The Tribune - Spectrum


Sunday, October 13, 2002

Write view
On matters spiritual and educational
Randeep Wadehra

Sri Guru Nanak Devís Japji
by Dr. G. S. Chauhan, Hemkunt Publishers, New Delhi. Pages 208. Rs 150.

Sri Guru Nanak Devís JapjiFROM time to time prophets, gurus, saints and seers have lit the spiritual torch to guide a wayward humanity. This has been true in the case of India, too, where spirituality has been a way of life. Spirituality, unlike dogmas, is not a passive philosophy. The ten Sikh Gurus through their teachings helped rejuvenate a moribund community to fight oppressive forces by inculcating spiritual discipline. As the French writer, critic and scholar Ernest Renan rightly observes, "He whom God has touched will always be a being apart. He is, whatever he may do, a stranger among men; he is marked by a sign." Guru Nanak Dev appeared on the scene when the society, in this part of the subcontinent, was floundering in darkness. Over a period of time a new and vibrant community came into being. This miracle was wrought through personal example set by the revered Gurus and other persons like Banda Bahadur.

Guru Nanak Devís teachings and spiritual messages are embodied in Japji Sahib. Describing how our ancient scriptures, written in Sanskrit, had become incomprehensible to not only ordinary folks but also Brahmins, Dr. Chauhan avers, "ÖGuru Nanak Dev decided to use common spoken language in his teachings so as to benefit common manÖThe teaching of the Gurus is therefore the ancient Vedic knowledge or Brahm Gyan in simple and clear language and has universal application irrespective of caste, creed, country or time. It is eternal."


Expressing his anguish over the attempts to give the Gurus a sectarian colour the author emphatically asserts that these enlightened souls belong to all humanity. He points out that Sukhmani Sahib and Japji Sahib do not preach or promote any religion but stress upon universal values. "Gurus have taught a seeker of spirituality to follow his own belief but follow the same in correct perspective. In Sukhmani Sahib, Guru Arjan Dev has addressed those (i) who are very particular about purity and non-touching of impure beings and things, (ii) Vaishnavas, (iii) Bhagauties, (iv) Brahmins & priests, (v) Ramaís devotees (vi) yogis etc. He never asked them to convert to be his followers".

Arguing that the Gurusí approach was universal, Dr Chauhan points out that instead of giving a specific name to the Almighty they chose to use the already existing ones like Rama, Krishna, Gopal, Gobind, Bhagwant, Hari, Thakur, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva etc.

This book presents Japji Sahib in Gurmukhi, Devnagri and Roman scripts along with elucidation of the stanzas in English. Helpful to those interested in religion and philosophy.


Encyclopaedia of Educational Foundations and Development

by Mahendra Vaidya & Shipra Vaidya. Deep & Deep Publications, New Delhi. Pages: Vol. 1: xxiv + 551, Vol. 2: xxiv + 536. Price for 2-volume set: Rs 2500

Encyclopaedia of Educational Foundations and DevelopmentEducation, as we all know, is a far more profound concept than literacy. Graduating from the primary function of learning the three ĎRís, education helps us imbibe such values as compassion, wisdom, constructive thought and action, and vision. Dr Radhakrishnanís idea of education was to acquire knowledge that enters into our being, colours our emotion, haunts our soul, and is as close to us as life itself. Similarly, Vivekananda had described education as life-building, man-making, character-forming assimilation of ideas.

The authors point out that the cultivation of mind is not an easy task. It requires sustained and focused effort. Emphasising the need for imparting quality education the book says, "You canít change the fruit without changing the root". To enable an educational system to develop healthy roots it is essential that a childís propensities and potential are identified and developed. The skills imparted should be such that the child not only becomes materially self-reliant but also acquires a well-rounded personality.

There are said to be four theories of curriculum, viz., Essentialism, Encyclopaedism, Polytechnicalism and Pragmatism. The curriculum for education ought to be a dynamic concept that takes into account not only the current realities but also future possibilities that would affect the intellectual/personality growth of a child. It is rightly stated that like science, the curriculum, too, needs constant innovation and upgradation with incoming of new ideas.

This two-volume book contains 81 chapters that deal with varied aspects of education. Each volume is further split into 20 focal points, each concentrating on a specific concept relating to education. The first volume deals with concepts, theory and thinkers on education, while the second volume examines such concepts as curriculum and development of education. The book rightly avers that life in the coming years is likely to bring in a mixed bag of new tensions and unprecedented opportunities. To enable the people to benefit in the new environment will require new designs of human resource development. The coming generations should have the ability to internalise new ideas constantly and creatively. They have to be imbued with a strong commitment to human values and to social justice. All this implies better education.