Purity of our culture came at a price

Published: 09th December 2013 10:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th December 2013 10:27 AM   |  A+A-



If ihe aim of education is to establish right relation between man and man, man and society, man and nature, the human and divine aspects of man and what is most important the just and regular balancing of the claims of the life of the world and the life of the spirit, we feel relieved to see how naturally and scientifically these principles were carried into practice in oIden days through the four stages (Asramas of me), every stage was a sort of preparation for the next,and how practically the whole life was a school  of severe discipline. The Rishis of old laid much more stress on life than on intellect which is but a part of the former, and thought that life as a whole and not intellect merely can solve the mysteries of life, and fulfil the cravings and hankerings of the inner life.

The students, at that time, had to live with their teachers, and in the course of daily life they had to learn and practise what they were taught. As a rule, a nation is practical only in that sphere where  it discovers its life and culture. India makes everything subservient to the Spiritual life, and she is practical in her own Sphere. The students were taught to pay debts to the Gods, to the ancestors, to  the rishis, to the society, and even to the vegetable and the mineral kingdoms. This is how a high sense of duty and responslbility was ingrained in boys, and they were being prepared for a higher life which consists in  and loving everything sentient and insentient. This is what is called true universal love.

Now, to give a course of studies in the student life, I should do well to quote a passage from a lecture of an Indian educatiouist of note, “The boy is taught of course the sacred scriptures, because in  India religion permeates every action of life. He is taught the Vedas which he must memorise. But after learning the sacred  writings he must learn also certain additional things. Grammar is studied not in order that he: may read and write but as  a science in itself. Then the boy must know all about poetry, how to compose poetry, what is good poetry and bad poetry, and all about metres. Then the boy must know all  about ritual ; the ritual ceremonies of religion are in themselves a science. Then he must know something about sstronomy and he must also know the nature and quality of sounds, and the stories of the myths of his religion. All these definite studies are organised with the aim of giving a synthesis, of bringing the individual to a  centre in life, so that life is not a series of disjointed parts, but is  grasped by him as one whole. This one whole the Hindu Synthetical aspect of life, is seen in the sense of the unreality of the universe around man, and the reality of another universe which the individual has to discover. The aim, then, of their particular education is to make you see each event in life as only reflecting a larger event, of seeing a transitory quality in all things, so that you may develop within you the vision of what is permanent. The idea of the indian type education is for the individual to discover himself as a fragment of reality.”

What is most striking in the above description is that the Indian life was confined within its great mountain barriers, there was no principle of give and take  carried out in any department of life and thought. We are sorry to remark that the purity of the indigenous  culture was bought at a very high price which rendered the nation poorer and poorer, for a culture is rich and eneficial only so far as it makes its national spirit the nucleus of the organism which must  have the gifts of other nations for its components. The different forces should be so arranged as to help the organic and indigenous growth of the culture of the race. If the above two points are isregarded, the result will be suicidal, everything will result in utjer stagnation. Tagore rightly observes,  “The society which makes stagnance to be the end, knows ignorance as its help and intoxicates the mind with opium.” 

This is why every university should be liberal and receptive, and at the same time conservatlve and productive.

Extracts  from Vedanta Kesari, an English monthly of the Ramakrishna Order, published from Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai.

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