Social philosophy of Swami Vivekananda

by Baruah Debajit | 2017 | 87,227 words

This study deals with Swami Vivekananda’s social philosophy and his concept of religion. He was the disciple of the 19th-century Indian mystic Ramakrishna. Important subjects are discussed viz., nature of religion, reason and religion, goal of religion, religious experience, ways to God, etc. All in the context of Vivekananda....

Chapter 6.4 - The Values (of education)

By value education we mean education which has a profound content, based on our heritage, national goal and universal perceptions. In our culturally plural society education should nourish universal and eternal values, oriented towards the unity and integration of our people. Education as such should be made a forceful element for the cultivation of social and moral values. The greatness of India lies in its religion. In ancient India religion was the essence of education. But this hold of religion on education slowly decreased with the influence of the West on us. Vivekananda felt that India could not afford to abandon its age-old traditions of awarding supremacy to religious ideals. He strongly believed that religion is very much concerned with the personality development of men.

The cultivation of values is possible with a sound system of education. Vivekananda was very strong in his opinion that any system of education is invalid without the union of religion. His whole scheme of education, in the context of perfection of human personality, is founded on the absolute values of truth towards self-realization. Vivekananda emphasized the need for a complete re-orientation of human values to fight against hedonism and commercial fetishes. He suggested that education should not be stuffing some facts into the brain. Rather, it should aim at reforming the human mind, it must be able to produce men of integrity, dedicated administrators and socially conscious citizens. Progress is nothing if it is not accompanied by inner change. Vivekananda suggested that religion and mortality must get highest consideration in education as they would bring good manners and strength of character in the growing generation. He says that in building up character, in bringing peace to others, and peace to one’s own self, religion is the highest motive power, and, therefore, ought to be studied from that standpoint. Vivekananda believes that if education with its religious core can invigorate man’s faith in his divine nature and the infinite potentialities of the soul, it is sure to help man become strong, yet sympathetic and tolerant. It will also help man to extend his love beyond the communal, national and racial barriers. That is why he says, “Religion is the innermost core of education.”[1]

The central ethical purpose of the educational system of Vivekananda is to train up the pupil to develop good inner character as well as force of character resulting in good actions. Vivekananda believed that self-effort is the sound principle for the attainment of a moral philosophy. No action which is not voluntary can be called moral. The basic aim of education, to Vivekananda, should be to help the individual to realize his best self. It should cultivate values of life, like love, sympathy, honesty, nonviolence, co-cooperativeness, sacrifice and finally faith in man and God. Religion is a synthesis of values and an integration of experiences. It stands for the entire personality of man. Since divinity and perfection are one and the same there can be no contradiction between religion and education. The whole idea of religion according to Vivekananda is to deter man from falling into the bondage of the senses as well as to help him to assert his freedom. This is possible only by a happy blending of the body, mind and intellect, by sticking on to one’s own conscience and by listening to the silence of the soul. Only a pure heart sees beyond the intellect. Such a heart knows things which reason can never know.

Education is continuous process. It should cover all aspects of life; physical, intellectual emotional, moral and spiritual and all stages of life from birth to death. Religion comes into man’s life at a very early stage. It will not be exaggerated if we say that religion comes to man’s life almost before his birth, and stays on till his death. Religion is the way of the heart. It is the heart which takes us to the highest plane, which intellect can never reach. Temples, churches, books, forms etc., are only the kindergarten of religion to make the spiritual child strong enough to take the higher steps. Religion is the discipline which touches human conscience. It helps man in his struggle with evil, and frees him from greed and saves him from lust and hatred. It is religious inclination that cultivates values in men and unifies a society. To Vivekananda religion is not merely based on dogmas, creed or rites, but has a spiritual, ethical and rational philosophy.

The main objective values of education are fundamental and eternal, like, truth, beauty and justice. The virtues to be developed in the students are purity, real thirst for knowledge and perseverance, again faith, humility, submission and veneration towards the teacher. The sense of humility is the basis of a man’s character, the true mark of a balanced personality. The ideal of every educated man should be perfect unselfishness. Along with the spirit of independence the spirit of obedience is equally important. To Vivekananda, duty is sweet only through love and shines in freedom. To the educated mind all duties are good because there is no expectation for reward. Vivekananda’s cherished desire was that ‘to accomplish his duties one should be pure, simple and sincere to the back bone.’ He must have tremendous integrity and sincerity.

India’s mission to the world is to install in the minds of the people the spirit of tolerance and love. This can be possible only with the resurrection of values of human life based on Vedantic ideals. As a widely travelled teacher throughout India and abroad Vivekananda could gain first-hand experience about the miseries of the masses and the deterioration of values of human life. Vivekananda found a difference in the attitude of the people of the East and West. He found that in spite of the material advancement of the west, the Western peoples had to learn lot from the East spiritually. Vivekananda, an ardent patriot that he was, stressed on the importance of the values of patriotism, freedom and courage. About Vivekananda, Nehru said “his was a kind of nationalism which automatically slipped into Indian nationalism which was part of internationalism.”[2]

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

[Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda], Vol.5, p-231.

[2]:

Bharathi, D. Vijaya and Rao,Digumurti Bhaskara, Educational Philosophy of Swami Vivekananda,p-54.

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