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Summer Course Discourse - 16 May (Evening)
Ideals of Education in Ancient India
lose one's wealth; but it can still be earned back;
One may lose friends; but better ones can be befriended later;
One may lose one's wife; but remarriage is still possible;
One may lose land and estates; but these also can be regained;
These are all those that can be recovered somehow or the other;
But the body that is lost can never be regained
All the happiness that needs to be enjoyed, pleasures and comforts that need to be experienced in this life should be experienced while the body lasts. Our ancients underwent severe problems and faced trying times while safeguarding their bodies. Yet, they failed in being able to retain their bodies eternally. Though the body is not permanent, every effort can be made to obtain those items that give us bliss.
India is a land that has been the birthplace of all knowledge and branches of education. The science of Numerology has its origin in India. Grammar, Music and fine arts were all born in India. That which is not found in India cannot be found anywhere else. It is therefore said "Yenna Bharathe, thanna Bharatha".
India also gave birth to people with outstanding character. The great lady Savithri prayed to the lord and succeeded in bringing back to life her dead husband by the power of her devotion. By the power of her adherence to truth, the Queen Chandramathi could extinguish a raging fire; Sita could successfully pass through fire as a testimony to her chastity. Damayanthi could instantly burn to ashes the evil and wicked hunter who tried to misbehave with her. Are these ladies not the shining examples of noble souls of India? If this country has had prosperity, peace and bountiful harvest, it is because of these noble souls. They have enabled India to stand as a teacher to the rest of the world.
However today there are some ignorant people who think that they can obtain certain things in foreign countries, which they are not able to find here and hence migrate out of Bharath. What is it that you cannot obtain in this sacred land? It is the storehouse of all knowledge and action - the land that confers deservedness on each and everyone. If you are determined and make sincere efforts, there is nothing that you cannot achieve or obtain in Bharath.
Indians faced several obstacles while experimenting and inventing new methods in education. Each university had its area of specialization. At Kaasi, there were masters who were authorities in grammar- Vyakarana Sasthra. The land of Kashmir specialized in Rhetoric - Alankara. Ujjaini University imparted knowledge in the specialized area of law- Nyayasastra. In this way, each university specialized and taught one particular subject and popularised it. In Emperor Bharatha's kingdom, enormous emphasis was laid on health sciences and medicine. Charaka was a master physician who established a center of advanced learning in this area. All these universities belonged to ancient India and cannot be seen in this age. There were several such reputed universities in ancient Bharath.
The universities of yore did not have huge buildings and infrastructure. The residence of the teacher himself was the university. The students were few in number. However, the capacity to impart knowledge was immense. The teacher could teach in such lucid and simple terms that even tiny tots could easily understand the higher sciences and subjects. The tree under which they sat was the classroom. As the cool breeze blew, the soft words of the teacher wafted over like waves and were imprinted in the minds of the students. Such educational institutions thrived in ancient Bharath. About 400-500 years back, the Britishers attempted to investigate the cause for the stupendous success of ancient Indian Universities. They however failed in their endeavour.
The true basis for the high standard of learning of ancient Indians was the sense of sound and not the written word. The education process was entirely based on sound. There was no practice at all of writing on slates or notebooks. There was an excellent synthesis of the spoken word leaving the teacher's mouth and reaching the ears of the students straight away. The entire process of communication was only verbal. There was no rigid timetable, or even curricula and syllabi. The teachers would teach the student any science or subject that he was keen to learn. There was no Government control, rules or regulations. The learning process was therefore entirely heart-to-heart . The students would keep their hearts open. The teachers made every effort to readily fill these open hearts. The time of day or night never mattered. Lessons were taught at anytime. There were no fees of any sort charged for education. The hearts of the teachers were highly pure and sacred. It was this heart-to-heart learning that enabled India to propagate wisdom and knowledge throughout the world.
Thus the educational system of India was highly valuable and infused joy. Today, the Indians are losing these latent and blissful educational secrets. Once lost, it will prove extremely difficult to regain them. This kind of education must hence not be lost. We must always be prepared to keep the heart pure and sacred. The upkeep and maintenance of the gurus was the responsibility of the society. Depending on their capacity and capability, the citizens would contribute for the livelihood of the teachers. But never was any fee collected from the students.
What was the main duty of the students in those days? They would rise early in the morning, perform their ablutions and prayers and then set out to beg for alms from house to house. The food collected was handed over to the teacher. The teacher would then eat whatever was required for him and the rest would be partaken by the students as sanctified food. It was in such a sacred atmosphere that in ancient Bharath, sciences, art and literature were taught and propagated.
Indian education was sacred, highly valuable and deeply profound in its content. Such nectarine knowledge is today being discarded as waste. The university of Ujjaini taught law. The science of law was taught and preserved in a pristine and pure form there. Today's laws are distorted into illegalities. On the other hand, at Ujjaini, even matters that could not be legally interpreted elsewhere could be effectively dealt with. No scope was given for anything that was unlawful to enter its portals. Bharath was famous for propagating and teaching such lofty ideals and for its dedicated teachers and students.
What were the residential arrangements in those days? The caves like Ajanta and Ellora were the places where they lived and dined. The teachers were highly dedicated and selfless. Every nectarine thought and word that originated in their heart was transferred to the students in a loving way. The day education was made into a commercial activity, the minds of students too started to turn crooked. In those days, food or education was never sold.
Education was made available free of cost. Goddess Saraswathi was not bound by anybody. Such a Goddess has been imprisoned by the shackles of commerce and trade. Education is being subjected to all kinds of perversions. Goddess Saraswathi is also called 'Mahabharathi'. She resided and imparted unparalleled knowledge to the Indians and allowed them to grow in wisdom and to prosper. She was also extolled and worshipped by grateful teachers and students for her grace. Saraswathi, Bhagawathi, Bharathi, Poornendubimbanana - these were her various names. It is now prohibited by governments, laws and regulations to even utter the name of such a Goddess! Prayers invoking the Goddesses enabled her to lend purity and sweetness to the words of ancient Indians. She also protected the country with her grace. Goddess Lakshmi, also called Indira, was worshipped and revered. Indira, Lokathatama, Ramamangaladevata, Bhargavi, Lokajanani, Ksheera sagara kanyaka - she was thus extolled by her various names.
It is in such a sacred land that God has repeatedly taken human form. Divinity is not some incomprehensible figure or entity. Divinity is actually most easily visible and experienced. Divinity incarnates in the human form. Today, however, man is not ready to accept this reality. In all the three paths of Karma (action), Gnana (Knowledge) and Upasana (extolling) that man undertakes to achieve realization, he offers several prayers to God and extols Divinity in several ways.
In all the states of ancient India, education was offered free of cost. Food was got from the houses of the rich and wealthy. This food was equally shared among all the students. The students would also treat the food as the very nectar itself and then attend to their studies. There were no divisions based on the caste, community, race or religion. All were treated equally. Music, literature, dance and fine arts were all encouraged and fostered. Carpentry, Pottery and various branches of Smithy were also given priority and taught with enthusiasm. The aim was to cause the emancipation of the students through proper education. The teacher taught every form of education. Without the teacher, there can be no scope for the student to learn anything. The teacher must be one who can set the aim of student on the correct goal.
Charaka was a highly learned scholar. He contributed much towards the medical sciences and took upon himself to propagate it. His was a very well known name in the field of medical sciences. Today, to perform a heart surgery, the heart-lung machine and several other complicated and sophisticated equipment is required. No such gadgetry like heart-lung machine was ever employed in those days. Charaka would utter hymns in the praise of God, place his hand on the heart of the patient and be lost in a trance of bliss. The heart diseases would subsequently vanish without a trace. For that matter, every disease had a suitable melodious hymn invoking God's grace. In this way, God's grace invariably cured all physical, mental, psychic and even spiritual ailments.
Embodiments of love!
It is impossible to take even a single step without the grace of God. Sadly today, man's every step is steeped in unlawfulness and unrighteousness. All his thoughts are selfish and evil. His vision is tainted with lack of any warmth of love. Progress towards reaching high standards has stagnated. Every man needs to ingrain and grow in his heart the tender feeling of love. Charaka expounded this very philosophy. God is not in some distant land, but resides in your very heart. He is with you, within you, above and below you and also around you. Discarding such an easy path and accepting other torturous routes, man is subjecting himself to needless agony and suffering. On the other hand, people in ancient days would instantly get rid of any suffering - all by chanting the sacred name of the Lord.
In the Kali age, there can be no better panacea for our suffering than Namasmarana - chanting the Lord's name. No greater or more potent weapon can even be there to help man surmount his obstacles. Chanting the Lord's name once can enable man to experience enormous bliss. No one is making efforts to understand the power of the Lord's name. In the krutha yuga, meditation was practiced. In the treta yuga, yagnas were conducted. Worship was prescribed in the dwapara yuga. But in the kali yuga, namasmarana is considered ideal to win God's grace. In this way, in all the four yugas, God's name was extolled and propagated.
Students, if you really comprehend the truth, you will see that there can be no strength or power that lies outside you. The tremendous power of magnetism resides in man alone. All the powers of this world have originated from man. Though man is such a powerful entity, he is today deluding himself to be a weakling and is suffering. You are all divine. There is no God separate from you. He resides in your heart. Close your eyes and you will have a blissful glimpse of Him. It is because you do not have this faith that you are unable to see Him.
Ujjaini, Kasi and Kashmir- these were all seats of enormous power, strengthened by the sanctity of Indian thought and wisdom. Navadweepapura was another center of learning for law. Tenets of law that could not be interpreted elsewhere were easily explained and assimilated here. Sadly, we are today discounting the great wealth and power of knowledge in India and are instead traveling abroad to seek strength and wisdom. This is a highly mean and mistaken outlook. Such ignorance should be driven away. The illumination of wisdom and awareness must be lit in us. It is only then that we can experience the divine and sacred bliss.
Embodiments of love!
I shall explain to you in the coming days the influence of educational institutions. What you need to know today is that all strengths and powers are there in India. All knowledge and sciences have had their birth in India. It is the ancient Indians who discovered the fine arts like music, literature and poetry. Why are we then neglecting such a holy land? This is the mark of ignorance of a high degree. Students cannot recognize this truth and are today striving to earn worldly pleasures. These will never be obtained. Even if obtained, they will not last long. Hence we should realize that in this puppet called the human body lie all forms of strengths.
At one time, during the Second World War, there was a danger that external forces would invade India. A communist leader approached me and said, "Boy! I understand that you can compose excellent poems. Will you compose one on our leader and sing it?" I then asked him to fetch a cradle and composed a song on the spot. It sounded like a lullaby.
Do not cry, O' infant, do not cry my child ;
If you cry you will not be called a valiant son of Bharat.
Go to sleep, my child, go to sleep
Did you get scared that the terrible Hitler has invaded the invincible Russia and cry?
Go to sleep, my child, go to sleep
Do not cry my child, for the red army is marching under the heroic Stalin;
They will put an end to atrocities of Hitler
Go to sleep, my child, go to sleep
All the countrymen shall unite and fight to win freedom;
Go to sleep, my child, go to sleep.
I would compose several such songs with deep meaning and cause joy to the villagers by having them sung. Many of them wondered as to how this tiny tot Sathyanarayana Raju had come to know of Hitler and Stalin. These names were unknown to most of the people in that region. Know that there is nothing that Sai does not know. Yet I pretend as if I am not aware. I ask some people, "When did you come?" They may bemoan that Sai Baba is even unaware of when they have arrived! I do know. But I still ask the question to give you the happiness of having spoken to Me. My only intention in asking such questions is to make you happy. I do not entertain the thought that you may doubt me. I do not allow such assumptions to prevent Me from giving you this joy.
People used to address me as Satya. Some students came to me and requested that I versify into a poem an entire drama that they were planning to enact. I agreed and I asked for two students. I taught them the song and sent them out to sing
What are these times that have descended on us,
O' folks! What are these times that have descended on us!
The talcum powder has formed a cheap substitute for the turmeric powder;
O' folks! What are---------!
Healthy brass bracelets have given way to cheap trinkets and chains;
O' folks! What are----------!
In this way, I used to propagate to the public lessons that needed to be taught.
People hang a silver disc from a leather strap on their left wrists - and call it fashion!
Grotesque appearances are made that cannot be seen by the eyes - and they call it fashion!
Long moustaches have been cut to small blips -and they call it fashion!
I would compose such songs that poked fun at some of these modern fads and try to draw the public attention, particularly the youth, towards ancient customs and traditions.
Karnam Subbamma was a noble and pious lady. She loved Me a lot. I was then just seven years of age. It was not habitual to go to her house as soon as she called Me to! She would keep asking Me, "Child! Why do you not come to my house?" I would respond, " I am not a beggar to keep visiting others' houses. I shall come only if invited and not otherwise". She then prayed, "Son! My husband is taking to immoral ways and ruining himself. Can you help me in correcting him?" Bhagawan replied, "I shall take a very strong action on him. You need not have any fear or trouble on this account." I then taught some small boys to sing in front of him. Karnam Subbamma was worried that he would get angry. I comforted her saying, "A person's anger is his own enemy. It cannot harm Me." I would then train the small boys and leave them to sing in such a way that he learnt a very good lesson. This was a task that could not be achieved by mild and soft words. Only hard-hitting words would prick him and make him feel guilty. The children were scared. I gave them strength by saying that I would be with them."
The Karnam was called Narayana Rao. I wrote a poem specially to correct him, passages of which ran as follows:
You will become an outcaste among your own community ;
Your relatives will not entertain you and will drive you out ;
Your friends will beat you with their slippers if they see you!
I used such harsh words and advised him to give up his misdirected ways. The bolt hit home! The Karnam learnt a good lesson and gave up his vices. Subbamma was thrilled. Though I was a small boy, she ran and fell at My feet and thanked Me profusely. I told her to stop it since I was much younger to her. She brushed my objections aside and said, "Your physical stature may be small, but in that is hidden an enormous Divine power. There is none else who can be so daringly forceful and set right so powerful a figure as the Karnam!" She then turned to Pedda Venkappa Raju and said, "Venkappa! You consider this small boy as your son. You are deceiving yourself. He is very powerful. He will set ideals for the whole world to emulate in future. You must stop developing the feeling that He is your son. Send Him to my house." Pedda Venkappa Raju replied, "It is not in our family to give out children for adoption. Whatever be our limited capacity, we shall look after Him ourselves. I cannot send Him to another house."
In this way, I did not allow Myself to be caught by anybody. I lived a life of solitude with courage. It was a free life because I had no defects or shortcomings. So what did I have to fear? I went forward cheerfully and fearlessly.
I had also written some dramas. It is raining today and that is why I am narrating these stories to you. Otherwise, I would never tell them! I had several small plays staged by the small children. One such drama was entitled: "Cheppinattu Chestara" (Do they act as they speak?) The central characters were the mother and father at home and the teacher. The mother in the drama would conduct a Satsang in the evening for a few ladies in which she would expound the inner meanings of the holy texts. Her name was Kameshwari. This character was based on the wife Panchaangamu Ramappa's wife. Whenever she discoursed, I would sit there. She would read the highly philosophical Vedantic texts. She would actually find it difficult to understand these and even had the handicap of not knowing the alphabets properly. She would still try to somehow go on. She used to explain the various attributes of God and describe Him as highly righteous and as the Embodiment of Truth. I then wrote a song that ended with the words "Taarakamu sootigaa Erukavalenanna". She would struggle to explain its meaning verbatim! I would then take a suitable opportunity to go and explain to her that it would be better if she could explain the verses rather than simply read them out.
Women were hardly educated in those days. They would assemble near such erudite ladies and spent their time listening to sacred hymns and stories about the Divine. I was hence organising such groups right from those days. I used to encourage the effects of good company. I had assembled the little children and organised the Pandari Bhajan group. They would wear anklets that tinkled, cymbals that clanged and would enthusiastically sing and dance along the streets, waking up slumbering villagers. Earlier, these people would not rise till 7.00 a.m. But when I started organising the bhajans with the children they would be up by 5.00 a.m., have their baths and offer prayers to God.
Taking cymbals in the hand,
Tying them up firmly to the hand,
Clanging the together to beat out desire and anger from within,
Let us take the path to Shirdi,
Let us sing 'Jai Jai Ranga'
Let us sing 'Jai Jai Sai'
Let us sing 'Jai Jai' and hurry towards the Lord
Thus began the idea of Nagarsankeerthana - waking up the villagers with sacred songs. I started Nagarsankeerthana when this body was 7 years only! Subbamma would quietly join the group as well, enthusiastically beating the cymbals, but worried as to what I would have to say to her!
This body, right from birth, has always engaged itself in imparting and discriminating knowledge and passing on the sacred teachings. The Pandari bhajan group was so popular that villagers would rush in even from the neighbouring villages to participate. They would all be lost in bliss. Subbamma would feel very happy. For Rs. 2, a sackful of sweets could be got. She would arrange to have it distributed as prasadam to all.
It is essential to develop such sacred feelings right from childhood. I was sent to Kamalapuram for the sake of education. Kamalapuram lies between Cuddapah and Tadipatri towns. There, Kote Subbanna discovered My capability to write poems and came running to Me with a request. He said, " Raju! I hear that You compose excellent poems." I told him, "It is not that I compose poems. Whatever I utter is itself poetry!" He said, "I shall get a pair of shirt and trousers stitched for you." I told him at once that he must not approach me with such cheap bartering offers. I am not waiting for you to donate alms to Me. There is no need to talk to you if you do this!" I hence admonished him.
He then explained that he had stocked a brand new medicine in his shop. He wrote down and gave me a detailed list of the prowess of the new medicine. It was called "Bala Bhaskara". He requested that I compose a song on the "Bala Bhaskara". He pleaded with me to teach it to a group of children and make them go round the streets singing the song. I told him to come back in an hour! The classes were going on and Kondappa was an extremely strict teacher, but Mehboob Khan was very kind. I did not want to give up my responsibilities. I hence told Kote Subbanna to come an hour later, after the classes and collect his poem. I then set the tune and composed the song. It ran as follows:
There it is! There it is! O', children! Come, come!
There is the medicine Bala Bhaskara;
Be it an upset stomach or a swollen leg;
Be it a joint pain or flatulence;
Be it any ailment, known or unknown;
Take this Bala Bhaskara for an instant cure!
If you wish to know where it is available:
There is the shop of Kote Subbanna;
It is in that shop that you can pick it up.
Come here boys! Come here!
It is an excellent tonic
Prepared by the famous Gopalachari himself
Come here boys! Come here!
Kote Subanna's joys knew no bounds when he heard the song. He brought a big basket of laddoos and deposited it with Me in gratitude. I directed that they be distributed to everyone present there. I never took sweets right from My birth. Why do I need to when I have all the sweetness within Me? My mind is sweet, My love is sweet. Why then do I need these sweets?
In this way, my only primary task was to help everybody, ease their suffering and give them joy. I showed them the right path and encouraged them to be happy.
Embodiments of Love!
Our Vice-Chancellor has prayed that I should speak about the sacred source of joy - Ramayana. I am not satisfied with the present educational scenario. People are studying as much as they wish. But what is the use of this education? They are hankering after wealth and not after character. Wealth is no doubt essential. But it is not critical. Character is also equally important. All educational achievements will be forgotten at some point of time. What is needed is the spiritual education. It is said: "Adhyatmika Vidya Vidyanaam" - Spiritual knowledge is the highest form of knowledge. It is this knowledge that needs to be taught to the heart. This sacred knowledge is available in the sacred Ramayana. Ramayana is an ancient text. It has survived the vicissitudes of time, vacillations of history and several other turbulences and still stands tall as an ideal. There are several secrets in Ramayana that are not even understood by many.
I shall extract these tiny fragments, expound and grow them as huge trees and making you sit under their cool shades, I shall try to make you relax and rest. This shall be My effort from tomorrow onwards.
- From Bhagawan's Discourse at Brindavan - Whitefield - Bangalore on 16 May 2002.
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