October 2019

Education in a country must help to rebuild the character of its people. – Chinmaya

What can be called perfect education?

Swami Vivekananda defines education thus, “Education is the manifestation of perfection already in man.” True education makes a person aware of the glory of the Self, and thus instils self-confidence and self-respect.

What happens when education stoops down to a mere bread-winning money-making education? Education without values makes a man a ‘cleverer devil’. An instance is discussed below:

Researches conducted all over the country say that surgeries taking place in the hospitals have increased multiple-fold. The reason?

A senior orthopaedic surgeon in a corporate hospital explained the reason behind this unsettling trend: “The doctors have a quota to meet every month. Hence they see patients as potential candidates on our operating table. It is the easiest and safest way to make quick money. Many of these surgeries don’t involve too many risks, while at the same time fetch more revenue for the hospitals. Hence the doctors create fear in the patients by describing all the dangerous consequences if not operated; thus they compel them to undergo various tests and surgeries.”  

A doctor said he was suspended by the hospital administration for having only a 10% ‘conversion rate’ – referring to the number of patients who were advised to undergo surgery. Hospital authorities force the doctors for operation, because, for a Rs 2 lakh surgery the doctor probably gets Rs 25,000, while the rest goes to the hospital.

Theodore Roosevelt has rightly said, “A man who has never gone to school may steal from a railway wagon; but if he has a university education, he may loot the entire railway department!”

Corrupt police officers, power-hungry politicians, spineless I.A.S officers, unjust lawyers, money-minded doctors, food-adulterating farmers…  – Education without focussing on the character can ruin the entire nation.   

Regarding education, Gandhiji rightly points out, “University education has served its purpose only when it turns out true servants of people.”

True education makes a person the master of his mind and the senses. Such a person becomes a man of character.

Two men, an American and an Indian, were sitting in a bar and discussing their family problems.

The Indian man said to the American, “We have a problem in India. We can’t marry the one whom we love. My parents are forcing me for arranged-marriage – to get married to this so-called homely girl from a village whom I haven’t even met once. I don’t want to marry a woman whom I don’t love. I told them this openly and now we have a lot of family problems.”

The American said, “In America, we can marry the one whom we love. I’ll tell you my story. I married a widow whom I deeply loved and dated for 3 years. After a couple of years, my father fell in love with my step-daughter and married her, so my father became my son-in-law and I became my father’s father-in-law. Legally now my daughter is my mother and my wife my grandmother. More problems occurred when I had a son. My son is my father’s brother and so he is my uncle.

“Situations turned worse when my father had a son. Now my father’s son, my brother is my grandson. Ultimately, I have become my own grandfather and I am my own grandson. And you say you have family problems!!”

The Indian fainted!

Education without character-building can only bring out lettered but uncultured, informed but unrefined, schooled but uncivilized, literate idiots and educated sense-slaves.

Once a Britisher asked Swami Vivekananda “Why can’t you wear pants, shirt, and tie and look like a gentleman.” Swami Vivekanand smiled and said:  “In your culture, a tailor makes a gentleman; but, in ours, the character makes a gentleman.”

What happens when education becomes a mere information-gathering, mugging-up business? Here is an e-mail letter written by a software engineer settled in the USA to his friends when he was asked to visit his home town in India:

“I lived in Trichy for 22 whole years. But I don’t have any bonding with my native town. For 22 years, I have been with my parents. But I don’t have any sweet memories of them. My father has always planned to make me an engineer. He even planned it right before my LKG.

Studying in the school, studying in the tuition centre, and then studying at home – these are the only memories of my childhood that I carry around. Even on summer holidays, there is no fun or play; even for festivals like Pongal and Diwali, there’s no celebration; its only study.

“Mine was a private school. It was ranked the best for squeezing my childhood into marks. People would stand in queues even to get admission. There’s no way the school authorities would let me laugh or play. It’s just study, study, and study. The school’s prestige and popularity depended on our marks. Hence there was constant pressure from the teachers and the school management. Even in that study, the only thing they taught me was to cram and to mug up, to xerox the whole text with my memory and to write on the exam papers.

“Now, after finishing my graduation, getting employed in America and living here for long, Trichy has become a strange city to me. I can’t stay for more than a day in it.

I have no love for my parents. For 22 years, though I had been with them, we never had any general discussions. They only frightened me with their fears of studies and my future. Even now, they frighten me with questions like, how much I earn and what are my savings plan. They are asking me to live their life. How do you expect me to come to a city which has given me only pains and fears, and robbed my childhood in the name of studies?”

It is so well said, “Educating the head without educating the heart is no education at all.”

When the atom-bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Albert Einstein could not sleep the whole night; for days his nights were disturbed. He could not sleep, he could not rest; he was terribly disturbed.

He had been instrumental in creating the atom-bomb. It was he who wrote the letter to the President of America saying that the atom-bomb was possible. But he never thought of the consequences of releasing this powerful information to the politicians. He never could imagine that his knowledge of atomic power will be used in bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where thousands of people, innocent civilians, would be burned within seconds, for no fault of their own.

Strange but true, today we are living in an age where guided missiles are in the hands of misguided people!

Just before Einstein died somebody asked him, “If you are born again, what would you like to be? A great mathematician again, a great physicist, a great scientist?”
He is reported to have said, “No, never! Rather, I would like to be a plumber. But now it is too late…”

No wonder why spiritual stalwarts like Tapovanam Maharaj, Ramana Maharshi, and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa left schooling at a very early stage, even against their parents’ wishes!

According to Rabindranath Tagore, “ The highest education is that which does not merely give us information, but makes our life in harmony with all existence.”

Let’s summerise and conclude with a quote from Swami Vivekananda:

“All power is within us. We can do anything and everything. We want that man-making education by which character is formed, the strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one’s own feet. Educate and raise the masses. Then alone a nation is possible.”

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