Friends, first of all, I must thank Dr. Veeraraghavan for responding to my request. I want to share with all teachers, students of this country and I made a request to Dr. Veeraraghavan that Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan should become a centre of this sharing and we thought that first of all eminent principals of the Delhi schools could be invited to this programme where some of the things that I would like to share could be expounded. And then gradually we can develop a programme − a kind of a regular programme every week or every fortnight for teachers of the schools first of all in Delhi alone and then if possible other teachers also. In fact the idea is that Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan should be a kind of a pioneer of a programme which I call teacher’s enrichment programme it is not teacher’s training programme.
What is very important for a human being is to become human — to become humane and even to go beyond to our present limitations. I have been in a process of research for a long time and I have undertaken a number of subjects in which research can be done which are all related to education. The present subject on which I want to stress here arose out of a question that The Mother had put to me at one time as a question of highest of importance in which research has to be conducted on a large scale. What is it that every human being aught to learn and aught to know? This is the basic question. A human being as a human being not as a doctor, professor, lawyer, engineer, contractor, − all these are necessary to run a society but what as a human being − every human being irrespective of his profession or work, as a human being what should be the minimum that everyone should learn about. She did not give me the answer herself, she was a good teacher to put a question and then for the pupil to develop. So my present answer is the following and this is I am putting forward as a matter of research further. You can all contribute to this question.
First of all, since everyone is to live life irrespective of whatever profession in which you may be involved. Everyone human being should make an exploration of what is the aim of life. So I regard this subject Aim of Life to be of fundamental importance for every human being and particularly of the highest interest for every teacher.
The second subject for every human being is to become a good learner and to be a good teacher. In fact, learning and teaching is a natural profession of every human being as a human being. Even as parents you have to be teachers, as citizens you have to be learners all the time. So what is that which constitutes true learning and true teaching is also a subject everyone should be interested in and should develop?
A third subject of great importance is and which is greatly neglected in India particularly is the fact we are all human beings in human bodies and about human body we have a great ignorance all over. It is about of the age of sixty-seven or seventy we begin to ask what is a good diet. This is the subject which everyone should start learning from childhood. What is the human body and why are we here in a human body? What is the significance of the human body? So this is the third subject.
The fourth subject is that every human being is at a given stage of development and every human being as a human being tries to uplift himself or herself or aught to do so. What is the instrument by which a human being can be uplifted from wherever he or she is to a next higher level? My research has shown there three powers by which this upliftment can take place − the power of illumination, the power of heroism, and the power of harmony apart from power of skills. These are the four powers by which an individual can be uplifted. This is not the final answer as I told you I am exploring and I am presenting this subject for your reactions and responses. There are many other subjects which also can be considered to be very indispensable. Just as for example, we spoke of human body. Every one of us has mind. What is mind, therefore, could be a very important subject of research. I have still not made a research on this subject, it is something to be done in due course of time. And, finally, everyone has within him or her a living soul. Now this subject is a controversial subject particularly because of the Western thought and its influence on the intelligentsia. It is a big question whether the soul exists or not and if so what is its nature and so on but this also is a subject on which everyone human being should think about and therefore should be material available to people on this subject. I am not for closing the subjects to be researched into but these are the four-five subjects I am presenting to you on which all educationists I would say need to make research.
Since I have made some research in this field, I thought that it is a good time where can share whatever a little contribution I can make and therefore, this meeting. It is an initial meeting and we can develop it further. I have produced four books corresponding to these four subjects of which I spoke of earlier — one is called The Aim of Life, the second is called The Good Teacher and the Good Pupil, the third is Mystery and Excellence of the Human Body and the fourth book consists at present ten monographs at present. The ultimate programme that I am working on is to produce eighty monographs. All centred on the theme of illumination, heroism and harmony. I have three-four sets of these books you could see when you have time but what I wanted to do today is to present to you a kind of a projection giving some glimpses of the contents of these books. If it is possible later on Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan can undertake a programme of inviting teachers, students and many others to participate in this programme of research and sharing.
Let me first of all begin by paying tribute to the Kulapati K.M. Munshi. I was personally known to K.M. Munshi when I was a young man and first Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan was being built in Bombay at Chowpatty and that time I was living in a hostel just next to Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan’s building at present and I used to visit the development of this Bhawan right from its inception. The last time I met was in 1971 just before his passing away and he told me he said that you take care of North-Eastern India. I considered it to be a very important message that he gave to me — take care of North-Eastern India. It has a very pregnant meaning. People who live in this side do not know what is happening in North-Eastern India. It is a very important of India, great potential of development of India with Brahmaputra running over there and many other rivers flowing from there.
Recently, we organised a big Conference on North-Eastern India at Kolkata and President Abdul Kalam, he inaugurated the Conference and that time I remembered Munshi ji quite warmly. Something that he had said in 1971, something of this kind was happening at the national level through this Conference where all the North-Eastern parts of India were represented including Bangladesh also and we had a fruitful discussion. Munshi ji has another connection with my life and that is that he was a pupil of Sri Aurobindo as I have been a pupil of Sri Aurobindo myself. Sri Aurobindo was Professor at Baroda College where Munshi ji was the student and I have with me a small statement of K.M. Munshi ji about Sri Aurobindo and about what he learned from Sri Aurobindo in regard to the country. It is a very brief statement but I would like to share with you. Munshi ji writes:
Professor Aurobindo Ghosh later to be known as Sri Aurobindo was our Professor of English. To the students of our College Professor Ghosh was a figure enveloped in mystery. He was later to be a poet, a master of many languages and in touch with Russian Nihilists. Many stories of his brewing were whispered from mouth to mouth among the students almost with hope. I remember only one occasion when I directly talked to Professor Aurobindo Ghosh. I asked, “How can nationalism be developed”. In answer he pointed to a wall map of India and said something to the following effect. Look at that map, learn to find in it the portrait of Bharat Mata. The cities, mountains and forests are the materials which goes to make up her body. The people in admitting in the country are the cells which go to make up the living tissues, our literature is a memory and speech. The spirit of her culture is her soul; the happiness and freedom our children her salvation. Beloved Bharat as a living mother, meditate upon her and worship in a nine-fold way of Bhakti.
This is what Munshi ji has written about Sri Aurobindo’s message to him and I know this Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan is a result of this message to him. The very name Bharatiya Vidya which is enshrined in this Bhawan is something which is very precious. As Dr. Sunder himself has said in the very beginning if India is to be the leader of the world it is the spirituality of India that should happen and Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan is centred basically on spiritual knowledge.
So to begin with now, I shall expound to you this particular book The Aim of Life.
As I explained earlier, what is life and what should be the aim of life and how you determine aim of life is a very important question. In fact, we always say education should be linked with life. This is the statement which we find now very welcomed and propagated. Education and life are to be linked. In fact recently, Professor Negi showed me the publications of the CBSE which speaks of life’s skills for class VI and VII and VIII. It is a welcomed development in India that CBSE has thought of introducing something which concerns with life itself. There are three aspects of this question of life − one is the question of what is life itself, secondly what is the quality of life and thirdly, the connection between quality of life and aim of life. There is a very interesting book, I consider it to be the greatest book on education written by The Mother and the very first line is entitled science of living to indicate that science of living is to be the basis of all education and the very first sentence of it is that the quality of life will depend upon the aim of life. The higher the aim of life, the higher will be the quality of life. It is for this reason I have chosen this subject of Aim of Life. I would like everyone to explore what is human life, what is quality of life, what is the aim of life.
Now there are three important components of whatever I have proposed here. It is first all is a compilation. It is not my book. I have compiled from various authors on this subject. These authors, second point, are from East and West because in search of life we should be as wide as the world a no bhadrah kratavo yantu visvatah that is very motto of Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan. East and West have to meet together and third is that the process of teaching should be process of exploration. If you want to students to learn about the aim of life my conclusions of my researches do not prescribe aim of life. You should have process of exploration. Leading students to find out what they think on their own after sufficient thought as to what should be the aim of their lives. At present what is happening since education does not take care of this problem of life, students are taking up the aim of life in a very casual manner. You go to a film where you are told jeevana eka safar, and we think that this is life — to travel is life. Or you are told kaisi hai paheli — what a riddle is this life and you think life is a riddle; jindagi koi sapna nahin — life is not a dream. And somebody will say something else and these songs or these sayings or stray words which are heard here and there. They are taken up by our students and they guide it as their life for a long time. These I think are unacceptable ‒ should be unacceptable. It is for educationists to come forward and tell the students in a very systematic manner to explore various aims of life which have been developed in our world by the greatest thinkers, by the greatest seekers, greatest adventurists, greatest achievers. They have all differ but it is perfectly all right. The children should know that there are many aims of life which are being pursued.
In short, I have first of all shown that there are four categories in which aim of life has been sought for. That is the one conclusion drawn you might say. These four aims of life are advocated separately, individually, collectively, half-heartedly, full-heartedly, − in many ways. Now the titles of these four aims which I have given are very difficult titles, but I actually will explain. But let me first of all say there is what is called supra-cosmic aim of life. Here is a special picture I have got drawn to represent supra cosmic aim of life. You will see that in this picture there is a very small little streak — white streak. It points out that the whole world is like a screen but there is one special window as it were and when you open it you go beyond — supra-cosmic, so that is the first view of life which has been explored in this book. The second is called cosmic terrestrial view of life. The third aim of life is called supra-terrestrial view of life and the fourth is called the integral view of life. In whichever direction you move, whatever aims of life which have been proposed so far can be brought under these four categories and then in the book I have expounded various aims of life. It can be kind of a test for students and teachers to study the text which is given and to find out what aim of life is being proposed in that particular text. Does it belong to any one of these four and if so which one. This is a kind of exploration that I have proposed.
Now let us see the first, I begin with Ishopanishad. It is one of the greatest documents in the world as far as the aim of life is concerned. There are many Upanishads and since there are many, we may not what each one would want to say but as a scholar of Upanishads one can come to a conclusion as to which one concentrates upon the aim of life. All the Upanishads do not concentrate upon the aim of life. Mandukya Upanishad, Manduka Upanishad, Chhandogya Upanishad, they do not zero in on the aim of life. There are only 18 verses in this Upanishad. That is another advantage, only 18 verses. Extremely difficult! If you read them, it is lifelong journey. It is full of paradoxes and you are constantly asked to resolve the paradoxes. It says that ignorance and knowledge, there is a contrast between the two. Some people say that if you follow the path of ignorance, you go into greater darkness but if you go into the path of knowledge, you go into a still greater darkness. This is one view. But then it says that actually speaking the true view according to Ishopanishad is that you should be able to cross death by ignorance and you can enjoy immortality by knowledge. You can cross death by ignorance but you attain to knowledge and then you attain immortality. Now what all this means, it is a difficult proposition. Our students and teachers aught to know that our greatest Rishis, ultimately put down this important point that the aim of life consists of crossing the death and enjoyment of immortality. Many questions can be raised about what is death, what is immortality, fine, good. This is a kind of education they should concentrate upon. Our students as in the ancient times, our children were search of immortality. Why? Because the teachers spoke of it. At present we do not speak of it because of our teachers do not speak of it.
Now as I said Ishopanishad consists of several paradoxes. It speaks of the birth and non-birth. If you are born you go into darkness. If you attain to non-birth you go into a greater darkness but the truth is, if you are born you cross the death and if you are not born, you attain to immortality. Similarly, it speaks of ultimate Reality − It moves, It moves not − tadejati tannaijati — It moves, It moves not, It is near and It is very far off.
Now what are these paradoxes? As I said this one Upanishad can be lifelong search for students and this is one of things we should actually give to our children. If you talk of capsules of education today then I would give Ishopanishad as one capsule. Eighteen verses can be regarded as the capsule of the whole life. You just make a search what should be the aim of life and you only search this and find out what is the aim of life which has been described. If you read the whole thing, you will come to the conclusion it represents integral aim of life. Neither supra-cosmic, nor supra-terrestrial nor cosmic but integral − it integrates all the three. That should be the conclusion but that is I am telling you now in advance but actually it is for the students to find out by studying texts given by the teacher.
Now the second one is the message of the Buddha. It is called the Search for Utter Transcendence. Now it again gives only a small extract from Dhammapada and a few stories told by Buddha. It is a very short exposition of Buddha and the question is what is the aim of life that he puts forward? And my answer is he puts forward the search for utter transcendence not only transcendence but utter transcendence. The idea of Nirvana is the idea of utter transcendence. You transcend absolutely beyond anything, even what they call, transcend even the being you go into the non-being. This is exactly what you call purely supra-cosmic view of life. It is a search of transcendence you go above all cosmos — supra cosmic aim.
The third one is the story of Socrates. I bring here the profound wisdom of Socrates. Socrates and Plato may be regarded as the peaks of human intellectuality in the world history. What they have said about life? They do not speak in the language of the Upanishads. They do not speak in the language of the Buddha but our students and teachers should know what Plato and Socrates spoke of. Socrates for example spoke of virtue is knowledge. It is a profound is statement − virtue is knowledge. If you want to do the right thing and the good thing which everybody should do but you cannot do the right thing and the good unless you attain the knowledge and there is as to what is knowledge. This question also should be asked by students and teachers and you will find that basically this view falls into cosmic terrestrial view and slightly integral view, slightly. There are degrees of all these views.
The next one is an example of Alexander the Great. Here we come down to some level from the heights of the Ishopanishad and Buddha and Socrates to another level. He also has the aim of life and he also preached a certain aim of life. According to him the life is for adventure. Life is for fulfilment of ambition. As you know he was so ambitious that when his father was conquering lands after lands and he was only a lad of 9 or 10 years old. He said that my father will leave nothing for me to conquer. He was so anxious to conquer the whole world and he wanted his father to leave some portion of the world which he could conquer. Now what is the origin of this ambition? What is the end of such an ambition? Is it good to have ambition at all? And what is the end of this ambition. If you study the life of Alexander you will get a very good graphic picture of a man who desires the utmost. What a human being can do in 32 years of his life? In his own time, he was a sovereign of so many nations. But he felt some kind of disillusionment towards the end of his life − empty handed I have come, empty handed I go. Now this is one example of a great man with an ambition. Why does he feel that much of emptiness at the end of the great achievement? I do not like the teachers to answer the question, I like the students to answer the question and find the answers themselves. Our purpose to present to the child — look here is an example, study him, and see what he can do. I have put here a kind of a text on Alexander. I have selected texts from each one of these thinkers in a very brief manner so that teachers can go through them very quickly like a capsule and come to the basic point — the bottom point as you say now.
Then we have the next one is Sermon on the Mount. Here is the Son of God — Jesus Christ and this Sermon perhaps one of the greatest in the world history. As Sri Aurobindo said, “The message of Christ and crucifixion of Christ − they have humanised half the humanity.” This is the great contribution of Christianity. Half the humanity has been humanised. The human beings are basically impulsive, passionate, ambitious, barbaric. This barbarism if it is to be conquered, if man is to be civilised to be humanised. This is the message he gave. It is a very short message, very powerful message. Children should be able to imbibe in their heart, the warmth and the truth of this message. So I am giving a text on the Sermon on the Mount so that the students and teachers can study together and ask what can be the guidance for them in this Sermon.
Then here is the text from Niti Shatkama. In India we have a very famous three century — actually shatkam is a century − sringara shatkama is a century which advances the enjoyment of life, niti shatkama is centuries — hundred verses written by Brihathari which describes the ethical aim of life — pursuit of goodness and then there is another century which he himself has written — all the three centuries are written by him — vairagya shatkama — a century which gives you hundred verses which teach to feel disillusioned about the world.
Now our children should know that some of the great thinkers of India has given a great deal of thought and given in a very short form. This niti shatkama is one of the best in the world, actually as far as the pursuit of goodness for every human being is concerned. All that has been told about goodness of human life is in these hundred verses and I have selected only about 10 or 12 which I have found to be very, very, interesting. This is only to introduce to the children that in India having culled from all the different ideas which have been developed in the world, Bhatrihari the great poet he wrote this century — these hundred verses to give to the children, teachers, everybody — hundred verses by which inspiration arises in the child to pursue goodness as aim of life.
The next one is Submission of the Will to the Supreme. If you ask the question what is the essence of Islam, the essence of Islam is a statement that there is only one God and that He has a Will and that the human being is here to work out the Will of God. You might as well say that this is the teaching of the Bhagavad Gita. What is the Supreme Will and complete surrender to that Will − complete submission. In fact that is the message of Prophet Mohammed. Our student should study this message and I have brought here a few quotations from there. My aim is to bring the quintessence, give to the students and teachers so that within a short time they can have a good exploration.
The next one is The Great Message of Shankaracharya — Brahman satyam, jagat mithya — Brahman is real, the world is unreal. There can be a great debate on this subject. Is the world really unreal? This is the supra-cosmic aim of life Brahman is real, the world is unreal — the world, cosmos is unreal. So give up the world and make a search of the Real, which is supra-cosmic; it is not in the world. This is similar to Buddha’s teachings which I call search for utter transcendence. There is a great similarity between Buddha’s teachings and Shankara’s teachings.
The next one is I bring here a great example of the Comic Terrestrial View of Life which speaks of the world — Leonardo Da Vinci has been claimed to be the perfect man of the Renaissance in the West. I would like the teachers of the world to study Leonardo Da Vinci because he is called the perfect man of the Renaissance. What is that is called perfection? The kind of integration of his being! The kind of capacities which he possesses! I would like you to read the letter which he wrote to the-then King of the France and you will see the capacities that he describes when he was a young man. Can you read out this few …
“Most Illustrious Lord, having now sufficiently seen and considered the proofs of all these who count themselves masters and inventors of instruments of war, and finding that their invention and use of the said instruments does not differ in any respect from those in common practice, I am emboldened without prejudice to anyone else to put myself in communication with your Excellency, in order to acquaint you with my secrets, thereafter offering myself at your pleasure effectually to demonstrate at any convenient time all those matters which are in part briefly recorded below.
I have plans for bridges, very light and strong, suitable for carrying very easily…
When a place is besieged I know how to cut off water from the trenches, and how to construct an infinite number of … scaling ladders and other instruments…
I have plans for making cannons, very convenient and easy of transport, with which to hurl small stones in the manner almost of hail…
And if it should happen that the engagement is at sea, I have plans for constructing many engines most suitable for attack or defense, and ships which can resist the fire of all the heaviest cannon, and powder and smoke.
Also I have ways of arriving at a certain fixed spot by caverns and secret winding passages, made without any noise even though it may be necessary to pass underneath trenches or a river.
Also I can make covered cars, safe and unassailable, which will enter the serried ranks of the enemy with artillery, and there is no company of men at arms so great as not to be broken by it. And behind these the infantry will be able to follow quite unharmed and without any opposition.
Also, if need shall arise, I can make cannon, mortars, and light ordinance, of very beautiful useful shapes, quite different from those in common use.
Where it is not possible to employ cannon, I can supply catapults, mangonels, traps, and other engines of wonderful efficacy not in general use. In short, as the variety of circumstances shall necessitate, I can supply an infinite number of different engines of attack and defence.
In time of peace I believe that I can give you as complete satisfaction as anyone else in architecture, in the construction of buildings both public and private, and in conducting water from one place to another.
Also I can execute sculpture in marble, bronze, or clay, and also painting, in which my work will stand comparison with that of anyone else whoever he may be.
Moreover, I would undertake the work of the bronze which shall endue with immortal glory and eternal honour the auspicious memory of the Prince, your father and of the illustrious house of Sforza.
And if any of the aforesaid things should seem impossible or impracticable to anyone, I offer myself as ready to make trial of them your park or in whatever place shall please your Excellency, to whom I commend myself with all possible humility.”
A man of thirty speaking in this language with so much of proficiency and with so much whole roundedness − how could he achieve this, what must have been his view of life, how must he have educated himself? This is the question our students and teachers should ask.
These are one of the famous paintings of Leonardo — the kindness, the grace, love, compassion for mankind − all embodied in this picture. One of the greatest manifestations of compassion and grace and apart from this great painting he has done many other paintings like scientific paintings of a skeleton at the time when anatomy was at a poor level of research. He was the first one to do a sketch of an aeroplane in his time and afterwards it was a great use to Wright Brothers who ultimately invented the aeroplane.
Now we come to another side of human existence represented by Sri Chaitanya — Ecstasy of Divine Love. It is another aim of life which does not teach you to go away from the world — not supra-cosmic. Here on this very earth to manifest the Divine Love and ultimately to be able to reach Vaikuntha. It is supra-terrestrial, it is not supra-cosmic. It is supra-terrestrial aim of life. Even today the message of Divine Love as expounded by Sri Chaitanya has a great uniqueness that you can be a friend of God. Very important point; you can be servant God, you can be a great devotee of God, is all understood but that you can be a friend of God, you can enjoy God as your friend as Radha was a friend of Sri Krishna not a devotee. This is the great aim of life which he has put forward.
I come to the next one from the West. Descartes is a very well known name in the Western Philosophy. Even now we speak of Cartesian Doubt. If you want to learn intellectual processes of doubting, he was a master of it and even today we all study Descartes to study what is the secret of doubting. How can you really doubt? Today, we, of course, doubt without thinking. You can question everything but according to Descartes you should question anything without any basis. You should have a real basis for doubting. He said that if you want certainty of knowledge, you should first of all doubt legitimately and thoroughly and only when you thoroughly doubt then you can arrive at a real conviction and a real proof. And the greatness of Descartes lies in a fact that he ultimately proved the existence of the soul and the existence of God. It is a tremendous achievement for human race. In fact this one of the deep question for our students today − can you prove the existence of God and I would like to say yes — a great Western Philosopher who is called the Father of Modern Philosophy, he undertook this task and proved the existence of God. It is a tremendous achievement. Our students normally are greatly influenced by what Westerners speak of; therefore, I have deliberately brought it here. It is not a proof given by Shankaracharya, he also given proof of existence of God but I bring it particularly the Western one because our students are tend to worship Westerners today very much and I would like to tell them that this Western master, he had thoroughly doubted God, he had thoroughly doubted the soul and then came to the conclusion that God is a certainty, soul is a certainty. I would like put before our students the great proof that he has given.
Following that questioning of the West, here was a great soul of India who wanted to follow the path not only of intellectuality. That is one way of proving God, he went one step farther − have you experienced God. That was his question, have you seen God and he got the answer yes. Sri Ramakrishna told him yes, I have seen God and I can make you see Him. This was the bold answer of the Indian culture − I have seen God and I can make you see God. Our students should be acquainted with this great treasure of the world history in which the greatest masters have given to them the best of the intellect, best of the spirit.
Einstein. His view can be regarded as the cosmic-terrestrial view. He does not speak of transcendence, he does not speak of our world being unreal, he does not speak of going away from the world — no vairagya shatkama and yet one of the greatest minds of the world’s history and you must listen to him what he says as the world as I see it. I shall show you two or three paragraphs, can you read it…
“It is right in principle that those should be the best loved who have contributed most to the elevation of the human race and human life. But, if one goes on to ask who they are, one finds oneself in no inconsiderable difficulties. In the case of political, and even of religious leaders, it is often very doubtful whether they have done more good or harm. Hence I most seriously believe that one does people the best service by giving them some elevating work to do and thus indirectly elevating them. This applies most of all to the great artist, but also in a lesser degree to the scientist. To be sure, it is not the fruits of scientific research that elevate a man and enrich his nature, but the urge to understand, the intellectual work, creative or receptive. It would surely be absurd to judge the value of the Talmud, for instance, by its intellectual fruits.”
Talmud is a communal school for Jews. He expects from everyone to be what he can do. Something that is elevating. The aim of life is to be creative and to be elevating. This is a noble aim of life something similar to what Bhartrihari has spoken of pursuit of goodness — be elevated.
I here bring here now a Chapter from Jawahar Lal Nehru. Nehru’s philosophy is not very well known. He is very well known as a politician, as a political leader, some economic ideas, a great advocate of planning but that he has a philosophy of life is not sufficiently known. He held what I can call cosmic terrestrial view. Let us a read a few sentences from to illustrate what is cosmic terrestrial view.
“Essentially, I am interested in this world, in this life, not in some other world or a future life. Whether there is such a thing as a soul or whether there is a survival after death or not, I do not know; and, important as these questions are, they do not trouble me in the least. The environment in which I have grown up take the soul or rather the atma and a future life, the Karma theory of cause and effect, and reincarnation for granted. I have been affected by this and so, in a sense, I am favourably disposed towards these assumptions. There might be a soul which survives the physical death of the body, and a theory of cause and effect governing life’s actions seems reasonable, though it leads to obvious difficulties when one thinks of the ultimate cause. Presuming a soul, there appears to be some logic also in the theory of reincarnation.
But I do not believe in any of these or other theories and assumption as a matter of religious faith. They are just intellectual speculations in an unknown region about which we know next to nothing. They do not affect any life, and whether they were proved right or wrong subsequently, they would make little difference to me.
Life is too complicated and, as far as we can understand it in our present state of knowledge, too illogical, for it to be confined within the four corners of a fixed doctrine.
The real problems for me remain problems of individual and social life, of harmonious living, of a proper balancing of an individual’s inner and outer life, of an adjustment of the relations between individuals and between groups, of a continuous becoming something better and higher of social development, of the ceaseless adventure of man. In the solution of these problems the way of observation and precise knowledge and deliberate reasoning, according to the method of science, must be followed. This method may not always be applicable in our quest of truth, for art and poetry and certain psychic experiences seem to belong to a different order of things and to elude the objective methods of science. Let us, therefore, not necessary rule out intuition and other methods of sensing truth and reality. They are necessary even for the purposes of science.”
This is an altogether a new aim of life appropriate to the modern man. In fact he represents most of the modern men today who do not want to bother about soul and God but they want to do some work in the world to alleviate poverty, to give some kind of solace to the poor, change the society, economic conditions of life and admits that there are many other important issues like soul and God and do not deny them. They may be, they may not be but why to waste your time on it because you cannot prove them in any case. May be they are also useful to science, there is something like intuition but you should go mostly by science and some time admit a little bit of intuition. This is the kind of attitude which many modern people have today. This is the view that can be presented to the students and teachers and asked what the value of this view is. In the context so many other views which are presented. My only idea is let not students take up an aim of life without examining life, without exploring various aims of life, and then he can select his aim of life after seeing all points of view.
Here is Bertrand Russell who also speaks of cosmic terrestrial aim of life but serve in the world as it is. He has written a beautiful essay — A Freeman’s Worship. He speaks of worship because many religious speak of worship. He asks a question − Can a freeman — an atheist — can he have worship. It is a brilliant essay for an atheist. He believes in Humanism but Humanism which is atheist in character. He believes that life is a bubble — you come from dust and you go back to dust. But in the meantime you are where you are and during this intermediate period you should do your best. That is his philosophy. He wrote a book called Conquest of Happiness for which he got a Noble Prize. The main substance of his life is you have truly, actually, it was his conclusion — there is no God, there is no soul — that was his conclusion. He was not influenced by Descartes. He studied Descartes very well. He wrote a book on Western Philosophy but he was not influenced by such a great proof given by Descartes. I would like students and teachers to swim in the field world of thought in its highest criticality. How is that a man like Bertrand Russell was not convinced by Descartes. He had his own proofs of another kind and ultimately this is the aim of life that he gives to you. The question is whether it satisfies you.
This is the end of the part one of my book. Second part I am still making. I have still to bring many, many, points of view which are still not presented here. This is the view presented by The Mother. It represents Sri Aurobindo’s view. It is an integral aim of life in which the most important point is that there must be a search for the truth but this truth has many levels and you must be able to realise truth at many levels. You can be a pessimist; you can be an atheist — this is also one level of truth. You can be an artist, you can be lover, you can be a sannyasin and you can go beyond sannyasa. These are the different peaks that … This is a picture of the The Mother drawn by her to indicate various levels of truth as you ascend then you should be able to view all together and arrive at an integration. But this is the book in brief I present to you called The Aim of Life.
I now come to the second book.
As I explained in beginning we have many teachers’ programmes in the world and there are many good books on what is teaching and what is learning. This particular book which I have produced called — The Good Teacher and The Good Pupil is basically a result of my travel in the world when I was Chairman of the UNESCO Committee on Education for International Understanding and Peace. I was also Vice-Chairman of the UNESCO Institute of Education at Hamburg and these travels took me many good libraries of the world to consult books on teaching and learning. And I came to the conclusion that we should have a new kind of book not theoretical book on teaching and learning, not exactly what is called philosophy of education but examples of good teachers, examples of good pupils and some study of these examples. So the approach of this book is somewhat different. At least to my search I never came across any book which is similar to this kind of book. I do not claim that I have read much but whatever little I have read, I have not come across a book which could give in two covers some good examples.
Here also I would like to affirm that there are many ways of teaching and learning and we can even have discussions on many themes which you can give to students and teachers to discuss. But I thought there is a need to explore the whole field by taking examples of different teachers who have taken different attitudes and different ways of teaching and learning.
So I begin my book with the earliest science of teaching that developed in India. I call it — The Rishi and the Brahmacharin. This was the great idea of Indian education where it was pointed out that the role of the teacher begins with the enthusiasm of the child. It is a very important point. Our present system of education is to send a child whether he likes to study or not and then you have to control children so that they learn. It is a very artificial situation which we confront in our schools and colleges. That is why the question of absconding, running away from the class, not attending to the teacher’s classes and so on. Why because it does not follow the basic principle of teaching and learning that the role of the teacher starts when the pupil wants to learn. Utsaha as it is pointed out utsaha of the pupil is the basis of the work of the teacher. To move the teacher to give you knowledge you require a qualification.
Satyakama Jabala story is the one in which the child wanted to study, wanted to learn. He wanted to be admitted because he wanted to study. There are many examples in the Upanishads where the teacher comes into the picture because a question is raised and the teacher’s role is to reply. In fact, Sri Aurobindo has written for the whole process of education which he considered to be a process of yoga itself. He equated education with yoga and he said that there four fundamental aids for the process of education or yoga. First is the sound knowledge of the principles of the development of knowledge. How knowledge can arise in the child? You know that the recent UNESCO Report called Learning Treasure Within—Doler’s Report is to my mind a recovery of Indian system of education. There is according to this theory which Doler had tried to put it forward with this beautiful title Learning Treasure Within. It says that there is already a treasure within you and to open it is the process of learning. That is why Sri Aurobindo says that the first principle of teaching is that nothing can be taught. It is a paradoxical statement but this is the basic principle that what is to be learnt is there in the child. The task of the teacher is to awaken, is to the show to the child where the knowledge is concealed and to open it up. So this is the first principle in our Indian system of education to have shashtra. You should have a good pedagogy consigned to education. This is the first thing we should have.
The second is the teacher — the guru whose task is to uplift the enthusiasm of the child. It is a very important word − to uplift. The third is the student is filled with utsaha. Without utsaha how can you lift and finally, the instrumentality all progress is time. You should not be in a great hurry. You should not be tardy either; a combination of pursuit of perfection as quickly as possible so neither tardiness nor a great hurry.
Learning and teaching is the process of ripening and there should be a gradual ripening of the individual and the role of the teacher is to see, to uplift at every stage the child’s enthusiasm. In fact, this is a question of civilisation itself. A cultured civilisation is one in which the children right from the beginning are told in many different ways that you should have real enthusiasm to learn. It is a question of civilisation itself. The whole civilisation is such that children are told you find out your teacher. To some extent in India there still exists where people say I want to find a guru but this civilisation has become so downgraded. It is has not percolated right up to the childhood. A time must come should come in our country where the children themselves − I want to learn. You do not have to force the child to go to school. He must himself say that I want to go to school, I want to learn. This was the principle of the Rishi and the Brahmacharin and therefore, you are able to give to the child what is called ‒ discipline. A deep question of all educational system is to create discipline among students. How to combine freedom and discipline is a very important problem for teaching and learning. If students themselves want to learn then you are free to impose discipline and tell him how to discipline.
A long essay has been written on this subject and some examples are given here in this book to illustrate this principle of Rishi and the Brahmacharin.
I have a given few selections from the Upanishads of Brahmacharins in Search of Knowledge − examples of Jabala, of Aruni, Shvetaketu and many others, of Prasna Upanishad is questioned by the students and the answers by the teachers. Even Taittiriya Upanishad begins with a dialogue between Bhrigu and Varuna. Varuna is the teacher and Bhrigu arrives and says tell me about the Brahman and then the answer is, in one sentence he gives an answer which is incomprehensible and if you read even now, you will find how our teacher gives an answer is incomprehensible. It is turning point, it uplifts the child and then he says now you meditate and then he undergoes the process of meditation. First he says I have come to the conclusion that matter is Brahman, then he says life is Brahman and he says mind is the Brahman and then he says vijnana is Brahman and then ananda is Brahman. He rises to levels of levels by the process of meditation. So examples have this kinds have been given here in this book to start with.
Then there is a beautiful essay written by Sri Aurobindo as Arjuna as a pupil and Sri Krishna as the teacher. We all read Bhagavad Gita at one time or the other but the teaching itself is so heavy that we do not ask ourselves pedagogic questions. What was the quality of Arjuna when he puts questions and how Sri Krishna answers those questions? It is a tremendous art in the answering. He does not answer pell-mell. It is a tremendous art of a tremendous teacher. A teacher who wants to convert completely the whole attitude of Arjuna — a complete turnover actually − one who did not want to fight, ultimately he says I will fight and how and why what argumentation, by what process, what winding process. It is a great winding process and to keep track of the winding is very difficult and this is what Sri Krishna achieves, therefore, Gita should be also studied from this point of view, from pedagogical point of view. How Arjuna asks the question, even his question is a wonderful question. If you read the analysis of the question, we do not normally analyse the question. There can be a full document on this question as what was his question, how deep was the question, how difficult was it to answer and how Sri Krishna deals with it and gives so much of time to answer briefly. When you will read the Gita properly, you will find that it is a very brief statement, a very brief statement but very pointed, direct, penetrating.
I bring here also the Buddha both as a pupil and as a teacher. I had to make a lot of research to find out Buddha as a student. It is very rarely you find, you find teachings of Buddha but how Buddha was a seeker himself and how we learnt even from his childhood. That story is told in this book and how we learn and then of course is his teachership. How he taught. The famous story of the Mustard Seed − a woman who had lost her child, it is a very famous story. She was in a great sea of sorrow and how the teacher eclipses her and gives her the real teaching to go above sorrow and suffering.
Here I have brought once again Socrates and Plato. In fact, Socrates and Plato as I said earlier are the peaks of human intellectual development. In the Western Philosophy nobody has surpassed Plato even though so many years have passed. As Whitehead has pointed out that the entire history of Western Philosophy is footnote to Plato’s Republic. It is only footnotes to whole Western Philosophy and he had a very important story to tell about what is teaching and learning. It is actually a kind of replica of the Indian theory of education. Both Socrates and Plato believed in rebirth as we in India very often believe in it and according Socrates and Plato all of us have knowledge within ourselves. And the task of the teacher is to ask questions in such a manner that the knowledge which is within is revealed. The pupil himself takes out and as an illustration Socrates goes to a philosopher expounds his theory and says ‘all teaching is only recollection’ — remembering. You have forgotten what you knew and you only have to uncover. So that philosopher argues and says how it can be. So he calls his slave, uneducated slave called Meno and he says he does not geometry, he takes up theorem, and puts questions and he answers those questions properly and he says look he knew already, he did not know that he knew. It is a very great dialogue actually and our teacher should know learn about this dialogue.
Plato has also written another dialogue in The Republic. It is a story of a cave. When I went to your school in Bombay, I had referred to this story of the cave and pointed out how Plato visualises the process towards knowledge. It could have been already of the Upanishads in fact. He points out that there are, you see this picture which is here, there are pillars and stairs to which human beings are tied so that they can only see in one direction. They cannot turn this way or that way. There is fire behind them as a result of which they see on the wall only their own shadows and they come to believe that shadows are real reality. There is nothing else in the world excepting what they see, until a time comes when somebody succeeds in untying himself and moves out — sees first of all the fire which he had never been seen before and then he goes further and come out of the cave and sees the sunlight. Then he realises the whole world is actually bathed with the sunlight. The real reality is that reality. So this whole story that he has told here is a marvellous from this point of view. It is called The Allegory of the Cave, in which he points out that we all human beings at present are like slaves tied to the posts and we all need to be liberated so that we can see the real Reality.
Now this is what is called the Zen system of teaching and learning. What is very important in Zen system is to underline the theory that process of learning is actually a process of awakening. You should give an experience to the student that he was sleeping up till now and now he is awakened. They develop system of asking questions — Can you Clap with One Hand — one of the very important questions of Zen system — can you clap with one hand. The assertion is that you can and now you have to find out how you can with one hand, so things of this kind, very interesting examples I have given here of the whole system in which awakening of the child is secured.
Similarly, Sufi Wisdom system is also a similar one. What is wisdom? It is a very important question because as we said that knowledge is lost in information and wisdom is lost in knowledge. There is information, there is knowledge, there is wisdom and there is a distinction between the three. What is wisdom? One of the examples given here is the story of the camels. It is a very famous story, a man who is about to die writes a will that he has got seventeen camels and after his death they should be distributed among his sons − half of the number should go to the first son, one-third to the second son and one-ninth to the third one. Now seventeen cannot be divided into half, you cannot have the last one alive; you have to cut it into half so there was a long debate. Ultimately, they go to some wise man. According to the story, he was the son-in-law of Prophet Mohammed, Ali and Ali says fine, this is the question. I put my own camel there, make it eighteen, make it half it is nine, one third is six, one-ninth is two. So, 9 + 6 + 2 is equal to 17 and now may I take back my own camel. This is wisdom. Unless you are prepared give yourself into the problem, you cannot solve the problem. Ultimately, you may not lose anything but you should be prepared to give to yourself to the problem, then you can resolve the problem. Stories of this kind are plenty of them in the Sufi tradition. Our teachers and students should come to have grip with these stories, extremely enlightening.
There is a story which The Mother read out to us in the Ashram at Pondicherry. It is a very interesting story. A pupil called Yusuf — a Muslim young boy wanted to study like the Satyakama Jabala. He was in search of a teacher and he saw there is one teacher called Junun and he goes to him and says I want to study. The teacher does not even look at him, and days pass, months pass even one year, two years pass, but the pupil has patience. He wants wisdom, he wants learning, he wants to learn. So one day the teacher says − you have waited too long and now I want use your services. Can you serve me? He was very happy, Yes, I will serve you. He said, “I want to give a message to my friend who lives beyond that river bank and I will give you tomorrow morning, you come to me and take message from me and give it to my friend.” So next morning, he is ready and goes to the teacher. Teacher gives him a box and says you give it to my friend.
He takes it very beautifully and walks, walks, it’s a long way. In the afternoon he goes for rest. While resting his mind begins to wander. What is in the box? Surely, my teacher did not want to keep it secret because it is not locked. One can open it easily and he argued but I cannot do, nothing; I have to just go and give it to my teacher’s friend. I cannot open it. Goes to rest, again the mind goes on milling. Okay I will just see a little, one second, and then, just see what is in it. Ultimately, after a lot of hesitation he opens it and a small rat runs out of the box — small rat runs out of the box which he cannot now capture, it is gone. He goes to the friend ultimately, dismayed, downcast. The teacher, that friend, opens and says Yusuf you have lost a great opportunity. You wanted to be initiated. You cannot keep a secret even for a short time and your mind was wandering. You should know how to control your mind if you want the wisdom of the whole world, your mind should be able to store it. You could not do it and he went back again to his teacher. The teacher said you wait now. It is said in the tradition that Yusuf became one of the great mystics of his time ultimately but this is a very good story and very inspiring story.
Here is another from the West — The Would-be Gentleman. It is a story of what not should be done, not what aught to be done but what not be done. It is an example of a gentleman, a very rich man. He wants to be called a gentleman. That is his aim. It is a French drama written by Molère who was one of the greatest humorists of French literature. In French it is called Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme — The Would-be Gentleman — who wants to be gentleman so he appoints seven teachers — an athlete, logician, a poet and many other things, even fencing. So many teachers he keeps so that he becomes a very learned man. It is a flop. If you simply want to be a gentleman and want to study for the purpose to be called a gentleman, you can never learn. Ultimately, learns nothing although in the course he discovers that there is only one thing which he knew very well what is called prose. When the teacher tells him do you know the distinction between prose and poetry? He says no, I neither know prose nor poetry. The teacher says you know what you are speaking is called prose so that is the one revelation he got and he learned what is called prose. It is a very interesting and hilarious story to be told all the children and all the teachers of the world. If you really want to study, you should be really seeking knowledge, true knowledge, merely by keeping seven teachers you cannot learn.
This is a story of what a good pupil should be? William Wordsworth used to abscond from his classes but for what. His great interest was to be with nature. To take his boat and to sail in the waters and to enjoy oneness with nature, ultimately, he became a great pantheistic philosopher. Not only a great poet but he believed in pantheism that all this is God. The whole nature is God, all is God.
This is a story of Rousseau − one of the great educationists of the world who wrote a great book called Emile in which his basic teaching is a teacher should be able to hold the child — hand of the child. He should give to the child an experience if you have held his hand. If the teacher can achieve this is a good teacher. Of course, all this modern philosophy of child-centred education stands from this message of Rousseau. In fact, some of the modern educationists of the West have moulded the present system of philosophy of education in the West. The ideas of child-centred education, the child should be consulted; the child is not a plastic material which you can mould any way you like something within the child himself — this teaching was actually embedded in Rousseau and in the next one the story of Pestalozzi. Another great teacher and as you can the picture itself, I have selected. A good teacher is actually like this, how he is surrounded by his children and he himself has said when they work, I work. When they ate, I ate, when they went to sleep, I saw that they went to sleep first and then I went to sleep, before they could awake, I would awake. To live with the children, it is like the Upanishadic teaching-learning process. You can see how modern West is turning slowly towards the ancient wisdom of teaching and learning.
And then this is the greatest example of a great teacher and a great pupil of the modern India − Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda. How Vivekananda who was on the verge of atheism, he turns into a Vedantin and gives a message of union of all religions and transcending all isms and fetters of all dogmatism for universality. This great example shows how a teacher should teach a pupil and what teachers’ pupil should do to learn.
This is a short story written by Tagore which is The Parrot’s Training. It is a great parody our system of education. The story is that a king had been given a present of a parrot and the king wanted the parrot to be education. So he calls many teachers, please teach him. So the teachers examined the parrot and they said first of all we should see that the parrot does not fly away so make cage for it. Then you should see that there is sufficient food available so put all the grass, everything that which the parrot can eat because if you have to learn you should have many books so stuff the whole cage with lots of books. So all the books are arranged and they are put into the cage and then the king is told that now child must be learning, parrot must be learning. There is a cage; it cannot learn away, books are all around so he has got to read. Assumption is that he must be now learning. So the king is told that now he is learning — the parrot must be learning. The king said all right, I will come to see one day, how much he has developed. One day he comes to visit the pathashala and ultimately reaches the cage and he finds that the parrot is completed blocked in so many of books, cannot be seen even, so ultimately he makes room for seeing and he touches and he finds that the parrot is dead. It is a great story of the present system of education. We assume we make a whole cage; we give stuff, books, syllabus, examination and everything. Ultimately see to it that the child dies. Our educational system is a system in which the children die. The real soul of the child, the real freedom to fly in the sky to learn about the whole thing is gone. It is a great story and which all students and teachers should learn so that we do not become like the teachers of the parrot.
Here is a great story of a pupil and a teacher — Helen Keller was blind and deaf. How to teach? That was a big question. Sullivan was appointed as a teacher. How this teacher taught this child who was like a wild animal and she becomes one the great leaders and great educationist herself. It is a very inspiring story of what kind patience the teacher should have. One of the interesting examples is to point out that true learning — essence of learning is to point out that the object of knowledge is to be learnt, but the object of knowledge can be learnt only through the instrumentality of that which stands for the object. The object is said, actually, even now you cannot touch the object, even now when I touch the table I am only touching the appearance of the table. It is a hollow thing basically because atoms are the only reality which I can never touch. The world is so constituted that the objects of knowledge are presented in the form of representations. The trick of learning is to know what is given to you represents something else. This correspondence between the presentation of a figure and the reality which it represents; this is the trick of learning. If you can give to the children this trick learning is accomplished and one the great example is how Helen Keller comes to know what is water. The teacher takes the child to water and then writes on her palm the word water and she does not understand, writes again and again until she is able to collect these words written on her palm with water itself. This was the beginning of her whole educational process. She understood that there are words; there is a language which stands for something else, its correspondence.
Maria Montessori is the most famous teacher of the world who discovered the child you might say. There are two things which she underlined — one is the process of learning should be a process of joy, happiness and secondly, that the mark of learning is when a child says I want to repeat it. It is a mark. Children like to repeat, repeat what they know, what they learnt and this is mark. When the child says I want to repeat it, allow the child to repeat. Normally we do is that this is learnt, now you go to the next immediately — no do not do that. Give the child the joy of having learnt, let the child repeat, even ten times, twelve times, fifteen times and then when the child ask for something more.
This is another aspect of Nehru which is a not sufficiently known that he was a great teacher. He found a method of teaching — writing letters. One of the great instruments of teaching is through letters − a method which you hardly use at all. A good teacher is one who time to time writes letters to his pupils. We do not know what an electric effect a letter from a teacher causes in the life of the pupil. In fact, in one of my experiments in the Ashram school in which I was engaged, I had forty students learning philosophy under me and we had made an experiment in which lectures were reduced to the minimum and students were supposed to read mostly and then how to stimulate the children. Lecture can be stimulating and if the lectures are minimum how do you stimulate. So I used write every morning five minutes for each child, one letter to every student and the progress of the children was fantastic. When you receive three words from a teacher saying look you are reading this book and these are the most important words in your book — it is an illumination. Three words which are important in a given text which the child is going to read, you mark out and you give a letter to the child. It has a tremendous effect.
Now Nehru taught his daughter through letters. He was in the jail, daughter was outside, and so he found letters to be the instrument. In fact, nobody knows that Indira ji was a very great educationist. I myself have personal experience of hers and when she spoke on education, my talks with her. It was remarkable, how much intimate ideas she had of teaching-learning process. She showed that she was a daughter of her father and a pupil of Tagore. This fact was evident in her character and I attribute this kind of deep understanding of learning because of the letters. You should read the letters of Nehru to his daughter where Nehru speaks of book of knowledge which is the whole nature, the whole nature is the book of knowledge you just open out, the pages are there before you, you should know how to read them.
Bertrand Russell is not known very often as an educationist. He is known as a mathematician, as a philosopher, as a philosopher of science, pacifist, even a man of literature but that he was himself was an educationist of a very high order is not known. He has written a book on education and this particular article what the educated needs and what people should acquire. It is a very illuminating statement. I do not go into it because of the shortage of time but we can go forward.
This is another story from India, Premchand’s story — My Elder Brother. It is a story of small setting of a family — three brothers are studying and how the elder brother bullies the younger ones and how the younger one learns in spite of all the bullying of his elder brother. Elder brother fails but he passes. It is a very interesting and illuminating story.
This is also a very interesting book called The Little Prince. Saint Exupèry was a pilot and he has written this book. He imagines he goes in his aeroplane and loses the way and ultimately he settles down on a certain planet which he does not know where it is. There he finds a small creature called the little prince and his dialogue between him and the little prince where Exupèry speaks of the present civilisation of the world and the prince laughs at everything that our civilisation is doing. A small prince criticising all that we consider to be civilised in our world.
This is also by − Hermann Hesse is a very great philosopher and he has also written a book − Siddhartha and this is another book he written Magister Ludi. It is an example of a music teacher how he is an example of his students. It is also a very interesting story.
This is one of the greatest stories of our times − Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. It is originally in French and actually the story has been put in the film also both in English and in French. I would like all teachers to see this film because it is a story of a seagull. You know seagulls normally do not fly very high, they cannot fly very high. They are confined to the seashore and they only come down when they see a fish down and just pick up and then eat and finish. One seagull, young one wants to break the limits and flies out and sees the wonders of the sky, the forests, and trees, the wonderful and beautiful colours of the sky and comes back and tells all the elders you do not like to see all that. And the parents and all the elders ones say that this rebel has been produced in our community, outcaste him. He is outcaste. He comes back and tells now the young people − look your parents are not teaching you rightly what we should be doing, our sky is ours, you can do it and young people fly along with him. They become very happy but now parents have become more ferocious and when the seagull comes to teach other young children, he is hounded and is thrown out. In the meantime, he has taught a few young children how to fly and they take up the task of teaching. He says, now I have taught you, now you teach others. Flying is the essence of life.
This is the final one which I have brought here − Paulo Freire is a great critique of present system of education. He calls our system of education a banking system. All teachers, our libraries are banks and we are only cashiers. A child comes he just dole out from the bank whatever is available. He says that this neither a process of teaching nor of learning. It is a purely banking system. He preaches for real process of learning and teaching.
I think this is the end of my book. Again as I said this is only first part of my book and second I am still preparing and I invite all of you to contribute to my next book any example of good teachers and pupils I would like to collect.
I would like to present to a few discussion points.
A good student is a born good student. Another statement is good student cannot be manufactured. On the other hand a good student judged by his enthusiasm, by the intensity of his quest. A good student needs no teachers. A good teacher produces good students. You will see some propositions which are in favour of one proposition and another oppose to it. It is a question of debate among teachers and students which can be given to students to discuss.
One aim of education which is propagated today is that students should learn in order to earn. The opposite is students should learn in order to learn. And if you learn how to learn is to learn how to live. This is a point of discussion and debate.
No student can learn a subject if it is not interesting. Opposite statement is every subject is interesting.
Teaching is an adventure. What is to be taught is unknown, who is to be taught is also unknown only then teaching becomes creative, only then teaching becomes accessible.
I would like to end this programme with two films to just tell the teachers that the greatest reward for a teacher if he is really taught is the gratitude of the talent of the students. The first story of course very well known — To Sir with Love is a famous story and the other is Holland Opus — Opus means work. It is the story of a musician. I will come to the story later on.
(Title song from the movie: To Sir With Love (1967) — sang by Lulu)
The time has come for closing books and long last looks must end
And as I leave I know that I am leaving my best friend
A friend who taught me right from wrong and weak from strong
That’s a lot to learn, but what, what can I give you in return?
If you wanted the moon
I would try to make a start
But I would rather you let me give my heart
To Sir, With Love
I would like to explain a little background of this new film lyric. It is a story of a music teacher and the story centres upon on many things but one incident is particularly important where a young girl does not come up to the level at which she should. She makes a great effort. She is a child belonging to a good where everybody is very advance and very learned and she feels herself that is she good for nothing. Not fit to be a member of that family. The teacher is very patient, encourages her and now comes the final scene. He has taught like this to hundreds of students. This is the end of his career and all his students have arranged a programme for him. What programme we should see but the important point is that girl has now become a Mayor of a town and she has taken the leadership to arrange this programme. She comes a little late. It is also significant but now we shall see….
I do not know if there is any time for today, I am free from my side but we can have ten-fifteen minutes of conversation if you like.
Question: Sir, are these publications are available since we want to keep them in our shop.
Answer: Yes, they are available. You can write Mandakini ji or Rekha ji who are here for this. I have got a four sets but I do not what price has been fixed because we are not running out of this but…
Question: You have talked about so many people; I have a feeling that Gandhi has been missed.
Answer: As I told you I am writing a series. There are many things which have been missed, I have missed Mahavira for example, I have missed Guru Nanak. There are many many things have happened because you see for example Mahavira, I have asked people to write on Mahavira and for 20 years have not received a good article on Mahavira. It is my complain to many people. I have contacted many Jain scholars but a document which would really be of this category. There are many stories of Mahavira been told but as a good teacher as a good a preacher, I really want something inspiring. I am on search of it and I will get.
There are many many whom I have not taken since this only the first part.