According to Swami Vivekananda the following should be the main aims of education:
1. The Aim of Reaching Perfection
The prime aim of education is to achieve fullness of perfection already present in a child. According to Swamiji all material and spiritual knowledge is already present in man covered by a curtain of ignorance.
Education should tear off that veil so that the knowledge shines forth as an illuminating torch to enliven all the corners by and by. This is meant by achieving fullness of the latent perfection.
2. Physical and Mental Development Aim
The second aim of education is the physical and mental development of the child so that the child of today, after studying Geeta, is able to promote national growth and advancement as a fearless and physically well developed citizen of tomorrow.
Stressing the mental development of the child, Swamiji, wished education to enable the child to stand on his own legs economically rather than becoming a parasite on others.
3. Moral and Spiritual Development
According to Swami Vivekananda, a nation’s greatness is not only measured by its parliamentary institutions and activities, but also by the greatness of its citizens. But the greatness of citizens is possible only through their moral and spiritual development which education should foster.
4. Character Development Aim
According to Swamiji character development is a very important aim of any education. For this, he emphasized the practice of Brahamcharya which fosters development of mental, moral and spiritual powers leading to purity of thoughts, words and deeds.
5. the Aim of Development Faith in One’s Own self, Shraddha and a Spirit of Renunciation.
All through his life Swamiji exhorted the individuals to keep full confidence upon their powers. They should inculcate a spirit of self surrender, sacrifice and renunciation of material pleasures for the good of others. Education should fasts, all these qualities in the individual. He gave this call to his countrymen. “Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is achieved.”
6. The Aim of Searching Unity in Diversity
The true aim of education is to develop insight into the individuals so that they are able to search out and realize unity in diversity. Swami Vivekanandaji has further asserted that physical and spiritual worlds are one; their distinctness is an illusion (Maya). Education should develop this sense which finds unity in diversity.
7. Religious Development Aim
To Swamiji religious development is an essential aim of education. To him, each individual should be able to search out and develop the religious seed embedded in him and thus find the absolute truth or reality.
Hence he advocated the training of feelings and emotions so that the whole life is purified and sublimated. Then only, the capacities of obedience, social service and submission to the teachings and preaching’s of great saints and saviors will develop in the individual. Education should foster this development.
According to Swami Vivekanand, the prime aim of education is spiritual growth and development. But this does not mean that he did not advocate material prosperity and physical well-being. He feelingly advocated the inclusion of all those subjects and activities, in the curriculum, which foster material welfare with spiritual advancement.
For spiritual perfection Swamiji prescribed Religious, Philosophy, Puranic lore, Upanishads, Company of saints and their preaching’s and for material advancement and prosperity he recommended Languages, Geography, Science, Political Science, Economics, Psychology, Art, Agriculture, Industrial and Technical subjects together with Games, sports and other Physical exercises.
Swamific prescribed the same ancient spiritual methods of teaching wherein the Guru and his disciples lived in close association as in a family. The essential characteristics of those religious and spiritual methods were as under:-
1. To control fleeting mental faculties by the practice of Yoga.
2. To develop the mind by concentration and deep meditation.
3. To gain knowledge through lectures, discussions, self- experience and creative activities.
4. To imitate the qualities and character of teacher intelligent and clear understanding.
5. To lead the child on the right path by means of individual guidance by the teacher.
Place of Child
Like Froebel, Vivekanand emphasized the education to be child centered. According to him the child is the store and repository of all learning material and spiritual. Like a plant a child grows by his own inner power naturally.
Hence advising the child to grow naturally and spontaneously, Vivekanand asserted-“Go into your own and get the Upanishads out of your own self. You are the greatest book that ever was or will be. Until the inner teacher opens, all outside teaching is in vain.”
Place of Teacher
Swamiji believed in self-education. According to him each of us is his own teacher. The external teacher only guides and inspires the inner teacher (soul) to rise up and start working to develop the child. Hence discussing the role of teacher Swami Vivekanand said- “Teacher is a philosopher, friend and guide helping the educand to go forward in this own way.”
Education of Masses
In the times of Swami Vivekanand, education was not available to the common people. It was confined to the well to do persons only. The poor, the miserable and the lowly placed used to starve and die for hunger. Swamiji yearned to improve the condition of the masses and thus advocated mass education as the only way to achieve any improvement in individual as well as society.
Swamiji exhorted his countrymen to know-“I consider that the great national sin is the neglect of the masses, and that is one of the causes of our downfall. No amount of politics would be of any avail until the masses of India are once more well educated, well fed and well cared for.”
The meaning and aims of education as they emerge from Vivekananda’s educational philosophy
Swami Vivekananda was born in 1863 in Calcutta of a famous advocate of Calcutta high court. Narendra Dutta was his childhood name. From the beginning he was interested in religion and philosophy. But, he was totally transformed after a meeting with Rama Krishna Paramhans in 1888.
Since then he had been a wandering monk. In 1893 he went to attend a World’s Parliament of Religions at Chicago. His views on education are found scattered in his lectures delivered at many places in India and abroad which are, now, available in printed from titled as Collective Works of Swami Vivekananda.
Meaning and Aims of Education according Vivekananda
To Vivekananda education was a man-making process which would mean arousing the people to an awareness of their own worth, dignity and responsibility, making them the source of all the strength and sustenance of society, creating a society which will provide a healthy milieu for the development of character and personality of all its children
Educational philosophy of Vivekananda and the aims of education together with the concept of education are founded on Vedanta philosophy, particularly the Advaita philosophy which says that in the lowest worm as well as in the highest human being the same divine nature is present. “The whole object of Vedanta philosophy is, by constant struggle, to become perfect, to become divine, to reach God and see God”.
The belief of this philosophy is that every human being is spirit (Atma), the soul which is immortal, evolving up or reverting back from birth to birth and death to death. Swami Vivekananda only reinterpreted the basics of Vaidik philosophy in the context of 20th century man and the society.
Swami Vivekananda had great faith in education to him; this was the basic means for achieving human excellence and solving national problems. He said there are no problems which cannot be solved by that magic word “education”. He defined education as the “development of faculty, not an accumulation of words”. To him education was meant for the training of individuals “to will rightly and efficiently”.
He further said that the education that does not help the common mass of people to equip themselves for the struggle for existence, which does not bring out strength of character, a spirit of philanthropy, and the courage of a lion, is not worth the name. Real education, to him, means that which enables one to stand on his own leg.
Vivekananda stressed the need to educate the millions of our common people to revitalize Indian culture of the day. A nation is advanced in proportion as education and intelligence spread among the masses. National development rests upon the goodness and greatness of men; and goodness and greatness of men are determined largely by education.
Education for “total human development” was the vision of Vivekananda which, he believed, could be achieved by refining and processing of in eternal human energies through the science of man in depth (Adhyatma Vidya). Philosophy, the science, the art and studies of various other fields of knowledge could help nations in achieving this goal.
Through education nations have to unfold the humanistic and divine possibilities lying hidden within their people and raise the levels from which their consciousness handles their external, natural and social environment. True education is that which does this.
Vivekananda was deeply spiritual and intensely human. His message is the message of humanism. But his humanism has a deeper content. He said that education which gives us intellectual energy must also give us humanistic impulse and its energy of character.
If man’s education combines these two energy sources he will become tremendously powerful, well educated, and full of hope, endowed with a firm mind and will, and strength of muscle and nerve. Vivekananda said “We want our education to turn out millions-of such young people enjoying that unit of human bliss.”
Although Swami Vivekananda was an idealist and a spiritualist emphasizing realization of divinity in man, yet he was fully aware of the need for national development to be achieved through education.
He stressed education for democracy and said that strengthening of democracy was possible only through education. The strength of a democracy was seen to lie in its alert and patriotic citizens who could be produced and developed through education.
All institutional education, socio-political education in a democracy, he held, should therefore be designed to produce citizens who are free, responsible, and politically aware, who feel to belong to the country in which they live, who are sensitive to what happens around them. Education should produce such enlightened democratic citizens.
Thus, Vivekananda, emphasized education for democracy and citizenship He, however, was in favor of creating an ethical basis of democratic politic through education. He stressed the need for developing democratic tolerance in the people and a sense of being truly free which could be fulfilled by properly organized and rightly conducted education.
Thus, Vivekananda’s educational philosophy had two major components of aims-one the individual aims and seconds the social aims. Under individual aims of education he emphasized total human development including physical, mental, social, cultural and spiritual development of the child. He did not leave out even the vocational development aim.
In a way he stood as the embodiment of man- making education. Under the social aims of education he stressed education for citizenship and democracy, education for national integration, education for the poor and education for women, education for strengthening the whole society. In a way he stood for nation- building education.
But, these two aspects were not considered by him as separate and independent. He brought a fine synthesis between the individual and the social aims of education when he said “they alone live who live for others; the rest are more dead than alive.”