Monday, August 6, 2012


Ahimsa: Pedagogy of its Education in Gandhian Perspective –Dr. Ravindra Kumar & Dr. Kiran L Dangwal
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 “Nonviolence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our being” –MK Gandhi
Ahimsa [non-violence] –the eternal, natural and highest human value, is the essential condition of existence, development and the stepping stone to achieve one’s goal in life. Almost all the religious propounders, great men, scholars and philosophers of the past and the present have, in one way or the other, recognized the superiority of non-violence. They have accepted the inevitability of Ahimsa in man’s life. To know and understand the importance of Ahimsa in life, besides having familiarity with Ahimsa Parmo Dharma [non-violence is a religion in grandeur] –a short couplet that appeared in the Mahabharata, the following Shloka from one of the Jain scriptures is enough to quote here:
“Ahimsa Savvasattanam Sada Nivvakarika, Ahimsa Savvasattesu Param Bambhamani Diyam” [Towards Peace: 2006, page 100]
The two great pioneers of Ahimsa -Vardhamana Mahavira and Mahatma Gandhi, declared Ahimsa to be the soul-force as well as the natural value. Further, both of them called for its continuous realization and development, and simultaneously stressed on making it the nucleus of day-to-day human practices. From this, the state of Ahimsa becomes unique; the continuous imparting of knowledge regarding this becomes necessary and inevitable.
Education is, as Mahatma Gandhi has rightly pointed out, “all-round drawing out of the best in child and man –body, mind and spirit. Literacy is not the end of education or even the beginning.” [Harijan: July 31, 1937]
Thus, education serves to lead a human being towards an all-round development of his personality. Such all-round development includes three aspects of human life, such as cognitive, affective and psychomotor. In all these three states the realization and practice of the one like Ahimsa that is natural as well as related to the soul, the one which is simultaneously the essential condition of existence, development and achieving the goal in life, is, in fact, the highest education in itself. From this, to repeat, the significance of it can be well realized. Moreover, Ahimsa and education, both, are interestingly dynamic in their nature, committed to continuity, thus, the lifelong process; and further, to reiterate, education of Ahimsa in itself emerges as the highest education, and the utmost need is to impart this as per the demand of time and space without compromising to the basic spirit at the root of non-violence in particular.
Before delving further in this regard, it is necessary to keep this firmly in mind that manifestation of Himsa –violence, is, in fact, reflected by one’s mind, speech and actions – Manasa, Vacha, Karmana; further, one’s mind, speech and actions leads to physical, economic, racial, religious, psychological, emotional or sexual violence.
Thus, important to our understanding from pedagogical viewpoint, violence is the way by which Gandhi himself conceptualized Ahimsa that is dedicated to vitality; simultaneously and unprecedentedly he makes mental-physical welfare the acid test of non-violence and stresses on framing policies, method and propagation of education having this characteristic in the centre in particular, which is worth consideration. Further, as the Gandhian view offers to the world a matchless and welfaristic alternative as far as the question of pedagogy of non-violence education is concerned, if it is analyzed properly in the current perspective and is connected in its refined form, and is befitting to the prevailing situations of space and as per the demand of time, with day-to-day human practices in general, and is also adopted in the fourfold education plan, for which the  Gandhian view too agrees to a large extent, and which starts right from the beginning of the process of learning and study as desired by Gandhism itself, the significance of this from pedagogical viewpoint in particular, will become apparent. 
The beginning of teaching Ahimsa through ethical behaviours –morality, which is one of the important aspects of the Gandhian plan of education, takes place first of all from one’s own home. Undoubtedly, under the patronage and guidance of parents, mother in particular, knowledge of morality –one of the greatest supplementary features of Ahimsa itself, is imparted by applying love and care-based quite an exemplary, practical and the most effective pedagogy, which include simple and pre-primary learning, just related to initial practices of standing and moving, sitting and speaking. These initial practices may seem trivial or insignificant in nature, but their importance cannot be described in a few words. They in fact play a vital role in imparting Ahimsa in the very beginning and lay thereafter the concrete foundation of behaviour to practice this in schools, colleges and universities, thus to make education worthy and valued, it should be replete with activities related to non-violence, and in reality as per the expectations from education, which, as Kishorelal Mashruwala rightly mentions, “Works for the all-round growth of man right from the beginning till end; [as] its ultimate aim is to turn human knowledge into his ability…” [Essays on Gandhism and Peace: 1999: page 2]         
Hence, initiations like these are very important in this regard. Further, in these days of unprecedented and continuous development at all levels and in all walks of life, when in continuously increasing process of globalization the spirit of mutual cooperation at all levels and in all walks of life is indispensable, the role and responsibility of parents despite their being quite busy with the process, in the early life of child in particular remain not only significant, but in fact multiplies.                   
The fourfold education to be imparted at various levels through educational institutions –from primary school to the university level with the sole purpose of all-round development of personality; for, as mentioned already Gandhian view also to a large extent agrees, comprises of the following four kinds of knowledge and practices:
1-General education that is imparted at different levels, from primary to higher studies in a school, college or university, according to the prescribed syllabi and which ends with the earning of a degree or diploma equal to the graduation or the post-graduation, or a doctoral-postdoctoral degree;
2-Physical education –exercises to make the body and mind healthy and to fill them with agility, dynamism and constructiveness;
3-Moral education –to lead one to the path of righteousness and develop the sense of duty and responsibility on the one hand and to safeguard those values on the other, which ascertain the identity of a true human being, and which are also necessary for the proper conduction of the system –from individual life to the universal; and
4-Technical or practical education –to make one self-sufficient, while being imparted along with the general education as per the prescribed syllabi; it can, in fact, play a vital role in making education process meaningful and to achieve the real objective according to its meaning, and the spirit at its root.     
Categorically, the purpose of imparting this fourfold education through schools, colleges and universities is to make one self-reliant and capable of all-round development of his personality, thus eventually to lead him towards achieving his goal in life. However, the manner in which the Gandhian view lays great stress on imparting moral knowledge in particular and that too right from the primary level of education and connects it to discipline, duty and responsibility, makes it extraordinary.
Not only this, by connecting physical education with morality and ethics, stressing on proper exercises and training of bodily organs in institutions right from the beginning, so that the best and quickest way of developing his intellect could be possible, ultimately to the awakening of soul, [Harijan: May 8, 1937]* which is the fundamental source of Ahimsa, Gandhism accords an exemplary dimension in the regard. 
The call for the training of handicrafts, honest physical labour, handling tools by hands etc., could be well seen in this very perspective; “for”, in the words of the Mahatma himself, “highest development of the mind and the soul, thus under a planned or the systematic education process” [Harijan: July 31, 1937] to pave the way towards awakening of non-violence continuously. For this, along with making moral-ethical education an essential part of the process the Gandhian view calls for its inclusion in all the syllabi –to be prepared for primary to higher level of education.  
Moreover, the Gandhian view longs for developing understanding, may be, step-by-step, pertaining to resolution of conflicts, disputes and struggles –necessary and inevitable at all levels and in all walks of life by the evergreen non-violent way. This way is, in fact, the only effective and all welfaristic way to resolve conflicts or disputes. The pages of available history well prove this fact. Therefore, the Gandhian view, on the one hand, expects inclusion in school and college syllabi the knowledge pertaining to the reality of inevitable disputes and struggles in life,  which can be imparted from a particular level of studies, and on the other, shows commitment for their resolution by the pedagogy developed from the culture of mutual efforts.
Ahimsa in not momentary; rather, it is a subject of continuous development and practice till the end; therefore, imparting its knowledge at all levels of education is necessary. Its inclusion and presence in all syllabi is inevitable. It does not matter if a particular branch of knowledge is the major of one’s study and research; science, art or commerce may be the field of one’s prime learning, but it is expected that he necessarily study and analyze issues related to inevitable disputes and conflicts as one of the subjects.
For this, Conflict Resolution, for which we can also mention, Solution through Cooperation, must become a compulsory part of education –study and practice, for each and every student in the name like that of Science for Existence and Development. Under this, besides imparting knowledge with the purpose of developing the spirit of duty and responsibility in theoretical perspective, stress should also be laid on settling problems, disputes and struggles related to family, community and society in particular on the basis of non-violent means, whatever may be befitting in prevailing situations as its practical aspect, as is essentially done in almost all the branches of sciences. This will, undoubtedly, prove to be an effective pedagogy of non-violence education of the Gandhian view.          
*To quote the Mahatma himself in this regard, “A proper and all-round development of the mind…can take place only when it proceeds pari passu with the education of the physical and spiritual faculties of the child. They constitute an indivisible whole.”  
                     

1 comment:

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