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Guru Dakshina – A tribute to our great teachers

Gauri Krishnan, IIK Young Contributor
Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Guru Dakshina – A tribute to our great teachers

As we commemorate Teachers' Day in the memory of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, it is worthwhile to remember his views on India’s rich tradition in the area of learning and education since ancient times. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan had critically studied Indian philosophy and firmly believed in the Gurukula Sampradaya (System) of education which was practiced in India for a long time, but forgotten by many of us today.

In the Gurukula system, the children stayed and studied in the hermitage of their Guru who imparted to them all the necessary knowledge and skills needed for their life.

The syllable ‘gu’ means ‘darkness’ and the syllable ‘ru’, means ‘he who dispels them’. The Guru had the power to dispel darkness, the darkness of ignorance, and bring in the light of knowledge. Thus, the Guru is the one who dispels ignorance in his disciples with the lamp of knowledge. The children were sent to the gurukula at the age of 9 or 10 and returned when they were 15 or 16. From this tender age, the Guru held the child’s hand, guiding him in all aspects of life. For the time that they lived there, the students were considered as the teacher’s own family.

Since the children lived in the hermitage of the Guru, the Guru also shouldered the responsibility of a counselor and a parent. He took on the difficult task of moulding the character of the student and transforming them into responsible young adults.

Though the children came from different backgrounds of the society, the Guru saw them as equal through his eyes. The Guru taught the students the importance of service and responsibility. Princes and children from poor backgrounds alike did their duties together, like looking after the cows, bringing firewood, picking fruit from the orchards, taking water from the well, and so on. They ate simple food cooked in the hermitage and slept beside one another on straw mats laid out on hard mud floors. They were not permitted to wear any jewelry or silks and instead, wore simple clothes. The Guru ensured that they were truly equal, and no one felt superior or inferior to the other.

The Guru imparted learning to the students in a natural surrounding close to nature. This ensured that the students respected, valued and nurtured nature and sustained it. He sowed seeds of brotherhood, love, duty, responsibility and discipline in his students. The students respected and shared a good relationship with their teacher. Apart from studies, the Guru also inculcated the spirit of creativity through activities such as arts, crafts, and singing. Yoga, meditation, sports etc., generated positivity and peace of mind and kept them fit.

The guru played a big role in the personality development of the children and increased their confidence, sense of discipline, intellect and mindfulness which are necessary to face the challenges, difficulties, and the ups and downs of one’s life. Through the years, the guru nurtured the young children to be responsible, loving, disciplined, and dutiful adults. These adults then in turn supported the gurukulas as householders, so that the Guru could teach and nurture the next generation. Some of the students also became gurus and continued the tradition of Gurukula Sampradaya to benefit the society, for generations and centuries.

For most of us, our first step into education started in the LKG. I am very thankful to the guidance, love and patience of my LKG teachers who awakened an interest for learning in me. They gave me the strength to keep trying and never give up. Without them, I would not have been what I am today. My Guru Dakshina for them has always been my prayers for their long life, health and prosperity.

On this occasion of Teacher’s Day, let us pay our Guru Dakshina - a tribute - to all the Gurus of both the past and the present.

Gauri Krishnan
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