Excerpts of Rabindranath Thakur (Bangali Poet) from his essay on SHIKSHA

Dr Kallol Guha, PhD USA President & CEO Saint James School of Medicine, Park Ridge, IL, USA

Dr Kallol Guha, PhD
President & CEO
Saint James School of Medicine,
Park Ridge, Illinois, USA

Dr. Kallol Guha, PhD
President & CEO,
Saint James School of Medicine,
Park Ridge, Illinois, USA

One must admit that west is the winner of the modern world. They are milking the world like a KAMDHENU and their pan is overflowing. We are staring from outside and feeling that our share even daily means of subsistence are gradually being reduced. Since heat of hunger stimulates anger, the onlookers imagine of grabbing the raider. But how can one grab the raider who has already grabbed the onlooker. All opportunities are under the control of the raider. But why? Why and how have they won the right to milk the world? It must be due to some underlying truth! We may imagine somehow we will close rank and grab all their booties for our own consumption- matter is not that simple. It is foolish to think that engine of a running automobile will follow my command if I hit the driver on his head. In fact a kind of skill is operating in the shape of a driver to run the engine. Fire of my anger will not run the engine. The underlying skill has to be mastered. Hence the force of our competition with the west can’t possibly match by any emotional reaction. Fact is we have to master their skill and only and only then you can compete. Which essentially means our greatest problem is the problem of education and learning. Therefore, let’s now visit the Ashram of Shukracharya.

• Once upon a time Latin was the medium of instruction in educational circles of Europe. Its main advantage was that- international students could access that education through such a static language. Its disadvantage was- the light of knowledge and wisdom hardly ever reached beyond the circle of learned community. Since each European nation used their respective mother tongue as medium of all form of education only then education percolated amid all section of the masses. Only then significance of University blended into the feelings and senses of the general population. The moment- education became exposed to the medium of mother tongue- her treasure of knowledge and wisdom increased, spread through the general population, merged with the wealth of knowledge of intellectual circles far and wide. All isolated pockets of scattered knowledge were harvested and wealth of knowledge stored in the nation’s treasury. Now that European Universities are generously international and yet it is intimately national. This is consistent with human nature- unless one fully realizes self, one can’t possibly surrender to greater cause.

• A hesitant and unsecured medical student of Anglophonic school practices medicine based on their bookish knowledge but fails to contribute anything new in the field of physiology or medicine. A hesitant Engineer of Anglophonic school works on the basis of bookish knowledge and drawing pension at the end of the career without contributing anything in their respective fields. We are undoubtedly sensing the futility of such so called education. We are simply carrying our education as a burden and failing to make education our career or vehicle.

• Question is being asked- why after such prolonged Anglophonic education we have not made any original contribution? Answer is simple. The source from where we have borrowed our education is the same from where we have borrowed our intelligence. Hence we lack the courage and confidence to use intellect to become analytical. Regarding education and intellect- English youth is not as unsecured and fickle because he is surrounded by the ambient of original thinking and creation. A French intellectual can confidently judge English knowledge and wisdom because French education and learning is thoroughly indigenous and built into that is the means and ability to evaluate others contribution. Hence producer self is the authentic judge of the product, qualified to determine the value, and fit to decide what to retain and what to reject based on producers taste and opinion. Hence they are self-confident in the business of knowledge and wisdom. There can’t be any originality without such confidence.

• Sovereign countries – that were not colonies – do not exhibit such unusual relation of intimacy and separation between the language of learning and learner anywhere outside India. It is about a century that Japan welcomed influx of European technology. At the initial stage of such influx, Japan was obliged to use foreign language. Right from the start, however, their primary consideration was to indigenize language of the technology. Purpose of modern Japan was not to restrict the influx of technology for the decoration of a minority privileged class but to radiate the power of indigenized technology to develop and build a powerful nation. That was precisely the reason why imported technology had to be universal and indigenized through use of people’s language. Japan never ever hesitated to invest capital or perseverance to impart universal education and learning that would empower to defend herself from the barbarism of powerful, marauding nations, liberate from pettiness, and establish their pride and prestige amid the international community. The most devastating plan of economy is to segregate education and learning under the cover of foreign language. It is like depriving irrigation to lush green fertile rice field and instead water a potted plant at the backyard.

We have become used to such deprivation and self-inflicted disrespect for too long. We have taken it for granted that serving of meager leftovers of information to a dwindling minority in showy utensil is called “National Education”.

• There are descriptions of animals in Biology that are born and die as attached to a substratum. Such attachment is barely enough for survival but not enough for use and development of its own appendages. Our Anglophonic education is favorably comparable. Right from start this education thrives by the support and attachment of  foreign language. Not that it becomes totally rudimentary but it can never attain full maturity. That one is even incapable of sensing that its inborn strength is crippled is because its entire existence is based on borrowed resources. They feel proud of the volume of borrowed resources. They have thoroughly enslaved themselves in the circle of lenders. Those who completed such education they do not yield what they consume. Being thoroughly dependent on borrowed vocabulary and borrowed resources their inspiration and courage for synthesis and analysis of ideas become crippled. More one learns to mechanically recite borrowed vocabulary more they are branded as “Good Student”. Needless to say- one way to liberate such pathetic mental dependence is to instruct and let absorb useful subjects through one’s own language- since childhood- and the scope to apply the acquired knowledge. Who doesn’t know that to turn ingested food into absorbable nutrients is to grind it by teeth and digest with bodily juices.

• Education that is wrapped in English language can’t touch our feelings or appeal to our senses. Thus we can’t become learned in the same proportion we get education. Education we are exposed to remains isolated from our surrounding ambient. Our home and school are linked not with thoughts and feelings but with a motor car. Our country is lying outside our school. That secluded country is saturated with protests and criticism from the schools but no cooperation or collaboration. In taking the initiative to close that gap, our language and thoughts are no more mature than the school boy.

• Kind of knowledge required- now a days – to preserve pride and prestige, in order to access that knowledge if we have to depend only on English language- that designed and deliberate deficiency will inflict eternal insult to the mother tongue. Those- conversant in their mother tongue alone- should they be permanently treated as underclass? There was a time when junior students of English school felt proud to declare their ignorance in mother tongue and their fellow folks encouraged such culture. Today- kids studying at vernacular medium feel ashamed to say “I speak only in mother tongue”. There is loud discussion on Political Swaraj but no awareness of Swaraj in the field of Education. Many are eager to even actively oppose the concept of Swaraj in Education. They think- installation of education on the seat of mother tongue amounts to degradation of education. Many leaders feels that “Shiksha Saraswati” being attired in sari means insult to indigenous education. Yet it is obvious that Sari clad Debi Saraswati is far at ease and free to move around at home than if attired and burdened in hoofed leather boot.

• Poverty of the nation is deplorable but the deficiency of education system in this nation is shameful. Root of this deficiency lies in its unnatural and abnormal design, its isolation from the grass-root level. The most effective and intimate tool (vasha) required for intellectual development remains most alien and grave impediment. In this country- link between learner and the learning tool is with a cable not with the cord. Failure to establish connection of cord between the learner and the tool is rotting the root of our history and impairing intellectual maturity of the nation. This disconnect in numerous indispensable services of the state is a heavy burden on the general population. Various Government offices including court and their rules and regulations that regulate the fate of millions of Indians remain totally inaccessible and incomprehensible to the masses. Distance between national sentiment and feelings and system of education and its contemptable limited availability has always pained me because I feel convinced that of all dependency the most damaging is imitation in education.

• Speaking incorrect English is a laughable matter to our countrymen. Nothing could be more contemptible than this culture. A stain of slavery is reflected in that laugh. As long as we maintain such a culture- our Anglophonic crowd will have to learn not just enough English but Excess English. Time required for lessons in excess English will have to be deducted from the time to be devoted for real learning. Such attitude never attains the maturity to believe- that deep knowledge of mother tongue may help to get deep knowledge of English. Only English and stripped of knowledge in mother tongue- how can echo claim the same status as the sound? Weeds hanging from the branches of a great banyan tree are by no means equal.

• Expression of thoughts and feelings in words is an integral part of learning (distinct from education). Perfection of synchronization of this lifelong exchange between ones inner and outer world is the sign of healthy mind. Act of expression in a foreign language– stripped of mother tongue – is like expression of feelings through a masked face that may work in a defined environment but can never be natural. From childhood I deeply enjoyed combining and expressing my thoughts in my own language. I, Thereby,  realized once I master the skill of expression in mother tongue thereafter- in due course pen finds it easy to express thoughts in adopted language.

• At last it is my humble appeal that- let there be a VAGIRATH who will lead the current of mother tongue based education to the ocean of universal learning. There are millions of soul being cursed in the vice of stupidity lying in moribund state. Let the sacred touch of life giving current revive lost sense of respect for the neglected mother tongue in the mind of moribund stupid soul.

• Unity and synchronization of education is the key to national unity- that a clear understanding of this basic and simple fact is difficult for our leaders to grasp is a consequence of their habitual denial of facts. Our leadership is apathetic to the role of education. Here, education of the nation and the educated personalities of the nation are disconnected. Mindset of the great literary talents of ancient India were not totally disconnected with the thought process of the illiterate villagers. Villagers were culturally conditioned to absorb wisdom of the great minds of that time. Villagers were participant not just sensing the flavor of their intellectual feast but as consumers of their left overs. Oxford Cambridge does not signify the buildings, it also is a reflection of the entire intellectual class of England. It is a reality not a mirage. But our Universities have halted at its boundary wall.


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