On Education - Articles

The mystery of life was more vivid to the men of ancient times than it is to us, and when we read the records of the remote past we are struck by these questions that they put to nature and the answers they received from her. With all credit given to our modern theories of education and experiments' in the field, nonetheless our educational insights seen puerile compared with those which the ancients developed. For instance, to speak of pre-natal education in the context of our sophisticated mental attitudes is to invite a shrug of indifference. For we are not stirred numinously by the wonder and mystery that the infant represents and so we are not inspired to inquire what this little being is and whether it may not have had a mysterious and wonderful past in the womb of its mother. The ancients, however, not only inquired into this question but arrived at some remarkable conclusions. Unfortunately the ancient literature is so symbolic that it is very difficult to arrive at a precise idea of its meaning and import. But it is fairly certain that they considered the pre-natal stage a very important one. They know that a great activity goes on with the formation of the body, and that this activity is not merely physical but also psychological.

In India there was a tradition that a couple desiring to have a child should perform a sacrifice and invite the gods (which are symbolic of psychological powers and functions) to preside over the mating and the formation of the body of the child to be. It was also prescribed that the period of pregnancy should be marked by a phase of retirement from the routine of ordinary life and should be devoted to noble thoughts and aspirations. It was held that the thought, feeling and action of the mother during this period had a profound influence upon the psychological formation of the child in embryo. Indian epics and Puranas present us with numerous stories giving evidence of the Indian psychology of pre-natal education. Especially interesting in this respect is the famous story of Abhimanyu in the Mahabharata. It is said that once upon a time Sri Krishna paid a visit to his sister, Subhadra, who was married to Arjuna. Subhadra was naturally very happy and during his visit fell into a long chat with him. Late that night she requested him to tell her a story. Sri Krishna, the Lord

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