From Talks on Education, April 1981, Calcutta,
EE7 Published in: Discourses on Neohumanist Education [a compilation] and Prout in a Nutshell Part 18 [a compilation]
How to impart education has always been a very poignant question. The influence of the environment has a tremendous impact on the human mind. The environment in which one is born and brought up continues to exert a tremendous influence till the last days, till the dying stage, of human life. According to the type of education imparted, one’s psychic environment is built up. The psychic environment is more powerful in human life than the physical environment.
Let me drop a few hints. You apply your intelligence and try to understand. Suppose a man is born in a minority community in a particular country. He is put under severe strain because of the atrocities perpetrated on him. In this case, though the country does have an environmental influence on him, due to psychic pressure he leaves his country and defects to another country. This happens because psychic influence is stronger than the influence of the physical environment.
If we wish to do maximum good to the people, we must find out the proper way, the best way, to impart education. If we can mould our minds in the proper way, then everything is accomplished. As soon as the mind is in the proper shape, the people understand where to seek inspiration from. That is, it is to be sought from Parama Puruśa (Supreme Consciousness).
Education is just remoulding the old structure of the mind and goading it unto the highest state of realisation, the exalted status of Supreme Veracity, the highest status of factualities.
We have to keep in view three fundamentals before imparting education.
The first is that education must always be based on factuality. There must not be the injection of any dogma or fanaticism or any type of geographical or racial chauvinism in the education system.
The second fundamental is that education must awaken the thirst for knowledge in the students’ minds. The students themselves will create environmental pressure by persistent demands for answers to queries like: What is the answer? Is it correct? The longing, “I wish to know… I wish to understand and assimilate the entire universe” should be created. Such a thirst for knowledge should be created in the minds of students. A learner, in Arabic, is called “tálib-ul-ilm”, meaning “a genuine seeker of knowledge.” So a tremendous thirst for knowledge must be awakened in the students’ minds. They will constantly pry their teachers, their parents and their neighbours with questions like: Why is this so? What is that? Why does that happen? Why does this not happen? etc. They are ready to assimilate the entire universe.
The third fundamental of education is that teachers and students should have a balanced mind, unaffected, unassailed by unimportant entities.
These are the three fundamentals of education. Education is a must not only for human beings, but also for all living beings. For instance, if you train a dog, you can take much work from it. If you train a cow, it will give greater service.
Some people may ask: Why does Ananda Marga run many kindergarten schools and not many high schools, degree colleges and universities? A kindergarten school is something basic and the mission of making human beings is accomplished here. If one has already become a thief or a criminal, in that case university education for such a person is of no avail. One is to be moulded in one’s childhood. If one receives the fundamentals of education in the formative period of one’s life, one will keep oneself alright in the teeth of the greatest trials and tribulations in life. A bamboo, when green, can be shaped or bent in any way you like. Once it ripens, any attempt to reshape it will break it. This is why more stress is to be laid on kindergarten schools. Such schools are the first phase of making human beings.
So, what is the need of education? Proper education enables one to stand against the influence of the physical environment and awaken the psychic urge to attain a higher life, that is, the ideological goal. This gives a person much inspiration. We should do our best to impart proper education not only to the entire humanity, but also to all created beings. We can impart training to all trees, plants and birds, and put them on the path of welfare.