Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda was one of India’s greatest exponents of Vedanta of modern times. Which his deep insight into life and realization of the supreme he conceived a holistic educational program relevant to modern times yet rooted in a time tested ancient Indian education system values and way of life. His vision on education was brought to life in 1965 when the first Chinmaya Vidyalaya or temple of learning opened to children in Kollengode, Kerala.
In Manifesting Divinity-Chinmaya Vision on Education a fictional journalist (Amrita) and former chinamaya Vidyalaya pupil (Rishi) take the readers on a journey that unravels Gurudev’s grand vision on education with the Making of the Master the Chinmaya vision programme the chinmaya education institution and the education cell. The book also delves into Swami Chinmayananda thoughts and his influence on management principle and practitioner and his lofty vision for the arts.
A must read especially if you are an educator at heart a parent or a teacher a visionary or a seeker.
Birds are gifted with the ability to fly just as fish spontaneously swim. Man is gifted with an intellect to question, think, reason, discriminate, observe, innovate, and create. We begin to question right from our childhood and when told not to, we ask, 'why not?'
Possessing a violin does not make me a violinist. In the same way, possessing an intellect does not necessarily make me intelligent. Rigorous training and practice is required to become a master violinist. In the same way, education trains the intellect to excel. The vast majority utilize the intellect merely for survival, to earn a livelihood and live in comfort. Others use it for gaining mastery in a field or for gaining more name, fame, power, prosperity, or comforts for themselves. Indeed, the intellect is a powerful instrument, and, if misused, can destroy those around us as well as ourselves. Thus the primary function of education is to cultivate an intellect so that it blesses us and benefits others.
It is the duty of parents to ensure a good education for their children. This includes secular and spiritual knowledge, as well as value education. To receive a good education is the right of every child and it is the responsibility of the government to provide it. The scriptures say that if citizens commit wrong acts as a result of an education devoid of values, the government is to be held responsible. All over the world, governments spend billions each year producing and procuring arms and ammunition while paying much less attention to education. We see that costly and high-precision guided missiles are in the hands of misguided minds. In schools, students disrespect teachers. We also hear of students carrying weapons and indiscriminately killing other students in schools. In such extreme cases, police are required to maintain law and order on school and college campuses. When value education was an inherent component of education, such things were heard of less often.
Education begins with literacy - learning the three R's - reading, writing, and arithmetic. This opens up the treasure trove of all know ledge. A literate person can learn and master any field of knowledge he so wishes. Thus, literacy leads to knowledge and mastery over a subject.
A machine stopped working in a factory, and an expert was called to fix it. He studied the machine for an hour, banged it in a couple of places, and set it right. A young graduate who was watching the expert asked, "How can you charge two thousand and two dollars for a couple of taps?" The expert said, "I charged two dollars for the taps and two thousand for knowing where to tap." Indeed, once a subject has been mastered, the student should use the knowledge to bless himself and benefit others - that is wisdom.
Should education be job-oriented? Is the purpose of education only to earn a living? Of course, education must make us capable of earning. A degree is useless if with it we cannot even get a job. Yet today, many with a degree are still unemployable or unemployed. Therefore education must empower us with the knowledge and skills to stand on our own feet. The government must provide opportunities for employment or encourage self-employment. Each individual must be educated, able to work, besides being enterprising enough to create employment for others, and capable of creating wealth and prosperity. But knowledge is not only meant for creating wealth and buying comfort. It should give us a vision, make us independent, and transform our thinking and lives.
Education is important, but dedicating our knowledge, skills, talent and profession to a noble cause or a higher altar is even more important. We see many authors dedicating their books to their family and friends who support them and some to their ideals who inspire them. When our knowledge or talent is employed for a higher cause, the returns are greater. A sportsman winning for a club gets name, fame, and money, but when he wins for his country, he gets greater name, fame, money, and inner satisfaction. Pele is well-known even now, not for winning club matches, but for scoring in the World Cup which brought victory to Brazil.
Scientists who work for the cause of science, artists who dedicate their life to art, social workers who work for the betterment of society, and saints who dedicate their lives to God are honored, awarded, and revered. So education must also bring dedication in our lives.
Ancient India had a very well-developed education system. There were thousands of gurukulas spread throughout the country, which offered basic and advanced education in various secular and spiritual subjects. Students were given professional expertise according to their inclination, but a spiritual and cultural education was common to all. The Guru set a high standard of values and conduct which the students were expected to follow, even when they returned home. The students lived a simple and disciplined life, dedicated to knowledge and service of the Guru. The students graduated with mastery in their vocation and a strong character, which helped them to face life's challenges and build a successful life of their own. The Gurus were neither concerned with making money nor the country's politics even though all the great and important persons of the city or country, including the rulers of the land were their students. They led an inspired and an inspiring life, which was dedicated to education.
Lal Bahadur Shastri, the former Prime Minister of India was a teacher before he joined politics. It is said that he got a monthly pay of ns with which his wife met the household expenses. Once his wife inquired why he looked so worried. He said that one of his friends was in dire need of money. To his surprise his wife gave him Rs. 50 from her kitty for the friend. She said that she had managed to save Rs. 2 per month from his pay and had thus collected Rs. 50 over the years. The next day after giving his friend Rs. 50 he went to the school management and said, "Please reduce my pay by Rs. 2 as my wife manages all our needs in Rs. 13." Such high values and conduct in a teacher is indeed difficult to find.
Parents, teachers, family, and society together help beautify and refine the behavior and mind of the child. The scriptures give us life- skills to manage our personal and professional life. This is called Sanskrit. Holistic education also refines the person and makes him cultured. Customs, traditions, festivals, ceremonies, spiritual practices, rituals, and art forms are all practical means of inculcating culture and values. All these, along with fine arts and performing arts in India were taught, mastered, and perfected to the highest degree. All of them were dedicated to God and became a means to worship God.
The Indian education system, management skills, and culture can be practiced even today, as they are at once ancient and time-tested, yet very relevant and modern. Pujya Gurudev visualized a holistic education program (now called the Chinmaya Vision Programme) by which the best of the ancient and modern systems of education could be integrated. This, he ascertained, was the right means to manifest the inherent divinity in man. For, it is knowledge that empowers, knowledge that elevates and knowledge alone that liberates man.
Education refines, beautifies, and transforms the soul of man. It has the power to manifest his inherent divinity. Manifesting Divinity - Chinmaya Vision on Education is the 'fourth' book in the Mananam Series published to commemorate Gurudev's Birth Centenary. It explores Gurudev's own secular and spiritual education in the chapter - 'Making of a Master,' his vision for an ideal education in 'An Experiment in Education - Chinmaya Vision Programme,' its manifestation as 'The Edifice of Education - The Chinmaya Education Institutions' and its 'Unifying Link - CCMT Education Cell.' The book also delves into Gurudev's thoughts and influence on management principles and its practitioners in the chapter - 'Age of Management,' and his lofty vision for the arts is captured in the 'The Heart of Art.' What is in the beginning and the end is also there throughout. Gurudev and Guruji's blessings are seen throughout this book.
A sacred place is where you meet yourself again and again. It is in the world of words and in the space of Gurudev's thoughts on education that we dived and thrived for a year as we created this patra (book) through the fictitious patrakara (journalist) called Amrita. Gurudev was our Sutratma the heart and soul of the sutras which are his profound vision and thoughts. Amrita and Rishi, the fictitious ex-student of Chinmaya Vidyalaya become the sutradharas the ones who linked Gurudev’s thoughts and uncovered the Sutras. And the phala sruti or the benediction at the end of this journey is a joyous vision and fulfilment.
Please note that the spelling and grammar in the text reflect American English as the book is published as a Mananam Series publication. Facts and figures in the book are as on 30 September 2012. Wishing you a happy journey and a gentle transformation!
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