Saturday, December 15, 2012

The views of Kalidasa on education


Dr. Durgaprasada Rao Chilakamarthi
Bhashapraveena, Vedanta Vidyapraveena,
M.A. (Samskrit), M.A. (Telugu )
M.A.( Philosophy) & Ph. D ( Sanskrit),
13/337, Premnagar, Dayalbagh,

Man is considered to be superior to all other animals by virtue of having knowledge. विद्याविहीन: पशु: (भर्तृहरि:)
Knowledge is acquired through education. Therefore man without education is considered to be beast. Regarding the system of education the Upanishads say that the teacher is the prime unit. The student comes next. Knowledge unites the teacher and the taught while instruction is the means for the union.

 आचार्य: पूर्वरूपम् अन्तेवास्युत्तर रूपम् विद्या सन्धि: प्रवनं सन्धानम् (तैत्तिरीय उप-)

From time immemorial education has been playing an important role not only in our country but also throughout the world. Many Poets, Philosophers, Educationalists and Psychologists have interpreted and defined education in their respective ways. Among them Kalidasa's interpretation is unique which throws light on many aspects of education. While writing poetry he contextually gives many points regarding the system of education. Of these ideas some are direct and the others are suggestive and allegorical. Though Kalidasa belongs to a particular region and period the ideas contributed by him are universal and eternal. They are not only interesting but also worth practicing. In this article an attempt is made to give some of the ideas of Kalidasa on education.

Kalidasa in his famous work Kumarasambhava while narrating the schooling of Parvathi allegorically explains that as the swans resort to the Ganges when autumn sets in or as their native luster returns to the luminous herbs at nightfall, so the knowledge acquired in her previous life came to Parvathi at the time of initiation. 

तां हंसमाला: शरदीव गंगां महौषधिं नक्तमिवावभास:||
 स्थिरॊपदॆशादुपदेशकाले प्रपॆदिरे प्राक्तनजन्मविद्या: ( कुमारसंभवम्)

Naturally the abode of the swans is the river Ganges. But in the rainy season, afraid of rainfall, they leave the Ganges and go to the higher regions of the mountains where there is no rainfall and get back to their natural abode in the autumn season. Similarly the luster of herbs is not visible at the day time due to the domination of sunlight. The light which is latent in the herbs becomes manifest at night.

By these two illustrations it is evident that knowledge does not come from outside. It is latent in us and becomes manifest on the initiation of a Guru. The idea given by Swami Vivekananda, i.e., “education is a manifestation of perfection already in man” corroborates the idea of Kalidasa. This same idea is given by modern psychologists also. Regarding the teaching technique Kalidasa says that acquisition of knowledge is one 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 कस्यचिदात्मसंस्था
संक्रान्तिरन्यस्य विशॆषयुक्ता
यस्योभयं साधु स शिक्षकाणां
धुरि प्रतिष्टापयितव्य एव | ( मालविकाग्निमित्रम्)

Thus it is clear that a teacher becomes great not merely by possessing knowledge but by expertly transmitting it. Regarding the mechanics of acquiring knowledge in kalidasa's  Raghuvamsa the sage Vasista advised Dilipa to follow the cow to win its favor by assiduously and abstemiously consuming herbs and other plant products just as one gets knowledge by assiduously and systematically learning things right from the fundamentals.

वन्यवृत्तिरिमां शश्वदात्मानुगमनेन गां
विद्यामभ्यसनेनैव प्रसादयितुमर्हसि ( रघुवंश:)

Here Kalidasa by using this Upamana suggests that the study must be continuous till the subject is mastered. As Thamos Alva Edison succinctly avers, genius is one percent inspiration and ninety nine percent perspiration . And to acquire knowledge there is no alternative except hard work and deep study. Kalidasa while giving the purpose of education opines that knowledge alone is the purpose of education but not money. He who studies for acquisition of wealth will be treated as a petty trader. 

यस्यार्जनं केवलजीविकायै
तं ज्ञानपण्यं वणिजं वदन्ति|

There is nothing wrong in acquiring wealth through education but wealth should not become the prime motto of education. While describing the characteristics of Raghu dynasty Kalidasa explains that the kings of Raghu dynasty used to study the sastras in their child-hood. 

शैशवेभ्यस्तविद्यानां यौवने विषयैषिणां
वार्धके मुनिवृत्तीनां योगेनान्ते तनुत्यजाम्| ( रघुवंश:)

By this it is clear that childhood is the right age of education. 

 With regard to the patronization of education Kalidasa strongly suggests that education should be patronized by the Government alone and there should be no private involvement. 

प्रजानां विनयाधानाद्रक्षणाद्भरणादपि
स पिता पितरस्तासां केवलं जन्महेतव: ( रघुवंश:)

Dilipa, by treating his subjects with love, kindness and liberal outlook and educating them to a high degree, endears himself to them who naturally treat him as their Father through their biological fathers are different. In other words he literally became their friend, philosopher and guide. In the education system the student plays a vital role. He is expected to be good and have genuine love for knowledge. Moreover he is expected to implement the four phases of learning i.e. studying, teaching, practicing and spreading. Then only the sole aim of education is fulfilled. Therefore it is the prime duty of the Guru to select a good student for imparting knowledge. The student should be morally ethically and academically fit to Impart knowledge. There is a saying that we can get a good teacher but we can not get a good student. So the selection of a suitable student is also essential while spreading knowledge in his own turn.

The sage Kanva after knowing that Sakunthala had married Dushyanta in the gandharva type of marriage exhorts thus. 

वत्से! सुशिष्यपरिधत्ता विद्येवाsशोचनीयासि संवृत्ता ( अभिज्ञान शाकुन्तलम्)

Oh! My dear daughter! Now you have come to a matured state of knowledge after having been taught and brought up by me. I am satisfied that my mission is fulfilled. Now I am happy and free from agony like a teacher who imparts knowledge to a suitable student.

In this article some ideas of Kalidasa on education are presented. Many more ideas are yet to be discovered from his other works also. The ideas hitherto projected are not only universal but also eternal. They are applicable even to the present society. We can achieve a better position in education if we understand the ideas properly and implement them scrupulously.

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