Value Based Education: a Need of Today

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The Phrase 'Value Based Education', in wide use in present times comes closest in meaning to the Sanskrit word 'Vidya' as it was used by the Gurus or preceptors of ancient India. 'Vid - ya' means that which illumines. As such, it was identified with knowledge that illumines the mind and soul. Since the imparting of knowledge was the aim of education, over a period of time, education also came to be known as 'Vidya'. But, the highest goal of Vidya as visualized by the seers and seekers was to understand the Ultimate Truth or Reality. Adisankaracharya, one of the foremost spiritual teachers that India has known, expounded "Vidyahi - ka? Brahma Gathi Pradaya" - what is Vidya ? It is that which explains the Brahmatatva, the nature of the Primordial.

The more practical aspects of 'education' involved alongside intellectual training, the laying of a moral foundation which helped to make the individual a good citizen who was conscious of his innate strength.

Swami Vivekananda points out "Education is the manifestation of perfection already existing in man". According to him that Education is required by which character is formed, strength of the mind is increased, intellect is expanded and by which one can stand on ones own feet." Dr. S. Radhakrishnan emphasizes the role the heart needs to play in aiding the intellect. He says "Education to be complete, must be humane. It must include not only the training of the intellect, but the refinement of the heart and the discipline of the spirit". Education thus brings out all that is unique in the individual helping him to establish the right relationship with not only the life, mind and soul of the nation to which he belongs but with the larger life, mind and soul of humanity of which he is a unit. All religions have upheld the idea that man, more than being an economic, social, political or reasoning animal, in actuality is a spiritual soul limited by the various attributes of a human existence for the time span of his life on earth. Consequently a true education though nurturing the intellectual, aesthetic, ethical and vital aspects is essentially engaged in the task of awakening of the soul. This soul awakening education harmonizing the mind and body is to be valued as it reveals the truth of existence.

In the normal course, Education is a three fold process. It imparts general and specific information, teaches skills and inculcates values. The present system of education is almost wholly geared to the first, a little to the second and only marginally to the third. For education to fulfill its purpose as a tool for social change and realize national objectives, it should as Sri Aurobindo writes "starting with the past and making full use of the present build up a great nation". The first education commission of India headed by Dr. S. Radhakrishnan emphasized that no amount of factual information would make ordinary men into educated or virtuous men unless something is awakened in them - an innate ability to live the life of the soul". Despite this recognition, education in the modern age is able to train only a fraction of the students mind and not the whole. The neglect of ethical values, which should form the substratum of any good education, has led to ineffectual, decadent, empty learning. It is the duty of every society to pass on the values enshrined in its scriptures and philosophical texts to each generation, in order, that the spirit of its culture lives on. This can be achieved only when education is value oriented.

Bharat (India) is a country whose religious and philosophical legacy dates back to ancient times. It begot the vedic and vedantic lore, in times of yore, a number of sastras and the monumental literature of Vyasa. It gave birth to a galaxy of Rsis like Vasishtha and Viswamitra. By means of this spirituality it kept the population on the Dharmic path for millenniums hitherto. Its scriptures proclaim 'Amnayanam Ananugamanat Bhrashtamargeva Vidya'...
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