– Dr KK Aggarwal
The Bhagavad Gita (7.16) has described four types of devotees.
“catur-vidhabhajante mam janahsukrtino ‘rjuna
artojijnasurartharthi jnani ca bharatarsabha”
चतुर्विधाभजन्तेमांजना: सुकृतिनोऽर्जुन ।
आर्तोजिज्ञासुरर्थार्थीज्ञानीचभरतर्षभ । । 16 । ।
catur-vidhah —four kinds of; bhajante—render services; mam—unto Me; janah—persons; sukrtinah—those who are pious; arjuna—O Arjuna; artah—the distressed; jijnasuh—the inquisitive; artha-arthi—one who desires material gain; jnani—one who knows things as they are; ca—also; bharatarsabha—O great one amongst the descendants of Bharata.
“The distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.”
प्रियोहिज्ञानिनोऽत्यर्थमहंसचममप्रिय: । । 17 । ।
“tesam jnani nitya-yukta eka-bhaktirvisisyate
priyo hi jnanino ‘tyartham ahamsa ca mama priyah”
tesam—out of them; jnani—one in full knowledge; nitya-yuktah—always engaged; eka—only one; bhaktih—devotional service; visisyate—especially; priyah—very dear; hi—certainly; jnaninah—person in knowledge; atyartham—highly; aham—I am; sah—he; ca—also; mama—Mine; priyah—dear.
“Of these, the wise one who is in full knowledge in union with Me through pure devotional service is the best. For I am very dear to him, and he is dear to Me.”
Ethics before education : The texts books in Vedic era were called Upanishads, which means sitting at the feet of the Guru (shedding your ego) and learning how to de-learn first and then to learn about removing karmic bondages. In Katho Upanishad, Nachiketa goes hungry for three nights and waits patiently before meeting Yama. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 2.4.2–4 Maitreyi said to Yagnavalkya that she was not interested in wealth, since it would not make her “immortal” and she wanted to learn about immortality.
In Yoga Vasishta, in the story of Shuka Dev dialogue with King Janaka about the highest teachings, Shuka Deva for a week was made to wait at the gate and the next one week given all the luxuries. Only when he was unaffected he was made to meet king Janaka.
In both Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Vasishta, the first chapter is devoted to listening. Krishna and Vasishta only listens to arjuna and Rama respectively.
The opening verses of Prashna Upanishad describe students who arrive at a school seeking knowledge about Brahman (Ultimate Reality, Universal Soul).They ask sage Pippalada to explain this knowledge. He does not start providing answers for their education, but demands that they live with him ethically first, as follows.
यथाकामंप्रश्नान्पृच्छत यदिविज्ञास्यामःसर्वंहवोवक्ष्यामइति ||
“To them then the Rishi (sage) said : Dwell with me a year, with Tapas, with Brahmacharya, with Sraddha (faith),Then ask what questions you will, If we know, we will tell you all”
When Arjuna was in distress, he got the knowledge from Krishna. For that Krishna first took the chariot amongst the known ones (Bhishma and Dronacharya). Without getting attachments first, you cannot learn to detach yourself.
Rama in a stage of dispassion at age 15 learnt from Sage Vasishta (Yoga Vasishta) how to be happy in life
Curriculum of teaching :
ॐअसतोमासद्गमय। तमसोमाज्योतिर्गमय। मृत्योर्माअमृतंगमय। ॐशान्तिःशान्तिःशान्तिः॥
Aum. Asato ma sad-gamaya ; tamaso ma jyotir-gamaya ; mrtyor-ma amrutamgamaya. Aum. Shanti, shanti shanti.
Lead me from unreal to real (Make me de-learn the myths)
Lead me from darkness to light (Make me learn the real knowledge)
Lead me from death to immortality (Make me understand the very purpose of my existence)
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.3.28
Teacher student relationship : Krishna Yajur Veda Taittiriya Upanishad
ॐ सह नाववतु । सह नौ भुनक्तु । सह वीर्यं करवावहै । तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु मा विद्विषावहै ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥
Om Saha Nau-Avatu | Saha Nau Bhunaktu | SahaViiryamKaravaavahai | Tejasvi Nau-Adhiitam-AstuMaaVidvissaavahai | Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||
“Aum! May God protect us both together
May God nourish us both together
May we work conjointly with great energy
May our study be vigorous and effective
May we not mutually dispute”
Modern era : Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld in 1992 described four types of students: Sponge (With no viveka, absorbs everything); Funnel (Only hearing, not listening); Strainer (Foot notes, forgets the common things, lets out the wine and retains the lees) and Sifter (Uses his viveka, retains the gist as sutras, lets out the flour dust and retains the fine flour).
Others have simplified the terms as one who is quick to understand and quick to forget; one who is slow to understand and slow to forget; one who is quick to understand and slow to forget and one who is slow to understand and quick to forget.
Still others say Hearing (suno); Listening (samjho); Knowing (Jano) and Wisdom (karo) as the four types of learnings.
Agni Yoga also described four types of disciples : Some follow the Indications of the Teacher and ascend in proper order; others, behind the Teacher’s back, follow the Indications to excess and thereby often harm themselves; others, in the Teacher’s absence, take occasion to prattle and thereby destroy their path and others, behind His back, criticize the Teacher and betray Him. Dreadful is the destiny of these last two kinds!