Guru Nanak's Global Society

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Renowned Sikh scholars and academicians today recalled the universal message of brotherhood as taught by the first Sikh Guru Nanak Devji, emphasising the need for a true global society where there is no social and economic exploitation.

They also stressed on Guru Nanak Dev's methods of enlightenment and persuasion in place of coercion and conversions.

The scholars were participating in a day-long seminar on the Educational philosophy of Guru Nanak Dev, jointly organised by the Delhi Minorities Commission (DMC) and the Maharshi Valmiki College of Education .

The seminar chaired by renowned Punjabi editor and DMC member Pushpender Singh, was addressed by, among others Punjabi writer and critic Dr Sutinder Singh Noor, environmentalist Colonel Jaswant Singh Marwah, noted authoress Beant Kaur and educationists Dr Jagbir Singh, Narinder Pal Singh, Ramjee Dubey, S K Verma and Bhupinder Singh.

The speakers stressed the need for building a society wherein social and economic equality and dignity of labour were given great importance.

In a paper titled 'Globalisation and Education in the light of Guru Nanak Dev,' Mr M P Singh, former principal of Rashtriya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya (RPVV) noted that forces of globalisation were so potent that they had transformed the social milieu.

He pointed out that Guru Nanak Devji had equated education with benevolence and an instrument of moral amd spiritual evolution.

The other speakers also said that Guru Nanak Dev had recommended the pattern for a Global Society wher every individual must engage in honest reproductive labour, followed by sharing fruits of his labour with his neighbours.

In this way, they would develop a cooperative society which is grounded on the worth and status of the individual as the very microcosm of God, and the indidvidual must never be imposed upon, coerced, manipulated or engineered, they added.

More news

Presiding over the 29th Foundation Day celebrations of the Guru Nanak Dev University, Prof Allauddin Ahmad, Vice-Chancellor of Jamia Hamdard University, New Delhi, said spiritual and social illness could only be cured through the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev.

Speaking on "Relevance of Guru Nanak's bani in today's materialistic society, Prof Ahmed said that Guru Nanak believed in one religion and with this faith, he preached universal brotherhood. Prof Allauddin said Guru Nanak tried to establish peace and harmony in society. He said the best way to express one's love for the divine saint lied in practising his teachings rather than decorating and constructing big buildings of worship.

In her lecture on "Role of Sikh women in the development of religious and moral education Mohinder Kaur Gill, principal, Mata Sundari college, New Delhi said that Sikh women like Bibi Bhani, Bibi Amaro, Bibi Dani, Mata Sundari and Mata Mansa Devi had made commendable contributions in the development of moral and religious education in the society.

Noted cardiologist and former professor and head of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, H. S. Wasir, while speaking on "Ancient wisdom for heart care, said modern medicine had given powerful tools to treat heart diseases but at a tremendous cost, providing only temporary relief and not a permanent cure. He said traditional or ancient wisdom transcended from our old teachings, especially the texts in Ayurveda and Charaka Sahitya told us about the preventive aspects of healthcare, including heart care.

Wasir said that "food for heartconsisted of a balanced diet, regular physical exercise and a peaceful mind. He emphasised that a disturbed mind can cause high blood pressure and irregularities in the heart's rhythm.

Speaking on "Sikh philosophy and history, K P Aggarwal, professor of Lucknow university and vice-chairman of National Sikh Sangat dwelt upon Sikh philosophy and the fundamentals of Sikhism. On this occasion, Prof Allauddin Ahmad released a book "Naroyadil written by Dr H S Wasir. The one-day celebrations began with the bhog of Sri Akhand Path and Shabad Kirtan, an exhibition of rare books, manuscripts, portraits and photographs.

Educational Philosophy of Guru Nanak Dev Ji

by Amrit Kaur Raina. Lok Geet Prakashan, Chandigarh. Pages 136. Rs 125.

THE educational philosophy of Guru Nanak Dev occupies the foremost position. He is the beacon light. Although the mind of a pupil has great powers, it blossoms with the help of a real teacher. "The gems, the jewels, the rubies are in the mind. If one were to find them should hearken to the Guru’s call, ‘tis who giveth to each and all (on Him, on Him, O let me call)/Yea in the guru’s words are the jewel’s (of wisdom)/And whosoever seeketh findeth these’."

In no educational system, even the latest one, there is stress on the predominant role of a teacher. He is seleced if he fulfils the requisite conditions set by universities or academic bodies but according to the first Sikh Guru, a teacher has a challenging task as "only the guidance of the guru imparts light and restores confidence. It offers direction and purpose to one’s life". The role of a teacher is not only to impart education but also to inculcate social and civic virtues so that the pupil with a fully developed personality is able to lead a disciplined life and is ready to do selfless service to mankind.

In brief, physical development, moral uplift and spiritual regeneration are possible through the institution of a worthy teacher or guru. About the challenging role of a teacher or guru the first Guru says,"When the true guru is merciful/ faith is perfected/ When the true guru is merciful/ There is no grief/ When the true guru is merciful/ Nine treasures of nam are obtained. The true guru helps the disciple to overcome his weakness. The guru is an ocean, a mine of jewels," from whom are abtained the five blessings of truth, contentment, compassion, dharma and patience. He calls the teacher "Guru Gopal".

The book under review is by Amrit Kaur Raina, who holds a doctorate degree in education. She has done extensive studies in the field and her first book "Educational Philosophy of the Sikh Gurus" was well received by educationists. The book offers a kaleidoscopic view of the Sikh philosophy and only four chapters out of 11 deal with the actual subject. In the fifth chapter she focuses on the concept and aims of education, in the sixth on curriculum, in the seventh on methods of education, and in the eighth on the role of a teacher.

According to the author, Guru Nanak’s conception of education is not one-sided as it encompasses the entire vista of man’s life on the earth. The Guru has said, "That teacher alone is educated/who enlightens his mind with divine knowledge/Through right reflection in a spontaneous way."

Without the attainment of self-realisation and enlightenment, education is incomplete. An educated person, according to the Guru, is one who wears the garland of Ram nam. Ram stands for all-pervading universal spirit and nam for truth, life, joy, beauty, purity, righteousness and heroism. It is, therefore, as the writer would like to impress upon the reader, (Ram nam is a special word with an implication of right education leading to self-realisation which is the ultimate goal of life:The aim of education is thus to liberate. This view has been upheld by Gandhi, Vivekananda and Tagore.

Book learning is ridiculed by the first Sikh guru in the words he spoke to Dharam Das, a Kashmiri Sanskrit scholar: "We may read and read books/ And fill carts with their loads./....Yet, says Nanak./That all our education will be a mere prattle of ego/unless we realise the philosopy of unity of God through it." It is a paradox that the Guru with no formal education has played a vital role in spreading education, just like Prophet Muhammad, Akbar the Great and Kabir.

The 12 fundamental principles of the Guru’s educational system are (i) knowledge is strength; (ii) knowledge leads to wisom and insight; (iii) knowledge elevates mind, body and soul; (iv) knowledge of virtue; (v) wisom leads to spiritual consciousness; (vi) education as unfolding of potentialities; (vii) formation of character and influsion of piety; (viii) cultural, emotional and aesthetic development; (ix) physical development; and, (x) education for harmonious development.

In the chapter, "The curriculum" the writer deals with the contents of education, which embody the following: (1) religious and moral education; (2) teaching of mother tongue; (3) study of arithmetic and book-keeping; (4) music and poetry; (5) physical education; (6) manual labour, art and crafts and; (7) informal programme.

Primary schools attached to gurdwara followed this syllabus but with the chaging time there was expansion with a wider programme. Guru Har Gobind was imparted knowledge in astronomy, agriculture, administration and other sciences. With the establishment of seats of education at Anandpur Sahib and Damdama Sahib in the time of the 10th Guru, teaching courses comprised a study of Sanskrit, Punjabi, literature, philosophy, politics, astronomy, mathematics and literary criticism. Guru Gobind Singh was well-read and had studied all these subjects. He was a literary genius and a great educationist.

In the chapter, "Methods of education" , she shows how education was imparted. To adult students, the methods employed included kirtan, telling stories addressing congregations, fairs and festivals, adapting dramatic techniques and employing a sense of humour, discussion and debate, quest and inquiry, psychological studies, etc. Children’s education had a different pattern. The methods of education included oral-cum-memorisation, poetry and songs, recitation and repetition, monitorial system and story-telling.

In the 10th chapter she sheds light on the concepts which are even today accepted and followed by the modern educational system. These are humanism, idealism, pragmatism, naturalism and realism.

Guru Nanak Dev had laid stress on the unity of godhood and he had been the most secular and universal in his approach to life. He enunciated the principles of true education and was averse to the prevalent social practices of isolation and ceremonial imparting of education. In those days and till recently the doors to the Vedas were closed to the lower caste Hindus but the Guru showed to people the path of equality by stressing on universal brotherhood. He was a protagonist of value-based education inseparable from ethics and a quest for spiritual life. The Guru was a fearless person who donning the dress of a Hindu sadhu and a Muslim darvesh trodded even the untrodden path, including the holy Mecca and went through the whole length and breadth of the country, teaching unity of godhead, raising his voice against oppression, tyranny, formalism and too much stress on ritualism in religious practice.

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