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Gur Panth Parkash

Gur Panth Parkash
by Rattan Singh Bhangoo
Translated by
Prof Kulwant Singh

 

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Concept of True Education in Guru Granth Sahib

Dr Pushpinder Singh

Let’s get some myths out of the way. It is a general belief that we get educated in schools and colleges. “Do we really get educated in schools and colleges?” Generally, there is a consensus that some do but most don’t. We receive a lot of information in schools and colleges. Don’t get me wrong. We do need information to be educated. But we need to know the true meaning of education. Intellectual education influences the head and values based education influences the heart. In fact, education that does not train the heart can be dangerous. If we want to build character in our offices, homes and society, we must achieve a minimum level of moral and ethical literacy. Education that builds fundamental traits of character—such as honesty, compassion, courage, persistence and responsibility—is absolutely essential. We don’t need more academic education; we need more values-based education. a person who is morally educated will be a lot better equipped to move up in life or succeed than a morally bankrupt person with excellent academic qualifications. Character building and teaching values and ethics, come in the formative years because a child is not born with this knowledge.

To date it has been the materialistic concerns on life that were our dominant guidelines to formulate the educational processes. As a result, our educational practices were corrupted to serve the materialistic consideration. It is now realized that the materialistic approaches were completely unable to meet human needs. Optimistic forecasts about the progressive changes the present system would generate, have vanished into the ever widening abyss. Rather, it has caused crises of mental illness, frustration and disgust among masses everywhere. For example, the dream of prosperity to achieve pleasure of living and satisfaction in life now seems like a nightmare. For never has a world known such abundance along with such massive genocide and environmental devastation. When a culture is seemingly experiencing most comfort and opportunity, it is resulting into widespread depression and psychosis. Never before have we had so much education, but also such high rates of delinquency, despair, and suicide. Never before has a technology given us so many conveniences, but we used it to produce terrible instruments of degradation and destruction. Never before have we been so self-reliant, and at the same time so lonely. Never before have we seemed so free, but our prisons so overstuffed. Never before have we been so sophisticated about pleasure and at the same time suffer so frequent broken and miserable human relationships.

True education is training of both the head and the heart. An uneducated thief may steal from the freight car but an educated one may steal the entire railroad. Universities are turning out highly skilled barbarians because we don’t provide a framework of values to young people, who more and more are searching for it —Steven Muller, President, Johns Hopkins University. The aim of education is to develop and integrate the human personality. The function of education is to prepare man’s intellectual, aesthetic and emotional background in such a way that the individual’s development is harmonious. They should follow Dharma, in its broad aspect. This includes reverence for teachers and elders, solicitude for the welfare of neighbours and fellow-citizens and respect for all types of life: birds, animals, plants with the emphasis on duty rather than rights.  Guru Nanak based the uplift of man on the cultivation of character. It is character which helps us to make the right choice or to take the right step in a moral crisis. Temptations come so suddenly that man has to make quick decisions. Unless one has virtue and guts both acquired by steady practice over a number of years, one may easily fall prey to evil. Guru Nanak taught us of three Hs; The knowledge of the Hand, knowledge of the Head and Knowledge of the Heart. The education of the Hand implies the dignity of labour, self-reliance and of service to humanity. The education of the Head implies an appreciation of the wonders of nature, an understanding of the mysteries of the universe and a search for truth. The education of the Heart includes the awakening of the higher self and the seeking of true inspiration from within. Guru Nanak Dev Ji explained the spiritual significance of some letters of the alphabet to the Pandit and the Mullah  Alif stands for Allah, Sassa stands for an awareness of God - the Creator of the universe. He laid emphasis on character-building, citizenship and service.it is imperative that one must be appropriately educated to render service to others. The purpose of education is to acquire appropriate capacity to serve others.

Gurmat always emphasized education and it was done to project as an awakening to the possibilities of the spiritual and material well‑being of humankind, miri piri. For example, In his autobiography, the tenth Guru made specific mention of his own education.

ਦੀਨੀ ਭਾਤ ਭਾਤ ਕੀ ਸਿਛਾ 
I was given a variety of instructions ..

The Guru Granth takes every opportunity to emphasize education and learning by referring to many educational experiences. For example Guru Arjan Said,

ਪੀਊ ਦਾਦੇ ਕਾ ਖੋਲਿ ਡਿਠਾ ਖਜਾਨਾ ॥ ਤਾ ਮੇਰੈ ਮਨਿ ਭਇਆ ਨਿਧਾਨਾ ॥
ਰਤਨ ਲਾਲ ਜਾ ਕਾ ਕਛੂ ਨ ਮੋਲੁ ॥ ਭਰੇ ਭੰਡਾਰ ਅਖੂਟ ਅਤੋਲ ॥

When I unlocked and viewed the treasures of my ancestors, my mind was filled with pleasure to find the spiritual wealth. I could not price the treasures with either pearls or rubies for the brimful store-house is inexhaustible and beyond measures.
The very term Sikh means a student, a learner, or a disciple. As the Guru said,

ਸਿਖੀ ਸਿਖਿਆ ਗੁਰ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ
A Sikh is the one who contemplates on the lessons taught by the Gurus.
Thus the Gurus emphasized education to train the human mind.

ਮਨ ਸਮਝਾਵਨ ਕਾਰਨੇ ਕਛੂਅਕ ਪੜੀਐ ਗਿਆਨ॥
So that I may render my mind well-grounded I must comprehend some knowledge.
Similarly, Guru Gobind Singh urged to make this body an abode of enlightened wisdom.
         
ਧੀਰਜ ਧਾਮ ਬਨਾਇ ਇਹੈ ਤਨ ਬੁੱਧਿ ਸੁ ਦੀਪਕ ਜਿਉ ਉਜੀਆਰੈ
Make your body a house of fortitude and patience,
and shine the light of wisdom in it.

Guru Nanak said that even salvation or liberation cannot be achieved without education and without acquisition of knowledge. He said,
         
ਮੁਕਤਿ ਨਹੀ ਬਿਦਿਆ ਬਿਗਿਆਨਿ
You cannot be emancipated without education and knowledge

Further, the Guru considered education as a desirable experience for training the mind to cope with the life’s challenges.

ਮਨ ਸਮਝਾਵਨ ਕਾਰਨੇ ਕਛੂਅਕ ਪੜੀਐ ਗਿਆਨ ॥
One must study and acquire knowledge in order to enlighten one’s mind.
One of the Sikh prayers asks for the gift of proper educational enlightenment.

ਦਾਸ ਤੇਰੇ ਕੀ ਬੇਨਤੀ ਰਿਦ ਕਰਿ ਪਰਗਾਸੁ ॥
Let us pray that we may be blessed with an enlightened mind
Even when the Gur urges us to serve the Lord, he emphasize use of wisdom in doing so.
     
ਅਕਲੀ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਸੇਵੀਐ 
I urge you to serve the Lord wisely.

Real worth is not in thoughtless reading; The Guru Granth considers mere reading as antithesis of education. Education is beyond the mere acquisition of ability to read or acquire habit of thoughtless reading. For example, the Guru said:

ਪਾਠ ਪੜੈ ਨਹੀ ਕੀਮਤਿ ਪਾਇ
By mere recitation of books one does not comprehend the real worth.

ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਥਾਕੇ ਸਾਂਤਿ ਨ ਆਈ 
We can exhaust ourselves by continous reading and still not find any solace.

ਜਗਿ ਚਤੁਰੁ ਸਿਆਣਾ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਣਾ ਨਾਉ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਪੜਹਿ ਗਾਵਾਰੀ 
People consider themselves clever but actually they are deluded by doubts. They call themselves scholars but actually they are lost only in empty exercises of  reading.
     
ਕਿਆ ਪੜੀਐ ਕਿਆ ਗੁਨੀਐ ॥ ਕਿਆ ਬੇਦ ਪੁਰਾਨਾਂ ਸੁਨੀਐ ॥ 
ਪੜੇ ਸੁਨੇ ਕਿਆ ਹੋਈ ॥ ਜਉ ਸਹਜ ਨ ਮਿਲਿਓ ਸੋਈ ॥

What avail is mear reading or deliberating and what avail is to listen to scriptures? Nothing is achieved by reading or auditing unless they do not lead to liberation and the Divinity is not achieved.

The Guru valued only those who comprehended the educational material for the purpose of reaching the depth of real knowledge. Reading alone was considered of no avail.

 ਕੇਤੇ ਕਹਹਿ ਵਖਾਣ ਕਹਿ ਕਹਿ ਜਾਵਣਾ ॥ ਵੇਦ ਕਹਹਿ ਵਖਿਆਣ ਅੰਤੁ ਨ ਪਾਵਣਾ ॥ 
ਪੜਿਐ ਨਾਹੀ ਭੇਦੁ ਬੁਝਿਐ ਪਾਵਣਾ 

       Many discourse and pass away. They study and lecture on scriptures and do not comprehend. Therefore, it is not by reading the books and scriptures, but only by realization of the knowledge, that mystery is revealed to us.

ਪੜਿਆ ਬੂਝੈ ਸੋ ਪਰਵਾਣ ॥ ਜਿਸੁ ਸਿਰਿ ਦਰਗਹ ਕਾ ਨੀਸਾਣੁ
A literate and academic who also comprehends the values will alone be auspicious. They alone will be knighted in the court of the Lord.
     
ਪੜੀਐ ਜੇਤੀ ਆਰਜਾ ਪੜੀਅਹਿ ਜੇਤੇ ਸਾਸ ॥ 
ਨਾਨਕ ਲੇਖੈ ਇਕ ਗਲ ਹੋਰੁ ਹਉਮੈ ਝਖਣਾ ਝਾਖ ॥ 

You may go on reading books for ages. In the eyes of the Guru there is only one truth of any value, everything else is only the wastage of time under the influence of ego.

Our current day society promotes education as a skill to acquire riches and instill false pride of material achievement. The Guru Granth considers scholars thus educated as fools and guides us to the real meaning of any scholarship. For example to quote the Guru,

ਪੜਿਆ ਮੂਰਖੁ ਆਾਖੀਐ ਜਿਸੁ ਲਬੁ ਲੋਭੁ ਅਹੰਕਾਰ 
A scholar who exhibits poor taste, greed, and ego is actually an idiot.

ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਪੰਡਿਤੁ ਬਾਦੁ ਵਖਾਣੈ ॥ ਭੀਤਰਿ ਹੋਦੀ ਵਸਤੁ ਨ ਜਾਣੈ 
The misguided scholars acquire knowledge to indulge in conflicts and animosities. They fail to recognize the treasures within.
     
ਲਿਖਿ ਲਿਖਿ ਪੜਿਆ ਤੇਤਾ ਕੜਿਆ 
More you read and write under the influence of ego, more will you be broiled in conflicts and confusion.

The Guru urged to incorporate true religion in education. Without religion the education can backfire and promote pseudo intellectuals or heartless educators. For example the Guru wrote,

ਪੜਣਾ ਗੁੜਣਾ ਸੰਸਾਰ ਕੀ ਕਾਰ ਹੈ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਵਿਕਾਰੁ 
The scholarly inquest and dissections have become the ways of this word but they actually strengthen the greed and fraud in mind.
     
ਹਉਮੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਸਭਿ ਪੜਿ ਥਕੇ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ਖੁਆਰੁ 
Those who work tirelessly to obtain education under the influence of ego are wasted  for they fall in love with illusion.

It is imperative that one must be appropriately educated to render service to others. As with every aspect of Sikh life, the purpose of education was considered to acquire appropriateness to serve the others. For example, Guru Amar Das said,
     
ਵਿਦਿਆ ਵੀਚਾਰੀ ਤਾਂ ਪਰਉਪਕਾਰੀ ॥
Comprehensive education is a pre-requisite for becoming an effective public servant.

Guru Nanak condemned the ruling authorities who conferred the caps of distinction, as he equally condemned the recipient of such crowning, whose purpose was merely to use these honours for self aggrandizement and not for a real public service.

ਕੁਲਹਾਂ ਦੇਂਦੇ ਬਾਵਲੇ ਲੈਂਦੇ ਵਡੇ ਨਿਲਜ ॥ ਚੂਹਾ ਖਡ ਨ ਮਾਵਈ ਤਿਕਲਿ ਬੰਨ੍ਹੈ ਛਜ 
Bewildered morons confer caps of distinction, and shame-faced individuals accept the crowning: they are like rats who themselves are too big to contain in their burrows but still seek to drag winnowing baskets with their tails. .

ਮੰਦਾ ਕਿਸੈ ਨਾ ਆਾਖੀਐ ਪੜਿ ਅਖਰ ਏਹੋ ਬੁਝੀਐ 
By achieving literacy, you are urged to realize that no one deserves condemnation as the Creator manifests in every one.

The concept is deceptively simple in popular discourse. However, the concept that no one deserves condemnation based upon race or religion actually presents fundamental challenges to the way that most of the institutions of contemporary society carry out their daily functions. These attitudes are manifested as the adversarial structure of civil government, the advocacy principles underlying most of civil law, extent of glorification bestowed on the struggle between various classes, between various religious groups and among all social groups. Besides, the competitive spirit dominating so much of modern life, conflict is accepted as the mainspring of human interaction.  It represents yet another outcome of education based upon the materialistic interpretation of life. The Guru urged us to promote a sense of well being for everyone and for every section of human race. The Guru visualized an educated society as one where people do not practice any discrimination and where there is no ill will towards anyone.


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