Role of Students in Education

March 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

The indomitable energy of the youth is to be manifested

not only in his studies and in attempts at self-mastery,

but also in loving service to his fellow-beings.

–Swami Yatiswarananda

Aspiration to learn and a thirst for Truth are the preconditions for any student in an ideal system of education. While it is the duty of the educator to provide necessary facilities and an ideal atmosphere, it is the duty of the student to make use of them and strive towards excellence not only in studies but also in respect of holistic development of personality – physical, emotional, intellectual, moral and spiritual. Students should realize that self-knowledge, self-reliance and self-control constitute the most effective means of self-development.

In the Vedic age the student had to dedicate his life for the sake of gaining knowledge, leading an enlightened life. In his formative life, he must lead an austere and disciplined life. He had to strictly abide by the rules of conduct and behaviour stipulated by the rishis. The Upanishads clearly describe the qualities required for a student. A student has to be calm, patient, self-restrained and self-denying. The student’s prayer has to include his longing for the realization of a full life. Sayana prescribes four processes – sauca (purity), santosha (contentment), tapas (penance) and swadhyaya (self-study) for the realization of a student’s aims. As Eminent educationist Dr K.M.Munshi sums up the qualities that a student should develop thus, “A student should develop qualities such as respect for the teacher, a spirit of enquiry and a spirit of service.”

There is only one method by which to attain knowledge and that is concentration. The very essence of education is concentration. The power of concentration is considered the only key to the treasure-house of knowledge.

Swami Vivekananda once remarked: “To me the very essence of education is the 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” (“Man-making Education,” A New Approach to Education (Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Society, 2002) p.16).

Character is the most important quality required by a student. And this quality cannot come from any external sources. Mahatma Gandhi emphasized this aspect in one of his addresses to students: “Character cannot be built with mortar and stone. It cannot be built by hands other than your own. The Principal or Professor cannot give you character from the pages of books. Character-building comes from their very lives and really speaking, it must come from within yourselves” (“With Gandhiji in Ceylon,” 1928, pp.89-90). On another occasion he said: “Put all your knowledge, learning, and scholarship in one scale and truth and purity in the other, and the latter will by far outweigh the other. . . . All your scholarship, all your study of the scriptures will be in vain if you fail to translate their teachings into your daily life. . . . Knowledge without character is a power for evil only, as seen in the instances of so many talented thieves and ‘gentlemen rascals ’ in the World”(Young India, 21-229, p.58, qtd. in “To Students,” The Selected Works of Mahatma Gandhi Vol. VI – The Voice of Truth,( Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House,1995) p.529).

According to Sri Sathya Sai Baba the purpose of education is Character formation and character stands for self-discipline, loyalty, readiness to accept responsibility, selflessness, modesty, humility, willingness to sacrifice, and faith in God.  He once remarked, “Education should make students embodiments of human values such as Truth, Love, Right Conduct, Peace and Non-Violence. Academic knowledge alone is of no value. It may help one to earn a livelihood. But education should go beyond the preparation of earning a living. It should prepare one for the challenges of life morally and spiritually. It is because human values are absent in ‘educated’ persons that we find them steeped in anxiety and worry” (Sathya Sai Education in Human Values (Prasanthi Nilayam: Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust, 2005) p.2). Swami Vivekananda always emphasized that the aim of education should be character formation. He said, “We want that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, and by which one can stand on one’s own feet.”

Eminent educationist Prof. Kothari regarded character-building role of education very vital in solving problems confronting humanity. He was of the view that in the Atomic Age, the survival of mankind would depend on effectively linking, with courage and determination, education and character-building. He considered knowledge and values as complementary and mutually reinforcing. He was of the view that “Knowledge without ethical-moral values degenerates into arrogance and is of little avail to the individuals or of benefit to the community.”In his view, the role of education in promoting social and moral values and character building was absolutely essential (Forty Years of Kothari Commission, p.174).

Spirit of service is another chief quality to be developed by a student. The energy of the student is to be manifested not only in his studies, but also in loving service to his fellow-beings. The education of a student is never complete without his developing this sense of service. Mahatma Gandhi once spoke to students thus: “You are the hope of the future. You will be called upon, when you are discharged from your colleges and schools, to enter upon public life to lead the poor people of this country” (Young India, 8-9-1927, qtd. in “To Students,’ The Selected Works of Mahatma Gandhi  Vol. VI – Voice of the Truth, pp. 530 -531). Swami Vivekananda too once expressed the same idea: “My hope for the future lies in the youths of character – intelligent, renouncing all for the service of others, and obedient – who can sacrifice their lives in working out my ideas and thereby do good to themselves and the country at large.” On another occasion Swamiji advised a group of students thus: “Set yourselves wholly to the service of others, when you come from your college. . . . Far greater happiness would then be yours than if you had had a whole treasury of money and other valuables at your command. As you go on your way serving others, you will, on a parallel line, advance in the path of knowledge” (Talks with Swami Vivekananda). Social work is possible only with love, love for others and also love for one’s own true self. To organize social activities is an important duty of any school. The student should feel that he or she is unique and is also at the same time a part of the society. Love , compassion and service to humanity flow as natural character of a really educated person. As Albert Einstein said, “The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive.” Swami Vivekananda once exhorted the students, “Nothing else is necessary but these–love, sincerity, and patience. . . . Selfishness is death. It is life to do good, it is death not to do good to others. . . . Feel my children, feel; feel for the poor, the ignorant, the downtrodden . . . Money does not pay, nor learning. It is love that pays; it is character that cleaves its ways through adamantine walls of difficulty.”

The aim of education is to produce ideal citizens who will be equipped to meet the responsibilities of the future. And this aim can be achieved only when students acquire the education in the real sense. Just passing the examinations is not education. To become really educated, a student has to put his heart and soul to the cause of real education. Pursuit of knowledge is possible only through hard work and total dedication. An ideal student should enjoy learning and aim at developing a total personality. He should cultivate qualities such as self-discipline, respect for others, perseverance, love for his country and its culture, compassion towards the poor, truthfulness in thoughts, words and deeds, willingness to take up responsibility, in the power of goodness and honesty, devotion to duty, and determination. All these qualities contribute to an ideal character.

To conclude, as eminent educationist Kireet Joshi remarks, students should grow up by their free will into self-determining individuals striving constantly towards excellence, not only in respect of integral development of personality—physical, emotional, dynamic, intellectual, ethical, aesthetic and spiritual.

Students should strive for Excellence through Education, through Atmasraddha, Concentration of mind, Responsibility, Honour and Dignity and Love and Human concern. And as Socrates said, human excellence is achieved when one uses one’s potential to the fullest. It is Excellence and not success that a student should aim at. Swami Ranganathananda once remarked: “A new concept of human excellence must inspire our youths so that, on entering a college or a university, they will learn the need and the technique of seeking excellence in different fields according to their capacity.” Viktor E. Frankl once advised students, “Don’t aim at success—the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause grater than oneself . . . Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge . . . in the long run, . . .  success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it.”

MANUSCRIPTS AS SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE

March 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

Manuscripts constitute one of the most important basic source materials for knowledge.  The importance of ‘Knowledge’ in influencing the behaviour of man has been recognised since time immemorial.

Bhagavadgita pronounces:

‘Na hi jnanena sadrsam pavitramiha vidyate’

There is nothing as sacred as knowledge in this world.

 ‘Sarvam karmakhilam partha jnane parisamapyate’

Oh! Partha, all activities have acquisition of knowledge as their ultimate goal.

 

 

India has produced a large wealth of literature pertaining to different facets of knowledge – different systems of thought, belief and practice – which have developed in the country since the dawn of reflection.  These manuscripts are vital sources of the History of India.  These written documents reflect the magnificence of the Indian civilization which includes its philosophy, religion art and culture, languages, etc.  The wealth of information contained in these manuscripts on how our ancestors lived and worked, their life style, science, medicine and so on, is invaluable for the intellectual empowerment of the country.  In short, Indian manuscripts depict the country’s heritage, literacy and culture.

We have inherited a huge treasure of knowledge as gift from our ancestors in the form of  manuscripts preserved down the generations.  The manuscripts in different languages and scripts have been written on materials like palm-leaf, wood, birch-bark, cloth, paper, etc. 

It is important for us to know how sacred our ancestors considered imparting and propagation of knowledge.  ‘Vidyadana’ or gift of knowledge is considered the highest form of charity in India.  This shows how education in ancient India was extremely popular and held in high esteem even by the common people.  The scope of ‘Vidyadana’ was not limited to teaching; its scope was extended to the gift of books i.e., manuscripts.  Grantha is mentioned as back as 5th Century B. C.  Bound palm-leaves made a grantha (book) in old times…  Even long after paper made its appearance, palm-leaf books were used by scholars, particularly in South India and the coastal regions. Donation of books to scholars, students and institutions was considered a sacred duty.

It is interesting to note how this gift of knowledge was performed. The role of the Guru is supreme in the sacred ritual connected with the gift of manuscripts. According to Nandipurana the qualifications required of a Guru justify the place of honour allotted to him in the ritual.  He should be pious, virtuous and wise, having an impressive personality, amiable in disposition, well-versed in different branches of the Sastras including the Vedas, and an expert in explaining lucidly, the significance of the Sastras to his disciples.  The ritual should be performed on an auspicious day, in a secluded room in a pure spot.  A canopy is to be spread strewn with flowers for decoration.  Swastika is to be drawn with rice dyed with five colours and so on.  When the copying is over, again an auspicious day is to be announced.  The copy should be corrected by the scribe with the help of the reciter so that the copy tallies with the original.  The reciter must be wise, smart, modest and should possess the knowledge of the sastras, music, scripts and prosody.  He should be gifted with the power of flawless speech. One of the main factors that contributed to the growth of libraries especially the private libraries in our country in ancient times was this system of gift of manuscripts.     

To understand the enormity and significance of the Sanskrit manuscripts, it suffices to consider only the wealth of scientific literature produced in India in Sanskrit.  Indian scientific concepts – Astronomy, Mathematics, Medicine, etc… have been successfully expounded in Sanskrit.  Sanskrit is the richest repository of Indian knowledge and wisdom in all branches of learning including science and technology.  All eminent Sanskrit scholars believe that Sanskrit texts have rich and far reaching discussions related to the field of modern science and technology which when deciphered properly, may throw greater light on scientific and technological concepts. An examination of the catalogues of the various repositories of Indian manuscripts will substantiate this statement.

 Late Dr. K. V. Sarma, eminent scholar and manuscriptologist, published a book titled Science Texts in Sanskrit in Manuscripts Repositories of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.  He identified as many as 3473 science texts on subjects like Astronomy, Mathematics, Medicine, Veterinary Science, Chemistry, Physics, and Architecture and so on among 12244 science manuscripts from 400 manuscript repositories of Kerala and Tamil Nadu alone.  But only 7% of these texts have been published so far.  In the Preface, Dr.Sarma remarks:

Now, not to know, not to think of, not to see, or even hear about, let alone publish subject to analytical study and pass on to posterity the knowledge contained in 93% of the science texts produced in the land is obviously a grave injustice that has been perpetuated on the precursors of the several scientific  disciplines of early India. 

 Dr. Sarma is grieved at the fact that “the miniscule of a few hundred texts are repeatedly reprinted and studied, giving impression that these form the sole and whole of Indian contribution to the scientific discipline.” If this much has to be discussed  about the manuscripts on science alone, how much do we have to speak about the enormous amount of manuscripts on subjects like – Upanisads, Vedas, Rituals, Kavyas, Darsanas, Dharmasastras, Vyakarana, Tantra, Mantra and so on, that are yet to be studied. Sadly enough, for a long time we had failed to realize the worth of the vast amount of manuscripts handed down to us generation after generation. But with the passage of time, knowledge about these manuscripts has certainly increased.

It was a great thing that the Govt. of India established the National Manuscripts Mission in 2003 for taking up the huge task of recording the so- far unrecorded manuscripts and preserving them for posterity.  Though the Mission began the survey with the assumption that India had about 10 lakh manuscripts, after their pilot survey, the number of manuscripts increased to 50 lakh, making India the largest storehouse of the ‘records of yore’ in the world. Many of these manuscripts were found to be lying   neglected, mutilated, and ignored in institutions, homes, temples and libraries.

It is expected that the nation-wide survey will open a window to India’s ancient knowledge systems: religion, astronomy, astrology, art, architecture, science, literature, philosophy and so on, and will present new facets to our intellectual heritage. And this must be of great interest to historians who are eagerly watching the massive cataloguing process, hoping for new clues to India’s past.

And for the realisation of the aim of the Mission, the role of Manuscriptologists and Paleographists needs to be emphasized. It is the task of the manuscriptologist to locate the hitherto unknown texts.  Paleographists (who are experts in deciphering the ancient modes of hand writing) will play their part.  Traditional scholars have the responsibility of explaining and interpreting the texts.  Judicious use of modern technology for the purpose of preservation of the manuscripts is also to be emphasized here. 

But the greatest difficulty today is to find out sufficient number of manuscriptologists and palaeographists. And the purpose of such workshops is to train and produce qualified manuscriptologists and palaeographists. I am hopeful that more and more young talents will come forward to contribute towards the noble cause of preserving our country’s rich heritage.

 

Educating the Growing Child

March 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

“We must teach our children to dream with their eyes open.”

–Harry Edwards

Rabindranath Tagore once remarked that children love life and that is their first love. The right kind of education, therefore, is that which provides opportunity to children for gaining knowledge through love of life. Education should have close relations with the natural surroundings and human society. The aim of education, according to Tagore, is to maintain harmony with social and natural atmosphere so that everybody would be able to develop all creative abilities from the very beginning of his or her life. Through his own educational institutions he attempted to make education a means by which a child’s mind and body are able to keep in harmony with the rhythm of nature. Maria Montessori in her work Education in a New World  considers education as a natural process carried by the human individual and is acquired not by listening to words, but by experiences in the environment.

Teacher’s work, Sri Aurbindo briefly states, is to interest the child in life, work and knowledge, to develop his instruments of knowledge with the utmost thoroughness, to give him mastery of the medium he must use. The children should be encouraged to develop qualities such as concentration, memory and judgement (“Education of the Child,” Education and the Growing Child (Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Society, 2002), p.4). Swami Vivekananda in his talk on “Man-Making Education” expresses his point of view about educating the child: “You can supply the growing seed with the materials for the making up of its body, bringing to it the earth, the water, the air that it wants. And there your work stops. It will take all that it wants by its own nature. So with the education of the child” (A New Approach to Education (Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Society, 2002) p.11). This principle of natural self- education is reflected in Sri Aurobindo’s  essay on “Education of the Child” where he remarks that a child of the earliest permissible age of any regular kind of study, is capable of a good deal of concentration if he is interested. According to him, “Interest is, after all, the basis of concentration. We make his lessons supremely uninteresting and repellent to the child, a harsh compulsion the basis of teaching and then complain of his restless inattention! The substitution of a natural self-education by the child for the present unnatural system will remove this objection of inability. A child, like a man, if he is interested, much prefers to get to the end of his subject rather than leave it unfinished. To lead him on step by step, interesting and absorbing him in each as it comes, until he has mastered his subject is the true art of teaching (Education of the Growing Child, p.2). As Anatole France puts it, “Nine-tenths of education is encouragement.”

Educationists carrying out theoretical and experimental research in the field of education and the child-psychology in the twentieth century came to  the  conclusion that the child is foremost a developing being having its own needs, different from those of the adults. Hence the first task of the educationist is to make sure that the child’s needs are satisfied and that the child is happy. Well-known educationist Roger Cousinet observes: “New education . . . is really a new attitude towards the child. An attitude of understanding and love, and above all an attitude of respect. An attitude of expectation, of patience; the restraint of a delicate hand that dare not open a flower-bed nor disturb a baby in the midst of his first experiments, a student in the course of his early work . . . He has within himself everything that is necessary for his true education, and particularly a ceaseless activity, incessantly revived, in which he is totally engrossed, the activity of a growing being who is continuously developing, and to whom, for that very reason, our help may be useful, but our direction is not necessary”(L’Edcation nouvelle, Delachaux et Niestle, Neuchatel & Paris, 1950, pp.20-21, quoted in Pavitra, “The Growing Child,” Education and the Growing Child, p. 29). What is essential for a child to educate himself is to provide him a proper atmosphere. Tagore always insisted that, for children the atmosphere is a great deal more important than rules and methods, equipment, textbooks and lessons. They have their sub-conscious mind “which like the tree, has the power to draw food from the surrounding atmosphere.”

Memory and judgement are the two qualities that a child is to be encouraged to develop, of course in an unconscious way. Instead of making him repeat the same lesson again and again to remember it which is mechanical and burdensome way of training the memory, he should be encouraged to note the similarities and differences in different objects of the same kind. Training of the faculties to observe, compare, remember and judge various classes of objects of nature like flowers, stars, insects, animals, etc. will certainly sharpen his memory.

The education of the heart is as important as the education of the mind. According to Sri Aurobindo, “the old Indian system of the guru commanding by his knowledge and sanctity the implicit obedience, perfect admiration, reverent emulation of the student was a far superior method of moral discipline” to the method of the English boarding school where the master stands as a moral guide and example, and leaving the boys to influence and help each other in following the path silently shown to them. But he feels that “it is impossible to restore that system; but it is not impossible to substitute the wise friend, guide and helper for the hired instructor or the benevolent policeman which is all that the European system usually makes of the pedagogue (“Education of the Child,” Education and the Growing Child, pp.7-8).

Educating a growing child requires intelligent observation and care. Sri J.Krishnamurti remarks, “Experts and their knowledge can never replace the parents’ love, but most parents corrupt that love by their own fears and ambitions which condition and distort the outlook of the child.” He believes that “the present educational and social structure does not help the individual towards freedom and integration; and if the parents are at all in earnest and desire that the child shall grow to his integral capacity, they must begin to alter the influence of the home and set about creating schools with the right kind of educators.” He adds that the influence of the home and that of the school must not be in any way contrary, so both parents and teachers must re-educate themselves” (Education and the Significance of Life, Chennai: Krishnamurti Foundation India, 2006, p.50).

Growing children are creative and their creativity should be nourished by teachers and parents by giving them freedom to think and giving them time, space and materials to create to their heart’s content. As John Dewey says, the aim of education should be to teach rather how to think, than what to think. Their imagination and fantasies should be respected. Achievement is more important than grades. Hence children should be encouraged to do their best and accomplish wonderful things. “Rote learning and high grades are not as important as imagination and integrity in developing creativity. It is the responsibility of parents and teachers to encourage in children inquisitiveness and sense of wonder and give them every opportunity to develop new interests, see new things, experience something different, and build new skills. Eminent painter Pablo Picasso insisted that creativity in children should be respected. He considered every child an artist. Once he remarked, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” As experts say “Creative movement is a joyful way for children to explore movement through music, develop physical skills, channel energy, stimulate imagination, and promote creativity. Creative movement provides children with opportunities for non-competitive success-oriented, and creative experience.” Experts aver that adults can encourage creativity by emphasizing the generation and expression of ideas in a non-evaluative framework and by concentrating on both divergent and convergent thinking. Adults can also try to ensure that children have the opportunity and confidence to take risks, challenge assumptions, and see things in a new way. “Let children learn creatively.”

Speaking about the rules of moral training, Sri Aurobindo says that the first rule is to suggest and invite, not to command or impose. Personal example, daily converse and books read are the best methods of suggestion. Books recommended for young children should contain the lofty examples of the past, given not as moral lessons, but as things of supreme human interest. This will have more effect than mere sermonizing, and will be of the highest effect if the personal life of the teacher is itself moulded by the great things he places before the children. Roy L. Smith remarks that we are apt to forget that children watch examples better than they listen to preaching. Sri Aurobindo recommends that every child should be given practical opportunity as well as intellectual encouragement to develop all that is best in the nature. He also adds that “if the child has bad qualities or bad habits of mind and body, he should not be treated harshly as a delinquent, but encouraged to get rid of them by the Rajayogic method of samyama, rejection and substitution. He should be encouraged to think of them, not as sins or offences, but as symptoms of a curable disease, alterable by a steady and sustained effort of the will . . . (Education of the Growing Child, p.9). Sri Aurobindo also recommends that young student should be introduced to the most interesting parts of his own literature and the life around him and behind him in such a way that they appeal to his wealth of ideas and fancy. All other study at this period should be devoted to the perfection of the mental functions and the moral character.

There have always been two opinions about the subject of punishing a child for his fault. According to Indian tradition teachers should not punish children. If the student fails to understand what the teacher teaches, it is the fault of the teacher not the student. The Mother (of Sri Aurobindo Ashram) expresses her strong opinion on this subject in her talk on “Teaching Children”—“A rule to be strictly followed. It is absolutely forbidden to beat the children – a blow of any kind, even the simple little slap, or the so-called friendly slap, is forbidden. To strike a child because it does not obey or understand or because it disturbs others, is a sign of lack of self-control, and it is as pernicious for the teacher as for the student” (Education and the Growing Child, p.14). Even scolding a child is prohibited according to the Mother. She believes that it is not with severity but with self-mastery that children are controlled. One must never get angry in front of the children. They may lose their respect for you. When a child makes a mistake, he should be made to confess and once he has confessed, make him understand with kindness and affection what was wrong in his movement. A fault confessed must be forgiven. Fear should not be created in the child because fear is disastrous to learning. Love and sympathy, and desire to help are in the end more potent constructive forces than fear of punishment.

It will be worth remembering the learned remarks of the well-known educationist Kireet Joshi: “As educationists seeking perfection, it is incumbent upon us to see that the human being of the future shall look back with a sense of gratitude and joy on his school life; where learning was first a play, a delight of activity leading to endless vistas of wonder, discovery and creativity; where time went swiftly on the wings of an immense enthusiasm, a love for life. Love for materials: pens, paper, paints and books. Love for people: friends, comrades, teachers and those who help. Love for learning and the opportunity to think. Love for the room, the desk, the reference books, the aids and apparatuses. Love for the all-inclusive joy of physical play and exercise, emotional expression of creativity and intellectual exploration into new realms of thought. Love for the sheer joy and privilege of just being a member of a school community. Surely, such love one would have to continue even after school!”(“New Trends in Child Education,” Education and the Growing Child, pp. 61-62)

It is befitting to conclude by quoting the famous writer Emma Goldman : “No one has yet fully realized the wealth of sympathy, kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure.”

MANUSCRIPTS AS SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE (excerpts from a talk)

September 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

Manuscripts constitute one of the most important basic source materials for knowledge.  The importance of ‘Knowledge’ in influencing the behaviour of man has been recognised since time immemorial.

Bhagavadgita pronounces:

         ‘Na hi jnanena sadrsam pavitramiha vidyate’

There is nothing as sacred as knowledge in this world.

         ‘Sarvam karmakhilam partha jnane parisamapyate’

Oh! Partha, all activities have acquisition of knowledge as their ultimate goal.

India has produced a large wealth of literature pertaining to different facets of knowledge – different systems of thought, belief and practice – which have developed in the country since the dawn of reflection.  These manuscripts are vital sources of the History of India.  These written documents reflect the magnificence of the Indian civilization which includes its philosophy, religion art and culture, languages, etc.  The wealth of information contained in these manuscripts on how our ancestors lived and worked, their life style, science, medicine and so on, is invaluable for the intellectual empowerment of the country.  In short, Indian manuscripts depict the country’s heritage, literacy and culture.

We have inherited a huge treasure of knowledge as gift from our ancestors in the form of  manuscripts preserved down the generations.  The manuscripts in different languages and scripts have been written on materials like palm-leaf, wood, birch-bark, cloth, paper, etc. It is important for us to know how sacred our ancestors considered imparting and propagation of knowledge.  ‘Vidyadana’ or gift of knowledge is considered the highest form of charity in India.  This shows how education in ancient India was extremely popular and held in high esteem even by the common people.  The scope of ‘Vidyadana’ was not limited to teaching; its scope was extended to the gift of books i.e., manuscripts.  Grantha is mentioned as back as 5th Century B. C.  Bound palm-leaves made a grantha (book) in old times…  Even long after paper made its appearance, palm-leaf books were used by scholars, particularly in South India and the coastal regions. Donation of books to scholars, students and institutions was considered a sacred duty.

It is interesting to note how this gift of knowledge was performed. The role of the Guru is supreme in the sacred ritual connected with the gift of manuscripts. According to Nandipurana the qualifications required of a Guru justify the place of honour allotted to him in the ritual.  He should be pious, virtuous and wise, having an impressive personality, amiable in disposition, well-versed in different branches of the Sastras including the Vedas, and an expert in explaining lucidly, the significance of the Sastras to his disciples.  The ritual should be performed on an auspicious day, in a secluded room in a pure spot.  A canopy is to be spread strewn with flowers for decoration.  Swastika is to be drawn with rice dyed with five colours and so on.  When the copying is over, again an auspicious day is to be announced.  The copy should be corrected by the scribe with the help of the reciter so that the copy tallies with the original.  The reciter must be wise, smart, modest and should possess the knowledge of the sastras, music, scripts and prosody.  He should be gifted with the power of flawless speech. One of the main factors that contributed to the growth of libraries especially the private libraries in our country in ancient times was this system of gift of manuscripts.

To understand the enormity and significance of the Sanskrit manuscripts, it suffices to consider only the wealth of scientific literature produced in India in Sanskrit.  Indian scientific concepts – Astronomy, Mathematics, Medicine, etc… have been successfully expounded in Sanskrit.  Sanskrit is the richest repository of Indian knowledge and wisdom in all branches of learning including science and technology.  All eminent Sanskrit scholars believe that Sanskrit texts have rich and far reaching discussions related to the field of modern science and technology which when deciphered properly, may throw greater light on scientific and technological concepts. An examination of the catalogues of the various repositories of Indian manuscripts will substantiate this statement.

Late Dr. K. V. Sarma, eminent scholar and manuscriptologist, published a book titled Science Texts in Sanskrit in Manuscripts Repositories of Kerala  and Tamil Nadu.  He identified as many as 3473 science texts on subjects like Astronomy, Mathematics, Medicine, Veterinary Science, Chemistry, Physics, and Architecture and so on among 12244 science manuscripts from 400 manuscript repositories of Kerala and Tamil Nadu alone.  But only 7% of these texts have been published so far.  In the Preface, Dr.Sarma remarks:

Now, not to know, not to think of, not to see, or even hear about, let alone publish subject to analytical study and pass on to posterity the knowledge contained in 93% of the science texts produced in the land is obviously a grave injustice that has been perpetuated on the precursors of the several scientific  disciplines of early India.

Dr. Sarma is grieved at the fact that “the miniscule of a few hundred texts are repeatedly reprinted and studied, giving impression that these form the sole and whole of Indian contribution to the scientific discipline.” If this much has to be discussed  about the manuscripts on science alone, how much do we have to speak about the enormous amount of manuscripts on subjects like – Upanisads, Vedas, Rituals, Kavyas, Darsanas, Dharmasastras, Vyakarana, Tantra, Mantra and so on, that are yet to be studied. Sadly enough, for a long time we had failed to realize the worth of the vast amount of manuscripts handed down to us generation after generation. But with the passage of time, knowledge about these manuscripts has certainly increased.

It was a great thing that the Govt. of India established the National Manuscripts Mission in 2003 for taking up the huge task of recording the so- far unrecorded manuscripts and preserving them for posterity.  Though the Mission began the survey with the assumption that India had about 10 lakh manuscripts, after their pilot survey, the number of manuscripts increased to 50 lakh, making India the largest storehouse of the ‘records of yore’ in the world. Many of these manuscripts were found to be lying   neglected, mutilated, and ignored in institutions, homes, temples and libraries.

It is expected that the nation-wide survey will open a window to India’s ancient knowledge systems: religion, astronomy, astrology, art, architecture, science, literature, philosophy and so on, and will present new facets to our intellectual heritage. And this must be of great interest to historians who are eagerly watching the massive cataloguing process, hoping for new clues to India’s past.

And for the realisation of the aim of the Mission, the role of Manuscriptologists and Paleographists needs to be emphasized. It is the task of the manuscriptologist to locate the hitherto unknown texts.  Paleographists (who are experts in deciphering the ancient modes of hand writing) will play their part.  Traditional scholars have the responsibility of explaining and interpreting the texts.  Judicious use of modern technology for the purpose of preservation of the manuscripts is also to be emphasized here.

But the greatest difficulty today is to find out sufficient number of manuscriptologists and palaeographists. And the purpose of such workshops is to train and produce qualified manuscriptologists and palaeographists. I am hopeful that more and more young talents will come forward to contribute   towards the noble cause of preserving our country’s rich heritage.

Role of the Teacher

September 19, 2011 § 8 Comments

A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.

The role of Guru (teacher) is of supreme importance in India. For everything we want a Guru. Books are only outlines. The Guru handed down to disciples living secrets in every art, science and religion. The acharya (teacher) of the Vedic age was responsible not only for imparting knowledge, but also in moulding the character and personality of the pupils. The acharya was an affectionate father, an effective teacher, and a person of high moral and spiritual qualities. He taught with his heart and soul. According to Sri Aurobindo, a teacher possesses three instruments – instruction, example, and influence. The good teacher will seek to awaken much more than to instruct; he will aim at the growth of the faculties and the experiences by a natural process and free expansion. He will not impose his opinions on the passive acceptance of the receptive mind; . . . He will know that the example is more powerful than instruction. Actually, the example is not that of the outward acts but of the inner motivation of life and the inner states and inner activities. Finally, he will also acknowledge that influence is more important than example. For influence proceeds from the power of contact of the teacher with his pupil, from the nearness of his soul to the soul of another, infusing into the pupil, even though in silence, all that which the teacher himself is or possesses (Kireet Joshi, “Educational Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo,” Philosophy and Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and Other Essays (New Delhi: The Mother’s Institute of Research & Mira Aditi, Mysore, 2003) p.141).

In his discourse on “The Ideal Teacher”, Sri Sathya Sai Baba tells teachers that they should not forget that “personal example is the best method of teaching. If we don’t show by example what we teach, of what use is our teaching and what impact it will make on the children’s mind?” (Sathya Sai Education in Human Values (Prasanthi Nilayam: Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust, 2005) p. 121). As the eminent educationist Kireet Joshi puts it, “if teachers are to ensure integral development of their students, they themselves have to be trained to attain higher and higher degrees of integration of their own personalities” (A National Agenda for Education (Delhi : The Mother’s Institute of Research, 2000) p. 16).

Rabindranath Tagore  believed that the teacher’s own life, his own search for truth should be such that encourages the student to respect truth and nature. Teaching lessons in the class and giving lectures on ideals and principles is not real education. Education can be successfully imparted by understanding childhood and giving oneself totally in love and union with it. The best education a child can get is in the atmosphere of love, trust and joy. Tagore gave a mantra to teachers – “Don’t try to preach your principles to children, instead give yourself completely in love” (Rabindranath Tagore: Philosophy of Education and Painting, ed. Devi Prasad (New Delhi: National Book Trust, 2007) p. 36). In his discourse on “The Teacher and His Task,” Sri Sathya Sai Baba says that teachers have to cultivate in their own hearts the spirit of sacrifice, the virtues of charity and the awareness of divinity. Then only do they become entitled to cultivate these in the hearts of their children (Sathya Sai Education in Human Values, p.50).

A teacher functions as a facilitator of learning. Swami Vivekananda observes that “no one can teach anybody.” According to him the teacher spoils everything by thinking that he is teaching because “within man is all knowledge, 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 their hands, legs, ears, eyes, etc.” (“Man-making Education,” A New Approach to Education (Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Society, 2002) p. 11). According to Swamiji what a man learns is really what he discovers by taking the cover off his own soul, which is a mine of infinite knowledge. To illustrate this idea Swamiji cites the example of Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery of ‘gravitation’, and explains that the knowledge was in Newton’s own mind and he found it out. “All Knowledge the world has ever received comes from the mind . . . External world is only the suggestion, occasion, which sets you to study your own mind. The falling of an apple gave the suggestion to Newton, and he studied his own mind” (“Man-making Education,” A New Approach to Education, p.9).

Here we remember Swami Vivekananda’s oft-quoted saying “Education is the manifestation of perfection already in man.” The child educates itself.  Hence, the only duty of the teacher is to remove the obstructions from the way of a student’s learning process. This idea has been expressed by Sri Aurobindo too. According to him “the first principle of true teaching is that nothing can be taught. The teacher is not an instructor or task-master, he is a helper and a guide. His business is to suggest and not to impose. He does not actually train the pupil’s mind, he only shows him how to perfect his instruments of knowledge and helps and encourages him in the process. He does not impart knowledge to him, he shows him how to acquire knowledge for himself” (“Basic Principles of Education,” A New Approach to Education, p.2). Sri Aurobindo remarks that the chief aim of education should be to help the growing soul to draw out that in itself which is best and make it perfect for a noble use. There is a well-known Sanskrit saying which reminds teachers that a student learns one quarter from the acharya (teacher), one quarter from his own intelligence, one quarter from his peers and books, and one quarter through experience.  As Swami Tattwajnanananda says, “A teacher should treat the student as a gardener treats a plant – only giving the necessary nutrients needed for the manifestation of its potential energy”(“Value-Based Education,” Prabuddha Bharata Vol.100, May 1995, p.598). The contemporary heads of high level educational agencies in India have now realized that the shift in focus in education calls for redefining the role of the teacher from ‘giver’ or ‘instructor’ to ‘facilitator’. As an educationist remarked, a teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn, is hammering on a cold iron.

According to Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, a teacher “must be a committed man, committed to faith in the future of man, in the future of humanity, in the future of the country and the world.” The profession of a teacher “should not be reduced to a trade; it is a calling, a vocation, a mission.” Teachers, according to Dr. Radhakrishnan, must impart to the students “zest for new experience, love for adventure in knowledge.” Love of the pupils is therefore the first essential quality of a teacher. Teachers must try to understand their pupils – their needs, their interests, their abilities, their wishes, their attitudes and their problems (qtd. in Shivendra. K. Verma, “Radhakrisnan’s Philosophy of Education,” The University News, Vol. 28, No. 19, p.3).

In the 21st century, especially in the context of an emerging globalised society, great responsibilities are on teachers whose duty is to mould the character and mind of the new generation. Teachers in the contemporary society need to be thorough professionals fully equipped with high academic standards, pedagogical and practical skills and ethical and moral values. The educational policy of every nation emphasizes that the quality of education can be achieved only when teachers are professionally satisfied, motivated, committed and are willing to perform for the benefit of the learners, the community and the society.

Professionalism for a global society demands teachers to be innovative in their attitude, flexible in their approach and inquisitive and reflective in their mind – always refreshing themselves with the day-to-day increase of knowledge in their subject area. Rabindranath Tagore remarks that a teacher can never truly teach unless he is still learning himself. A lamp can never light another lamp unless it continues to burn its own flame. Tagore adds that the teacher who has come to the end of his subject, who has no living traffic with his knowledge, but merely repeats his lessons to his students, can only load their minds; he cannot quicken them. At a time when knowledge is expanding fast, they can hardly afford to remain static. In this world of science and technology, teachers should endeavour to equip the student with every kind of scientific and technical training, but they should do it without sacrificing the permanent values. Mahatma Gandhi once remarked: “If teachers impart all the knowledge in the world to their students but inculcate not truth and purity among them, they will have betrayed them and instead of raising them, set them on the downward road to perdition.

Knowledge without character is a power for evil only, as seen in the instances of so many talented thieves and ‘gentlemen rascals’ in the world”(Young India, 21-2-’29,p. 58, qtd. in “To Students,” The Selected Works of Mahatma Gandhi Vol. VI The Voice of Truth, (Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House,1995) p. 529). The UNESCO Report (1998) declares that teachers have crucial roles to play in preparing young people not only to face the future with confidence but to build it with purpose and responsibility. Teachers should remember that theirs is not a profession but a mission, a mission to make enlightened adults out of the innocent, young children entrusted to their care.

To conclude, the future of a learning society will be bright only when the teachers are intellectually and morally well-equipped and are dedicated to the welfare of the society. And the teacher, however qualified he or she may be, will be useful to the society only if he or she loves the vocation. The words of Henry Van Dyke, eminent   American writer, which express the significance of teachers and teaching in the society are relevant here — “Ah there you have the worst paid and the best rewarded of vocations. Do not enter it unless you love it. For the vast majority of men and women it has no promise of wealth and fame, but they to whom it is dear for its own sake are among the nobility of mankind. I sing the praise of the unknown teacher, king of himself and leader of the mankind” (qtd. in Niranjan Singh, “The Role of Teacher in a School” (http://navodaya.nic.in/Role%20of%20Teacher.htm). Sathya Sai Baba remarks about the service of the teachers to the country: “Yours is the most noble service to the country. You have to dedicate yourself, heart and soul, in this work, hard though it may be. It will be most rewarding ultimately and will do the greatest good to the country”(“The Ideal Teacher,” Education in Human Values, p.123).

Tasks of the Educationists

September 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

” Much education is today monumentally ineffective.

All too often we are giving young people cut flowers

When we should be teaching them to grow their own plants. ”

– John Gardener

About the state of affairs of the education system in modern India, Sri Aurobindo once remarked: “In India the students generally have great capacities but the system of education suppresses and destroys these capacities,” ( India’s Rebirth  p. 178). He didn’t approve of the method of the classroom where students must sit in the classroom for so many hours and pore over their books. What is needed, according to him, is an atmosphere – “a pervasive atmosphere of learning.” The student should imbibe that atmosphere, find out their own aptitudes and develop along those lines. A similar opinion has been expressed by Rabindranath Tagore in his essay on “The Problem of Education”. He compares schools in India to a factory. At the ringing of the bell the factory opens and as the teachers start talking, the machines start working. At four in the afternoon the teachers stop talking when the factory closes and “the pupils then go home carrying with them a few pages of machine-made learning. Later this learning is tested at the examinations and labeled”(Towards Universal Man, ed. Humayun Kabir (Calcutta: Asia Publishing House, 1962) p. 67).

The meaning of the word education is to lead, to bring forth, to educe. The purpose of education is therefore to educe that inner, hidden, latent, dormant potential within every human being. Educational system of India deteriorated in quality because Education was treated in isolation – having nothing to do with other aspects of the individual’s personality, humanity or nature. Decades ago Rabindranath Tagore had pointed out the bankruptcy of the educational system prevailing in India. But at last there was a glimmer of the realization that each human being is a self-developing soul and that the business of the educationists is to enable the child to educate himself. According to Sri Aurobindo the discovery that education must be a bringing about of the child’s own intellectual and moral capacities to their highest possible value and must be based on the psychology of child-nature was “a step forward towards a more healthy because a more subjective, system; but it still fell short because it still regarded him as an object to be handed and moulded by the teacher, to be educated.” He was happy that atleast there was “a glimmering of the realization that each human being is a self-developing soul and that the business of both parent and teacher is to enable and to help the child to educate himself, to develop his own intellectual, moral, aesthetic and practical capacities and to grow freely. Not to be kneaded in an organic being, and pressured into form like an inert plastic material” (“Education of the Child,” Education of the Growing Child, p. 1).The present system of education is content with stuffing information into the student without considering what the student as an individual could contribute  something uniquely his. The student must conform to the standards laid down by the authority who knows nothing of his existence. The examinations test the student’s memory of the past and not to enquire into the future.

J. Krishnamurti says that what we now call education is a matter of accumulating information and knowledge from books, which anyone can do who can read. “Such education, according to him, offers a subtle form of escape from ourselves and like all escapes, it inevitably creates increasing misery. . . . mere learning, the gathering of facts and the acquiring of various skills,(without understanding our relationship with people, things and ideas), can only lead us to engulfing chaos and destruction”(“ The Right kind of Education,” Education and the Significance of Life( Chennai: Krishnamurti Foundation of India,2006) p.17). That means education today is concerned with outward efficiency, and it disregards the inner nature of man. According to J. Krishnamurti, “to educate the student rightly is to help him to understand the total process of himself; for it is only when there is an integration of the mind and heart in every action that there can be intelligence and inward transformation”( Ibid., p. 46).

One of the major causes of the failure of modern education is its overemphasis on technique. Cultivating efficiency without understanding life will make one ruthless. The greatest need for a man as J. Krishnamurti puts it, “is to have an integrated comprehension of life, which will enable him to meet its ever-increasing complexities. Technical knowledge, however necessary, will in no way resolve our inner, psychological pressures and conflicts; . . . The man who knows how to split the atom but has no love in his heart becomes a monster”(Ibid., p.19).

Educationists carrying out theoretical and experimental research in the field of education and the child-psychology in the twentieth century came to conclusions similar to those expressed by Sri Aurobindo. They concluded that the child is foremost a developing being having its own needs, different from those of the adults. Hence the first task of the educationist is to make sure that the child’s needs are satisfied and that the child is happy. Well-known educationist Roger Cousinet observes: “New education . . . is really a new attitude towards the child. An attitude of understanding and love, and above all an attitude of respect. An attitude of expectation, of patience; the restraint of a delicate hand that dare not open a flower-bed nor disturb a baby in the midst of his first experiments, a student in the course of his early work . . . The has within himself everything that is necessary for his true education, and particularly a ceaseless activity, incessantly revived, in which he is totally engrossed, the activity of a growing being who is continuously developing, and to whom, for that very reason, our help may be useful, but our direction is not necessary”(L’Edcation nouvelle, Delachaux et Niestle, Neuchatel & Paris, 1950, pp.20-21, quoted in Pavitra, “The Growing Child,” Education and the Growing Child, p. 29).

What is essential for a child to educate himself I to provide him a proper atmosphere. Tagore always insisted that, for children the atmosphere is a great deal more important than rules and methods, equipment, textbooks and lessons.  According to Tagore, the power of thought and the power of imagination are indispensable for us for discharging the duties of life. We cannot do without those two powers if we want to live like real men. And unless we cultivate them in childhood we cannot have them when we are grown up. Therefore children should be given plenty of opportunity to think for themselves and use their imagination. Tagore also feels that our education bears no relation to our life. According to him the books the books we read paint no vivid pictures of our homes, extol no ideals of our society. The daily pursuits of our lives find no place in those pages. Nor do we meet anybody or anything we happily recognize as our friends and relatives, our sky and earth, our mornings and evenings, or our cornfields and rivers. Education and life can never become one in such circumstances, and are bound to remain separated by a barrier. Tagore compares our education to “rainfall on a spot that is a long way from the roots. Not enough moisture seeps through the intervening barrier of earth to quench our thirst” (“The Vicissitudes of Education,” Towards Universal Man, p.45).

Tagore insisted that the new schools founded should fulfil the following conditions: “that their courses are both lively and varied, and nourish the heart as well as the intellect; that no disunity or discord disrupts the minds of our young; and that education does not become something unreal, heavy and abstract with which the pupils are concerned only for those few hours when they are at school” (“The Problem of Education,” Towards Universal Man, pp. 68-69).

It is relevant here to have an idea about the concept of education in ancient India. Education was conceived as something springing from life itself. It was conceived as a part of the organization of life and it was designed to relate education with life and its highest possible fulfillment. Life itself was considered the great teacher of life. The Vedas and Upanishads were regarded as the records of “integral knowledge”—the synthesis of God-knowledge, Self-knowledge and World-knowledge. Ancient education also emphasized harmonisation of different aspects of personality. The physical being was made a strong base for sustaining the growth, and the perception of the vital, mental, and higher aspects of personality ( Kireet Joshi, Philosophy and Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and Other Essays, pp. 380-385).

 

Parents as Teachers

September 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

Parents have a vital role in their children’s education. But very few parents know fully well the real nature of their role. The majority of parents give very little thought to a true education to be given to their children. When they have satisfied the material wants of their children, they think that they have fully discharged their duty. When the children reach permissible age, they admit them to a school and entrust the duty of giving them mental education to the teacher. Many parents know that their parents should receive education and try to give it. But very few of them know that the first thing to do in educating the child is “to educate oneself, to become conscious and master oneself so that one does not set a bad example to one’s child.” Parents are generally not aware of the disastrous influence their defects, impulses, weaknesses, want of self-control have on their children. It is well-known that good qualities like honesty, straightforwardness, unselfishness, perseverance, etc. are taught far more effectively by example than by eloquent speeches. Parents should know that cultivation of such qualities is education more than mere acquisition of knowledge.

The Mother (of Sri Aurobindo Ashram) once advised parents as to what they should do to educate their children properly: “Parents, you should have a high ideal and act always in accordance with that ideal. You should see little by little your child reflecting this ideal in himself and manifesting spontaneously the qualities you wish to see expressed in his nature. . . . An affection that sees clear, that is firm yet gentle and a sufficiently practical knowledge will create bonds of trust that are indispensable for you to make the education of your child effective. And never forget that you have to surmount yourself always and constantly so as to be at the height of your task and truly fulfil the duty which you owe to towards your child by the mere fact of your having brought him into existence”(“The Education of a Human Being,” A New Approach to Education, Integral Education Series(Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Society,2002) pp. 6-8).

Parents should allow the child to educate himself and to grow freely. According to Sri Aurobindo “the business of the parent is to enable and help the child to educate himself, to develop his own intellectual, moral, aesthetic and practical capabilities and as an organic being, not to be kneaded and pressured into form like an inert plastic material” (“Education of the Child,” Education and the Growing Child ( Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Society,2002) p.1).

Thus all education begins at home. Parents have to become enlightened citizens themselves to be able to foster their children’s spiritual development. It is not wise on the part of the parents to push their ambition on their children because every child is born with unique potentialities and motivations. “The idea of hammering the child into the shape desired by the parent or teacher” says Sri Aurobindo, “ is a barbarous and ignorant superstition. It is he himself who must be induced to expand in accordance with his own nature” (“Basic Principles of Education”  A New Approach to Education( Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Society,2002) p.2). The role of parents is to give children initial thrust, strength, and training in good habits. Then the children should be allowed to go through experience. They should have freedom of thought and imagination. “Do’s and Don’ts” from parents would create frustrations in them which in turn will create blocks in their mental being. These mental blocks will prevent free growth, setting up inhibitions which will limit their creativity. Sri J. Krishnamurti remarks that “if we regard our children as personal property, if to us they are continuance of our petty selves and fulfillment of our ambitions, then we shall build an environment, a social structure in which there is no love, but only the pursuit of self-centred advantages” (“The School,” Education and the Significance of Life (Chennai: Krishnamurti Foundation India, 2006)p.86.

Parents should be aware of the proper kind of education they should give their children. They may be keen about educating their children; but they are often not concerned about the kind of education that is given. On this subject Sri Sathya Sai Baba once remarked: “Education should make students embodiments of human values such as Truth, Love, Right Conduct, Peace and Non-Violence. Academic knowledge alone is of no great value. It may help one to earn a livelihood. But education should go beyond the preparation for earning a living. It should prepare one for the challenges of life morally and spiritually. It is because human values are absent in ‘educated’ persons that we find them steeped in anxiety and worry” (Sathya Sai Education in Human Values ( Prasanthi Nilayam: Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust, 2005) p.2).

Parents should take care not to allow any fear to slip in between them and their children for “fear is a disastrous way to education: invariably it gives birth to dissimulation and falsehood”(The Mother, “The Education of a Human Being,”  A New Approach to Education, p. 8). About the adverse consequences of possession of fear, Sri J. Krishnamurti explains: “Fear perverts intelligence and is one of the causes of self-centred action. . . . When we are young, fear is instilled into most of us both at home and at school. Neither parents nor teachers have patience, the time or the wisdom to dispel the instinctive fears of childhood, which, as we grow up, dominate our attitudes and judgement and create a great many problems.” He adds that “the right kind of education must take into consideration this question of fear, because warps our whole outlook on life.” According to him to be without fear is the beginning of wisdom, and only right kind of education can bring about the freedom from fear in which alone there is deep and creative intelligence”(“The Right kind of Education,” Education and the Significance of Life, pp. 34-35)

Rabindranath Tagore always believed that freedom of the mind is essential for its growth and this freedom is provided abundantly by nature. According to him blue sky and air, trees and flowers are indispensable for the proper growth of the body and mind of a child. It is necessary for us to be under the influence of nature when we are young, our minds fresh and vigorous. Hence Tagore insisted that the parents should let the children play under the open sky which is the playground of sunlight and clouds.

Parents should allow the children to read books of their own choice in addition to the prescribed textbooks they must read for their school work. If they are not allowed to do so, as Tagore said, their mental development is likely to be arrested and they may grow into men with the mind of a child. When a child reads for pleasure his capacity for reading increases imperceptibly, and his powers of comprehension, assimilation and retention grow stronger in an easy, and natural manner.

Parents today should realize that their children have to face challenges of the rapidly changing world and should prepare them for that world. As Kireet Joshi observes, “in these difficult times the parents have to build and maintain bonds of trust with children and guide them with love and understanding, with practical dexterity, and with largeness of mind and heart. They have to harmonize the demands of freedom and the demands of self-discipline”