Modernise Ancient Wisdom: Swami Vivekananda's View on Education
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Vivekananda always advocated teaching of Vedas, because the Vedas spread compassion in the society and compassion builds character
Dhairya Nagpal
January 12 of this year will mark the 157th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. Born as Narendranath Datta, Swami Vivekananda devoted his life to the cause of the people. His teachings continue to inspire people all over the world and from all ages.
While delivering the historical lecture at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893, Swami Vivekananda talked about his paper on Hinduism. He pointed out the greatness of Vedas in that paper. He said that the Vedas are without a beginning and an end. Vedas are the accumulation of spiritual laws. The teachings of the Vedas, according to him, cannot be overstated, and this is the reason Swami Vivekananda wanted everyone to be educated about the Vedas. Swami Vivekananda also talked about how education can help in the development of the nation. On his birth anniversary, it is imperative to focus on his vision for education.
Swami Vivekananda talks about a tremendous disadvantage that educational system during the time of British Raj had over the people in India. This disadvantage, as Swami Vivekananda said, is that this system of education is not a “man-making education”. He points out that this education taught the people that whatever our religion and customs teach us are bad and should not be paid much heed to.
It was exactly this type of education that was being incorporated into the minds of the people that Swami Vivekananda was against. He emphasised the importance of gaining education about one’s own country on spiritual and secular lines. Swami Vivekananda explained the importance of education reaching all the sections of society. He was a firm believer of the fact that the only way to make a nation great is by educating the masses.
But according to him, education does not only include Mathematics and Sciences, it is important to teach the students these subjects, but it is also equally important for the students to learn about spirituality. Swami Vivekananda always proposed the teaching of Vedas to the students. Vedas, according to him, will spread compassion in society. According to him, compassion builds character. Swami Vivekananda, with his teachings, propagated the idea of morals. He encouraged everyone to be moral and brave. A person should always choose the righteous path, no matter how difficult it is. This is what will, according to him, build a society that will cure the miseries of the world. He said that the education that doesn’t help in making society better is not worth the name. Rote learning a few concepts and just reading and learning the ideas of different men and women is of no use if those ideas cannot be applied for the upliftment of the society as a whole. The sole objective of your education should be to lift the nation up and make it even greater.
Swami Vivekananda also suggested opening a Theological school in Madras at that time. The scope of that school was to educate the youth in Vedas, then gradually teach the youth about the different religions of the world and their philosophies.
This is the same kind of standard Swami Vivekananda expected from the ideal teacher also. An ideal teacher should, according to him, understand the spirit of the religious scriptures, and should be able to transfer that knowledge into the student. A true teacher is the one who can transfer his soul to the student’s soul and understand through his mind. A teacher should have personal contact with the student. He termed this as gurugiha-vasa.
It is evident that the ideas of Swami Vivekananda for the education system were years ahead of his time and his ideas and vision continue to be relevant. Such was the intellect of the man that even after more than a century of his death, his ideas are still discussed in different forums.
(The writer is a second-year student at OP Jindal Global University)