Swami Vivekananda realizes that mankind is passing through a crisis. The tremendous emphasis on the scientific and mechanical ways of life is fast reducing man to the status of a machine. Moral and religious values are being undermined. The fundamental principles of civilization are being ignored. Conflicts of ideals, manners and habits are pervading the atmosphere. Disregard for everything old is the fashion of the day. Vivekananda seeks the solutions of all these social and global evils through education. With this end in view, he feels the dire need of awakening man to his spiritual self wherein, he thinks, lies the very purpose of education. Swami Vivekananda (1863 – 1902), a great thinker and reformer of India, embraces education, which for him signifies ‘man-making’, as the very mission of his life. In this writing, which purports to expound and analyze Vivekananda’s views on education, an endeavor has been made to focus on the basic theme of his philosophy, viz. the spiritual unity of the universe. Whether it concerns the goal or aim of education, or its method of approach or its component parts, all his thoughts, we shall observe, stem from this dormant theme of his philosophy which has its moorings in Vedanta.
A sculptor has a clear idea about what he wants to shape out of the marble block; similarly, a painter knows what he is going to paint. Vivekananda points out that the defect of the present-day education is that it has no definite goal to pursue. A teacher, he says, has no clear idea about the goal of his teaching. Swamiji attempts to establish, through his words and deeds, that the end of all education is man making. He prepares the scheme of this man-making education in the light of his over-all philosophy of Vedanta. According to Vedanta, the essence of man lies in his soul, which he possesses in addition to his body and mind. In true with this philosophy, Swamiji defines education as ‘the manifestation of the perfection already in man.’ The aim of education is to manifest in our lives the perfection, which is the very nature of our inner self. This perfection is the realization of the infinite power which resides in everything and every-where-existence, consciousness and bliss (satchidananda). After understanding the essential nature of this perfection, we should identify it with our inner self. For achieving this, one will have to eliminate one’s ego, ignorance and all other false identification, which stand in the way. Meditation, fortified by moral purity and passion for truth, helps man to leave behind the body, the senses, the ego and all other non-self elements, which are perishable. He thus realizes his immortal divine self, which is of the nature of infinite existence, infinite knowledge and infinite bliss. At this stage, man becomes aware of his self as identical with all other selves of the universe, i.e. different selves as manifestations of the same self.
We have to remember that basis of Swamiji’s philosophy is Adwaita which preaches unity in diversity. Therefore, man making for him means a harmonious development of the body, mind and soul. Hence education, in Vivekananda’s sense, enables one to comprehend one’s self within as the self everywhere. The essential unity of the entire universe is realized through education. Accordingly, man making for Swamiji stands for rousing mans to the awareness of his true self. However, education thus signified does not point towards the development of the soul in isolation from body and mind. He often quotes the Upanishad dictum ‘nayamatma balahinena labhyah’; i.e. the self cannot be realized by the physically weak. In his scheme of education, Swamiji lays great stress on physical health because a sound mind resides in a sound body. According to Swamiji, the mind of the students has to be controlled and trained through meditation, concentration and practice of ethical purity.
All success in any line of work, he emphasizes, is the result of the...
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