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Research, Essays, Commentaries – Inspired by the Social-Cultural-Political Thought of Sri Aurobindo (PLUS a bit of photography too!)

Aims of True Education: Sri Aurobindo and Mahatma Gandhi

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Author: Beloo Mehra (2011), published in New Race: A Journal of Integral Studies. Volume XII (2), pp. 3-17.

In this paper, key similarities and differences between Sri Aurobindo’s and Mahatma Gandhi’s approaches to Education are theoretically examined to address a few fundamental questions: a) what is human and what is human destiny; b) what is the aim of life and aim of true Education; c) what is the “social” relevance of Gandhian and Aurobindonian thoughts on education?; and d) can Gandhian educational philosophy be considered Integral?

This essay is an attempt to understand Gandhi’s vision for education in the light of Sri Aurobindo’s and the Mother’s approach to Integral Education. Given that the four guiding questions are closely inter-connected I offer this write-up as an initial attempt at weaving together some responses, with full awareness that many gaps are bound to remain. I am already familiar with some critical gaps, particularly regarding the ideal of human unity as envisioned by these two thinkers, the pedagogical and curricular differences and similarities, and larger differences between the visions and works of these two thinkers—their educational thought being an integral piece of that vision and work. My focus in the present work is on their views of the aim of man and education.

Aims of Life and Aims of Education

Based on a deep and conscious awareness of the significance of sociocultural variations in the concept of man, his life and destiny, of the nation and of humanity and the life of human race, which get reflected in the respective philosophies of education, Sri Aurobindo developed his scheme of integral education rooted in the developing soul of India, to her future need, to the greatness of her coming self creation, to her eternal spirit (Raina, 2000). India, according to Sri Aurobindo, has seen always in man, the individual, a soul, a portion of the Divinity enwrapped in mind and body, a conscious manifestation in Nature of the universal self and spirit.

Integral Education is based on this conception of man. This truth of man’s existence also carries within it the truth that it is important to distinguish and cultivate in man “a mental, an intellectual, an ethical, dynamic and practical, an aesthetic and hedonistic, a vital and physical being, but all these have been seen as powers of a soul that manifests through them and grows with their growth, and yet they are not all the soul, because at the summit of its ascent it arises to something greater than them all, into a spiritual being, and it is in this that [India] has found the supreme manifestation of the soul of man and his ultimate divine manhood, his paramartha and highest purushartha” (Sri Aurobindo, 1956/2004, p. 15).

To download full essay… click here.

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About Beloo Mehra

Beloo is the author of two books, one on Indian Education, titled "ABC’s of Indian National Education" and an ebook featuring a selection of her essays, titled "The Thinking Indian." She holds several degrees in Education and Economics, has extensive teaching experience at school and university level in India and the US, and has a keen interest in the educational, social and cultural thought of Sri Aurobindo. She currently lives in Pondicherry, spends her time doing some reading, some writing, some teaching, some gardening and a whole lot of reflecting on life, living, society, politics, religion, art, literature, India, the World, and everything else under the Sun and the Moon.

3 comments on “Aims of True Education: Sri Aurobindo and Mahatma Gandhi

  1. the little princess
    April 16, 2015

    Happy to be in this space Beloo…this holistic approach to education is something that I learnt and absorbed in your blog. it was an aspect that was in my thoughts, but it became a talking point in your blog space.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beloo Mehra
      April 17, 2015

      Welcome to matriwords, Titli! I am happy that you found this article helpful. Thanks for your kind words.

      Like

  2. Pingback: Being Two, and in Other News | Beauty Interprets, Expresses, Manifests the Eternal

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This entry was posted on April 6, 2015 by in Education, Research, Spirituality and tagged , .

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