THE ROLE OF A TEACHER IN IMPARTING VALUE BASED EDUCATION
Dr. Durgaprasada Rao Chilakamarthi
Bhashapraveena, Vedantavidyapraveena, P.O.L,
M.A. ( Sanskrit), M.A. (Telugu),
M.A. ( Philosophy) & Ph. D. ( Sanskrit).
3/106, Premnagar, Dayalbagh,
Education has been playing a very important role in human life. It is said to be of two kinds.-
“ Para” and “Apara” . ' Para' may be defined as extra – mundane while the opposite, that is , 'Apara' is mundane. The scriptures enjoin that both are equally worthy of acquisition, the supreme function of them being relief from worldly entalglements. Paravidya is said to lead to the realization of Atman while Aparavidya can enable one to acquire knowledge of the physical world.
The entire edifice of education is based upon four pillars: teacher, parent, student and institition constitute four pillars. The edifice is expected to be strong enough provided all the pillars are strong. Though the teacher is one among the four, he plays a truly vital role as he is the source of knowledge. The holy books of our tradition unanimously stress the indespensability of a living guru or saint for imparting knowledge. An Upanishadic saying goes like this:
तद्विज्ञानार्थं स गुरुमेवाभिगच्छेत्
समित्पाणि: श्रॊत्रियं ब्रह्मनिष्ठम् (मुण्डक उपनिषद् )
( Tadvijnanartham sa gurumevabhigacchet
samitpanih shrotriyam brahmanishtham)
The same idea is found in the Gita also:
तद्विद्धि प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नॆन सेवया
उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ते ज्ञानं ज्ञानिनस्तत्वदर्शिन: (भ.गी.४/३४)
( Tadviddhi pranipatena
upadekshyanti te jnanam
The substance of this command may be understood as follows:
Acquire brahmajnana through prostration, inquiry, and service to an unusually qualified guru.
According to swami Rama, an internationally renowned saint, a father usually trains his children to grow and live happily and profitably in the physical world. But a spiritual father gives supreme jnana which can be said to his prerogative.( Living with Himalayan Yogis -p 26)
In the days of yore students used to study in gurukulas co-living with the teachers. The word Antevasi( Student) which is derived as ' ante vasati iti antevasi' ( one who sits / lives near a guru) shows that the gurukula system of education was popular in those days.
The teachers used to impart morals also not only by preaching but also through practice. Yaskacharya , the foremost lexicographer of the world who lived in 8th century B.C and who gave etymological derivations of all the vedic words, interpreted the word Acharya ( Teacher) as 'Acharati iti acharyah' ( one who practises good manners), 'Acharam grahayati iti acharyah' ( one who teaches good behaviour to his students) and 'Achinoti arthan iti acharyah' ( one who goes on collecting material pertaining to knowledge). All these three qualities are expected to be integral in an ideal teacher.
But now times have changed. The aims and goals of education have also changed. The dominant involvement of the government in the field of education, unrealistic expectations of the parents, indifferent attitude of the teachers and the easy-going nature of the students have thrown the entire system into out of gear.
As a result, both the academic and moral standards have nose-dived. It is not out of place to mention here that the introduction of English Education led to an all-round deterioration of the moral, ethical, cultural and spiritual values. Here let us quote the exact statement made by Lord Mc Cauley who was instrumental in introducing this system in the British parliament.
“I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief . Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such caliber, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I, propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for it the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self esteem, their native self culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation”.
(Lord Mc Cauley in his speech of Feb. 2 1835, British Parliament.)
If the same system goes on for some more time the society will certainly be ruined. As a teacher is expected to be the main pillar of the edifice of education, as already mentioned; it is his bounden duty to set the things right. He should impart the knowledge which develops an integrated personality of the students and makes them strong physically, mentally, intellectually and spiritually.
For mental and intellectual development we study in schools, colleges and universities and read a large number of books. But we leave the development of the third entity, viz; the spirit, to the winds ignoring the fact that the very ethics and moral conduct are the backbone of spiritual development. The teacher alone can impart value-based education and ethical conduct more effectively than others. That is the reason why the people of ancient times believed that education with no guru was not at all education since it did not serve the real purpose of education.
According to the Upanishads, knowledge, whether it is worldly or other—worldly, should be acquired through a proper guru. An episode of Satyakamajabala in the Chandogya Upanishad supports this view. The episode goes like this:
Satyakama, a student, with great difficulty got the chance of becoming a disciple of the Sage Gautama. After initiating Satyakama the sage gave him four hundred lean and sickly cattle, saying “Take good care of these, my lad”. The boy promised that he would not return until they proliferated into a thousand cattle. After some years the bull of the herd approached Satyakama and informed him that they had become a herd of one thousand and taught one quarter of Brahman and informed him that a swan would teach him the rest. On the following evening a swan
appeared before him and taught another quarter of Brahman and informed him a loon would teach further . Similarly on the next evening the loon appeared before him and taught it. Finally the boy reached the hermitage of his guru , stood before him and proffered his obeisance. As soon as Gautama saw him, he exclaimed “ My boy, your face shines like a knower of Brahman, by whom were you taught? Satyakama replied that he was taught by beings other than men and he now wanted to be taught by Gautama as the knowledge imparted by Guru alone would lead the Supreme goal.
More over, it is evident that knowledge acquired without proper guidance of a good teacher may some times lead to the destruction of the learner. An episode in the Mahabharata supports this view. Let us dive in to the episode.
Yavakrita was the son of sage Bharadwaja. He used to be envious of another sage Rybhya and his sons. Though he was warned by his father Bharadwaja he did not heed his advice. He wanted to excel them in education with self acquired knowledge. So he performed severe penance to please Indra. Indra appeared before him and warned him to seek knowledge through a particular Guru as there is no other way of getting proper knowledge. And if at all it is acquired otherwise , i.e., through mere self effort, it will not make him wise but lead him to ego which ultimately leads to destruction of himself and his fellow- beings.
But Yavakrita ignored Indra's advice and acquired knowledge through penance. One day he went to the hermitage of Rybhya and saw his daughter- in -law. Being attracted by her beauty he asked her to fulfil his evil desire. Being afraid of the powers of Yavakrita , she reluctantly obliged him. Later she explained every thing to her father – in- law. The sage created a demon and ordered him to turn Yavakrita into ashes. The demon did his bidding. However, at the request of the sons of Rybhya , the celestials brought him back to life. Yavakrita asked them, Oh Celestials! I also studied all the sastras as Rybhya and his sons did. How could he kill me?. They replied “ oh Yavakrita! No doubt, you studied all the sastras like them. But you didn't study under any teacher who could teach moral values also. Education which is not acquired through the teacher is not at all purposeful but may be harmful as in your case. That is why you met with this disaster.
मैवं कृधा यवक्रीत यया वदसि वै मुने
ऋते गुरुमधीता हि सुखं वेदास्त्वया पुरा|
अनेन तु गुरून् दु:खात् तोषयित्वा स्वकर्मणा
कालेन महता क्लेशात् ब्रह्माधिगतमुत्तमम्|
All these instances unequivocally stress the need of a teacher to inculcate moral values among students. So all the teachers are expected to realize their responsibility and contribute their might in shaping the students for bright future.
* Living with Himalayan masters
by Swami Rama,
The himalayan Institute Press, Honesdate, Pennsylvania
* Pride of India'
Published by Samskrita Bharati
Mata mandir gali