Bharat literally means those striving for the highest illumination and thus our culture is based on the four-purusartha or human aspirations: Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha, i.e., through ‘righteous and ethical conduct’, i.e., ‘Dharma and our respective-duties, Swadharma or kartavya’, ‘earn’ and ‘enjoy’, so as to remain on the optimum path towards attaining the highest human goal, perfection, freedom, etc. Thus, the purpose of both education and religions is to establish us in our respective spiritual practices so that in and through our vocation we can strive to harmonize both ‘material prosperity’ and ‘spiritual growth’ to attain the highest illumination, which is the real purpose of all religions and education.
Mahatma Gandhi, in his ‘Hind Swaraj’ asserts that our seers and sages laid the foundation of our national unity and Indian nationhood by establishing centers of pilgrimage on the four corners of India. Secularism, according to Gandhiji, was to be based on ‘God’ with education focused to “bring our senses under our control and to help imbibe ethical behavior in our life”; by ‘love-force’ or ‘soul-force’. He avers that Bharat, the ancient Indian civilization, fits the bill for being the true civilization, which he defines as that ‘mode of conduct which points out to man the path of duty’. He adds that moral behavior is nothing but attaining ‘mastery over one’s mind’.
He admits that at present modern India is moving away from these time-tested values! Modern schooling and religions have so far failed to work together to inspire us to strive to be good, better, best, and be responsible and enlightened citizens! The educated and the elite in responsible positions are not committed to fulfilling their Duties to samaaja; they’re not inspired to work for good of samaaja, to feel ‘apanaapan, oneness’ with more and more.
Learning our composite culture: Gandhiji says: I have gone through Vivekananda’s works very thoroughly, and after having gone through them, the love that I had for my country became a thousandfold. Jawaharlal Nehru says: Directly or indirectly, he has powerfully influenced the India of today. And I think that our younger generation will take advantage of this fountain of wisdom, of spirit and fire that flows through Swami Vivekananda.
Smt. Indira Gandhi, took two major decisions to scatter broadcast the ideals of Bharat. Firstly, instead of focusing only on “Fundamental Rights” as was provided for in the Constitution, she took steps to add a most important Article 51A, on “Fundamental Duties”. Secondly, she declared that the birthday of Swami Vivekananda is to be observed as National Youth Day every year from 1985 onwards as it was felt that the ideals for which he lived and worked, could be a great source of inspiration for the Indian youth’.
The Fundamental Duties enjoin on us to become aware of ‘the rich heritage of our composite culture’; ‘cherish and follow the noble ideas which inspired our national struggle for freedom’; ‘develop scientific temper’; ‘strive for excellence’; ‘promote harmony & common brotherhood’; environment protection etc.
The then Gujarat CM Shri Narendra Modi (May, 2010), now PM, suggested that we should propagate Swami Vivekananda as a role model for the youth…His four folds of yoga ‘Gyan, Bhakti, Raj and Karma’ should be promoted in a big way’.
Essence of our Composite Culture – Vivekananda: ‘Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this Divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal (Mind). Do this either by work, or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy – by one, or more, or all of these – and be free. This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or forms, are but secondary details’.
‘My whole ambition in life is to set in motion a machinery which will bring noble ideas to the door of everybody, and then let men and women settle their own fate. Let them know what our forefathers as well as other nations have thought on the most momentous questions of life. Let them see especially what others are doing now, and then decide’. ‘If a man with an ideal makes a thousand mistakes, the man without an ideal make fifty thousand; therefore, it is better to have an ideal’.
Supreme Court (12th Sep. 2002) has observed: Value based education is likely to help the nation fight against all kinds of prevailing fanaticism, ill-will, violence, dishonesty, corruption, exploitation and drug abuse. Although not the only source, religion is a major source of value generation. What is required is education about religion, their basics, values inherent in them, and comparative study of philosophy of all religions.
National Commission of Secondary Education: the supreme end of educative process should be training of character and personality in a way that they will … contribute to well-being of community. ‘If we exclude spiritual-training we would be untrue to our whole historical development’. ‘We have to evolve a national faith, a national way of life based on the Indian outlook on religion, free from dogmas, rituals and assertions. ‘Schools can and must strive to resolve and sustain the universal and eternal values oriented towards unity and integration of people enabling them to realize the treasure within’.
The essential message of all religions is to inspire us to strive for the highest and the best by establishing us in the habit of daily swadhyaya (Self-study) to know the highest and daily sadhna (Self-development practices) to build powers and purity of mind to walk-the-talk to the highest. If we do not inspire the young to walk-the-talk during schooling then we cannot have good teachers and without good teachers, we cannot have good citizens!
Hopefully NEP will focus on inspiring us to work for good of samaja.