Sample Assignment 1
Describe the educational philosophy of Swami Vivekananda.
சுவாமி விவேகானந்தரின் கல்வி தத்துவத்தை விவரிக்க
India has had from time immemorial a strong sense of cultural unity. Swami Vivekananda was the one who revealed the true foundations of this culture and was able to define and strengthen the sense of unity as a nation. He gave Indians proper understanding of their country’s great spiritual heritage and thus gave them pride in their past. He pointed out to the Indians the drawbacks of western culture and the need for India’s contribution to overcome these drawbacks. Thus he made India a nation with global mission.
Swamiji strengthened India’s nationalist movement by implanting a sense of unity, pride in the past and sense of mission. Several eminent leaders of India’s freedom movement have acknowledged their indebtedness to him. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India wrote, “Rooted in the past and full of pride in India’s prestige, Vivekananda was yet modern in his approach to life’s problems, and was a kind of bridge between the past of India and her present…His mission was the service of mankind through social service, mass education, religious revival and social awakening through education”. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose remarked, “Swamiji harmonized the east and the west, religion and science, past and present. And that is why he is great. Our countrymen have gained unprecedented self-respect, self-reliance and self-assertion from his teachings”.
Swamiji’s unique contribution to the creation of new India was to open the minds of Indians to their duty to the downtrodden masses. He spoke about the role of labouring classes in the production of country’s wealth. He was the first religious leader in India to speak for the masses, formulate a definite philosophy of service and organize large-scale social service.
Swami Vivekananda, was born Narendranath in Calcutta, the capital of British India on 12 January 1863, to Vishwanath Dutta, an attorney of Calcutta High Court and Bhuvaneswari Devi, a pious woman and a housewife. He belonged to a traditional Bengali Kayastha family and was one of the nine siblings. The progressive rational approach of his father and the religious temperament of his mother helped shape his thinking and personality.
Narendra was an average student but a voracious reader. At college he was adept in boxing, riding, swimming and wrestling. He was an ardent student of languages, philosophy and poetry. He graduated with honours from Calcutta University. He had an excellent command over Bengali, English and Sanskrit. He could often display a verbatim familiarity with Encyclopaedia Britanica. His principal W.W.Hastie once remarked: “Narendranath is really a genius. I have travelled far and wide but I have never yet come across a lad of his talents and possibilities, even in German Universities, among philosophical students”.
His searches for truth lead him to Sri Ramakrihna Paramahamsa, at Dakshineswar in 1881. During the succeeding years of his association with the master, he had a spiritual transformation and emerged as Swami Vivekananda. Vivekananda learnt Vedant Darshan at the feet of his master and spread it in India, Europe and United States. He addressed The World Parliament of Religions, Chicago in September 1893. He proved to the world that Vedant was still alive as ever. He declared to the world that, the ancient Vedant philosophy should be practiced in life for solving all problems of human life both in India and abroad. He preached that raising the downtrodden is the real implementation of practical Vedant. John Wright, the celebrated professor of the University of Harward, who introduced Swamiji to the organizing authority of the Chicago Religious Parliament remarked: “the totality of the intellectual powers of all the teachers of Harward University is less than the intellectual ability of Swamiji”.
From the day of death of Sri Ramakrishna to his own death he incessantly worked for the upliftment of toiling masses in his country. He firmly believed till his death that India was reduced to a pitiable state simply because it had failed to implement Vedanta in life. He wanted to teach Vedanta to everyone without any distinction of caste, colour, creed and sex. He had rightly understood that hunger prevailing in India could not be wiped out through foreign aid. So he wanted to teach his countrymen self dependence. He declared in unequivocal terms: “My countrymen! Stop weeping. You have wept enough. Make your nerves as strong as steel and stand on your legs. Today we are in need of a religion of humanity which may sustain all living in the country”.
Vivekananda was the first among the disciples of Sri Ramakrishna. Naturally he was entrusted with the onerous duty of propagating the ideals and teachings of his Guru. With this end in view he established Ramakrishna Math (1886) and Mission (1897). The Math and Mission had different aims and objectives. The ascetics at math dedicated their lives to the realization of the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna and God realization, while the chief functions of the Mission were limited to manifold humanitarian services and education. The ideals of Ramakrishna Mission are based on Karma Yoga.
On the 4th of July 1902, Vivekananda died. His wisdom coupled with universal message of love and tolerance made him a world teacher. He wanted to strike a balance between the spiritualism of the east on one hand and materialism of the west on the other. He stood for the reconciliation of human contrasts and conflicts and the establishment of Universal Brotherhood. He asserted: “Help and not Fight, Assimilation and not Destruction, Harmony and Peace and not Dissension”. In India, Vivekananda is regarded as a patriotic saint and his birthday is celebrated as the National Youth Day.
PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE
Swami Vivekananda regarded Vedant as universal representing all religious beliefs prevailing in India. He thought that Vedant had been represented in various ways. Some people interpret in Advaitvad or monotheism and some have moulded it towards Dvaitvad or dualism. To Swami Vivekananda both of these approaches are progressive. He regards Vedant as eternal. He finds no contradiction between Advaitvad and Dvaitvad. He regards the two as two interpretations of the same thing for reach the same goal. God is one all powerful and without attributes (personal qualities). He saw God in three forms –Being (Sat). Awareness (Chit) and Bliss (Ananda). He considered that all these three forms represented one and the same thing.
Swamiji thinks that the force of God prevails in all the things of this Universe. It is because of the particular species in which it happens to be born it appears big, small or weak. He says, “The difference is not the soul but the manifestation. All realities are the manifestations of a single reality – the Supreme Reality. Between me and the smallest animal, the difference is only in manifestation, but as principle he is the same as I am, he is my brother, he has the same soul as I have”. Thus he emphasizes the universality of soul and brotherhood.
Swami Vivekananda has great faith in man. He thinks that man is the highest creation of God. He considers each religion as progressive. He has no malice against any religion. The purpose of one’s life should be to experience God within himself. As soon as a person experiences the presence of God within himself, he begins to experience himself in all His creatures. Then he applies himself to the service of each and every living being. That is why on the basis of Vedant philosophy Swami Vivekananda emphasizes on the universal oneness and spiritual brotherhood.
Swami Vivekananda believes that perfection is not attained from outside. In fact, it is inherent within the individual himself. He devoted his whole life in making people understand this basic truth. He considered service to man as the greatest worship of God.
CONCEPT OF EDUCATION
Swami Vivekananda’s educational philosophy is based on his general philosophy of life. He says, “education is the manifestation of the divine perfection already within man”. Being a Vedantist, Swamiji advocates that Atman dwells within everyone. To realize the self, the perfection of God in man is the goal of true education. He believed in the development of inner powers. He was of the opinion that book learning is not education. He considered education as the training by which the current and expression of will are brought under control and become beautiful.
Education is spontaneous and positive. To Vivekananda education is life-building assimilation of ideas. He says, “If you have assimilated five ideas and made them as your character, you have more education than any man who has got by heart the whole library. If education were identical with information, the libraries would be the greatest sages in the world and encyclopaedias the greatest Rishis”.
Swamiji was of the opinion that education must suit the needs of the child. He says, “Their needs should be determined in terms of tendencies inherent in children and not according to what the parents of the children think”. He emphatically advocated the spread of universal mass education as India lives in her cottages. Without mass education the desirable socio-economic changes in our country is not possible. He considered education as the birth right of every human being. It is a biological, social, economic and spiritual necessity. He was in favour of woman education. Their uplift and welfare was a part and parcel of his basic philosophy.
As regards medium of education Vivekananda strongly advocated the mother-tongue. He wanted to Indianise the Indian education. He was a revivalist of Indian cultural traditions and values. He pleaded that education must develop a strong sense of patriotism and nationalism in the minds of the students.
AIMS OF EDUCATION
Vivekananda considers education as part of human life. He observes: real education is that which enables one to stand on one’s own feet. Regarding the aim of education, Swamiji says, “the end of all education, all training should be man making”. He further says, “Education is not the amount of information that is put into your brain and runs riot there undigested all your life. We must have life building, man making, and character making assimilation of ideas”. He opined that, “education should lay proper emphasis on creativity, originality and excellence”. The main aim of education according to him is the development of a strong moral character and not merely the feeding of information to brain. The education should enable one to realize one’s self. Before that it should create self confidence. Education should take man to freedom, to liberty, to salvation. He said, “Through education, we should gradually reach the idea of universal brotherhood by flinging down the walls of separation and inequality. In every man, in every animal, however weak or miserable, great or small, resides the same omnipresent and omniscient soul. The difference is not in the soul but in the manifestation”. His aims of education can be classified into two heads: proximate and ultimate.
* Proximate aims of education :
§ Physical development
§ Mental development
§ Development of character
§ Observation of Brahmacharya for concentration
§ Vocational aim
* Ultimate aims of education :
§ Development of personality
§ Faith in one’s own self
§ Developing Shradha
§ Developing a spirit of renunciation
§ To promote universal brotherhood
METHODS OF TEACHING
Swamiji laid stress on meditation as a method of attaining knowledge. He advocates that since the human mind is perfect in itself, there is no necessity for it to receive knowledge from outside. Hence learning is nothing but a process of discovery of knowledge within the mind. However he has suggested following methods of teaching to be followed in a teaching learning situation.
Concentration Methods: Swamiji considers concentration as the only method of attaining knowledge. It is the key to the treasure house of knowledge. Concentration method helps the child to withdraw his different senses from temptations of life, and concentrate on the subject matter of instruction. He believed that Brahmacharya is necessary for developing the power of concentration. He said, “Brahmacharya should be the burning fire within the veins”.
Methods of Realization: Vivekananda considers realization as the chief aim of life. He advocated Yoga as the most ideal method of realization. Yogas are four in number. 1. Karma Yoga, 2. Bhakti Yoga, 3. Raja Yoga and 4. Jnana Yoga. The scope of all these Yogas is one and the same – removal of ignorance and enabling the soul to restore its original nature.
Discussion and Contemplation Method: Borrowing the idea from ancient Indian gurukula system of education Vivekananda also advocated discussion and contemplation to be followed in education.
Imitation Method: Children like to imitate the activities of others. Vivekananda, therefore, advocated utilizing such qualities of children for educational purposes. A teacher should present higher ideals and nobler patterns of behavior before the children to help them to imitate such activities for the formation of their character and personality.
Individual Guidance and Counselling: Vivekananda advocated the method of individual guidance and counselling in the teaching learning process to develop divine wisdom.
Lecture Method: Spiritual ideas are abstract ideas. It becomes difficult on the part of a child to understand spiritual doctrines. Therefore Vivekananda advocated for the introduction of lecture method to explain the spiritual ideas in a simple way to the students.
Activity Method: Swamiji accepted learning through activities as an ideal method of teaching. It can provide direct experience to the children. He advocated that activities like singing, storytelling, drama and dance should be performed by the students. He also advocated for the introduction of activities like excursions, camps etc., to help the students to understand the value of social service.
CURRICULUM OF EDUCATION
Swamiji did not specify any subjects to form the content of education- it was a broad approach – a sort of synthesis between Science and Vedanta. He opined that it cannot be purely western. Curriculum should be constructed with a view to promote leadership qualities in the growing generation. Swamiji advocates that education should develop patriotism and freedom. For achieving this curriculum should provide for the following three things:
a. Love for the motherland
b. A strong will to desist evil and
c. Steadfastness in achieving the desired goal.
Physical education is one of the important items Vivekananda wanted to include in curriculum. He advocated that a person who is physically strong can realize the self. He wanted Indian students to learn their own languages - particularly Sanskrit and English to keep with the current times. He was in favour of the study of Vedanta, Religion, Philosophy and Theology. He also wanted science, engineering and technical subjects. And above all, he wanted that the curriculum should suit the needs and requirements of the masses.
ROLE OF TEACHER
Vivekananda advocates that the nature of human mind is such that, “no one ever really is taught by another. Each of us has to be teacher himself”. Within man is all knowledge and it requires only an awakening and that much is the work of the teacher. They have to do only so much for the students that they may learn to apply their own intellect to the proper use of their hands, legs, ears, eyes etc., and finally everything will become easy. He said, “Like fire in a piece of flint, knowledge exists in the mind: suggestion is the friction which brings it out”. He wants that a teacher should be like a father, who will give the students their spiritual birth and show them the way to eternal life. He should initiate the students to practice the essential virtues of brahmacharya and shraddha. To quote Swamiji, “true teacher is he who can immediately come down to the level of the students and transfer his soul to the students’ soul”.
Vivekananda has a great appreciation for the ‘Gurugriha Vasa’. True education is only possible through intimate personal contact between the teacher and the taught.He states that, “My idea of education is personal contact with the teacher – ‘gurugraha vasa’. Without the personal contact of a teacher, there would be no education”. Swamiji advocates that the teacher should possess the following qualities.
Ø A teacher must be a tyagi or a man of renunciation.
Ø He should act like a substitute of the parents for the students. He should have personal love for the students, which will help him to transmit spiritual force.
Ø He should come down to the level of the students and should have sympathy for his students.
Ø He should have very high character and should be sinless.
Ø He must be pure in mind and heart.
According to Vivekananda discipline is an important aspect of a person’s character. He believed that teaching a child or disciplining him from outside is only a myth. We cannot see outside what we are not inside. Whatever we are comes from disciplining our mind and body. He wants each of us to teach ourselves. The external teacher offers suggestions and the internal teacher starts working. Undue domination and excessive authority would only stunt the natural growth of a child. He said, “If you don’t allow a child to become a lion, he will become a fox”. Do’s and don’ts’ have to be reduced and the right environment must be created.
An individual’s good character is said to be established when he is completely under the influence of the good tendencies. Instead of trying to discipline the child the teacher can set an example with his own life. Children imbibe more from the teacher’s own than they do from books and lectures. Discipline therefore, is to be caught rather than taught.
Swamiji does not accept information as education. He advocates a type of education, which is man-making, life-building and character-formation. Education should also help in the development of originality. It should unfold all the hidden powers in man. A child should learn to accept pleasure and pain, misery and happiness as equal factors in the formation of character. Man-making education is inherent in character development as well as vocational development. What India needs today is character and strengthening of the will. This can be achieved through man-making education.
Man-making education also brings out the significance of the famous words said by Vivekananda at the World Parliament of Religions held in 1893 at Chicago. These were, “HELP, ASSIMILATION, HARMONY and PEACE”. Accordingly education should develop these qualities in man.
Man-making education includes physical and health education. He was also greatly concerned about the proper care of the body and the healthy development of one’s physique. He urged, “Be strong my young friends, that is my advice to you.you will be nearer to heaven through football, than through the ‘Gita’. These are bold words but I have to say them to you. I know where the shoe pinches. You will understand the ‘Gita’ better, your biceps, your muscles a little stronger”. He emphasized repeatedly, “Strength is goodness. Weakness is sin”.
Following are the chief elements of man-making concept for which education should be directed to:
Ø An individual must fully understand the Vedant philosophy, which considers that the ultimate goal of human life is to attain Unity with the creator.
Ø Development of the spirit of service to the fellow beings, since service to man is equated with devotion to God.
Ø Development of a respectful attitude for all religions. Essential elements of all religions are the same. No religion is inferior to other religion.
Ø The concept wants man to imbibe love for all and hatred for none.
Ø Attainment of knowledge of science and spirituality.
Ø Development of a rational attitude in life without the cultural boundaries of East and the West.
Ø Attainment of social equality.
Ø Development of such individual who are ethically sound, intellectually sharp, physically strong, religiously liberal, socially efficient, spiritually enlightened and vocationally self-sufficient.
EDUCATION IN INDIAN SOCIAL CONTEXT
Swamiji was always against the British system of education in India which ignored the fundamental aspirations of our nation. Therefore he advocated the introduction of a national system of education on the basis of Indian educational and cultural heritage and national ideals. He criticized blind imitation of the west. He favoured the introduction of new things, but was against the idea of replacing. He argued, “Of course new things have to be learnt, have to be introduced and worked out, but is that to be done by sweeping away all that is old just because it is old?”
Vivekananda advocated for the national system of education in order to make the minimum education available to all and to inculcate essentials of Indian culture in each and every child of the country. He wanted that education should start with the family of the child. Then it should include his village, society and the country. Gradually, with the development of wider understanding the child will begin to consider himself as a citizen of the entire world. Thus the spirit of universal brotherhood will also develop in him automatically.
Educational needs of modern India are reflected in the preamble to our constitution. It is clear that educational aims, contents and methods of teaching and in fact the entire process of education must be based on these pillars – Secularism, Socialism and Democracy. Vivekananda also visualized the educational needs of independent India and accordingly he set forth his philosophical thought. His views are quite relevant today. He was for liberal approach to religion and accordingly advocated values of secularism. He believed that ignorance was the most important evil of the society. He advocated mass education i.e., free and compulsory education as well as adult education. His advocacy of women’s education is in accordance with the present day needs. His stress on child-centered education is another remarkable aspect of his educational philosophy. He advocated a system of education that was egalitarian.
Swami Vivekananda’s views on education may be summed up in his own words, “We want that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded and by which one stands on one’s own feet”.
Swamiji’s contribution may be summed up as under:
Ø He laid stress on character development education.
Ø He advocated education of masses which implies adult education and free and compulsory education regardless of caste, creed or colour.
Ø He revived the spirit of humanism in education.
Ø He insisted that it was the duty of the upper classes, who had received their education at the expense of the poor, to come forward and uplift the poor through education and other means.
Ø He considered education of women as the chief instrument of national regeneration.
Vivekananda was a great educationalist and he revolutionized almost the entire field of education. His educational views were immensely influenced by the eternal truths of Vedanta. He inspired the millions of Indian youths by his revolutionary ideas of education. He gave the clarion call, “Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached”. He infused a new spirit in the national blood. He strongly advocated national education on national lines and based on national cultural tradition.
His great contributions in the field of education include self-knowledge, self-reliance, concentration, universal mass education, women’s education, physical education, man-making education, character-building education, education through the medium of mother-tongue, religious and moral education, value education, selfless dedicated teachers etc. The teachings of Swamiji are of great importance in the reorganization of our present system of education.
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