Education is the Manifestation of Perfection Already Existing in Man

Winner Of CSC October 2021 Essay Competition : Somaiya Ruhee Nabha (Punjab)

Since a long time, education has been given paramount importance in our life. Many great thinkers, philosophers, social reformers, great educators and revolutionaries have shed light on role of education in improving our lives.

Swami Vivekananda, the great social reformer and thinker of India in the 19th century (1863-1902) had quoted on education - “Education is the manifestation of perfection already existing in man”. During the life time of Vivekananda, education scenario in India was dismal. So, he made education as the mission of his life. He travelled a lot in India to propagate the importance of education. Without education, it was impossible to achieve the social reforms in India. At that time, many social ills were prevailing in the society. He intended to remove those social disparities and some bad rituals.

Only education can remove the social and global evils. Education can awake a man to his spiritual self. Through proper education, there is negligible chance of deviation from the moral path to the immoral path. Through education man becomes rational. His thinking, activities and behavior are based on rationality. In present day, education system in India is defective as it has no definite goal to achieve. Through this education system, a man becomes literate but not educated. This is the reason that the qualified youths are doing heinous crimes. The aim of education must be man-making. Man making stands for arising man to the awareness of his true self. Man making means a harmonious development of the body, mind and soul. Vivekananda said these things in the light of philosophy of Vedanta. According to Vedanta, essence of a man lies in his soul, in addition to his body and mind. Education is the process by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased and intellect is sharpened.

Perfection, which is the very nature of our inner self, can be manifested only through education. Everyone has infinite power and it can be realized through education. Ego, ignorance and false identification must be removed for achieving perfection and these can be eliminated by meditation. We know that body, the senses, the ego and all other non-self elements are perishable and temporary. The essential unity of entire universe can be realized through education. For education, physical health must be strong as the sound body harbours sound mind. Self cannot be realized by the physically weak person. Mind of the students must be managed and trained through meditation, concentration and practice of ethical purity. Power of concentration gives success. Education is comprehensive training for life and not mere accumulation of information. According to Vivekananda, “Education is not the amount of information that is put into your brain and runs riot these undigested, all your life”. He says "If education is identified with information, the libraries are the greatest sages in the world and encyclopedias are the rishis”. Thus getting more and more information from books and any such other sources is not education. In these modern times, there is intense competition to score high and high in the examinations. Parents, teachers and students all try to get 100 percent marks. Their aim is not to get education but to cross the cut-throat competition. Vivekananda rejects the concept of bright student concept in present times.

Knowledge is inherent in man, it comes from inside, not from outside. What a man ‘knows’ or ‘learns’ is what he ‘discovers’. Our soul is a mine of infinite knowledge. All secular and spiritual knowledge is already in our mind. It is not purely new or strange. Only it was un-manifested. In many cases, knowledge is covered. When the lid of covering is slowly taken off, then we say that we are learning. A man has immense potential. ‘Potential’ means the range of abilities and talents, known or unknown that a man is born with. Potential indicates the possibility of awaking something that is lying dormant.

Israel Scheffler, an American philosopher of science and education, in his book, ‘Of Human Potential’ says the word potential has three aspects or dimensions- (1) Capacity is to acquire a specific character (2) Propensity is what a person is likely to do when the opportunity comes and freedom of choice is available. In other words we can say it is something about a person’s motivation (3) Capability is a person’s motivation and efficiency in working towards an intended outcome. It also refers to something more than a person’s capacity to perform. It is person’s strength and capacity to get rid of obstacles to his learning. It is commonly seen that negative thoughts weaken our minds. Education cannot be imparted by negative words. Kind words encourage boys and girls and they are bound to improve with time. A negative education or any training based on negation is worse than death.

Robert Frost, an American poet, once said that “Education is a kind of awaking from the empty darkness to a wide and bright world”. He also said “I am not a teacher, but an awakener”.

Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the US, once wrote a thought provoking letter to his son’s teacher. He narrates the real value of education. He tells the teacher to teach his son many things such as – (a) it is far honourable to fail than to cheat (b) teach him not to follow the crowd (c) teach him to listen to all men and take only the good that comes through (d) teach him never to put a price-tag on his heart and soul (e) let him have the patience to be brave.

In this context, Margaret Mead, an American cultural anthropologist, author and speaker said “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think”.