Sri Sathya Sai On: The Education Needed Today

No object in the world can be without a creator.  Here is a loudspeaker. It has the power to broadcast sound. Someone must produce it. Who could have created it? It must be someone who has the knowledge and skill to produce such a contrivance. He may not be visible to you, but somewhere the person who produced it must exist. The person who produced  your  watch might  exist  in  Germany  or Switzerland  or  Japan.  He is  not visible  to  you  but  without  such  a person the watch could not have come into existence. For everything, which man enjoys in daily life there is a creator. But we are also seeing objects, which are beyond human capacity. The stars, which twinkle in the sky, demonstrate their existence. The glory of the sun and the moon, which illumine the world, is also visible to us. These are not human creations. Have they come into existence by themselves or is there someone who is not visible to us responsible for their existence? What kind of person could be the creator of these super objects? Can any ordinary person create the stars or the sun or the moon? The Supreme  Power  which  has  the  capacity  to  create  such marvellous  things has been described by the Vedas as Aprameya (One who is  beyond all proofs and all limitations. He cannot be described in words). The primary objective of man must be to seek and understand this Infinite Power. It would be a total waste of this human existence if one does not make any effort to find out the nature of the Creator. To recognise the Creator, there are certain criteria. There are three types of evidence determining the existence of a thing. The first is Pratyaksha (direct perception), the second is Anumana (inference) and the third is Shabda (the authority of revealed scriptures).

Three Ways of Determining the Existence of Brahman

We generally consider direct perception as the most important type of evidence. We are able to see our body. We are able to see how many hands we have, how many legs we have, how many eyes and so on. That is not all. We  boil  milk and add some  curd  to  it  at  night and  the next morning find  that the milk has turned into curd. For the conversion of milk to curd, our own action provides the direct proof. The evidence of our own eyes is enough to convince us about how the change from milk to curd has occurred. We do not need anyone else’s authority for that. But, our mind is not visible. We cannot understand the meaning of Atma. We believe in the existence of the Atma on the strength of the statements made by the great sages who have had the experience and who have conveyed the teaching.

Anumana or inference is another form of proof. We see smoke on the top of a distant hill. We infer from the smoke that there must be a fire on the hill. Although we see only the smoke, we infer that there is fire. To infer the existence of the ‘unseen’ from the presence of what is ‘seen’ is Anumana Pramana (inferential proof).

To take another instance - if a person who has gone to Kashi gives us a description of the place, those who may have seen the place would be able to appreciate or agree with the account given by the visitor. But, those who have not been to the place can only appreciate the verbal description but cannot have the experience of direct perception. But  these  methods  of determining  facts  are  applicable  only  to  the  external  universe. However, for determining the Divine Principle, we must depend only on the Shabda Pramana of the Vedas. When the Divine is described, as the One without attributes, eternal, ever existing, pure, free, and Self-effulgent, this description will not make Brahman visible to us. It is only when the state of Brahman is realised by us that its existence becomes valid.

Asti, Bhaati, Priyam

All subjects in the universe have three characteristics, which are derived from the Divine. These are Asthi, Bhaati and Priyam. These qualities are also otherwise represented by the terms Sat, Chit and Ananda - Being, Awareness and Bliss. The existence of an object is derived from Asti. What it is, is known from Bhaati, that is, from how it appears to our eyes. That it is a useful or enjoyable object is derived, from the quality of Priyam. While these three are fundamental qualities, the forms and names may change. For instance, a silver plate is capable of being, converted to some other article. Silver is fundamental and the value of the article, is dependent not on the form or the name but on the silver in the article.

While man can change the forms and names of objects, he cannot create the basic materials out of which the various objects are made.  Similarly, the scientist makes use of materials available from nature for conversion to various uses but the primary material itself is not created by him. Man must seek that which is unchanging.  What exactly is the underlying cause of all the conflicts and confusions that affect the world today? The institutions imparting learning have succeeded in equipping man with fantastic skills. Look at the field of atomic engineering or space exploration and conquest. Man has achieved astounding feats. But, in actual daily life, these feats have not resulted in peace, happiness and harmony. Castes, races and classes clash with each other with unremitting hate. Even students and the youth have taken to this dangerous course.  The situation is fast becoming beyond control.

What is True Education?

The number of students in schools and colleges is sky-rocketing. We proclaim that formal education, which was for long the privilege of a few scholars and the sons of the rich, is now provided at the very doors of everyone. We rejoice when schools and colleges rise up more and more in every country of the world, without realising that what is happening through them is ‘the worsening of the sickness of the community’. Unrest, fear and anxiety are increasing because of improper and incomplete education. Education can yield peace and prosperity only when, along with technical skills and objective information, students are equipped with moral ideals, righteous living and spiritual insight. Now, the education process does not involve itself in these values. It works even counter to them. It is quite unwilling to emphasize Dharmic living. It lays no stress on morals. Consequently, the products of this process, who have no sense of values, gradually enter the professions  and  positions  of  authority  in  the  administration  of  nations  and  rise  up  in  time  to higher levels. The world has come to the brink of disaster as a result.
Bharat which shone among the comity of nations as the land of forbearance,  self-control  and service,  is being  fast  converted into  a  land  pursuing  pleasure. Each  one  desires  to  loll  on  sofas  in  air-conditioned  office  rooms. Can this be named pleasure? Can this be the ideal for an educated person? No. This state will only breed physical and mental illness.

How can a student be regarded as a success, if at the end of the course, he knocks at the door of every office,  exhibiting  the  diploma  he has  secured,  and  clamouring  like a  beggar  asking  for jobs? Education has conferred on him this disgraceful role. Can it claim that it has done its duty? No. The educated person must serve the people through sweat and toil. Education has to inspire youth to offer service, to sacrifice and to help. It must not inspire youth to amass money as its goal,  and  to travel  farther  and  farther  to earn  more and more of it. For, accumulated money breeds arrogance and arrogance brings in its train other vices.

Humility is the Hallmark of True Education

Modern education is creating for the nation a deplorable malady. Originally, the British instituted a system  of  education  in  India primarily  to  prepare  men  for administrative jobs. Today, education  has  been  expanded  and  we  have  to  create  more jobs,  and  with  greater emoluments. The  result  is  that the  government  has  to  spend  more  and  more  on  salaries  and  face  increasing demands from public servants. There are strikes for higher wages and when wages are increased, taxes have to be increased. The result is increase in prices and increasing discontent. Prices can come down only when the people's desires are limited and the demand for goods is reduced.

Many people feel proud of the enormous expansion of education in the country. But, is there any reason for feeling pleased with this situation? An unhealthy expansion of education is as undesirable as unhealthy bloating of the body. Acquiring degrees at great cost and developing contempt for one's parents out of intellectual pride is not a sign of proper education. Humility is the hallmark of true education.  Arrogance, envy and ostentation should have no place in a properly educated person.

Men  crave  for  peace  and  happiness  but  they do  things  which  can  only bring  unhappiness  and worry. Having been born as human beings, you should try to rise above the level of animals. You are all essentially sparks from the Divine, but like sparks coming from a furnace which after a time  turn  into  ash,  you  are  forgetting  your  Divine  origin. While  pursuing  your  education  for worldly  purposes,  you  should  also  pursue  the  spiritual  discipline,  which  will  lead  you  to  the Divine. You must consider yourself extremely fortunate in studying in this institution, in which there is a spiritual atmosphere. If you adhere to Sai ideals and practise even a small fraction of Sai teachings, you will be realising the true purpose of education and the true object of human life.

Education without right conduct is of no value. You must make use of what you have learnt, not only for earning a living but also for service to society. Only then will your degrees have any meaning. Whatever job you may take up, wherever you may be working, you must continue to practice spiritual discipline and aim at Self-realisation. Without a spiritual basis, education is futile. May you all lead exemplary lives, bring happiness to your parents and render help to society, and bring credit to the Institution where you have studied for many years.

Source: My Dear Students Volume 2; Divine Discourse on March 1, 1981 at Brindavan

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