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The Five Principles of Education

1. What is Education?
2. What are the types of education?
3. What is the main aim of education?
4. What are the responsibilities of teachers?
5. What are the benefits of education?

Education and its Types

There are two types of education:

One is concerned with facts and knowledge about the external world and teaching them to the students.

The second is educare. Educare involves deep understanding of the knowledge that springs from within,
and imparting it to the students.

Today’s education imparts to students mainly knowledge of the external world. It is only culture or
refinement that can develop human goodness. This cannot be achieved by education concerned with
only with the external world. Such education is like a counterfeit coin.

Education without culture is like a dark room; only bats live in a dark room. Such rooms are filthy. So, by
pursuing such education devoid of culture, our hearts become dark rooms. Education without culture is
like a kite with its string snapped. No one knows where it will fall and what damage it will cause to
others. Only if education is blended with culture will it shine forth as true education.

What is culture? It is cultivation of good thoughts, good feelings, and good qualities by discriminating
between good and bad, sin and merit, truth and untruth. Culture also overcomes narrow-mindedness,
making one broadminded.

Types of Knowledge

There are four types of knowledge: bookish knowledge, general knowledge, discriminative knowledge,
and practical knowledge.

A fully educated person is one who manifests good qualities, is truthful, compassionate, reliable, and
caring. Bookish knowledge is superficial. It is temporary and transient. It lasts as long as it is in our
head. We fill our heads with bookish knowledge, go to the examination hall, write our answer paper and
return empty headed. To become a caring human being, we need to progress from this superficial
knowledge to general knowledge.

General knowledge consists of ordinary acumen and intelligence. Discriminative knowledge, which
comes from knowing right from wrong, also has in it common sense. Both general knowledge and
discriminative knowledge are essential for life in this world. In India the washerman goes from house to
house collecting clothes. He collects many clothes, but he does not keep any written record. In the
evening, he returns all the clothes to the respective houses. Many educated people could not do this; it
is an example of general knowledge. We have it from our birth and it should remain all our lives.

From discriminative knowledge, we can proceed to practical knowledge. This practical knowledge is
changeless. True and eternal education never changes, it opens the heart to recognise the unity of
which we are all but a part and, in doing so those who understand aspire for the welfare of all.

The Main Aims of Education

We need some worldly knowledge. It is important if we are to contribute to the societies in which we live
and care for our families. More important however, is the need to understand who we are, to understand
our spiritual essence. Spiritual knowledge is the highest education. It is the foundation on which all other
knowledge exists.
It is a mistake to believe that bookish knowledge is true education. Education has become identified with
making a living. Education is not meant just for making a living; it is for life. If education is merely for
making a living, then how do birds and beasts live without education? Even ants and mosquitoes, which
do not have any education, carry out their lives? How can education be merely for earning one’s food,
clothing and shelter?

What is the essence of education? The essence of education is the concentration of the mind and not
the collection of facts.

The end of education is character. Education without character is useless. Here is a definition of
character by a western journalist:

 An honest person
 A person with a sense of duties and responsibilities whatever they may be.
 A person who tells the truth
 A person who offers others their due
 A person considerate of the weak
 A person who has principles and stands by them
 A person not too elated by good fortune, and not too depressed by bad
 A person who is loyal
 A person who can be trusted

Our character is reflected by our words, behaviour and conduct in daily life. It is a reflection of our true
inner being, and is best awakened by example.

Truth is fundamental to the development of character. There are three types of truth. They are: a fact,
truth, and absolute truth. To say what you have seen is a fact. If I see you wearing a white shirt and say
that, ‘you are wearing a white shirt,’ it connotes a fact. Later you may be wearing a blue shirt. Then what
I have said earlier does not hold good any more. Thus, a fact is subject to change. Truth, on the other,
does not change with time. A person may change a number of shirts, but the person remains the same.
Sai Baba, the chancellor of the Institute of Higher Learning, has often said, ‘you are not one person but
three. The one you think you are, that is the physical body. The one others think you are, the mind, and
the one you really are, that is the Atma (spiritual essence) Although the body and the ideas held in the
mind are subject to change, the spiritual essence is changeless and has no attributes. It is pure, eternal,
unsullied, enlightened, free, and sacred. It is the essence of our being. When we are true to this
essence, ‘it follows as the day follows the night that we cannot be false to anyone’.

Responsibilities of Teachers

General knowledge is the bulb and spiritual knowledge is like the current flowing through it. To teach one
without the other does not work, both are necessary. Spirituality forms the basis for all forms of
knowledge. It is greater than both practical knowledge and general knowledge. So both worldly
knowledge and spiritual knowledge should be imparted to the students.

The son cries over the body of his mother, ‘Oh mother, why have you left me!’ But who had left? The
body of the mother is still there, then why is he sad? It is because life has left the body of his mother.
So the body is not the mother. The mother is the life principle. Life has no death. The body is like a
dress; death is a change of dress. Everything in this world undergoes change. But there is one thing that
is changeless. That is the fundamental knowledge.

Educare is the key to true education. What is the difference between education and educare? Education
is like insipid water; educare is like sugar. Merely adding sugar to water does not make it sweet. The
heart is the tumbler, educare is the sugar and secular education is the water. With wisdom as the spoon
and enquiry as the process of stirring, you can attain spiritual knowledge. When you put wisdom into
practice you can attain supreme knowledge of the all-pervasive Divinity, which enables you to recognise
the unity of all creation. A cloth is made up of a bundle of threads and more fundamentally it is cotton.
Cotton, thread and cloth are one and the same. Without cotton, there is no thread and without thread
there is no cloth. Recognition of the unity in multiplicity is the ultimate goal of education.