Saturday, September 22, 2012

Four noble fours for comprehensive education

Four Noble Fours for Complete Education

Dr. Ch. Durga Prasada Rao,
Reader in Sanskrit (Retd)
3/106, Premnagar,
Dayalbagh, AGRA
From time immemorial education has been given a very important place not only in our country but also elsewhere. Education is said to be of two kinds – ‘Para’ and ‘Apara’. ‘Para’ may be defined as extra – mundane, transcendental, while the opposite, i. e., Apara is mundane, pertaining to the world. The scriptures enjoin that both are equally worthy of acquisition, the supreme function of them being relief from worldly entanglements, that shrouds the vision of the Truth. Paravidya is said to lead to the realization of Atman while Aparavidya can enable one to acquire knowledge of the physical world. Our culture went to the extent of saying that man with no education is a beast. विद्याविहीन: पशु:

  1. Education: A four pillared edifice:

The entire education system is a four pillared edifice of which parent, student, teacher and the government constitute the pillars. Hence the system becomes effective provided all the four pillars are strong. It is a collective responsibility.
1. Parent:
The role of parent is very important in providing education. So they should always try to educate their children in the best possible way. Our ancient treatise, Panchatantra, emphatically says that the mother is a foe and the father is an enemy by whom children are not educated.
'माता शत्रु : पिता वैरी येन बालो न पाठित :
न शोभते सभा मध्ये हंसमध्ये बको यथा ¨
The Upanishads have given higher place to parents among teachers by saying मातृमान्पितृमानाचार्यवान्पुरुषो वेद¨
means that one will attain knowledge through mother, father and guru. In this modern age parents are so busy that they are not able to spend even the minimum required time with their children. In some cases parents admit their wards even without considering the likes and dislikes of them.
Most of the parents are of the opinion that admitting their children in schools is the end of their responsibility. But it is not the end but beginning only. They should take proper care for integral development of their children before and after schooling.

2. Student:
The students play a key role in education. They always try to acquire knowledge to the best of their ability. In addition to the study of prescribed syllabus, they should participate in curricular, co - curricular and extra – curricular activities. It is observed that the standards of education have terribly fallen down. Of all the reasons of down fall, learning by rote [without any thought for the meaning] is said to be the main. Hence Students are expected to know the meaning of what they study. Most of the students are scoring marks by mere rote.

Veda while severely criticising the person who recites (Veda) by rote appreciates him who studies and gets by heart with the knowledge of it.
उत त्व: पश्यन्न ददर्श वाचं
उतत्व श्रुण्वन्न् श्रुणॊत्यॆनां
उतॊत्वस्मै तन्वं विसश्रे
ज्यॆव पत्यु: उशती सुवासा:
He, who sees not even though he is seeing; listens not even though he is listening, but to him (who studies with meaning) Saraswathi unfolds herself without any reservation). So, one should read every thing thoroughly. There fore, instead of reading hundred books it is initially better to read a book for hundred times. Instead of reading hundred pages it is better to read one page for hundred times and instead of reading hundred lines it is better to read one line for hundred times. Because, an ounce of intensive reading is better than a ton of extensive reading. And after the study a particular topic one must be in a position to explain it to a common man. Here Albert Einstein states thus:
You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother. ------Albert Einstein
Regarding the techniques of acquiring knowledge Kalidasa states that one gets knowledge by assiduously and systematically learning things right from the fundamentals and the study must be continuous till the subject is mastered. And to acquire knowledge there is no alternative except hard work and deep study.
3. Teacher:
Though teacher appears one among four pillars he plays a vital role. He is said to be a teacher who practises good manners (आचरति इति आचार्य:), who teaches good behaviour to his students (आचारं ग्राहयति इति आचार्य:) and who goes on collecting material pertaining to knowledge (आचिनॊति अर्थान् इति आचार्य:). All these three qualities are integral in an ideal teacher.
And a teacher becomes great not merely by possessing knowledge but by expertly transmitting it. Regarding the teaching technique Kalidasa says that acquisition of knowledge is some thing and the transmission of the same to others is another. A person who has both qualities in abundance is considered to be the best among teachers.
श्लिष्टा क्रिया कस्यचिदात्म संस्था
संक्रान्तिरन्यस्य विशॆष युक्ता
यस्यॊभयं साधु स सज्जनानां
धुरि प्रतिष्ठापयितव्य एव
(Malavikagnimitram I/16)

And a teacher is always expected to have fore sight far sight as well as insight.

4. Government:
In Vedic age education used to be imparted free of cost in gurukulas and the gurukulas are patronized by the kings and philanthropists. In Raghuvamsa the author Kalidasa while describing the administration of Dilipa states that the king Dilipa was like father to the people as he was educating , protecting and maintaining them. Thus he made the parents as mere agents of the birth of people.
प्राजानां विनयाधानाद्रक्षणाद्भरणादपि
स पिता पितरस्तासां कॆवलं जन्महॆतव:( I-24)

It is also evident that in the days of yore in India there were many universities such as Nalanda, Takshasila, Vikramsila where Higher Education was imparted even to foreign students at no cost irrespective of caste, creed, religion, sex and nationality.
But unfortunately in recent times, government is relinquishing the responsibility of providing funds for education in general and higher education in particular, treating it to be a wasteful investment. A father should not think of returns immediately after sending his ward for education. Because, the fruit of investing money on education, will be attained only after the completion of education, and not immediately. Similarly the investment made on a particular generation can yield fruits in the next generation but not immediately. So the government is expected to be liberal but not short sighted in the allocation of funds for education.

II. Four types of education:

As already mentioned earlier, teacher is expected to be the main pillar of the edifice of education. So it is his bounden duty and sublime obligation to set the things right. He should impart knowledge which develops an integral personality of the students and makes them strong physically, mentally, intellectually and spiritually. The teacher alone can impart value based education and ethical conduct more effectively than others.

III. Four sources of acquisition of knowledge:

According to the Indian tradition, student receives one fourth of knowledge from his teacher, one fourth by using his intellect, .one fourth from his class mates and still one fourth through experience.
आचार्यात्पादमादत्तॆ पादं शिष्य: स्वमॆधया
पादम् सब्रह्मचारिभ्य: पादं कालक्रमॆण च.
So a student is not expected to confine himself to the information he receives from his teacher. He should exercise his own intellect to analyse and discuss with classmates to improve it. And in course of time he understands it comprehensively through experience. Regarding the mechanics of acquiring knowledge Kalidasa suggests that one gets knowledge by assiduously and systematically learn things right from the fundamentals. He also suggests that the study must be continuous till the subject is mastered. As Thomas Alva Edison succinctly avers, genius is one percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration. And to acquire knowledge there is no alternative except hard work and deep study.
IV. Four phases of education:
According to our Indian tradition, education has four phases. They are Adhiti (study), Bodha (teaching), Acharana (practising the values of education) and Prachara( propagation of education).
Mere acquisition of knowledge is not of much use. It should be distributed to others. Similarly, knowledge without morality is not only use less but also dangerous. Here Bhartrihari, the greatest poet cum philosopher states thus:

दुर्जन: परिहर्तव्य: विद्ययालंकृतोपि सन्
मणिना भूषित: सर्प: किमसौ न भयंकर:? (Niti satakam)

(A man of bad character is to be abandoned even though he is educated. Is not a serpent dangerous though it has a precious jewel on its head?)
If an educated person is immoral he can do more harm than the other as aptly pointed out by Oscar wild thus: society produces rogues and education will make one rogue wiser than the other. So knowledge, acquired by one should be put in to practice distributed to one and gradually to all to the uplift of the society. The method viz., ‘Each one teach one’ should be implemented in this regard
Among all the religions of the world, the religion of saints i.e., Santmat realizes the all round development of the individual. And unlike other religions, it is ever fresh and dynamic, suitable to the needs of the day to day world. More over the leaders of this religion take care of both worldly as well as other worldly requirements of the individual and society. It is a universal experience that the education the Dayalbagh institutions impart help develop the physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual facets of the individual – a unique distinction of Dayalbagh. One hopes that other educational institutions study the educational system of this great institution and emulate it for the integral development of education.

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