– Kuldeep Mehandiratta
In 21st century, human beings are facing unprecedented opportunities and challenges in their lives due to rapid advancement of science and technology. There is crisis of moral and ethical values in every civilization on earth. Exploitation of a human being by another human being, religious terrorism, casteism, social apathy, economic disparities, and corruption are just a few among the many social evils that afflict us today.
It is true that Guru Nanak did not discuss and develop a systematic philosophy of education as the modern educationists do. The educational ideas envisaged in the scattered teachings of Guru Nanak are important to us in the era of social vortex. Guru Nanak uses the word Vidya for education, which is limitless and endless, but essential for the enlightenment of body, mind and soul. Educational thoughts of Guru Nanak Dev Ji are mostly enshrined in his famous Vaani’s i.e. Japuji Sahib, Aasa-Di-War, Siddha Goshti and Dakhni Onkar.
At present, the separation of modern education from religion has resulted in a crisis of beliefs in almost all the fields of human activity. Loss of moral values, character and discipline in students have become a matter of concern today. Guru Nanak Dev Ji emphasized on moral and religious values. His concept of religion has place for every human being in this world irrespective of religion, caste, colour, breed and race. In his views, a truly educated person is a religious person who is pure in thoughts, words and actions.
Guru Nanak Dev called for ‘Education for all’ i.e. universal education, regardless of class, caste, colour, religion, ethnicity, age, or any other discrimination. Thus his idea of education is purely democratic and secular in nature. Guru Nanak’s primary goal of education and life is self-realisation. This goal is correlated with spiritual development, moral or enlightenment liberation, and honest living.
Guru Nanak Dev was staunch supporter of mother language as he was very critical of learning through or any foreign language on the parts of citizens. In Rag Dhanasari, Aadi Granth, it has been written that the ‘Kshatariyas, who were once proud of their cultural heritage, had abandoned their decent traditions and even their mother tongue to get status and good jobs’.
Teachings of Guru Nanak Dev also focused on the development of skills, brain and humanitarian emotions in students (Sikhs). Humanism is the core value of Guru Nanak’s philosophy, which can solve the problems of fanaticism, sectarianism and other social, cultural and political conflicts of human society.
An anonymous writer explained the philosophy of Guru Nanak Dev in lucid way as ‘Guru Nanak taught us of three Hs in place of three RS; The knowledge of the Hand, knowledge of the Head and Knowledge of the Heart. The education of the Hand implies the dignity of labour, self-reliance and of service to humanity. The education of the Head implies an appreciation of the wonders of nature, an understanding of the masteries of the universe and a search for “truth”. The education of the Heart includes the awakening of the higher self and the seeking of true inspiration from within’.
The educational philosophy of Guru Nanak Dev Ji is focused on overall development of personality of students, His sermon of Naam meditation (Naam Japna), Right Earning (Kirat Karna) and Sewa (human service), Wand Chhakna-national and mass-scale sharing with fellow beings; are clearly indicate towards judicious development of mind, body and soul. All this attainment of values can be achieved through education under the aegis of teacher.
Devoted teacher is always an asset for education and society. In Aadi Grantha, it has been quoted that ‘the True way of life is obtained by Guru’s Instruction’. Moreover, the importance of guru in our life is imminent as ‘by Guru’s grace, God, the jewel is found, where with ignorance is dispelled, and the divine light shines’. Simultaneously a student must be obedient and zealous for learning, so that ultimately he can find the purpose of life i.e. self-realisation and salvation. Thus the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev make us to realise ‘Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached’ in this materialistic life of this world.