Thursday, June 17, 2010

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 27 (Vol #4) Dated 17 June 2010.

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 27 (Vol #4) Dated 17 June 2010.

(These e-mails are translations of talks given by Periyaval of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, over a period of some 60 years while he was the pontiff in the earlier part of the last century. These have been published by Vanadi Padippagam, Chennai, in seven volumes of a thousand pages each as Deivathin Kural. Today we are proceeding from the second paragraph on page 163 of Vol 4 of the Tamil original. The readers are reminded that herein 'man/he' includes 'woman/she' too, mostly. These e-mails are all available at http://Advaitham.blogspot.com constantly.)
145. The Definition of a Student. Manu has spoken highly of the need to control the senses from going astray. Celibacy of Brhmacharyam he calls ‘Indriya Samyama’, which can be translated as ‘regulation of the senses’. Their tendency of the senses to run from pillar to post is to be curbed! This control is not only so as to increase the grasping power of the student but also to enable refinement and ennoblement of the individual. You will agree that after all is said and done, that progressive improvement of each individual is the aim of all education!
146. Manu has clearly defined the daily duties of the student. Doing the Sandya Vandanam(thrice daily, morning, after-noon and evening); Agni Hotram (that is the act of Samitadanam of placing dry twigs twice daily in to the fire to the accompaniment of mantras, as an offering to the Agni, the God of fire); study and practice of the portion of the Vedas already committed to memory known as ‘swaadhyaayam’; to beg and collect rations for being cooked by the Guru’s wife, known as Bikshacharyam; to bring fire wood from the forest; to bring soft clean earth used as a body wash; to pluck flowers from the garden for devotional pooja by the Guru; ask the Guru to explain portions of what one has learnt, for clarification of doubts known as ‘pravachanam’; and such things! Whatever you may or may not do, Swaadyaayam and Pravachanam are not to be missed, says Taitreeya Upanishad also.
147. In this system we should take note of the fact that along with the growth and refinement of brains and behaviour, the brawn is also being taken care of! Early morning bath in cold water is a healthy habit. Doing the PraaNaayaama by itself or as a part of the three times Sandya Vandanam is an effective breathing exercise. Surya Namaskara is a complete exercise in which the whole body gets a nice workout! The difference between other types of exercises and PraaNaayaama and Yogaasana is that the former builds in tension in to the muscles while the latter removes the tensions, while making the muscles more agile and powerful! In activities like Bikshacharyam and collection and cutting of fire wood, while one instils humility, the other builds muscle power!
148. Human life has to take care of the body, mind and the inner being. The education of olden times was capable of taking care of all the three! I told you so far about that education system to the extent that I am aware of. There are many more things yet to be told to you. There may be many things unknown to me also!
149. It is only after this, during the time of Buddhists and Jains, bigger Universities came into being, than any time in the past! Even before that there were many disciplines as given in the Chandogya Upanishad. To teach so many subjects, there were bigger institutions. They were functioning like a number of state governments function under a central set up with comparative freedom in certain areas and centralised control in certain other areas! Similarly, there were separate Aachaaryaas experts in some subjects, with a group of students to whom they gave individual attention. The Aachaaryaas and the students under him were inturn beholden to the Kulapathy, who mainly supervised and led them all by knowledge and character qualities. So education instead of being limited to knowledge for earning ones keep, was a wholesome approach towards all aspects of progressing and ennobling ones existence!
150. To have a Kulapathy at the apex and have a number of teachers responsible for each batch of students happened in some rare places only. There were more individual Guru Kulams than the sort of federal set up, I talked about. May be they learnt Meemamsai under one Guru, Nyayam under another, Vedantam under a third and so on. Even today there are some who change Guru Kulam for higher levels of knowledge or for a change in subject.
151. Point to note here is that, even when they functioned under one Kulapathy say, the Guru Kulams were still small organizations based on individual family set ups only! They were still based on the individual Guru’s knowledge, character qualities and power of years of meticulous sincere practice of Anushtaanaa!
152. Individual Guru’s Greatness. To be able to attract clientele these days one relies on advertisement and publicity, not all of them true and honourable! But in the olden times, the Gurus had to be people of sterling character, real scholarship and humaneness! Otherwise no father would have come forward to leave his own off spring of such tender age, under the care of such a teacher, that too for twelve long years! The students themselves were the best advertisements for such schools, for real publicity that spread by word of mouth.
153. When it becomes a huge institution with many instructors, readers, lecturers, Gurus and so on, it has to become a bit of a mix, whose faults and deficiencies will not be so apparent, as in the case of Guru Kulam run by one Guru. When you make a garland of jasmines, even a single mix of a different flower will be easily noticeable! In the case of a mix of a ‘Kadambam’ any order or any combination will look alright. Do we not make a decorative mosaic of broken pieces of stones and glass?
154. Similarly, making use of not so very efficient human beings, with organizational power you can make any event look impressive! But if you are looking for eternal real values, you cannot have more than one Guru, as they say that, ‘at any one time, you cannot serve under more than one master’! If the aim is for the children to learn not only the subject matter, but also good manners and character, organizations can never match what can be done by individual Gurus! In institutions, knowledge can be imparted and tested as to what has been grasped. But, only when the Master is having the student live with him, where he can see his behaviour from so many angles, can he test and guide the student in a holistic perspective.
155. When the student is admitted in the schools today, his grasp, intelligence, level up to which he has progressed till then and retentivity, can be assessed. There is no scope for testing the character qualities of the student. You cannot know whether the student is good / bad and how good or bad, he or she is. It is not possible to make an assessment as to whether the student can be corrected and or drop him if he or she is beyond redemption! Whereas in our old system, there was no education not related to morally acceptable character qualities!
156. That is the reason why, at the end of Bhagawat Gita, Bhagawan Sri Krishna emphasises that, “idam te na atapaskaaya na abhaktaaya na cha asusrushave...”, (Ch.18. Sloka 67.), meaning, that this knowledge may not be imparted to someone, ‘who is not keen enough, not devoted enough or not willing to serve the Master’! This restriction is equally applicable to all education. Saastraas forbid that unless the student has lived in the Guru Kulam at least for one year, some serious matters may not be taught to the student at all! (“na samvatsara vaasine prbruyaat”.) There is no scope for such checks and control in the present day environment! In the bargain, only adding knowledge and brain power seems to be the interest areas. Such gaining of knowledge can be both constructive and destructive!
157. There is one more point that comes to my mind. At the end of the year, the Guru may decide that though the student is not fit for learning, he is good enough as a work horse! How are we going to ensure such a misuse of position and power is not done? It is clearly given in the Saastraas that, if the Guru does not impart Vidya to the student, even after the passage of a year, the Guru is to be incurring ‘paapa’ or sin. Even otherwise all the sins of the student will anyhow accrue to the Guru only. Not teaching the student, while keeping him in the Guru Kula is another additional sin.
158. There are some stories of Gurus who did not impart education to the student for a number of years. This he did just to bring out as to how intense was the disciple’s devotion that he never questioned the Guru’s discretion! Individual level of education was thus good both for the student and the Guru, as compared with institutional endeavours! The Guru had to demonstrate not only his high level of knowledge, but also had to be of a high moral fibre, capable of motivating the student to emulate and follow!
(To be continued.)
Sambhomahadeva.

Labels: