This is a famous and most often quoted quote on education by Swami Vivekananda. It clearly demonstrates the clarity and crispness with which Swami Vivekananda delivered his messages.
As I was contemplating on this quote this morning, three important messages popped out from this statement – Manifestation, The Perfection, Already in Man…
Manifestation – It is not assimilation, but Manifestation Swamiji is talking about. The learning has to be manifested. Something is said to be manifested only when it finds an expression. Mere intellectualisation of concepts and ideas do not suffice. True education is to see that the learning has manifested in us and our works.
Agreed! One cannot change overnight. But, there is no purpose going on learning hundred things, without giving them scope to find expression in our life. It is advisable to take one thing at a time and incorporate it into our system, before we say we have learnt that. This holds true, especially for life lessons.
Perfection - Whatever we learn should be manifested. But the question arises… what should we learn? What should be manifested? Swamiji talks of manifestation of perfection. As it is the case with most of Ancient Indian Scriptural Concepts – Perfection, as used by Swami Vivekananda needs to be viewed from two levels/perspectives.
At the spiritual level, it denotes the divinity or completeness of an individual. The perfection or divinity in man should find expression as a result of education. In Swamiji’s own words…
“The Light Divine within is obscured in most people. It is like a lamp in a cask of iron, no gleam of light can shine through. Gradually, by purity and unselfishness, we can make the obscuring medium less and less dense, until at last it becomes transparent as glass”
Here Swamiji talks not only about the Divine within, but also the means by which that Divinity has to be brought out. More on this in a later blog.
At the practical, worldly or empirical level, perfection denotes the ability to address various problems human beings encounter in society. Again in Swamiji’s words…
“The education which does not help the common mass of people to equip themselves for the struggle for life, which does not bring out the strength of character, a spirit of philanthropy, and the courage of a lion – is it worth the name? Real education is that which enables one to stand on one’s own legs.”
Education must provide “life-building, man-making and character making” assimilation of ideas so as to develop an integrated person – one who has learned how to improve his intellect, purify his heart, handle his emotions and stand firm on moral virtues and unselfishness.
Already in Man - This is the key principle in the above quote. The perfection which has to be manifested, Swamiji declares – is already in man. When we already have it, what is the role of education? What are we learning? The process of education is actually a process of purification. A process by which we realise the perfectness within. A process which brings out the strength within and makes us courageous like a lion and help us stand on our own legs in this society.
Here lies the critical role of an educator – be it a parent at home or a teacher at school.
Here lies the importance of making education student centric.
It is an educator’s responsibility to throw light on the strengths of the student and facilitate ways and means to bring out those strengths, so as to nurture a confident and courageous adult. His/her role is that of a farmer, not a sculptor.