Research, Essays, Commentaries – Inspired by the Social-Cultural-Political Thought of Sri Aurobindo (PLUS a bit of photography too!)
I am happy to share with the readers a new review of my book on Indian Education. This is a very special review because of two reasons.
One, that it is written by one of my esteemed teachers, Prof. Kittu Reddy, otherwise known to all of us as Kittu-da. And second reason that makes this review really special is that it is published in the recent newsletter of SABDA, the distribution unit of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Publication Department at Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry.
Kittuda’s review of my humble attempt at presenting through this book a new way of thinking about Indian Education is published in the June 2015 issue of the SABDA Newsletter, pages 14-15.
I present below the review, followed by a small excerpt from the book which accompanies the review in the newsletter.
Kittuda’s Review of ABC’s of Indian National Education
ABC’s of Indian National Education
Author: Dr. Beloo Mehra
Publisher: Standard Publishers (2014)
Review by Prof. Kittu Reddy, SAICE
This book of just about 150 pages written by Dr. Beloo Mehra is a brief but excellent collection of some of the most important fundamental concepts of Indian education – nay, of all good education.
Beloo who spent 14 years in the United States was naturally influenced by the thought processes prevalent there. Her first years in Pondicherry were a mix of unlearning and relearning. Having interacted closely with her, I must say that her rapid assimilation of the ideas and concepts of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother is quite remarkable.
In the light of this new vision, she has presented in her introductory book some very deep and fundamental concepts which should be taken note of by the authorities framing the national policy.
It should be mentioned that this book does not give a detailed practical framework for Indian education, and that was not the author’s aim as she clearly outlines in the Introduction of the book. The framework for a truly Indian education needs to be done by others, especially by those who are in position of decision-making and are leading the policy-making bodies in the field of education. However, what the author has provided in this small book is to give a very sound conceptual foundation for all educationists. And what is of highest concern is these concepts are based on the deeper Indian ideals.
Beloo Mehra starts with the letter A and rightly stresses on the aim of education, and indeed of all life; the importance of fixing an aim in life is crucial. In fact, the Mother in her essay titled “The Science of Living” begins thus: “An aimless life is always a miserable life. Every one of you should have an aim. But do not forget that on the quality of your aim will depend the quality of your life” (CWM, Vol. 12, p. 3).
Starting with this solid foundation, the author emphasises some of most important but sadly neglected aspects in modern life and education. The letter B stands for Beauty, which is indeed an important a part of a human being’s make up. What is remarkable is that the author puts a powerful stress not only on the outer beauty, but much more on the inner beauty.
When the author moves on to the letter E, she emphasises the aspect of evoking the knowledge from within. This is what is truly required rather than packing the child’s brain with information.
Coming to the letter G which refers to graduality, she touches on some very basic ideas that concern the field of education. She speaks of the need for an integral education when she asserts that all claims of life must be given their due importance.
In the chapter on the letter H, Beloo Mehra speaks of the importance of presenting to students a deeper understanding of their history and heritage. She writes, “…learning about India’s heritage and history doesn’t need to be and should not be a chauvinistic and narrow-minded retelling of the past glory that India was. At the same time, we don’t want to shy away from the truth that India was indeed once upon a time a glorious land with [a] great many riches of knowledge in all spheres of human life and activity, including material prosperity.”
The letter K, in the book’s vision, brings us to the idea of knowing oneself, a very important and neglected aspect of modern education. When the author comes to the letter S, she speaks of the deeper educational significance of stories which are very suggestive and revealing.
Throughout the book the readers will find helpful references to a variety of source material, including the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, other thinkers and educationists as well as quite a bit of online and audio-visual material. These can help the reader to deepen the study of the topic under discussion.
Readers will also find several hints for rethinking the fundamentals of curriculum, pedagogy, teacher education, educational planning and administration. These hints need to be carefully considered by those concerned with educational decision-making for further development and possible implementation.
In an effortless way the author brings out almost all the deeper values of Indian culture which should be the guiding principles of Indian education – in fact, all education. It is hoped that all seriously interested in Indian education would take note of this presentation. More so in the modern globalised world where such a medley of conflicting ideas are in the public arena, this book comes as a clear reminder to stick to the basic values of Indian culture. I recommend this book to all who are concerned and would like to improve present-day Indian system of education.
(Kittu-da has been teaching at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education since 1958. He currently teaches History and Sri Aurobindo’s works.)
Book Excerpt, pp. 126-127
Indian spirituality in its essence is not removed from life, but is the basis of all life including all creative pursuits such as art, literature, philosophy, music etc. A true Indian education must be grounded in this understanding of spirituality. Spirituality that motivates growing minds and hearts to experience all the joys of life and living and to expand and deepen their seeking for truth through all that life has to offer; spirituality that takes up all the intellectual, creative, vital energies and colours them in its own truth. In order for such a wave of life-affirming spirituality to take over a people’s consciousness, opulent vitality and opulent intellectuality are essential.
The view of spirituality that should become the basis of Indian Education is one that understands spiritual tendency as one that “does not shoot upward only to the abstract, the hidden and the intangible; it casts its rays downward and outward to embrace the multiplicities of thought and the richness of life.” Learners in such a view of education are to be offered as much opportunity and freedom as needed to discover the normal mental possibilities of their intellect, will, ethical, aesthetic and emotional beings, but then these beings are also raised up “towards the greater light and power of their own highest intuitions.”
All I can say now is: Thank you, Kittu-da for such a fabulous review!
TO READ MORE REVIEWS OF THE BOOK, CLICK HERE.