Indian thinkers have dwelt on the philosophy of education and all related aspects like knowledge, intelligence, mind and the functions of teaching and learning to which there are ample references in the texts and to the illustrious teachers of yore like Sri Krishna, Vidura, Bhisma, Dronacharya in the Mahabharata and Vashista in the Ramayana. At a much later stage, one encounters teachers like Susruta, teaching Ayurveda to his students, drawing out the characteristics of an ideal teacher and an ideal student. Buddha and Mahavira have been great teachers. It may even be worthwhile to cull out the principles of teaching and learning embodied in their teachings from the available textual evidences. The quality of Indian discourse on Teaching and Learning has been widely acknowledged. There are many more examples during the medieval times of effective teachers, both of the religious and vocational kinds, which may be taken as the main foundations of educational thoughts of the present times.
In the modern India too there have been many original thinkers on education, who have felt the need for a review of the educational system introduced by the British Raj, creating loyal servants of the government. There was a search for a better system of education in the country among the reformers and intellectuals. In this process, a good deal of thinking, combined with actual experimentation on various alternative models of education had taken place. Unfortunately, their contributions have not been adequately reflected in the educational decisions during recent times. Among others, we can remember the contribution of Vivekananda, Tagore, Aurobindo, Tilak, Zakir Husain, Radhakrishnan and above all, Mahatma Gandhi. It is high time to review the principles of education expounded by them and to examine their validity in the present context.
In order to sensitise the teacher educators of the country to the indigenous thinkers and to develop short and meaningful reading material covering each of the indigenous thinkers of education, the NCTE decided to publish monographs and to organise interactions through seminars of teacher educators from all over the country. The monographs are meant to be self-educational material. They can also be useful for initiating discourses among the pupil teachers on various aspects of education covering each of the indigenous thinkers. The first publication Gandhi on Education was received very well by the teachers and teacher educators. It was followed by another entitled Zakir Husain on Education. The present monograph covering the thoughts of Sri Aurobindo has been written by Prof. Manoj Das an eminent scholar and author of international repute.
Sri Aurobindo has been widely acclaimed as a modern seer and a Vedic scholar. He had headed the first National College of Education of Calcutta and had written extensively on the subject of education. His approach to Integral education is in itself a unique concept. Education of the body, mind and spirit are each expounded in his writings on education, but their integration is even more significant. He has also dwelt on the social and psychological aspects of education. His thought has been put to practice at Sri Aurobindo Ashrams educational programmes, The Auroville and several other schools of the country.
"The first principle of teaching is that nothing can be taught". This statement of Sri Aurobindo condenses a whole lot of theories of education and a new form of pedagogy closer to integral approach to education. It puts learning above teaching. It makes learning a self-starting, self propelling process. It redefines the role of the teacher from a mere possessor of information to a facilitator and a guide for the learner. I am not aware of any other profound statement in teaching which has such a permanent validity.
I wish to quote Sri Aurobindo here to reflect the wide horizon of his perception on education in its international dimensions on the one hand and that of the eternal human values on the other :
"The world-state will give its inhabitants the great adventures of peace, economical well being, general security, the intellectual, cultural, social activity and progress. None of these are in themselves sufficient to create the thing needed. For that certain psychological elements would have to be present in great strength. First as religion of humanity much more powerful, explicit, self-conscious, universal in its approach than the nationalists religion of the country, secondly, the clear recognition by man in all his thought and life of a single soul of humanity of which each man and each people is an incarnation and soul-form, thirdly, an ascension of men beyond the principle of ego and yet without destruction of individuality; fourthly, a principle and arrangement of the common life which would give free play to individual variations by which the soul of man lives and grows great."
His expectations from education are laudable and at the same time, they reflect an ideal to be pursued. It reflects the values of a modern world not scuttled by narrow perceptions and drab materialism. It throws light on several other aspects of education which deserve intensive analyses, discourse and validation.
I am grateful for the efforts taken by Prof. Manoj Das for writing the present monograph highlighting Sri Aurobindos Thoughts on Education. He completed the monograph within a short time inspite of a rather crowded schedule during the 125th year commemorative celebration of Sri Aurobindo. Prof. C.H.K. Misra, Consultant, NCTE, deserves appreciation for co-ordinating this project.
The monograph has covered many aspects of the subject meaningfully. I hope the teacher educators of the country will find it relevant and useful.
- J.S. Rajput
National Council for Teacher Education