Standard of action right or wrong, beneficial or harmful to every nation, is derived from the innumerable centuries that have rolled over it. The past is the determining factor of the actual and the ideal of the Individual and the Society. Viscount Bryce has rightly remarked:
“What habits are to the individual man, that to a nation are its traditions. They are the memories of the past turned into the standard ofthe present.” So the past history of India as judged by the ‘Culture epoch theory’ of Herbart whose tentative effort lies in the selection of materials for the course of study, to parallel the development of the individual with that of the race, should determine the course of studies for the Indian boys also.
In India we see three distinct stages coming one after another: (1) The stage of Theocracy (a stage of in which the Almighty is regarded as the sole sovereign, and the laws of the realm as commands rather than human ordinances), combined with that of Theocracy, a mystic intimacy with deity, reached through profound contemplation. (2) The stage of Philosophy, a direct vision of the truth from various standpoints, and a tracing out of the paths leading to realisation of the supreme knowledge and truth. (3) The stage of Science and Literature which have been more fully developed in western countries. In India, all these stages are concentrated in one ideal, namely the practical realisation of the higher self. Treatment of these subjects from the Vedic age downward, is often poetic, and this reflects the aesthetic sensibility of the race. So it should be noted that the Indian student should be appealed more through the feelings of the heart, and should be guided to pass through the distinct stage in which the race found its expression. But caution should be taken that the free grawth of the child, and the forces in it may not be arrested and crushed by any formal or artificial means.
Now, Philosophy, Science and Literature may be taught to the boy by regular teaching in the class when his reason is developed enough to grasp the subject. It should be noted here that Indian students should be taught Philosophy before they are given any lesson in higher branches of Science or Literature, for Indians are born philosophers, and the Indian philosophies in true sense, are not merely intellectual gymnastics, they should be and mostly are thoughts of every-day life in India. But the difficulty lies in introducing the boy or rather the child into the first stage. Having taken into consideration the psychological development of a child’s mind, it becomes clear that the feeling accompanied by activity comes first, and then in course of time, thinking finds place, becomes associated with feeling and gets developed, until it takes the better of feeling, and becomes predominant, say from the age of 15 or 16. Activity is the common factor in both. So at the ontset, the child should be taught to feel and to act.
It should believe in the existence of the Divine Providence, and practise meditation and other processes as prescribed by the superiors. Music of Doric type should be attended by the students regularly. This will rouse their emotional nature, and establish a sort of harmony in a life of conflicting elements. Religious songs in unison with artistic music, will help the child to feel, may be, vaguely the presence of the Infinite, whereby the child is introduced into Theocracy.
Extracts from Vedanta Kesari, an English monthly of the Ramakrishna Order, published from Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai.