’s limited self (one’s limited sense of awareness) into the greater Self (infinite awareness). And the best time to begin this journey is with young school children.

Once a devotee at Dakshineswar was behaving badly, and I found it impossible to check my irritation. I scolded him and he felt very hurt. The Master knew how the devotee had suffered, and when the devotee had gone he said to me: ‘It is not good to speak harshly to those who come here. They are tormented with worldly problems. If they come here and then are scolded for their shortcomings, where will they go? In the presence of holy company never use harsh words to anyone, and never say anything to cause pain to another. Tomorrow, visit this man and speak to him in such a way that he will forget what you said to him today.’ So the next day I visited him. My pride was humbled. I spoke to him very sweetly. When I returned, however, the Master asked, ‘did you offer him salutations from me?’ Amazed at his words, I said that I had not. Then he said, ‘Go to him again and offer him my salutations.’ So again I went to that man and conveyed the Master’s salutations. At this the devotee burst into tears. I was moved to see him weeping. When I returned this time the Master said, ‘Now your misdeed is pardoned.’ — Ramakrishna As We Saw Him, p. 86

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Article

Human Excellence in Fiji SWAMI VEDANISHTHANANDA

Swami Vivekananda called for an education that would make a human being ‘complete’ in all the four basic aspects of life – the spiritual, mental, intellectual and physical. Swamiji wants us to develop in heart, head and hand and thus manifest the perfection that is already in us. He says, ‘Let every man and woman and child, without respect of caste or birth, weakness or strength, hear and learn that behind the strong and the weak, behind the high and the low, behind every one, there is that Infinite Soul, assuring the infinite possibility and the infinite capacity of all to become great and good. Let us proclaim to every soul: Arise, Awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.’

a native king called ‘Cakobau’, with many chieftains subject to him, internal dissentions often disrupted normalcy in Fiji. Eventually in 1874, the Fijian leadership decided to cede their country to British administration, seeing it as the only way to bring stability. The British rulers introduced sugarcane plantation. However, the plantation owners considered the Fijians unfit for the demanding labour of the cane fields. Planters sought greater profits and began bringing in indentured labourers from India in collaboration with the British government. This brought great numbers of Indians to Fiji over the decades from 1879 to 1916.The conditions under which these Indian labourers toiled in the sugar fields of Fiji were very inhumane.

The scenario in Fiji Fiji consists of two main islands and three hundred lesser ones located in the South Pacific. The main languages spoken are English, Fijian and Hindi, and its major religions are Hinduism and Christianity. The Ramakrishna Mission centre, located in Nadi, was started in 1937 and was affiliated to the Ramakrishna Mission in 1952. The Dutch navigator Abel Tasman discovered the Fiji islands in 1643. The native population then was divided into many tribes, and by the early 1800s Christian missionaries converted many of these groups to Christianity. Although the islands had

Ramakrishna Mission’s Educational Services The Past – The Pioneers The rampant exploitation of Indians by the estate owners continued without redress until the arrival of C.F Andrews, who had worked with Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi in India. Over the course of three visits, he studied the appalling conditions of the labourers in Fiji and was instrumental in improving their plight to a great extent. Continuing the welfare work begun by Andrews, Mr. Kuppuswami, a Fijian Indian of great dedication, founded TISI Sangam, an

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organisation dedicated to that purpose. He made a request to the Ramakrishna Mission authorities to send a monk to organize the activities of the Sangam. This led to Swami Avinashanandaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s arrival in Fiji in 1937. Though brief, his one year stay proved to be very effective. In 1939, the Mission Headquarters sent Swami Rudrananda to consolidate and expand the work begun by Swami Avinashananda. He first turned his attention to the education of Indian children. With only 34 students and two teachers he opened the Shri Vivekananda High School (SVHS) in a small shed. Despite the hostile attitude of the British Government and other unfavourable circumstances, the little school began to flourish, attracting students from all sections of society, including famers and native Fijians. Later, a vocational school was opened for those who failed to continue their schooling. Again, a primary school was set up to educate the children of the poor sugarcane farmers. The successful experiment in private management by the Mission paved the way for many other schools to be opened later by other organisations in various parts of

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Fiji. Swami Rudrananda passed away in Fiji in 1985, having sacrificed his whole life for the service of the helpless, poor, exploited and uneducated people of Fiji. Swami Damodarananda, succeeded Swami Rudrananda and initiated character-building programmes in the educational activities of the Centre. The Present At present the centre runs the following educational institutions: (1) Vivekananda Technical Centre, Nadi: This training centre was started to serve those students who could not pursue higher education. It runs courses in Automotive Engineering and Cookery and Agriculture. In recognition of its excellence and facilities, the Government of Fiji has designated the centre as a Quality Vocational Centre. (2) Ramakrishna Mission Primary School, Tailevu: Long before the University of the South Pacific was started, Swami Rudranandaji purchased a big piece of land in Tailevu to start a University. The project was a catalyst to the founding of the present University of South Pacific. Later the Mission started a

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primary school at the site. The present roll of the school is about 210 and it is one of the top five primary schools in the Eastern region. (3) Swami Vivekananda College, Nadi: It is a premier institution renowned for its excellence. It has been serving for 60 years and has produced professionals such as educationists, doctors, engineers, politicians, who have served the country with distinction. The pursuit of Excellence Academic Excellence – Swami Vivekananda High School was later converted into Swami Vivekananda College (SVC). It has around 1000 students, consisting both boys and girls of Indian and Fijian descent and belonging to Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. It is considered to be one of the best high schools in Fiji and is highly esteemed for the pursuit of academic excellence. The Technical Excellence – In 2010, the Centre embarked on a pioneering venture to introduce eLearning in the High School, which was the first of its kind in Fiji. It comprised of electronically supported teaching and learning that included web-based learning, computerbased learning, virtual classroom opportunities and digital collaboration. The Human Excellence – Every individual has four dimensions in his or her personality –physical, intellectual, mental and spiritual. Education in schools generally focuses on the first two, but rarely on the other two aspects. Swamiji says, ‘What is education? Is it book-learning? No. Is it diverse knowledge? Not even that. The training by which the current and expression of will are brought under control and become fruitful is called education.’ Meditation is a fundamental

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tool for developing control of mind and harnessing the higher creative energies and potential in each and every individual. The purpose of meditation is to train the mind to focus on a point of stillness within, beyond any distraction caused by the outside world and the mind itself. It is well known that regular practice strengthens concentration and increases one’s ability to cope with stress and anxiety, develop mastery over the emotions, actions and reactions. Learning the practice of meditation at an early age is important in providing a solid foundation for every individual, regardless of their cultural tradition. It greatly assists students in their studies as well as in their later life, whatever they choose to do. Furthermore, the highly competitive and materialistic world places everyone under great pressure and strain. Meditation offers the inner platform for harmonizing and focusing the energies, regaining poise and inner peace. In order to bring out this human excellence in the youth of Fiji, the Centre built a unique Universal Meditation Centre in 2014. At present, meditation sessions are conducted by a Swami for all students of Swami Vivekananda College accompanied by their teachers. The practice is bringing a very positive impact on the students. However, there is still a long way to go. Let us strive keeping faith in the words of Swamiji, ‘Teach yourselves, teach everyone his real nature, call upon the sleeping soul and see how it awakens. Power will come, glory will come, goodness will come, purity will come and everything that is excellent will come when this sleeping soul is roused to selfconscious activity.’

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Article

Education: The Vivekananda Way T. CHAKRAVARTHY

Swami Vivekananda was the foremost among the spiritual and national leaders that India has produced in recent times. A unique aspect of his greatness is that he did not confine himself to spirituality in the traditional sense of the term. He had a large heart that was concerned about the physical and mental wellbeing of the masses in society. Both Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Swami Vivekananda believed in and preached that ‘Service to Man is Service to God.’ Inspired by this message, hundreds of institutions and thousands of devotees today are wholeheartedly engaged in serving their fellow beings. Providing education is one of the most significant services that one can render to society. With education, a person becomes capable of fulfilling basic needs like food, clothing and shelter. Swamiji explains the concept of education in both affirmative and negative terms. He says: ‘Education is not the amount of information that is put into your brain and runs riot there, undigested, all your life. We must have life-building, man-making, character-making assimilation of ideas. If you have assimilated five ideas and made them your life and character, you have more education than any man who has got by heart a whole library.’1 Again he declares: ‘The ideal of all education, all training, should be this man-making. But, instead of that, we are always trying to polish up the outside. What

use in polishing up the outside when there is no inside? The end and aim of all training is to make the man grow.’2 The approaches to education followed by schools and universities are based on the assumption that education is the process of feeding information into the brain of the learner. Hence the marks obtained by a student, which reflect the information his teacher has drilled into his brain and the power of his memory, are considered to be a measure of the quantity and quality of his education. Most present-day teachers have themselves been ‘taught’ in the aforesaid manner. Universities design courses for training teachers to ‘drill better’, and the examining and certifying bodies develop better means of measuring and improving ‘drilling efficiency’. However, efforts have been going on both before and after Independence to dispense with the Macaulay system of education and revive the traditional Indian system. Thanks to the strong views expressed by Swami Vivekananda, the efforts of his disciples like Sister Nivedita, and institutions run by the Ramakrishna Order and other admirers, thousands of students are today receiving man-making education. The Vivekananda Educational Society in Chennai is one such organisation. Inspired by Swamiji’s ideas and ideals on education, it is striving to provide man-making and character-building education

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to students in Chennai and other places in Tamil Nadu. The Society was founded in 1972 by some ardent followers of Swamiji who were closely associated with the creation and establishment of the Vivekananda Rock Memorial in Kanyakumari. The Society now runs 22 schools and manages two schools for other organisations. It serves about 35,000 families. To implement Swami Vivekananda’s ideas on education, the Society developed a model covering six aspects of a child’s development. This model enables each child to develop his or her whole personality. These aspects of development are: 1. Physical Development 2. Intellectual Development 3. Talent Development 4. Spiritual Development 5. Patriotism 6. Love of God These dimensions of a child’s personality are symbolised by the petals of a flower. Every school activity is designed to develop one or more of these six aspects. Unique and Basic Feature of Our System: Mechanism for the Manifestation of Perfection Swamiji said: ‘Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man.’3 Hence a teacher’s job is not to force-feed a child with information or other such inputs. A teacher should allow the perfection to blossom like a flower and express its beauty

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and fragrance to the world. Swamiji’s message to teachers is very clear: ‘Like fire in a piece of flint, knowledge exists in the mind; suggestion is the friction which brings it out.’4 Enabling children to learn and blossom in this manner has not been easy. The Society recruits teachers who have undergone formal teacher training and then trains them in the ‘Vivekananda Way’, or the ‘play-way’, method of teaching. Great efforts have gone into providing orientation to teachers in this methodology. For this purpose, the Society has founded its own in-house teacher training institution, called the ‘Vivekananda Prajna Vikas’, or the Vivekananda Institute of Educational Research and Training. To allow children to take their first step in formal education, i.e., in kindergarten and primary classes, our schools adopted the ‘Sishu Vatika’ system of teaching and learning, a unique system evolved by Vidya Bharati, the largest NGO serving in the field of education in India, to which our schools are affiliated. This system allows a teacher to engage children through games, stories, songs, dances, and various other activities. Classrooms are designed to accommodate such activities, and various pictures and objects are used to enable children to feel, visualise, hear, explore, and connect with the various ideas taught. These activities are not confined to classrooms alone. The teacher takes the students out to play in a specially designed playground ‘children’s corner’, which also promotes group activities and team building. In this system, children

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do not compete with each other, but work together as groups to bring out their full potential. The performance of children is measured without any formal examination and is reported to parents. These reports are more of a record of the interests of children rather than ‘marks and grades’. In this system, the teacher plays a very gentle but vital role, which can be described in Swamiji’s own words, ‘Like the gentle dew that falls unseen and unheard, and yet brings into blossom the fairest of roses …’5 Through these efforts, children naturally and spontaneously start communicating with their teachers, fellow students, and parents at home. They learn languages and the use of numbers, and expand their knowledge base on their own. The base set by this Sishu Vatika system is the foundation for the development of the six aspects of personality. The Sishu Vatika system of learning is depicted in our logo as a blossoming flower. The efforts made by the Vivekananda Educational Society schools in developing the specified aspects of personality in children can be better understood with brief descriptions. Physical Development ‘eara_mÚ§ Ibw Y_© g mYZ_² śarīramādyaṁ khalu dharmasādhanam—body is the foremost instrument for doing good deeds or practicing Dharma,’ says the great poet Kalidasa. Our schools give equal importance to playing games on the playground and learning mathematics in the classroom. The competence and performance of Physical Education teachers are monitored and upgraded frequently. VES has appointed a Shareerik Coordinator (Coordinator for Physical Development) to oversee the physical education training in schools, the development and maintenance of playgrounds and play equipment, T h e

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the participation of students in various competitions, etc. Some of the practices and features of VES schools in the area of physical development are: Provision of specially allotted play areas for very young children, with colourful and safe play equipment. ™ Opportunities to play games and practice athletics outside school hours. ™

Encouragement of children to compete primarily with themselves, and thus gradually improve their strength, confidence, and skills without undue stress.

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Physical activity combined with music and dance—such as band, lezium, etc., where even strenuous activities become enjoyable.

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Encouragement of parents to learn yoga and participate in mass yogasana and suryanamaskar programmes on the school premises. Some schools also have a gymnasium for the mothers of students studying in the school.

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Special and specific attention to yoga and yogasana training for staff and students, and participation of students, staff, parents, and the local public in Yoga Day functions every year. ™

‘Gosh’ is an activity that consists of playing instruments in a group and marching in rhythm to the music. Students are encouraged to take part in this activity to build physical strength, physical coordination, team spirit, confidence and skill in playing musical instruments. Intellectual Development The schools follow the curriculum designed by NCERT/CBSE. Efforts are made to improve the methodology of teaching through activities, laboratory experiments, observations, and audio-visual presentations.

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Every school has well-equipped laboratories and libraries for science. Mathematics laboratories and language laboratories encourage activity-based learning. ™

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There is a structured syllabus for learning Vedic mathematics.

™

™ Regular

quiz competitions are held to improve mental powers like memory and concentration.

Students are encouraged to form clubs such as English literature clubs and physics clubs to informally share their knowledge and thus expand it further.

™

Teachers of various subjects in these schools undergo periodic training to upgrade their knowledge and sharpen their teaching skills to encourage participative learning by students. One such training programme for newly recruited teachers is named ‘Upasana’. Its purpose is to explain Swami Vivekananda’s ideology to new teachers and to make them realise that they have embarked on the vital task of shaping the future of the nation.

™

Talent Development The weekly timetable of these schools has important slots allocated for music, dance, art, crafts, etc. Schools conduct talent shows for kindergarten and primary-level classes separately to expand the participation of students and their parents. Talent development activities not only promote selfconfidence, but also nurture other virtues like patriotism and love for God. The themes for these activities include patriotic songs, prayers, and bhajans. The music, dance, and theatre shows are generally about national heroes or spiritual luminaries from epics, puranas, and even modern times. Quiz competitions are held on Indian culture, history, and ancient literature. Students are taught Sanskrit and are encouraged to converse in it. Spiritual Development and Love of God Love for God is expressed in serving Him. But how to serve God? Swamiji tells T h e

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us to serve Him through our fellow beings. Hence the schools take every opportunity to tell the children about the service rendered by great leaders and also common people. Opportunities are created for them to interact with social workers and learn about their passion for serving others and public causes. Spiritual personages, particularly from the Ramakrishna Order, are regularly invited to address the students. Together with the alumni, the schools conduct medical camps, run free tuition centres for students of government schools, clean temples and tanks, distribute provisions to orphanages and old-age homes, and also serve the inmates of the old-age homes. Apart from these activities, our schools also conduct a residential camp for students after they pass class IX. Aptly named ‘Deeksha’, the camp requires students to visit a village or slum. Through surveys and interaction with the residents, they study the living conditions. This is done to sensitise the students about the living conditions of economically and socially underprivileged sections of society. They later discuss possible intervention measures to improve conditions. These measures may take the form of improving sanitation, cleaning tanks, conducting medical camps, etc. When some students have told their parents about the living conditions of villages and slums, the parents themselves have subsequently taken up various service activities to improve the lives of the inhabitants. Many students have developed a serviceminded attitude following these camps. We believe that they will serve public causes later in their lives. These Deeksha camps culminate in our schools adopting a temple or a village and working for its upliftment.

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Patriotism Reverence and respect for the Motherland is inculcated in the students from the very beginning of their schooling. The birthdays of great men and women of India are celebrated in a meaningful manner to communicate their messages to the students. Quiz programmes are conducted on the lives and messages of such leaders, and on the history, geography, and economics of India. Vivekananda Jayanthi, or National Youth Day, is celebrated in a grand manner in all our schools, also involving neighbouring schools. Under the ‘Adopt a Hero’ scheme, each of our schools has adopted a hero to commemorate the memory of a war hero who has laid down his life in the service of our Motherland. Gurukula Education ‘My idea of education is personal contact with the teacher—Gurugriha-Vasa. Without the personal life of a teacher there would be no education.’6 The Vivekananda Educational Society, with a view to reviving the gurukula system, promoted a residential school in the outskirts of Chennai, with infrastructure for students and teachers to live on the campus. The students are guided by the teachers and spiritual personages inside and outside the classrooms, round the clock, in various activities which are designed to encourage the development of their physical, intellectual and spiritual faculties.

Expansion Is Life Swamiji mandates that education should be taken to the doorsteps of needy children. VES followed his words and started schools in the outskirts of Chennai city, particularly in the northern and western suburbs which were underdeveloped areas at the time. For the last 20 years, the Society went to villages to start and nurture schools which have been accepted by the local people and are developing at a rapid pace. VES has adopted a unique Mother-Child Plan for expanding its educational activities. Under this plan, every well-developed school (called a Mother School) that has adequate financial and manpower resources will start one or more schools (called Child Schools) in villages or areas where underprivileged people live. The Mother Schools nurture the Child Schools until they attain a state of self-sufficiency. Macaulay to Vivekananda This shift from the Macaulay system to the Vivekananda system has not been easy. The schools have to cope with and balance the demands of various boards of affiliation and examinations, the expectations of parents, and the attitudes of teachers. Behind the Society’s growth lies the dedicated work of volunteers, teachers, and philanthropic supporters. We at the Vivekananda Education Society hope that the Vivekananda Way of education will spread across the country and enrich the lives of our future generations.

References 1. The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata, Mayavati Memorial Edition, [hereafter CW] Vol. 3, p,.302 2. CW, Vol. 2, p, 15

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3. CW, Vol. 4, p, 358 4. CW, Vol. 1, p, 28 5. CW, Vol. 3, p, 274 6. CW, Vol. 5, p, 224

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Article

The Study Circles IIT, Madras To enrich oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s life has been the aim of all culture. In the past, the accumulated culture of ages guided men to a life of refinement, and yet helped them remain connected to their roots, their surroundings. But today, as technology advances, life is becoming complex by the day. In this changed context, what is the meaning of values, of culture? Is there a way of conducting ourselves, by which, we too can contribute something positive to the march of our country, and in turn, to the human destiny? Again, we often hear that it was in India that the grandest ideas ever held about Man were thought out. India of the old had created a society that was deeply spiritual and yet, unrivalled in its material prosperity. Undoubtedly, this was a result of the view of life as held here. Is this ideal still relevant today? Can knowledge of these treasures of her wisdom radically transform our life? Can we reframe these ideas to suit this era, marked by pace and competition and driven by success? But today India Herself is besieged with problems. What is the way out for her? These were some of the issues that captured the minds of a group of enthusiastic students of IIT Madras sometime in 1992. They decided to seek the answers by studying the life and message of Swami Vivekananda, the patriotic-saint and national hero of India. These students formed an informal study circle and gathered in one or the other hostel rooms, usually after dinner on a weekday. The T h e

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discussions drew students from all sections, B. Tech, M.Tech and Ph.D programmes. This informal study circle was active till April 1994. Perhaps, providence, unwilling to let this enthusiastic group to be deprived of soul-nourishing ideas, propelled the then Director of IIT Madras, Prof N V C Swamy, to commence at the Institute level a series of lectures on the life and message of Swami Vivekananda and Sri Ramakrishna, Karma and Bhakti Yogas etc. Prof N V C Swamy was a scholar in Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Literature and closely associated with the Ramakrishna Movement. The lectures were held on every Friday between 4.30 pm to 6.00 pm. The year 1997 saw the commemoration of the Centenary year of the triumphant return of Swami Vivekananda from the West. After proclaiming the glory and wisdom of India and her heritage at the Parliament of Religions and elsewhere, Swami Vivekananda returned to India in 1897 and by his inspiring and soul-stirring speeches awakened the Indians, especially the youth of Madras, to their cultural heritage and national responsibility. Perhaps Providence felt that with the recapitulation and commemoration of this historic event, it must now favour the formation of a formal Vivekananda Study Circle at IIT Madras. And in late 1997, the Study Circle received formal recognition from the Institution. The editor-monk of The Vedanta Kesari became the mentor of the group.

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Around this time, the Vedanta Kesari had published an Editorial in which there was a commentary on the three fold stages in Buddhism â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Buddham Sharanam Gacchami, Dhammam Sharanam Gacchami, Sangham Sharanam Ghacchami. In the charter document of the Vivekananda Study Circle, this idea was adopted as it is. First, the personality of Vivekananda as an ideal for youth, then his teachings and clarion call to awaken our potential divinity and serve the nation, and then the Sangha or Circle of like-minded people. When we go through a journey of awakening, struggles inevitably throw themselves up and we need the support the Sangha or the Circle of friends to sustain us through our struggles and inevitable bouts of self-doubt. Friends in the Circle can empathise with us and lend a helping hand or a patient ear. VSC is now in its 20th year and continues to successfully conduct its meetings every Sunday from 9.30 am to 11.30 am. The meeting is conducted in the IIT campus and is guided by the editor-monk of The Vedanta Kesari. It consists of Vedic chanting, guided meditation, readings from Swami Vivekanandaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s works, lecture on the topic of the day followed by Q & A session. The topics cover all aspects of personality development, meditation, cultural heritage of India, Vedantic texts like Kathopanishad and the Bhagavad Gita and the life and message of Swami Vivekananda.

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Besides the Sunday classes, VSC volunteers also regularly meet on Friday evenings to discuss some fundamental Vedantic texts. Every year VSC organizes guest lectures and workshops by eminent personalities from various fields on topics of national relevance. Our guest lecture speakers include Dr. Abdul Kalam, Swami Sarvapriyananda, Michel Danino and others. IIT, Kanpur Sometime in the 1970s a group of students and teachers of IIT Kanpur came together and decided to give tutorial coaching to poor students outside the campus. Soon this group grew in size and became a registered student body of the institution. Now over 50 years old, Vivekananda Samiti continues to spread the message of Swami Vivekananda among the campus residents. The Samiti also takes up community service projects like health and vaccination camps, and eye camps in nearby villages, cloth collection drive, and fund collection drives during natural calamities. Every year in January a Vivekananda Youth Leadership Convention is arranged to celebrate the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. Regular lectures are arranged where eminent personalities from academics, social service, military, and sports inspire the IIT students. Every Saturday morning a guided meditation session is conducted from 9.am by

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the head of the Ramakrishna Mission Kanpur. Swamis of the Ramakrishna Order are invited to deliver annual lectures on Vedanta and the life and message of Swami Vivekananda. Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School, Mylapore, Chennai The Swami Vivekananda Study Circle was started in Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School in 2015. As the teacher who initiated the move says, she used to often ask her students, ‘Have you been good? Have you been spending your time usefully?’ When she asked herself the same questions, her life took a turn towards Swami Vivekananda. And soon with the support of the administration, SVSC came into existence in the school. Under SVSC, enthusiastic students from class 8,9, and 10 gather once a fortnight to read and discuss the life and message of Swami Vivekananda. They occasionally attend lectures at the Ramakrishna Math, Chennai and also participate in voluntary service. The SVSC students have imbibed the art of recycling paper and plastic. The boys of Class 9 initiated the ‘One Side’ project where students and teachers were encouraged to deposit any one sided circulars or papers into cardboard boxes kept along the school’s

corridors. These papers are stitched into booklets and again distributed among teachers and students. As part of their commitment to environment protection, they held a mango planting session, where with used milk packets they grew 75 mango saplings to be used in afforestation. They maintain an organic roof garden in the school. The simple act of carrying bags of soil over two flights of stairs, they feel, has taught them the value of teamwork and coordination. This year SVSC pledged to have a green Diwali. Animals suffer from the sound of crackers. This was discussed at the fortnight meeting and all the school students were suggested to enjoy Diwali in better and nobler ways. Some of the ideas were to spend an hour or two with the old people in neighbourhood, and to distribute sweets and gifts to the poor. In October 2016, SVSC members discussed the life and values of Mahatma Gandhi. Several students participated in the Gandhi Peace Examination conducted by the Gandhi Peace Foundation of India and three students won prizes at the National Level. Inspired with the idea of giving back to the society, some senior students are helping under privileged younger children in their studies.

Swamiji’s love for humanity was so profound that when alone he often shed tears WKLQNLQJDERXWWKHPLVHULHVRIPHQ7KHIROORZLQJLQFLGHQWKDSSHQHGDIWHUKLV¿UVWYLVLWWR America. One day Swami Turiyananda came to see him at the residence of Balaram Basu where he had been staying. Turiyananda found Swamiji walking alone on the verandah. He was so lost in thought that he did not notice that his brother monk had come to meet him. After a little while, Swamiji began to hum a well-known song of Mirabai, with tears rolling down his cheeks. Then he covered his face with both hands, leaned on the railings and, continued to sing: ‘Oh nobody understands my sorrow! He, who does not bleed, does not feel the pain!’ Narrating this incident, Swami Turiyananda later said, ‘His voice pierced my heart like an arrow, moving me to tears. Not knowing the cause of Swamiji’s sorrow I was YHU\XQHDV\%XWLWVRRQÀDVKHGXSRQPHWKDWLWZDVDWUHPHQGRXVXQLYHUVDOV\PSDWK\ with the suffering and oppressed that was the cause of his mood.’ T h e

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Article

Inspiration from a Voice without Form DR. V.V. SUBRAMANIAN

‘Do you know who Swami Vivekananda is?’ I asked the group of little children sitting mble Panchayat in the classroom of a humble mote village in a Union Primary school in a remote du. I expected southern district of Tamil Nadu. a stony silence in return. But to my pleasant surprise, the tiny hands of almost half the class shot up. I looked around, selected the tiniest of them all, and the little girl stood up. now about ‘Well, what do you know ne. She was Swamiji?’ I asked the little one. about five years old and cute. rs ora ange ‘Ayya! Swamiji wears orange is.’ Shee tthrew hrew ew clothes and stands like this.’ nd looked d u p at her arms across her chest and up miji as seen in a me, taking the stance of Swamiji ace had acquired number of photographs. Her face a rare glow of pride and fearlessness. This happened at one of my regular outings to address schoolchildren in different parts of Tamil Nadu during Swamiji’s 150th Birth Anniversary celebrations. It was an eyeopener. Not only has the great teaching of Swamiji influenced the youth of our country, but even his looks and stance have made such an impact that a child from an obscure corner of our country has imbibed his spirit and strength without any tutorial assistance. I have been talking about Swamiji’s life and message to students from primary to tertiary levels for more than four decades now—a rare privilege by the grace of Sri

Ramakrishna. Never has there been an instance when the name of Swamiji failed to invoke a special interest among students. Self-confidence Classes in moral instruction at the Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda College, Che Chennai, are always fondly remembered by the graduates. These classes are h held during the first hour of every wee week, and students are taught the lives and an messages of the Holy Trinity through lectures and songs. At the end of the y year there is a written test; who score highest thee three students th st One of my less bright rreceive eceiv ivee prizes. priz students studen nts ffrom rom the ffirst year told me that he ro would d not take the test, as he was not doing regular subjects. I told him, well even in his reg ‘Look! There is no connection between this and your other subjects. This is different. I can spare you a book on Swamiji. You read it and then decide.’ The student then went back and took the test the following week. He scored second place among the fifty students who took the test. This gave him confidence that he started doing well in his other subjects, and was one of the top students by the time he reached the final year. On his last day, as he was leaving, he confided to me that the turning point had been the book about Swamiji. Quotations and Lessons

The author is the ex-Principal of Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda College, Chennai T h e

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Quotations from Swamiji and lessons from his life are the spice of personalitydevelopment and motivational classes. ‘Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached’ is perhaps one of the best statements from the Upanishads that Swamiji made universally popular. Chased by fierce monkeys when he was a wandering monk, Swamiji conquered his fear by ‘facing the brutes’. This is an incident in his life that never fails to inspire young students to overcome their own fear and shyness. ‘Sisters and brothers of America!’ is a magical phrase of Swamiji that opened his first speech at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago. It has always evoked a sense of universal brotherhood in the young minds I chanced to meet. Once a student asked, ‘Sir! Why did this opening statement receive such a thundering response from the audience? Had no one else ever begun a speech in this manner?’ That was a very good question. I replied, ‘It was not just the words. It was the difference between talking from the lips and talking from the heart.’ The student promised me that he would always remember to speak from the heart. Speed Reading Institutes of Speed Reading function in large numbers in the West. They cater to clients who may come from backgrounds ranging from small colleges to big corporations. This is becoming popular in India now as part of the training required for academic excellence and corporate success. When I meet students taking such training, I tell them the incident from the life of Swamiji in which the librarian who loaned him books could not believe that Swamiji could read so many voluminous books overnight. A few students found this interesting and started reading the entire life of Swamiji.

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One-Teacher Schools Recently I happened to address around six hundred teachers who are working in six hundred one-teacher schools located in Kanchipuram and Thiruvallur districts of Tamil Nadu. These schools were conceptualised and are managed by a non-profit organisation which is a unit of the Swami Vivekananda Rural Development Society. They have taken to heart Swamiji’s message, ‘If children can’t go to school, why not bring the school to the children?’ These schools function during evening hours and serve students from class 1 to class 5. Each school has a single teacher who has to look after the interests of about twenty to thirty children of different age groups and standards. Apart from teaching the regular syllabus, the teachers run health-awareness programs, teach personal hygiene, yoga, music in the form of bhajans and songs, and Tamil poetry. All the teachers I addressed were rural women coming from very humble academic backgrounds. But to my astonishment I found that their accomplishments were impressive, and they took pride in what they were doing. At the end of my lecture I asked them, ‘You are all doing so much in the field of primary education without much academic experience. What makes this possible?’ Almost the entire auditorium reverberated with their answer in unison: ‘It is Swami Vivekananda’s message that provides us with all the necessary spirit, solution, and strength.’ Having gone through many such experiences, I am of the opinion that Swami Vivekananda’s life and message will always do wonders for the progress of our younger generation. As he himself said, he will continue to inspire mankind as a voice without form.

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Alumni Voice Ramakrishna Mission Vidyamandira, Belur Math Vidyamandira was my first home away from home when I joined the college as a B.Sc Chemistry (Honours) student in 2005. I remember the first few weeks were spent in adjusting to a new way of life which presented several challenges. Perhaps the biggest challenge, which later metamorphosed into the biggest lesson, was being able to live with different people with fundamentally different values. No, compromise was not an option, and that taught me a very important lesson that I have carried with me ever since – the ability to adjust and acclimatize with any environment without creating issues. When I look back, the most important things I took away from those three years were character and values, compassion and brotherhood, and willpower. Perhaps less important to me was the actual subject knowledge I gained, because I realized with time that information contained in books are of little help in leading one’s life. It can earn us our bread, but not our contentment. In those three years, I hit both ups and downs in life. During challenging times, the principles our monks taught us were indispensable. I realized that the spiritual texts we discussed in our daily prayer meetings were very relevant to our own personal journeys. Vidyamandira has created a unique environment that builds on Swami Vivekananda’s model of education. I learnt in Vidyamandira that education starts by knowing oneself inside out and Vidyamandira is the perfect platform for the incubation of this philosophy. I can say with T h e

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firm conviction that this is one of the primary reasons for the numerous success stories of Vidyamandira students. My experience with Vidyamandira’s system of education was transformative, one that seeded virtues in me which I hope to hold on to for the rest of my life. — Utsarga Adhikary - Ph.D. student in cancer biology at Harvard University, U.S.A. Sri Ramakrishna Vidyashala, Mysuru ‘Education is the manifestation of perfection already in man’. This is the first quote I heard when I entered Vidyashala. I thought about this deeply. ‘How can education already be present in us?‘ ‘Then why should I study?’ ‘How to manifest this perfection?‘ These were some of the questions that came to my mind. But gradually I understood the essence of that statement. Every soul is potentially divine and equal. But we don’t realize that. Everything is present within us. All we have to do is to awaken this latent potential. This can be done by the way we live and by our surroundings. There is a saying that a child’s mind is like wet clay. It takes the form that its surroundings give it. Thus, environment plays a major role in the growth of an individual. This is especially true in the teenage phase which is a very important turning point in life. Vidyashala helped me to go through this hard part of life quite smoothly. It taught me to focus on all-round development by cultivating qualities like leadership, social living, shramdaan, taking up responsibilities and time management. Above all it has taught me the importance of working without

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attachment and the need to rise above petty desires and have higher ideals. Studying in

Vidyashala from 2011 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 2016 was the best thing that could happen in my life.

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Raveesh Suresh Bannihatti, Ist year MBBS, Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, Bengaluru The train stopped at the Jolarpet junction. It was all commotion. Ravi got into the S8 compartment. Slightly soiled shirt and paint brush in hand. Whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s he? Is he one of those who earn their livelihood sweeping the trains? Ravi had entered the coach when the passengers were thinking that they would have to bear the stench of garbage in the compartment until they reached Mysore next morning. 5DYLEHJDQWRVZHHSWKHĂ&#x20AC;RRURIWKHFRPSDUWPHQWZLWKDEUXVK$EHDUGHGPDQHDWLQJ groundnuts dropped the shells in the same place Ravi had just cleaned. Ravi cleared that again. When he went to the next carriage, an imposing voice ordered, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Clean here.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; When 5DYLFOHDQHGLWWKHPRXVWDFKHGPDQĂ&#x20AC;XQJDUXSHHDWKLP5DYLSLFNHGLWXSFDOPO\DQG returned it. Oozing sarcasm, the moustached man told his friend, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Just see! His Highness thinks one rupee is not enough for the work he does. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s why the boss is giving it backâ&#x20AC;Śâ&#x20AC;Śâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Ravi did not respond. By the time the friend could say, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;You should have given it to him courteouslyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, Ravi was busy cleaning coach no.S6. A young woman told her husband, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;This boy is cleaning very wellâ&#x20AC;Śâ&#x20AC;Śpoor fellow.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; The husband sharply advised, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Keep quiet. We should not give money to such fellows. It encourages begging,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; and continued listening to music on his cell phone. Ravi went to coach no.S5. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Sir, corruption is increasing in the country. It is intolerable. The Government is banking only on money from the Tasmac shops. You think anybody can save this country, now?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I had been to Sweden, One cannot see a speck of dust there, but hereâ&#x20AC;Śâ&#x20AC;Śâ&#x20AC;Ś I cannot stay in this dirty place, I am going to see the TTE.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Ravi swept the dirt under these conversationalists too. One of them gave a rupee, but Ravi smilingly refused. In compartment no.4, an ill-tempered lady shouted â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I have dust allergy, so donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t do anything here,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; and plunged back into slumber. When Ravi returned to compartment no.8, a gentleman offered Rs.5 and softly said, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Have some tea.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; He quickly bowed his head to avoid his wifeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s reproachful eyes. Still she adviced him â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;These boys will pretend to clean and then loot the luggage.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Ravi ignored this conversation. Who is this Ravi? Is he a beggar? Doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t look so. Dumb? Deaf? Lunatic? Looking at him affectionately an old lady said, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Come here, my boy. Have these two idlis.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Ravi simply smiled. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Are you dumb?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; asked the old lady. Ravi laughed and replied, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Grandma we three friends are studying in college. On Saturdays and Sundays we do this kind of service in the railway carriages.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; %\WKDWWLPHDQRWKHUODGFDPHWKHUHÂľ5DYL,KDYHÂżQLVKHGÂŤÂŤÂś â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;But, why are you doing this?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; asked a girl seated nearby. With his head held high, Ravi answered, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Maâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;am, wherever our people live, that is India. With this thought we are serving our country. I request you all, wherever you go please keep that place clean; especially public places.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Raviâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s friend added, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;There is one more reason behind our work. It is to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Sister Nivedita.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; All the 72 passengers in the compartment were jolted awake. Their deep slumber dozed off. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Swami Vimurtananda T h e

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Volume 103

Index to Titles and Authors

The Vedanta Kesari January–December 2016 ‘Let the Lion of Vedanta roar, the foxes will fly to their holes.’ —Swami Vivekananda Managing Editor: Swami GautamanandaU Editor: Swami Mahamedhananda Printed and Published by Swami Vimurtananda for

SRI RAMAKRISHNA MATH MYLAPORE, CHENNAI 600 004

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Annual Index 2016 Section A—January to November 2016

Title - Index A

Abhedananda and Education, Swami—R Ramachandra Annual Report Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission: Synopsis of the Governing Body Report for 2014-15

354

61

B Baba Premananda Bharati and the Vedanta Society—Gopal Stavig 72, 104 Book Reviews 40, 82, 119, 160, 200, 240, 280, 320, 363, 401, 440 C Celebrating our Heritage 352 Code of Conduct for Householders according to Jainism—Swami Brahmeshananda 308, 341 Cultivating Santosha or Contentment—Swami Brahmeshananda 20 D Dealing with Pride—Swami Sudarshanananda

36

E Editorial Bhagavad Gita: A Source of Eternal Wisdom and Values—Swami Atmashraddhananda 206 Charm and Grace of Sri Ramakrishna’s Gospel, The—Swami Atmashraddhananda 126 Did You Ask a Good Question Today?— Swami Mahamedhananda 286 Finding Our Space—Outer and Inner—Swami Atmashraddhananda 2 Finding the ‘Ocean’ Within—Swami Atmashraddhananda 86 Great Game!, The— Swami Mahamedhananda 366 How to Play?— Swami Mahamedhananda 405 Practice of Prayer, The—A Perspective—Swami Atmashraddhananda 246 Rare Wise Man of Inward Gaze, A—Swami Atmashraddhananda 46 Right to an Answer, A— Swami Mahamedhananda 326 Selfless Service—Swami Atmashraddhananda 166 Education—the Panacea For Social Evils—Lekshmi.R and Thara Jane Paul 193 F Faith and Self-Surrender —Umesh Gulati Following the Rituals In Durga Puja—Swami Asutoshananda Food and Karma: A Spiritual Perspective—Rajshree and Raghunath Deshmukh Four Visions of ‘M’, The—Swami Sunirmalananda Freedom as Envisaged by Swami Vivekananda—L.Vijai T h e

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G Gita Verse for Reflection 1, 45, 85, 125, 165, 205, 245, 285, 325, 365, 404 Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna and Tirukkural: Some Similarities, The—K. Panchapagesan 304 H Holistic Development through Religious Harmony : The Vision and Mission of Swami Vivekananda—T V Muralivallabhan Holy Mother—The Divine Consort of Sri Ramakrishna—Sudesh How Hinduism Came to America—Umesh Gulati

234, 256 12, 52 137

I I Will Protect Them—Swami Sudarshanananda

434

Kanakadasa: The Saint Singer of Dvaita Vedanta—P. Nagaraja Rao

415

K L Listen, You Children of Immortal Bliss—Shyamali Ghosh

91

M Memories of Swami Parameshwarananda: A Disciple of Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi—A.K. Dey Musings on India’s Unity—Michel Danino

144, 188 219

N New Find Unpublished Letters of Swami Saradananda 22, 70, 102, 152, 191, 232, 275, 312, 332, 386, 427 Nivedita and Indian Renaissance, Sister—Swami Lokeswarananda 381, 429 Vivekananda in Madras—Some Anecdotes—D.B. Raghunath Rao 24 O Order on the March, The Our Heritage ~ Our Heroes

38, 80, 115, 156, 197, 237, 277, 317, 361, 398, 436 372, 411

P Perspectives on Death—Rajshree and Raghunath Deshmukh Practical Vedanta—Swami Tathagatananda

314 294

R Rama’s Brother Lakshmana, a Great Yogi—S. Seshadri 180 Ramakrishna’s Two Vyasas, Sri—Pravrajika Virajaprana 130, 171 Ramakrishna Math at Ramanathapuram: An Overview—Swami Abhiramananda 297 Recollecting a Divine Life—Swami Satyapriyananda 421 Reminiscences Reminiscences of Sargachhi —Swami Suhitananda 7, 56, 97, 134, 175, 211, 252, 290, 328, 368, 407 Review Article Complete Works of Sister Nivedita, The—‘Khoki’ of Holy Mother and the ‘Most Rebellious Disciple’ of Swami Vivekananda—P.S. Sundaram 184 Sarada Devi and Her Divine Play, Sri—Sumita Roy 17 T h e

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S Simhâvalokanam Birthday Celebration of Swami Vivekananda, The Ethical aspect of the Vedanta, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, The Meditation, On Need for Sanskrit Study Ramakrishna Sri, the Great Master Social Institutions and Individual Disciplines Special Reports Platinum Jubilee Celebrations of Sarada Vidyalaya, Chennai Re-consecration of the Old Temple at Chennai Math Hindu Spiritual and Service Fair Krishna Pushkaram National Awareness Convention on Leprosy Ramakrishna Math, Chandipur: Centenary Celebrations Ramakrishna Mission Vidyamandira: 75 Glorious Years Search of Mind through Sciences, In —Gopal C Bhar Search of Truth, In—Some Reflections on Brahmasutras—Swami Golokananda

50 210 170, 289 251 89 129 6 108 29 396 397 395 360 359 345 216

T Theory and Practice of Eco-Yoga: Thoughts on How Yoga Can Help Remedy Environmental Issues—K.V.Raghupathi True Religion—Dr. S. Radhakrishnan Travelogue Pilgrimage to the Monastery of Sri Totapuriji, A —Dera Baba Ladana in Haryana—A Monastic Sojourner Influence of Vedanta Societies in the United States of America —Seema & Sejal Kanubhai Mandavia Mahashivaratri in Taiping, Malaysia—Shiuli Mukherji

75, 110 356

267 388 154

U Understanding Samvega or ‘Intensity’: In Yoga Perspective —Swami Brahmeshananda

149

Vedanta and Swami Vivekananda—Swami Tathagatananda Vedanta: An Understanding—Navina Mehan Vijnanananda’s Mystical Experiences, Swami—Swami Jagadiswarananda

64 393 413

V

Y Youth and their Problems: Lessons in Coping with Life from Swami Vivekananda—Swami Satyapriyananda

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Author - Index A Abhiramananda, Swami—Ramakrishna Math at Ramanathapuram: An Overview Asutoshananda, Swami—Following the Rituals In Durga Puja

297 374

B Brahmeshananda, Swami—Code of Conduct for Householders according to Jainism 308, 341 Brahmeshananda, Swami—Cultivating Santosha or Contentment 20 Brahmeshananda, Swami—Understanding Samvega or ‘Intensity’: In Yoga Perspective 149 D Dey, A.K.—Memories of Swami Parameshwarananda: A Disciple of Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi

144, 188

G Golokananda, Swami—In Search of Truth—Some Reflections on Brahmasutras Gopal C Bhar—In Search of Mind through Sciences Gopal Stavig—Baba Premananda Bharati and the Vedanta Society

216 345 72, 104

J Jagadiswarananda, Swami—Swami Vijnanananda’s Mystical Experiences

413

L Lekshmi. R and Thara Jane Paul—Education—the Panacea For Social Evils Lokeswarananda, Swami—Sister Nivedita and Indian Renaissance—New Find

193 381, 429

M Michel Danino—Musings on India’s Unity Monastic Sojourner, A—A Pilgrimage to the Monastery of Sri Totapuriji—Dera Baba Ladana in Haryana—Travelogue Muralivallabhan, T.V—Holistic Development through Religious Harmony : The Vision and Mission of Swami Vivekananda

219 267 234, 256

N Nagaraja Rao, P—Kanakadasa: The Saint Singer of Dvaita Vedanta Navina Mehan—Vedanta: An Understanding

415 393

Panchapagesan, K.—The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna and Tirukkural: Some Similarities

304

Radhakrishnan, Dr. S—True Religion Raghunath Rao, D.B.—Vivekananda in Madras—Some Anecdotes—New Find Raghupathi, K.V.—Theory and Practice of Eco-Yoga: Thoughts on How Yoga Can Help Remedy Environmental Issues Rajshree and Raghunath Deshmukh—Food and Karma: A Spiritual Perspective Rajshree and Raghunath Deshmukh—Perspectives on Death Ramachandra, R—Swami Abhedananda and Education

356 24

P R

75, 110 31 314 354

S Satyapriyananda, Swami—Youth and their Problems: Lessons in Coping with Life from Swami Vivekananda Satyapriyananda, Swami—Recollecting a Divine Life T h e

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Seema & Sejal Kanubhai Mandavia—Influence of Vedanta Societies in the United States of America —Travelogue 388 Seshadri, S—Rama’s Brother Lakshmana, a Great Yogi 180 Shiuli Mukherji—Mahashivaratri in Taiping, Malaysia—Travelogue 154 Shyamali Ghosh—‘Listen, You Children of Immortal Bliss’ 91 Sudarshanananda, Swami—Dealing with Pride 36 Sudarshanananda, Swami—I Will Protect Them 434 Sudesh—Holy Mother—The Divine Consort of Sri Ramakrishna 12, 52 Suhitananda, Swami—Reminiscences of Sargachhi—Reminiscences 7, 56, 97, 134, 175, 211, 252, 290, 328, 368, 407 Sumita Roy—Sri Sarada Devi and Her Divine Play 17 Sundaram, P.S.—The Complete Works of Sister Nivedita—‘Khoki’ of Holy Mother and the ‘Most Rebellious Disciple’ of Swami Vivekananda—Review Article 184 Sunirmalananda, Swami—The Four Visions of ‘M’ 334 T Tathagatananda, Swami—Practical Vedanta Tathagatananda, Swami—Vedanta and Swami Vivekananda

294 64

Umesh Gulati—Faith and Self-Surrender Umesh Gulati—How Hinduism Came to America

417 137

U

V Vijai, L—Freedom as Envisaged by Swami Vivekananda Virajaprana, Pravrajika —Sri Ramakrishna’s Two Vyasas

337 130, 171

Review - Index Adi Shankara Jayanti Volume 2012 —‘Self-Knowledge: The Core of Shankara’s Philosophy’—by Adi Sankara Vedanta Pratishthanam Andal’s Tiruppavai and Nammazhvar’s Andakola Viruddhi—by Vankeepuram Rajagopalan. Awakening & Channelising Youth Power—by Pravrajika Amalaprana Awakening with Swami Vivekananda—Edited by Susmita Bandyopadhyay and Dr. Mousumi Chakraborty. Bhagavad Gita, A thread through the eighteen gems, A Re-reading, The —by Dr. A.V. Srinivasan Bijak of Kabir, The—by Linda Hess & Sukhdev Singh Chronological account of Events in the Parivrajaka Life of Swami Vivekananda —by Dr. Shyamali Chowdhury Complete Guide to Managing Stress, A—by Dr. Bimal Chhajer Concept of Tapas in Valmiki Ramayana, The—by Anna Subramanian Creepers of Compassion, Sri Maha Periyava’s Views on Code for Women— by Ra Ganapati published by Director, Veda Prakaasanam Dhyanabindupanishat—by Dr. K.S. Balasubramanian and Dr.T.V. Vasudeva. Divyatraya-Padarpita-Pushpamanjari (Sanskrit Only)—by Svami Harshananda Puri T h e

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Ego Goes: Divinity Grows—by J. P. Vaswani. Empower Yourself—by J.P.Vaswani Endless Quest and Other Heart-to-Heart Talks, The—by J.P.Vaswani Enigmas in Valmiki Ramayana—explained by S.R.Krishna Murthy Exploring Mysticism A Methodological Essay—by Frits Staal. Face it With Love—by J.P.Vaswani Flora, Fauna and Nature in Buddhist Thought—by Dr Suruchi Pande and Dr Satish Pande Global Wanderings of Swami Vivekananda—by Pravrajika Amalaprana Guruvayur, God’s own Temple—by Prof. S.S.Warrier Happily Ever After, 10 Secrets of Happy Marriage.—by J.P.Vaswani Happiness and Peace in Everyday Life—by Swami Nikhileswarananda Hindu Mind, The—by Bansi Pandit Hindu Primer, A: Yaksha Prashna—by Dr. A.V. Srinivasan Hinduism Scriptures and Practices—by Prabha Duneja Hinduism The Faith Eternal—by Dr. Satish K. Kapoor. i, the citizen—by Dr.R.Balasubramaniam Immortal stories—Wisdom to nourish your Mind and Soul—by J.P. Vaswani Indian Culture—by Pravrajika Amalaprana Isavasya Upanishad - Discourse and Commentary—by Dr.Rajni Kant Lahri, Journal of Oriental Research, Madras, The, Vol.85 and 86 —published by The Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute Know Thyself—by Gian Kumar Let Go By Prof. A. Satyanarayana Sastry—Edited by Garani.S Radhakrsnan Life-Story of Sri Ramakrishna, The—Original Bengali by Ramachandra Datta, English Rendering based on the translation by Swami Sarvadevananda Make Me a Man – Message of Swami Vivekananda—by T.S. Avinashilingam. Mystic Wisdom of Kabir, The—translation by Swami Brahmeshananda Nurturing Relationships—by Swami Nikhileswarananda Pages from the Past – Part 1—by Rameshwar Tantia Pancha Panchakam—by Mee. Rajagopalan and Dr. Ketu Ramachandrasekhar Pioneering Visionary, A – Glimpses of the Life and Work of V. Seshasayee —by Dr. S. Sudharssanam and G. M. Rajendran. Rajayoga—by Swami Vivekananda Translated into Sanskrit by Sri Keshavalal V. Sastry Ramakrishna and His Gospel, Sri, Vol 2, —by Swami Bhuteshananda. Trans by Swami Vimohananda and Dharitri Kumar Das Gupta. Ramayana At A Glance—by Sadguru Sant Keshavadas Ramayana of Valmiki An Apprisal, The—by Swami Harshananda Rambles in Vedanta—by BR Rajam Iyer Science of Hinduism—by S.R.Krishna Murthy Secret of Bhagavad Gita, The – Discover the World’s Grandest Truth—by Sri Vishwanath, Sekkizhar’s Periya Puranam Retold by S. Ponnuswamy,—edited by Urmila Vaidyanathan Shodasi – Secrets of the Ramayana (A Tantric Commentary on Valmiki Ramayana)—by Gunturu Seshendra Sharma Srimad Bhagavad Gita—by Mamidipudi Ramakrishnaiah T h e

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441 160 201 281 42 403 242 163 363 403 43 83 84 41 440 401 243 163 204 122 241 203 82 119 161 43 83 280 364 320 440 162 164 282 324 243 402 320 120


144

Stay Connected and Other Heart–to-Heart Talks—by J.P.Vaswani Stolen Idol—by Sri Vishwanath, Struggle for Freedom, The—by Pravrajika Amalaprana Towards Wholeness Vedanta – Science – Swami Vivekananda—by Pravrajika Amalaprana Twelve Azhvars.—by Smt. Gowri Rajagopal Upanishads deciphering their goal, purpose and content, The—by Sushila Krishnamurthi Vedanta Sadhana and Shakti Puja—by Swami Swahananda Vivekacudamani—by Dravidacharya Sri Ramakrishnan Swami Vivekananda & Others—byTapash Sankar Dutta Wanderings with Swami Vivekananda Almora (Know your country series 3) —by Pravrajika Amalaprana Wanderings with Swami Vivekananda Delhi & Rajasthan (Know your country series 4) —by Pravrajika Amalaprana Wanderings with Swami Vivekananda Gujrat & Punjab (Know your country series 5) —by Pravrajika Amalaprana Wanderings with Swami Vivekananda West Bengal (Know your country series 2) —by Pravrajika Amalaprana Wisdom in Verses Dohavali By Goswami Tulasidas—translated by Swami Brahmeshananda Wisdom of Advaita, Shankara Jayanti Volume— Published by Adi Shankara Vedanta Pratishthanam, Bhubaneswar Women Empowerment—by Pravrajika Amalaprana Yoga-Tarangini—by Jan K. Brzezinski Yoga-Yajnavalkya-Samhita. The Yoga Treatise of Yajnavalkya —English Translation by Dr. M. Jayaraman

160 323 163 163 363 42 243 201 120 162 162 162 162 200 442 163 283 321

Reviewers Brahmeshananda, Swami Chetana Mandavia Eakambaram, N Gokulmuthu, N, Gopalakrishnan, R Hariharan, N Panchapagesan, K Prasannakshi Prema Nandakumar Prema Raghunath Santosh Kumar Sharma Satyamayananda, Swami Shantachittananda, Swami Srinivas Subhasis Chattopadhyay Sundaram, P.S. Swamy, NVC V.K. Office T h e

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124, 202, 281 82, 164 44 204, 440 42, 123, 442 41, 160, 162, 163, 164, 201, 242, 281, 282, 321 42, 204, 283 320 241, 283, 363 43, 120, 163, 201, 241, 243, 402, 403 120 84 403, 442 243 244, 441 83, 84, 121, 161, 162, 243, 323, 324, 364, 441 203, 284, 322 122

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EDUCATION: PERSPECTIVES & PRACTICES MReďŹ&#x201A;ection

443

Editorial MLearn to Learn Articles MEducation and Its Perennial Value Swami Gautamananda MEducation: A Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Perspective Swami Abhiramananda MEducation: Awakening the Real Man Swami Nityasthananda MCritical Enquiry: A Vedantic Perspective Swami Atmapriyananda MSwami Vivekananda and a New Pedagogy Swami Atmarupananda MThe Changing Classroom Student-Teacher Interaction in an Increasingly Virtual World Swami Narasimhananda MThe Upanishadic Ideal of Education Swami Japasiddhananda MAn Education in Acceptance Pravrajika Divyanandaprana MEducational Lessons from the Gita Dr. N.V.C. Swamy MSister Nivedita and Indian Education Prema Raghunath MIndian Culture and Indian Education Pramod Kumar MBuilding a Resurgent India Dr. R Balasubramaniam MInternet Addiction: The Undoing of Education Dr. P.N. Ravindra MNational Policy on Education in India Dr. E Vasantha Kumar MHolistic Education Compiled from The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda T h e

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473 478 484 487 491 496 501 505 509 516

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MPancha Shila of Education

522

Swami Jagadatmananda MPearls of Wisdom MA Flourishing Boon Swami Satyajnanananda MLandscape of Quality Education Dr. R. Mythili MGrowing from Within Swami Budhananda MAwakened Citizen Programme â&#x20AC;&#x201C; A New Approach to Value Education Swami Shantatmananda MInvoking Human Excellence Swami Sarvasthananda MNurturing Excellence Swami Bodhamayananda MHuman Excellence in Fiji Swami Vedanishthananda MEducation: The Vivekananda Way T. Chakravarthy MThe Study Circles MInspiration from a Voice without Form Dr. V.V. Subramanian MAlumni Voice MAnnual Index

524 532 535 540 545 550 554 557 560 565 568 570 573

You cannot make a plant grow in soil unsuited to it. A child teaches itself. But you can help it to go forward in its own way. What you can do is not of the positive nature, but of the negative. You can take away the obstacles, but knowledge comes out of its own nature. Loosen the soil a little, so that it may come out easily. Put a hedge around it; see that it is not killed by anything, and there your work stops. You cannot do anything else. The rest is a manifestation from within its own nature. So with the education of a child; a child educates itself. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, 4.55

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The breeze of His grace is blowing day and night over your head. Unfurl the sails of your boat (mind), if you want to make rapid progress through the ocean of life. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Sri Ramakrishna


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Rs. 2000/-

Donor devotees can send their contributions by cheque/DD/MO to the above address on the occasion of birthday, wedding day or any other special occasion and receive prasadam of Lord Balaji Venkateswara of Tirupati as blessings. Contributions to NAVAJEEVAN BLIND RELIEF CENTRE, Tirupati are eligible for Tax Relief U/S 80G of Income Tax Act. Our Bank details for online transfer : Bank Name : Indian Bank , Gandhi Road Branch, Tirupati SB A/c No: 463789382, Account Holder : Navajeevan Blind Relief Centre, Branch Code: T036, IFSC code: IDIB000T036,

‘We can attain salvation through social work’ – Swami Vivekananda K. Sridhar Acharya Founder/ President


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With Best Compliments

Palepu Pharma Pvt. Ltd Registered Office: ‘‘Lalitha Sadan’’No. 1, Ramachandra Road, Mylapore, Chennai - 600 004 H : 044 - 2467 2711 / 12 / 13 / 14 E-mail: sales@palepugroup.com Web: www.palepupharma.com CIN: U24230TN2007PTC064220 Branches: Madurai - Coimbatore - Mogappair - Tambaram - Kancheepuram

With Best Compliments

Scope Software Pvt. Ltd., Regd. off.9, (Old No.4), 10th Street, Nanganallur, Chennai - 600 061. Phone : 2267 1088 Email: sspl1985@gmail.com

“performances. Every fool may become a hero at one time or another.

If you really want to judge the character of a man, look not at his great

Watch a man do his most common actions; those are indeed the things which will tell you the real character of a great man.

—Swami Vivekananda


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With Best Compliments

HINDU MISSION HEALTH SERVICES, 100 FEET ROAD, HINDU COLONY, NANGANALLUR, CHENNAI - 600 061. Ph: 2224 3709 / 2224 3026 / 2224 0668. Fax: 2224 1285. Visit us @www.hmhealthservices.in E-mail:hmhs61@yahoo.co.in

24 HOURS MULTI DISCIPLINARY HOSPITAL CARE WITH CONCERN OTHER FACILITIES: HI-TECH LABORATORY, ULTRA MODERN SOPHISTICATED OPERATION THEATRE WITH LIFE SAVING EQUIPMENT & DIGITAL X-RAY UNIT , APPROVED HEALTH PROVIDER FOR MORE THAN 30 INSURANCE COMPANIES UPGRADED HAEMODIALYSIS FACILITY AT AFFORDABLE COST IS OUR SPECIALITY AIR-CONDITIONED AMBULANCE WITH LIFE SUPPORT EQUIPMENT. Donations to this Charitable Institution qualify for Income Tax Relief U/S 80 G.

With Best Compliments

The Vadasery Handloom Weaversâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Store New No. 25, R.K. Math Road, Mylapore, Chennai - 600 004 Head Office: Nagercoil Tel No: (044) 2464 1746

For

HIGH QUALITY 10 X 6, 9 X 5, 9, 8, 4 DHOTIES AND TOWELS


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“A man is but the product of his thoughts; what he thinks, he becomes.” —Mahatma Gandhi

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With Best Compliments

Krishnaa Exports Manufacturers & Exporters of Cotton Fabrics 631/15, Alangulam Road, Chatrapatti- 626 102 Phone no: 04563 257685, 258922 Fax:257922

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With Best Compliments SRI NACHAMMAI COTTON MILLS LIMITED Registered office 30 Sugavaneswara Road, Balaji Nagar SALEM 636 004

Spinners of Best Quality Yarns Cotton & Blended Carded & Combed Factories at CHETTINAD 630 102 & VEERANAM 636 122

With Best Compliments

Om Sakthi Binding Works No. 43, T.K. Mudali Street, Choolai, Chennai - 600 112. Phone : 26690988 Mobile: 9940216389 / 9840835022

)?TaUTRc1X]SX]V )<PRWX]TBTRcX^]BTfX]V )<PRWX]T5^[SX]V )<PRWX]T?TaU^aPcX^] )<PRWX]TBR^aX]V )?X]]X]V


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With Best Compliments

Sri Krishna Pharmacy Cuddalore - 607 001 Krishna Cancer Institute

Unit of Krishna Hospital, Thottapattu - 607 109 For comprehensive cancer care in Cuddalore

 RADIATION THERAPY  CHEMO THERAPY  CANCER SURGERY First of its kind in Cuddalore and adjoining districts

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Swami Vireswarananda – A Divine Life

Chief Editor: Swami Chaitanyananda Editors: Swami Videhatmananda (Hindi), Swami Satyamayananda (English)

The much awaited books have been duly published, comprising the life, teachings, letters and selected special discourses of Revered Maharaj, alongwith about 200 Photographs, contributed by senior and junior monks, nuns, devotees and admirers from India and abroad. Also published is an exclusive collection of more than 1000 photos & life sketch – SWAMI VIRESWARANANDA – A biography and pictures. Price of Books : English & Hindi : Rs. 300/- per set (two volumes), Bengali : Rs. 200/- per book Biography & Pictures: Rs. 500/- per book Postage : Extra DISTRIBUTORS : Advaita Ashrama Udbodhan 5, Dehi Entally Road, 1, Udbodhan Lane, Kolkata – 700 014 Baghbazar, Kolkata -700003 Phone: -033-22840210 Tel. 033 2533 9292 / 2289 0898, 2286 6450 /83 2554 2248 mail@advaitaashrama.org udbodhanweb@gmail.com The Books are also available at various centres of Ramakrishna Math & Mission : MUMBAI, PUNE, LUCKNOW, NAGPUR, CHENNAI,BENGALURU, MYSORE, NEW DELHI, VADODARA and others. SWAMI VIRESWARANANDA SMRITI COMMITTEE Sunil Kanti Roy Shantanu Chowdhury (President) (General Secretary) Courtesy : ‘SRIMA’ Group, #64, Shalaka, D.N.Nagar, Andheri(W), Mumbai -400053 Website : www.srima.in E-mail srima.chowdhury@rediffmail.com

Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Bows deeply with reverence to Sri Ramakrishna Math and Its vehicle of Illumination the Vedanta Kesari

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The easiest and best way of solving the problems of life is to take the name of God, of Sri Ramakrishna, in silence. —Sri Sarada Devi

With Best Compliments Sri Ramakrishna Trust, Sri Ramakrishna Ashram, Sri Ramakrishna Matric.Hr.Sec.School, # 1, Sri Ramakrishna School Road, Chengam – 606 701 , Thiruvannamalai Dist. Ph: 04188 – 222252 & 224123, E-mail: srkms.chengam@gmail.com


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Phone Number

S.No

044 - 22447488

19

Adambakkam 2

044 - 22602762

Adyar

044 - 42054022

Agram

S.No

Locations

1

Adambakkam 1

2 3 4

Locations

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Phone Number

Medavakkam

044 - 22773950

20

Mudichur

044 - 32006960

21

Mylapore

7358006604

044 - 32003436

22

Nanganallur

044 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 43586241

Nanganallur - 2

044 - 22673362

5

Ambattur

044 - 42134839

23

6

Annanagar (West)

044 - 42645121

24

OMR

044 - 43593593

7

Ashok Nagar

044 - 42134441

25

Pammal - 1

044 - 42873141

8

Chitlapakkam (Mahalakshmi Nagar)

044 - 42869382

26

Perumbakkam

9994789400

044 - 22654465

27

Perungalathur

044-22741183 044 - 24520903

9

Chrompet (Radha Nagar)

10

Chrompet 2

8807296847

28

Shastri Nagar

11

K K Nagar

044 - 42616027

29

Sriperumbudur

99942 25330

12

Keelkattalai

9840576355

30

9445433626

13

Kod a m ba kka m

044 - 42133775

Thiruvallur - 0pp. to Gnana Vidyalaya School

14

Kottivakkam

044 - 43590926

31

Thiruvanmiyur

044 - 42134438

15

Kotturpuram

044 - 42188054

32

Valasaravakkam

16

Madipakkam

044 - 43598404

33

Vanuvampet

9940352365

17

Mahalingapuram

044 - 42134442

34

Velachery - Near Vijay Ngr. bs.

044 - 42134691

18

Mannapakkam

044 - 22521412

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List of Advertisements in The Vedanta Kesari December 2016 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46.

ADVAITA ASHRAMA ADYAR BAKERY APOLLO HOSPITAL ENTERPRISE LTD BAKER'S CAFE BHARATIYA VIDYA BHAVAN EAST INDIA COMMERCIAL CO. LTD EHP INDIA HINDU MISSION HEALTH SERVICES HI-TECH ENGINEERING PVT LTD KALI BMH SYSTEMS (P) LTD KRISHNA AGENCIES & SERVICES COMPANY KRISHNA EXPORTS LAVINO CAPOOR LUCAS TVS M.N. ORTHOPAEDIC HOSPITAL MAHENDRA PERFUMERY MARUTHI COACHING CENTRE MUTHURAMAN & SONS AGENCIES NALLI CHINNASAMI CHETTY NATIONAL ENGINEERING COLLEGE NAVAJEEVAN BLIND RELIEF CENTRE OM SAKTHI BINDING WORKS P. OBUL REDDY & SONS PALEPU PHARMA PVT LTD PRIME ACADEMY RAMCO S.P.R. & CO SANGEETHA VEG. RESTAURANT SANVIK PRINTERS SCOPE SOFTWARE PVT LTD SHREE JAYALAKSHMI BINDING WORKS SHRI GURU KRIPA LEARNING CENTRE SIFY CORP SINDOORI FABER SITARAMAN AND CO SRI KRISHNA PHARMACY SRI NACHAMMAI COTTON MILLS LIMITED SRI RAMAKRISHNA EDUCATIONAL SOCIETY, VILLUPURAM SRI RAMAKRISHNA TRUST, THIRUVANNAMALI DIST SUDARSHAN SOUR (AURANGABAD APPEAL) SVISS LABS SWAMI VIRESWARANANDA SMRITI COMMITTEE THATIKONDA VATSALA RAMACHANDRA FOUNDATION THE RAMAKRISHNA-VIVEKANANDA VEDANTA LITERATURE SHOWROOM THE VADASERY HANDLOOM WEAVERS' STORE VULCAN

Our grateful thanks to the advertisers for their generous support

150 179 154 174 177 157 179 171 173 165 156 173 (4TH COVER) 172 153 (2ND COVER) 152 158 160 176 164 175 169 170 155 172 159 174 151 170 162 149 168 166 167 176 175 148 178 147 (3RD COVER) 177 161 178 171 163



The Vedanta Kesari December 2016 issue