Guruji on True Education
The education of a child starts with the first teacher – the mother. It is the mother who has direct access to a child’s heart. What a child does when it grows up depends mainly upon what was taught to the child, right from the time it was in the cradle. Hence, it becomes the mother’s duty to nurture the growing child with noble and spiritual values. By narrating mythological and historical tales of goodness and courageousness, and through stories of saints and virtuous people, a mother can sow the seeds of virtue in the growing child. Such virtuous seeds are bound to sprout and grow, and soon, the child will grow up to become a noble citizen of this Mother Earth.
All parents should realise that it is their prime responsibility to ensure the ethical education of their own children. It should be remembered that the children are always watching and learning from their parents, whose behaviours deeply influence the thought patterns of their children. If parents are unfair or unethical, then no matter what moral lessons are taught to a child orally, the child is certain to take the parents’ example and become unfair or unethical. When a child is nurtured with examples of positive values at home, he or she will certainly turn out to be noble and spiritual.
After the mother, it is the teacher who is responsible for shaping the character of a child. Sadly enough, we find that today’s teachers do not take much interest in shaping the student’s character. Instead, there is a culture of competition amongst students, to procure more marks even at the cost of their individual capabilities. It should be understood that it is necessary for teachers to encourage children to uphold moral and spiritual values.
Excelling in academic education should not be at the cost of a student’s physical, mental and spiritual well-being. Educational institutions must contribute towards the upliftment of moral and spiritual values in humanity as a whole, irrespective of caste, creed, or nationality. Our present education system concentrates too much on giving bookish and technical knowledge to children, with almost no exposure to spiritual or ethical values. As a result, though children complete their education with distinctions, degrees and certificates, they do not develop strong moral and spiritual characters.
The idea that children should be educated so that as adults they will gain social status and money, is a wrong approach to education. The stress and strain that children are put through, in order to reach the top of the ladder, have negative impact upon them. Suicides and mental break-downs among the children are most common today, mainly because they are unable to cope with the pressures they are subjected to, in the name of education.
The mind and body are instruments that work best when one is peaceful and joyful. Teaching children to study joyfully, without competing with each other is the healthy way of producing noble men and women. This in turn leads to healthy citizens and healthy nations. A wonderful capacity for acquiring knowledge, lies hidden in every student. Knowledge should be imparted in schools and colleges, so that it is useful for students to flourish spiritually and academically. Our ancestors were well aware of this truth, and therefore the ancient ‘Gurukula’ system promoted such education.
The ‘Gurukula’ system taught students, both academics as well as values of life. In this system, the students lived and studied with their Gurus. It gave more importance to developing the student’s integrity and character, preserving knowledge and culture, and promoting social awareness. Students were taught the ancient scriptures and the yogic methods of living. They were treated equally, irrespective of their social standards, and they also formed a part of the Guru’s family. This ancient tradition of Guru-shishya parampara had the main aim of imbibing students with knowledge that was necessary for living a worthy and purposeful life.
It is important that today’s children must acquire knowledge about laws of morality and virtuousness, health and vitality, and about the eternal ‘atma’. This would equip them to fight their own evils, and also to achieve self-control. To establish peace, one has to be at peace within. Realisation that the very nature of ‘atma’ is “eternal bliss” would help the children and youth to spread happiness through love and service.
Only when young impressionable minds go out into the world, and live and move in a righteous atmosphere, will the moral conscience be fully awakened in them. Only then, will there emerge healthy, civilised and spiritually progressive citizens and nations.