Gurucharanam may be translated as ‘the feet of the teacher’ or ‘at the feet of the teacher’. In our Indian tradition, education began at gurucharanam in a gurukulam. The knowledge imparted to the students at gurukulam was value based and practical. Education today, we know, has grown in leaps and bounds, especially with ever-increasing state-of-the-art educational institutions and sophisticated technology and facilities. Distance education and overseas education has become a symbol of prestige and is considered a sure means of building up a prosperous future.
Education nowadays is considered a necessary means to secure a decent job rather than to acquire values for life. A fat salary need not necessarily provide happiness and peace. In fact, a value-based education is the spice that gives meaning and fulfilment to our lives. It is here that the role of a teacher is paramount. Helen Keller would vouch that much of her success and achievement in life was owing to the positive and constructive roles played by her teachers. Navniit Gandhi in the cover story explains how today the triangular relationship between teachers, students and parents has drastically changed. Expectations are increasing among all three, but if each one focuses on his or her responsibilities, the teacher-student-parent equation, we can be sure, will harmoniously yield excellent results.
As we celebrate Teacher’s Day on 5th September we fondly remember our own teachers who have played a great role in shaping our life, and in some cases, we must admit, even more than our own parents. Academics alone do not build you up but every extra-curricular activity and teacher’s guidance and personal care also can help you mould your personality. A teacher’s contribution to shaping your life cannot adequately be expressed just by saying ‘Thank You’. But your gratitude to your teachers can certainly be shown in what you become in life, making your teachers proud of you.
The ultimate purpose of education is very meaningfully expressed by the Upanishadic prayer, asatomã sadgamaya, tamasomã jyotirgamaya, mrityormã amritam gamaya… (from ignorance lead me to truth; from darkness lead me to light; from death lead me to immortality…). You will succeed in your endeavour for excellence and happiness if you march forward with determination, persistence and hard work. Google guru can give you a lot of information but to be rightly educated you need to come to Gurucharanam.
John Gilbert, SSP is the former Chief Editor of The Teenager Today, India's only TeenZine.