What it is: In modern time the conditions of life in India have greatly changed. India is a part of a world-wide empire, and she is given a world role to play. She can’t stand apart. Mr. Lloyd George has rightly remarked, “India must march with other nations, or her fate will be sealed.” At present she is required to be up-to-date, and accordingly she has been trying to adapt herself to the new environment. So far good. We make a mistake when we lose our hold on the national culture. What is great and good in others should no doubt, be gladly accepted to serve our own ideal and purpose of life. The modern system of education is under the control of a foreign government, and it is as it should be from the standpoint of the rulers who are not expected to know the Ideal of Indian life, and grasp the spirit of Indian Culture. The evil effects of the present system of education are nearly set out in an educational pamphlet. To quote those “The missionary system of education in India sterilises children spiritually. They miss their own Dharma, and begin to hate that which ought to inspire them. Government and private enterprise in education is non-religious, non-moral, and non-patriotic, and only means the mental assimilation of some knowledge without character-building or enthusiasm for the life round about.” So Swami Vivekananda says “ Education is not the amount of information that is put into your brain, and runs riot there undigested all your life. We must have life building, man making, character-making, assimilation of ideas. If education is identical with information the libraries are the greatest sages in the world, and the Encyclopedias are the Rishis.” So let us see what should help the spontaneous growth of man and his intellect.
What it should be: As circumstanced India is put to a very critical situation, she is moving, so to speak, in a sensitive balance, either to drop down or to rise high up in the estimation of other nations. She is conquered physically, her spirit and culture are still free. Foreign culture is transgressing and trying to absorb the Indian culture altogether, hence there is a conflict of cultures. In this conflict, if the other party is successful, India will be crushed forever; if India is successful she is sure to deliver her message to the world, as she has done in the past, from time to time. Cultural conquest is the only Conquest, so education in all its branches should be guided by the spirit of Indian culture that we may prepare ourselves for our self-preservation, and self-development for the good not only of India, but also of the world at large.
It follows from the above consideration that the characteristics of an Indian university should be so as may bring the students to the centre of Indian life, the inner life, the life of spirituality. All outer events or departments e.g., social, political, military, etc., should also be duly emphasised, but they are needed for no other gain than to secure the ideal of the nation. Everything outside should be controlled by the life within. An Indian university is truly Indian in so far as it helps the spiritualisation of the different subjects of life and thought, and inculcates the idea of sacrifice of oneself to God in all the stages and walks. If India is to be unified it must be unified by the revival and representation of her own spirit.
Extracts from Vedanta Kesari, an English monthly of the Ramakrishna Order, published from Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai.