Society & Lifestyle
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My Idea of Education
- Refinement & Spirituality
|by S. C. Arora|
While pursuing the ideal of healthy body we should not overlook the qualities which contribute to the development of a “complete person”, and which lay the foundations of a socially and aesthetically aware citizen. Sensitivity to beauty, harmony and refinement, and appreciation of the same should be assiduously cultivated. Dnyaneshwara, a Marathi saint, described education as knowledge poured from one heart to another. The sole purpose of education is not to enable us to find good jobs or fare well in exams but also to live better and more fulfilled lives. Macaulay’s educational framework, focused primarily on producing an assembly line of clerks, destroyed Indian cultural values: the education system introduced by him hounded out the finer points of life (poetry, music, art, etc.) from our society, turning it into a moribund system of education.
Any society which emphasises materialistic pursuits, where hedonism begins to pervade, stagnates and that civilization begins to decay. To conquer the forces of greed, arrogance and violence in the contemporary world, refinement of the soul – Atma Sanskriti – is needed. In any balanced society people should not only try for intellectual growth but also endeavour to inculcate the grace of the heart. In addition to trying for things which give us existence, we should also develop those finer and delicate values which contribute to the grace of life. The easy and pleasant life made possible by science, technology and wealth is not the essence of civilization. As there is an outer technology, there is an inner technology or inner engineering also. Literature, music, theatre, dance etc. touch the deepest chords in the human heart and hence contribute to the making of a full man.
Man’s creative side is nourished by any kind of fine art. Man’s soul cannot be satisfied by wealth or learning alone: fulfillment of man abides in the pursuit of the finer aspects of life. Poverty of mind requires to be removed by fine arts: they discipline the emotions. All great art is the overflow of emotional intensity and heightened vision. All art is universal in its appeal and significance: it enlarges our sensibilities, purifies our instincts and lifts us above the mundane life. The low levels of patience, morality etc. among the younger age group are raising alarm bells all over the world but unfortunately people are not able to utilize the “Sanjeevani Booti” which is easily within their reach in the form of fine arts. Our negativities disappear when we give expression to our feelings and emotions in any of these forms. Over the years having dealt with thousands of students I have noticed that all those youngsters who took interest in any of these pursuits were calm and rarely felt lonely or depressed: they were quite comfortable with themselves. Therefore, I now firmly believe that fine arts (theatre, dance, music, art, poetry, aesthetics) should be a part of every individual’s life so that he / she can emote and strengthen the bonds among people.
We are very particular in taking care of the hygiene of our body: we take bath twice a day, shampoo our hair regularly, dress up in fresh clothes daily etc. Have we ever thought of the hygiene of our innerselves? Do we think of humanity? Do we think of who we are? Do we ever think of the equilibrium of the planets and everything else in the cosmos?
Do we think of the higher power? Of course these questions cannot arise in the mind till the basic necessities of civilized living are met. But once the stomach has been filled, the body clothed, one’s living place insulated against the elements, there remains a basic hunger in us all which no amount of possessions, power or pleasure can fulfill. It is when we begin to think of the mystery of our existence that we are led to the thought of spirituality – soul consciousness i.e. being aware of our soul as apart from the body. We say that we are doctors, engineers, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and others recognize us as such but that is our outer recognition. What are we inside – that energy/spirit inside is our soul which comprises Mind, Intellect and ‘Sanskars’. Mind is the seat of thought: Intellect judges / discriminates and then action is taken. Repeated actions translate into ‘Sanskars’.
Spirituality as a way of life concerns itself with aligning the human will and mind with that dimension of life and the universe that is harmonious and ordered. Its practice cultivates those higher potentialities of the human being that are more noble and refined. I regard spirituality not as a dogmatic religion per se, but as the active and vital connection of a power / energy or spirit with sense of deep self. Religion invites us to a temple or a church or a mosque but spirituality invites us to the journey. Religion is about certainty and rituals, spirituality is about wonder and quest. Religion divides, spirituality unites. Spirituality to me means an extremely deep connection with the forces at work around us. It is developing our inner capacity to the highest level possible. Religion creates an exclusive identity and this asserts itself publicly. In its extreme form, bands of religious minded lumpen goons begin to rule the streets. They start indulging in irreligious acts of killing believers of other faiths: they begin to celebrate death and destruction in the belief that their faith is the best. It has happened in Mumbai, Gujarat and Orissa. Perhaps the fault lies in our educational system. Schools run by some religious bodies teach matters of belief and faith as facts – as gospel truths. Therefore, students of these schools develop a narrow, sectarian view of the world. We are allowing these religious groups to push their narrow agenda.
To me there is only one holy book – the sacred manuscript of Nature. There is only one religion – the unswerving progress in the right direction towards the ideal. There is one truth – the true knowledge of our being, within and without.Therefore, if we wish to live without stress or free of religious violence our education has to be oriented towards spirituality, for it provides eternal harmony, eternal pleasure and eternal security.
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