Stories For Youth in Search of A Higher Life - What is Education

What is Education

What is Education?


"Father," I addressed him softly as he came out of the bath room, clad in his white dhoti and looking nowhere with his upward gaze. His lips were repeating the gayatri mantra and his feet were speeding towards the puja room, where he would soon perform his daily worship of ritual sandhya and havan, recitation of Vedic hymns and sacrifice by lighting fire in the tinders and offering to it the oblations of clarified butter and fragrant materials, herbs and grains.

None was expected to stop him on his way to the worship, and it was unusual for me to dare to commit this impropriety. It had seemed to me that there was no alternative; I had to announce to him the truth before it was too late.

My father brought downward his awesome gaze. His eyes declared his annoyance at being disturbed in his holy routine. I felt totally discouraged and incapacitated. But I was my father's son who was taught that the first and foremost duty of man is to speak the truth, disregarding any calculations of consequences. "satyam vada, dharmam chara, speak the truth, abide by righteousness." My heart was repeating this great mantra right from the moment I had looked early that day at the colourful dawn through my window

What is Education

What is Education

even as I had opened my eyes after a disturbed sleep full of inner struggle.

Dawn is worshipped in the Veda as a forerunner of the light of the Sun, and my father had taught me in my early years how to welcome and pray to Usha, the Goddess of the Dawn, so that she may deliver unto us a new departure from the past and bestow on us the gifts of the coming day. I knew by heart a number of the Vedic hymns addressed to Usha, but they did not come readily to me at that moment. Or they did, for it was perhaps by their aid that I was gripped by one single mantra, speak the truth, abide by righteousness, satyam vada, dharmam chara.

I had got up earlier than anyone else in the family. My elder sister and younger brother were still asleep. They had gone to sleep very late, since the bus that brought me to Dwarka was greatly delayed and they had remained awake in order to welcome me. They were very fond of me and since I had returned home after an interval of two years, they were even excited to some extent. I know that they were shocked to see my new appearance with long hair and beard which I had begun to grow since the last few months without any particular reason except that this was perhaps in imitation of a few close friends in the college. They concealed their surprise but their shock was even greater to find that my usual strong and sturdy body had been reduced to unrecognisable thinness. My sister spoke out with some anger :

"Girish, why have you ruined your body ?"

I had made no reply but indicated that since father and mother were asleep and my act of giving

What is Education

What is Education

an account of myself would make noise and disturb their sleep, it would be best to postpone all explanation to the next morning. They both had complied with my wish and allowed me to retire into my room without any further fuss.

Our house is not far away from the famous temple of Dwarakadhish, Sri Krishna, and I could see its summit and the flag fluttering over it in the dim light as I opened the door in order to begin my ablutions of the morning. I had a great inner fascination for Sri Krishna and my devotion to him was nurtured from my early boyhood by my mother. I remembered in a flash that memorable day when my sister Mira and I had spent twelve hours at a stretch from morning till evening in the temple repeating continuously one refrain "Radhe Govinda, Radhe Govinda". Mira was twelve and I was nine at that time; on the previous day a saint had given a discourse on the divine love of Radha and exhorted us to repeat that mantra in order to open the doors of our heart to Radha's consciousness. Fortunately, our father and mother were away to Jamnagar, a neighbouring town, to attend a marriage ceremony, and the household was under the charge of my little mother, Mira. The one thing I learnt from that day-long repetition of the mantra was how to prostrate inwardly at the feet of Radha and Krishna. A mental image of these adorable divinities was formed and placed in the centre of my heart. Then I had perceived that starting from my head downwards my whole body stretched itself, limb after limb, and it fell wholly and unreservedly at Their feet.

What is Education

What is Education

I have treasured the memory of this image of my prostration, and whenever I recall it, I feel the presence of Radha and Krishna, and, sometimes, I feel as though they beckon to me to come to Their bosom where I could lay in an eternal repose like a child in its mother's lap. But presently when I saw the summit of the temple with the flag, I perceived in my mental image, not Radha and Krishna, but Krishna and Arjuna in the battlefield, and the one mantra that seemed to be emerging from the lips of Krishna was : satyam vada, dharmam chara.

After the bath, when I got ready, I found that my will had become feeble and my courage had left me. I perceived that my feet were turning towards the puja room, where by the usual custom of the family, every member was expected to join the daily sandhya and havan. In ordinary orthodox brahmin families, women are not allowed to have access to these rituals, but my father was a progressive brahmin, and, recalling that some of the great Rishis of the Veda were women, he had given the necessary training to my mother and sister so that they too could join and sit with the male members of the family at the worship and sacrifice. I saw that my mother had already entered the room of worship and she was arranging various articles and materials required for the rituals. But as I was about to enter that room, I turned back and before I could think further, I saw my father emerging from the bath room and coming towards the room of worship. I mustered all the courage that I had built up to speak out and, disregarding the awe of my father's eyes, I. said :

What is Education

What is Education

"Father, I'll go back to Ahmedabad today itself; and father, I have given up eating any cooked food and have been living on fruits for the last two months. And...father, I'll not join you in sandhya and havan, because I am convinced that these are external routines without any force of truth."

I had thrown a bombshell, and immediately I began to wonder if there was any other alternative. I loved my father too deeply to wish to hurt him, but I had to tell him frankly what was uppermost in my mind. That was how I felt was the demand of the truth.

My father heard me but made no reply. He simply ignored me and my words and proceeded to perform the rituals. I left the scene and went away to my room and bolted its door from inside.


A few hours later my mother called me out and rebuked me for my behaviour. 'She said that my father had blamed her for my impudence and arrogance. He had told her that I had become a barbarian with perilous tendencies that would end in utter ruin of my future. She was given strict instructions to tell me that I had no permission to leave Dwarka and that I must at once resume normal diet. As for participation in rituals, they were prescribed by shastra, and I must not deviate from the injunction of the shastra.

I heard her very quietly, but when I made no reply, she looked at me sharply and said :

What is Education

What is Education

"Your father has gone on fast unto death and will not break it until you promise to abide by his instructions."

This ultimatum unnerved me, but I still made no reply. Then, with tears in her eyes, she made an appeal:

"Girish, I was overjoyed when you wrote to me that you had, in deference to my wishes, decided to visit home, and I was expecting that this home would cheer up with mirth and joy with your songs and stories. Instead, you have turned everything so bitter that I do not wish to live any more. Is it in your books of studies that you should so misbehave with your parents and disobey their wishes? I wonder if I did not commit a serious blunder in sending you so far away from home for your higher studies. Your father was totally against your seeking admission to colleges in Ahmedabad. He wanted you to go to Jamnagar or Rajkot so that you could visit us every week and thus be under our constant watch and guidance. But I wanted my brilliant son to grow wider wings and to fly farther and farther to ever- widening horizons. I had pleaded that you must go to Bombay or to Ahmedabad, even though it was so difficult for us to afford the needed expenses. But you won't understand. The ghost of obscurity has seized you and you are no less obstinate than your father. You know that your father does not like discussions, and once he has taken a decision he is as firm as a rock. So I can make no appeal to him."

She stopped for a little while. My heart was torn and I could not bear her tears. I took her hand in mine and said :

What is Education

What is Education

"Mother, why don't you appreciate that I have no alternative? I am pursuing the path of truth and knowledge, and it is you and father who have taught me to pursue this path."

"I don't understand you and your path. I don't think we taught you to remain away from family, not to eat correct diet and not to practise our religion."

"How to explain to you, my dear mother? Look, our educational system does not provide the real food that our soul needs. It is you who taught me what our soul is and what aim our soul ought to pursue. This was many many years ago. You taught me the stories of Nachiketas and Shvetaketu when I was only five years old. And since then I have been asking the questions about life and death and immortality, and I have been contemplating on the famous declaration of Aruni to Shvetaketu, "That art thou". Nothing else interests me as much as these questions, and nothing attracts me as much as the opportunity to be alone and to introspect.. Since I joined the school I was expecting to find some books or some teachers or some classes where what I really need is discussed. But now after so many years, it has become clear that I must take some drastic decision and devote myself exclusively to the search of self- knowledge. And I must implement the decision, even though it might mean complete renunciation of family and friends, of the whole world."

My mother was shocked and grieved. She embraced me with all her affection and said : Look, Girish, I won't scold you nor will I go on fast unto death to prevent you from doing what you want to do. You know that I have always encouraged

What is Education

What is Education

you and given you whatever advice I am capable of giving. But now you have grown up; you have become a learned man. What advice can I give you? But remember one thing. The Self that you want to know is the child of the Supreme Lord. Your Jiva is the amsha, portion of the "Purushottama; and you cannot discover the Jiva by indulging in egoistic actions. Do not, therefore, act from ego. Whatever I have received from the Veda or the Upanishad or the Gita has taken me to go to Krishna, to pray him, and to discover from him as to what is His will and to do as He decides. If I have taught you anything else but not this then I have indeed misguided you, and I should like to make amends now. But tell me, have you offered yourself to Krishna and asked him what He wants you to do?"

My dear mother's words of affection, filled with deep faith and wisdom, melted me totally, and my tearful eyes looked straight into the eyes of my mother. It was my turn to embrace her and I said :

"No, mother, you have never misguided me. But I have not yet reached the point where I can converse with Krishna and get His guidance. But I have been reading the Gita again and again in order to learn what is His will in regard to me and my future. You know that father wants me to become a qualified doctor. You know how hard I studied to get admission to the Medical College. I secured 80 % marks at the Board Examination, and yet failed to secure admission to the Medical College. You were so keen that I should go to Bombay or Ahmedabad for my College studies, and I was deeply happy that you thought of this.

What is Education

What is Education

Ultimately, I got admission to the Gujarat College and I proceeded from here to Ahmedabad.

"Now during the last two years, I have mounted myself on two wheels and am trying to keep a good balance between the two. While I am reading for B.Sc., on the one hand, I am also pursuing my philosophical studies, on the other. I had no other alternative. I have been so much pressed inwardly to understand the ultimate truth of existence that I had to take up the extra load of philosophical studies. I am so deeply interested in these studies that whenever I find some leisure from my science subjects, I turn to philosophical books and read them with all my appetite.

"Unfortunately, our system of education is so narrow that if you offer science, you can't do philosophy, and vice versa. And yet, every good professor tells me that science is incomplete without philosophy, and philosophy is incomplete without science. But officially, nobody recognises this important fact, and a student like me who wants to do both has to study one or the other privately at his own initiative under a great hardship of time and energy. I had, therefore, been obliged to use all my vacations during the last two years to study philosophy. It was for this reason that I could not come home during these two years and I had to deny myself the pleasure of being with you and father and Mira and Upendra. Even now I have come during the current vacation only to comply with your order that you sent through Mira's letter. But to tell you the truth, I am missing my studies, and at the present juncture of my mental quest, I can't afford it. My mind is full of questions and I cannot postpone my quest. My dear mother,

What is Education

What is Education

you will please understand me. It was for this reason that I feel that I must return to Ahmedabad and make the best use of the present vacation to study to solve the questions that are harassing me. It is not to avoid the family and the pleasures of our sweet home, but I am not able to enjoy anything when my mind is pre-occupied with my philosophical questions for which I need urgent answers."

My mother was listening to me with great patience and understanding. But the last statement seemed to amuse her. She asked : "What are these philosophical questions? May I know?"

I smiled. I said : "Mother, I want to have intellectual conviction that God exists."

My mother stopped me: "But you know that God exists. Don't you ?"

I was hesitant in replying. I said : "Yes, mother; but......"

"Oh no! I am now quite sure that you should be up and doing with this question; you should resolve this question without any delay. "Samshayatma vinashyati; one who goes on doubting all the time perishes."

"Yes, mother," I said. "I am working day and night on this question. You know the importance of God is so great that whether He exists or not makes all the difference in life. If you know that there is an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent Reality, then life has to be lived under His presence and guidance. You are no more alone in the world."

"Of course, you are not alone," said my mother with deep affection and understanding.

What is Education

What is Education

And then, she added : "Well, I'll not stand in your way of inquiry and I shall facilitate your departure for Ahmedabad as quickly as possible."

I felt greatly comforted. But immediately, I took up the question of my diet. I said: About my food. During the last year, I began reading books on Nature Cure, and I became convinced that the only food that is sound for us is that which is cooked directly by Nature. That means fruits that ripen on trees. So during the last two months, I gave up all cooked food and lived exclusively on fruits. And you can see how successful has been my experiment. I am now adequately reduced and feel quite fit. Besides, this experiment has, given me some control over my palate. It is the sadhana of asvada (conquest over palate)."

"Yes, Girish, but you have also imperilled your health and constitution of the body!" Mother said this with deep concern. She continued, "You have a growing youthful body, and I am afraid fruits do not have all the elements that the growing body needs. And you seem to be hiding the fact that you are not taking any milk at all. Here also, you should have consulted Sri Krishna. What does Sri Krishna say in the Gita ? You should neither eat too much nor eat too little; you should neither sleep too much nor sleep too little. The law of life is to avoid excess.1 Again,

नात्यश्नतस्तु योगोऽस्ति न चैकान्तमनश्नत: |
न चाति स्वप्नशीलस्य जाग्रतो नैव चार्जुन || 16||1

nātyaśhnatastu yogo ’sti na chaikāntam anaśhnataḥ
na chāti-svapna-śhīlasya jāgrato naiva chārjuna

युक्ताहारविहारस्य युक्तचेष्टस्य कर्मसु |
युक्तस्वप्नावबोधस्य योगो भवति दु:खहा || 17||

yuktāhāra-vihārasya yukta-cheṣhṭasya karmasu
yukta-svapnāvabodhasya yogo bhavati duḥkha-hā 2

1. 6.16
2. 6.17

What is Education

What is Education

"Yoga destroys suffering only if it is practised by one who takes due care of food and comfort, who puts in the right effort, and who is balanced in his waking and sleep."

But, mother," I said, "is it not true that the right food for me is the one cooked directly by Nature herself?"

"Sure," replied mother. "But you must realise that your mother, too, is part of Nature, and if she cooks something for you, that too should be counted as cooked directly by Nature!"

I laughed.

Mother continued : "Look, my son, I am not as learned as you are; nor have I read those books. But between Nature and Super-Nature, man is an intermediary and he, too, is an agent of Nature, Prakriti. And man has the natural tendency to contrive and invent. Cooking is what that tendency has invented, and so you cannot banish all human cooking from your menu! Man improves upon Nature, and you have to learn to see how and how far man's improvements are right. And that brings me to your long hair and beard. What's the point in growing long hair and wearing a long beard? You want to be natural, no? Ancient Rishis also used to wear long hair and beard. But they used to look so elegant and purified. My advice to you is : Do what you like, but give due attention to beauty and dignity. Beauty is for me an aspect of the Divine as much as Truth and Goodness. But I won't say more than that; If you have a good sense, go to the barber at once and get yourself a good hair-dressing. I agree with your father that you are looking like a barbarian!"

What is Education

What is Education

I felt ashamed and could not dare look straight into mother's eyes. But mother continued : "And now that you have listened to me so far, let me tell you about your aversion to rituals also."

"But before you say anything," I said, "please permit me to explain. Mother, 1 have taken a decision that I'll do a thing only if it is meaningful and if it serves the purpose of Truth. After my careful study I have come to the conclusion that rituals are a sham and they are an excuse for not doing the real inner sadhana. People do the outer rituals and take solace that they have done all that is required to be done for uniting oneself with divinity. They forget that the real thing to be done is to attain to the state of psychological concentration. Doesn't Krishna say in the Gita that the real sacrifice is the sacrifice of knowledge? We should be pursuing inner knowledge,- that is the real sacrifice, not the daily ritual of reciting hymns and lighting the fire at the altar. No, mother, I have given up rituals since the last two years, and I'll not resume them simply to deceive my father and do some mechanical acts even when I don't believe in them."

Mother smiled and said : "Look, Girish, I advocate no rituals. My Lord Krishna asks for only three simple things, patram, pushpam, toyam, a leaf, a flower and water,- and that too offered with a sincere heart of devotion. Where inner sincerity is present, outer offering is only an expression but not a necessary requirement. Girish, I want you to pursue your path of knowledge and truth; that is infinitely more important than joining rituals and singing hymns and offering ghee and

What is Education

What is Education

grains to the fire. I have no quarrel with you at all.

"But let us look at the matter from a different angle. What is the origin of rituals? Rituals are and will always be, because they, in their origin, express deepest emotions. Deepest emotions demand rituals as their means of expression. The only problem is that rituals in due course tend to become mechanical and lose their original spirit. So rituals need to be dropped when they begin to imprison the inner spirit and deaden the processes of expression. But once again, when the true spirit begins to vibrate, new rituals will come into being, and they should be welcomed. But I agree with you that the inner spirit is more important than rituals, and if you feel that our rituals have become mechanical, I would not force you to join them, provided that you are true to the deeper pursuit of inner quest and inner sacrifice."

I felt quite satisfied and began to confess to myself that my mother had a vast store of wisdom of which I was not truly aware.

"What do you advise me, mother? What should I do?" I asked.

"I will not ask you to do something that you think is opposed to the truth as you understand it. Stand firm on your convictions. But ask yourself : "What is truth?" To me nothing is true if it is not an expression of your unconditional relationship with Krishna. And by Krishna I mean not only the Avatar whom I worship as my Lord, but also the Purushottama that transcends all religious creeds and dogmas. It is He to whom the whole humanity, willingly or unwillingly, offers itself and from Whom it derives

What is Education

What is Education

its strength and wisdom to sustain itself and to progress towards the glorious future.

"These are my simple ideas of truth, and I would advise you to put yourself in relation to Him as a child,"

After a little pause, she added :

"Don't be rigid. The Divine is always plastic and insists on no particular formulation or mode of action. Ye yatha mam prapdyante tansthaiva bhajamyaham. This is what Krishna declares in the Gita : As they approach Me, so do I reciprocate them to suit their approach.

"You want your father to understand you. I don't blame you. That is your right and legitimate demand. But I ask you to try to understand your father from your side."

In an instant I realised how self-centered I had been and how I had been misjudging everybody else. I remembered a wise man whom I had met recently at Ahmedabad. He had told me : "Ego is a false accountant. Ego keeps an account in which the universe turns around the needs of the ego and enters into the column of profits only those items where the universe has served the ego; all the rest is entered into the column of losses."

I melted and said apologetically :

"Mother, you must pardon me. But I am so much pre-occupied with myself that I must reverse myself so that I can perceive the universe as it is without my coloured glasses of my ego."

My mother smiled. She said :

"Your father is no more what he was two years ago. There has been an upheaval in his

What is Education

What is Education

inner life, and even his outer nature has changed a great deal, — although his exterior seems very much as before. But that is a long story and this is not the moment to tell you that story. My advice to you is that you should spend your vacation here and find out what we are all passing through — your father, myself, Mira and Upendra. We all need you and you can do a great deal for all of us. Be flexible and do not hurt anyone. Your father loves you very deeply, and let me tell you he expects nothing from you except your highest well-being as you conceive of it."

I was totally moved and I readily agreed to abide by her advice. She was quite pleased and as she rose to leave the room she turned to me and said :

"Girish, let me add one thing. Rituals are dispensable; you can discard them if you so wish. But you can also put a living soul in them, if for one reason or another you are obliged to perform them. Don't allow the issue of ritualism to become the cause of quarrel between you and your father. I am with you in your fight for the truth, and there are ways of fighting the battle. You want to stand for the truth. No? You want to speak the truth, no? Yes, I want you not only to speak the truth but also perform the deeds of the truth. Only you must know that both speaking truth and acting on truth depends upon the right knowledge of the truth — and that is an extremely difficult task. There is also the delicate art of speaking the truth.

"Why, indeed, Indian wisdom has declared :

Truth, must be spoken,

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What is Education

but truth that is agreeable must be spoken;

Truth that is unpleasant must not be spoken;

Untruth that is agreeable must not be spoken.

"Think over these wise words. Not that you should bind yourself to these words. But learn them well and give a better account of yourself. Your next examination will come when your father returns home exactly at 5.15 p.m.

"And, since your father is on fast, none at home will take any food until you are able to persuade your father and give him his meal with your own hands."

She left the room without looking at me. But I knew that there were tears in her eyes. And if she had looked at me, she would have found tears flowing out from my eyes — tears of gratitude for the love and wisdom that she had poured on me in order to uplift me.

My mother is unusual in many ways. She is sixty but the glow of her youthfulness has still remained bright. She has a very healthy and solid physique, thanks to the rigorous training she had undergone in gymnastics and athletics in a special school that was organised by the Maharaja of the small state of Dolom in Saurashtra. The school was meant for the princesses and daughters of the members of the royal family and other relatives. But my mother's father was the Dewan of the State, and as a special privilege, my mother was admitted to that special school. She was good at horse- riding and had won numerous trophies for swimming. Because of her wide-ranging physical education, her body was endowed with health, strength, agility, grace and beauty. She had also

What is Education

What is Education

a great love for adventure, and even today she organises programmes for hiking and mountaineering for girls and women of our district.

That special school did not have formal courses of studies, since it prepared its students to go to U.K. at the right stage where they could have their formal training. For obvious reasons, my mother could never go to U.K. but she had learnt several languages quite well, and her knowledge of history and geography was of a high order. Science was not taught as a discipline, but there used to be visits of eminent scientists to her school and she had taken an active part in organising a Science Museum under the guidance of the teachers of the school and other visiting scientists. In music and art and embroidery she had special gifts, and she had learnt, to some extent, not only Indian Kathak but also Western ballet.

Her father was a very learned man. His speciality was Sanskrit, Latin and Greek, and his mastery over Indian system of law and administration was exceptional. Unfortunately, he died when my mother was only fifteen, and as he was an honest man, he had built up no assets. Consequently, my mother, who was the only child, had to migrate with her mother to Dwarka where her uncle lived in modest conditions. Her uncle was a staunch Vaishnava, spending a great deal of his time in worship of Sri Krishna and in the study of Bhagwad Gita and Bhagawat. It was here that my mother learnt the Gita by heart and came to understand the subtleties of Bhakti.

Her uncle and aunt did not approve of my mother joining any school, but they encouraged

What is Education

What is Education

her to master the art and science of household work and practical affairs of family life. Soon after coming to Dwarka, her mother passed away; thus she was practically left to herself. At her uncle's house, she learnt hard lessons of life, and as she had no cousins or companions, she turned to deep reflections on the meaning and aim of life, which, in turn, fortified her devotion to Sri Krishna.

At the age of nineteen, she was given in marriage to my father. Thus started a new chapter in her life.

My father was born and brought up in Dwarka in an orthodox family of Yajurvedis. He was a bright student at a Vedic School and by the time he was fifteen he had acquired mastery over the recitation of Shukla Yajurveda, madhyandina recension. He had also gained acquaintance with Sanskrit Grammar and Jyotisha (both astronomy and astrology). He had inborn interest in the study of herbs, and an old Ayurvedic physician gave him practical knowledge of Ayurveda. But even with this considerable background, he realised that he would get no employment if he did not join a government school to learn English and other subjects required for Matriculation Examination. As he had not followed the regular prescribed course at the Vedic School, he had great difficulty in getting admission to the Government school. But once admitted, he proved his excellence in every subject and topped the list of successful candidates of the district at the Matric examination. As his economic condition was extremely poor, he was obliged to join a primary school as a teacher. During the next few

What is Education

What is Education

years, he studied as a private candidate and passed B.A. and B.Ed. and later even M.A. in Sanskrit with high distinction. All these academic qualifications enabled him to reach the higher rungs of teachership of the Secondary School and later of the higher Secondary School.

In the meantime, his marriage with Sharada, my mother, had brought about a great change in his philosophy of life. He was a Shaivite, a devotee of Shiva, and she was a Vaishnavite, a devotee of Vishnu and Krishna. He was an erudite scholar of Veda and Upanishads, she was confined only to the Gita. He pursued the path of knowledge, she pursued the path of devotion. There was an evident conflict between the two, but my mother played a great role in establishing a harmony. She became my father's pupil of the Veda and studied a few Upanishads like Isha and Kena quite thoroughly.

But she imposed upon my father a healthy regime of physical education. My mother believed in the gospel of service and, in due course, she began to take a leading part in activities of social welfare. In her public activities, she found it necessary to come in close contact with women of different religions; she, therefore, learnt a good deal of the religious tenets of Jainism and Islam. In fact, she became so popular with the muslim women that authorities of a mosque provided her an adjoining hall where she could teach muslim women how to spin and weave and earn some money. Twice a week, she used to teach these women the life of the Prophet Mohammed.

To begin with, my father did not appreciate the Gita as much as the Veda and the Upanishads.

What is Education

What is Education

But in due course, he mastered the Gita so thoroughly that he undertook a formidable task of formulating a comprehensive science of Yoga, Yoga shastra, in which the yoga of the Veda, Yoga of the Upanishads and the yoga of the Gita could be viewed as a vast and comprehensive system of verifiable and repeatable experiences. To begin with, my father had reservation about Vaishnavism and did not share my mother's adoration of Krishna. In due course, however, he entered into the profundities of Shaivism and Vaishnavism and came to accept the principle of self- surrender to the Divine as an integrating truth, and he developed in his own mind a synthesis of Shaivism and Vaishnavism. To begin with, my father did not like mother's labour to study Jainism and Islam. But, in due course, he began to be influenced by my mother's train of catholic arguments. My mother's argument was that although different religions did not teach the same thing, each religion taught something that was very valuable, which should be learnt for the enrichment and perfection of the human spirit. She believed that even atheism has some valuable lessons to teach the growing soul of man. In the ultimate analysis, she used to fall back upon the declaration of Krishna in the Gita when he says :

ये यथा मां प्रपद्यन्ते तांस्तथैव भजाम्यहम् |
मम वर्त्मानुवर्तन्ते मनुष्या: पार्थ सर्वश: || 11||1

ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāns tathaiva bhajāmyaham
mama vartmānuvartante manuṣhyāḥ pārtha sarvaśhaḥ

(People follow in every possible manner My own path.)

All quarrel, so her argument ran, rests upon the disease of exclusivism, — the claim that my

1. 4.11 .

What is Education

What is Education

preferred doctrine is exclusively true or superior to all other doctrines.

This disease can be cured, she used to say in her simple style, by calling people of all religions and no religions to share their discoveries in an ever - growing flame of synthesis of knowledge. Let us deny all denials, she used to say.

Both my father and mother had planned a good system of education for their children. All of us were born when they were in early forties, and they were by then quite ripe in their educational thought. My father wanted us to have a good grounding in the Vedic tradition, but he also wanted us to have a good grounding in Western tradition of Science and Philosophy. He had dreamt a sort of a synthesis of the East and the West.

My mother wanted us to have a good physical education and refinement of nature and manners. Her attitude tended to be spiritual, my father's attitude remained largely religious and pragmatic. These attitudes did collide with each other in a subtle manner, and from time to time, there were sharp differences between father and mother on the question as to how we should be brought up.

I recall what father had told me, when I had just finished my eighth standard. He had said that I should specialise in Science because he had thought that I should prepare for a career of a doctor. I remember his exact words.

"We can't change the system of education and the system of society. Our system of education that is given to us by Macaulay allows you only

What is Education

What is Education

five alternatives : you can become a doctor, or an engineer or a lawyer, or a clerk, or else a teacher. I don't want you to be a lawyer because Macaulay, again, has decided that it is a duty of a lawyer to speak lies in defence of his clients. As for engineering, there are no good facilities in our State. Thus, I have have concluded that you should become a doctor, unless you choose to be a clerk. As for becoming a teacher, well, a teacher has no status in our society, and I have to say this even though I have been a teacher all my life. If you become a doctor, and if you continue your Vedic studies in your private life, you will have the best possible combination."

I had no inclination to become a doctor; so I had protested mildly. But my father had answered in severe tone :

"Girish, there are certain things in life that you have to do even though you may not like them. There is a law of necessity that rules the world."

And I was silenced, although I had expected a better explanation of the world from the one who knew the Veda so well.

That very evening, my mother had taken me for a long walk after our early dinner. And, talking of my studies, she had told me:

"I have dreamt all my life to create a new system of education. But I am not yet worthy of Krishna's boon of an opportunity to create such a new system. But I know one thing. In every circumstance of life, however, adverse it may be, there is always a route of escape by which the soul of man can come out of the law of necessity.

What is Education

What is Education

Your father spoke to you today of the law of necessity, and he is right as far as our present conditions continue to be what they are. But remember that your soul is greater than the law of necessity, and if you keep alive your aspiration to be free and to do what your highest will wants you to do, you have nothing to fear. Freedom will come. So keep this in mind. As the Gita says : "As is your faith, so verily you will become." Such is the power of inner faith, inner will to be and to realise.

"And remember again one other important matter. True education does not consist of studying these books or those books, whether they be the books of the Veda, Upanishads or the Gita, or else, other books of science or medicine or economics or what you will. True education is to grow inwardly to discover the Divine Will and to manifest it in physical life. And the secret of the science of the discovery of the Divine will can be practised under any system of education."

I had asked her : What is that secret?

And she had replied :

"Do you remember an extremely important question that Arjuna puts to Sri Krishna? It occurs in the third chapter :

अथ केन प्रयुक्तोऽयं पापं चरति पूरुष: |
अनिच्छन्नपि वार्ष्णेय बलादिव नियोजित: || 36||1
atha kena prayukto ’yaṁ pāpaṁ charati pūruṣhaḥ
anichchhann api vārṣhṇeya balād iva niyojitaḥ

O Krishna, by what impelled does a man get engaged in sinful activity, against his own will, as if goaded by force?"

1. 3.36

What is Education

What is Education

As I was listening to her intently, she continued to explain.

"Girish, this is the most important problem of human life. Education must lead you to discriminate between the right action and wrong action. And, even if you have this discrimination, even if you know what is right and even if you want to do the right action, you feel impelled to do the wrong action. It is at that point that education must come to your help. And true education is that which comes to your help at that important moment."

My mother had paused a little. But I was keen to know Krishna's answer. So I asked :

"What is the solution, mother? My mother said :

"Sri Krishna gives his answer in seven verses. I'll show them to you when we return home. To my mind, Gita is a great book of the science of education, and these seven verses may be regarded as the central theme of education. What is education? True education is to know oneself and to control oneself."

These words of my mother impressed me so much that they got written down indelibly on the inmost state of my soul. And when we returned home, I asked my mother to show me those seven verses. My mother was very pleased with my eagerness. She took me to the room of worship, and made me seated on a mat. Then taking her seat opposite to me, she recited these seven verses:

श्रीभगवानुवाच |
काम एष क्रोध एष रजोगुणसमुद्भव: ||
महाशनो महापाप्मा विद्ध्येनमिह वैरिणम् || 37||

śhrī bhagavān uvācha
kāma eṣha krodha eṣha rajo-guṇa-samudbhavaḥ
mahāśhano mahā-pāpmā viddhyenam iha vairiṇam

What is Education

What is Education

धूमेनाव्रियते वह्निर्यथादर्शो मलेन च |
यथोल्बेनावृतो गर्भस्तथा तेनेदमावृतम् || 38||

dhūmenāvriyate vahnir yathādarśho malena cha
yatholbenāvṛito garbhas tathā tenedam āvṛitam

आवृतं ज्ञानमेतेन ज्ञानिनो नित्यवैरिणा |
कामरूपेण कौन्तेय दुष्पूरेणानलेन च || 39||

āvṛitaṁ jñānam etena jñānino nitya-vairiṇā
kāma-rūpeṇa kaunteya duṣhpūreṇānalena cha

इन्द्रियाणि मनो बुद्धिरस्याधिष्ठानमुच्यते |
एतैर्विमोहयत्येष ज्ञानमावृत्य देहिनम् || 40||

indriyāṇi mano buddhir asyādhiṣhṭhānam uchyate
etair vimohayatyeṣha jñānam āvṛitya dehinam

तस्मात्त्वमिन्द्रियाण्यादौ नियम्य भरतर्षभ |
पाप्मानं प्रजहि ह्येनं ज्ञानविज्ञाननाशनम् || 41||

tasmāt tvam indriyāṇyādau niyamya bharatarṣhabha
pāpmānaṁ prajahi hyenaṁ jñāna-vijñāna-nāśhanam

इन्द्रियाणि पराण्याहुरिन्द्रियेभ्य: परं मन: |
मनसस्तु परा बुद्धिर्यो बुद्धे: परतस्तु स: || 42||

indriyāṇi parāṇyāhur indriyebhyaḥ paraṁ manaḥ
manasas tu parā buddhir yo buddheḥ paratas tu saḥ

एवं बुद्धे: परं बुद्ध्वा संस्तभ्यात्मानमात्मना |
जहि शत्रुं महाबाहो कामरूपं दुरासदम् || 43||

evaṁ buddheḥ paraṁ buddhvā sanstabhyātmānam ātmanā
jahi śhatruṁ mahā-bāho kāma-rūpaṁ durāsadam

1. 3.37-43

That Desire and that Wrath that arises from passion, from the guna of rajas, that you should know to be the enemy, - the sinful devourer. 37

Just as the fire is covered by smoke, mirror by dirt, embryo by poison, even so the knowledge of the knower is covered by the unquenchable fire of desire, the constant enemy. 38-39

Senses, mind and intelligent will are its places of residence; through them it veils the knowledge and deludes the soul. 40

Therefore, by means of the control of senses and the rest, slay that sinner, the destroyer of knowledge in all its entirety. 41

Above the senses is the mind, above the mind is the intelligent will, and above the intelligent will is that Self. 42

O Arjuna, knowing him to be above the intelligent will, controlling the self by the self, slay that enemy in the form of Desire, which is very difficult to conquer. 43

What is Education

What is Education

After reciting these verses, mother explained to me each verse. At the end, she said : "Girish, this is the programme of education that I assign to you. I know it is a long and difficult programme, but the earlier you begin, the better will you become equipped to fight the battle of life."

I heard her counsel with deep reverence. But before leaving her I said : "Mother, our mind is so unstable that I find it very difficult to bring it under control."

In reply, mother said : "That is, of course, true. Arjuna himself had stated this problem. This occurs in the sixth chapter. Listen to what Arjuna says :

चञ्चलं हि मन: कृष्ण प्रमाथि बलवद्दृढम् |
तस्याहं निग्रहं मन्ये वायोरिव सुदुष्करम् || 34||

chañchalaṁ hi manaḥ kṛiṣhṇa pramāthi balavad dṛiḍham
tasyāhaṁ nigrahaṁ manye vāyor iva su-duṣhkaram

"But then Sri Krishna gives the solution :

श्रीभगवानुवाच |
असंशयं महाबाहो मनो दुर्निग्रहं चलम् |
अभ्यासेन तु कौन्तेय वैराग्येण च गृह्यते || 35||

śhrī bhagavān uvācha
asanśhayaṁ mahā-bāho mano durnigrahaṁ chalam
abhyāsena tu kaunteya vairāgyeṇa cha gṛihyate

"O Arjuna, there is no doubt that it is very difficult to control the mind. But it can be controlled by constant practice and disillusionment."

On this important verse, mother made no comment except that it contains the entire science and methodology of education. And, indeed, this comment has served me well throughout all these years of my education.

1. O Krishna, mind is restless and strong and obstinate. I believe that it is as difficult to control it as the wind. 6.34
2. 6.35

What is Education

What is Education

Another incident that I recall in which father and mother had a conflict in regard to their children's education was connected with my sister, Mira, who had just then finished with distinction her higher secondary course. Father had decided that she should join the local women's college and study for the B.A. degree. She had to decide what subjects she should offer. I was in the twelfth class, still one year below her level, but I had the firm view that the college provided no courses which were truly relevant to Mira's psychological needs. Mira and I were intimate friends, and we often used to talk to each other of our deepest aspirations and wildest dreams. An important subject of our frequent discussions used to be our present system of education, and we were both merciless critics of the current aims, contents and methods of education. Mira had a very clear aim of her life and education, and she wanted to pursue that aim at any cost. In all seriousness, she used to tell me that while learned educationists, including our father, proclaimed that the real knowledge is that which leads to liberation, sa vidya ya vimuktaye., it is precisely that knowledge which finds no place in our programmes of education. Her main interest was to find out some teacher or some book that explained the "higher nature" of which Sri Krishna speaks in the seventh chapter of the Gita. She felt that the mystery of the universe could be unveiled if the higher nature and lower nature (para prakriti and apara prakriti) could be linked and if the path could be traced for making a transition from the latter to the former. I had read that seventh chapter with her several times, but neither of us could find the answer to the

What is Education

What is Education

question that she had posed. When we discussed this question with our father, we received such a long discourse that at the end of it we were more confused than enlightened. When we discussed it with our mother, she said that the true knowledge can be gained only through para bhakti, the higher form of devotion in which there is no motive other than that of entire self- giving to the Divine. Both Mira and I wanted to know how to cultivate para bhakti, and mother's answer was that that bhakti could not be gained by personal effort but by the Grace of the Divine or the Grace of a Teacher in whose contact the soul of the seeker would open up as a sunflower opens up to the Sun.

We looked in vain in our educational system for any opportunity or facility to find out such a Teacher. In the meantime, we were feeling quite suffocated by the routine of prescribed subjects and mechanical round of daily classes where teachers taught by snippets through hurried lectures in a rush to cover the long syllabus within a limited time available to them. And the only thing that seemed to matter was to develop capacities and skills to pass examinations and to get the maximum possible marks. Subject-oriented, lecture-oriented and examination-oriented system of education seemed to both of us a kind of compulsory imprisonment to escape from which we yearned intensely.

In that year, however, in the month of December, when Mira was preparing hard for her Board Examination of the final year of the Higher Secondary Course, a small group of five women from Delhi paid a visit to Dwarka. The

What is Education

What is Education

group was led by an impressive scholar and singer, Kamalini Sharma, who had taken a vow to sing only devotional songs and recite Samaveda. My father came to know of this visit because the Secretary of the Mutt of the Shankaracharya of the Dwarkapeetha approached him with a request to organise in his High School a programme of devotional songs by Kamalini Sharma and her group. The programme was arranged, and our entire family had the privilege to be introduced to the group and to listen to enrapturing songs that were presented by it. Music and singing were so enchanting that everyone felt spellbound. I felt greatly uplifted, but what surprised me deeply was that Mira, who was seated next to my mother in an opposite row, was weeping almost continuously and uncontrollably.

The next day, Mira told me that she had found in Kamalini-ji the teacher that she was looking for and that I must help her to meet her. I gave her the necessary help and when she and I met Kamalini-ji, she begged of her to be accepted as her pupil. Kamalini ji smiled and said that she herself was a pupil but invited her to meet her everyday during her stay in Dwarka.

Kamalini-ji and her group taught Mira a number of devotional songs, and within a week a great transformation came upon Mira's inner life. During one of these days, she told me :

"Girish, would you believe if I told you that I had the vision of Sri Krishna?"

I looked at her sharply but did not reply.

Then she smiled and added : "I also heard the flute of Sri Krishna. Will you believe it?"

What is Education

What is Education

I made no reply.

Mira continued : "I spoke of these experiences to Kamalini ji; would you like to know what she told me?"

"What did she say?" I asked.

"She said : 'Be prepared now for a long period of viraha, separation.' She then laughed and, pressing me to her bosom, she whispered into my ears: 'The path of divine love begins with a brief union and a long session of suffering of separation, since Krishna hides Himself and does not uncover Himself until you uncover yourself totally before Him!'

Mira blushed. She looked marvellously beautiful. Then she said : "I now understand why Mirabai had declared that she was wedded to Sri Krishna. Will you believe if I tell you that I have discovered that I am born to become a bride of Sri Krishna? But this is a secret between you and me. Don't tell anybody else."

I was overwhelmed by Mira's state of intensity, and taking her hands into mine, I said : "My dear sister, I believe every word that you have spoken."

Mira blushed again.

Towards the end of the week, Mira came to me and with a continuous stream of tears in her eyes, she said:

"Kamalini ji is leaving tomorrow and I do not know how I shall be able to live without her. I implored her again and again to extend her stay, but to no avail. She has no compassion for those who love her. She loves the pupils of her school

What is Education

What is Education

much better. I wish I, too, were to join her school. Do you know what is that school like?"

"No. Have you found it out?" I asked.

"Yes", she said, "it is exactly the kind of the school that fits with my needs. I like to learn hundreds of devotional songs, and her school teaches both classical music and devotional music. And, besides, it allows every student to take up a course in Indian culture; and one can specialise in a number of other courses for specialisation in any particular aspect of Indian culture, - religion, spirituality, ethics, dharmashastra, yoga, art, architecture, polity. But the question is how to join that school."

"But where is this school? Is it very far from here?" I asked.

"Kamaliniji told me that it is near Delhi. There is a village, and the school is somewhere near that village. It is the father of Kamaliniji who has built up that school, and it has also a hostel so that students from outside Delhi can also stay and study there."

"Splendid!" I said. "Then you should join that school. We shall talk to father and mother."

"They won't allow it, I am afraid," said Mira.

"Mother will agree," I said, "but we shall have to make a big effort with father. We shall have to plan well."

After the departure of Kamaliniji and her group, Mira and I spoke to mother about our plan. As anticipated, mother was agreeable but she said it would be prudent to wait for a few months before talking to father. She said: "Look, your

What is Education

What is Education

father is expecting Mira to pass her higher secondary examination with very good marks. She should fulfil his expectations. Thereafter, we may be in a better position to persuade him,"

We agreed to follow mother's counsel. Mira appeared at her final examination and the results came out in due course. All this took nearly six months. Mira had done exceptionally well and she had stood first among all girls in our district. My father and mother were exceedingly happy, and both myself and my younger brother, Upendra, felt that her success was our own success.

Immediately after the results, Mira and I approached father but it was Mira who spoke to him as advised by mother.

"Father," said Mira, "I want a boon from you."

"Mira," said father with a genuine smile, "I will not refuse you anything if I am capable of it. But remember that I am not a King or a Rishi who can pluck even stars from the heaven."

"But the boon that I am asking for is very simple. I need your permission to join the school of Kamalini ji."

Father seemed stunned. He gave no reaction for quite some time. Then he smiled. But immediately thereafter he became extremely grave and said :

"Mira, I admire Kamalini, and from what I learnt about her school, I feel that she is doing a very laudable work. But her school does not award degrees, it is not even affiliated to any University. Her courses are good for rich people's children. For people like us, the most difficult problem is

What is Education

What is Education

to find suitable boys for our daughters. And all suitable boys in our section of society demand from girls one or two degrees. This is unfortunate, but what can a poor man like me do about it?"

I was thoroughly unhappy with the answer. I became impatient and said :

"Father, we should revolutionise the society. We should revolutionise education. And the first step in the revolution is to take some revolutionary decisions in regard to one's own children's education."

Father looked at me with severity, but made no reply. He, however, turned to Mira and said:

"You have done so well in your examination that I cannot refuse you anything. But what you have asked, I am not able to give. Please be kind and give me what I ask from you."

Mira was taken aback, but before she could respond, father continued.

"You must join the Women's College here in this very town, and get your B.A. I do not mind what subjects you choose."

Mira seemed greatly disappointed. She protested mildly : "Father, they don't teach the subjects in which I am interested."

Father made no reply. Atmosphere became tense and none spoke a word. At last, father got up from his seat, and turning to Mira, he said :

"I understand you. But I am helpless. We are bound in a net, and the law of the net is inexorable. We can't escape it."

Mother was listening to this conversation as an impartial witness. But now she intervened.

What is Education

What is Education

"You cannot thwart children's wishes by taking refuge in the iron law of the society. Perhaps the society of which we are speaking is a ghost having no substantial reality. And the future of which we are so much afraid is also a ghost, which will never be like what we are imagining. We are worried about what "suitable boys" will demand; it is quite possible that the one who will be really suitable for my Mira will be a cultured person who will ask for nothing else than true culture from her. All your life you have criticised the present system of education, and yet precisely when the occasion has arisen for you to prove the sincerity of your criticism, you plead helplessness. If parents like us cannot send their children to schools and colleges, not for degrees, but for true education, then how will the present circle of inexorable law be broken?"

Father did not argue. He simply reiterated his helplessness and kept merciless silence. And then he turned to his books. None in the family could break his silent and cruel decision. Father had cast a disabling blow on a tender creeper that was striving to climb up in search of a stable support.

Mira joined the local College for Women in obedience to father's wishes, but nothing in the college could attract her mind or heart. In fact, she entered into a temporary slumber as far as her soul was concerned. The only time I saw her coming into life was when she wrote to Kamalini ji or when she received answers from her. But her wings were clipped and she lived like a caged bird.

What is Education

What is Education

In the course of one year I passed my higher secondary examination and went away to Ahmedabad. For the next two years I did not see her, and letters between us were rather infrequent and brief. But the last letter that I received from her just before my departure from Ahmedabad to Dwarka was rather long and it gave me a glimpse of how that beautiful flower that was withering away was secretly blossoming by the pressure of its own inherent force. She had written :

"Dear Girish,

I am happy that you have decided at last to visit us during the winter vacation. I am overjoyed and am eager to talk to you of many things that I am discovering these days. My final B.A. examination is drawing near and I have just begun to open my text books, which have remained neglected so far since they are extremely uninteresting and uninviting. To my surprise, however, the one book that has gripped me is the "The Manual of Psychology", and as I was rushing through that book it occurred to me that the Bhagavad Gita can be looked upon as a book of psychology. Since then psychology has become a favourite subject, and when I was recently reading the Gita, I began to discover in it great insights pertaining to education and I feel that I should proclaim the Gita as a book of the science of education par excellence.

"All education must deal with the processes of cognition, conation and affection. And it is precisely these three processes that the Gita right from its beginning to the end is occupied with. For what is Jnana Yoga, if not the full analysis of cognitive processes and of confirmed methods of

What is Education

What is Education

purifying and developing these processes to their highest levels of perfection? What is Karma Yoga, if not the full analysis of conative processes and of confirmed methods of purifying and developing these processes to their highest levels of perfection? Gita explains in detail how impulses and desires arise and impel action. It describes the role of intelligent will in purifying desire and in disentangling the knot of desire and ego from our motivation of action. It delineates the processes and methods by which one can become, first, free from the attachment to fruits of action, and, ultimately, from action itself. And at its summit, the Gita gives the secret of self-giving by which all action is seen to be proceeding from a supreme source that is at once static and dynamic. And the pinnacle of Karmayoga is reached when one raises one's cognitive, conative and affective capacities and potentialities in a great synthesis where the divine love, divine knowledge and divine action flow through the liberated individual in a plenary and ecstatic and triumphant symphony. You will think that I am getting poetic; but the joy of my discovery compels me to dance with words, and the sheer language of the Gita gives the aesthetic experience to my affective parts of the being. The smile of Krishna and his words of counsel and encouragement and inspiration seem to provide to my emotions uplifting experience and as I read the Gita I feel deep educational transformation! Bhakti of which Krishna speaks seems to have penetrated my heart and I feel I understand when it is said that the true knowledge comes from the highest state of devotion and that all action culminates in knowledge.

What is Education

What is Education

"But this is not all. Yesterday I was reading all that the Gita teaches about Swabhava and Swadharma, about the jiva and the Karma, action, that is rooted in the jiva, which is itself rooted in Paraprakriti, higher nature of the Supreme Lord. This reminded me of the talks that we used to have about education that enables each individual to discover himself and I asked myself if the Gita gives us the secret of self-discovery. What is swabhava? I asked myself. Is it temperament? Is it natural inclination of the given moment? Or is it something else? Indeed, there are many questions in my mind and hope to discover their answers with you when you are here. For instance, I want to understand what the Gita means by the word "Shraddha", for it says that each one becomes what his shraddha impels him to become. Is it that one speaks of in connection with religious belief? It can't be so; because the Gita speaks of each individual's unique shraddha. I think this concept of shraddha seems to be very important for education, and this concept needs to be harmonised with the counsel of Krishna when he asks Arjuna to attain to knowledge by repeated questioning and service to the teacher. How is questioning to be reconciled with shraddha? I want to understand all this and much more. It appears that a new appetite for learning has become awakened in my heart, and this has just come at the right moment since, because of the forthcoming examinations, I am obliged to turn to books, - and this turning would have been mechanical or meaningless if this new appetite were not to seize me. Here, too, I see the Hand of the Beloved Krishna.

What is Education

What is Education

"I think Krishna is the inevitable Teacher, and He arranges all kinds of circumstances to capture our soul and give to it the experience that it needs for its growth. And this is one new insight that I have derived from my recent study of the Gita. Someone was telling me that Arjuna was fortunate that at the very critical moment of life, Krishna happened to be near him to help him and to illumine him and to place him on the right path. His argument was that everyone cannot be so fortunate as Arjuna and therefore the teaching of the Gita is relevant only for the few who could have the same fortune as that of Arjuna. When I was contemplating on this argument, I had suddenly a flash which seemed to tell me that in the arrangement of the world, Krishna is always close to the soul in need of Him, and thus the Gita wants to convey a universal message : "Do not fear; if you turn to Krishna with a sincere seeking, be sure Krishna will be there ready to help you and guide you."

"Since then I have been telling myself : "Be a good pupil like Arjuna; turn to Krishna with the heart of trust and pray to Him to teach you and guide you." And, indeed, the more I tell this to myself, the more is my enthusiasm to learn and the greater is my inner feeling of the uplifting Presence of the Beloved Krishna.

"You will perhaps think that I am getting crazy, but I am your, for ever, crazy sister, and I know that you will not laugh at me.

"But let me now close, this letter.

"We shall talk a great deal when you are here.

What is Education

What is Education

Your sister,


This was a unique letter packed with high educational philosophy! I was truly thrilled and felt deeply drawn to her. Intellectually, however, I was passing through a state of tension; my cognitive capacities of thought and reflection had almost completely overshadowed my affective being; I was greatly dissatisfied with the poverty of my fund of intellectual knowledge and wanted to enrich my mind as quickly as possible. This was the reason why I had no mind to spend any considerable time at Dwarka during my visit. It was particularly the pressure of my mother that had compelled me to visit Dwarka and was planning to stay there just for a day and return to Ahmedabad without any delay so as to get back to the library and the books that I was reading voraciously. But Mira's letter had evidently shaken my plan and I had begun to think of rescheduling the duration of my stay at Dwarka in consultation with her. Yet, before I reached Dwarka eventually late that night, my mental tension had grown so heavy that I resolved once again to return to Ahmedabad the very next day.

How tension makes you decisive and indecisive alternately! When I threw the bombshell and caused disturbance to the harmony in the family, I was quite decisive. But soon after that event, and particularly after my conversation with mother, I became quite indecisive. Besides, mother's appeal to try to understand father had touched a deep chord in my heart tearing apart my walls of pride and prejudice.

What is Education

What is Education

I was soon overtaken by a sort of concentration, and I found myself traversing inner depths of my being. I felt my solar plexus. An inner door swung open and I felt something very warm and very sweet. I plunged myself into deeper depths. There was a strange experience of myself being not myself, and yet, there was deeper intimacy and a deeper self of self- possession. It was as though I was recovering my own true dominion, my strange and fresh self. There was peace, even silence, and overwhelming presence! And as I entered deeper into that presence, a quiet joy burst out into a stream coursing through my arteries and veins. Inexpressible harmony and bliss! I felt then a tangible stuff and substance, far removed from senses and mind. An ocean of sweet waters. I did not know how long I remained plunged into those depths, but when I began to return some words were stirring in the vibrations of my being and I seemed to be hearing without hearing:

"Truth is infinity.

Truth is plasticity.

Truth of speech, truth of consciousness.

Be vast, be free."

When I came back to my senses and as I looked around myself, I felt that all had changed. I was no more myself with a narrow and rigid and tense self. I had no frustration and I found myself wrapped in a strange sort of love. I thought of my mother and came to love her in a new mode. There was new music in that mode, a note of sweetness and wordless harmony. I thought of father and found that I had no dispute with him.

What is Education

What is Education

His two eyes that always seemed to be like two piercing needles, seemed to me to have been turned into pools of waters of compassion. I felt in them ever- yielding consent. I felt as though a great load of my head had suddenly disappeared. I felt so light, so light, that even the pressure of a feather would make a difference. And then I thought of Mira, and as I lifted my eyes, I felt her fragrant smile. In an instant, there was gentle knock at my door. I got up from my bed, and opened the door. I found standing before me that fragrant smile. It was Mira holding in her hand a beautiful jar full of red and pink roses.

"What's it?" I asked.

Without answering, she entered the room and placed the jar on my table. She then turned to me and said, "Let's go to father. We cannot allow him to fast. I have packed his lunch in the tiffin box. You, Upendra and I will go to him. We shall not discuss anything. We shall just entreat him to take the meal. You will not speak, but you will smile, won't you? And I am sure we shall succeed."

My eyes had become fresh and as I looked at her, she appeared to me to be a white luminous angel of uncomparable beauty. I felt her transported into the Greek image of Athene, the calm goddess of Wisdom that destroys darkness in a flash. I smiled and I knew that she knew that I had become different. Her smile and my smile mingled, and I at once understood that all music is cling-clang of mingling hearts.

As I was going to say something, Upendra entered the room and asked me, "Do you agree?"

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What is Education

I did not answer.

"I agree to go with you and Mira, because I see no point in quarrelling. But I disagree with father. Fasting unto death is a crime. It is violence. It is moral compulsion. I do not understand why people threaten us with this weapon of fasting unto death. Lord Krishna did nothing of this sort when Arjuna threw away his Gandiva and refused to fight in the battle of Kurukshetra. Instead, Lord Krishna smiled and induced Arjuna to ask questions and enter into a dialogue. And Lord Krishna answered every question patiently and elaborately."

"Look, Upendra," said Mira, "this is not an hour of argument. This is an hour of reconciliation. Dialogues can follow thereafter. Do not say this is right and that is right or this is wrong or that is wrong. Everything is right in its own place."

Upendra laughed. He said, "Yes, you are right, but fasting unto death is never right."

"Girish, will you stop Upendra?" Mira turned to me and said, "Get yourself ready. We must go to father at once."

"I am almost ready," I said, "But do you know father does not like members of his family visiting him in his office in the school?"

"I know," said Mira. "But today he will like it."

Within a few minutes all the three of us came out of the room and Mira turned towards the kitchen to bring the tiffin box. Just at that moment we witnessed a surprise most surprising. A horse carriage arrived and stopped at the gate of the

What is Education

What is Education

house. And lo ! father alighted from it, and there was a stranger with him.


It was nothing short of a miracle. In any case, it was most unexpected. None had contrived it. It had happened by itself. How to explain it? The arrival of that stranger was an incalculable turning-point for all of us.

His name was Naveen Chandra, a man in his early forties with muscular physical frame, collected calm and strength; he looked youthful and leonine. At the very first sight, I fell in love with him. He looked at me and I looked at him. He told me, "You have a spark, but kindle it day after day until it becomes a fire that continues to burn uninterruptedly."

I heard these words and felt that I understood myself as never before. I awoke in a new day light and felt that I was born afresh. What a relief it was to know someone who knew and understood! I was charmed and came to realise the meaning of the nearness of a soul to another soul. In one instant, Naveen Chandra had become my teacher, .. not by any external authority but inner communion, by the power of influence that unites one soul with the other. I had become his.

His meeting with father was extra-ordinary. As I learnt later, Naveen Chandra had come to Dwarka with the sole intention to meet father. He had a project and wanted to collect a few learned Sanskrit pundits in his school at Rajpipla. In the course of his search, he came to hear of Tryambakeshwar Vyas as the most learned Sanskrit pundit of our region. He had an overnight journey

What is Education

What is Education

from Rajkot to Dwarka by an autobus and losing no time on arrival, he had straight gone to father's school to meet him. And what he found in my father, in Tryambakeshwar Vyas, was more than what he had expected. He found that father was not only a great Sanskrit Pundit but also a great educationist; he found that he was not only an educationist but also a radical educationist. He also found that father was living in agony of imprisonment where circumstances had debarred him from fresh air and breath. He found that father was a burning fire covered temporarily with ashes. During his very first conversation with father, Naveen Chandra had discovered in him one of those whom he was looking for: someone capable of teaching competently and yet capable of learning and experimenting. Naveen Chandra had told me later that even at sixty five, father was capable of rejuvenation and that it was indispensable for his mental and spiritual health to leave Dwarka in order to join his school at Rajpipla. I believe that Naveen Chandra's appreciation of his abilities had given to, father a deep inner gratification.

My mother was also pleased with Naveen Chandra because she found in him a great exponent and commentator of the Gita. In a few pregnant sentences, Naveen Chandra had explained to my mother the mystery of the Divine Grace. Is prayer necessary for the Divine Grace to descend? If necessary, how can grace be regarded as unconditional? Naveen Chandra had smiled and said, "The very fact that you pray is a consequence of the operation of the unconditional movement of Grace." My mother's second

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What is Education

question was regarding the nature of faith. Is faith blind by nature? And what is the difference between faith and devotion? And Naveen Chandra had answered:" Faith is always blind; but faith is always dynamic and insistent; it is in its irresistible insistence that it surmounts mountains of difficulties and secures inevitable success." But he had distinguished between blind faith and mechanical faith. Blind faith, even though blind, is living faith; mechanical faith is a faith that revolves around a belief or a dogma and does not push itself to transform itself in knowledge and action. He had further explained that all faith has the germs of devotion, and it is only by acts of faith that the stream of devotion begins to flow in our entire being. The third question that my mother had asked was : "What is the difference between the actions of the Karmayogi and the actions of the Bhakta, devotee? And Naveen Chandra had answered : "The actions of Karmayogi are, for a long time in the course of Karmayoga, of the nature or spirit of duties; but the actions of the Bhakta are spontaneous flowers of love, where nothing is a duty and nothing is felt as a sacrifice. All actions are garlands to adorn the charming presence and body of the Lord." These were summary questions and summary answers, but mother was deeply moved to declare the wisdom of Naveen Chandra and exhort us to seek his company.

"There is magic in our guest," Mira had confided to me. She had not asked any questions, but from the moment of his arrival, she had felt that she had found a teacher from whom she could learn without asking or without hearing.

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What is Education

As she had told me that very evening, "Naveen Chandra's skin glows with knowledge and his breath is a sweet fragrance of love. I am learning from him even by seeing him, by merely feeling him."

Upendra, too, had found in Naveen Chandra an intimate companion capable of boyish fun and frolic, even of mischief. He had felt a few moments of thrills in his talks with the new companion.

All this and much more had happened in one single day. And a big change swept over our entire family and its atmosphere. Father had broken his fast on his own and taken food in the company of the guest; and there was no trace of tension in his mind. I had felt unimaginable relief when I had seen him eating that marvellous meal and chatting away with Naveen Chandra. He was a new man, whom I had never known. He had found someone to whom he could talk tirelessly and endlessly. After that meal, he had just taken me aside in his room for a moment to tell me, "Girish, you are free. You will act in your freedom and I shall not insist on any particular course of action. I know you are sincere, I am aware that I have been rigidly severe with you from time to time. Henceforth, I am merely your counsellor." This was for me a unique experience of the transparency of the soul, bereft of any fear or shame in its act of unveiling. He had left the room immediately, but I had continued to be in the room and, as never before, I had wept and sobbed with tears that had cleansed my soul. The tug-of-war that had taken place in the morning had simply vanished; there was no rope to be pulled in opposite directions. Later, I had gone

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What is Education

to the kitchen, taken my full meal of cooked food and thus broken my vow to live forever on fruits alone. Later, I had whispered into the ears of Mira, "I am not leaving tomorrow, but will stay on to profit from the talks with Naveen Chandra." As for rituals, I felt no inclination for them, but father never even remotely seemed to invite me to participate in the rituals. At the same time, I had resolved to kindle my inner fire and to arrive at a glorious point where it could continue to burn with increasing intensity and force.

I got the opportunity of a long and exclusive talk with Naveen Chandra when, late in the afternoon the next day, father asked me to take our guest on a round of Dwarka and to show him that beautiful township of Mithapur barely twenty kilometers away from Dwarka. I borrowed the car from Chaturbhuj Sheth, Chairman of the S.P.I. School Trust. Father was advisor to Chaturbhuj Sheth and he had the freedom to borrow his car from time to time. After a rapid round of Dwarka, where the chief place of attraction was, of course, the temple of Dwarkadhish, we proceeded towards Mithapur. During the journey, I was at first rather reticent. I was so overawed by Naveen Chandra's presence that I had no courage to enter into a conversation with him. But, at last, after much hesitation I asked him rather mildly that question which was uppermost in my mind. I asked him, "Is it possible to have intellectual proof and conviction of the existence of God?"

He said, "Yes."

That was the end of the dialogue. Or so it seemed. I was greatly disappointed. I had expected

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What is Education

a long-winding answer, and I wanted him to take the lead in the conversation. For a little while, I remained quiet, but went on thinking as to how to continue the conversation. Then I mustered the courage and asked him another question. "Do we have the proof of God's existence in the Veda? Or is it in the Upanishads? Does the Gita give any account of this proof?" This question seemed to stimulate Naveen Chandra.

He said, "Veda is a poetic expression of varieties of spiritual intuitions and revelations which were obtained by the seers in their supernormal state of consciousness. The Vedic seers were capable of truth- sight and truth-hearing. By means of profound methods of Yoga, they had discovered truth-consciousness, Rita - chit and in that state of consciousness, apprehension and comprehension of truth in its infinite aspects becomes automatic. Are you acquainted with the Veda?"

I shook my head, and said inaudibly, "No."

Naveen Chandra took my hands in his and said, "Look, Girish, you should not feel nervous. It is not your fault that you are not acquainted with the Veda. It is unfortunate that in the land where the entire culture has grown out of the luminous seeds of the Veda, our system of education keeps all the children completely ignorant of those luminous seeds."

I was encouraged to speak. I said, "My father is a great Vedic scholar, and I have been fortunate to study a few hymns from him since my boyhood. I know a number of hymns addressed to Agni; I know a few hymns addressed to Usha; and a few

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What is Education

hymns addressed to Varuna, Mitra, Savitri and Ashwins."

"That is quite a lot," said Naveen Chandra, "and if you make a deeper study, you will find that the Veda is a record of spiritual experiences which transcend intellect. Of course, you can derive from the Veda a great and multi-sided doctrine and you can even give a philosophical form to it, but Veda itself is not a work of philosophy. Philosophical knowledge is a lower kind of knowledge as compared to spiritual knowledge. The Vedic Rishis belonged to the Age of Intuition and not to the Age of Reason, which came much later in Indian history. Even the Upanishads are intuitive in character, and not philosophical. It is true that people speak of the philosophy of Upanishads and believe that there are philosophical discussions in the Upanishads. But that is not true. The questions which are raised in the Upanishads are those of spiritual seekers; the dialogues of Upanishads, wherever they occur, are not intellectual and argumentative; they aim at comparison and interchange of spiritual experiences. But the wealth of spiritual experiences that are contained in the Veda and the Upanishads is so great that when the Age of Reason followed the Age of Intuition, numerous philosophical systems came to be developed, and most of them took the character of intellectual presentations of spiritual experiences. Mahabharata, of which Gita is a very important part, is the product of an age where intellectuality had begun to preponderate, and we find in the Mahabharata intellectual discussions of what, how and why of varieties of subjects. Mahabharata is

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What is Education

decidedly philosophical, when it deals with a number of intellectual subjects; and yet, Mahabharata is not a book of philosophy. Even the Gita is not a book of philosophy; but it raises many philosophical questions and employs often philosophical methods to present its answers. The questions that had gripped Arjuna at the moment of his depression were intellectual and philosophical; in presenting these questions, there is a systematic arrangement of ideas, and there is a kind of dialectic throughout the whole of the Gita. Lord Krishna, too, in answering questions follows largely intellectual and philosophical methods, although the aim of the Gita is not to arrive at a mere intellectual conviction but to unveil the secrets of spiritual existence and even to impart a Divine vision which not only silences mental questions but even quenches the thirst of the heart and physical senses. If you now ask the question whether the Gita contains an intellectual proof of God's existence, I shall make four statements.

"(1) According to the Gita, the Supreme Reality can rightly be approached only through divine nature, divine consciousness and divine power, para prakriti. Para prakriti may be viewed as the Divine Logos, the creative truth of the order of the Universe, which is the source of our own human Reason. Para prakriti, the Divine Nature, is both a power of knowledge, and a power of action; it is Knowledge-Will. The human vision and human will are so limited that they cannot enter directly into the vision of the Supreme Reality. Divya- drishti. Divine Vision has to intervene. This is the reason why when Arjuna wanted to have the vision of the Divine, Lord

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What is Education

Krishna tells him that he cannot have it with his limited human vision. Lord Krishna then bestows upon Arjuna, by his divine act, a divine vision. The entire eleventh chapter is the description of this great episode where Arjuna is able to see the Divine face to face.

"(2) But all this comes as a culmination of a long intellectual preparation, during which Lord Krishna engages Arjuna in a kind of intellectual dialogue, which was, of course, suffused with spiritual perception, intuition and revelation. During this long intellectual dialogue, Lord Krishna declares that Supreme Reality is supra-sensuous, and although knowable by intuition, it is still seizable by intellect, atindriyam buddhigrahyam.

"(3) At another place Lord Krishna enunciates a very important philosophical principle which states : "Of non-existence there can be no being, and of existence there can be no non-being, nasato vidyate bhavo nabhavo vidyate satah".

"(4) Finally, let me refer to three statements in regard to the nature of the Divine Reality that we find in the Gita which are extremely important if you wish to deal with the question of the proof of God's existence. For when you ask of God's existence, you must have a clear conception of what you mean by God. God has been conceived variously, and many intellectual problems have arisen because one is not clear about the meaning of the term "God". The conception of God that we find in the Gita is complex. As Lord Krishna declares, and I shall only para-phrase it for the sake of brevity, that while all things are in God, God is not in them; and immediately, it is added that God is in all things and is seated in all the

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What is Education

creatures and rules over them; and finally, it is added that God is all things.

"These three statements seem too be contradictory of each other; but if you think over them quietly, deliberately and intelligently, you will find their reconciliation, and you will understand how through intellectual thought God is seizable."

When he stopped at this point, I had many questions in my mind. But we had arrived at Mithapur and I wanted to show him the beauty of the design of Mithapur.

There are very few towns in India which have the beauty and simplicity of Mithapur. Tatas who have created this township have bestowed scrupulous care on planning the town and imparted to its roads and buildings and gardens extraordinary charm and attractiveness. At every nook and corner, we meet with luminous messages of happy and noble life through quotations of great leaders of thought and culture. Everything here is optimum : size of buildings, size of population, and the size of township itself. The entire town is Tatas' empire of chemicals, and yet, there is no imperialism; people are happy and contented by and large, and facilities of modern life are available to all the inhabitants. All this and much more I wanted to show to Naveen Chandra. But he seemed to be much more interested in me than in the township. He said, "Girish, this township stands apart by its neatness and clarity. I can see this at once, and the beauty of the design does not surprise me; you can at once see the imprint of Mr. J.R.D. Tata on everything that is visible? and invisible in this town. But can't we find one good

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What is Education

spot where we could talk to each other?" My deepest chords of the heart were stirred; I felt deeply grateful that he was so warmly responsive to my heart's yearnings to talk to him. I took him to the sea-shore and we settled down in one of the benches in a special structure constructed by the municipality. The sun was descending on the Western sky and the vast Arabian sea was preparing itself for the evening tide. Everything was quiet and we too were alone. I was eager to talk and to learn.

Naveen Chandra broke the silence in which we were entranced for more than ten minutes. He told me, "It is curious but true that when I was in the college in Bombay, I had the same question as you have now regarding the existence of God. It was the question of life and death for me, and I met a number of professors in my search of a satisfactory answer. I read a number of books also. I spent days and months of deep contemplation. I studied the history of religions, I studied philosophy of religion, and I also studied a good deal of psychology of religion. I made a special study of the ontological argument, cosmological argument, teleological argument, historical argument; I studied Deism, Pantheism, Theism, Pluralism, Dualism, and Monism of various kinds. I studied the Veda, the Upanishads, the Gita; I studied Nyaya, Vaisheshika; I studied Samkhya and Yoga; I studied Poorva-Mimansa and Uttara-Mimansa. I studied Jainism and Buddhism;

I studied Materialism and modern Empiricism; but I found no satisfaction."

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What is Education

Naveen Chandra paused a little. So I asked him, "What happened next?" He said, "I felt quite desperate. At one stage I even concluded that I was pursuing an impossible task. I thought that in all probability God's existence cannot be proved intellectually. I went even farther and thought that to believe in the existence of God is to be illogical and irrational. For some time, I set aside my study of metaphysical philosophy and turned to the study of economics and politics. I sharpened also my study of ethics. I dabbled in history also. All this led me to study programmes of social reconstruction and, in that context, made a study of utopias, ancient and modern. But I was thrown back once again to the question of God's existence. It appeared to me that no programme of political reform or social reconstruction can have any unshakable foundation, and several alternatives seemed to be equally good or bad. Only if God existed, so it seemed to me, one could have solid foundation for social, moral, economic and political programme of reconstruction. In other words, I felt it a matter of necessity to pursue my enquiry into God's existence. I also appeared to realise that in looking for the proof of the existence of God, one should free oneself from the notions of proofs which are available in deductive or inductive sciences.

"Just at that critical moment of my intellectual life, I got the opportunity to go to the Cambridge University for my doctorate. And I decided to work on the theme of the proofs of existence of God for my doctoral thesis. While I had just begun my work on this thesis, circumstances conspired to take me to Paris where I registered myself at

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What is Education

the Sorbonne University. I did not change the subject of my research. But the deeper I went into the subject, the deeper grew my diffidence, and although I remained for two years at Sorbonne, I could not make much headway in writing out my thesis. I came back to India, and it was much later that I could write a book on the subject...."

I interrupted him and said, "But that means that you have arrived at a definitive conclusion."

"Yes," he replied.

"Can't you tell me that conclusion?" I asked.

He smiled and said, "It is somewhat difficult;

in a conversation like this, you cannot expound the subject in the way in which it ought to be. If you really want to study this subject, you should be prepared to spend a month or two with me and study the book that I have written."

"But I am prepared already," I responded immediately. Then I added, "But my intensity for the answer is so great that I would urge you to tell me something at least. Let me tell you that I am actually stuck up in a small round of a few ideas connected with the ontological argument, and I go round and round without any issue."

Naveen Chandra made no comment. So I told him, "There are times when I spend sleepless nights on this question, and my cerebral activity goes on continuously practically the whole night."

"All right," said Naveen Chandra, "Let me say that you need to have some widening of your consciousness. Whenever mechanical thought goes on repeating itself in the mind, one of the best courses is to expand your horizons. In fact, three

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What is Education

processes of learning are : widening, heightening and deepening of consciousness."

I asked, "But how to widen my horizon?"

Naveen Chandra looked at me with deep eyes of understanding and said, "If you like, I will give you a few exercises and that would help you to come out of a narrow circle of mechanical ideas."

I felt deeply gratified and said, "You must take me to be your pupil and I shall be happy to learn from you not only now but for ever."

Naveen Chandra smiled and caressed my arm. But soon he became serious and said, "Girish, metaphysical philosophy deals with two inter-related ideas, the idea of infinity and the idea of eternity. From where these ideas originate is itself an important question of metaphysical philosophy. But the more you contemplate on these two ideas, the more you grow in maturity. And one of the keys in arriving at intellectual proof of God's existence is to take help of these two ideas and to brood over them quietly and leisurely. Do not be in a hurry to arrive at any conclusion. Be very patient and cultivate the attitude of endless patience. One of the greatest enemies of impartial metaphysical thought is the ambition to arrive at quick conclusions and to expound them before people victoriously."

As I heard these words, my mind felt a great relief, and a good deal of tension of the mind ceased. I felt greatly relaxed and began to open myself to a long journey of quiet contemplation. I looked at Naveen Chandra with inviting eyes.

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What is Education

Naveen Chandra continued, "The next thing that I would like to suggest is to obtain a clear idea of what you mean by Reason. At present, the notions of Reason differ widely."

I said, "Oh, how much you comfort me! I have been constantly asking myself during the last several months as to what exactly is the meaning of 'rational' and 'logical'. Every philosopher claims to be rational and logical. And yet, he disagrees with the conclusions of every other philosopher. If reason were universal, and if reason arrives at conclusions rationally, why should philosophers disagree among themselves?"

"You are right," said Naveen Chandra, "You have formulated one of the basic issues of philosophy itself."

"But what is your answer?"

"The answer is not simple. But let me say, to begin with, that there is an idealistic view of reason and there is a materialistic view of reason. There is also a pragmatic view of reason and there is a utilitarian view of reason. There are those who believe that reason is the faculty of understanding through the grasp of meaning and there are those who controvert various meanings of meaning and ultimately arrive at the conclusion that there is no such thing as meaning, except in a trivial sense.

"If, indeed, the world is a mere matter of chance, can there be any meaning at all in the world? There are, therefore, some who believe that the very attempt to understand or to find meaning in the world is misdirected."

"But is the world a matter of mere chance?"

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What is Education

"If you look at the world superficially, you do find that events seem to be occurring, if not by chance alone, very often so. The world seems, in a sense, a chaos, a series of events which happen pell-mell without reason or rhyme."

"But don't you think," I asked, "there is so much of order in the world? The day is followed by night and night is followed by day; laws of matter seem to be inexorable; no two material objects can occupy the same space at the same time; and we are aware of the law of gravitation, the laws of electromagnetism and so on and so forth. The laws of chemistry are again inexorable; even in the field of biology, laws appear to be quite rigid; only in the field of psychology, individual variations are so great that we seem to be devoid of the control of law. But even then, there are definite laws of mental growth and there are even laws of logic."

"You are quite right," replied Naveen Chandra. "Considering this pervasive operation of law, which seems to be coupled with the sweep of chance events, some philosophers might argue that the world is a self- organising chance."

I smiled and said, "But what is the effect of such a view of the world?"

Naveen Chandra also smiled, "If the world is basically a matter of chance, whether self-organising or not, the theory that the world is a chance may happen to be right only as a matter of chance! In any case, theory of chance will find it impossible to explain as to how chance working at random has been able to produce the rational faculty which seeks to find meaning and order in the world."

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What is Education

"Yes, but a thorough-going chancist would say that that also has happened by chance."

"True, and I would no longer dispute with him but would argue that his position has no obligatory force and that therefore I am free to institute a fresh inquiry to find a better explanation of things than what his theory provides to me."

We both looked at each other and smiled.

"How do we proceed in our exploration?" I asked.

"Well, the first obstruction to our exploration is rationalistic materialism," said Naveen Chandra. I looked at him with inquiring eyes. He continued:

"The most powerful element here is that of Agnosticism, which goes on pushing the limits of the unknowable until it covers all that is merely unknown. Its premise is that the physical senses are the sole means of knowledge and that Reason, therefore, even in its most extended and vigorous flights, cannot escape beyond their domain. It contends that Reason must deal always and solely with the facts which they provide or suggest; and the suggestions themselves must always be kept tied to their origins."

"Yes, I know this argument very well," I said, "but I do not know how to deal with it."

Naveen Chandra replied :

"The business of philosophy is to question all premises, all pre-suppositions. What is the ground for declaring that physical senses are the only means of knowledge? And why should Reason be compelled to limit itself only to the evidence of senses? What physical senses declare is that they

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What is Education

can perceive Matter, but it is not within their power to declare that they are the only means of knowledge or that Matter alone exists. If you examine the subject closely you will find that the vice of the materialistic argument is that it is circular, and it commits the fallacy of what logicians call petitio principii. It first assumes that Matter alone exists and then attempts to prove it, not by questioning it but by reiterating it. For if you ask why it holds that physical senses are the only means of knowledge, the answer will be, 'Well, it is only this assertion that can be made if Matter alone exists.' Thus, you will see that the statement 'Matter alone exists' and the other statement that 'physical senses are the only means of knowledge' are sought to be derived from each other, but they are neither derivable from each other, nor are they proved independently of each other. The so-called premise and the so-called conclusion of materialism are both arbitrary and dogmatic."

I felt that I had grasped the argument, but was not sure. So I asked him, "Could you explain this to me in somewhat simpler terms?"

Naveen Chandra replied slowly and patiently:

"The aim of materialism is to prove that 'Matter alone exists. Here the word 'alone' is very important. How does materialism proceed to get to its business? It argues : 'Look, physical senses are the sole means of knowledge. For the sake of the argument let us concede it for the moment. What is next? We are now told: 'Look, physical senses declare that Matter alone exists.' Now this statement can be questioned. For if we examine it closely, we find that physical senses can truthfully

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What is Education

declare only one statement, viz.. Matter exists. Do they or can they declare that matter alone exists?"

"Of course, not." I said.

"So, you see. Materialism tries to derive the statement 'Matter alone exists' from the perception of physical senses that 'Matter exists.' And this derivation is unwarranted." Naveen Chandra clarified.

"Yes, I see it." I said.

Naveen Chandra continued:

"Now let us question the premise that physical senses are the sole means of knowledge. You will see here, too, that while it is true that physical senses are means of knowledge, these senses do not and cannot declare that they are the sole means of knowledge."

"It is clear now," I said joyfully.

We remained quiet for a while. A question then stirred in my mind and I asked him:

"Don't you think that modern science is materialistic?"

Naveen Chandra said, "It would be too sweeping to identify all modern science with materialism. But it is true that there is in present-day science a bias in favour of materialism, and modern science has contributed enormously to the development of materialistic Reason. Actually, modern scientists tend to distance themselves from any explicit formulation of materialism, but the methodologies which they approve have a sort of implicit materialism. They might even reject materialism, and for that matter any philosophical doctrine. They might prefer to look upon themselves as strictly non-philosophical and adopt a

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What is Education

neutral attitude towards any speculative endeavour. But the moment you suggest to them any subject that is related to the supraphysical realm they tend to put it out of their court by declaring that it is unintelligible non-sense or that it does not satisfy their paradigms of methodology of knowledge."

As I went on listening to these words, my mind began to wander among the ideas that were expressed in a recent Seminar that was held at my college on the theme of scientific explanation. During that Conference, two questions had come to dominate my mind. I posed these questions in order to get Naveen Chandra's answers. I asked : "Are there limits to scientific explanation? Do you think science will one day be able to explain all phenomena that puzzle our contemporary mind?"

Naveen Chandra heard these questions very attentively with his eyes closed in what seemed to me a mood of contemplation. But as he opened his eyes and lifted them up at the horizon, he exclaimed : "Look, Girish, how beautiful are these compositions of colours! The disappearing sun is leaving behind a trail of glory; what a feast for our eyes!"

I too looked up at the meeting-point of the sky and the sea and noticed splendid display of colours. But this beautiful scene made no aesthetic effect on my mind which was deeply preoccupied with abstract ideas of dry and stringent philosophical thought. Naveen Chandra seemed to understand me. He immediately switched himself off the beauty of the evening and turned to me to give a reply to my questions. He said :

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What is Education

"Science attempts to look at the vast universe which appears, to it as a paradox of "boundless finite". The universe seems to reveal itself as an Energy, known not by itself but by its works, which throws up in its motion waves of energies and in them a multitude of infinitesimals; these, grouping themselves to form larger infinitesimals, become a basis for all the creations of the Energy, even those farthest away from the material basis, - for the emergence of a world of organised Matter, for the emergence of Life, for the emergence of consciousness, for all the still unexplained activities of evolutionary Nature.

"Science tells us that it knows now that different groupings and a varying number of electric infinitesimals can produce or serve as the constituent occasion for the appearance of larger atomic infinitesimals of different natures, qualities, powers; but it fails to discover how these different dispositions can come to constitute these different atoms. Science tells us also that certain combinations of certain invisible atomic infinitesimals produce or occasion new and visible determinations quite different in nature, quality and power from the constituent infinitesimals. But it fails to discover, for instance, how a fixed formula for the combination of oxygen and hydrogen comes to determine the appearance of water which is evidently something more than a combination of gases, a new creation, a new form of substance, a material manifestation of a quite new character. Similar disabilities to explain are to be found also in regard to the phenomena of biology and psychology. It is, for instance, stated that genes and chromosomes are the cause of hereditary

What is Education

What is Education

transmissions, not only of physical but of psychological variations; but science has so far failed to explain how psychological characteristics can be contained and transmitted in the inconscient material vehicle.

"One notices also a peculiar kind of strain when science finds itself unable to explain certain phenomena; under pressure of that strain, it goes on stretching its acknowledged or unacknowledged bias of materialism beyond its legitimate limits and betrays some kind of nervousness that we find in all dogmatic defences of indefensible positions. For instance, even when we do not see or know, it is being expounded to us as a cogent account of Nature-process, that a play of electrons, of atoms, and their resultant molecules, of cells, glands, chemical secretions and physiological processes manages by their activity on the nerves and brain of a Shakespeare or a Plato to produce or could be perhaps the dynamic occasion for the production of a Hamlet or a Symposium or a Republic. But if we examine this kind of explanation, we fail to discover or appreciate how such material movements could have composed or necessitated the composition of these highest points of thought and literature. These formulae of Science have the air of the formulae of a cosmic magician. They are presented as precise and irresistible formulations of how and why of processes, but their rationale remains fundamentally unintelligible; they do not disclose the intrinsic how or why.

"We can now be led to enquire what consequences follow if, instead of pursuing materialistic reason, we could resort to the pursuit of idealistic reason. Idealistic reason is also called

What is Education

What is Education

Pure Reason. When the Gita refers to buddhi, it is to this Pure Reason that it refers, although the connotation of buddhi extends also to the aspect of Will. Pure Reason may accept our sensible experiences as a starting-point but refuses to be limited by them. It goes behind them and judges, works in its own right and strives to arrive at general and unalterable concepts which attach themselves not to the appearances of things but to that which stands behind their appearances. To correct the errors of sense-mind by the use of pure reason, is one of the most valuable powers developed by man and the chief cause of his superiority among terrestrial beings.

"The complete use of pure reason brings us finally from physical to metaphysical knowledge."

The subject of pure reason had always baffled me, and although I could see that the evening was preparing to spread the dark carpet on the sky, I could not resist the temptation to demand a detailed elucidation of the nature and functioning of Pure Reason. I said, "Can you tell me something by which I can come to experience Pure Reason and recognise its operation?"

Naveen Chandra looked at me with very kind eyes. He seemed to be willing to answer my question, but he said, "It is a vast and difficult subject, and if I have to reply to you, even briefly, I shall need considerable time."

I was, however, so keen to hear him on this subject, that I told him that I was in no way in a hurry to return home. I added, "Before leaving home, I had already told Mira that we would be very late in returning. So, there is no cause for worry on that account."

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What is Education

"Even then, we should not be unduly late," said Naveen Chandra. "They are bound to wait for us for dinner. Would it not be better if we return now? I would speak to you on this subject after the dinner."

I did not resist his suggestion, but said, "But I am so keen to hear you on this subject that I beseech you to continue to talk to me during the return journey."

LNaveen Chandra seemed very happy, and as we sat in the car for our return journey, he said: " There are not many students who are so keen to learn as you are. I respect this keenness and feel delighted. Do you know that I have derived one very important lesson from my experience of teaching and learning?"

"What is it?" I asked.

Naveen Chandra took my arms in his and said, "Never allow the curiosity of students to be postponed. Never tell a student that the time is not ripe for him to understand the answers to the questions that he is raising. Never tell him, 'I will answer you later.' Never tell him, 'You won't understand. 'Any question that arises spontaneously in the mind of the student is ripe for an answer, and the question must be replied, and it must be replied briefly or at length according to the need of the student, and it must be answered in words which can be understood by the student."

I cannot describe the happiness that I felt on hearing these words. For they echoed precisely those very sentiments which I had come to cultivate during the last three years. How often I was told by teachers and elderly people, 'You won't

What is Education

What is Education

understand; you are still immature; you have to read a lot before coming to me to get the right answers!'

I was simply frustrated whenever I had heard these 'wise counsels'. I used to feel why teachers cannot hold the hands of their pupils, bring them closer to their hearts and whisper into their ears the secrets which they have learned. And now, at last, I was seated next to the one who was precisely that kind of a teacher whom I had longed to meet and converse with. My heart melted in inexpressible love and gratitude. I looked at Naveen Chandra with a deep expressive smile and invited him to teach me.

Naveen Chandra began to pour nectar on me with his long and uninterrupted speech:

"Sense organs are visible, but Reason is not physically visible. How then do we come to experience Reason? It is by the experience of the activities of the Reason. At the lowest level, Reason translates sensations which are experiences of the sense-organs into images. These images are not physically visible, but somehow these images correspond to the forms of physical objects which are sensed by the sense-organs. At a little higher level, there is the process of abstraction. This process of abstraction involves, first, comparison of images. For example, you. might sense through sense-experience a number of cats, and a number of images of cats float somehow in your awareness. Then you compare these images of cats among themselves and you come to recognise similarities or even some kind of identities among them. How and why we come to recognise these similarities or identities is an important question

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What is Education

and one should reflect on it. Actually, we go farther and we begin to develop a conception of 'cattiness' under which you come to understand similarities and identities. Now if you are attentive, you will find that the concept of 'cattiness' is general or universal in character. By the help of this concept, you come to understand the concept of 'all' and realise that all cats have some general and universal character, and, no matter how one can differ from another, all cats have some such identity among them that you become capable of describing in general terms even those cats which you have not experienced through your sense-organs. In other words, you have now arrived at a concept which enables you to understand not only the cats that you have experienced but even the cats that you have not experienced. This is the beginning of the operation of the Pure Reason. At the level where reason is forming an image of an object, reason is tied up with the sense-experience, but when reason has arrived at the formation of a general concept, you have gone beyond any particular sense- experience, and you are now in a realm of something independent of sense-experience.

"Let us now revise a little. First, you have the capacity of forming an image. This capacity of imaging does not belong to senses themselves. So, there must be something other than senses which causes the activity of image-formation. Next, there is perception of similarities and identities. What is it that perceives these similarities and identities? These similarities and identities are not sensations. They are more than sensations. You go farther. You come to understand,

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What is Education

you come to recognise, you begin to perceive a universal, which has never been experienced by the senses. These operations of understanding, recognition and formation of universal ideas constitute the middle level of the functioning of Pure Reason.

"Let us go still farther. Once one universal idea is formed, it becomes easier for us to form other universal ideas; and then you begin to compare one universal idea with another universal idea, and the more you become capable of this activity of reason, the more mature becomes your understanding. This mature understanding is a very important functioning of Pure Reason. At higher levels, you become capable of forming some such universal concepts that the entire realm of concepts can be subsumed under them. In the history of thought, those philosophers who have analysed idealistic reason or Pure Reason have come to subsume all our experiences of the world under four general concepts. There is, first, the concept of quantity; secondly, there is the concept of quality; thirdly, there is the concept of relationship; and fourthly, there is the concept of modality. You name any experience of the world and you will be able to subsume that experience under these four general concepts. In addition, there are two other universal frames of experience which are present everywhere in the world, and you cannot escape them. These are : space and time. Thus, you will find that there is in our awareness an operation that is capable of forming conceptions and these conceptions can all be subsumed under the concepts of quantity, quality, relationship, modality, space and time. The

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What is Education

capacity that is in us which deals with these six concepts is a capacity not physically visible to us, but it is something that we can experience supraphysically, and that capacity is the capacity of Pure Reason.

"Now let us go back to the act of conceiving. An act of conceiving may be a pure imagination or fantasy; or it may be an accurate symbolising of something very truly existing reality. Actually, even a fantasy presupposes some existent by which it is supported; even a sky-flower which does not really exist can be conceived only on the basis of some existent sky and an existent flower which are placed together by a play of the mind : all imagination or symbolism points to a pre-existent reality. Again, every act of imagination or symbolism is an act beyond which there is a beginning and so on ad infinitum, as also an end which has beyond it another end and so on ad infinitum. Infinity on the pole of beginning and infinity on the pole of the end constitute a stair that can subsist only on a foundation of infinity which exists in itself. Existence-in-itself in which infinity of extension of Space and Time is founded or contained is the farthest point to which our Pure Reason can reach in its flight of understanding. Existence-in-itself without Space and Time and without the categories of quantity, quality, relation and modality is not only conceivable, but it is the one thing we can conceive behind the phenomenal universe. Necessarily, when we say it is without them, we mean that it exceeds them, that it is something into which they pass in such a way as to cease to be what we call Space, Time, quality, quantity, form and out of which

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What is Education

they emerge as form, quality and quantity in the movement of Space and Time or Space-Time. They do not pass away into one form, one quality, one quantity which is the basis of all the rest, - for there is none such, — but into something which cannot be defined by any of these terms. Therefore, we say that existence-in-itself is an Absolute, a transcendental base of all that is relative and finite,"

I listened to this exposition with all my attention, straining my concentration to grasp each step of thought-movement. When Naveen Chandra stopped and remained silent for a short moment, I triggered off a question almost involuntarily.

"How do you relate all this with the ontological argument?"

Naveen Chandra seemed pleased and he at once began to speak :

"The mistake of the ontological argument is to treat existence as a quality or as a predicate; it attempts to show that God being perfect by definition would be imperfect if He did not possess the quality of existence. That is the reason why that great German metaphysician, Immanuel Kant, could demolish that argument by pointing out that existence is not a quality through his famous statement that hundred dollars in actual existence are no more than hundred dollars in imagination.

And Kant was quite right. A quality can be separated from substance, but existence cannot be separated from substance; for existence is itself substance. What we need to demonstrate is not that God has existence but that existence-in-itself is the substance that we call God, and that

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What is Education

existence-in-itself is not only conceivable but it is the one thing we can conceive behind the phenomenal universe."

I felt a strange sort of peace that comes to the mind when a new insight suddenly illumines its nooks and corners. I had, of course, not understood the argument with any precision, but a great relief had descended on me as though a heavy load was taken off my head. Suddenly, the great statement of the Gita began to shine out in the inner chambers of my heart :

मत्स्थानि सर्वभूतानि न चाहं तेष्ववस्थित: || 4||
matsthani sarvabhutani na chaham teshvavasthitah1
All are situated in Me, not I in them.

न च मत्स्थानि भूतानि पश्य मे योगमैश्वरम् |
भूतभृन्न च भूतस्थो ममात्मा भूतभावन: || 5||

na cha matsthani bhutani,
bhutabhrinna cha bhutastho mamatma bhutabhavanah2

"Yet all existences are not situated in Me; My Self is the bearer of all existences and it is not situated in existences, even when all these existences issue from Me."

मां मूढा मानुषीं तनुमाश्रितम् ||
"mam manushim tanumashritam3,
"I have lodged myself, have taken up My abode in the human body."

I felt in an instant as though I had understood the inter-relationship of all these statements which I found hanging together in the unity of transcendent self- existent from which all Space and Time and forms issue and in which they are contained. I seemed to understand the illustration given in the Vedanta of the relation of the phenomena of Nature to the fundamental ether which is contained in them and yet is so different from them that entering into it they cease to be what they now are, as most nearly representing the identity in difference between the Absolute

1. IX.4;
2. IX.5;
3. IX.11

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What is Education

Existence-in-itself and the relative phenomena of the universe. I saw at once the synthesis of Deism, Pantheism, and Theism. All this was, however, still vague, but I felt the joy of a new discovery and I kept it in my heart as one treasures a newly acquired jewel in the chest with the intention of taking it out at leisure to watch it again and again and to enjoy it in multiple ways.

Our car was now nearing Dwarka, and I began to value and enjoy each moment of the journey that was soon to end. I looked at Naveen Chandra with grateful eyes that were emitting inexpressible joy. Naveen Chandra smiled and said, "The journey of the Pure Reason has ended, but not of the integral being. There is still one more step, which is the most important step."

"What is it?" I asked.

"Pure reason at its highest brings us finally from physical to metaphysical knowledge. But the concepts of metaphysical knowledge do not in themselves fully satisfy the demand of our integral being. For our nature views things doubly : it views them as idea and it views them as fact. Therefore, every concept is incomplete for us and to a part of our nature almost unreal until it becomes an experience. The metaphysical knowledge of the reality of the transcendent existence- in-itself has, therefore, to be verified in our experience. It is only because there is a supreme experience of that Reality testified by the science of Yoga that our integral nature can find in it its resting-place."

Naveen Chandra became silent. After some time, I looked at Naveen Chandra and found that he was absorbed in deep contemplation. But in

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What is Education

response to my inquiring eyes, he said : "We cannot speak of that experience in an ordinary conversation. One has to be ready to hear the voice of silence. And I know that you will one day hear that voice."

I felt delighted but asked him : "Shall I then have the explanation of the mystery of things that remains still unexplained?"

Yes, of course!" he said and became quiet again.

Within a few minutes we arrived at home where the entire family was waiting for us.

After the dinner, Upendra came to my room and told me that he was very keen to talk to Naveen Chandra about his school. He asked me whether I could not plead with him for his admission to Rajpipla School. He said that he had heard about a new system of education that Naveen Chandra had established in that school. I told him that it would not be proper to disturb him at that hour when he might be resting, but promised that I would do the necessary the next morning. But Upendra said that he would not get sleep unless the matter of his admission was finalised. I had, therefore, to yield, and we both knocked the door of the room of Naveen Chandra.

Naveen Chandra welcomed us, and turning to Upendra, he said, "Do you want to play with me?"

Upendra looked up to me and explained, "I wanted to play intellectual games with him. We had discussed this matter this afternoon." Then, turning to Naveen Chandra, he said, "No, I want to discuss a very serious matter with you."

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What is Education

Naveen Chandra burst out in laughter and said, "First, come inside the room, and then answer a question that had occurred to me after our last conversation of the afternoon. We shall then discuss serious matters."

We were overwhelmed with this kind of welcome and all our hesitations disappeared.

After we had taken our seats, Naveen Chandra drew his chair near ours and turning to Upendra, he asked, "Do you write poetry?"

"I like to, and have composed a number of short poems, mainly sonnets. But writing poems is exactly my difficulty."

"How could writing poetry become a difficulty?"

Upendra grew serious and explained, "I am somewhat like Wordsworth. I am sure I will never become like Wordsworth in poetry, but I am like him in running away from school to enjoy natural beauty and harmony and music of the heart. You must have read his poems. Do you remember those beautiful lines?"

"Which ones?" asked Naveen Chandra.

Upendra replied instantly : "These are from 'Prelude':

'Dust as we are, the immortal spirit grows

Like harmony and music; there is a dark

Inscrutable workmanship that reconciles

Discordant elements, makes them cling together

In one society....'

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What is Education

Naveen Chandra burst out in amazement, "Upendra, you are splendid. Where and when did you study Wordsworth?"

"Oh! that is my problem! I wander away from school and disappear in the gardens with my books of poetry and drama. As a result, I am a bad student and got a zero in mathematics. I failed in my tenth examination even when I bagged prizes for English and Sanskrit. I love Wordsworth, Shelly and Keats; and I love Kalidasa and Bhartrihari. I wonder whether these poets ever learned mathematics. I think their curricula were quite different and they had the freedom to study what they liked and to muse over the music of their heart. I do not understand why I do not understand mathematics. And the difficulty is that mathematics is a compulsory subject and unless I get through mathematics, I cannot pass my secondary examination. I am afraid, I shall fail again and again, and that will be the end of my educational career. Does life depend so much on mathematics that one must pass examination in mathematics? And tell me how many people remember mathematics in their later life, and what use do they make of trigonometry and ratio-proportion and variations? Most of the grown up people tell me that they remember nothing of their mathematics even when they had scored high marks in their examinations. Why should then one learn what we are to forget? Look at poetry; you read poems, recite them, and enjoy their rhythms. How lovely they are! And they are unforgettable. They become your life-partners. You enjoy reading poetry only when you run away

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What is Education

from the school and sit under the groves of trees in the company of inviting flowers."

"Wonderful! Upendra, you must keep up. Take it from me, class rooms in the schools are like cells of prison. Free spirits should escape from these prison cells and fly away in the sky singing the songs of the soul."

"But this is not allowed. You are supposed to sweat in the dingy rooms of the schools listening to the boring lessons of history and geography, where you have no tales except those of battles and deserts. In my history class I have never heard the story of Kalidasa or of Jayadeva. But one day, when I was reading Meghadootam stealthily in my class, my teacher somehow noticed it. As I looked up at him with fear and rebellion in my eyes, I was reprimanded, and my dear book was confiscated forthwith!"

"How cruel!" exclaimed Naveen Chandra, "Upendra, you are a poet in the making, and you need a special kind of education."

I found that that was a good moment to intervene.

"That is the reason why we have both come to you. We have heard that your school is quite different, that you have no classes, no syllabi, no lectures, no examinations. Could Upendra join your school?"

Naveen Chandra immediately replied, "Yes, of course. But your description of my school is not quite accurate; and there is one important condition which most people find it difficult to fulfil."

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What is Education

He looked at Naveen Chandra and waited for him to explain. Naveen Chandra continued, "You said that there are no lectures in my school. But the fact is that whereas lecture system is the backbone of the normal system of education, lectures play in my school only a marginal role. A school should be like a garden, or it should be like a play ground. In a garden, what is important is not the gardener but plants and trees, bushes and flowers and fruits. Similarly, in a school what is important is not the teacher, but the children and their dreams, their daily conversations and their problems of friendship and battles of imagination, and their strivings of intellectual exercise and their sports and games and marvels of the development of their muscles. In the garden, you need sunshine and water, and daily care. In the school, you need sunshine of knowledge and water of inspiration and affectionate warmth of the teacher. In the garden the most important task of the gardener is to watch the plants and trees and to tend to each one of them if anyone of them needs special care and treatment. In the school, too, the most important task of the teacher is not to teach but to observe the children and to tend to each one of them, if any one of them needs special care and treatment.

"In our normal system of education, teachers find no time to play the role of the gardener. They have no opportunities to observe the children; they do not come to know how each one of the children employs his or her faculties to the task of studies and games and various other activities of growth and development. The teacher does not come to know which children have special

What is Education

What is Education

faculties and gifts and which one of them have handicaps or deficiencies. Every child has its own seasons of growth and development, of quiet hibernation, and sudden or slow flowering and fruition. Each child has its own romantic periods of studies when it falls in love with one subject or the other and if the teacher does not know how to take advantage of that period, the child often feels the want of his uplifting hand and the student manages all alone his enthusiasm with poor or no results.

"Take Upendra for example. What amazing intellectual gifts he possesses! And the poor boy has to satisfy his romance for poetry by absconding from the school. When he romances with Kalidasa, his object of love is snatched away from him. Under the care of a good teacher who observes and watches his children, Upendra's romance in poetry could have been easily detected and a wise teacher could have also helped him to blend in his mind both poetry and mathematics.

"All knowledge is one. All subjects are complementary of each other. There is no subject that is not interesting. Everything is interesting. Poetry, music and mathematics; mathematics, logic and metaphysics; metaphysics and physics; physics, chemistry and biology; biology, evolution and man; man, history and geography; geography and the earth and the planets and stars and galaxies and the universe; — all these are interrelated, and all subjects are needed in some measure or the other for the perfection of man. You should not blend subjects together by methods of compulsion. Each child has natural curiosity which should first be developed and by a natural process of association,

What is Education

What is Education

comparison and contrast, by building bridges of natural growth, the child should be led from subject to subject weaving spontaneous, interconnections."

The conversation was interrupted by a knock at the door. It was Mira who had brought a glass of milk for the guest.

"Don't you think our guest deserves some rest?" Mira looked at me with rebuking eyes as soon as she entered the room. She said, "It is already 10 o'clock and this is the time for everyone to go to sleep." Mira spoke with a tone of authority and asked us to withdraw from the room so as to give respite to the guest.

Naveen Chandra, however, protested. He said, "The fault is entirely mine. They came to me only with a simple question, but instead of answering briefly, I am inflicting a long lecture on them. They are such passive listeners that I am enjoying talking to them!"

"You must be very tired," said Mira with feeling and concern.

"Oh! no; I go to sleep only at midnight, and I have still two solid hours," said Naveen Chandra while taking the glass of milk from Mira.

"We must be leaving," I said and added, "We must not obstruct your work. We shall continue our conversation next morning."

"Not at all," said Naveen Chandra. He then turned to Mira and said : "Let me finish my talk with these bright young men. I was just explaining to them the new system of education which we have developed at our school at Rajpipla. And if you feel interested, you too are welcome to listen."

What is Education

What is Education

"Who won't like to listen to you?" answered Mira with evident eagerness. She took a seat on a chair placed next to mine and said, "In that case, you must answer my question first."

"What is your question?" Naveen Chandra asked with freshness in his eyes.

"Don't allow her." Upendra protested mildly. He explained, "She has no questions; she has only a statement to make. She has recently discovered that all educational philosophy that we need today is contained in the Gita. I am sure she wants to be praised for her discovery!"

"Don't be naughty," said Mira, "I have a genuine question to ask."

"All right; go ahead," said Upendra with a mischievous look in his eyes. "But be sure that she will begin with Gita."

"So what?" said Mira. Then, turning to Naveen Chandra, she said, "It is true I have been thinking a lot about philosophy of education since the last few months. I have made a discovery of great insights regarding education in the Gita. Why do I find Gita to be a book of education?"

"That is because all education is yoga, and the Gita is a book of yoga," said Naveen Chandra briefly but pointedly.

Mira seemed struck by the answer but she asked for elucidation,

Naveen Chandra felt enthused by Mira's query. He said, "Education is practical psychology which aims at employing effective methods by which individuals can be enabled to develop their actual and latent faculties at an optimum pace of acceleration. And this description can easily apply

What is Education

What is Education

to yoga as well. Yoga, too, is practical psychology; as in education, so in yoga, the object is attainment of perfection; as in education, so in yoga, there is a system of applications of effective methods to develop faculties of knowledge, action and emotion; as in education, so in yoga, body, life and mind are taken up as instruments and various methods are employed on these instruments so as to purify them, subtilize them, expand their powers, deepen their powers, heighten their powers; as in education, so in yoga, the secret is to arrive at concentration. For concentration applied to its object results in siddhi, realisation. And, finally, as in education, so in yoga, concentration causes acceleration of progress."

"Please tell me more," Mira pleaded.

Naveen Chandra continued, "Take, for example, Hatha Yoga. Hatha Yoga can be viewed as a process of intensive and methodological physical education. It takes body as its instrument; it prescribes methods of purification of the body; the two important methods are those of asana and pranayama. These two methods facilitate not only purification and expansion of powers of the body but also concentration of these powers on the object of the perfection of the body, which includes also spiritual liberation. Spiritual mastery over the body is an important object of Hatha Yoga. It is true that in our schools, physical education is often taken as a pastime, and games and sports are encouraged with a mixed motive in which physical fitness is only now increasingly acknowledged as an important element. But physical education should rightly be designed as a process of Yoga,

What is Education

What is Education

and even games and sports can be taken up in a comprehensive programme of Yoga.

"Let us now turn to Raja Yoga of which Sri Krishna makes a reference in the sixth chapter of the Gita. Raja Yoga, too, includes in its methodology application of asana and pranayama, exercises of the posture of the body and those of breath control. But its main interest is in silencing vibrations of the stuff of consciousness. It prescribes methods of self-control by which thought, action, behaviour can be regulated and purified and this is the aim of the processes of yama and niyama.

But the chief emphasis is on the attainment of concentration of consciousness which liberates supernormal powers of the mind and leads them to the state of complete Silence. Here the specific methods are those of pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi.

"You will notice that in the process of education, a great emphasis is laid on various elements which are covered by Raja Yoga. It is now increasingly recognised that concentration accelerates the process of learning and that concentration generates the needed knowledge. It is our own experience that when we want to solve a problem, we try to concentrate on it, and the solution flashes out as soon as concentration is achieved. It is very well known in sports that the power of concentration plays a decisive role. In a sense, all education can be summed up as a process of concentration.

"It will now be easy to realise that other processes of Yoga, too, are identical with the processes of education, although our education system hardly employs them. Karma Yoga, the

What is Education

What is Education

Yoga of works, takes up the entire realm of dynamic drives of the human being. They include instincts, desires, longings, attractions, repulsions, intentions, motives and activities of will. How to deal with all these dynamic drives, how to purify them, how to expand their capacities, and how to lead them to states of unified and concentrated will-force, - these are the main questions of Karma Yoga. How to master desire and eliminate egoistic consciousness from action, - these are the central questions of Karma Yoga. To arrive at desirelessness and egolessness, — this is proposed to be the aim of Karma Yoga.

"The ideal system of education must provide opportunities and facilities to students so that in all their activities and struggles, in their problems relating to relationship, influence, acquisition, possession, enjoyment, and victory, the spirit of Karma Yoga is infused. It is said that education should be man-making education. What is meant is that education should develop power of courage and heroism, powers of human relationships and powers of nobility and benevolence, and this can be done only if Karma Yoga is applied in the day-to-day life of education.

"Unfortunately, education today pays little attention to this large area of human consciousness, and it concentrates on the cognitive process almost exclusively, and, here too, it limits itself only to powers of intellectual understanding and memory. An ideal system of education should correct this deplorable situation.

"We may now come to Jnana Yoga, which covers within its province, powers of sense-perception, imagination, intellectual thought,

What is Education

What is Education

ratiocination, intuition, inspiration and revelation. To divide Karma Yoga from Jnana Yoga is a kind of artificiality. In a natural process of perfection, cognitive and conative elements are not only inter-related but they are interwoven to such an extent that all action culminates in knowledge and all knowledge culminates in effective action. If one reads Gita carefully, one will find that Karma Yoga and Jnana Yoga are synthesised by unifying knowledge and action.

"In India, people often talk of such beautiful ideals as 'yogah karmasu kaushalam' or 'sa vidya ya vimuktaye'. But in practice, these ideals receive no practical application in our educational system. Knowledge which is aimed at in our schools and colleges consists of information and hardly anything more. Even the art of questioning and impartial investigation is rarely encouraged. The higher processes of understanding, of comprehension, of complex analysis and synthesis are even rarer. And those elements which are central to Jnana Yoga, namely, the development of powers of intuition, inspiration, and revelation are totally absent. And yet the ideal of the pursuit of the knowledge that leads to liberation can never be implemented without the development of intuition, inspiration, and revelation. The vast vision of the domain of knowledge that we find in the Gita indicates to us that world-knowledge, self-knowledge, and God- knowledge constitute one whole, and education should be so designed that the student receives right guidance and inspiration to arrive slowly or rapidly at this integral knowledge of the world, self and God.

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What is Education

"All dynamic activities of human personality are largely ignored or neglected in our educational system. In the same way, the large domain of feelings and emotions, of sympathies and commitments, of faithfulness and self-sacrifice are also ignored or neglected. This neglect is injurious to the right aims of education, and just as we need to employ the methods of Karma Yoga and Jnana Yoga in our educational system, even so the methods of Bhakti Yoga, too, need to be employed. What is distinctive in the Bhagavadgita is the way in which Yoga of Divine Love is shown to be the crown of the synthesis of action and knowledge. But how to introduce methods of Bhakti Yoga in education is extremely vast and difficult, but I am sure that this too can be done provided we are able to change the present structure of education and the present methods of education."

All the three of us were listening to Naveen Chandra very attentively. Mira seemed to be absorbing every word with great passivity; Upendra seemed to be enjoying the width and depth of Naveen Chandra's exposition; and I was wondering as to how great ideas of Yoga and education that were being spread out with a rare sweep of comprehensiveness can really be implemented.

"But how can we change the present education system?" I asked.

Naveen Chandra had a ready response, "First, you need students and parents who are convinced that the present system of education must be changed. Their discontent with the present system should be such that they are ready to make every sacrifice that is needed to bring about the needed . change. They must have revolutionary spirit,

What is Education

What is Education

and they should be prepared to lead the life of revolutionaries.

"That is not enough. These revolutionaries should have a clear vision of the goals towards which the revolution must be directed. This is perhaps the most difficult task. I have myself been engaged in a struggle during the last twenty years. I have been facing problems, I have been making experiments and I am collecting various kinds of materials, and it is only now that I can speak with some precision of the vision that we might put forward before ourselves."

"What is that vision?"

"It is a threefold vision: vision about the new aims of education; vision about the new contents of education; and vision about the new methods of education."

"Why don't you tell us more elaborately?" I asked.

Naveen Chandra smiled, "This can be elaborated in several different ways, but since Mira is present here, I must speak in the language of the Bhagavadgita. So let me articulate what I have to say in a terminology appropriate to the Gita.

"The aim of education should be to discover the Sun of Knowledge in which God, Man and Nature stand integrated in a blaze of light through which each individual would discover the Divine Will to manifest itself in physical life. To discover Purushottama, to discover His Will and to manifest it in physical life through the individual, Jiva, — this would be the aim.

"The new content of education would relate to the theme of Man and the Universe and cover

What is Education

What is Education

all sciences, arts and crafts by means of which harmony between man and the universe could be established at all levels.

"Methods of education would channelise the progressive relationship between the zeal of the pupil and the uplifting hand of the teacher. These methods would underline the sovereignty of the child and interweave the pursuit of Truth with austerities of Harmony and vibrating joy of Liberty."

While listening to these words, I felt as though I was transported into some ethereal garden of a paradise. For a while, there was complete silence; none spoke a word, none stirred.

The atmosphere seemed packed with concentrated force. I felt for a moment that I had entered into my own original home of peace and bliss.

After a while, Upendra felt restless; obviously he was very keen to discuss the question of his admission to Rajpipla School.

He asked Naveen Chandra, "What is to happen to me? You were going to explain to me the condition on which I could get admission to your school. I think that I can assure you that I am thoroughly opposed to the present system of education; the very fact that I am absconding from my classes must have shown you that I am a rebel. I am a revolutionary. What more do you want from me?"

Naveen Chandra smiled. He said, "I am just coming to that. But first of all, let me finish what I was telling you about our lecture system in our school. We have made a number of experiments

What is Education

What is Education

in order to determine the advantages and disadvantages of lecture system, and we have come to the conclusion that lectures are useful under five circumstances, namely, when you want to introduce a subject, when you want to give a bird's eye view of a subject, when you want to create collective consciousness in regard to a particular subject, when the teacher feels greatly inspired to speak and address a small or even a large group of students, and when a teacher has made a recent discovery which he wants to share with his students. But when these circumstances are not present, lectures tend to become mechanical and boring. It is true that the lecture system, where almost everything is expected to be transmitted through lectures, is quite economical, but it is hardly appropriate to the profound requirements of education.

"I have often thought of the dialogue between Arjuna and Lord Krishna. What is the nature of this dialogue from educational point of view? It takes place at a critical moment in the life of Arjuna, and nothing could have helped him to come out of his crisis if he did not have with him Lord Krishna standing near him ready to talk to him, to uplift him, to answer questions as they arose spontaneously in the course of the dialogue. As I reflected again and again on this important episode, I came to realise that in the totality of educational process we must create a facility for students to get the required help from the teachers, so that students can approach their teachers individually and obtain required guidance by means of personal dialogue. As I reflected more and more I discovered that a totally new setting would

What is Education

What is Education

be required. After repeated experiments, we were able to invent a new structure and a new methodology regarding teaching- learning."

Mira looked at Upendra meaningfully, and it was obvious that she was suggesting that Gita was not only a model of educational philosophy but even of educational methodology. Upendra, too, smiled responsively. I went on looking at Naveen Chandra with eagerness to learn more of the invention that he was speaking of.

Naveen Chandra continued, "Our present system of education has created among all of us a set of expectations. When you go to school, you expect to go to the class, and you are ready to listen to lectures. You are further habituated to expect the teacher to cover the prescribed syllabus.

Sometimes, while listening to a lecture, certain questions arise in your mind. More often than not, you do not find atmosphere favourable for posing questions during the course of lectures. If you, however, happen to be bold, and pose a question or a series of questions, you might probably get some brief answers. But there is hardly any time for any further questions that might arise in your mind. Sometimes, your questions might fall outside the scope of the prescribed syllabus and the teacher often tends to suggest that they cannot be answered because they fall outside the syllabus. But then, what happens to your questions? If you are very curious, you might go to the library and find out the answer yourself. But in the lecture-system not much time is left for going to the library. More often than not, your questions remain unanswered, and they gradually get buried forever.

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What is Education

"I thought that the most important thing is to effect a change in the set of expectations that are built up among students and teachers. Why should one go to school or college? One should go to school and college to find out answers to questions, and the function of school and college should be to provide you the right atmosphere where your curiosity, your sense of wonder, your questions are sharpened. You must expect to get the facilities for personal study in the school or college; you must expect to get the benefit of consultation with your teachers; you should expect to get access to relevant books and documents; you must expect to get the time and leisure to study, to contemplate, to meditate, to concentrate, to work, to discuss, to grow and to develop your faculties. You must not expect to have sessions of lectures from teachers; you must expect to learn.

"Following this line of argument we decided that most of the class rooms in our schools should be transformed into consultation rooms; only a few classes should be retained as lecture rooms, where teachers can give lectures occasionally, and that, too, should not be compulsory. Teachers should not be required to finish the syllabus; each student would be required to make his/her own programme of studies in consultation with teachers, and it would be the role of the students to ensure that he/she covers the syllabus that he/she will have designed for himself or herself.

"This gave rise to many interesting developments. Each student was free to formulate his/her own programme of education; each one was free to determine what courses of study should be combined and in what way they should be

What is Education

What is Education

combined; each student was free to prepare his/her own timetable; each student was free to work at his/her own desk or to spend time in the library, or visit a quiet place in the garden or in a special room just to contemplate and to remain quiet, or to go to a hobby room or to a music room. Each one was free to approach the teacher of his/her own choice.

"In this new setting, teacher found time to observe the students and to prepare special programmes which they could recommend to pupils as and when they are required. Teachers became consultants, they became guides; and they could answer the questions of students individually or in a group, briefly or at length, in accordance with the needs of situation.

"A very important consequence followed for the examination system. We dispensed with the so-called terminal or annual examinations. But each student could take an examination whenever he/she felt ready for it; teachers devised various kinds of tests, — tests for improvement, tests for confidence-building, tests for revision, tests for overcoming special deficiencies, tests even for fun and amusement.

"Each student had now the opportunity of progressing at his/her own pace and teachers' help was available in the form of guidance, in a form of a dialogue, or even in the form of lectures under special circumstances.

"In due course, it became clear that this free movement of education could be seriously disturbed if students had wrong motivation such as studying for the sake of passing examination and obtaining certificates. We, therefore, made it

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What is Education

clear to every student that if he/she wanted a certificate, he/she should seek admission elsewhere."

"But then how would a student get a job in the market?" asked Upendra.

Naveen Chandra looked sharply at Upendra. Then he laughed a little. For a short while, he did not answer the question. Then he asked Upendra, "Do you want to join our school for getting a certificate and a degree?"

Upendra said, "No, I do not care for a degree; but how am I to find employment in the society?"

"If you are rightly educated, if you have developed your skills to a high level of perfection, if you have developed yourself into a fine human being — don't you think you will have the capacity to get employment?"

"Yes. But the task would be very difficult, and most probably, I may fail to get any employment, since the present society demands certificates and degrees as a pre-requisite for employment."

"But you are a revolutionary, would you not like to change the society and create new conditions where the present kind of certification would not be required as a precondition for employment?"

"Yes, of course! But that will take a long time, and perhaps in my life time, I cannot expect to succeed."

Naveen Chandra kept quiet.

After sometime, Upendra seemed to have understood the drift of Naveen Chandra's argument. He said, "Oh! yes. I am now beginning to see. You are addressing a revolutionary or

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What is Education

a-would-be-revolutionary. I understand your arguments. If some teachers and if some pupils do not stand out of the present vicious circle and work out an alternative system of education, — uncompromisingly, —one can never build up even a model system of education. And if you do not build up even one school of a new kind, how can we expect to change the whole system of education? How can we expect to change the normal syllabus and expectations of people from education?"

Upendra remained quiet for a while. Then he began again, "I see now your point. You want to prescribe a condition before you grant admission to me in your school. I accept that condition. I will not demand any certification from the school. I shall work to develop myself and face the world; come what may!"

"Bravo!" said Naveen Chandra enthusiastically. "That's the spirit. Remember that everyone of us has a soul; everyone has a special role to play in the world; everyone has to prepare himself/herself to discover that role and to execute that role; but that role can be discovered and can be executed only when you insist on developing your inmost nature, your swabhava, your inmost law of being, your swadharma. And you can develop your swabhava and swadharma best when your educational process is so purified from all mixtures of motives that nothing counts for you except the discovery of your soul and the development of faculties for expressing your soul. If you remain firm, and if you develop self-control and self-discipline, you will have the power to change the circumstances and the world would be obliged to give a place and work for which you

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What is Education

have trained yourself. Not certification, but your inner worth will open the gates of your work. This requires a firm determination and inmost shraddha, the faith in what you are and what you are to become. That is why I make it a condition for anyone who wants to join our school that he will want to study not for getting a certificate but for developing himself/herself upto highest possible levels of excellence.

"That is also the reason why I insist on the freedom of choice. You must freely choose to join our school, — freely, when you are above the age of fourteen. If you are below that age, I would demand a free choice from the parents, which would of course not be binding on the child, and I would advise the child to take a decision when he/she attains the age where he/she can make a free choice. I am looking for a few revolutionaries by the help of whom a new system of education can be built up. Once a model is created, other things can follow in due course."

Upendra smiled. He said, "I would like to be counted as a revolutionary, and I give you my word. I shall not regret the decision that I am taking now."

I was, however, not fully satisfied. What is the use of a model which will have no power of contagion? A model should have answers to some basic needs of society. I felt that Naveen Chandra had not yet fully answered the questions raised by Upendra. So I raised this question in a different form.

"I can see that you are quite right in refusing to award any certificates or degrees to students of your school. You do not want that students should

What is Education

What is Education

study in order to pass examination or to earn diplomas or degrees. I can also see that students should become heroic and be able to secure a place or work in society by the sheer strength of their character and capability. But what is wrong if society demands from your school a certificate of your assessment of your students? Will it not help the society, if your assessment is available to it?"

Both Mira and Upendra seemed annoyed with my question. But Naveen Chandra welcomed the question with enthusiasm. He said, "Excellent. It is an excellent question. I make a distinction between two kinds of tests. The first kind of tests are those which are purely educational in character. Their aim must be to enhance the growth and development of student's personality. But there can be and there should be another kind of tests which will help employers in selecting candidates for employment in specific tasks. To my mind, these two kinds of tests should be kept separate and should not be mixed together. The present system of examination is a mixture, in which the elements of the second kind of tests outweigh the elements of the first kind of tests. What I have been suggesting is that there should be an independent testing service, where any student could offer himself/herself for testing. This testing service will not insist upon any pre-qualification for admission to the test. And most importantly, the testing service will evolve an altogether new system of testing. It will take care to test physical fitness, cultural excellence and qualities of sincerity and honesty. It will also devise tests which will judge practical skills, temperament, and intellectual, ethical and scientific abilities. Finally, it will test

What is Education

What is Education

suitability for specific tasks, occupations and vocations. It will set very high standards of testing and will ensure that stupid and mechanical mind will get exposed. I am not opposed to tests; the question is what kind of tests; the question is the context of tests; the question is the purposes of tests. The present system of examination is to be condemned because of its mechanical character and because it pays no attention to the subtleties of individual variations and complexities of requirements of employment. My own idea is to develop a National Testing Service which will award certificates, which, in turn, would be a great help to the potential employers. But I will like to keep these tests completely independent of the tests which are purely educational in character."

I was now quite satisfied; but I wanted to go into some further details. Before, however, I could open my mouth, I heard a loud knock and ring on the main door of the house. I rushed out, opened the main door and found a postman with a telegram in his hand.

"It is an express telegram," said the postman. "It is addressed to Naveen Chandra. Who is Naveen Chandra?"

"He is our guest," I answered and took the delivery of the telegram. The postman left and I closed the door and bolted it from inside. Father and mother were awakened by the ring and had come out of the room. I told them not to feel disturbed and that the telegram was meant for Naveen Chandra. I asked them not to disturb their sleep and hurried away to deliver the telegram to Naveen Chandra.

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What is Education

After reading the telegram, Naveen Chandra asked me, "What is the first available train from Dwarka to Rajpipla?"

"Why? Are you called back urgently?" I asked.

"Yes, I must leave at the earliest," said Naveen Chandra very quietly. Upendra knew all the timings of the rail journeys very well. He said instantaneously, "The earliest available train leaves Dwarka at 12.30 p.m."

"Is there no earlier train?" asked Naveen Chandra.

"None, none at all," said Upendra confidently.

"Anything serious?" asked Mira with some concern.

Naveen Chandra smiled and said, "Nothing serious. It is a part of my battle."

"What battle? Do you also have battles?" asked Mira with evident anxiety.

"Oh! Karma Yoga is the battle of Kurukshetra, and I have been fighting this battle for the last twenty years. But it is a long story and I do not want that you should get involved in it."

"But we want to be involved in the battle," cried out Mira, "Please tell us what is the matter."

"It is all connected with our revolution, our silent revolution to create a new system of education. At every stage of building up experiments, there have been psychological explosions. Only three years ago we introduced our new system at higher levels of college education in our school. But there has been so much resistance, not from students but from teachers and parents. You must know that the new system of

What is Education

What is Education

education implies more exacting work from teachers. It is not easy. Teachers are required to be more dynamic, more innovative and much more competent than ever before. So there is a natural resistance, — resistance of tamas. I fully understand it.

"Not all teachers are resisting but there are those who have a great influence over a large section of teachers; they want to go back to the old normal type of education. How mechanical and how easy is the conduct of the ordinary system! You go to a class, mount up the platform, keep standing in front of a large audience of students, deliver a lecture, and quit the class. Year after year, you give the same lecture to new audiences, and your tasks are fulfilled. Everything seems so smooth, so convenient, so successful! Only all that is not education!"

"But I thought that everybody in your school is wonderful and your school is running wonderfully well," remarked Upendra.

"Yes," replied Naveen Chandra, "everyone is very nice, if not wonderful; but even nice people quarrel; one has to go beyond niceness in order to bear the burden of a revolution. And we must realise that building and running a new system of education implies a permanent revolution. One has to be. constantly vigilant, constantly creative, constantly heroic. The Veda speaks of the Aryan Fighter; Gita also speaks of the Aryan Fighter. And the message that the Aryan Fighter is called upon to put into practice is: 'Protect the Right, do without fear or weakness or faltering thy work of battle in the world. Do thy work with calm, strong

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What is Education

and equal spirit; fight and fall nobly or conquer mightily."

We had already passed beyond midnight, and I thought it was time to disperse. But before dispersing I told Naveen Chandra, "I will join you in your journey and I have decided to study at your school."

And before Naveen Chandra could reply, Upendra pushed me a little and said, "Before you join, I will join."

And Mira, although she said nothing, looked at Naveen Chandra with sharp eyes emitting the force of the Aryan Fighter. The bhakta in her had become a Karmayogi!


How difficult it is to change! How difficult it is to change even when you want to change, — even when you have begun to change! I had expected rather naively that father would be very happy to learn that all his three children were ready to join Naveen Chandra's school and that they were keen to join at once. Father himself had decided to join that school and to participate in the new programmes that Naveen Chandra had discussed with him during the last three days. Father had already promised him that he would bid a permanent good-bye to Dwarka and settle down in Rajpipla as early as possible. He had told us that the new system of education which was being built up in Naveen Chandra's school was a sort of fulfilment of his own dreams which he had nourished in his youth. Mother, too, was very happy that father had at last taken a bold decision in his life and thrown away the fetters of

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What is Education

fear and anxiety. Father had told me that I was to look upon him as a friend and as my counsellor. All my fear of him had vanished.

Next morning, therefore, when I got up early I was fresh both physically and spiritually. And my enthusiasm knew no bounds. I knew that I was free and felt in me a new born bird; I was about to make my maiden flight in the open sky of life. I wanted to tell father everything, everything without reserve. And as soon as father came out of the bathroom and as he was speeding towards the puja room, I approached him and enthusiastically touched his feet. Father was surprised but expressed deep gratification and happiness. And then, I blurted out, "Father, Naveen Chandra is leaving today, and all of us Upendra, Mira and myself are also leaving for good. We shall study in the New School and we shall eagerly await your and mother's arrival."

I had not imagined that my words would cause as big an explosion as that of a few days ago. Unfortunately, father took my words as a terrible blow to his dignity! Father resumed at once his old face, and his sharp and piercing eyes emitted fire on me. He said nothing and went away quietly to do his puja, where mother, Mira and Upendra joined him. I returned to my room, closed the door and bolted it from inside.

I realised that I was tactless and had failed to prepare a good ground before making the announcement that I had made. As I began to reflect quietly, I saw that I had committed at least three mistakes. I had not explained why Naveen Chandra was leaving that afternoon; I had not explained what Upendra, Mira and I had discussed

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What is Education

with Naveen Chandra till late hours on the previous night; and I had not consulted father to seek his advice before arriving at a decision. I was carried away by enthusiasm. Since the arrival of Naveen Chandra three days ago, I had begun to live in new world of freedom and joy. And I must confess that I had lost some balance.

What to do now? This was the question that occupied me. I became more determined than ever that I must leave home and leave home for good. I knew that I had to join Naveen Chandra. I knew that I had to plunge in the revolution. I knew that I must pursue Truth, that I must abide by the righteousness, satyam vada dharmam chara — this was the mantra, this was the Sound that reverberated all over my being, my thought, my life-force, my body. It seemed to me that the battle-cry of the Aryan Fighter had entered into me. Large protective wings seemed to have spread out of my being, and I cried out in my heart, 'I shall protect Mira and Upendra. I shall take them with me; I shall carry them to their destination.'

Just at that moment, there was a knock at the door. As I opened the door, I saw Upendra smiling victoriously. As he entered the room, he said, "Don't be afraid. We have mounted on the chariot of Yoga and we have become revolutionaries. Mother is with us and father cannot stop us."

"But what about Mira?" I asked.

"Father has spoken very harsh words to her. He told her that she is foolish and that it would be most foolish for her to give up college studies when her final examination is only four months away."

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What is Education

"What did Mira say?" I asked.

"As usual, - nothing. Then father became explicit. Without B.A. degree, he said, she would not find a good match." said Upendra.

"Then Mira said, "Father, why are you worried about my marriage?"

"Father said nothing, but he was obviously disturbed. When he turned to me, I simply told him, 'Father, do not worry about me. If I remain here, I shall continue to fail in the tenth examination year after year and I will be good for nothing. I must leave Dwarka; I must bid good-bye to the present system of education; I must learn what I must, and that is possible only at Rajpipla.' At this stage, mother intervened and said, 'If my children are leaving today, I must also leave with them. And my advice to you is that you should also leave today itself.' No sooner had mother spoken these words than father broke down. He retired to his room. But mother and Mira are packing up their baggage, and they have asked me to tell you to stand firm."

I sat down in my chair and asked Upendra also to sit down on my bed. I held Upendra's hands and felt close to him as never before. Our spirits seemed to have embraced each other, and my soul burst out in joy. At once, I felt the urge to go to father.

When I entered father's room, I found that he was lying in his bed and he was weeping like a young boy. A tide of love swept over me and I embraced him. And he wept even more bitterly. When he became quiet he drew me towards him and embraced me. He fixed his eyes on mine and

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What is Education

said, "How very old I am! Can I not change? Why do I still want to live in the old world, even when the new world is opening its gates on me and my children? All of you are right, I alone am wrong,"

"You are not wrong father! You are like Shiva, drinking the poison of the old world, and I am sure that like Shiva you will be able to sustain it in your throat and remain immortal."

Father clasped my hand. He said, "I belong to sandhya where the old and the new meet, where the old is striving to persist and the new has to struggle to survive and arrive. Girish! I am very happy that everyone in home is at war with me so that my old self dies and ever-young self takes a new birth."

Father and I remained with each other for a few but great moments of intimacy and inexpressible harmony. Then father said, "Get ready to leave with Naveen Chandra. I too will leave with all of you, — today itself."

As I was leaving the room, father got up and told me, "I shall meet Naveen Chandra."

As I saw him going towards the room of Naveen Chandra, I realised in an instant that he had made a leap from the old to the new, from the circle of laws and standards of our ordinary life to the freedom that issues from surrender to the Divine. The great message of the Gita flashed through my mind :

"Give up all dharmas and take refuge in Me alone;

I shall liberate thee from all sin; do not grieve."

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What is Education

Exactly at 11.45 a.m., Mira locked the main door of the house and we all set out for the railway station. The old world vanished from our life, and we were ready to enter into a new world!

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