By Upadhyaya Gupti Sagar Muni
Mankind's progress, growth and the cultivation of latent inner power is possible through proper education. The aims of education have been defined differently by differently by different scholars. The Western scholar, Herbert says, "Character building is the primary aim of education should build that ethical foundation which is necessary for facing and solving various contradictions of life."
According to Spencer, however, 'education should help us in knowing and building our inner power (Atam Sakti).' If you are poor even after your education is done, education has failed you. Students should be given an opportunity to learn skills and workout solutions. Education should not be restricted to learning mere facts. Education should encourage practice rather than theory. Students should be inspired to look for new information and learn to process it. That's how man progressed in the past, that's what the world's history is a record of.
Education Must Spread : Education means gyan netra - the inner eye or mind's eye. When our inner eye has the light of knowledge in it, man becomes learned. He uses language and script to communicate with others. This exchange of knowledge is what helps mankind. Books preserve all past knowledge.
It is really unfortunate to be uneducated. But this misfortune can be easily removed. The educated are called 'people with eight.' Through education and learning the educated people of the world solve human problems. Education is our basic right, but when our education goes bad we become literate demons (Sachar-Racchas). By itself education or learning is a blessing, but if it has no moral foundation, it becomes a curse. Learning is not literacy; learning is knowledge of ethical values. But when literacy is the only aim of education, our minds may grow, but our originality is stunted.
We all know that learning leads to material welfare. When we are financially comfortable we can serve and help others and thus move towards a bright collective future. Widespread education is thus in itself progress and a means to progress. Keeping this in view, one can say that education is of utmost importance and should be our top priority.
However, it is unfortunate that there are more illiterate people in this world - more even than the hungry. In our country alone, only one-fourth of the nation is literate; the rest in our hinterland are still uneducated. In these backward areas, the value of education is not understood nor is there provision for receiving education.
Of course, our economics backwardness is one of the reasons for the lack of educational facilities. The government and other private agencies are working hard, but they still fall miserably short of the target.
The Twins : Poverty and Illiteracy : Illiteracy and poverty by their very nature move hand in hand. Eventually they depart together. Abject poverty in our country creates a vicious circle of deprivation. Deprivation due to poverty is obvious, but deprivation due to lack of education is convert and abstract. This kind of deprivation is mental deprivation. We are real losers because of such deprivation. Still, it is amazing that no adequate steps are being taken to remove illiteracy. It is time we become aware of our personal responsibility in this area, and strive to do our bit.
There has been a manifold increase in educational facilities and institutions in the world in recent years. Education is multifaceted today. All kinds of learning have proved their usefulness to man. Society has prospered and our means and comforts have increased because of widespread education. But why is it that our mental stress has increased proportionately? No one seems to have any answer. Let's ask : why are we poor spiritually but well off materially? Why has our physical comfort led to our emotional unhappiness? The answer may be that our education is not value based. There is no room for values in modern educational system.
The educational system today is so lopsided that it fails to develop our samskara, our ethical-moral values. The system merely teaches us the alphabet. Our educated remain unemployed; they are frustrated, characterless and impatient. They indulge in arson. They go on strikes; they stop vehicles and destroy national property. When you see all this you may education. You prove yourself uneducated when you take recourse to unlawful and unjustified means. Taking the law in your own hands is no way to express your helplessness, or failures; it is no way to underscore your unwillingness to work. Education holds up a mirror to man, know himself. The aim of education is not to give man a higher income, but to give him higher values.
Scientists are really troubled at the steady increase in mentally disturbed humans in the world. They are looking for newer and alternative ways to preserve mental stability. Spirituality in this context is once again being looked at as a resource rather than something mystical, mysterious or esoteric. We have to remind the educationists that education which is not value-based may give you a good job, it may make you progress in the physical sciences, but it will present a question mark as far as your personal and inner refinement is concerned. An education without values will not help you solve your interpersonal relationships.
It is assumed that education transforms us, that it builds our character. People constantly complain that modern education has failed to do so. Although we have newer and newer expertise in every field of education, all that education does is merely to educate. It has nothing to do with our character or inner self. What has gone wrong here is not education, but the method of educating. Our educational system is ailing : A tree eventually yield fruit. The branches, leaves etc. are its organic parts leading to fruit formation. Similarly the main purpose of education is not value based, then where will the values come from? How will they be taught? If the seed of value is not sown, how will it become tree? The kind of education which we receive these days. It is believed that character is a composite of what we learn from formal schooling plus our social and family set up. Thus the responsibility of character formation in a child lies with parents and teachers. They are the ones in constant proximity to the young. Children imbibe in their behaviour what they see in parents and teachers.
However, very little attention is paid to the most important factor in character building, the inculcation of a sense of identity. In order to have inner riches, it is important to know who we are. This identity is not given to us by education or by religion. There is no religion which is acceptable to everyone and which can be taught is schools. Therefore, education cannot tell us who we are, and what our identity is.
Character has to do with life-in a way, character is science of life. If the educational part of this life-science is handled well, it can do a lot to familiarize us with our inner self. It can assist the growth of a full inner self.
Education : Some Burning Issues : There are a number of questions which require consideration in today's educational system.
If the common man feels that our educational system is flawed, why do we not do something about it?
What is the outcome of the recent enquiries into and debates concerning our educational system? Have we reached any conclusions through these debates?
Do we have consistent policies to help us weed out flaws in our current educational system?
Can we develop a rounded character through a flawed or partial education? (By rounded character we mean full mental, physical, emotional, temperamental, spiritual, social and national awareness).
Can mere mental growth lead to our full growth?
Can education help us reduce the gap between what we do and what we say?
Can we endorse an education which does not teach us how to translate verbal learning into daily action?
Can't we remain seekers throughout our lives?
To what extent is our educational system responsible for widespread unemployment in the country, lawlessness, and lack of character in today's youth?
Ethical Problems, Caused by Our Educational System : Once certainly cannot doubt the usefulness of education. Its aim proclaims it. We need a good educational system to remove our superstitions and defunct practices. Education hones our inner capacity and helps us grow as individuals with meaningful lives. Education prepares us to face life. Metaphysical education helps us move from darkness to light, from falsehood to truth. It changes our outlook towards life.
No one can fully understand his rights, his duties, his social responsibilities and political compulsions without proper education. The Arch-bishop of York says, "Uneducated masses are a danger to any form of government." Uneducated masses remain ignorant of their responsibilities. They are indifferent to the kind of ruler they live under. 'What do we care' is their attitude. If India is limping along today it's because if illiteracy. Corruption and immorality are due to a lack of education.
Improper Educational System : India's present educational system is a legacy of the British rule. The main architect of our educational policy at that time was Lord Macaulay. His educational system was geared towards producing clerks and accountants for the rules. This system continues even today. The system is still producing clerks and babus. The system ignores the practical aspects of life. Even a farmer's son now wants to be a clerk, have a white-collar job, rather than be a farmer. Our educational system is totally deficient now. Our students suffer ill health due to it; they lack a moral foundation to their lives.
Teachers Not to Be Blamed : Teachers are not to be blamed, they are a part of the system and, thus they are helpless. If they do not fulfill their duties as teachers it is because they are chained to a system run by others. Teachers cannot take are liberties with the prescribed text, or develop an individual approach
We have reached this sorry state because we have not done homework. We simply have a system which does not encourage independent thinking. A teacher has hardly any role to play. Of course, they are at time careless and irresponsible. Everyone admits that our educational system is wrong. Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Dr. Radhakrishnan said this again and again.
All this indicates that some fundamental changes are essential in our educational policies - essential because the present educational system is inadequate for our present day needs. Schools and universities are producing worthless currency in life's market. We have to have ethical and spiritual education - the way we had in the Gurukul system. Only then can a new India be born; only then there will be peace.
Our education should not be bookish or theoretical knowledge only part of it has to be practical. It should aim at high ideals in accordance with our culture. It should encourage right conduct, self reliance, responsible behaviour and the capacity to choose. Only such education will ensure a bright future for our country. Where will good humans come from unless we impart practical knowledge alongside bookish? If a man cannot see beyond his own limited self, what good is his education? Such education produces only blind men devoid of spiritual knowledge. We need an education which takes us beyond our physical selves, which teaches us our humanity.
Schools are centres of learning. The goddess of knowledge-Saraswati-is worshipped there. Gurus lead to God. A thousand books cannot teach what a teacher, a Guru, can by his exemplary conduct.
We need humility in order to learn. Humility is the first step toward an ethical and spiritual life. The country needs such humans-humans who are rounded personalities with a sound education.
Source : From 'Inner Light' By Upadhyaya Gupti Sagar Muni Translated By Dr. Sunita Jain