SUBRAMANYA BHARATI ON NATIONAL EDUCATION – Birth Anniversary Special

 -K. PONRAMAN

Subramanya Bharati (11 December 1882- 11 September 1921) referred as Mahakavi (the great poet) was a Tamil poet, a social reformer and a freedom fighter. He was a spiritual giant who had detached his self from the thoughts of ‘I’ and ‘My’. He was the poet of the people for he sang for the people and their life. He had written poems on the freedom of the nation, women empowerment, devotion to Almighty, social equality and the like. He had affirmed that poetry writing and working for his mother land are his only profession. To him, penning poetry is equivalent to working for the nation.

Mahakavi Subramanya Bharati was born on 11th December 1882 in a small town called Ettayapuram in Tirunelveli District of Tamilnadu. His parents were Lakshmi Ammal and chinnasamy Iyer.  Bharati gained a great knowledge and scholarship in Tamil language.  He started writing poems even when he was eleven years old. He lost his mother in his childhood and was brought up by his loving father.  His father worked in the royal court of Ettayapuram Zameen and so Bharati had the opportunity of being in the midst of poets and scholars.  He joined in the Hindu College at Tirunelveli and completed his fifth grade.

As it was the custom of his time, he got married at the age of fourteen and his wife was Chellammal who was nine years old then.  He stayed in Varanasi for two years for further education where he was exposed to Hindu spirituality and nationalism. He broadened his outlook and learnt Samskritham, Hindi and English.  It is said that he was well versed in fourteen languages inclusive of three foreign languages.  He worked as a school teacher in Madurai for a short period in 1904.  Then he became the Assistant Editor of ‘Swadesa Mithran’, a Tamil daily.  Though he is primarily known as a world renowned poet, Bharati was also a very good journalist and a short story writer.  Around 1906, he started his own journal named ‘India’ and he wrote on burning political and social issues of the contemporary period in it.

For Bharati, freedom means everyone getting his or her due share.  For him freedom means food for all; equal opportunities for all; should be a responsible citizen of the motherland; being friendly to all and willing to listen to the view point of others.  He firmly believed that education is the only means to achieve these.  He said, Three things are necessary to achieve this.  The first one is education; second is education; and the third one is also education. It means that anything except education cannot achieve what we require in our nation.  I strongly believe in this.”

When we ask him what type of education should be given to our children, he says, The education what our ancestors taught and learnt must be followed.”  He mentioned that education is for all and it should be provided to everyone irrespective of the caste, creed, language and regional differences.  All should have access to education.  Education should help the children to grow into a better human beings.  Education must help the children to be sensitive to their surroundings and guide them to eradicate the sufferings of their fellowmen.  Education should make a person to be socially conscious and self-reliant. Bharati expected that education should teach us that we should respect the freedom of others and help us to feel that none is inferior or superior.  He firmly believed that for the proper function of the society, the contribution of each and every citizen counts most and education must provide this opportunity for them.

Bharati believed that ‘National Education’ based on Bharateeya culture and concepts is necessary.  It is the swadesi education.  He says that the life and legacy of the great men of our country should find a place in the educational curriculum.  In one of his essays titled as ‘A Serious Defect in Our Present Educational System’, he mentions that there were many defects in the educational system of his time (In reality, nothing much changed even today).  He mentioned that the education of the day had created a poor opinion in the minds of our students about our ancestors and great men of our country. “The students neither have heard of the thousands of great saints like Vyasa, Yagnavalkiar or Sankara nor great heroes like Arjuna, Karna, Vikramaditya or Shivaji. Even if they have heard of them, they were taught that these great men were uncivilised fools.”

He strongly advocates that education should be taught in their mother tongue. In an essay titled as ‘An Aspect of National Education’, he says that our youth die at an early age because they had to work laboriously to pass many difficult examinations in a foreign language.  Though English is necessary till matriculation, all other subjects must be taught through national languages and particularly in the mother tongue.  Our men have lost the quality of ‘Arya’ and became ignorant of their ancestral greatness.  It was the result of what they have learnt from the Christian priests of the missionary schools.  Hence, Bharati advised to boycott the missionary schools.

Bharati points out the census of 1901 which states that only 94 were educated out of every 10,000 women.  Anyone who claims himself to be a nationalist should feel ashamed of this poor status and he should provide opportunities for women education.  A nation cannot progress if the women are ignorant without basic education.  He proclaims that if anyone is against the women education and empowerment, he is against the national progress.  The ignorance of suppressing the women must be burnt. “It is mere foolishness just to think and preach that education must be given to women without taking any further steps to achieve it”, says Bharati.  He assures that society would progress only when it learns to treat its women with respect and only when it realises that they should be treated equally.

In an article entitled as ‘The Hindi Page’, Bharati suggests that everyone should learn Hindi language.  He says, We, the Tamilians must learn Hindi.  Though Tamil is our mother tongue and it is prominent to us, I advise everyone to learn Hindi since we need a common language for the entire nation”.  He further states that it is foolish and impossible to accept English as a common language since it is a foreign language.  When the freedom struggle was at its peak, he suggested that Tamilians should learn Tamil and Hindi, Telugu people must learn Telugu and Hindi, Bengalis should learn Bengali and Hindi.  Likewise, everyone should learn Hindi along with their mother tongue.  He also advocated the learning of Samskritham by our students since it is rich in literature and knowledge.

Bharati was apparent about the features of the National Education.  He mentions that physical training, mathematics, ancient history of our nation, the knowledge about our dharma and culture, political knowledge, economics, science, craft work etc., must be taught to our children.  According to him, National Education and Swarajya are not two different entities; they are the one and the same.  The education of the family is the basic for National Education.  Hence, the National Education or Swadesi Education must begin from the family.

He aspired that there should be schools in every village.  The village school teacher can be a matriculate and need not be a graduate.  But he should have a deep knowledge about our history, culture and language.  He should love our motherland and should have knowledge and practice in our scriptures.  He should be physically strong and should train his disciples to be stronger.  The history of the area in which the school is located must be taught. Apart from that, the Vedic history, Epic history, history of great warriors etc., must be taught to the students. These history must be taught with much faith and devotion.  Language and Mathematics are like two eyes of a man.  Hence, they should be taught.  Geography and Astronomy must be taught in schools.  Our children should be aware of the Solar system, the stars, and the countries on the earth. They should be taught especially about the geographical nature of the states and life of people in our country. All the teaching and learning must compulsorily be only in the mother tongue.

The idea of National Education will not be completed unless there is the teaching of our Sanadhana Hindu Dharma. Our schools should teach four Vedas, six Dharshanas, Upanishads, Epics, Bhagavad Gita, the songs of Siddhars etc.  Political Science must be taught and our students must know how to rule a nation.  The subject of Political Science must enlighten the learners on how to lead a peaceful life, how to restrict the foreign invasion, how to give food and prosperity to everyone, devotion to God, health, virtues and values in life etc. Physics, Chemistry, Physical fitness, Biology, Zoology etc. must be taught most prominently in the National Education. Apart from these, provision should be given to learn Yoga, Handicrafts, Agriculture and Business.

Bharati was not the one who merely preached. Writing poems and essays were not his pastime. It was his way of serving the nation and serving his suffering brethren.  He tried his best to practice the values that he considered most important for the development of an individual and the society.  He highlighted in his poems the need for equal rights to women, and the dreams and aspirations of children and youth.  He wrote about great men and also about ordinary ones.  He never considered anyone great just because the person was rich or powerful.  Many of his poems ascertain that man should live in harmony with nature.  We get a glimpse of this vast world and grand life while we read his poems.  We also perceive the ways and means of leading a more useful life by respecting and loving others.

Bharati’s prayer is for nobility in mind and heart. While praying to lord Vinayaka, he says that one’s most important duties are to keep one’s self under control, to relieve others of their sorrows and sufferings and to seek the welfare of the others.

He longed for a Bharat where there would be none is poor and ignorant.  He yearned for a nation where none would be harassing or degrading their fellow beings.  He dreamt of a country where people would stay united and value the life of others.  Apart from being a Mahakavi, the world class poet, Bharati is the pride of Tamil land and the soil of Bharat.

(Author is Education Officer of Vidya Bharati, Tamilnadu)

और पढ़ें : रवीन्द्रनाथ का शिक्षा दर्शन

 

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