Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Three Models of Training

   Kannada Article by: Dr Mohan Raghavan

English Rendering by: M R Bhashyam

Respond to (lekhana@ayvm.in)


Ramadas Shreshti had three sons. Though all were intelligent and educated, they used to while away their time roaming with friends without any responsibility. Age was descending on the parents. It was becoming more and more difficult for the parents to manage the affairs of farm, fields and business. Worried, they were trying to think of ways and means to bring their children to the right path.


Once, Shreshti called his three sons and asked them to go to the king to deliver the share to the treasury and taxes. The king received the tributes and enquired about the welfare of Shreshti and the occupation of the children. He directed them to get involved in the affairs of the family saying "It is only right for you to take care of your parents during their old age.  That is also the law of the land. Immediately get involved in the family affairs".  The oldest son, as directed by the king, immediately started shouldering the responsibility of the family. But his siblings continued in their old ways. The older brother once called his younger brothers aside and told them "I have to reveal something. I was thinking that it would be boring to be involved in business. But now, I find it very interesting. I receive a lot of respect now. You have lost a great opportunity. I am telling you this not as your elder brother but as a friend who was going around with you".  One of the brothers became active in the shop the very next day.  But the youngest, without correcting himself, began to dive more deeply into liquor and gambling.  In the meantime, the parents searched for a suitable girl to get the youngest son married.  Having found one, they showed her to him. Stunned by her beauty, he agreed to get married to her. She was a soft and serene girl and was also very smart. She took him into her fold very easily. Unable to ignore her advice, he gradually returned to the right path. The parents spent the evenings of their lives happily and peacefully through prayer and meditation.

The above is a story about approach to education and schooling in Bharata. The sages of India were well aware of the wealth of penance. They had found a vast gold mine of joy within themselves.  Besides, they had laid down norms for enjoying the happiness bestowed by Mother Nature and to fulfill desires. Their Mantra was to balance the joy awarded by the internal Dharma with the happiness accorded by the external wealth and desires. They lived and nurtured that way of life in their environs, empire and society. This is the essence of life of Bharata of the bygone eons. If this system had to be implemented across the length and breadth of the country, suitable methods, mechanisms of education and training were necessary. People with many tastes and volitions had to be transformed. They had to be guided to the highway of Aatma-dharma, the road to the soul.

The populace could be compared to the three children of the Shreshtis. Training people in dharma-maarga, by instructing in Vedas and Upanishads was one of the methods. The Vedas and Upanishads prescribe internal penance and meditation akin to the king's decree. "Speak the Truth, follow dharma – the righteous path, do not turn away from self-study" – "Satyam Vada, Dharmam Chara, Swaadhyaayaan maa-pramadah". There are undertones of teaching by directing in sayings like "esha aadeshah, esha upadeshah".  They reverberate solemnly like a king's command.  They bring silence to peoples' minds and in stunned moments the minds dwell deep down. That is why Vedas, Upanishads and Shastras are called "Prabhu Sammita" – "as per the dictum of the king for welfare".  Some follow these like the eldest son of Shreshtis.

But many do not like this approach like those younger siblings. They rebel. Instead of teaching directly they have to be enlightened in the righteous path through stories and parables. They have to be made aware of the perils of the wrong path. Since itihasas and puraanas perform this like a friend, they are Mitra Sammitas, the route followed by a friend. We find many examples like the adharma of Hiranyakashipu - Prahlaada's devotion, the vanity of kauravaas- the devotion of paandavaas to the righteous path, Nahusha's downfall – Ajaamila's upliftment and many more. Profound spiritual principles have been woven into these stories., When just five years old, Dhruva meditates on Lord Naaraayana and earns His grace.  His mother was Suneeti. His father loved his step mother Suruchi much more. Hence, Dhruva, son of Suneeti was not getting his due. Unable to bear the injustice, he leaves home and meditates on Lord Naaraayana as per the direction and instructions of sage Naarada and acquires His grace. Shri ShriRanga Mahaaguru used this as an example to highlight the spiritual principles woven indirectly into the story by the sages.  We like sensual pleasures better than the ethical principles and righteous path. If a diabetic favors Suruchi (good taste), more than the constraints of what is right (Suneeti), then the result is perilous. The abandonment of the right path (Suneeti), creates havoc in our body. Peace is attained if the intellect is anchored (Dhruva). The dhruti – firmness of mind- is attained if we have the right ethics – Suneeti. Sage Naarada, representing the principle of the mind is the guide. If the mind is firmly stationed in the Soul of souls, then Lord Naaraayana and eternal proximity to Him are realized.  In order that this may be properly understood and achieved, Mitra Sammitas are needed to be studied under the guidance of a guru.

The third son does not bend for any of these. He is under the influence of greed, attachment and ego. "If a rogue elephant needs to be tamed, a trained elephant is necessary" ShriRanga Mahaguru used to say. One needs to bring that kind of a person under control with resolve, like the way a woman takes control of her husband. The kaavyas – Literatures- which employ this technique are called Kaanthaa – Sammitaas.   They attract the minds of people with sentiments – rasas - like love, grief etc and finally position them in serenity. The characteristics and thoughts of heroes and heroines seep into us. Shrimad Raamaayana, the kaavya of antiquity – Aadikaavya- is positioned as the ideal and consummate Kaavya because it evokes many rasaas in the reader.  The love between Raama and Seetha - Shrungaara, Raama's valor -  Veera, the grief it evokes due to separation , the horror- Bhayanaka and the disgust – Bheebhatsa of the war, the fury – Roudra of Raama, and His serene and solemn  countenance, Shaantha, throughout influences and enchants us like the thematic line of music, the pallavi. Raama's modesty and compassion towards all beings sow the seed of dharma- righteousness – in us without our being aware. The story which begins with the penance, self study and the study of the self of Sages Naarada and Vaalmiki ends in the rasa of serenity – Shaantha.

In the country of Bharata of the sages, dharma- artha- kaama- moksha were the four fold purushaarthas – goals of life.  The roads that lead us on to these are the three types of Sammitaas namely Prabhu- Mitra and Kaantha. Let us enlighten our lives using these and enrich them in our land.

Note: The Kannada version of this article can be viewed at AYVM blogs.