Remodel our education system with the vision of Bharat

Amma’s Message upon being conferred with an Honorary Degree —
D. Litt (Honoris causa), by Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology

14 August 2021

Amma bows down to all her children, who are embodiments of Pure Love and Supreme Consciousness.

Ministers Union Minister for Education, Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Sri Dharmendra Pradhan, Nobel Laureate, Professor Jean-Marie Lehn. First of all, let me express my heartfelt gratitude to Sri Achyuta Samanta, Lok Sabha Member and Founder of Kalinga Deemed University; to Sri Nik Gugger, Member of Parliament from Switzerland; to Chancellor Sri Ved Prakash; to Smt. Sasmita Samanta; to Sri Varun Suthra, and to the other administrators of Kalinga for bestowing such an honour. {news}

Whatever little humanitarian service that the Ashram has been able to render to the world is due to the sincere love and dedication of Amma’s devotees. Hence, Amma offers this honour to them and their full hearts.

Kalinga & Compassion

Kalinga is the hallowed land where the memories of a great event, written in golden letters on the pages of history, lie asleep. This is the soil that witnessed the great Emperor Ashoka wage a mighty war of conquest, his deep grief seeing the bloody battlefield after his victory, his change of heart and his ensuing pursuit of the path of eternal peace and enlightenment. It is on this soil of compassion that Sri Achyuta Samanta, founder of Kalinga Deemed University, has chosen to offer his humanitarian services. Amma heartily applauds him for that.

In reality, the most important thing to be developed through education
is compassion towards our fellow beings. Amma is extremely pleased to know that this university pursues this goal. It goes without saying that the institution shines as a beacon of support and shelter for tens of thousands of people living in and around the region.

The vision of this land of Bharat

This world and all the creatures in it are merely different forms and expressions of the one Supreme Consciousness. Hence, we should treat every aspect of creation, both sentient and insentient, with love, respect and servitude. This is the vision of this land of Bharat. This is the lofty message Bharat carries to the world.

According to Sanatana Dharma, the Creator and the creation are not two, but one. There is gold in gold ornaments and vice versa. Even if the sun is reflected in a hundred pots of water, there is only one sun. Similarly, it is but one Self that is present in everyone. If we live with this attitude, we will have the heart to consider others. When the right hand is hurt, the left hand immediately caresses and comforts it. May everyone develop this same attitude, striving to see others as themselves and to love and serve them accordingly.

True meaning of the word education

Many of you may know that the true meaning of the word “education” is to bring out what is within us. Education is that which enables one to bring out one’s hidden talents. We all have many talents, but we are usually unaware of them. The porter uses his head to earn a living by carrying loads, while the scientist uses his head to make remarkable discoveries and inventions. Similarly, we all have infinite power hidden within us. It is just that most of us are unaware of its existence.

Lethargic Chickens

Amma remembers an incident from her childhood. In Amma’s childhood, Amma’s mother, Damayanti amma, kept chickens. After hens hatch a brood, sometimes they won’t lay eggs for a long time. They become lethargic and sit hunched in a corner as if sick with fever. If approached by someone, they make a sound to drive them away. They stop eating or even searching for food. If left alone, they may not lay eggs for another six months. They can even starve to death.

If they remained in this state for more than five days, to snap them out of it, Damayanti amma would throw them in the backwaters. They would immediately flutter their wings and come back to the shore. My mother would repeat this four or five times.
Then, the hen would go back to normal and start pecking for food. Within 15 days, the hen would resume laying eggs. Here, the hen has the inherent capacity to lay eggs. But due to its lethargy, it becomes unable to manifest that capacity.
Similarly, we all have the capacity to awaken our inherent talents.

Drawbacks of the modern education system

Is today’s education system progressing in a manner that awakens the students’ latent talents and capabilities? This is a question that we should all ponder. One of the greatest drawbacks of the modern education system is its blind competition and the imitation born out of it.

Amma knows a professor at a university in one of the western countries. He is responsible for sanctioning scholarships and for its International Studies program. He told me, “Amma, many applications for scholarships and PhD admissions come from India. But 99% of students put the exact same things on their forms. All of them look the same. As soon as I start reading it, I throw it in the trash.”

Remodel our education system

We have to remodel our education system so as to inspire creativity in our students. No doubt the modern education system helps our children pursue name, fame and wealth. But is that all human life is about? Is life’s purpose just to study a lot of books, pass competitive exams, obtain a degree, get a job and secure income?

Life and living are not the same

Life and living are not the same. For living, we may need a job, money, a home, a car and other creature comforts. However, these alone fail to make life complete. For that, we need love, compassion, tenderness — a heart that knows and responds to the pain of others. We need broadmindedness and maturity in thought and action.

Education should spread light within and without. Education should equally develop discernment and contemplation. It should develop the curiosity to know the internal world just as much as it does to know the external world. Education should teach us to keep our inner eye open just as much as our external eyes. Education should instil awareness and strengthen the deep bond between the student and his nation, the world, his fellow human beings and other creatures, Nature and God.

75% of the potential underdeveloped

The modern education system stresses mental and intellectual development. However, these are both on the physical plane. And thus graduates remain totally ignorant of the plane of pure existence. If this ignorance is not removed, we will remain in disharmony with the world. Suppose there are five members in a family and each one wants to be king; then there will only be war.

If we divide ourselves into four parts, the body-mind complex is less than a quarter of who we are. More than 75% of who we are remains submerged in ignorance and underdeveloped. Beyond maintaining physical health and intellectual prowess, we need to understand the internal power that imparts life-energy to the body and mind. We need to understand that which exists as the very foundation of everything external.

The world is one family.

Going forward, our educational curriculums should give at least some importance to Bharat’s lofty concept of vasudhaiva kuṭumbakam — “The world is one family.”
As humanity moves forward, this sense of unity should be reflected, at least a little, in our thoughts and actions. If not, greed will peak and threaten even humankind’s very existence.

We have seen harbingers of this eventuality in the warnings provided by Mother Nature over the past several years. If we fail to heed these warnings of God, of Mother Nature, humanity soon will be able to count itself among the Earth’s extinct species.

Five goals of education

There are five goals that should be sought through education:

  1. To earn a living—the knowledge and skills needed to gain wealth, position and comfort.
  2. To recognise that mental health—the maturity to control our thoughts and emotions— is just as important as physical health and to attain that maturity as well.
  3. The training to do one’s duty to repay one’s debt to one’s home and family as well as to Mother Nature, who has compassionately blessed us with food, shelter, sunshine, rain, the hills, forests, rivers, trees and fruits.
  4. The inspiration to have gratitude, love and respect towards God and Mother Nature, and the motivation to engage in social work and selfless service born out of that gratitude.
  5. To awaken the awareness of our Inner Self and to understand, “I am not a separate entity. Rather, I am a part of this universe. Just as the water in the waves reaching the shores and the water in the middle of the ocean is the same, I am one with the whole of creation.”

School years should be a meditative period

Learning about the external world is like a bridge. We should be able to cross this bridge and reach the light of the Inner Self. Education is the tapas [spiritual austerity] we have to undergo to reach that goal. Hence, our school years should be a meditative period. If students remain firm in this foundation while studying, they will never be prone to jealousy or competitiveness. Instead, their lives will become a journey of celebration, where love and friendship prevail, and man, Nature and God move forward hand in hand.

Let us not lose hope and optimism

With the Coronavirus pandemic, the world is going through dark, challenging times. But let us not lose hope and optimism.

Amma remembers a story: Once, seeing a large group of snails heading north, a group of birds flying south approached them and asked, “Where are you all off to?”
The leader snail replied, “Oh, we are heading to the forest way over there in the north.”
Hearing this, the birds laughed, “Are you kidding? We are returning from that same forest. It’s now facing a drought. All the trees have dried up, and there isn’t even a single green leaf to be found!”
But the leader snail replied, “No problem. By the time we get there, there should be plenty of leaves again.”
Like the snails in the above story, if we have the optimism and self-confidence to keep moving forward irrespective of life’s hardships, we will be able to overcome all obstacles. Self-confidence is like the booster rocket that is required to break free from the gravitational pull of our limitations.

I have no other arms than yours

Just as the sun doesn’t need a candle to light its way, neither does God need anything from us. Let us try to be compassionate towards the poor and needy, seeing God in them. This will make us befitting to receive divine grace.

In the centre of a village was a beautiful statue of a great mahātmā with his arms outstretched. On a plaque beneath the statue, these words were inscribed: “Come into my arms!”
Over time, the arms of the statue fell off. The villagers gathered to decide the fate of the statue. Some suggested it should be removed and replaced by a new one.
Others objected, saying new arms should be made.
But an old man stood up and said, “No, don’t worry about making new arms. Let it be without arms.”

The villagers wondered, “But what about the plaque underneath? It says, ‘Come into my arms!’”
The old man replied, “That’s no problem. Just below the words, ‘Come into my arms,’ you should add, ‘but I have no other arms than yours.’”

God works through our arms, through our eyes and through our ears.
May we become ideal instruments in the hands of the divine to allow him to flow through us.

Proper time, Self-effort and God’s grace

If we want our actions to bear the desired results, three factors are needed: proper time, self-effort and God’s grace.

For example, we have to travel a long distance in order to attend an important event. We wake up early in the morning, get in the car and start for the airport.

Maybe on the way, the car has a breakdown or meets with a small accident, which makes us late for the flight. Or, on reaching the airport on time, we learn the plane is having mechanical problems or that the weather is too bad, and the flight is cancelled.

Here, we put forth enough effort. But, as the factor of grace was missing, we were unable to reach our destination. We need God’s grace to make all our actions complete. For receiving grace, we need to perform good actions.

Let us awaken and become receptive to divine grace. May the Paramatman bless us all.

|| om lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu ||