Q.1- What is non-formal education?Well then, my plans are, therefore, to reach these masses of India. Suppose you start schools all over India for the poor, still you cannot educate them. How can you? The boy of four years would better go to the plough or to work, than to your school. He cannot go to your school. It is impossible. Self – preservation is the first instinct. But if the mountain does not go to Mohammed, then Mohammed can come to the mountain. Why should not education go from door to door, say I. If a ploughman’s boy cannot come to education, why not meet him at the plough, at the factory, just wherever he is? Go along with him, like his shadow. But there are these hundreds and thousands of monks, educating the people on the spiritual plane; why not let these men do the same work on the intellectual plane? Why should they not talk to the masses a little about history – about many things? The ears are the best educators. The best principles in our lives were those which we heard from our mothers through our ears. Books came much later. Book – learning is nothing. Through the ears we get the best formative principles. Then, as they get more and more interested, they may come to your books too. First, let it roll on and on – that is my idea. (volume 8 page 88 & 89 – my life and my mission).
Q. 2 - What is the relevance of non-formal schools?The great difficulty in the way of educating the poor is this. Supposing even your Highness opens a free school in every village, still it would do no good, for the poor India is such, that the poor boys would rather go to help their fathers in the fields, or otherwise try to make a living, than come to the school. Now if the mountain does not come to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to the mountain. If the poor boy cannot come to education, education must go to him. [Volume 4][Page 363][Our duty to the masses]
Q.3- What should be the syllabus of Ekal Vidyalaya?Those of you who have read Herbert Spencer remember what he calls the “monastery system” of education that was tried in Europe and which in some parts proved a success: that is, there is one schoolmaster, whom the village keeps. These primary schools are very rudimentary, because our methods are so simple. Each boy brings a little mat; and his paper, to begin with, is palm leaves. Palm leaves first, paper is too costly. Each boy spreads his little mat and sits upon it, brings out his inkstand and his books and begins to write. A little arithmetic, some Sanskrit grammar, a little of language and accounts – these are taught in the primary school volume 8 (page : women of India)
4 – What is the role of a teacher in Ekal Vidyalaya?My idea of education is personal contact with the teacher – gurugriha – vasa. Without the personal life of a teacher there would be no education. Take your Universities. What have they done during the fifty years of their existence? They have not produced one original man. They are merely an examining body. Volume 5 [Page: 224] THE MISSIONARY WORK OF THE FIRST HINDY SANNYASIN TO THE WEST AND HIS PLAN OF REGENERATION OF INDIA.)
Q. 5 – What should be the format of education to these poor people?Suppose some disinterested Sannyasins, bent on doing good to others, go from village to village, disseminating education and seeking in various ways to better the condition of all down to the Chandala, through oral teaching, and by means of maps, cameras, globes and such other accessories – can’t that bring forth good in time? All these plans I cannot write out in this short letter. The long and the short of it is – if the mountain does not come to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to the mountain. The poor are too poor to come to schools and Pathashalas, and they will gain nothing by reading poetry and all that sort of thing. We, as a nation, have lost our individuality, and that is the cause of all mischief in India. We have to give back to the nation its lost individuality and raise the masses. The Hindu, the Mohammedan, the Christian, all have trampled them underfoot. Again the force to raise them must come from inside, that is, from the orthodox Hindus. In every country the evils exist not with, but against, religion. Religion therefore is not to blame, but men.
Q.6 - What do you mean by empowerment through education?Education, education, and education alone! Travelling through many cities of Europe and observing in them the comforts and education of even the poor people, there was brought to my mind the state of our own poor people, and I used to shed tears. What made the difference? Education was the answer I got. Through education comes faith in one’s own self, and through faith in one’s own self the inherent Brahman is waking up in them, while the Brahman in us is gradually becoming dormant. Vol.4 [Page: 482] THE EDUCATION THAT INDIA NEEDS.
Q.7 – What is the defect of present education system?I studied hard for twelve years and became a graduate of Calcutta University; now I can scarcely make $5.00 a month in my country. Would you believe it? It is actually a fact. So these educational institutions of foreigners are simply to get a lot of useful, practical slaves for a little money – to turn out a host of clerks, postmasters, telegraph operators, and so on. (volume 8 women of India).
Q. 8 -- What is the role of culture in education?It is culture that with stands shocks, not a simple mass of knowledge. You can put a mass of knowledge into the world, but that will not do it much good. There must come culture into the blood. We all know in modern times of nations which have masses of knowledge, but what of them? They are like tigers; they are like savages, because culture is not there. Knowledge is only skin – deep, as civilization is, and a little scratch brings out the old savage. Such things happen; this is the danger. Teach the masses in the vernaculars, give them ideas; they will get information, but something more is necessary; give them culture. Until you give them that, there can be no permanence in the raised condition of the masses Volume 3 [Page: 291] THE FUTURE OF INDIA.
Q. 9 – What is the importance of narrating the stories from Ramayana?Take even an extreme case, that of an extremely ignorant Vairagi. Even he, when he goes into a village tries his best to impart to the villagers whatever he knows, from Tulasidasa, or Chaitanya – charitamrita or the Alwars in Southern India. Is that not doing some good? And all this for only a bit of bread and a rag of cloth. Before unmercifully criticising them, think how much you do, my brother, for your poor fellow – countrymen, at whose expense you have got your education, and by grinding whose face you maintain your position and pay your teachers for teaching you that the Babajis are only vagabonds. (volume 4 [Page: 339] REPLY TO THE MADRAS ADDRESS)
Q.10 – Which language should be given priority in teaching?Therefore the ideas must be taught in the language of the people; at the same time, Sanskrit education must go on along with it, because the very sound of Sanskrit words gives a prestige and a power and a strength to the race. The attempts of the great Ramanuja and of Chaitanya and of Kabir to raise the lower classes of India show that marvellous results were attained during the lifetime of those great prophets: yet the later failures have to be explained, and cause shown why the effect of their teachings stopped almost within a century of the passing away of these great Masters. The secret is here. They raised the lower classes: they had all the wish that these should come up, but they did not apply their energies to the spreading of the Sanskrit language among the masses. Even the great Buddha made one false step when he stopped the Sanskrit language from being studied by the masses. He wanted rapid and immediate results, and translated and preached in the language of the day, Pali. That was grand; he spoke in the language of the people, and the people understood him. That was great; it spread the ideas quickly and made them reach far and wide. But along with that, Sanskrit ought to have spread. [Volume 3][Page 290][The Future of India]
Q.11 – What is ideal education?The ideal of all education, all training, should be this man – making. But, instead of that, we are always trying to polish up the outside. What use in polishing up the outside when there is no inside? The end and aim of all training is to make the man grow. The man who influences, who throws his magic, as it were, upon his fellow – beings, is a dynamo of power, and when that man is ready, he can do anything and everything he likes; that personality put upon anything will make it work. Volume 2 [Page : 15][Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man. Volume 4.]
C. Poor masses
Q.12 – What is the best service to be done to the poor?The one thing that is at the root of all evils in India is the condition of the poor. The poor in the West are devils; compared to them ours are angels, and it is therefore so much the easier to raise our poor. The only service to be done for our lower classes is to give them education, to develop their lost individuality. That is the great task between our people and princes. [Volume 4] [Page : 362][OUR DUTY TO THE MASSES]
Q.13 – How these poor people are so important?Let New India arise in your place. Let her arise – out of the peasants’ cottage, grasping the plough; out of the huts of the fisherman, the cobbler and the sweeper. Let her spring from the grocer’s shop, from beside the oven of the fritter-seller. Let her emanate from the factory, from marts, and from markets. Let her emerge from groves and forests, from hills and mountains. These common people have suffered oppression for thousands of years – suffered it without murmur, and as a result have got wonderful fortitude. They have suffered eternal misery, which has given them unflinching vitality. Living on a handful of grain, they can convulse the world; give them only half a piece of bread, and the whole world will not be big enough to contain their energy: Volume 7 [Page: 327] MEMOIRS OF EUROPEAN TRAVEL.
Q.14 – What are your views with regard to the Indian masses?“Oh, we are awfully poor, and our masses are very ignorant about secular things. Our masses are very good because poverty here is not a crime. Our masses are not violent. Many times I was near being mobbed in America and England, only on account of my dress. But I never heard of such a thing in India as a man being mobbed because of peculiar dress. In every other respect, our masses are much more civilised than the European masses”.
Q.15 – What will you propose for the improvement of our masses?“We have to give them secular education. We have to follow the plan laid down by our ancestors, that is, to bring all the ideals slowly down among the masses. Raise them slowly up, raise them to equality. Impart even secular knowledge through religion.”
Q.16 – How the awareness play its role?They are to be given ideas; their eyes are to be opened to what is going on in the world around them; and then they will work out their own salvation. Every nation, every man, and every woman must work out their own salvation. Give them ideas – that is the only help they require, and then the rest must follow as the effect. Volume 4 [Page: 362] OUR DUTY TO THE MASSES.
Q.17 – What should be the work plan for the regeneration of India?“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 in India are once more well educated and well cared for. They pay for our education, they build our temples, but in return they get kicks. They are practically our slaves. If we want to regenerate India, we must work for them. I want to start two central institutions at first – one at Madras and the other at Calcutta – for training young men as preachers. I have funds for starting the Calcutta one. English people will find funds for my purpose.
Q. 18 – What do you mean by worshiping the living God?If you want any good to come, just throw your ceremonials overboard and worship the Living God, the Man – god – every being that wears a human form – god in His universal as well as individual aspect. The universal aspect of God means this world, and worshipping it means serving it – this indeed is work, not indulging in ceremonials. Neither is it work to cogitate as to whether the rice – plate should be placed in front of the God for ten minutes or for half an hour – that is called lunacy. Millions of rupees have been spent only that the temple – doors at Varanasi or Vrindaban may play at opening and shutting all day long! Now the lord is having his toilet, now he is taking his meals, now he is busy on something else we know not what … And all this, while the Living God is dying for want of food, for want of education! The banias of Bombay are erecting hospitals for bugs – while they would do nothing for men even if they die! You have not the brain to understand this simple thing – that it is a plague with our country, and lunatic asylums are rife all over … Let some of you spread like fire, and preach this worship of the universal aspect of the Godhead – a thing that was never undertaken before in our country. No quarrelling with people, we must be friends with all …
Q.19 – What should be the real work of a sanyasi?There are thousands of single – minded, self – sacrificing Sannyasins in our own country, going from village to village, teaching religion. If some of them can be organised as teachers of secular things also, they will go from place to place, from door to door, not only preaching, but teaching also. Suppose two of these men go to a village in the evening with a camera, a globe, some maps, etc. They can teach a great deal of astronomy and geography to the ignorant. By telling stories about different nations, they can give the poor a hundred times more information through the ear than they can get in a lifetime through books. [Volume 4][Page 363][Our duty to the masses]
Q.20 – Who is a great soul?Who feels there for the two hundred millions of men and women sunken forever in poverty and ignorance? Where is the way out? Who feels for them? They cannot find light or education. Who will bring the light to them – who will travel from door to door bringing education to them? Let these people be your God – think of them, work for them, pray for them incessantly – the Lord will show you the way. Him I call a Mahatman (great soul) whose heart bleeds for the poor, otherwise he is a Duratman (wicked soul). [Volume 5][Page 58][Letters]
Q.21 – “But do you think, that it is a task that can be easily accomplished?“It will, of course, have gradually to be worked out. But if there are enough self – sacrificing young fellows, who, I hope, will work with me, it can be done tomorrow. It all depends upon the zeal and the self – sacrifice brought to the task” Volume 5 [Page: 213] THE ABROAD AND THE PROBLEMS AT.
Q.22 – What should be mind set of urban-rich in helping poor?While the little good that the moneyed classes, out of pity, do to the poor, does not last, and ultimately it does nothing but harm to both parties. The peasants and labouring classes are in a moribund condition, so what is needed is that the moneyed people will only help them to regain their vitality, and nothing more. Then leave the peasants and labourers to look to their own problem, to grapple with and solve it. But then you must take care not to set up class – strife between the poor peasants, the labouring people, and the wealthy classes. Make it a point not to abuse the moneyed classes. [Volume 6][Page 428][Letters]
Q.23 – What is the propriety of NRI contribution?This requires an organization, which again means money. Men enough there are in India to work out this plan, but alas! They have no money. It is very difficult to set a wheel in motion; but when once set, it goes on with increasing velocity. After seeking help in my own country and failing to get any sympathy from the rich, I came over to this country through your Highness aid. Volume 4 [Page: 363] OUR DUTY TO THE MASSES.
Q.24 – What should be the role of non-resident Indian?The more you go out and travel among the nations of the world, the better for you and for your country. If you had done that for hundreds of years past, you would not be here today at the feet of every nation that wants to rule India. The first manifest effect of life is expansion. You must expand if you want to live. The moment you have ceased to expand, death is upon you, danger is ahead. I went to America and Europe, to which you so kindly allude; I have to because that is the first sign of the revival of national life expansion. This reviving national life, expanding inside, threw me off, and thousands will be thrown off in that way. Mark my words; it has got to come if this nation lives at all. This question, therefore, is the greatest of the signs of the revival of national life, and through this expansion our quota of offering to the general mass of human knowledge, our contribution to the general upheaval of the world, is going out to the external world. [Volume 3] [Page: 272] [THE WORK BEFORE US]
F. Life Mission
Q.25 – What is the essence of patriotism?Forget not that thou art born as a sacrifice to the Mother’s altar; forget not that thy social order is but the reflex of the Infinite Universal Motherhood; forget not that the lower classes, the ignorant, the poor, the illiterate, the cobbler, the sweeper, are thy flesh and blood, thy brothers. Thou brave one, be bold, take courage, be proud that thou art an Indian, and proudly proclaim, “I am an Indian, every Indian is my brother.” Say, “The ignorant Indian, the poor and destitute Indian, the Brahmin Indian, the Pariah Indian, is my brother.” [Volume 4] [Page:480] [MODERN INDIA]
Q.26 – What is the root cause of India’s down fall?The chief cause of India’s ruin has been the monopolising of the whole education and intelligence of the land, by dint of pride and royal authority, among a handful of men. If we are to rise again, we shall have to do it in the same way, i.e. by spreading education among the masses. [Volume 4] [Page:482] [THE EDUCATION THAT INDIA NEEDS]
Q.27 – What should be the future action plan for Ekal Vidyalaya?Secondly, along with this, education has to be imparted. That is easy to say, but how to reduce if into practice? There are thousands of unselfish, kind – hearted men in our country who have renounced everything. In the same way as they travel about and give religious instructions without any remuneration, so at least half of them can be trained as teachers or bearers of such education as we need most. For that, we want first of all a centre in the capital of each Presidency, from whence to spread slowly throughout the whole of India. Two centres have recently been started in Madras and Calcutta; there is hope of more soon. Then, the greater part of the education to the poor should be given orally; time is not yet ripe for schools. Gradually in these main centres will be taught agriculture, industry, etc., and workshops will be established for the furtherance of arts. To sell the manufactures of those workshops in Europe and America, associations will be started like those already in existence. It will be necessary to start centres for women, exactly like those for men. But you are aware how difficult that is in our country. Again, “The snake which bites must take out its own poison” – and that this is going to be is my firm conviction; the money required for these works would have to come from the West. Volume 4 [Page: 484] THE EDUCATION THAT INDIA NEEDS.
Q.28 – What should be the concept of self reliance of Ekal Vidyalaya?But our mission is for the destitute, the poor, and the illiterate peasantry and laboring classes, and if, after everything has been done for the first, there is spare time, then only for the gentry. Those peasants and laboring people will be won over by love. Afterwards it will be they who will collect small sums and start missions at their own villages, and gradually, from among those very men, teachers will spring.
Q.29 – Who is a traitor?So long as the millions live in hunger and ignorance. I hold every man a traitor who, having been educated at their expense pays not the least heed to them! I call those men who strut about in their finery, having got all their money by grinding the poor, wretches, so long as they do not do anything for those two hundred millions who are now no better than hungry savages! Volume 5 [Page: 58] Letters
Q.30 – Who is real God?
Q.31 – What is your final message?So give up being a slave. For the next fifty years this alone shall be our keynote – this, our great Mother India. Let all other vain gods disappear for the time from our minds. This is the only god that is awake, our own race – “everywhere his hands, everywhere his feet, everywhere his ears, he covers everything.” All other gods are sleeping. What vain gods shall we go after and yet cannot worship the god that we see all round us, the Virat? When we have worshipped this, we shall be able to worship all the other gods. Volume 3 [Page: 301] THE FUTURE OF INDIA.