June 10, 2021
Illiteracy is a curse. Poverty is a curse. Backwardness is a curse. Any attempt to get rid of these curses is indeed laudable. However, their removal demands greater skill than the heart surgeon’s. Otherwise, the humility of the illiterate peasants, the industry of the poor and the aspirations of the backward might yield place to the haughtiness of the lettered, the laziness of the rich and the complacency of the civilized! Hence, education should result in self-control and discipline. Both Gurudev Swami Sivananda and Swami Vivekananda emphasize character-building education.
A beautiful Sanskrit verse describes the following sequence "knowledge (education) gives rise to right conduct (gentleness, humility and so on); right conduct generates the requisite qualification; the qualified and the skillful earn wealth; wealth is righteously utilized, and happiness follows."
Real education is not merely instruction in the three R’s, but the construction within the student of the edifice of character which is edifying. Such a construction within is naturally the work of the student himself (or herself).
Externally imposed discipline leads either to rebellion or to abject conformism, both of which are destructive. When the child's nature is exposed to itself, the child sees what is good and promotes it and what is undesirable and drops it. To bring out (educate) the sensitivity, the teacher (which includes the parents and the people around!) should also be sensitive and rightly educated. Once the sensitivity is established, learning enriches the heart, mind and soul of a student.
That is the prize of education. But the price is dedicated service of the children, in which the teachers, parents and the public participate.
Just as a hidden cloud in a clear sky suddenly manifests itself and equally suddenly disappears (sometimes even without raining), even so, life which is hidden everywhere appears and disappears. It is ignorance that identifies itself with some form — 'This is 'I'. He who ceases to identify himself is happy.