Memoirs of My School Days

I joined in a village primary school in first class at my age of six in 1943. My father was the school teacher. He belongs to Gandhian ideology as many teachers of those times. We were 35 students in the class. A slate and a slate pencil were the only things. Most of the students did not have them also because of poverty. Some students did not even have shirts or had torn shirts. Our teacher used to spread sand like slates on the ground and make the students to write with index finger on the sand slates and learn.

We learnt three things in our early school days from our teacher which were useful to us throughout Our life.

Whatever we write should be legible, clear, easily identifiable and understandable. we have to do some simple things to be of use throughout our lifetime. Learn just to write ten numbers from 1 to 0 legible as in the print, you can write any big number legible throughout your life time. It assures accuracy. A simple exercise done for ten days or so would be useful to you throughout your lifetime.

The same principle and exercise applies to LETTERS or ALPHABETS of any language. The exercise does not take more than 45 days. The letters are nothing but shapes, symbols and sounds that make a writing in a language.

Our teachers taught us "why should you write a big word with more letters when a little word with less letters could serve the intended purpose? Why should you write long complex sentences while simple and short sentences could serve the intended purpose? What we write should easily be understood by the common people."

We enjoy the benefits of those simple principles throughout our life time.

I understand that there was a historical need of those times for those things and thoughts. The need was to create awareness amongst the common people through small writings secretly and awaken them to participate voluntarily in the National people's movements for social reforms and Freedom from British rule and make them successful. It is the lower middle class people who made the people's National movements successful.

When we entered eighth class we were of over 13 years age . We had the opportunity of hearing some live events and things that took place in the British rule. There were two or three teachers who have been participating in the movements from the beginning. They lost their jobs and suffered from imprisonment and came out after some years. They used to tell us the true experiences of the cruel British rule.

They told us their experiences. It is a town namely, Narsipatnam in Vizag ( Visakhapatnam ) district. There was a British Collector who used to do horse riding in the evenings. That was the time when all return to their homes after their work fully tired. When the British Collector does riding , people were not allowed to walk on the roads. After his riding is over only , they were allowed to go on the roads. If at all anyone goes on the road, he was beaten by the police. It is our place. It is our motherland. It is our Nation. The salaries and all expenses were paid from our public money for the British rule! The British rule created constant fears in the minds of our people using the policemen, suppressed and enslaved our people with our own money and with Our own policemen! That was the inhuman and cruel and terrorist rule of the British which continued for 190 years!

On hearing such truths, the small group of audience present there used to ask some questions and they used to clear their doubts.

" How they could rule for such a long period of 190 years?"

" British rule is a rule of suppression of people with fears by the cruel actions of policemen. They recruited our men as policemen and our policemen had to work under the orders of the British police. They made our policemen suppress our people cruelly who are paid by our money."

" Why did our people keep silent tolerating such cruelties?"

" Ours by Nature is a land of non - violence and tolerance. Our Gandhi and Gandhian leaders knew that armed wars achieve nothing but bloodshed only. Our first armed war of 1857 proved it.That is why they used people's non-violent satyagraha movements to achieve freedom and independence. Our people's movements achieved a lot and will achieve freedom and independence within few years as they are mounting up day by day"

I had my own experience of the British rule. Now, I am 82 years old. I could not forget that! It often comes to my memory and kills me!

I had to go every day to the high school at Narsipatnam from my village, Seethannagraharam ( said founded by an ancestor of our family) six miles away from Narsipatnam. I and my elder brother were going to the high school on the cycle which our parents bought amongst many money problems. It was a second hand cycle needing often repairs.

A policeman is coming on a cycle in the opposite direction and we saw him and got down. We were walking in fears in our mind! When policeman goes on a cycle, the people used to get down and walk with the cycle with fears in the mind! Why so?! I do not know ! Fears, nothing else!

He got down the cycle and told in commanding voice and red eyes " pay Rs two as penalty. Two persons can not go on a cycle." I said in fears" I saw two policemen going on one cycle many times!" He shouted angrily" shut up your mouth!"and put his hand in our pockets and took out the money and went his way!

We were helpless! Since he stole all the money from our pockets, we had no lunch that day! We were late because of the policeman's cruelty to attend the class! We were made to stand on the bench for the late attending for 45 minutes! It was not only a physical punishment, but more a mental torture amongst the classmates.

I heard many times from the people" The British rule is a rule of cruelties and more so and more often the rule of cruelties of the policemen!"

People lived in fears in their mind!

I was regarded as an intelligent and brilliant student. From 6th class onwards, I got first or second or third rank amongst 120 students of my class. In fact, I had no time to read. I had to go to school journeying six miles from my village which took two hours, that is four hours both ways! I read the books on Sundays only. I heard my teachers with all the attention and learnt which helped me to get good ranks.

One day, my classmate, Rajeswari said" You got the first rank, but my father gave me first rank wrongly correcting the marks! I had pointed him that a teacher should not do like that! Very sorry!" I said spontaneously " we should respect our teachers!" She smiled but unhappily! I still remember her mind of uprightness and truthfulness even though I did not know her whereabouts after school days!

Because of my four hours journey daily, I could not spare my time to play games and sports and I was very poor in them facing punishments and insults! But, I was good in running!

In all competitions conducted such as debates, drawing, essay writing and speech I always stood at the top ranks.

My father advised me to read Bible for learning to write meaningful simple sentences with good expression, even though we belong to Hinduism and Brahmin family!

Learn good things where ever you find - that was taught to us by our parents and teachers. Is it so easy?! But, it had its own impact which I could not deny!

Gandhi's (1869-1948) movement of eradication of Untouchability spread everywhere including villages. He was working on it since 1918 and in 1932, he founded the Harijan Sevak Sangh as part of his efforts to eradicate the concept of Untouchability from caste system. He worked for reformation of caste system with eradication of Untouchability. He observed that eradication of caste system was not possible at those times of National movement for Independence as it would lead to disunity amongst the people while Ambedkar wanted eradication of caste system.  Ambedkar (1891- 1956) said" Social democracy was even more important than freedom from foreign rule".( Dr. Ambedkar and Dalit movement in Colonial India, 1994, sage publications , New Delhi)

Gandhi learnt from Ramayana that there was no concept of Untouchability in Hiduism. He said" In my opinion, Untouchability is a blot on humanity and therefore upon Hiduism. It can not stand the test of reason. It is in conflict with the fundamental precepts of Hinduism."

He said" He who demands Swaraj must give Swaraj to others. It is a principle in law that he who seeks justice should render it to others." He made the movement as integral part of National movements of social reforms and Independence.

The movement was successful that the depressed and deprived classes had accessible places such as temples, schools, roads and water resources without discrimination and now enjoy equality and social justice in all fundamental and constitutional functions and powers. 

History proves that the caste system with its evils was created in the rule of  the kings and now it was deepened by the politicians by making caste a vote bank! It was not the creation of any caste or anyone or anything but the powers of the rulers in their vested interests.

Our teachers taught us the great words and works and practices of MAHATMA GANDHI for eradication of Untouchability and made us to put them in practice. We found it as great pleasure as if doing great things.

The students of all castes should share a bench.

No student should call any other student by caste. We are all human beings. We should live together without any discriminations as belonging to the family of Human beings.

No student should attempt to know the caste of any other student.

Every student should attempt to forget the concept that he belongs to a particular caste.

Every student should do his best to make the movement of eradication of Untouchability successful following Gandhian practices.

We followed those principles and made them our living way and style. The non- violent satyagraha is the only way to make the movements successful. They achieved their objectives and goals without bloodshed from our side.

The village teachers and the heads of the castes conducted ' Get together - Share together- Eat together- Live together events for eradication of Untouchability. We participated in those events with energy and enthusiasm in our school days. We collected rice, vegetables and other items from some rich people for the events. We were presented National flags with pin. We had happy school days!

When we were promoted to 8th class, our Sanskrit teacher approached us and said" Sanskrit is your optional subject. Unless there are ten students opting for Sanskrit, I will be sent home. I shall make all sincere efforts to ensure that you all will get highest marks. I know that you all fear of Sanskrit as a policeman! Truly, it is not so! If you think that it is difficult, it will be difficult! All subjects are equally easy! It depends upon your hard and sincere efforts. Please save my livelihood!" We observed tears in his eyes! I opted for Sanskrit first and some others followed me. We, 15 students opted for Sanskrit to save his livelihood, not for learning Sanskrit. We do not know anything about Sanskrit!

He started teaching with Abhijnana Shakuntalam , a play created by Kalidasa. While teaching that, he taught us all applications of grammar and Aesthettics showing the differences of their applications in Telugu and Sanskrit. He slowly made us to speak in Sanskrit in his class! Around 60% of Sanskrit words are borrowed by Telugu from Sanskrit. I found learning Sanskrit is easier than learning Telugu! It is not a policeman to be feared!

Kalidasa wrote three dramas, two epics, one elegiac poetry and one descriptive poetry. He is assessed to belonging to 4th and 5th centuries of Christian era in Gupta empire with Ujjain as capital. His literary works are well-known and needs no details here. What our Sanskrit teacher said on his works are worthy of mention.

A. He is a born poet. B. His works are far beyond religion. C. His style of writing is purely original and simple  not influenced by his earlier poets. D. His love for Nature and Natural phenomena are eternal. His works are live portrayal of Nature with all its living beings with the beauties of mountains, rivers, trees, flowers and fruits and represent the whole Nature of 5th century of Akhand Bharat.

The other side is that it portrays the Natural phenomena, that is love between MAN and WOMAN and the woman's motherly love for her offspring.E. The Nature with its living beings and beauties live timeless and eternal. The Natural phenomena of love between MAN and WOMAN and woman's motherly love for her offspring  live timeless and eternal. So, Kalidasa' s literary works live timeless and eternal. It is what our Sanskrit teacher in essence said about his works.

What surprised me is something else!. Shakuntalam is the first Indian drama translated into a western language by Sir WilliamJone in 1789. 46 translations came in 12 European languages. They are all highly learned and reputed. I shall attempt to give in essence of what Arthur W. Ryder in his introduction of his translation of 1920 said. We find the surprise here!

A. The best proof of a poet's greatness is the inability of man to live without him. He proved it for 1500 years from 5th century. B. His knowledge of Nature is minutely accurate. C. What Kalidasa understood in 5th century, the Europe did not learn until 19th century. D. The poetry of ancient poets of Europe and Western world including Shakespeare has great human heart. But, Kalidasa's works have love for external Nature and love for Internal phenomena of nature between MAN and woman and are greater than of just human heart. E. His works have no religious significance.

Such analysis of the highly learned nearly resembles what our Sanskrit teacher who did not learn English said and what he said is richer and more meaningful than what those highly learned said.

That was the richness and greatness of our  poor Sanskrit teacher who stood before us to save his livelihood!

Our mathematics teacher was young and energetic and a post graduate in mathematics. What he said about mathematics is more relevant in the contemporary times. He said" There is no subject or discipline without applications of mathematics. It's importance is growing day by day. The science and technology is developing with applications of mathematics only! India needs scientists and technologists and mathematicians for its development. Further, it is the only subject in which you could get 100% marks. You all should keep this in mind and work hard"

What he said is more relevant today! We see that transformation with our own eyes!

My parents and the elder members of our family advised us always" there are two good and honest professions before you. One is the teacher and the other is the farmer. Though we do those professions for our living and livelihood, they serve the people good. One gives knowledge and makes the students to be useful to them, their families, their society and the Nation. The farmer gives food for all the people and also many living beings. We therefore prefer to do those both."

I and many others of our generation were convinced of it and preferred it. But, we could not do it. Why? I shall attempt to explain in a few words.

My father spent all our money in agriculture. There were no rains for two years and no crops and no income. We went into debts. We faced compelling circumstances to sell our lands and pay back the debts with heavy interest. We thus became landless. I became an employee in the government service.

Learnt from the past history , from the experiences of our families and known families and my own experiences for decades and years, I have my own opinions on Education and Agriculture.

Education is privatised and commercialised. The large part of the incomes of the people is devoured for the education of their children. The people are suffering a lot. Education should be in the hands of the governments in the Indian circumstances. It is the fundamental duty and responsibility of the governments to save people from the exploitation. Education is the most needed and aspired responsibilities of the governments for the true welfare and development of the people in true people's representative democracies. There could not be any better and greater welfare measures than this! It helps and leads to true development of the people.

I say a few words on agriculture. The rich grow commercial crops and crops for growth of their profits and properties as it is a business for them. It is not so for the farmers. The farmers grow paddy and wheat and food grains for them and for the people and the domestic animals. It is the live truth before our eyes. Therefore, the lands and Agriculture should be in the hands of the farmers. It is they who made the people of India self-reliant without facing food shortages even in the most difficult times. It is the live history and truth before our eyes. It is therefore fundamental duty and the responsibility of the governments to ensure that the lands and Agriculture are in the hands of the people and there could be no more purposeful and useful welfare for the people than doing it. It builds true development of the people while being welfare of the people.


More by :  Papa Rao Jayanthi

Top | Memoirs

Views: 3495      Comments: 0

Name *

Email ID

Comment *
Verification Code*

Can't read? Reload

Please fill the above code for verification.