The Indian Education System And Spiritual Wisdom -By Bipin Baloni
- July 15, 2019
The Bharat Itihasa (Indian history) contains a rich legacy of the Indian education system and spiritual wisdom. Together they have made a profound impact in the world. India stands proudly for spreading the messages of health, peace, harmony and an organic way of living life.
By reviewing the works of the saints and yogis of the Vedas and the Upanishads, we can look at the whole psychology behind the teachings, thus providing us with a clear view of how people used to live in the ancient times.
I would like to bring your attention to some of the following beautiful sayings from the saints and yogis, so that we can meditate and contemplate repeatedly on words of truth. They are enough to lead you into a deep thinking process and will change your view of life completely.
- “Sarva dharma sukhaya” (All the religions of this world and their people shall live in peace and joy)
- “Vasudhaiva kutumbakam” (The whole world is one family)
- “Ahimsa paramo dharma, dharma himsa tathaiva cha” (Non-violence is the ultimate dharma, so too is violence in service of dharma)
- “Ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti” (All true religions describe the same reality but just different paths to find it)
- “Yogah karmasu kaushalam” (Excellence in action is Yoga)
Today, across education levels, there is an unstoppable urge for spiritual knowledge. The entire modern world is seeking to find answers to their questions; to do experiments and study the philosophy of life; spending a huge amount of money, time and energy to find balance in the artificial way of living, which has not satisfied the intellectual being with luxury and sensual pleasures.
Indian saints, teachers, poets and thinkers have been expressing this higher reality through their thoughts, voices and actions since ancient times and have answered many unsolved enquiries arising from common man right through to royalty.
If a time comes where our social systems collapse by the influence of ‘Kaliyuga’ (the Iron period foretold by the saints and yogis), it will be in our best interest to keep our education system authentic, scientific and balanced with spiritual practice. This balance between modern education systems and spiritual wisdom will shield and uplift the human awareness during times of unpredictability and disaster.
The current generation should prepare a great ‘investment’ in terms of preserving purity in culture, scientific education, health and spiritual wisdom for the next generation, instead of leaving behind rootless culture, bank balances, corruption, atomic weapons and so on and so forth.
Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam (A great president of India and a scientist), had said: “The purpose of education is to make good human beings with skills and expertise. Enlightened human beings can be created by teachers”.
Examining the difference and the unity of Shiksha and Vidhya
The earliest Indian education system emphasized equally on the importance of two principles to realize the supreme purpose of life. The first one is known as ‘Jnanam’ (knowledge of the bird). It has two wings “SHIKSHA and VIDHYA” (Objective and Subjective). Shiksha focuses on the objective experience of the world outside of the subject. Shiksha leads to an objective understanding of the world which encompasses such disciplines as: engineering, science, arts, social developments and so on.
‘Shiksha’ has played a significant role in our social life in terms of maintaining skillful knowledge to build individual potential to successfully function within complex social structures. For example, it serves the purpose of generating employment, infrastructure, innovation, building wealth for individuals and so on. ‘Shiksha’ also has been providing us with all kinds of physical, external and mental luxury temporarily, whilst simultaneously fulfilling the needs of the individual and their need for enjoyment. Unfortunately, many of us do not understand the consequences of material earnings and its utilizations, thereby not being able to enjoy and have contentment with all these objectives.
‘Vidhya’ stands for insightfulness and understanding, the studies of science and mechanisms of our own body, mind and self. ‘Vidhya ‘deals with the study of universal phenomenon, in terms of understanding and contemplative distinction between matter and consciousness, suffering and happiness, cause and effect and so on. ‘Vidhya’ comprehends the values of righteousness, morality, contentment, balance, mindfulness and proper conduct in daily life.
Shiksha and Vidhya are two opposite aspects of knowledge and both serve the purpose of finding peace and contentment. Therefore, by finding balance in these two opposites, we can manage anything in our life and continue the journey of life by completely surrendering the ego to achieve the supreme purpose of this life.
The concept of Guru Shishya Parampara in India
After having established a philosophical basis for the objective (SHIKSHA) education and the subjective (VIDHYA) principles, we now need to understand the second aspect of carrying forward “truth” and this is known as “Guru Shishya Parampara” – this is the succession of competent masters and ardent disciples.
It is unfortunate to witness in Indian culture that we have neglected our mother tongue, Sanskrit. Our entire culture is based on this language and this generation is unaware of our true heritage. Meanwhile some countries outside of India has been appreciating the Sanskrit language and translated the ancient scriptures of India into many different languages even teaching people at their universities and revealing answers which explain the harmony between the human and natural kingdoms.
In the Indian education system we keep a deep respect in our hearts for our teachers and guardians and use the sanskrit term “GURU” (“GU” means darkness, “RU” means he/she who dispels darkness; darkness in terms of ignorance). We use the term “Guru” instead of teacher and professor. The reason for this is the term “teacher” was brought to India by the British colonial forces during their occupation and has had a great influence on the Indian education system until today.
Being a student of Yoga and Science, I find it challenging to explain the qualities of a Guru and Sadguru to a broader audience.
How do they look? – Do they have long hair, a beard, wear saffron and white colored robes, or remain nude with garland beads and necklaces on the neck etc: how and where do they live? – Inside caves, in deep forests, on the bank of a river etc: how and what do they talk about? – Humbly, roughly, spiritually, scientifically, etc: what do they eat? – Raw vegetables, non-vegetables, fruits, fasting, etc).!
If I respond candidly then the answer probably is silence with a smile! We need to understand this technical matter by example. First of all, whatever changes and discoveries – physically, mentally, socially and spiritually- happened to any previous yogis and scientists were unique, and were experienced through repetition and practice. These gurus subjected themselves to these experiences so as to gain knowledge (objective or subjective) to benefit themselves as well as generations to come.
Yes it’s true, whatever happened to them, was natural and self-realized. The studies of followers and practitioners demonstrate the methods and orders they left for us are solid, scientific and have significance to continue to discover the limitlessness of the individual self and infinity.
So the fact is, if you follow someone and that gives you peace and satisfaction then go ahead, but don’t forget that what you have learned is not yours, you have taken a loan from your master and then the question becomes how it should be returned back someday? It cannot be returned by just paying expensive gifts to your guru or dakshina (fees), but rather by taking the responsibility of continuation of given instructions to achieve the mission of a Guru and discovering more spiritual treasures in terms of spiritual benefits to yourself and others. That’s the only way to give back.
Today everyone has their own definition of Guru gained through their incomplete experience. This misleads the innocent people in their community. However everyone has the right to their own opinions and ideas that guru must be like this and that! But, I am sure, ‘GURU’ finds a place in the heart, not in the brain” and the ‘DISCIPLE’ relationship with GURU only can be felt.
As KABIR DAS (a great Poet & enlightened Saint) quoted ; “If I could convert the ocean into ink, the entire trees into paper, still these are not enough tools for writing the glory of a Guru”.
The nature of a qualified disciple
First of all I bow down to the heroic and learned disciple, who is endowed with high spirit, courage, and is free from delusion. A keen disciple can become a lamp and focus the light (intellect) towards the royal journey of education and spirituality for great purpose. This is why the Gurus have always given up the authority to such disciples thankfully, contently and with joy.
The disciple is one who has surrendered and followed ritualistically the given teachings from their Master, carrying forward the given instructions with great vision and mission of a guru. They do so for the sake of spiritual orders and service to all humanity.
Some of the most important characteristic of a disciple are: “Abhyasa” and “Vairagya” (intense practice to become Sattvic in nature and thereby dispassionate about ideas of sattvic so as to realize the divinity within).
Such disciples are highly trained to enter into meditative processes and have developed the capacity to go beyond duality of mind, which show and prove that they are not the slave of sensory organs and mind, which is why they are innocent, peaceful and at the same time fearless in nature.
The disciple could also be a Guru for people to whom they are guiding and sharing wisdom. Enthusiastic disciples are not servile to the Panch Kaleshas (the five poisons as told by Patanjali Y.S 2.3: 1. Avidya – (ignorance), 2. Asmita – (Iness), 3. Raga – (likes), 4. Dvesha – (dislikes) and 5. Abhinivesha- (insecurity) as they have completely surrendered at the master’s feet.
It is interesting to see today in our society that spiritual students are confused to acknowledge where and with whom they have learnt and practiced based on who is thought to be more popular and famous so as to make a greater impression. It’s such a trendy and intellectual world today! Have you thought about the reason we are currently so confused and make no sense at all?
The answer is: We have not surrendered our “I-ness” to a guru and asked sincerely to be guided.
If you felt the lightness of doing so, I am sure you will surrender your “I” instantly. Om…!
This article is dedicated with gratitude to my Guru’s (Swami Devatmananda ji, Shri Rudra Dev JI, Yogi Mahesh JI, Batra JI and Yogi Prakash ji) on this special occasion of Guru-Purnima 2019.
Special thanks to my students Tara Ji (Australia) and Izabella (Canada) for helping in English grammar and images.
Yogic knowledge is considered as a cobra poison, if it is kept by a shaman it is a medicine to heal people and if given to an immature people, it’s dangerous for themselves and others. -:Yogacharya Bipin baloni,
Rishikul Yogshala, Rishikesh, India.