Real Education


Sri Swami Sivananda

This article is from the book Easy Path to God-Realisation.

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

Owing to the influence of dark, antagonistic, materialistic forces most of the students of the present day become irreligious. There is no moral culture in them. They have no understanding of the principles of Brahmacharya and right living. Hence they suffer much when they come out to face the battle of life.

Students are pure generally before marriage. As soon as they marry and beget a child, the whole Maya envelops them. They become selfish, greedy and lustful. They lose all their virtuous qualities. Egoism becomes very stiff. There is hankering for money.

This can be obviated if they take to the study of some good religious books on Yoga, Bhakti, Philosophy and Vedanta. The students are the hope and glory of India and of the world at large. They are the bulwarks of the state. They should be moulded properly when they are young. The teachers and professors should take up this noble work in right earnest.

Spiritual culture is a sine qua non and a great desideratum for national regeneration. The goal of life is Self-realisation. Spiritual culture alone can develop the will-force (Atmabala) and make people unselfish, fearless, courageous, strong, and remove Moha (bondage) from the body. Those who are unselfish alone can really serve the country, can work in terms of unity and can have real cosmic love for all (Visva Prem).

Education 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 and self-sacrifice and to attain knowledge of the Self.

Education aims at cultivating good ideas and expressing them in a beautiful, intelligible manner after clarifying them, with scientific or mathematical accuracy.

Sattvic Ahara or wholesome good food rich in vitamins, or a well-balanced diet, systematic practice of Asanas and Pranayama, right living and simple living are the important requisites for the preservation of health and attainment of high standard of vigour and vitality. These are the basic essentials on which the Rishis and Yogins of yore lived a long peaceful life. These are the very fundamentals on which they based the system of Yoga to achieve perfection in health of body and mind. These are the indispensable requisites on which sinking nation must fall back if it wishes to regain her lost glory and divinity.

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.

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.

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 to utter pleasant, loving and truthful words. Educate your hands to do charity and to serve the poor. Educate your mind to be always cheerful and calm and to think of the Immortal Atman. This is real education.

The Gita, the Upanishads, the Ramayana, the Bhagavata, the 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, 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.

One may be a very able judge, another may be a world-renowned surgeon or physician or eye-specialist, a third may be a reputed scientist and a fourth may be a world figure in the art of poetry. All these persons may lack in spiritual behaviour. Behaviour in spiritual field is different from behaviour in worldly parlance. Worldly behaviour is artificial and composed of etiquette and worldly manners. What is called etiquette or manners in worldly parlance is mere show. It is something of a physical drill. It consists of movement of certain parts of the body or some artificial gestures or artificial smiles and laughter without any real mental or ethical discipline or moral culture on spiritual basis, without any understanding of the existence of one supreme soul in all beings. It is best calculated to gain some material ends by pleasing another for the time being. It is a sort of mind cunningness with a tinge of diplomacy to attain one’s selfish ends. It changes very often. When he fails to realise his material gain, his behaviour changes at once. He becomes quite a different man. He separates and divides. He sees differences everywhere. Whereas, the behaviour of a real aspirant or spiritual man is unchanging and is marked by nobility, pure love, humility, forbearance, patience, forgiveness, mercy, spirit of service, self-sacrifice and disinterestedness. He understands and knows that one Immortal Self abides in all creatures.

The spiritual or divine behaviour can hardly be learnt in Universities or colleges. It is a rare moral discipline that can only be learnt by the thirsting or hungry aspirant by serving the real spiritual preceptor wet with Bhakti or devotion for some years.

Dear Prem, study diligently. Apply tenaciously. Behave politely. Obey implicitly. Pray whole-heartedly. Sing melodiously. Speak sweetly. Eat slowly. Walk gently. Stick resolutely. Think usefully. Act righteously. Endure courageously. Persevere patiently. March boldly. Concentrate attentively. Meditate seriously. Realise quickly. God be with you. Peace be with you.

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 and distinct from the waking, dreaming and deep-sleep states that the individual soul is identical with the supreme Soul. This is real education.

Saunaka approached his teacher Rishi Angiras 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.

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. The root of all that exists has its Self; That is the Self; That is the Truth; That thou art, O Svetaketu”. This is real education.

Instead of learning many sciences, try to know the one Adhyatmic Science, the science of sciences, the supreme science of the highest Self or Atman. Then you will know everything.

Brahman is Sat. Brahman is Existence. Brahman is the root for the world, body and mind. Direct knowledge of the root through intuitive perception will bring knowledge of everything, knowledge of all worldly sciences. “Brahma vidyam sarva vidya pratishtham” Mund. Up. I-i-1. The Sruti emphatically declares: “In the beginning there was only Sat, one without a second. Ekam sat vipra bahuda vadanti–existence is one. Sages call it by different names.”

Learn the principles of divine life and apply them to daily conduct in life. Become a practical man in the spiritual path. Enough of idle talking.

May we hear with our ears or see with our eyes nothing but what is pure so that with our senses unperturbed, remembering God, meditating on Him, singing His praise, we may attain life as that of the Gods. Rishis of yore sing like this along with their students before starting their class lessons. What do you find now in schools and colleges? I need not tell you much. Is this not a deplorable state? Will the Professors and Headmasters set matters aright immediately?

The Principals and Professors of colleges, Headmasters of the 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 of India every year, we will have a glorious New India and a new era of peace, plenty and prosperity.

A Sadhu or a Sannyasin should be requested to stay in every college hostel. He should give daily lessons to the students on ethical and spiritual culture and practical training in meditation and worship. He should teach them Gita, Bhagavata, Ramayana and Upanishads. Then only they will be properly moulded and will possess good character. The condition of the boys is deplorable at the present moment. They have lost faith in God and in the Holy Scriptures. They have become irreligious.

May we 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 bliss of the Eternal!

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