In His loving glance the world get transformed.......
EDUCATION THAT LIBERATES
ACCORDING TO AN UPANISHADIC STORY, a father sent his son to a Gurukul for education. The son, after finishing his education, came back home and told his father that he had mastered all the subjects taught by his teacher. The father, who was himself a learned man, then asked his son, "Has your teacher taught you That, by knowing which everything else becomes known?" When the son replied in the negative, his father told him, "In that case, your education is incomplete." In a similar story given in Mundakopanishad, a householder went to Sage Angirasa and asked after showing proper respect: Kasminoo Bhagavo Vijnate Sarvamidam Vijnatam Bhavateeti (Oh master! What is That which being known, all this becomes known?) After giving a detailed description of two types of education, namely, Para Vidya (higher knowledge) and Apara Vidya (lower knowledge), the sage told the questioner that it was through Para Vidya that one could know the Supreme Being. By knowing That only, everything else becomes known.
Para Vidya is also called Brahma Vidya because its main subject is Brahman (Supreme Being). The main source of Brahma Vidya are the Vedas which are called Srutis, or those texts which were originally heard or received by the sages directly from the Supreme Being in a state of heightened illumination and deep silence, and were then passed on to their disciples in an excellent oral system of teaching and learning till they were compiled and classified by Sage Vyasa into four Vedas, namely, Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharvana Veda. This precious treasure of Divine knowledge has been directly handed over by God to man to make his life sublime, noble and ideal. This is perhaps the greatest gift of God to man. The supreme wisdom of the Vedas thus forms the eternal philosophy or what Aldous Huxley calls the 'perennial philosophy' of man's life. Though it is universal and belongs to the entire mankind, and not to any particular religion, race or country, yet Bharat has the proud privilege of safeguarding it in its original form and spreading it to other parts of the world.
In a unique system of teaching and learning fostered by what is called Guru Sishya Parampara (teacher-pupil tradition), this Divine knowledge was passed on from a realised Guru to a deserving disciple without any monetary consideration. This tradition remained alive and uninterrupted in Bharat even in its worst periods of history when the country was invaded and enslaved by foreign rulers. This sacred land of Bharat has therefore remained suffused with Brahma Jnana (knowledge of Brahman) all through the known history of the world and has produced illustrious Gurus like Adi Sankara, Ramakrishna Paramhamsa and Sri Aurobindo, to name only a few. It has also the proud privilege of giving to the world such apostles of peace as Buddha, Ashoka and Mahatma Gandhi. That is why Bhagavan Baba always says that Bharat is Punya Bhumi, Thyaga Bhumi, Yoga Bhumi (land of merit, sacrifice and spirituality). It is the land which shines with the effulgence of the knowledge of the Supreme Being, the letter Bha in its name connoting effulgence.
Bhagavan Baba often refers to the ancient education system of Bharat as the ideal system of education, in which the principles of ethics, morality and spirituality formed the core of education. The ancient sages of Bharat lived these principles and made them as principal part of their teachings. Dividing the life-span of man into four parts of 25 years each, they set apart first 25 years for education and gave it the exalted name of Brahmacharya Ashram. TTie word Brahmacharya is used today in its narrow sense of celibacy. It actually means adopting a style of life conducive to gain the vision of Brahman. The students therefore led a pure and disciplined life and put the knowledge of the Vedas into practice to attain this objective. The teachers who imparted this Divine knowledge to their students were completely selfless as they had no worldly desires to fulfill. They were imbued with such noble ideals of Bharat as Loka Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu (May all the people of the world be happy!). Not only the knowledge imparted by them was universal in nature but their outlook was also broad and catholic. Imparting of knowledge was considered a sacred act like any other spiritual practice.The question of charging any fee for such a sacred act therefore never arose. This glorious tradition y? passing on the Divine wisdom to the next generation without any monetary consideration continued throughout the Vedic period. Even when big universities like Nalanda, Vikramasila, Valabhi, etc., were established some time in the beginning of the Christian era, education was totally free. During his visit to India (A.D. 629-645), when Hiuen Tsang stayed at Nalanda for five years, there were nearly 10,000 teachers and students in this university, some of the students having come from foreign lands like Japan, Korea, Tibet, Nepal and China. Besides free education, all the students were provided free food, clothes, bedding and medicines. As Bhagavan says, Bharat has been a teacher of the world since ancient times.
Today the Bharatiyas themselves have forgotten these glorious traditions of their country. The parents no longer tell their children that their education is incomplete without the knowledge of Brahman. Their only concern today is that their children should acquire a degree and find lucrative employment. Under the impact of materialistic trend of modem times, the sacred field of knowledge is also being commercialized. Commenting on this deplorable trend of modem education, Bhagavan Baba often recites a Telugu poem which can be considered as an appropriate assessment of this system of education. The essence of this poem is : "In spite of his education and intelligence, man
does not give up his mean-mindedness and evil qualities. He has no knowledge of the Self. Modern education leads of argumentation, not to total wisdom. What is the use of worldly education if it cannot lead you to immortality? Acquire the knowledge that will make you immortal." Secular education without a sound spiritual base is therefore inadequate and incomplete. It may help man to earn his living and seek power and position in society but it does not enable him to realise the profound truths of his inner being. It is therefore necessary to have a system of education which integrates worldly education with spiritual knowledge. But the question arises, how this can be done to suit the scientifically and technologically advanced society of modem times.
The answer to this question has been provided by the Divine Being Himself who, in the human form of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, has set up Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning at Prasanthi Nilayam which has already become well known in the world for its integral system of education. The environment of the Institute is surcharged with spiritual vibrations by the soul-stirring devotional songs and Vedic chants of the students. In the spiritual ambience of the Institute, the students not only read about the values of Sathya, Dharma, Santhi, Prema and Ahimsa but assimilate and internalize them to make them a permanent part of their life. If one wants to see a real Divine miracle at work, one should see Bhagavan Baba interacting with students and transforming their lives by His loving guidance. It is to be seen to be believed how under the direction of Bhagavan the students become the embodiments of virtues and men/women of sterling character. Blessed were the sages of the yore to whom the Divine Being revealed the knowledge of Brahman through the Vedas. Immensely blessed are also those who have got this rare opportunity to receive Brahma Jnana directly from Veda Purusha Bhagavan Baba Himself. And the students of this Institute are a thousand times more blessed as they receive this Divine knowledge directly from the Divine Being almost everyday.
This Institute, where education is totally free, has been adjudged by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council as one of the top ranking educational institutions of the country for its academic excellence. Besides, 25 Vice Chancellors of reputed Indian universities who attended the UGC Golden Jubilee Seminar on "Promotion of Value Education and Ethics" at Prasanthi Nilayam last year unanimously recommended that this Institute should be recognised as the National Centre of Excellence for Value Education and a model which could be followed in other universities and educational institutions. The pioneer and founder of this unique system of education, which integrates the ancient Gurukul system of education with modem secular education, is the Chancellor of this Institute, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba under whose direction and guidance, this integral system of education has achieved this spectacular success and is now spreading in all parts of the worid through Sathya Sai educational institutions. This is the type of education which can liberate man and usher in an era of peace, harmony and love in the worid.
This article was sourced from Sanathana Sarathi Pg 101-103 April 2004 Issue.