Sri Sathya Sai Addresses Spiritual Education Orientation Course at Brindavan

Tuesday, July 25, 1978 to
Thursday, August 3, 1978

A ten day orientation course on spiritual education at Brindavan was inaugurated by Swami on 25th July 1978. Over 600 teachers from the Elementary Schools of Andhra Pradesh participated. C. Gopinatha Rao, Joint Director of Public Instructions, Andhra Pradesh and Sri Venkatarama Reddy, Minister for Education, Andhra Pradesh addressed the delegates. Swami then blessed the delegates with His Inaugural Discourse. Excerpts included below:
"Education has the responsibility of rendering every field of life fruitful and beneficial. It has a duty to the nation to make people skillful and upright. Unfortunately the educational institutions of today are following a contrary path. Man alone, among living beings, has the capacity to recognise the Divinity in himself and in all else, the sacredness of his mission and the capacity to realise his manhood, which implies detachment, renunciation, virtuous conduct and disciplined behaviour. But these qualities are not developed to any significant extent by our education today. 

We now believe that the acquisition of knowledge is for the acquisition of wealth. But this is not right. True education is really related to the very consummation of life. It has to do with the goal of life more than the means of living. It is only through education and more education that we can instil into the mind of man the sacred ideals of human life.

Education is intended for the fulfillment of life

The cow yields milk only for feeding its calf. The calf after having its full, jumps about in joy and feels strong and happy. But we take hold of the milk intended for the calf and sustain ourselves with the strength it gives. So, also, education which is intended for the fulfilment of life is misused by us for the 'fill-fillment' of comfortable living. What we should do is to consider 'fill-fillment' as secondary and fulfilment as the primary purpose of education.

What we are today teaching and learning in schools cannot be considered Bharatiya education. Though our present system of education, is extolled as national education, it is in fact anti-national. It sometimes leads to the impoverishment of families because they have to sell even their properly to meet the expenses of the children. And what is the net gain? By education a young man gains a degree which is only another name for the bowl used for begging for jobs! Indian education should ideally emphasize self-reliance and independent living. It should confer on the student the courage to stand up against injustice, indiscipline, immorality and falsehood. It should grant steady faith in the Atman (Divinity) as the reality of man. These principles which should underlie Indian education are, to speak the truth, being gravely neglected by us.

Our ancient education gave scope for the exercise of the Divine qualities in man. India became celebrated for her culture because in the Gurukulas (hermitages) of ancient times, great teachers taught these ideals to their pupils, having already realised them in their own lives. Today much of the reform in our educational system is going to bring down the quality of the teachers.

Teachers must make efforts to live uprightly

The profession of a teacher is the most responsible one in every country. If the teacher strays from the path of truth, the entire society will suffer. So you must make every effort to live your life uprightly. You have in your charge, looking up to you for guidance, children so innocent that they have no knowledge yet of the world and its ways. It is only when the teacher himself is wedded to discipline and observes good habits that his pupils will be able to shape themselves into ideal individuals and citizens.

When the teacher falls a victim to bad habits, undesirable manners, bad company and evil behaviour, the children too will naturally be drawn into evil ways. Thus the teacher has to bear the responsibility of promoting the welfare of the world or bringing the world down to disaster. Of course even today there are some teachers who follow the ancient ideals. Indian culture is, even today, flesh and green only because there are in the country some teachers filled with holy feelings and sacred ideals.

In truth, teachers who got the chance to attend this camp are fortunate. From the vast expanse of Andhra Pradesh where we have thousands of teachers working in schools, you alone - about 600 of you have been selected to attend this camp. And you have been assigned the duty of moulding the children of your schools into ideal pupils.

Rishikuls have disappeared today

Every village school is to be transformed into a Gurukula and every teacher into a Rishi (sage) who will lead the children along the material, moral, ethical and spiritual paths, until they become ideal citizens of India. You too belong to the line of the ancient Rishis, because you have been chosen for this task. What has happened today is the disappearance of the Rishi from the Rishikul (abode of sage), so that it has become the miserable 'shkul' or school! 

You should not give room for any doubt and discussion on religious matters. You must recognize the truth that can reconcile and bring together all religions without distinction. Teach the children this truth and instill love and harmony in the tender minds of boys and girls. They are now lovely creepers who depend on you and your care for their proper growth and blossoming.

The holy undertaking has been started by the Chief Minister and the Minister for Education. They have planted the sapling. Your teachers are entrusted with the duty of tending it and making it grow into a fine tree which will offer its flowers and fruits to the world. You must help the flower of peace to blossom and the fruit of spiritual equanimity to be shared by all mankind. In fact you are not merely teachers at your own schools, but are teachers of the human race. 

Therefore, you have to cultivate in your own heart the spirit of sacrifice, the virtues of charity and the awareness of Divinity. Then only do you become entitled to cultivate these in the hearts of the children. But unfortunately, these principles of Indian education are absent in schools today. You must try your best to reshape the system and make it really Indian. Of course in the initial stages you will find this task very difficult and exhausting, but be assured that as you proceed you will find your task more and more easy.

Students must lead lives of service & sacrifice

In the coming days we will take up each subject and the possibilities and implications of teaching it. Out of these discussions will emerge resolutions and programmes which we can all consider later. During these ten days, each day will be devoted to the consideration of one aspect of spiritual and cultural education: How to develop the attitude of love among the children? How to make them recognise the kinship that unites all mankind? How to implant in their minds feelings against caste distinctions, regional differences and religious prejudices? How to bring out the Splendour of Divinity that is the core of humanity?These topics have to be given special attention.

Among the students of today there is little trace of moral and spiritual consciousness and the desire to judge what is right and what is wrong, India is an ancient nursery of yoga and home of renunciation. The students of this land should not waste their lives in seeking material comfort. They must lead lives of service and sacrifice. We must resolve to guide the students in this direction. It is indeed a matter of pride that for the first time such an attempt on such a large scale is being made in Andhra Pradesh, through an institution established under the auspices of the Government. Remember that mere attendance at this camp cannot bring much profit. Your teachers have to play a really diligent role in making this experiment a success.

Today humanness in man is absent

In schools we have teachers who teach history or geography or mathematics. The geography teacher opens out a map and points to some country and explains how people live there. The mathematics teacher writes on the black board: 13+3+3-9. The history teacher relates the story of a kingdom. But the drill teacher has to stand before the lined-up pupils and himself demonstrate what they should do while he counts one, two, three, four, etc. Every teacher, like the drill teacher, has to do what he says. He must demonstrate in his own life, the truth and validity of what he advises the pupils to do.
For example, he punishes them for smoking, beedis and cigarettes. But when he is himself addicted to smoking, what authority has he to advise others against it? By this type of hypocrisy the teacher loses all respect in the eyes of his pupils. If, however, you observe the rules you impose and then try to put them in practise, your advise is certain to be followed. When can you reach this stage? It is possible only when you become at least embodiments of humanness and when you recognise what the essential human qualities are.

The thought that arises in the mind, the word that is formed on the tongue and the act performed by the hand when these three form stages of the same process, they indicate humanness. Nowadays man appears to be man, but his humanness is absent, partly because he thinks one way, speaks another way and acts a third way. Speak what you think, do what you speak; that is the sign of true manhood. So you first act according to your own advice. Bring about consonance between your thought, word and deed, and then guide the children. Otherwise you, as teachers, cannot cut much ice with them.

Pupils in schools must have a strong foundation

Through the centuries India has nursed many religions, creeds and sects. But the essence of all Shastras (spiritual sciences) is that in every being there exists the Divine. The teaching of this essence is very necessary today. As the Minister for Education said just now, the foundation of an edifice has to be very strong. Even a small house requires a foundation. For a tree to grow, the roots have to be strong indeed. Without roots the tree will collapse with the first gust of wind. A house without a foundation will also fall down in a heap. Similarly, pupils in schools must have, for their satisfactory progress in life, a strong foundation. And what is a strong foundation? Moral, ethical and spiritual knowledge and experience are the best foundation.

But there is no use simply talking about foundation. When are we to build on it? We are all the time discussing only the plan. This present movement for Abhyudayas (Progressive Primary Schools) is only the foundation. High schools would be the walls, and colleges the roof. All the three have to be planned at the same time. They are going to complement one another. Today we are laying the foundation, but that is not the end. The building has to be erected. The sapling is planted but it still has to be watered, manured and carefully tended. 

To be born as a human is the highest fortune of Jeeva (individual being). So you must make the best use of this rare chance. You must practise in daily life what the Atman (inner conscience) urges you to do. When this is done, the villagers will also be charged with spiritual adventure through their children, and the entire Andhra Pradesh will vibrate with a new enthusiasm. I desire that you should make all efforts in this direction. I wish you would take a vow in this regard for, believe Me, there is no sacrifice higher than this, no yoga nobler than this, no offering holier to God than this…”

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