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Real Education

by Swami Sivananda

DUCATION should teach the pupils to love God and man. Education should instruct the students to be truthful, moral, fearless, humble and merciful. Education should teach the students to practise right conduct, right thinking, right living, right action, self-sacrifice and attain knowledge of the Self.

The Devas, the Asuras and the men received education under Prajapati. They learnt the triad of self-restraint, liberality and mercy. This is real education.

Indra remained as a student under Prajapati and learnt that the soul is immortal, self-luminous distinct from the waking dreaming and deep-sleep states and that the individual soul is identical with the Supreme Soul. This is real education.

Saunaka approached his teacher, Rishi Angirasa, and learnt that this Atman or the Self is to be verily obtained by the continual practice of truth, penance, perfect knowledge and abstinence. This is real education.

Maitreyi sat at the lotus-like feet of Sage Yajnavalkya and learnt that the Self is imperishable, unattached, free, and not subject to pain or destruction. This is real education.

Narada was a student under Sanatkumara and learnt that the Infinite is Bliss, that there is no bliss in anything finite, and that one should wish to understand the Infinite. This is real education.

Uddalaka taught Svetaketu: That, which is the subtle essence, is the root of all; in That, all that exists has its Self; That is the Self; That is the True; That thou art, O Svetaketu.' This is real education.

In the Taittiriya Upanishad, the teacher, after having taught the Vedas, instructs the pupil thus: 'Speak the truth. Do your duty. Do not neglect the study of the Vedas. Do not cut off the thread of offspring after giving the preceptor his proper reward. Do not swerve from Truth. Do not swerve from duty. Do not neglect your welfare. Do not neglect your prosperity. Do not neglect the learning and the teaching of the Vedas.

Do not neglect the duties towards the Gods and the forefathers. May the mother be thy God (Matri Devo Bhava). May the father be thy God (Pitri Devo Bhava). May the preceptor be thy God (Acharya Devo Bhava). May the guest be thy God (Atithi Devo Bhava). Do such actions as are blameless, not others. Those that are good works to us should be performed by thee, none else.

Those Brahmins who are superior to us should be comforted by thee with seats, etc. Give with faith. Do not give without faith. Give with joy, modesty, fear and kindness. Then, if there be any doubts as to any action or conduct.

'In that case, conduct thyself as Brahmins who possess good judgement conduct themselves therein, whether they be appointed or not, as long as they are not cruel but devoted to duty. Then in respect of persons accused to sin, conduct thyself as Brahmins who possess good judgement and conduct themselves therein, whether they be appointed or not, as long as they are not cruel but devoted to duty. This is the rule. This is the teaching. This is the purport of the Vedas. This is the command. This should be followed - this verily should be followed.' This is real education.

Educate your eyes to see God in all faces, to behold unity of Self in all beings. Educate your ears to hear the Upanishadic teachings and the Sweet melodious Kirtans of Lord Hari. Educate your tongue to sing the praise of the Lord and the utter pleasant, loving and truthful words. Educate your hands to do charity and serve the poor. Educate your mind to be always cheerful and calm and to think of the Immortal Atman. This is real education.

Our present-day schools and colleges give secular education. There is neither ethical discipline nor spiritual instruction. The students have no spiritual high ideals of life. They learn something in order to eke out their livelihood. They study only to get emoluments. This is very sad indeed. That is the reason why they turn out to be spiritual bankrupts in the end.

Education must be best calculated to promote plain living and high thinking. Each student must be taught that his first and foremost duty is to attain Self-realisation and to cultivate universal brotherhood.

The real work of all universities must be to unite man with man. The main purpose of education must be to make man a real man with all divine attributes.

Gita, Upanishads, Ramayana, Bhagavata, Mahabharata, Patanjali Yoga Sutras, Brahma Sutras, Comparative Religion and Philosophy must be taught in Schools and Colleges. Their study must be made compulsory. Practical instructions on ethics, Yoga and meditation and control of mind should be imparted to the students. Study of Sanskrit must be made compulsory. Without the knowledge of Sanskrit, the depths of philosophy cannot be comprehended.

The principals and professors of Colleges, the head masters of High Schools must be guided by learned and realised Sannyasins and Yogins. Then only real education can be imparted to students. If students who are equipped with real education come out of the Universities every year, we will have a glorious new India and a new era of peace, plenty and prosperity.

World needs men rich in intuition. Awakened souls who have attained illumination are a blessing to the world. They will guide people in the path of righteousness and help them to cross the ocean of ignorance and attain Immortality and Eternal Bliss. They will guide the heads of the educational institutions.

May you all be endowed with true knowledge and real education! May the world be filled with real educated persons! May the Universities, Schools, and Colleges become dynamic centres of real education and culture! May you all understand the real purpose of education and the goal of life! May the heads of educational institutions possess right understanding and divine knowledge to guide the students in the right path! May you all enjoy the supreme peace of the Eternal!

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